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Teaching Reading: 4 Benefits of Waiting

By Jessica Leavitt


A common mistake made by many (parents, teachers, doctors, relatives, well-meaning strangers) is that literacy only relates to being able to read. This couldn’t be further from the truth! The Language Arts encompass so much more than simply the reading of words. Children should be learning to listen and speak, both in a learning context and in a casual conversational context. Did you know? Drawing is considered a pre-writing skill! Make sure you give your child credit for talking about stories they have heard, for making up and telling stories orally, and for having conversations with others.  When you pay attention to other literacy skills such as these, you will realize that you don’t need to rush reading skills. If you slow down and let your child learn to read at a natural, enjoyable pace, great things will happen. You will both appreciate the added benefits of waiting – here are just a few to look for:

  • Increased vocabulary: Having a large vocabulary is a strong factor when it comes to reading success. Read to and talk to your child. Introduce new words and explain them in a way your child will understand.
  • Increased confidence: Many children guess at words when first learning to read. This is very common. However, it is also a sign that the child is struggling and would benefit from more time before reading independently.
  • Better Comprehension: If you spend an extra year or two reading TO your child and talking about the books together, you will be setting your child up for future success in reading. While you are reading, you can introduce vocabulary such as: character, plot, setting, narrator, comparison, conflict, symbol, etc.
  • Lifelong love of reading: Removing the pressure of early reading does so much to foster a natural love of reading – and learning! – that will last a lifetime

To help take the stress out of teaching reading to your child, consider purchasing HOME's New Teaching Reading: A Stress Free Resource Guide.


Jessica Leavitt is a former elementary teacher who now homeschools her two children. She enjoys camping and hiking with her family, loves children’s literature, and works from home part-time. Jessica supports the Early Learners group for Homeschoolers of Maine and believes in the importance of play for children of all ages. 



Blessing Others This Valentine's Day!

By Sarah Buchwalder


Not too long ago, Valentine's Day was called St. Valentine's Day. St. Valentine was a Roman physician and martyr who wrote letters to friends and loved ones from prison as he awaited execution because of his Christian faith. The notes were signed: "From, your Valentine." Why not take some time with family one of these winter days to make your own valentines - notes of hope and encouragement to those you love and maybe even those you don't know? A hospital, care facility, or even correctional facility might welcome simple cards letting residents know you are thinking of them. Or you could make some notes of appreciation for others in service positions - cashiers, your local library clerk, your postal worker. You could have the fun of shopping for inexpensive supplies (decorative paper, stickers, ribbon, and other add-ons) OR have even more fun working with what you can find on hand in the house. Cut out pictures from old magazines and catalogues as a collage! Make some tea or hot chocolate and popcorn to make it a cozy and memorable experience for everyone. Not to mention all the skills and subjects this activity works in - budgeting, problem solving, community service, fine arts, fine motor control, even history if you take the time to explain the tradition of notes and cards at this time of year because of St. Valentine.


Consider a deeper look at Valentine's Day with HOME's Chocolate and St. Valentine unit study!


Sarah is a mother of three and a New York expat, homeschooling on the Midcoast.  Her degree is in philosophy, and she wears multiple hats at HOME (and home).  She sort of classically educates her kids and likes being by the ocean, growing food, and having meaningful conversations with friends.  She is a pet mom to an especially handsome bearded dragon, three chatty guinea pigs, and a fluctuating flock of hapless Ancona ducks. 

Plan Now for the 2024 Maine Homeschool Exchange!

Make the most of this 34th annual Maine homeschool event. Take advantage of the money and time saving tips below. Learn the strategies you need for the best experience possible!   


  • If you will be staying overnight, make your reservations early. Some room types do sell out. Click here for accommodations at the Hampton Inn.
  • Plan ahead for meals. Hampton Inn serves a FREE hot breakfast and rooms have refrigerators. The Portable Pie Place Food Truck will be available at the Armory throughout the day on Saturday. Check the General Information section for more meal options. 
  • Save money by sending in your registration form before the early-bird pre-registration deadline.
  • Make plans for your children. Children are welcomed as paid registrants. We have planned activities of interest to children and families. A parent (or other responsible caregiver) must be in attendance with their child(ren) during all workshops and activities. 
  • Invite your pastor, legislator, librarian, family and others who are interested in attending the event. Bring along grandparents or others who provide support for you during the year. 
  • Recommend your homeschool support group, co-op or other leader for FREE event admission!
  • CAREFULLY READ ALL CONVENTION INFORMATION, ESPECIALLY THE PROGRAM that you will receive at the event, so that you do not miss out on important information.
  • If you are new to homeschooling, make the Homeschoolers of Maine booth your first stop in the exhibit area. HOME leaders and veterans will be on hand to answer your questions and help you make the most of the event!
  • Many vendors will have materials and resources on site for purchase, so PLAN AHEAD if you are thinking of purchasing.
  • Bring a large, sturdy tote bag for your purchases.
  • If you are bringing your younger children, make plans for their naptime, fussiness during a workshop session, etc., so that you can still attend and enjoy the sessions of your choice. Also, make tentative plans for teens for when they will not be participating in workshops with you. (ALL children are the parents' responsibility at all times during the event.)
  • Review your children’s learning styles, current interests and abilities, and review your records to know what types of materials have and have not worked for them. 
  • Look over the WORKSHOP SCHEDULE and select the workshops you plan to attend. Divide to conquer; plan ahead with your spouse and/or friends which sessions to attend.
  • Check the websites of the speakers (or plan to visit their booths) to find out more about the availability of previously recorded presentation topics. HOME does not record workshops and general sessions, but many speakers do have their own recordings. 
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes and bring paper and several pens for taking notes.
  • If you are sick, or become sick during the event, please be thoughtful of others and stay at home or leave the event. Here are some helpful tips to help the spread of sickness and disease.
  • ABOVE ALL: PRAY for God’s wisdom and direction for you and your family, and for the HOME Event Planning Team, as the event draws near!


6 Ways to Incorporate Unit Studies in Your Homeschool

What is a Unit Study?

Unit Studies offer students a thematic approach to learning. Typically, all subjects are covered through an in-depth study of one central topic. Learning becomes an adventure with students becoming more engaged, excited, and eager to dig deeper. Topics can be introduced to spark interest or to develop a special interest.


While typically unit studies are best suited for the elementary grades, they can easily be adapted for upper or lower grades or used in a multi-grade setting.


This makes them a popular and practical choice among homeschool families with multiple children. Everyone learns together, but at their own level of ability or interest!


Incorporating Unit Studies into Your Program

There are lots of ways to use unit studies. Some families use this method exclusively throughout the

year. Others find that unit studies are better suited for a particular season or in certain circumstances.

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The Christmas Shoes

By Kathy Green


Merry Christmas! If you follow the liturgical year, the celebration of Christmas has just begun and will continue until January 6 (Epiphany). There is still plenty of time for more caroling, gift-giving, and sharing the message of hope in Jesus our Savior.


If you are like our family, though, the day after Christmas is a time to quietly reflect on Christmas Day memories made and the thoughtful gifts so lovingly prepared by friends and family. The heart and soul behind each gift become so clear and evident. That is often the greater gift! What a joy and blessing it is to see through the window into the soul of one with his heart in the right place.


Through the years, we have often had themes to our own gift giving to children and grandchildren. Themes help us to focus on a collective message that can be passed on as we give. Teachable moments can present themselves more easily at times, such as the holiday season, when emotions are heightened. The spirit is more willing to receive and remember what is shared. A new blanket brings warmth and comfort. Do we know another that needs to be comforted? A soft, new pillow gives us rest when we are weary. Can we lift a burden for a neighbor?

Read More

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