Anyone Can Learn


 by Rose Focht


We recently watched the Pixar movie Ratatouille again and, as usual, our family enjoyed it immensely. The movie—the major theme of which is the motto Anyone Can Cook!—provides a positive message of encouragement and empowerment, along with a healthy dose of humor, dream-chasing, and vignettes on French cooking.


As fun as it can be to watch the story of a rat following his dreams of becoming a master chef, I think the movie also provides a valuable analogy for our educational aspirations. It’s good to be reminded that much of what seems daunting and out of reach can truly be very accessible if we are motivated by passion and a desire to succeed, especially if our aspirations are tempered by reasonable expectations.


As Remy watches his cooking shows or gazes at the fancy restaurants of Paris with longing, it’s easy to identify with the wistful sense of eagerness to belong, to aspire, and to achieve. It’s also easy to identify with Linguini’s nervousness at the prospect of cooking a meal for the famed restaurant critic, and his pessimistic certainty that his efforts won’t measure up.


You would think that this might have been a more widespread phenomenon in the early days of homeschooling, when homeschoolers were often looked at askance as oddities and outcasts, their credentials challenged, and their achievements overlooked. Nowadays, homeschooling really has gone mainstream and has gained tremendous respect in the public consciousness.


But there are still plenty of self-appointed critics and self-important experts out there prepared to lecture on the shortcomings of parent-led and home-based schooling, and it can still be tempting to feel intimidated by shiny new textbooks, imposing school buildings, and the general sense of authority exuded by the professionals. Surely they know what they’re doing! They’re the experts!


As always, appearances can be superficial and misleading. Dazzling new school buildings, expansive budgets, and expensive education degrees don’t necessarily predict a successful outcome. Time and again, it has been empirically proven that parental engagement and individualized attention are far more predictive of success than money spent on students.


The triumph of homespun wisdom, intrinsic passion, and a do-it-yourself attitude is an enduring theme, and for good reason. After all, anyone can read! Anyone can teach! Anyone can learn!


I want my children to become imbued with the conviction that determination, passion, and a willingness to learn can overcome innumerable obstacles. I want them to stand firmly on the merits of their own accomplishments and never let anyone overawe them with a vaunted sense of superior ability.


Is there a universal consensus on the best way to teach children? Certainly I think there can be some obvious best practices (phonics is a logical way to learn to read), but so much of what will work for any given family or individual is based on unique circumstances and cannot be contained in some one-size-fits-all formula. That’s why universal standards and large-scale attempts to enforce conformity in education end up producing so many frustrated, miserable students who don’t fit well into the artificial construct of the system.


When it comes to teaching your children, there really is no one right way. To extend the cooking analogy, some people are going to want to cook “by the book,” following recipes precisely, carefully buying all the exact ingredients, reading the explanations for why you must cream together the butter and sugar instead of melting it, and so on. But precision and attention to details matter more in some recipes than in others. Not all budding cooks aspire to be expert pastry chefs!


Teaching children doesn’t have to be that complicated. We are truly blessed to be able to live in a time and a place where we can choose what works best for our family’s educational needs. Combine a parent’s passion for transmitting knowledge with a child’s innate curiosity and love of learning, and you have a prodigious recipe for success.


Used by Permission: Originally published at



Rose Focht is a homeschool graduate who now enjoys teaching her children at home (most days). Her six children range in age from ten to zero, and provide an endless source of joy, inspiration, frustration, and conversation.






Can I Teach Multiple Ages

 By Ann Hibbard


Do you remember reading about the old-fashioned one-room school house? Children of all ages filed into a single room each day, arranged in desks according to their levels. Now such schools seem foreign in an age where children are divided by age and grade on a regular basis. But, not only is teaching multiple students possible, it is also, in many cases, advantageous to both teacher and students.


Here are a few thoughts to consider when teaching multiple children.


Teach according to time periods or thematic blocks. Pick a time period or theme and find books, resources, and activities that work for each individual age. Then, seek a read-aloud that fits your time period or theme, and come together as a family to dive into a great story that brings all of the studies into perspective. Resources like Well Planned Lessons organize all of this for you to make this approach even easier!



Use tools such as lapbooks and notebooking that incorporate a wide variety of learning approaches. Encourage younger children to collect and draw pictures while older children write a paragraph. Tools such as these make it easy to tailor assignments to different age levels.



Allow older children to help younger children. This even works when your oldest is still very young. A six-year-old can play games with the toddler (both learning through play, which is ideal at both ages!) while you enjoy read-aloud time with the four-year-old who really wants to “do school.” Later, a teenager can run through math drills with a younger sibling while you teach new concepts to a third child.



Don’t be afraid of independent work. It is entirely possible to use age-appropriate curriculum for each child rather than combining all of your children as mentioned in earlier points. But, in order to accomplish this, you must first teach your children to work independently. Set aside 45 minutes to an hour for one-on-one instruction with each child. Allow the rest of the time to be independent. This method works best after most of your children have become independent readers.



Teaching multiple ages is not only possible, it’s delightful, allowing you the chance to truly see and celebrate the different strengths of each child as they work separately and together.


Used by Permission: Originally Published at



Ann is a missionary kid, second generation homeschooler, pastor's wife, and mom of three. She loves encouraging and equipping others, especially women in the homeschooling and ministry communities. Ann processes best by writing out her thoughts, and she enjoys sharing many of those thoughts on her two blogs, The Hibbard Family and The Joy of Writing.










Power-Ups for a Struggling Learner

by Sara Jones


You know what homeschooling needs? Power-Ups.


By “power-ups,” I mean the cool little bonuses you get in video games. If a level is too hard, the power-up smashes through obstacles and gets you to your goal faster.

(In my favorite Match-3 game, my preferred power-up is the ice-breaker lightning hammer.)


What homeschooling family hasn’t needed a power-up? Just one or two. At least once. A week. Maybe two on Mondays.


Life isn’t as simple as a video game, unfortunately. We know our objectives, but getting there takes a lot of thought, trial-and-error, and working with each child as an individual. But! I’ve got good news! There is such a thing as power-ups.


The most powerful one is God’s grace. My husband and I rely heavily on it. It’s not a mystical shining light that clears away all our clouds. Instead, knowing his grace gives us confidence to make decisions, because God can bring good even out of our mistakes.



Another big bonus for HSLDA members is their Special Needs Department. Sometimes when our children are struggling, the problem is more than just a temporary mental roadblock. This department provides resources, information, and help. Visit the Special Needs Department to see what is available.

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Spring Fever Survival Tips

by Rachelle Reitz


The birds started singing early this year, and my whole household went loopy. Along with growth spurts and colds, the early arrival of spring has made for a tough teaching environment. The appearance of sunnier, warmer days makes me want to buckle down and sprint toward the finish; not so for my children, who begin to beg off on assignments.


I can be a bit of a taskmaster and lose sight of my long-range goal in lieu of short-term markers. This is when I have to indulge in the distant memories of my own childhood and remember the dizziness of spring fever and some of my favorite remedies.


Here are some of the ideas we use to survive spring fever:


·    Do as many HANDS-ON-LEARNING experiences as you can. This takes less creativity with younger children. As they get older, it gets a little trickier. This year’s winner so far is forming chemical compounds out of marshmallows and toothpicks and then eating most of the result.


·    MOVE OUTDOORS. Many of my best school memories involve a wise teacher who saw the spring day and told us to all grab our books and head outside for class. Sitting on coats, jackets, and blankets and going over a grammar lesson in the fresh air nurtured learning in a whole new way.


·    FOCUS ON ESSENTIALS. This is the time to see if any lessons can be skipped or if you are ahead in any subjects. When temperatures soared into the 60s and we had three sunny days in a row this February, I opted to skip a week of foreign language and use that time enjoying the weather.


·    SWITCH UP THE SCHEDULE. Sometimes it helps just to move things around. Move the after-lunch subject to first thing in the morning and keep everyone on their toes. It is a scientific fact that motion creates energy, right? I test and re-test this theory, but this spring I noticed my early bird needed to get her math done before the rest of us even started school so she had time to daydream a little later.


·     PLAN A FIELD TRIP. Work with other moms or your co-op/ homeschooling group to take a field trip. A trip to a fire station, a dairy farm, a recycling plant, or a butterfly exhibit can refocus and bring energy to your learning plan and stimulate new interests. Check out Vicki Bentley’s Field Trips 101 for ideas and planning tips.


·     HAVE A SCAVENGER HUNT. Hand out clues when a subject is finished for the day or at the completion of a chore. Prizes can be new school supplies, a treasured snack, a jar of nail polish, or an ice cream date with Dad. There is nothing like unexpected rewards to put life back into your workday (a latte for Mom is a good idea too!).



The best thing about spring?! Summer is around the bend. In our house, we are starting a countdown to the end of the school year. That’s something to celebrate!


Used by Permission. Originally published at



Rachelle is a busy wife, and homeschooling mom to Ben, Kyrie, & Evie. She works part-time as a travel coordinator for State Policy Network. A west coast native, she loves exploring her new home state of Michigan, and still gets excited whenever it snows.










UnCONVENTIONal Credits, Part 2

By Connie Overlock


Whether you take a laid back approach or use textbooks to teach your child at home, there is great benefit in taking a break now and then, reassessing your teaching styles and just plain doing things differently.


One of the ways you can do this is by attending the HOME 2017 Convention. HOME conventions are always full of educational opportunities for your family, as well as a great way for mom to find encouragement and be refreshed. Why not let someone else do the teaching for a few days.


Not sure what your kids will learn at convention? Read on, and find out how you can cover history, Maine Studies, writing, science, Bible, public speaking, fine arts, social studies, literature, health and more. You’ll discover how to guide your high schoolers through the challenges of planning ahead for college, as well.


Linda Lacour Hobar, author of Mystery of History, will be one of our featured speakers. In General Session 1 on Friday morning, she will be describing ten events in modern history that “shook the world.” She will also be sharing stories to enable a better understanding of the Early Church and the tumultuous Middle Ages, as well as the “Bad Boys of the 20th Century!” 


Not only can you cover world history by attending the convention, but Maine history, as well. Three separate workshops by two different speakers will cover “Famous Mainers,” “The Underground Railroad in Maine,” and “The Ku Klux Klan Invasion.”

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2017 Ongoing HOME Events

Group Portfolio Reviews

6/3 Bangor

6/13 Westbrook

6/20 Belfast

6/23 Bridgton

8/17 Camden

8/3 Lewiston

8/23 Augusta

8/24 Rockland

Getting Started Workshops

5/20 Augusta 

8/23 Augusta

Monthy Sports & Fitness Activities 

4/24 Swim/Gym/ Rock Climbing, Rockport

4/27 Monthly Hike, Lincolnville   

4/28 Monthly Bowling, Belfast

5/5 Roller Skating, Portland

Summer Playground Days

5/30 Standish

6/13 Bridgton

6/27 Brownfield

8/15 Brownfield

8/29 Bridgton

9/26 Brownfield


Upcoming in 2017

Upcoming in 2018

 3/15 - 3/17 28th Annual HOME Convention