Category Archives: Parenting

how-do-you-raise-a-writer

How do you raise a writer?

Here is a recent question from a homeschooling mom of a 6 and 8 year old.

“ I think I have the other subjects figured out, but how do I work on writing? They really don’t like writing.”


My take:

First: Relax.

At these ages all you really need to do is have writing be real, meaningful and FUN!!!! Think about playing with writing rather than teaching writing.

One of our favorite ways to play with writing was making clue hunts. Dale loved to find things, so we would hide a treasure and write clues, a little kind of riddle – sometimes they rhymed – that would lead to the treasure. There might only be 5 clues total, each clue leading to the next clue and the final clue leading to the hiding place. I wrote them for him, we wrote them together for friends and family, and as he got older, he could write them for me. I can’t remember if this started as a rainy day game or a way to make having just a few presents seem like more fun. We would hide the birthday cake and party favors, or the breakfast ingredients on easter morning. We used a small basket and hid all the things to go in the basket rather than having it be filled to begin with.

We loved to play with writing riddles, jokes, silly poetry, Haiku, alternate song lyrics, rhymes for inside of cards and letters, and love notes to hide in a lunch or under a pillow.

Second: Stay present.

Focus on thinking about where they are now instead of the future and whether they will ever be writers. Don’t worry about judging and measuring or comparing their writing.

BTW Dale did not like to write when he was in school, and there were times when he hated writing – which usually corresponded to me pushing it in a “you’re not doing it right” way.

Start a daily writing practice that is fun and meaningful: a gratitude journal. You can have a family journal, but there is great power in each person having their own and writing in it once a day as a daily ritual all at the same time.   Continue reading

How Can I Teach my Kids if I’m Not a Teacher?

But what if I’m not a teacher?

I often hear this question from parents.  When we began homeschooling, even though I HAD a credential,  people constantly asked, “But how will you teach high school when you are only an elementary teacher ?” I know how intimidating it feels.  Don’t let it stop you.

how can I teach my kids if I am not a teacher? LisaNalbone.com
photo credit: Suzie, @unschool

Breaking news: Like it or not, if you are a parent you already are a teacher.

Becoming more aware of what you are teaching and improving how you do it will make you a better parent and help your child learn. It’s kind of scary once you understand that how you live and interact everyday is what you are really teaching your child.

It’s okay. Breathe.

I am not trying to denigrate teachers. But I would like you to consider a few points:

  1. There is no reason to teach the way you were taught, and many well documented reasons from brain research to help learners in new ways.
  2. At one point all teachers were not teachers yet. They started somewhere.
  3. The best “teachers” in our lives are not  always a person or necessarily some one person with a degree in teaching.  
  4. Supporting the learner’s needs and the processes of exploration, growth and connection is more important than teacher training skills or subject matter expertise.
  5. The most important quality of a great teacher is the willingness to be learning all the time, along with and from the student.
  6. One of the most important things we can teach someone is to love learning and how they can learn for themselves, without needing us to plan, manage or direct learning.
  7. We teach the most by how we live our lives.

You may have lots that you want to learn. That’s a good thing.

You may need to have courage to stand up for yourself and kids and go against the grain. This is a great lesson to model for your kids.

There will always be challenges. Just because you make the decision to unschool or homeschool doesn’t mean issues, difficulties and challenges will disappear. They may change, They lessen. But life is full of challenges and opportunities. Every problem is an opportunity for learning and adventure. Showing our kids how to deal with difficulties, determine our priorities, and make decisions in line with our values is some of the most important teaching we can do.

I assure you, if you pay attention, are honest, reflect, and are willing to learn, then you can figure it out.

I give you permission to teach.

But what is most important is that you give yourself permission to learn.

Book Review: Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn

front cover of Punished by Rewards, book review at LisaNalbone.comThis book makes me want to get on a soapbox and shout: read this! Think!

I want us to take a look at how we use praise, rewards, power, control and coercion, even inadvertently, on a daily basis.

 I want us to have the courage to take steps to make changes that will truly help our children grow and learn.

I want it to be required reading for every parent, teacher and boss.

Kohn challenges us to question a pervasive mode of operating that many of us have come to accept as normal:

“My premise here is that rewarding people for compliance is not  ‘the way the world works’  as many insist. It is not a fundamental law of human nature. It is but one way of thinking and organizing our experience and dealing with others.  It may seem natural to us, but it actually reflects a particular ideology that can be questioned. I think it is long past time that we do so…” 

Kohn examines the underlying beliefs of behaviorism and the spread of these ideas across institutions and through society.  He looks at the implication of the use of rewards in the workplace, in schools and in the home. Continue reading

Thiel Fellow Closing Ceremony: Questioning the Experiment

As a parent of a  2011 Thiel Fellow, I was excited about attending the closing ceremonies for the group.

Thiel fellow Closing Ceremonies: Questioning the ExperimentThis first group of fellows were guinea pigs–quite fortunate guinea pigs–who had forged the program along with the foundation staff.  They had been supported financially, skillfully mentored, and emotionally bolstered for two years. Most importantly, they had all learned so much about their own projects, about persistence, and about the business world. Would closing mean losing much of that opportunity for dramatic growth? Continue reading

Don’t Forget to Go Outside!

Dale Stephens and his grandpa on a hike. Sond't Forget to Go Outside at LisaNalbone.com. Photo copyright JP Stephens
Dale and Grandpa hiking. Grandpa’s most recent backpack trip was at age 90.

Here is one of my core beliefs: to improve parenting, learning, and taking care of yourself, make sure you go outside everyday.

Let nature nurture.

Fresh air, sunshine, feet and hands in the dirt help cure a lot of what ails us.  

Need help with stress? Sleep? Moods?

Take a walk.   Continue reading