Tag Archives: learning

How do you raise a reader?

Some parents have asked me how I got Dale to love reading, how did we end up raising a reader?  Looking back, I see that what really made the difference was sharing a love of reading  that began long before thinking about teaching him to read.

How to raise a Reader? lisaNalbone.com

I  vividly remember those dreary rainy days when Dale was two months old and nursing all the time. I had so little sleep and was completely out of my element as a new, older mom. For some reason I thought my babysitting experience and being an older sister had prepared me. Hah!

Our blissful first month with Pierre at home caring for both of us was over. Pierre was just beginning a new phase as an engineer for the state department of water resources as we headed into a wet year. We transitioned from happy daddy at home to stressed daddy learning a new job and having to work way overtime. And I sat in the rocker, staring out the window at the rain, disheveled, overwhelmed, and unwashed; and nursed and nursed and nursed.

One afternoon I used a pillow to help me hold Dale at a level that was more comfortable. Ahh, that felt better, now I could move my other arm. I reached over for the nearest book, a how-to baby book, and started reading aloud from the section on Sleep. “Hah, it says here you are supposed to be sleeping 16 out of your 24 hours. Listen to this…” I continued reading aloud, stumbling over the convoluted sentences, but only got more frustrated as I read about what someone else told me my baby should be doing.

I put that book aside and reached for the next book in the stack. It was a smallish paperback, a mystery. Oh this was much easier to hold. And read. The story was funny and the writing was good. And our mutual love of sharing reading began.   Continue reading


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

Attitude Matters: 10 Attitudes to Spread the Love of Learning


Q&AEven when you choose to unschool, as a parent you will have moments when you are the teacher. Don’t worry if you don’t have a teaching credential. The critical elements that make a great teacher are often not taught in college, nor are they required to earn a teaching credential.

So, you may be asking yourself these questions:

How can I be the best teacher for my kids?  As a self-directed learner, how do I become my own best teacher? 

How does a great teacher spread the love of learning?

Close your eyes for a moment and remember the best teacher you ever had. Maybe it was in a Sunday school or summer camp. Think of someone who was a great teacher in your life- not necessarily a classroom teacher. It could be a coach, a music teacher, a scout leader, a professor, a parent, a neighbor, a mentor. Perhaps a friend.

Can you recapture the good feeling of that learning experience?   What did you learn? How? What was it about the teacher and how they interacted with you that made it  great?  How did they make you feel? Jot those down.   Continue reading

Why We Dared Leaving the System to Leap into Learning Beyond School

Why did we start homeschooling?  What kicked us over the edge of fear into being willing to try something different? To go against the grain? It wasn’t just one thing. (It never is, is it?)

Why did we dare to leave the system and leap into learningbeyond school at LisaNalbone.com?Of course, there was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back,” but if I only cite the straw, then you won’t know the whole story.

Before “the straw” I recognized that Dale needed something different because

  • He was frustrated and got angry easily.
  • He talked negatively about learning, school, and himself.
  • He seemed less happy, joyful, and motivated.
  • He told me that he “got shot down” when he was excited about an assignment, went off on a creative tangent, and did more than what was “required.”
  • He started doing the least amount of work possible to meet a requirement.


He told me.

After investigating other schools and finding the same kind of problems, we looked into homeschooling and unschooling.  At first, it seemed too extreme a solution, but once we acknowledged that the problem of Dale coming to hate learning was extreme as well, we started considering it in earnest.

What helped move us to say “yes”? We went to the annual HomeSchoolers of California conference where we found:

  • Lots of people homeschooling
  • Lots of different ways to do it
  • Lots of opportunities for connection for Dale and the whole family
  • Lots of resources
  • Lots of families who had homeschooled whose grown children were happy, functioning adults  with jobs, pursuing higher education, or self-employed
  • Lots of people who were defining success in their own terms
  • Lots of folks unafraid to be themselves and follow a path that was right for them

Still, we had doubts about leaving institutionalized education. But then we thought about some of what we were considering doing just to stay within that system, like my taking a full-time job 20 miles to the west to pay for a private school 30 miles to the east. And we thought about emotionally scary things like the increasing teen suicide statistics and how our exuberant Dale, the Tigger of the family was acting more like Rabbit or Eyeore. And then Dale himself asked us what our real values were and whether we could reclaim our courage, the courage to be different. Given all that, it seemed that we should make the leap.

Were we scared? Yes.   Continue reading

Review:Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners by Lori Pickert

There are so many things I love about this book. From page 7,

When we talk about project-based homeschooling, we are moving beyond knowledge and skills and probing underneath for the machinery of learning. We are thinking less about the specific facts that will be learned (radius of Mars, exports of Peru) and more about what makes a person want to learn and how we can help them become adept at doing the things they want to do.

Rather than filling our child’s educational plate and saying, “Eat up. Trust me. This is what you need,” we hand them the menu and say, “Order something that looks good to you.”

Resource Review of Project Based Homeschooling, Mentoring Self-Directed Learners by Lori Pickert at LisaNalbone.com

I agree with Lori Pickert’s take on  mentoring self-directed learners and learner-centered education.  I love that she addresses the big picture by looking at learning and how we choose to model our values and gives very practical, tangible steps you can take to begin the process with your children.  She also has  great series of articles on PBH for grownups.

Give the book a read and  you can also enroll in  her upcoming PBH Master Class and take a look at the many other resources she has to offer at her site. I have not taken the  PBH Master class, but have heard and seen rave reviews from both new and seasoned homeschoolers and unschoolers. I participated in two email based classes she offered this summer, on journaling and drawing, and they were excellent.

Lori provides great resources with her  blog posts, forum, classes,  Tip-Sheet, and conversations on Facebook and Twitter. I only wish they had been available back when we began our unschooling journey.

She says it so well. From page 147,

“When you devote some of  your learning time to helping your child pursue  his self-chosen work, you help him become project-oriented. You help him become deeply acquainted with his passions, his talents, his interests.  You help him find out what he can do with those interests.

You support your child’s pursuit of his own self-chosen work, and you equip him with the thinking and learning tools he needs to succeed. You create a system that promotes meaningful work and the means to achieve it.

This is not a one off experience. It is a way of thinking, learning, working and sharing. It is a way of living. “

Is it time to hand your child the menu?   Yell Yes!


Just to be clear, I am recommending Lori, her book, and classes on the strength of her work. There is no financial reward or affiliation.