I go to the library often and check out way more books than is socially acceptable. I drown the children in books. I pick up some I know each one will like. Books are the only thing I keep in the room with the couches (I guess I also keep the piano in there too). So if they want to be comfy and lay on a couch, there is always a book within reach.

At night, I declare it Reading Time and they can either pick up a book or go to bed. I have never had a child not choose to read. I rotate reading with each child. I make them choose a book which is challenging to them, but they’re still interested in. If they start to go for Captain Underpants, I’ll choose three challenging books that I want to read, and they choose. I’m fine with them reading Captain Underpants… just don’t make me read it. We take turns on pages or paragraphs. I correct pronunciation and check for understanding. I bring the Chromebook with me and we look up maps and pictures and definitions of what we read.


My kids write for the Braun Times, a family newspaper we publish to Grandma and such. Heidi really likes it; Peter and Austin don’t enjoy producing writing for it. They do like linking to songs they make or Scratch games they code.

Writer’s Workshop is held between the time for Work Hard and the time for Play Hard. It’s not technically part of either, which is a subtle distinction that is important to me. I suppose they don’t HAVE to attend, although I don’t tell them that. I just tell them I’ll start thinking of what they should write about and if I think of something before they do… I trail off. They’re pretty quick thinkers under those conditions!

I have a lot to learn about Writer’s Workshop, but a friend loaned me Lessons that Change Writers and I’m getting more excited every day. And learning what I’m doing wrong every day.

Children can be excused from Writers’ Workshop if they completed a natural writing assignment that cropped up in life the day before.


I also have math toys like Base 10 Blocks, Base 2 Blocks, Tangrams, pattern blocks, a division wrap around, Kanoodle, Ivan’s Hinge, Fraction circles, and a Hundreds Chart.

If I can’t think of a whiteboard to teach, I’ll pull out the Noetic Learning practice tests and put a tricky one on the board to do together.

I use Khan Academy because it is free and I believe in it. Sal Khan is trying to give a world-class education to every child on the planet for free. There’s achievement awards, confetti, and progress markers and even I like doing math on it.

I read Sal’s book about the website, and he talked about their lab school. They had half the kids start on what grade they “should” be on, and the other kids started at the very beginning. Guess what? The kids that started at the beginning passed up the grade-level starters. When they weren’t missing any pieces to the math puzzle, they picked up later subjects more easily. It is my theory that if someone hates math, it’s because they missed something early on and everyone let them move on before learning it.

My kids all started at first or second grade this time, since they had all completed the Early Math section in previous years. I think they’ll catch up to their grade level, and even pass it. But we’ll see. I might be wrong about all of this.

I miss our school’s subscription to Xtra Math. (and Flocabulary.)

Science and Social Studies

There are some really great books out there.


Simply Piano and singing during family worship times. Supplement with music apps like GarageBand and Music Box Fun (used to make songs for a DIY music box).


Stocking the art room with supplies, and setting up projects once in a blue moon.


I am developing a theory about extended pretending, or Mature Socio-Dramatic Play. There are studies that show this is incredibly powerful at turning children into successful adults.

The Gospel

When my children make mistakes, I want to quote scripture to them instead of yelling.

When they make big mistakes, I am good at convincing them to repent. Using reason, I require they acknowledge what they did was wrong. Then I say that lying or pretending won’t make it go away, but repenting will make it go away. I bear my testimony to them that I know Jesus will forgive them when they repent, because that testimony was born to me by the Spirit when I made a big mistake. They either go to their room and pray, or I pray with them right there.

We hold Sacrament Meeting in our home followed by a gospel learning activity like a singing time video, round robin scripture reading of verses I have previously selected, or everyone read from church magazines. (Then we go devour the rest of the loaf of bread.) During the week, I schedule Zoom lessons with the missionaries, do whiteboards about gospel topics, watch a Book of Mormon video for Family Home Evening lessons and listen to John Bytheway on car trips. They love “How to be an Extraordinary Teenager” and they really need to get everything out of it before they turn into teenagers and realize it’s really not cool to be an extraordinary teenagers.