Category Archives: Newsletter

How Can You Teach What You Don’t Know?

Mari Almon, Director of Advertising for Homeschool Buyers Co-op, lives in central Florida. Married to Steve, they are both thrilled that their two children, Liz and Jon, had the opportunity to graduate high school from home. In her spare time Mari enjoys traveling, hiking, fishing, and perennial gardening. To reach Mari, email her at

Here’s a question you are certain to hear during your time homeschooling: “How can parents offer the same level of high quality, single discipline instruction as is available from board certified teachers in the public and private schools?”

After coming to terms with my own similar concerns I realized that parents must first overcome their own fears enough to honestly assess their strengths and weaknesses and then take it from there.

It’s not a matter of if you have a degree or not. You have a wealth of unique life experiences, possibly employment history and a personality equipped with personal gifts and talents all of which play into your knowledge bank that make you capable of teaching some things and probably not everything.

Honesty is the best policy – acknowledge what you don’t know, or at the least, what you don’t know well enough to teach responsibly.

What do we do when we have to teach them something that we don’t know? The short answer is “we do whatever it takes.”

We can become a student. We research and learn. Sometimes we can learn right alongside our children and wrestle the subject together. Other times we must step up and master the topic so that we can help them master it also.

We can call on the resources around us to utilize the strengths and education of family and friends. I can’t tell you how many times I would stay up late at night with my husband to have him teach me a math lesson so that I could help my children through it with clarity in the morning while he was at work. We have friends who we know are absolute geniuses about topics we know nothing about – so enlist your friends. Maybe they have advice or can teach you or if your friend is a fellow homeschooler, maybe you can team up with them to lesson share.

There are some very awesome homeschool co-ops nowadays. There are those that teach basic core subjects and others that specialize in specific genres like fine arts and sports. There’s a social aspect there too that you and your children may enjoy. It may be a possibility for you to throw in your hat to teach a class if you have a niche or skill in exchange for your children’s classes or for the always welcome paycheck.

Check out your local community college and see what they offer in the way of dual credit courses. “Dual credit” simply means your student is awarded both high school and college credit for the same course. Many core college subjects (history, math, science, English, government, etc.) are simply repeats of high school subjects. This means your student is going to take history in high school and then pay to take history again in college. The same is true for some of the other subjects. This isn’t necessary! High school is the ideal time for students to earn college credits for these core subjects. It’s a two-for-one deal – one subject can get dual credit!

Nobody loves our children like we do, right? Take time to explore all the possibilities. Leave nothing off the table. Homeschooling is a lifestyle and a journey. Don’t get frustrated or worried. Do your best and let God do the rest.

Time to Talk Bugs

Award-winning author D.S. Venetta lives in Central Florida with her husband and two children.
It was volunteering in her children’s Montessori school garden that gave rise to her new series Wild Tales & Garden Thrills, stories bursting with the real-life experiences of young gardeners. Children see the world from a totally different perspective than adults and Venetta knows their adventures will surely inspire a new generation to get outside,
and get digging.

When growing organically, the job of bug removal can be tricky. While others spritz chemicals from their spray bottle, or toss toxic powder over their garden beds, you refuse such tactics.

There’s no way you’re going to add potential hazards to your otherwise healthy garden. Organic methods simply require a bit more creativity when it comes to bugs.

Vigilance is required, as is the occasional “dispatch” of the little critters. Killing isn’t necessary when it comes to pest control for your garden. Instead, you can relocate the pesky invaders by taking them out and away from your garden where they’re unable to devour your leaves and vegetables. Hornworms and caterpillars are easy to catch—albeit difficult to spot—and easily plucked from the vine. That’s right. We’re talking about plucking them from your plants and placing them elsewhere. I’ll leave the “where” up to you, so long as it’s far and away from your garden.

Another nifty method of pest removal is to invite a few of your neighborhood ladybugs to move in. While you’re at it, ask a few frogs over. Let’s say we make it a party and invite a few friendly dragonflies to join the mix! Include some hoverflies, a few lacewings, and heck, give a shout out to a couple of gorgeous cardinals. Why?

According to the laws of Mother Nature, everyone needs to eat—insects, birds and amphibians included. Did you know that ladybugs absolutely love aphids, while frogs consume crickets and spiders like they’re going out of style? Dragonflies make a feast of mosquitoes and flies, and cardinals? I hear they feed grasshoppers to their young.

Have you ever heard of anything more glorious? I mean, grasshoppers can prove to be a horrible nuisance when it comes to plants. And I must confess, anything that keeps them on the run receives an extra star in my garden journal.

You can also combat bugs by whipping up some rather stinky concoctions. Garlic, peppers, and compost can be effective pest prevention. Seriously. Mixing these ingredients with water in a spray bottle will help keep the pests away. Bugs simply don’t like the smell. You can also attract pests by setting out a bowl of beer. Slugs and snails seem to have an affinity for the stuff but find it easier to get “in to” than “out of.” As are many things in life. Diatomaceous earth is another good choice for worms and caterpillars and is widely available in most garden centers.

And don’t forget companion planting! If you organize your garden accordingly, you can avoid many of these problems altogether. For instance, rosemary deters cabbage moths, dill attracts hornworms, marigolds repel whiteflies while lavender nourishes a host of beneficial insects.

These are just a few examples, but you can download my companion planting guide for a complete list of friends and foes in the garden and take heart in knowing your garden is chemical and poison-free.

The Educational Benefits of RVing

You can find out more about Todd, Debbie, his eight children, their RV, and ministry at

A little disclaimer: almost from the beginning of this writing assignment I’ve been asked about the learning benefits of RVing as it pertains to homeschooling. Ever since then, I’ve been dancing around the question with the dexterity of a presidential candidate. The truth is, I know what they’re asking… but I don’t like the question… because it’s asked of me by all kinds of homeschoolers… all the time.

The question is something like this: “So is it educationally beneficial for children to be homeschooled in an RV… or does RVing make a good educational tool for families?”

The reason I don’t like the question… is because I think it puts the emphasis on the wrong aspect of RVing and… LIFE. What they’re really asking is: Will my children be better educated and still get into the college of their choice if we RV?”

The truth is: RVing and homeschooling go together like peanut butter and jelly. It’s a recipe for deliciousness!! Your children will see more, know more, experience more, and have a better understanding of America, history, and family.

If you’re asking: Will they still get in all the math, science, and literature if you RV… then you’re asking the wrong question… but the answer to the wrong question is: Yes, they will if you neglect the other wonderful parts of learning.

You see, we’ve been duped into thinking that the “school parts” are the important parts. When the important parts are the parts you learn as you RV (or just do life from home). Yes, you can force your children to do all their workbook pages, sentence diagramming, dissections, and periodic tables as your tooling down the highway… just like at home, but you just may miss the most important part of staring out the window as the terrain changes, interacting in a tight space as a family, and exploring places that most people just read about.

The absolute truth is: RVing is educationally beneficial for your children. BUT it is so much MORE than that!!!!!

Ok, I’ve got to run… I’m headed off to the North Carolina Homeschool convention (NCHE).

Happy Trails,


“The Familyman”

The Familyman – Website

The Familyman Show – Weekly Todcast

The Familyman Weekly – Weekly email for dads


Military Mom: How it all started…

Lt. Col. Erin Karl
Owner of Analytical Grammar and, Erin lives in Raleigh, N.C., with her husband, two kids, two cats, and the dog. AG was started by her mom, Robin Finley, a public school English teacher for 34 years. Robin passed away in 2015 after a seven-year battle with cancer. Erin now runs the company, serves as a public affairs officer in the Air Force Reserve, cares for her family, and tries to sing as much as an often as anyone will let her. To reach Erin, email her at

“So, what made you join the military?”

This is a question I’m often asked. It’s funny; I’ve actually got a HORRIBLE memory, but the day I decided to look into going into the Air Force is one I remember clearly.

I had graduated college and had come home to Anchorage, Alaska, where I grew up, to “start my life.” I had a degree in communications and had gotten a job in sales for a company that produced commercials. I did that job for one week and decided I HATED IT. I hated sales. I was a straight commission employee and never made a dime. Although that lasted a week, it was very eye-opening for me.

My mom taught public school for 34 years. My dad was an L.A. County Sheriff for 30 years (my parents divorced when I was three years old, and I moved to Alaska with my mom and grandmother when I was six). That week in sales made me realize that I wasn’t going to be happy unless my job served the public in some way.

So, it was Friday night and I was in the living room watching JAG with Mom and Nanny. Remember that show about the Navy lawyers? Anyway, when the show was over, I turned to my mom and said, “You know, I’ve been thinking about going into the Air Force.” My mother was SHOCKED. We lived in a military town, and I had friends who were stationed at the nearby bases. Both of my mom’s brothers had served as well. Still… I was a cheerleader, not athletic at all, a total “girly-girl,” and musical theater nut. What on EARTH would put military service in my head?

I explained that I knew the U.S. military had people who did all sorts of jobs: lawyers, finance, human resources, food service, computers, and what I was interested in… public relations. (Later I found out that we call it Public Affairs.) Why not take what I learned at college and apply that toward a greater good?

Well, long story short, I applied, was selected, and left for Officer Training School about a year later. After three months of push-ups and yelling, I reported to my first assignment at Patrick AFB, Fla. It was the very best decision I’ve ever made.

I spent four years active duty. During that time I learned SO MUCH about myself, my capabilities, and my job. I met my best friends (shout out to the other members of the Fearsome Threesome, Sylvia and Alana) and my husband. I had adventures, I traveled, I worked LONG hours, and I LOVED it.

After those four years I went into the Air Force Reserve, which has allowed me to continue my service without having to move around and allowing me time to spend with my kiddos once we were blessed with them.

People who only know the “civilian Erin” are still sometimes surprised I’m a military officer. I’m still a “girly-girl,” still a musical theater nut, and still the worst runner this side of the Mississippi. However, I’ve also learned how to be calm in chaotic situations, work well under pressure, problem solve, and push myself to do things that are hard or scary. Why? Well, thousands of other people have done it (whatever IT is at that moment)… why not me?

All these things make their way into my parenting. My kids often hear me say:” Figure it out.” “Deep breath and press on.” “Suck it up.” The military really does become a part of who you are – for better or worse!

Here’s the thing — I really don’t know WHY I said something to my mom that night. I honestly don’t remember mulling over the idea before that. I personally think it was “a God thing.” I just know that I’m so grateful that idea popped in my head. I don’t know what my life would have been without that turning-point decision, but it wouldn’t be THIS LIFE, and THIS LIFE is perfect.

Go Camping

You can find out more about Todd, Debbie, his eight children, their RV, and ministry at

Hey Mom and Dad,

For almost my whole adult life I thought there were TWO types of people in the world: those who CAN and those who CAMP.

I just assumed camping was for those families or individuals who either couldn’t afford to stay in hotels… or were raised by bears and preferred to use toilet paper made from bark and eat things that grew under logs. If you even mentioned the idea of going to a campground my first thoughts would have been, “You’ve got to be kidding me?!!!”

That changed several years ago when I wrote to my big email list for dads (you can sign up here) and asked the question: “What was your favorite memory as a child?”

The reason for my asking was to read what all the dads said, isolate the trends, and to replicate the winners so that my kids will have some of those same great memories.

The answers poured in and I was shocked to find at least 85% of all the dad’s greatest memories were of camping as a family. They told of road trips, soggy tents, muddy trails, and roughing it in the woods. Some camped in campers and others on the open ground, but they all loved it and looked back on those times as the best of their growing up days.

WOW. That’s bang for your buck and why I can say with so much confidence that camping, RVing, and traveling are guaranteed sure-fire memory makers that your children will cherish for the next half dozen decades.

So… can I give you a great summer-time tip? Go camping. Talk to your spouse and discuss possible camping trips, locations, and methods. Check out a few local campgrounds and make a reservation soon.

Oh, I’m guessing it will still be hard, hot, and mosquito-ee… but your children will never forget the trip or how much they love you.

Swing wide and keep your eye on your tail,


PS – Got a great family-friendly campground? Share it here.

Gone Fishing…

It’s amazing what can happen while you are enjoying a nice day on the water fishing. The main thing to focus on is to have fun and spend quality time outdoors. Children automatically relax, open up, and ask questions and, we get to listen and learn what they are feeling and thinking. If you are… Read More

Merry Christmas!

We at EverBright Learning wish you and your family Christmas blessings and a prosperous New Year. We’ll return to you on January 10 with more educational and inspirational content to assist you through your homeschooling journey. Read More

RV Christmas

Hey Christmas Travelers, It’s chilly out there! Which can only mean Christmas is right around the corner. Shhh… my wife starts to freak out when someone says that. She has a ton of responsibility to make it all happen. I on the other hand… get to have fun the whole month. It’s all just so… Read More

Rosemary Satchels and Poinsettia Transplants

The holidays are in full swing and for gardeners like me, it’s time to head indoors for the comfort of family, friends, hot cocoa, and home-cooked meals. And while I long to be in my garden, heading inside doesn’t mean I have to tuck my green thumb in and hide it away. On the contrary.… Read More