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HearthandHelm
HearthandHelm
Reviving Folk Vitality in the Modern World. Video, Podcast and Blog with vital information on living holistically- from a traditional, conservative, feminine and primal perspective.
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  • Blog posts, videos, recipes, and podcasts. Topics include: homesteading, child rearing, spirituality, herbalism, nutrition, and more!

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HearthandHelm
Public post
I was asked several weeks ago to write a review for the book, "What Kind of Man Will I be?", by Joshua and Alex Kestrel, published by Antelope Hill. The last couple of months have been quite busy, so I finally sat down to write the review this week. I have read this book three times now with my children, so I drew upon their reactions and our experience to write the review

My review of What Kind of Man Will I Be? by Joshua and Alex Kestrel

Review written and submitted by Sarah Dye

What Kind of Man Will I Be? is a gift to our people. 
As a homeschool mother, we have spent a lot of time at the public library over the years, and I have become increasingly disappointed in the selection of new children’s material. The majority of the books feature nonwhite characters as heroes, while any White characters you encounter are undoubtedly socially maladjusted, mentally ill, or disabled. Those books are damaging to White children not only because they are intentional propaganda, but because they dominate the juvenile fiction section- it leaves very few books that healthy White children can identity with. 
It is so important for our children to consume interesting reading material that features inspirational characters and themes with which they can identify. While we have access to many classics, there is a great need for quality, new material. 
Enter, What Kind of Man Will I Be?. The book features a blonde-haired boy reflecting on the men (ancestors) who came before him. He ponders what his own future will look like while he mulls over various occupations and hobbies. The story has a catchy, rhyming pattern, and introduces “big” words which can prompt further discussion and education. For instance, I asked my seven-year-old, “What is a philosopher… an author… a composer ?”. This was a great opportunity to use these as vocabulary words to teach definitions, give examples of people from history, and their contributions to our folk. 
Additionally, the story instills a positive lesson in how our actions effect not only ourselves, but our people as a whole. The book successfully drives home the importance of family and respect for our forefathers, with lines such as, “ Because every great man who lived before me helped influence the type of man I will be”. This concept in itself may prompt a great discussion with children to further solidify the message. 
My only critique is that I would prefer the illustrations to feature a more hardy and robust body type in the child character, as I personally have witnessed in modernity- the theme of promoting White boys as frail and small. However, this is a very minor critique of an overall excellent children's book. 
The book concludes with a perfectly apropos analogy in the form of an illustration of puzzle pieces. The nature and style of What Kind of Man Will I Be? is such that it can be enjoyed at multiple stages throughout childhood. While the authors suggest up to age seven, my older children enjoyed the book as well. I highly recommend adding this book to your home library if you have or are planning to have children, or gifting it to friend or family member. 

If you'd like to read another great review of this book, check out Dissident Homeschool on Telegram

You can purchase this book from Antelope Hill here 





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HearthandHelm
Public post

My experiences and methods for growing potatoes...


I recently produced a recording of this raw, unedited article. You may listen to the attached mp3.

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well and enjoying the warm spring sunshine. We have been loving the fresh new bird song and getting our hands in the dirt. It is almost time for us to plant potatoes here in southern Indiana. Potatoes are one of the easiest, and most rewarding crops to grow. There are a few different methods, but the basis is the same:

A piece of potato, which contains an eye (the place where a sprout grows out of the spud), is planted under soil or mulch, and a few months later, the plant has produced several new potatoes under the soil or mulch. 

One of the reasons I love growing potatoes is that they are clones of the parent plant. So as long as you can store *some* of your home grown crop through the winter to planting time, you will never have to buy potatoes, or new “seed potatoes” to plant. Another great thing about potatoes is that they can be grown in almost any soil, even soil that is lacking in fertility. 

Potatoes grown for food are planted from pieces of tubers. Potatoes are sometimes raised from true seeds, but that is not common or necessary, nor will it be the method I discuss today. Potatoes are not the same genus or species as sweet potatoes and they are grown differently than sweet potatoes. See our post for information on growing sweet potatoes. 

Consider whether you'll grow early, mid, or late season potatoes, or all three. Late potatoes will be best for storing, early potatoes best for your summer potato salads. 

You can purchase potatoes for planting from a local farm supply store, however the varieties are usually limited to just three. This is a fine way to start out. Usually you'll see red pontiac, kennebec, and Yukon Gold for sale this time of year at farm supply stores. This year we are planting Kennebec and Red Pontiac, which I purchased from a local store. My local store was out of stock in the Yukon Gold. 

However, I ordered Purple Viking potatoes and Yukon Golds online from Gurneys. A couple of other companies that sell “seed” potatoes online are Fedco and Johnny’s. You can do a google search for other, lesser known, seed companies that may have interesting varieties for sale. Unfortunately, it’s much more expensive to order online (compared to purchasing at a local “tractor supply” store), so I just bought a couple pounds of each. My plan is to grow them explicitly for expanding our stock for next year.

It is important to purchase or acquire potatoes that have been raised for planting. Store-bought potatoes are often treated with fungicides and sprout- inhibitors. 

We continue to see skyrocketing prices for gas and food. These are wild times in the West and sometimes it feels as though everything is very fragile and the pipe could burst at any moment. Even if the pipe doesn't hypothetically burst in our lifetime, we know the trajectory and we worry about our children's future. Make no mistake, we will win. However, the battle may be long. In the mean time, we may benefit in more than one way when we grow our own food and teach our children to do the same.

Regardless of your reasons for growing your own food, there is also a spiritual thing that happens, I think, when we are doing something for ourselves, to gain even an inch at a time of independence from a system that hates us. There is a connection to our ancestors with growing potatoes, too. In The Resilient Gardener, Carol Deppe writes: “In pre-potato famine Ireland… the average Irishman ate 13 pounds of potatoes per day in autumn and early winter (4500 calories and 120 grams of protein). Women and children averaged about 9 pounds of potatoes, for 3100 calories and 80 grams of protein per day. It is clear that, for physically active people, an all potato diet can provide all the calories and all the protein they need. These amounts of potatoes provide all of the vitamin C a person needs.”

While many of us today are trying not to eat too many carbs, one has to wonder if carbs are really the culprit. While no one would necessarily enjoy a 100% potato- only diet, these numbers are staggering. These numbers can also give you a rough idea of how many potatoes you would like to grow. One plant can produce around 2 to 5 pounds.

Potatoes are truly amazing as a survival garden food. There are also stories during times of war, where people survived on potatoes that were hidden under the soil, right where they had grown, to the eyes of enemy armies passing through and robbing farmers of their stored crops. Indeed, potatoes can stay in the ground for a long time and still be edible.

I have talked a lot on Hearth & Helm about “mulch” being the gardener’s best friend. I always include the disclaimer that I am not referring to expensive bark hardwood mulch sold at landscape yards.I am talking about anything and everything that you can use as a mulch. This means hay, straw, autumn leaves, or  grass clippings. aged or fresh wood chips from tree companies is another source. 

Mulch is the backbone of our gardening here at home. In past posts I have discussed how we use chickens and mulch together to create and maintain our gardens. See our post here for more information.

Today I am going to explain a few methods for growing potatoes. These are methods that we have used. 

The first method uses mulch.

This is our favorite method, and the one that we have used for several years. However, I have a few comments to add.

In The No Work Garden book, Ruth Stout writes:

“Large crops of the highest quality potatoes can be grown by laying the seed (preferably small whole potatoes) on top of remains of last years mulch. I make double rows, fourteen inches a part, with the seed the same distance apart in the rows. The idea of this is not only to get a heavy yield, but to make it easy to inspect the vines from both sides occasionally, and to take care of a rare potato bug, or a bunch of eggs that the ladybugs have missed. Having laid the seed in straight rows with the aid of a string, I cover the rows with six or eight inches of hay, and do nothing more until several weeks later. After the blossoms fall, I begin moving the hay carefully to see how things are progressing. Small potatoes an inch or two in diameter can be separated from their stems without disturbing the parent plants, and the hay then replaced. What these small potatoes taste like is something that no reader of this book should need to be told. The yield in pounds is reduced, of course, but the returns in satisfaction are maximized.”

So, yes, this method that Ruth describes is the one that we tend to use now, year after year. It is back-saving in that you do not have to “hill” the potatoes, another method I will discuss later. 

You can use this method even if you do not have “last year’s mulch” to lay the spuds onto. You can actually use this method right on top of existing sod! We have done this. You mow the sod (lawn/grass) down as close to the ground as possible. Lay your spud pieces on the sod, and cover everything up with a very thick mulch (usually hay or straw at least 8 inches thick).

However, this method takes A LOT of mulch. You absolutely must not skimp on the mulch, or you will be fighting weeds all year long. The idea of this method is that the new potatoes form under the mulch. It can be successful, and honestly in our experience, the yield is not less than traditional “hilled” potatoes. The mulch also needs to be thick enough to keep out the sunlight, and suppress weed growth.

Last year I learned two great lessons using this method. One, do not skimp on the mulch. The importance cannot be overstated. I disagree with Ruth that 6 to 8 inches is enough. Partly because measuring the depth of hay mulch is subjective. I thought I had plenty of mulch on my potatoes and was sad to find that some areas of my potato patch were not as heavily mulched as others, and some of them had turned green. Also the wind had blown a good bit of my mulch around. 

The other lesson I learned is that you should not use whole, small potatoes for planting, nor should you use large pieces of potatoes with too many eyes. There is a reason that the gardening books of old say to cut up your potatoes. Using a large piece of potato, or a whole potato for planting, might seem like a good idea, (thinking it would give the new little plant fuel for starting) however less is more in this case. 

In the book I mentioned earlier, The Resilient Gardener, author Carol Deppe addresses the issue of a too large potato or whole potato rotting under the soil, which can spread to the newly developing potatoes. Last summer was particularly rainy here and combined with the fact that I had used whole spuds in some places, I saw a sad amount of my potatoes rot under the soil. While I still had a decent sized harvest, I will not repeat this mistake again.

I am still going to use this mulching method, but I will be adapting it a bit this year. I am going to plant in long, double rows with wide, grassy paths in between the rows. I will keep the grass paths mowed with my lawnmower.

The reason for this is that in the past, instead of long rows, we had a large square patch for the potatoes, and would lay the spud pieces down, and then layer the hay mulch on top of the entire patch. Hay is a precious resource and using that method simply used up WAY too much hay, causing me to have to skimp on the amount of hay actually covering the planted spud pieces. 

With the method I’ll be doing this year, I can utilize larger amounts of hay on the actual potato rows, and the kids and I can keep the grass paths mowed. 

One bonus to using the mulch method is the control of moisture. We rarely, if ever, have to irrigate our potatoes. Also, anytime you are adding organic matter to the soil, in this case hay or straw, it will ultimately benefit the soil. 



On to the next method of growing potatoes. 

The traditional, hilled potato method. This method is also very good, but different. It can be a good method if you tend to have waterlogged or heavy clay soil. Dig a trench in a weed free area, plant your pieces of spuds about 4 inches deep and cover with soil. Once the plants emerge and are a couple of inches tall, “hill” the soil over the plants leaving just a tiny bit exposed. Let them grow up and out of that soil a few more inches, and then HILL again. Each time, leaving just a tip of the plant exposed. You will wind up with rows of hilled potatoes, with the new tubers developing above ground level, but underneath the soil.

Pros to this method are: It’s great exercise, yields may be higher, and developing spuds are kept a bit dryer if you are gardening in a wet area. 

Cons are that during a drought, you might need to irrigate. It is also a lot of physical work. In a survival situation you will need to preserve your energy. Exposed soil contributes to prolific growth of weeds and/or loss of soil vitality.

The third method I will describe, is one that is sort of a combination of the other two. You dig a trench, plant your spud pieces, and cover with soil, once the plants are about 4 inches tall, you cover them with about 8 inches of mulch such as straw or hay. According to Maine gardener, Eliot Coleman, something about this particular method decreases the likelihood of a potato beetle infestation. The potatoes still develop under soil, vs. under mulch, so you don’t have to worry about exposure to light. The mulch prevents weeds from coming up and helps control moisture. The initial trenching is a bit of work, but the yields may still be slightly higher that the “Ruth Stout” method.


Regardless of which method you choose, make sure to start with quality potatoes for planting. As I mentioned earlier, you can purchase them online or from a garden supply store. Ideally, you can plant the potatoes you grew last year. Choose the method you want to use, acquire the potatoes, and once you are ready to plant- cut the potatoes into pieces that each have one to two “eyes”. But not more than two. This is another thing I recently learned. 

Contrary to popular belief, you do not want to intentionally sprout your potatoes first. The sprouts will be weak plants. You do not need sprouts to plant. Just a little tiny eye bud. Make sure to plant your pieces with “eyes to the sky” before covering them with dirt of mulch. If you cut into a potato and it is diseased, rotten or green, get rid of it. 

Unfortunately, due to produce storage issues here at our place, we have had to purchase new potatoes for planting each year. The price has gone up so much this year, that I swear to find a way to store my spuds this year. I don’t ever want to have to buy seed potatoes again. Brown paper bags are great for storage and they keep out the light. Potatoes need to be stored at just above freezing, at about 34 degrees and in this way they can be kept for many, many months. Certainly long enough to tide you over to next years planting time. An attached garage or a cold spot in a basement would be great. 

You will be able to carefully harvest a few “new” or early summer small potatoes before the plant is done (see photo below). The final harvest will come when the plants start turning brown and dying back. Potatoes should be handled gently, harvested in dry weather if possible, and stored with the dirt still on them. 

Potatoes can also be grown in containers. The methods I mentioned can be done on a micro scale in large pots or barrels, however, make sure that the containers have good drainage holes in the bottom. You will also need to water the plants regularly, as containers dry out much more quickly.



Spuds.mp3
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HearthandHelm
Public post

Not All Healthy Foods are Created Equally. 


I recently went to a homeschool party and decided to make sourdough brownies and heart shaped beef gelatin bites. Both are very nutrient dense, but also satisfying to the sweet tooth and “guilt free”.

I love my local community of fellow homeschool moms, but many of them have a mainstream approach to healthy eating—“Diets should be primarily fruits and vegetables”. “Meat should be in moderation… dairy and grains are the devil”. 

In fact, beef liver and organ meats are the only “multi-vitamin” you need. Animal fats are essential for our diet. Raw dairy is healing. Grains can be tolerated when we prepare them how our ancestors did. Soaking or sprouting the grains prior to consuming and/or reviving the tradition of cooking with ancient grains are two examples.

On the surface, my dishes were considered just brownies and fruit jello, so they were thought to be “unhealthy”. However, like most things, you have to dig below the surface to see the value. Sure, fruits and vegetables are healthy options, but there are many variables involved in a nutrient dense diet.

My sourdough brownie batter is soaked overnight for optimal digestion. I use cacao powder/chips vs. coco powder/chocolate chips because cacao is minimally processed and is packed full of minerals. It contains magnesium (something most people are deficient in) as well as potassium and iron. I use maple syrup as the primary sweetener as opposed to refined sugars. 

The biggest powerhouse of this luscious treat is the flour I choose to use in this recipe- Einkorn flour. I have experimented with various flours, but Einkorn is my “go-to” flour as it is one of the most ancient grains. 

Today, most people aren’t consuming grains in the same form our ancestors did. Many grains are now genetically modified to mature in less time in order to yield a higher production. Less time spent growing means they get less sunlight, which renders them devoid of essential nutrients and vitamins such as magnesium, copper, iron, zinc. The way to avoid the modern wheat conundrum is to turn to ancient grains such as Einkorn, Spelt, and Barley- to name a few. 

The reason I love Einkorn is because it’s the only variety of wheat that has not been crossed with another species. Among all of the ancient grains, it contains one of the greatest percentages of nutrients. It has proven to be easier to digest for those with gluten intolerance, and implementing the fermentation process of soaking the grains makes this even more beneficial for optimal digestion. 

These brownies are absolutely decadent and always a crowd pleaser. It is my “go-to” dish to bring to a potluck. The recipe is as follows:

(Measurements are approximate)

-1 cup of sweetener of your choice. (I generally will use maple syrup, but have used honey, brown sugar, coconut sugar, or whatever I may have on hand.)

-1 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil

-3 eggs 

-1 1/2 cups of sourdough starter 

-vanilla extract (I never measure)

-1/2 cup of Einkorn flour (you can sub this for equal parts all purpose flour if you wish)

-1/2 cup of cacao powder 

-1/2 tsp of salt 

-1 cup of chocolate chips

Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees 

1. Combine sourdough starter, melted coconut oil, Einkorn flour, and cacao powder. Set aside. I usually will mix this in the morning to bake later in the day. You can skip this step, but it does provide a second fermentation process for optimal digestion. 

*If you are skipping the second fermentation process, just mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls and combine.

2. After flour mixture has sat for a few hours, add in eggs, vanilla, salt. Combine everything until incorporated. Mixture should have a typical ‘batter’ consistency. Reserve the cacao chips for later.

3. Place mixture in a greased 9x13 pan and place in preheated oven and allow to cook for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick runs clean. 

4. When the brownies are complete, immediately put cacao chips on top and allow a few minutes for them to start melting. Once they are soft and spreadable, spread across the top of the brownies. 

5. Place brownies in freezer and let rest for at least 30 minutes. This gives them a fudge consistency. 

Note: Einkorn is a slow absorbing flour. I like to do the second fermentation because it allows the Einkorn to thoroughly absorb the sourdough starter and coconut oil. If the mixture is on the dryer side, just allow it some time to absorb and resist the urge add more melted oil. 

Enjoy! 

-Lady Lassarus


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HearthandHelm
Public post

We had a lovely winter hike today with temperatures in the high 20s. 

We found beautiful ice formations around the lake. Never underestimate the magical feeling of hearing ice on a frozen lake! A spontaneous activity of tossing chunks of ice and rocks onto the frozen lake created a powerful, haunting, echoing sound that I had forgotten about. 
We noted the wild rose hips as food for birds and one of the kids found a field mice home in the grass...
The cold does not stop us from going outside to play; it simply never has. When parents embrace ALL seasons and weather, the children will do the same. It is so important for children to spend time outside each day, in nature, the year round.

This sounds like such a simple concept that shouldn't need to be said, but it does need to be said, because there is a phenomenon that I have been observing over the last decade or more of modern children lacking ruddy cheeks, muscle mass, and interest in physical activity. Of course the state of children has been in decline for decades, but we are nearly at rock bottom. I can't count how many children I have met that are incapable of playing outside on a cold day, too scared to climb trees or balance on logs, participate in challenging physical activities, etc. This is heartbreaking and it needs to stop. It begins with the parents. After all, we do intend to raise the most healthy, balanced, resilient, anti-fragile kids as possible, right? 

I see a lot of parents picking up on a popular new incentive called, 1000 Hours Outside. I think this is great. Our children have always spent several hours outside each day, so I thought it might be helpful to write about some of the tips I have gathered over the years in regards to proper attire. Wearing the right clothing and accessories can make or break the adventure outside with the wee bairns.
Dress in layers. Each layer of clothing has air in between it, which creates insulation. Layers can be removed as the kids play and get hot, and then added back to warm up after active play. Always wear natural fiber for the first layer. Cotton, wool, linen & silk are breathable, which is essential for regulating body temps. Wearing polyester as a base layer is not good because once it gets damp from sweat, it will get cold, trap in the cold, and stay wet, causing the body to get chilled. 
Wool is essential, whether its a base layer or an outer layer. Even when wet, it will still keep you warm. Wool is also naturally water repellent and can be lanolized (a simple process of adding natural lanolin to wool) to make it even more so. There are many reasons our wise ancestors wore wool, spun into yarn from flocks of sheep lovingly tended for generations. There are many different types of wool (or animal hair, such as cashmere), but Merino has become increasingly popular among people with sensitivities. 
For the kids, I use a final layer of a waterproof coat that's loose enough to allow air flow inside, but not so bulky as to inhibit agility. If you catch a good sale, or find them gently used, the Land's End "Squall" coats are my favorite. A good outer layer coat will last through multiple kids which also justifies the price vs. a cheap one that will rip or have its zipper broken in a month or two. 
I layer pants in several ways, depending on the weather. If it's a gullywasher, waterproof rain pants are essential. Again, a good investment that can last through multiple siblings. The rain pants go over the child's regular pants. If it is just plain cold out, we use wool pants for the younger kids. For sledding and snow activities, a good pair of nylon coverall bibs are the best! For dry, yet mildly cold days, we just use good old fashioned long johns under jeans or carpenter pants. Again, the power in layering must be appreciated. 
Wool socks are ideal. Darn Tough or Smartwool are decent brands. Yes, they're pricey, but you truly only need one pair per child. Wool is somewhat "self cleaning" and they do not need to be washed after every use. I would rather have one nice pair of wool socks to keep track of, than 25 pairs of little white cotton socks that are constantly getting lost or eaten by the house sock monster. 
Next, a good hat. I cringe to see kids running around in frigid weather without hats on. When your head gets cold, the rest of your body is soon to follow, and worst of all is a cold, sweaty head with no hat. I have seen many a playdate get cut short by parents when their kids were standing on the brink of something super fun, only to be conquered by a cold head that could have been entirely prevented by a good, simple hat. Hats should be wool. Polyester will provide initial warmth, it is true, but after awhile its pitfalls will become painfully apparent. One of the worst feelings in the world, indeed likened to medieval torture some might say, is the feeling of wet polyester clothing stuck to your body. 
Lastly, waterproof boots for keeping feet dry, and mittens or gloves are a given! I have yet to find high quality rain boots/galoshes that are worth the money. Ten years ago, I thought the Muck boots were a good brand, but they have declined in quality just like so many other things available to us today. Therefore, this is one area of kids apparel where I do not invest much money. Fortunately, simple rubber galoshes from Walmart or the hardware store are usually less than $20 a pair and will suffice, as long as they are 100% waterproof. A step up from that, I would recommend Land's End if you can catch a sale. 

As for hand coverings, for babies I use mittens that the whole hand fit in. For kids, mittens are great for walks and hikes. They keep the hands super warm because all the fingers are inside together. With the hands being warm enough to occasionally take the mittens off to pack a snowball or climb a tree, and then promptly placed back on when finished. Gloves are tricky, because wool gloves are very expensive and the ease of losing them can hurt the pocketbook. Garden gloves are one option, however, they are polyester so don't get them wet or sweaty!

We try to avoid synthetic fibers whenever possible. However, if we do wear them, we try to at least have a natural fiber on the skin as a base layer. 

Some items can be handmade with ease using old wool sweaters or blankets found at yard sales, eBay, thrift stores, etc. Hats, mittens, vests, and tunics can be made for children using these old wool treasures. 

While this post is about outdoor winter apparel for kids, it is worth mentioning that the proper snacks and beverages are key for a successful winter hike with bairns. Jerky meat and nuts are ideal because they pack a protein punch. Avoid sugary drinks and provide water or tea instead. I like to take hot water on cold hikes allowing it to cool to Luke warm for hydrating while out in frigid weather. Chocolate can be saved for emergency whine sessions on heavier hikes with a lot of "up hill" walking. 




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HearthandHelm
Public post

Greetings from the homesteads!


A hello to everyone, from Lady Lassarus & Vasalisa-

We wish you a happy new year and a belated Glad Yule. We have been busy being mamas and have not carved out much time for podcasting in the last year. These are the natural seasons of life. As always, the best place to stay up to date and find daily content (some original and some shared) is our telegram channel. However, we are happy to announce that we are planning to do a show again very soon. We are also making some plans for 2022 including a writing project and more homesteading/parenting/health focused content. Thank you for staying with us through this busy time and for your continued support. Stay tuned for more info coming soon!

We had the lovely opportunity to see each other in person in December. We took the children for a hike in the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Many well wishes to all of you! xoxo
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HearthandHelm
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One aspect of high investment parenting is to hold the viewpoint that ‘teaching your child to read’ is much more than just forcing them to memorize the mechanics and hold the ability to sound out words. Teaching your child to read is more about instilling a love for reading. 

This has always been a goal of ours in teaching our children. Therefore, as the primary educator in our home I did not force or push reading skills too early. I noticed that while my eldest was attending “kindergarten” (a short lived 2 month excursion), he was already overwhelmed and dreading school as I received a new 100 word spelling list for him to memorize each week. This sort of thing is very unnatural for children of age 5 and 6 who are supposed to primarily explore through their senses in nature play at that age. It also puts an absurd amount of pressure on the parent to force their child to ‘keep up’ with the teacher’s agenda. 

After pulling him out of school and choosing to homeschool, I still carried some of that pressure over for the first few months; I tried to mimic public/private school at home on beautiful sunny days with my then 5 year old child, which was a disaster. I received some of the best advice from other homeschool moms at that time who insisted that being patient was key, and reminded me of the wisdom of Rudolph Steiner whose Waldorf teachings say that children can begin to learn to read around the age of 7. 

Once I backed off and stopped forcing it, took lessons more slowly, and gave my precious child all the patience he needed- things began to shift and reading lessons were more fun. I used the book, “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” and I am now using it again with my 6 year old. The lessons are short- about 5 to 10 minutes a day- and by the 5th lesson they are reading a word or two, which gives them confidence. The book uses the Distar method of teaching the word sounds before the letter names. Regardless of what curriculum you choose for reading (I also highly recommend the “All About Reading” program), the idea is to relax a bit. 

These choices in homeschooling have paid off. Admittedly, my son was still not a fluent reader even by third grade. Yes, he could sound out words. Yes, he could read. But was he fluent? Did he like reading? No. There was the unfortunate occasion or two when the unsupportive, childless sister-in-law would take the opportunity to critique my teaching and our homeschool, and put him on the spot at family holidays by asking him to read aloud to everyone. This was inappropriate and we reassured our son that he was not obligated to oblige his aunt’s ‘bad faith’ challenge (which was often written in cursive). 

By 4th grade, he was reading advanced books which would be considered “gifted and talented’ material (if those classes were still allowed in public schools, which of course due to “equality”, they are not). 

By the age of 10 and 11, he is now reading as a hobby, devouring book after book with no interest in video games. He enjoys films on the weekends, but books are his favorite. I am so grateful that I took the stance that I did all those years ago. I am so glad that he does not view reading as a challenge or as a chore; on the contrary, he adores it as a pastime. Some of the books that he has recently enjoyed that I can share with those of you who might be seeking some quality content for your young readers are listed below. 

The moral of this story is to be patient and take your time with your children. Don’t allow yourself to feel competitive and/or compare yourself too heavily with others. Each child is different. They excel in various areas and some take a bit longer to become fluent readers. I would so much rather my child LOVE reading, wouldn’t you?


A few book recommendations for 10-12

Crispin (3 book series)
The Hardy Boys Classics
Blood on the River
The Penderwicks
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  • Access to Star's profile content.
  • Ability to support your Star by contributing – one-time or recurring.
  • Means to reaching out to the Star directly via Instant Messenger.
Subscribe
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