Essential Conversations

This blog is devoted to all aspects of writing, literature, and teaching. We are excited to partner with you on your homeschool journey and provide you with helpful and quality content in our blog posts.

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Danielle Nettleton
By: Danielle Nettleton
April 18, 2019

Writing Well: Why Homeschool Students Have an Edge

In his groundbreaking book Amusing Ourselves to Death, critic and educator Neil Postman discusses society’s shift from what he deems the Age of Typography to the Age of Show Business—that is, a change from the importance of words to the importance of television and other visual media.   According to Postman, the decline of writing began as early as the nineteenth century with Samuel Morse’s invention of the telegraph and continued on with radio, movies, and television. This …

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Athena Lester
By: Athena Lester
April 12, 2019

How Can I Help My Reluctant Writer? : 7 Tips for the Homeschool Parent

When you ask your student to compose a writing assignment, does your student: A.   groan as loud and long as their lungs allow B.   slump in their chair, slide off to the floor, and lie there face down like a slug C.   pick up a pencil and start eating it while vacantly staring at anything except the paper in front of them D.   pick up a pencil—then pick up another pencil and start practicing for their …

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Hope Tolbert
By: Hope Tolbert
April 4, 2019

7 Writing Mistakes You Didn’t Know You and Your Homeschool Student Were Making

I was in the midst of deep conversation about the state of modern politics with a relative (a very intelligent and well-educated relative) when it came out of nowhere. A single word which sent shivers up my spine, turned my hands to fists, and completely derailed my focus on the conversation. The word? Irregardless. Now, I like to think of myself as a good human instead of a grammar snob, so I didn’t mention it, and we continued …

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Danielle Nettleton
By: Danielle Nettleton
March 28, 2019

What’s the Main Idea Here? Homeschool Students & the Importance of Theme in Narratives

Narratives, as Mr. Stephens often points out in his videos and curriculum, are fun to write and fun to read. Whether personal or imaginative, they tend to allow for more expression and creativity than compositions such as essays or research papers.   Writing the narrative can be easier as well, for the homeschool student is usually describing a series of events (hopefully not unfortunate) in the order that they occurred. The writing is fun; the construction is simple. …

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Athena Lester
By: Athena Lester
March 22, 2019

Why Should I Care about Writing Well?: Help for the Homeschool Parent and Student

I have an acquaintance who will text me once in a while, and her texts always leave me in confusion. She writes like she is picking up in the middle of a conversation we never had. It’s lengthy; it references things that I don’t understand; and when I reach the end of the message, I’m not sure what she was contacting me about in the first place. It’s only a text message, but it’s written very poorly. Now, …

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Danielle Nettleton
By: Danielle Nettleton
March 14, 2019

Focusing on One Thing at a Time: Homeschool Students & The Writing Process

The Setup   The year is 2016; the month is May. I have just turned in to my professor a ten-page paper discussing Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, a paper that will eventually be submitted and accepted by the Sigma Tau Delta Review. This paper utilized many sources, seven of which were cited. It also followed MLA guidelines and has been formatted precisely. Did I write this paper in one sitting, in order, with perfect grammar and formatting?   Of …

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Hope Tolbert
By: Hope Tolbert
March 7, 2019

When to Correct Someone’s Writing and When to Hold Back

Last week, I posted a picture to Instagram. Immediately after I clicked “Share,” my phone started buzzing in my hands. “Hey, Hope! It’s Jenna!” “Oh, hey! What’s up?” “Well, I’m actually at lunch with some friends, so I can’t really talk, but you made a spelling error in the caption under that picture you just posted. It’s super cute and everything, but you spelled a word wrong.” “Oh… Thank you?” “Yeah, absolutely! Well I’m with people, so I …

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Athena Lester
By: Athena Lester
March 1, 2019

Writing Well, the Reading Way: Help for Homeschool Moms About Why Reading Affects Writing

Want to know one of the secrets of writing well? Read. This may seem strange and even counterintuitive. If you want to be a better writer, then you should read more? If you want to be an artist, should you frequent museums? If you want to be a professional sports player, do you watch as many games as you can? As a matter of fact, yes! You do! Exposure to an ideal is instructive. If you want to …

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Danielle Nettleton
By: Danielle Nettleton
February 22, 2019

MLA Format: Top Ten Do/Don’t Tips

As a scorer for Essentials in Writing, I grade compositions according to the guidelines of MLA: the Modern Language Association, also known as the group that discerns what is and is not permissible in written compositions. Along with the other scorers, I grade according to this standard not only because it provides consistency but also because it is the standard by which the average college professor grades written assignments (depending, of course, on the department and the class). …

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Athena Lester
By: Athena Lester
February 7, 2019

When Your Smart Homeschool Student Struggles with Writing

When Your Smart Homeschool Student Struggles with Writing Although I have no children of my own, I do have a thirteen-year-old brother. My mother is homeschooling him, and the kid is very bright. He whistles instrumental movie soundtracks after hearing them once. He designs and builds complex Lego creations, complete with moving parts and intricate backstories. He watches scientific debates on YouTube in his free time. And the boy will not capitalize the first words in his sentences …