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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Athena Lester
By: Athena Lester
October 21, 2019

Homeschool Writing Tips: How to Send an Email to a Teacher

Homeschool Writing Tips: How to Send an Email to a Teacher

A common writing assignment for elementary students is composing a personal letter. However, as children grow into middle school, high school, and college students, they often forget those early lessons. Some may think that they will never use them because paper letters—complete with ink and envelopes and stamps—are basically things of the past. Who even sends letters anymore? This isn’t the 1800s! It’s not even the 1900s! But the reality is, our present culture probably sends more letters …

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Athena Lester
By: Athena Lester
September 23, 2019

5 Homeschool Tips for Writing When You Have Nothing to Say

5 Homeschool Tips for Writing When You Have Nothing to Say

I can’t be the only one who has approached a writing assignment and felt like I had absolutely nothing to say about the topic, right? One time, for a college course, the final exam was an in-class essay answering the simple prompt, What did you learn in this course? My answer? “Nothing.” The course had truly been a bad experience with sub-par instruction from the teacher, and I had been able to skate through all the assignments without …

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Athena Lester
By: Athena Lester
August 16, 2019

The Essentials in Writing Scoring Service: What You and Your Homeschool Student Need to Know (Pt 2)

The Essentials in Writing Scoring Service: What You and Your Homeschool Student Need to Know (Pt 2)

The 2019-2020 Scoring Service has officially begun, and submission slots are open! In this service, we assist homeschool families with grading the writing of their middle school and high school students. If you are a new customer or are considering using the service for your homeschool student, you may be curious about what the Scoring Service is like. While a previous blog post (this one) discussed common technical concerns about the Scoring Service, this post will focus on …

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Danielle Nettleton
By: Danielle Nettleton
August 1, 2019

Choosing the Right Level of Essentials in Writing or Literature for Your Homeschool Student

Choosing the Right Level of Essentials in Writing or Literature for Your Homeschool Student

One of the most frequent questions I see homeschool parents asking in our official Essentials in Writing and Essentials in Literature Facebook groups (check them out, if you haven’t already—they’re great for additional resources, help with questions, and camaraderie with others who use the curriculum!) is the following: “How do I know which level is right for my homeschool student?”   Lack of rigid grade levels is one of homeschooling’s perks, but this same lack can also cause …

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Athena Lester
By: Athena Lester
July 26, 2019

The Essentials in Writing Scoring Service: What You and Your Homeschool Student Need to Know (Pt 1)

The Essentials in Writing Scoring Service: What You and Your Homeschool Student Need to Know (Pt 1)

On August 1, the 2019-2020 Scoring Service begins! In this service, we assist homeschool families in grading the writing of their middle school and high school students. The Scoring Service has grown from one scorer to five in the last four years, and our customer base has tripled! As we have expanded and adapted, we’ve done our very best to make this service easy and useful to you all. Currently, it operates online through Canvas by Instructure, which …

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Danielle Nettleton
By: Danielle Nettleton
July 18, 2019

Homeschooling Tips: The Joys of Writing in a Journal

Homeschooling Tips: The Joys of Writing in a Journal

In my June blog post about the summer scaries, I talked briefly about different types of writing “assignments” that you could give your homeschool student over the summer. In this post, I want to focus on one type of summer (or year-round) writing for your student: journaling. Journals—the hip, gender-neutral cousin of the diary—have risen in popularity over the past few years for several reasons. They’re a private place for self-expression. They serve as a catchall for anything …

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Athena Lester
By: Athena Lester
July 12, 2019

Personal Homeschool Story: How I Taught Expression Through Creative Writing to My Young Brother

Personal Homeschool Story: How I Taught Expression Through Creative Writing to My Young Brother

Story time! Growing up, I was homeschooled from 2nd grade through 12th grade. When I was twelve years old, my mother had her third child and only son, Elijah. I had always wanted a little brother, so from the very beginning, I had a special love for the little guy. Being so much older than him created a unique relationship between us—making me something of a mixture between an Annoying-But-Loved Sister and a Cool Aunt. As my brother …

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Laura Prosapio
By: Laura Prosapio
July 3, 2019

Learning New Vocab? So Fab for Homeschool Writing!

Learning New Vocab? So Fab for Homeschool Writing!

One regret I have about my time in kindergarten through high school is that I didn’t learn more vocabulary words, so I didn’t know how to integrate them into my writing. While I enjoyed spelling, I rarely took the time to learn what a word meant and how to use it. Now that I’ve graduated college and have exited the classroom, I’ve realized how important it is to be able to use words well, especially when writing—and this often means learning …

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Danielle Nettleton
By: Danielle Nettleton
June 27, 2019

“But When Will I Use This in Real Life?”: Why Writing Matters After Homeschool

“But When Will I Use This in Real Life?”: Why Writing Matters After Homeschool

“But When Will I Use This in Real Life?”: Why Writing Matters After Homeschool Summertime (when the living is easy) is an excellent span in which to reflect on the past year of schooling and the coming year as well. What subjects were successfully learned? Which topics caused troubles and struggles?   If your homeschool student is anything like I was (in middle and high school especially), they might be questioning yet another year of [insert hated subject …

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Athena Lester
By: Athena Lester
June 21, 2019

Summer Writing Ideas for Homeschool Students

Summer Writing Ideas for Homeschool Students

Summer is a time for fun and a break from the rigors of the school year. However, as Laura pointed out in the previous blog post (check it out, it’s really sweet), summer can also be an opportunity to continue growing! She encouraged parents to guide their children’s reading through the vacation months, but parents can also guide their children’s writing during the summer. “Excuse me, Athena. That sounds like a school activity, and the point of summer …