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
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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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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Danielle Nettleton
By: Danielle Nettleton
April 18, 2019

Writing Well: Why Homeschool Students Have an Edge

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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Danielle Nettleton
By: Danielle Nettleton
June 7, 2018

The Homeschool Student’s Convenient Guide to Commas

The Homeschool Student’s Convenient Guide to Commas

As a scorer for Essentials in Writing’s homeschool writing curricula, I frequently see just how much trouble commas can cause for students, and as a member of Curriculum Development for Essentials in Writing, I’m often reminded just how many ways commas can be used, so it’s no wonder that students are often confused! When I am scoring, most of the grammatical errors I see in students’ papers include commas or the lack of them, even more so than …

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Danielle Nettleton
By: Danielle Nettleton
March 2, 2018

For the Homeschooling Student Who “Just Doesn’t Get” Literature

For the Homeschooling Student Who “Just Doesn’t Get” Literature

What can I do for my homeschool student who struggles with understanding literature and who “just doesn’t get it”?   Somewhat recently, a friend and I were discussing some short stories assigned in her Introduction to Literature class. “I’ve read some of them before in seventh grade,” she told me, “but it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t understand them then, and I don’t understand them now.”   She was partially joking, but that conversation stuck with me. The …

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Danielle Nettleton
By: Danielle Nettleton
January 26, 2018

Transforming Better into Best: Homeschool Writing and Proofreading

Transforming Better into Best: Homeschool Writing and Proofreading

Why is proofreading an important part of the homeschool writing process?   Proofreading, to many students, is a dirty word. Visions of poring over endless lines of text dance in their heads, trapping them until the composition is “good enough”—and even then, mistakes may have slipped through, causing them to wonder in frustration why they even bother proofreading if mistakes persist anyway. Proofreading, however, is a vital tool for the writer regardless of experience or age. A fact …