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Laura Grace Weldon

Laura Grace Weldon is the author of Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything, a resource guide for raising life-long learners and also a collection of poetry titled
Tending. She writes about learning, sustainability, and hopeful living for GeekMom.com, Mothering.com, and her blog. She lives with her family on Bit of Earth Farm where they raise cows, chickens, honeybees, and the occasional wild scheme. She's slow at work on her next book, Subversive Cooking.

Is Your Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

by Laura Grace Weldon

Take a moment to describe three people you know. Perhaps your kid’s coach, your neighbor, and a close friend. Tally up the negatives and positives. What do they indicate? Actually, they say a lot more about you than the people you’re describing. Research indicates what we perceive in others has a lot to do with Continue reading »

How Challenges & Mistakes Promote Learning

by Laura Grace Weldon

Interesting problems and exciting risks are life’s calisthenics. They stretch us in directions we need to grow. Children are particularly oriented this way. They think up huge questions and search for the answers. They face fears. They puzzle over inconsistencies in what is said and done around them. They relentlessly challenge themselves to achieve social, physical, or intellectual feats that (from a child’s perspective) seem daunting. They struggle for mastery even when dozens of attempts don’t provide them any success. It’s a testament to courage that they continue to try. Continue reading »

Goldilocks Effect: Learning When It’s “Just Right”

by Laura Grace Weldon

Young children seem to recognize that knowledge is an essential shared resource, like air or water. They demand a fair share. They actively espouse the right to gain skill and comprehension in a way that’s necessary for them at the time. Often children seem to reject what they aren’t ready to learn, only to return to the same skill or concept later with ease. This is not only an expression of autonomy, it’s a clear indicator that each child is equipped with an learning guidance system of his or her own. Continue reading »

Two Vital Factors for Homeschooling Teens

by Laura Grace Weldon

The teenaged years are actually the most rewarding of the homeschooling years. That’s what we’ve found with our four homeschooled kids. And that’s what I was told by many of the 110 families I interviewed for my book Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything. People in Ireland, Australia, India, and the U.S. described coming to this realization in similar ways. Their concerns about helping a young child master the basics or their struggles to find the right homeschooling style gradually resolved. Parents grew to trust the process of learning much more completely and, perhaps as a result, they saw their children mature into capable and self-directed young people. Continue reading »

The Nature Principle

by Laura Grace Weldon

The compelling reasons kids need nature were explained factually and forcefully by Richard Louv in Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. Louv reaches new ground out in his next book, The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age. He uses anecdotes as well as groundbreaking research to demonstrate why we need to balance our use of technology with the restorative powers of nature. Continue reading »

How to Preserve & Empower A Child’s Motivation

by Laura Grace Weldon

The kids had a bunch of boards, some old nails, a hand saw, and a few hammers. They also had the two most important ingredients, the desire to make something and the freedom to do so.

They spent an afternoon planning their tree fort, enthusiastically arguing over whose plan was best. Their first few attempts failed spectacularly. They were undaunted, even bragged a little bit about the noise the boards made falling down. Several of them asked family members for advice. A few others paged through books and watched YouTube videos as they tried to figure out basic construction techniques. They started again, measuring more carefully as they built a frame. Continue reading »

How Natural Consequences Benefit Children

by Laura Grace Weldon

(or What History Teaches Us About Parenting)

The parent I would become was changed by history. Or at least by revelations history can offer.

At 18, I signed up for a college history course simply to fulfill a requirement. Although I’ve forgotten the professor’s name, I’ll never forget the man. He taught us to look at all of history using one pivotal question: “What happens when people are deprived of (or otherwise separated from) the consequences of their words and actions?” Continue reading »

Interest-Based Groups For Learning & Fun

by Laura Grace Weldon

In my family, interest-based groups have been an important part of homeschooling life. We formed a number of these groups over the years. Some, like a history club made up of eager parents and not-so-eager young children, barely lasted long enough for a few meetings. Others have lasted ten years. The most successful has been our boy’s science club. It was started by five families with nine boys between the ages of seven and eleven. When we began it was highly structured. We met regularly at each other’s homes. Parents took turns planning a project or experiment, got the materials, explained the educational principles underlying the activity, and if things didn’t turn out as planned (actually quite frequently) it was usually a parent who searched for answers. Continue reading »

Free To Learn Is A Transformative Book

by Laura Grace Weldon

Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray isn’t just a book, it’s a powerful agent of transformation. I’d like to put a copy in the hands of every parent, teacher, and policy maker. Gray, a research professor in the Continue reading »

Passing Compassion Along

by Laura Grace Weldon

No matter how many times someone claims that humans are naturally selfish and aggressive, they’re wrong. We’re constructed for compassion. It’s easy to tell. Our bodies function best when we’re in a state of cooperation and caring. Research shows this in our skin, our brains, nervous systems, our hearts. Research also proves this whether looking for physical, emotional Continue reading »

Yes, It Does Take A Village

by Laura Grace Weldon

You’ve heard the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” You’ve probably also noticed slap backs like, “I’ve seen the village and it’s not raising my kids.” Continue reading »

How To Raise Vocabulary Geeks

by Laura Grace Weldon

When I tried to throw our dictionary out my oldest threw a fit. This is a very old dictionary. It was owned by my Great Aunt Mildred. The book is huge, with indents along the side for each letter of the alphabet. It’s also not in good shape. Threads are hanging out of a nearly Continue reading »

Benefits of Homeschooling: Pursuing Passions

by Laura Grace Weldon

The freedom to pursue one’s passions is a benefit of the flexibility of homeschooling. Making sure that a young person pursues interests for his or her own reasons, not the parent’s, keeps motivation alive and passion genuine. Snake wrangler, computer geek, vintage auto restorer. These are a few of the identities one of my sons tries on as he masters areas of interest to him. Continue reading »

Raising Global Citizens

by Laura Grace Weldon

More than any materials we introduce, the connections my kids find most pivotal are those they make on their own, person-to-person across any distance. For example, one of my musician sons got interested in acoustics. He joined special interest forums to talk with fellow aficionados around the world about technical details of repairing historic microphones, the artistic nuances of found sound recordings, and other topics. Friendships developed. Now they converse about everything from politics to movies. Some day, when he travels overseas, he plans to take them up on their offers to stay in New Zealand, Finland, Brazil and elsewhere. Already he’s visited friends made online in the U.S., finding the rapport they developed holds fast in person as well. Continue reading »

Legendary Learners

by Laura Grace Weldon

What drives big thinkers, creators, and leaders who achieve success on their own terms? Jamie McMillin wanted to find out, hoping her quest would help her raise and educate her own two children. She delved into biographies of luminaries including Margaret Mead, Pearl Buck, Marie Curie, Louis Armstrong, Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Beatrix Potter looking for educational similarities. She found plenty. Continue reading »

Don’t Push Little Ones To Learn

by Laura Grace Weldon

Take a look at promotional material for preschools in your area. Chances are there’s an emphasis on early math, pre-reading, and other academics. This approach sells. Nearly everyone I know is sure their children benefit from playing with blinking, beeping toys that “teach.” Most of them sign their children up at the age of two or three to attend specialized enrichment programs that claim to boost abilities in science, art, sports, or language. Continue reading »

Clapping Games Aid Thinking

by Laura Grace Weldon

In our family, changing the lyrics to “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands” is essential to the song. We substitute words like silly, grumpy, snotty, and even verklempt for “happy.” Making up appropriate accompanying motions, well, that’s the fun part. Continue reading »

Quirky Interests Build Strong Kids

by Laura Grace Weldon

It is pure, unadulterated joy to be wrapped up in a pursuit that is generated by our own interests and fully engages our abilities. For Cameron, as for most of us, the end product isn’t the reward so much as the experience. That’s true whether the work we’re doing is raising children, building a business, filming a documentary or creating a series of paintings. When we connect deeply with what we do it’s a continual process of growth, learning and awareness. We’re not invested in the judgment of others. The satisfactions are much richer. Continue reading »

Spiders Are Our Teachers

by Laura Grace Weldon

We appreciate spiders in our family. A large orb weaver lives just outside the front door. Every night when we take the dogs out before going to bed we pause to appreciate the intricate web she’s rewoven. It has a lot to teach us about strength, symmetry, impermanence and beauty. Continue reading »

Big Topics Feed Kids’ Brains

by Laura Grace Weldon

Just try talking about an issue of substance in front of your kids. If they’re like mine, they dig right in with questions and opinions. That’s what makes dinner table conversation so lively. No surprise, research says that family discussions about current issues boost kids’ reasoning and mathematical skills. Unlike more casual chats, conversations about social and political concerns help kids make sense of big concepts including numbers. That’s because parents tend to give examples, use real life mathematics, and ask children to think for themselves. Continue reading »