Learning At Home

I enjoyed reading this mother’s perspective on what it’s like to homeschool. While some of the references and resources listed are dated, the advice and thoughts are not. Layne reinforces my belief that children need time to just “mess about” with things, to be exposed to a variety of things and experiences, to play for long stretches. These are things that school leaves precious little time to do.

As the mother of a child who was a “late” reader, I appreciated her chapter on reading, which talks about how important it is not too push too hard too early. All four of her kids were “late” readers… She mentions the value of being a pre-reader, when the focus is oral memory, and how it might be a benefit to have a longer period of that, before reading changes a child’s perceptions and focus. I put late in quotes because when your child learns to read is the right time, not late for him or her.

Most of her chapters cover a particular learning area, such as reading, writing, or math, but I think this quote from the reading chapter encapsulates her home learning approach, “Biodiversity is now recognized to be important for our survival on this planet…I wonder if we need to think about the diversity of human perception, intelligence, creativity, and thinking as well. Are we eliminating human diversity when we force children to read before they have established their own unique ways of thinking and perceiving?”

… And finally, I think every homeschooling mom can appreciate her chapter on burn-out.

S.M. March 17, 2021

“I received your book yesterday. So far, (chapter 1) it is exactly what I was looking for. I am interested in homeschooling but was afraid that all books about it would be so judgmental about the public school system that I would end up feeling bad if I chose that route. Anyway, you write with such clear honesty and simplicity that is very refreshing and inspiring. I am looking forward to the rest of the book.”

Read the beginning of the intro and each chapter

  •  240 page paperback book – 6″x 9″


This book is written from a mother’s point of view. I started writing this book in 1995.  It took me three years to complete and publish the first edition.  It took me three years to complete because I was writing in  “mother time.”  My writing took place in odd times, in odd places, and in spurts.  I enjoyed the  whole process.  Two years later, I published the revised edition.   It included material new to the first edition.  This newly revised edition issued nine years after the first edition also incorporates new material and a different perspective now that my youngest child is 21 years old.

Mothering and homeschooling gave me a chance to develop myself in ways that I could never have imagined before I started.  In Western culture, freedom from child caring responsibilities is often seen as the best and only way for a mother to continue to develop herself.   I couldn’t disagree more.   The time I spent being at home, playing and learning with my children, has been the most productive period of my life. (Pun intended.)

Please order a copy of Learning At Home: A Mother’s Guide To Homeschooling, Newly Revised Edition from your local bookstore or favourite online seller. Follow the links below to order your copy.

Canada Chapters/Indigo * Amazon.ca     US  amazon.com * Barnes&Noble   England amazon.co.uk     France amazon.fr    Germany amazon.de     Japan amazon.co.jp

Espresso Machine The following books stores, in the US cities listed below have my book in their Espresso Machine. It will print your book while you wait for $19.95.

1. Flintridge Bookstore ,  La Canada, CA, 91011
2. Schuler Books, Inc. Grand Rapids, MI, 49512
3. Harvard Bookstore, Cambridge, MA, 02138
4. University of Utah Library, Salt Lake City, UT, 84112
5. Shakespeare and Co., New York, NY, 10065

Chapter 1    Can I Do This – Teach My Child At Home?   

 Before I list the characteristics which I think are important in order to be able to teach your child at home, let me define what I mean by teaching.  The New Lexicon Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, Canadian Edition lists four definitions for teach, three of which I quote “to give instruction to, to train; to give to another knowledge or skill which one has oneself; to cause to understand.”  With this as a basis, I extend this definition to also mean being aware of when the child is ready to receive the teaching.  In other words, just because I am ready to give my child instruction in reading doesn’t mean my child is ready or able to receive it. 

When I taught, I tried to be aware of my child’s ability, readiness, and desire to learn a particular subject; to be sensitive to my child’s motivation; and to be aware of my own motivation in wanting to teach a particular something to my child.  Teaching can only happen when there is someone willing to be the learner as well as someone willing to be the teacher.  The method used to instruct needs to be suitable to the person receiving the instruction.

Chapter 2   Creating A Learning Environment

Environment – The New Lexicon Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of The English Language (Canadian Edition), defines it as “surroundings, especially the material and spiritual influences which affect the growth, the development and existence of a living being.” Create is defined as “to bring into being.” When we homeschool, we need to bring into being material and spiritual influences that will support and encourage a child to gain mastery of the skills needed to function in the world. This is a pretty big order! It may look kind of scary, and yet we have been doing this as mothers since our children were born.

In this chapter, I want to share with you some of my ideas about how to create a learning environment conducive to homeschooling.  Please keep in mind that each family will create their own unique environment; one that fits their needs.  At the same time as each family will have a unique learning environment, there are some things that I think are important to include in all homeschooling learning environments.  First and foremost for successful homeschooling is that children need to have a place to play and things to play with.  Play  is the “work” of childhood!

Chapter 3     Helping Your Child Learn to Read   

Teaching a child to read is one of the major tasks of education. There are many methods to teach reading and there are many theories about how children learn to read.  In this chapter, I will focus on 

  •  how you can help your child learn to read at home 

  •  how to motivate children to want to read 

  •  the signs of reading readiness 

  •  suggestions about how to work with your child to enable him/her to learn to read. 

I hope that reading about my experiences with my children as they learned to read will help you.  Please keep in mind that each child is unique – what works for one child may not work for another.

Chapter 4   Inviting Children to Write    

Writing is a way to communicate. Something we sometimes forget when children first start to write. Stories are the essence of communicating.  Everyone tells a story.  Lawyers must present their client’s case in a believable fashion – tell a good story based on facts.  How well the lawyer tells the client’s story – clearly, succinctly, and sympathetically  – is a big part of the outcome of a trial.  A customer complaining about a bad product has to tell a story about why this product did not meet expectations.  A grandmother wanting to share her perspective on life with a teenaged grandchild needs to find a way to tell her story so that it can be heard. 

Chapter 5    Mathematics    

When my children were toddlers, they enjoyed counting as we put cookies on a cookie sheet or as we cut a cake into pieces.  They enjoyed having their fingers and toes counted or counting as we walked up and down the stairs.  These activities and others like them are part of “math readiness.”

Math readiness may not be something you thought about before.  But, just as reading readiness is important, e.g., exposing children to stories, the printed page, words, etc., so is math readiness.   In order for a child to understand about numbers and how they work, he or she needs to have had many experiences with numbers and number concepts.

Chapter 6    The Arts: Music, Art, Dance, Drama, and Phys. Ed.   

The arts provide an avenue for expression, a way for a child to create or express his or her response to life, a way to give meaning to life.  Children naturally express themselves in creative ways.  It’s as natural to them as breathing.  If we provide materials, space, lessons (when needed), and encouragement, our children will do the rest.

The arts are part of what make us human.  When we listen to a piece of music, watch a play or movie, or attend a dance performance, we have a chance to explore our feelings in a safe setting.  We can feel joy, sadness, awe, anger, fear, etc.  We can identify with the actors or dancers and see some of our own feelings acted out and see the results of those feelings in action.  A performance whether it is drama, dance, or music takes us out of our usual sphere of reference and gives us a new perspective, exposing us to a larger view of the world. …

Chapter 7   Life as Curriculum: Science and Social Studies   

When I was in high school in a suburb of Chicago from 1962-1966, I assumed that what I was being required to learn to graduate and become an “educated” person was the standard and complete body of knowledge for all high schools across the U.S., that anyone with a high school diploma would know the same things that I knew.  I’ve found out since that my assumption was incorrect.

I’ve asked my friends (who were in high school during the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s in both the United States and Canada) and my husband (who was in high school in the 60’s in Louisville, KY) about their high school educations.  What they learned didn’t coincide with what I’d learned.  I expected that there would be some difference, but the differences were much greater than I expected.  These differences tell me that what I had been led to believe as being absolutely essential to know wasn’t necessarily so.  These differences helped me to see that an educated person is defined by the cultural values of time and place.

Chapter 8   Burn-out        

The stress of mothering is enormous in our North American culture.  Add to that the challenge of homeschooling, and the potential for burn-out is great.  In this chapter, you’ll find my thoughts about the causes of burnout, ideas and thoughts about recognizing the signs of burnout, and some suggestions about what to do when feeling overwhelmed and burned-out.

I think that the main source of burnout and stress is conflict.  Although conflict is a normal part of life and it can be a great force for action and change, when we are faced with conflict very few of us are comfortable with it.  When that conflict is internal conflict, our discomfort increases and our ability to function decreases.  Inner conflict can help us to rethink our present attitudes, decisions, or actions.  Yet, if we are subject to constant inner conflict, we become overloaded and our circuits burnout.

Chapter 9 Beyond Homeschooling   

 No book on homeschooling would be complete without looking at what happens after homeschooling.  Can someone who homeschools go to college or university? get a job? succeed in life?  Yes.  Homeschooling will not jeopardize your child’s chances of finding work nor will it jeopardize his or her acceptance to an institution of higher learning.  Your child may need to do some extra work to demonstrate aptitude, ability and competency, but homeschooling does not close doors to jobs or further education.  In fact, from what I’ve observed, young people who have been homeschooled have a sense of self-confidence and poise that will help them in any field they choose to pursue.



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Contact me  – info @ martylayne  .com  (remove all spaces). I look forward to hearing from you.