Strengthen Your Family Through Biblical Homeschooling

Tag: elementary

A masterpiece

A New Outlook On Art

My 15 year old daughter spends part of most evenings drawing in her journal– looking for ideas online to create a personalized book chronicling her thoughts, activities, and more. Often she calls me in to show me her new idea or drawing and to see if I like what she’s working on. (I always do!) 


This love of art wasn’t always characteristic of her, though. For years, she claimed she had no artistic ability and would hardly draw a thing, being more afraid of failing than excited to create something new.


That all changed, though, when she and her sister joined some of their closest friends to walk through the Creating a Masterpiece course together. Each week, they got to hang out with  their besties and create something amazing! I had no idea what that small investment at a Teach Them Diligently event that year would do for her in the days to come.


I can’t tell you how thankful I am for the time spent and the money invested in Creating a Masterpiece all those years ago. It proved to be life changing for my daughter as it unlocked a creativity in her she didn’t even realize she had. I hope you’ll read on to learn more about this incredible resource for your homeschool and why adding it into your normal routine would be a great thing for your children. I also hope you’ll pick up your own copy to use with your children. I promise you’ll be glad you did– and that thankfulness will only grow as your children do and you realize even more how profoundly impacted they were by taking the course. 


Creating a MasterpieceProud Students

Students work on a piece of artwork that eventually becomes a “masterpiece”! Even first graders know that they usually leave Hidden Acres Art School (Sharon’s studio name) with a project they are very proud of. It may take many weeks of work, but they know their projects will grace the walls of their home. Students are often proclaiming, “I didn’t know I could do this!”

Sharon pushes her students to work on projects that bring a sense of pride and purpose, so they are not easily discouraged. “Every project needs to build up the student! My goal in teaching is to see each child gain a confidence they never had before. This confidence will translate to every other area of life,” Sharon states.Creating a Masterpiece

Well Rounded Artists

Students are treated as young artists to learn confidence and skill, and gain everything possible to succeed. At first everyone in class is taught the same project.  After learning to imitate the art media Sharon does, they are then turned loose to create their own paintings. Children are encouraged to try all types of art media. and become well rounded artists.


There are many life lessons learned through art:

– Students learn how to solve problems.
– Students learn how to follow instructions.
– Students gain a longer attention span.
– They learn to “never give up”!
– Through art they grow intellectually.Creating a Masterpiece– Students learn how to make wise decisions.
– They learn the importance of committing to a task and following through to the end.
– Students learn to be creative.
– Students learn how to express themselves through art.
– They learn how to create strategies.
– Students learn to receive constructive feedback.
– They learn the importance of dedication.
– They learn the importance of accountability.
– Students learn how art is a way to worship and praise our creator.
– They learn how to shape our culture by expressing their worldviews through the arts.

Look for Creating a Masterpiece at the “Teach Them Diligently” events across the country!





Sharon Hofer, the lady behind “Creating a Masterpiece” teaches 180 homeschool students weekly. Her studio is filled to maximum capacity and her waiting list has several hundred students. But you can welcome her right into your home through this video course.





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Do your children ever get bored during their homeschool day? Do you feel like you need to liven up their school days with activities that keep their attention?

Here are 20 ideas from our education advisors to bring more fun into your homeschool classroom.

Preschool and Kindergarten

Edible Counting: Use cereal, raisins, or chocolate chips to teach your child how to count. Have him count aloud each time he takes a bite. Continue to add more treats as he learns to count higher. Counting will be fun—and yummy—as he eats his way through the numbers.

Walk the Line: Take a roll of paper towels and spread it on the floor, leaving the paper towels all connected. Then write alphabet letters or numbers in order on each square. Let your child walk on the line to learn the order, then split the paper towels up and let her put them in order.

Play with Magnets: Ask your child to place specific magnetic alphabet letters or numbers on the refrigerator to aid recognition.

Connect-the-dots: Use dot-to-dot pictures to help children count as they connect the dots.

Tell Me a Story: Have your child tell you a story that you can write down. Then ask him to draw pictures to illustrate the story.

Grades 1–3

Hands-on Math Skills: Let children practice addition and subtraction skills while playing. They can count Legos as they build or subtract candy from a bowl during snack time. Their limitless imaginations can provide hours of addition and subtraction fun.

Tower of Words: Use magnetic words or word cards to create fun poetry and silly sentences that help increase your child’s ability to construct sentences on her own.

Creating Classmates: Let your child bring a doll or two to reading class. Then ask her to read to this new “classmate.” Visualize It: As you read a story aloud, have your child draw a picture of what is happening in the story.

Finding the Order: Ask your children to do a simple task, such as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, with step-by-step directions. Then take pictures of them doing each step and print the pictures. Ask your children to paste the photos in order and write directions that go with each step. This shows your child how a process is needed to accomplish a task.

Grade 4–6

Coupon Counting: Let your children clip a coupon and figure out how much money they would save if the coupon were used. Couponing teaches math skills and how to budget money at the same time. You can even let them use a coupon at the grocery store to buy a snack or special treat.

Storyboard Fun: Ask your child to choose a favorite topic that he enjoys. Then give him a stack of 3×5″ cards to use for creating storyboards or word clusters. In no time, he will learn to brainstorm and organize thoughts for his writing.

Be a Reporter: Let your child create her own newspaper. She can interview family members or friends for stories. After writing the stories, she can glue pictures next to each article.

Nature Scrapbook: Help your child scrapbook the natural habitat in your area. Include leaves, twigs, flowers, nuts, seeds, and bird feathers found on nature walks. After pasting each piece on a page of a notebook, let your child research and write about what he finds.

Dress Up Fun: Pick a day of the week and have children dress up like a person from history. That day’s lesson can be focused on a specific time period and how people lived during that era.

Grades 7–9

Time for the News: Record your children pretending to be anchors for the evening news. They can find stories their history or science books for the newscast. Make it even more fun by showing the newscast to the entire family!

Baking with Math: Let your children choose a recipe from a cookbook. Then tell them to double or half the recipe. They have to figure out how to adjust the recipe to the correct measurements. You can also give them 1 or 2 measuring cups (½ and ¼ work well) and tell them to measure everything with those cups to improve their understanding of fractions.

Taste of Culture: Choose a foreign country to study and let students make a dish from that country. As they share the dish with the family, they can share facts about the country. This helps them learn the culture of the country through the food.

Build a Diorama: As part of a book report assignment, ask your student to create a diorama of his favorite scene in the book. Use shoeboxes, cereal boxes, play dough, and other small pieces to create the scene.

The Play’s the Thing: Help children stage a play, based on a book they’ve read, for family members and friends.



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Is homeschooling valuable? Can homeschooling with Classical Conversations add value to your child’s education? Is it a good value? The answer to all these questions from this homeschool dad is a resounding yes!

My wife and I homeschooled our four children from kindergarten through high school. Three of them have completed college, while the baby is a college freshman. The older two we home educated using a  variety of approaches, including co-ops and a one-day, seminar-style program. The younger two we educated similarly, but they had the added benefit of  Classical Conversations’ Challenge programs through junior high and high school.

So “what was the difference?” you ask.

Accountability with flexibility

With the first two kids we always wondered if we were doing the right thing. Were we doing enough? Did they have glaring holes in their education that would be laid bare when they entered college? Every child is different, and they all learn differently. Using Classical Conversations we were confident that we were covering all the bases, but the program was flexible enough to allow us to tailor the learning to the individual needs of the child. For most of our homeschooling years, we were a one-income family, so we were constantly looking for the best values in everything, from diapers to peanut butter. Along the way we learned that the cheapest item was not necessarily the best value.

Christian, classical, by homeschoolers for homeschoolers

Classical Conversations was the only curriculum we found that was overtly Christian,  based on the classical model of education and  written by homeschoolers for homeschoolers! The curriculum wasn’t written by classroom teachers or professional educators, it was deliberately designed from the ground up by veteran homeschoolers for Christian families to use in their homes, and it is continually being updated and improved. There are lots of curricula out there, but we only found one that was Christian, classical and designed by and for homeschoolers, and that was CC.

Community is key; homeschoolers are better together

One of the pillars upon which the success of Classical Conversations rests is “community.” In CC you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. We have 2,500 CC communities  around the world that provide a supportive environment for more than 125,000 students, and we continue to grow rapidly in all 50 states and 30 foreign countries. Each CC community has veteran homeschoolers, veteran CCers, to walk alongside those new to the journey. People are looking for relationships along the homeschooling trek, which can seem so isolating…but not with CC!

No matter where you go, you will find a CC community

It doesn’t matter where you might move to in the U.S., and now the world, you will find a CC community near you. When you move to a new city, there is a strong synergy in finding like-minded people with whom you have the common bond of CC—you have readymade friends. Whether you move to Honolulu, Hawaii, Portland, Maine, or São Paulo, Brazil, you will find a CC community near you. We have lived in the same house for almost 20 years, so we never had to find a new CC community, but it was always comforting to know we could if we had to.

CC’s graduates are enrolled in the finest universities

Classical Conversations has a proven track record of its graduates being accepted into the top universities in the country and excelling. They are ready to compete: for scholarships, in the classroom and on the playing field. Our three oldest children didn’t need to compete for scholarships because I taught at a Christian college for years, but when our youngest child needed to compete, it was nice to know that CC had prepared him well, and he was able to win a Presidential Scholarship at his university.

Classical Conversations has thought of all the little things

CC offers a great curriculum, and its community of 2,500 communities is the backbone of the organization, but CC has also addressed all the little things that drive a homeschool parent crazy!

CC parents receive additional resources through CC Connected and RightNow Media. If you need standardized testing, academic transcripts for college, or courses taken for high school and college credit simultaneously, we can help you. Want to reward your high school graduate and his teacher for a job well done? We offer the coolest graduation ceremony ever onboard a cruise to the Bahamas! Our youngest graduated Challenge IV last year, and it was a great reason to take the whole family on a cruise!

Homeschooling isn’t for everyone. Classical Conversations isn’t for everyone. But if you are interested in homeschooling your children in a classical, Christian manner, Classical Conversations is a value you can’t ignore. For more information, visit




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homeschool community meeting

Homeschoolers teach their children themselves for a wide variety of reasons: academic, religious, social, etc. But one thing we all have in common is the belief that parents can be the best educators for their own children. No other teacher loves your children as much as you do. No other teacher knows your children’s unique learning needs as well as you do. Who better to teach your children? So we teach our own children…sometimes at home, sometimes in the car, sometimes at the library, sometimes at the museum. We homeschool at home, but that doesn’t mean we have to homeschool alone.

Two people are better than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. —Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT)

Teaching your children at home and meeting together with other homeschoolers to share the joys and griefs, wisdom and insight, make this already rich journey even richer. Rugged, individualistic homeschooling cannot produce the multitude of benefits that homeschooling together can. It will be better in community. It will be better for your kids. It will be better for you.

Christians and homeschoolers need community.

As children of God we have a one-on-one relationship with Him, but we are also called to live our lives in community with other believers, to share our unique gifts and strengths with others within the body of Christ. In fact, we cannot fully obey many of God’s commands if we are not in community! So too as parents we homeschool our children ourselves but need the help and support of a like-minded and committed community, once again because we all have different gifts and strengths.

In a community, parents new to homeschooling build relationships with experienced homeschoolers who can offer advice and compassion. Students build lasting relationships with their peers. This creates a safe place for practicing speaking skills and discussing big ideas. Students also encourage one another to meet high academic expectations. Young children enjoy learning in a group setting. They get to play games with the memory work and cooperate on science projects. They have the opportunity to learn to take turns speaking and practicing “loving their neighbor” by listening when their peer speaks or by waiting their turn.

A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

If we were to continue reading in Ecclesiastes, we would learn that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. Classical Conversations has three strands that undergird everything we do: Classical, Christian and Community. We use the classical model of teaching that has been proven over thousands of years. Our curriculum, policies and practices are all informed by Scripture and a biblical worldview. Finally, more than 2,500 local CC communities are the foundation for our global community of more than 50,000 families in all 50 states and 22 foreign countries.

Students and parents learn best together.

Classical Conversations communities meet once a week during the school year. Trained parent-tutors model skills and facilitate activities that give students—and parents—opportunities to practice these skills the other four days of the week. A CC community provides parents and students with encouragement, fellowship and accountability.

Community helps teens build strong, positive friendships.

Particularly during the middle and high school years, the feeling of belonging to a group is very important to students. Because we have groups of no more than 12, they get to know each other and form a close, supportive group. Our Challenge program for teens is designed to give students a close-knit group of friends. They go through mock trial, debates, presentations, and other challenging activities together, sharpening their presentation and debate skills against each other—something they just can’t do on their own.

Homeschooling parents need community too.

Parents enjoy the community, too. They enjoy time to share ideas with other parents at lunch and having experienced homeschooling parents available to discuss challenges. Many parents find the support they need to keep homeschooling through tough times.

Looking for a homeschool community to share this exciting journey with? Visit Classical Conversations to begin the journey!



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History is a subject students either love or hate. Long lists of dates, names, and events to memorize are dry and uninspiring. If we approach history through the power of story, however, it comes alive, jumps off the page, and is about more than rote memory.

Unless we live through an event, we must to trust the words of historians who write about historical events. Most historians do the best research they can, but they were not eye witnesses to history either. Sometimes, their research is flawed or their conclusions biased.

So how do we know what is true?

Some people, like Abraham Lincoln, and events, like the Civil War, are well-documented. If we want to study Lincoln’s life and impact on the world, we can easily find primary documents to inform us.

What are primary documents?

These documents are papers, journals, letters, and photos created by an individual living in the time period about the events they experienced. One of the arguments people have against historians is a tendency toward bias or a personal agenda.

When we go to original documents, eye witness testimonies bring the details of the times and events to life. We aren’t relying on a historian’s interpretation or worrying about their bias.

There are many primary documents created during Abraham Lincoln’s life. Some allow him to speak directly to us about the situations he experienced as President of the  United States. Others give us background about the events occurring during his day.

abraham lincoln

Documents about Abraham Lincoln’s early life:

Abraham’s Lincoln’s Youth (See words that Lincoln wrote in one of his school books.)
Lincoln’s Sense of Humor (See a business card designed as a joke.)
Virtual Library (Includes links to photographs and learning pages.)
Interactive Presentations (Uses newspaper clipping and photos to teach Lincoln’s days before being President.)
Video of the Kentucky Years from Lincoln’s Birthplace
Under Lincoln’s Hat (Primary Resources)

Documents about Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency:

Sheet Music and Songs Written About Lincoln
Telegram (Telling Lincoln of the surrender of Fort Sumter)
Civil War Maps
Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft (Tells what Washington was like during the Civil War)
Lincoln and General Grant
The Gettysburg Address
Pictures and Lithographs
Lincoln’s Resolution on Slavery

The Emancipation Proclamation:

Drafts of the Emancipation Proclamation
Petition Supporting the Emancipation Proclamation
Petition Requesting Exemption from the Emancipation Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination:

Lincoln’s Pockets (What were in his pocket’s when he was killed?)
Drawings of the Event and Funeral, including the Reward Poster for Lincoln’s Killer
Anonymous Letter Warning of Lincoln’s Assassination
R. A. Hunt to Abraham Lincoln, Friday, January 18, 1861 (Warning Lincoln of assassination attempt)
James S. Knox, Saturday, April 15, 1865 (Eyewitness account of Lincoln’s assassination)

Other Primary Resources for Abraham Lincoln:

Civil War Trust
Teaching Lincoln with Primary Sources
Documents from TeachingAmericanHistory
2nd and 3rd Grade Lesson Plans Using Primary Documents for Abraham Lincoln

Using primary documents can be fun and challenging. Finding out what really happened during historical events makes dates and names come to life. You may find the more documents you read, the more questions you have. Using original documents to unlock history can transform a dry process of fact memorization into a fact-finding treasure hunt.

Happy history hunting!

This article was originally published on our Homeschool Launch Blog.


For more on teaching history check out this video on Teach Them Diligently 365.

Teaching History Using Source Documents – Interview with Ben Kunkel

Watch “Teaching History Using Source Documents – Interview with Ben Kunkel”

There is great value in approaching the way we teach history by using source documents and real experiences to do so. Join Leslie and Ben Kunkel of the Ashbrook Center as they talk about teaching history to your high school students using source documents– and even throw in some great ideas for making history come alive for your younger students!

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AOP online learning

Online Learning Opens Doors

As we dive deeper into an age of technology, it is encouraging to see how technology can be used for good in the education sector. Though it’s difficult to track, iNACOL estimates there are millions of students across the U.S. who use supplemental online learning and hundreds of thousands of students who attend a full-time online school.

Supplemental online classes allow students to catch up on missed work or go ahead in areas of interest, and online schools provide endless opportunities for students with unique lifestyles or complex family schedules.

Online learning benefits many students across the country and around the world. To learn more about these benefits, we asked two students at Alpha Omega Academy, the accredited online school of Alpha Omega Publications, how online learning opens doors for them.

Online learning opens doors…to travel.

Malorie Lucas is a 6th grade student who travels around the country with her family in a fifth wheel trailer. They usually reside in Louisiana, but the family has traveled all over the United States. Malorie’s favorite place she’s visited is Lake Jackson, Texas, not far from the Gulf Coast.

Going to an online school has allowed her to easily balance school with travel because her curriculum all comes with her easily on her laptop! Malorie enjoys science because it’s interesting and fun, although she admits it can occasionally be difficult to find the space for everything she needs for science projects.

Overall though, online learning has opened the door for her to do her school when and where she wants loves, and she loves that that her online school allows her to see the U.S. with her family and visit new places.

Online learning opens doors…to achieve dreams.

Annabelle Hampton is a barrel racer from Arizona. She practices 3-4 hours every day to prepare for rodeos, which she participates in almost every weekend.

A senior at Alpha Omega Academy, Annabelle she enjoys math because she views the problems like puzzles that need solving. She loves her online school because of the flexible schedule. She can work ahead on her schoolwork, so she can take days off when traveling to rodeos.

Annabelle got into barrel racing at the age of nine when she started riding her neighbor’s horses and fell in love. She now competes in pole bending, goat tying, and breakaway roping. She was also named the Arizona High School Rodeo Queen.

“Online schooling has given me the time needed to run for Miss Arizona High School Rodeo Queen and represent our state at nationals in Rock Springs, Wyoming,” Annabelle said. “I feel very blessed to attend a school that allows me to achieve my dreams.”



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Abeka tips for homeschool success

11 Tips for Homeschool Success

Homeschooling is a wonderful, worthwhile journey, but even the most experienced homeschool parents sometimes need a bit of advice or encouragement. Here are 11 tips for success.

  1. Start with prayer. Even if you don’t do Bible class first, start each day with prayer. You can lead it or take turns praying aloud.
  2. Incorporate multiple learning styles. Abeka’s curriculum and workbooks incorporate the different learning styles, but feel free to add more learning games, reading out loud, experiments, etc. Taking advantage of the different styles of learning (hearing, seeing, and doing) creates a well-rounded education and improves retention.
  3. Stay organized. The best way to stay on track is to stay organized. Keep a daily planner of goals to achieve by the end of each lesson. Jot everything down, from schoolwork to household chores. To encourage focus, try to keep your school space organized, too.
  4. Work with a mentor. Look to other homeschool parents for advice and help. As you get more experience yourself, look for someone you can mentor.
  5. Join a homeschool group. Join with other homeschoolers or co-ops in your area to provide support for each other. Along with offering teaching resources, these groups give your children a chance to socialize with others.
  6. Don’t take on too much. Saying yes to too many extracurriculars can leave you and your kids tired and overwhelmed. Participate in what really matters to your family, and evaluate your commitments throughout the year to see if something should go.
  7. Tackle the hard subjects first. If your children are struggling with certain subjects, such as math or science, teach those in the morning when everyone is more alert. Save the easier subjects for later in the day.
  8. Keep it fun. Look for creative ways to make learning fun. Younger children might enjoy having dolls or stuffed animals in the classroom. You can ask these other “students” questions and have your child answer for them in different voices. Video your older children pretending to be news anchors as they deliver “news”
    that might correspond with a history lesson or book report.
  9. Take breaks. There will be times when you and your children get frustrated. Don’t be discouraged! Take a break. Go outside for some sunshine and fresh air, get a snack, or play a game together.
  10. Realize the curriculum is there to serve you. Use it as a guide instead of a master. You’re in control of your homeschooling, not your lesson plans or suggested daily schedule.
  11. Plan ahead. Start looking ahead to college when your children are in 9th grade. Begin preparing transcripts, taking note of your children’s interests, and even making college visits.



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tea spiced

It may be the right time to change things up a bit with these ten ways to spice up your homeschool in the new year!

1. Read more of the classics aloud.

Think of Charlottes’ Web,  Little House on the Prairie, or Mr. Poppers Penguins.  Read those or similar classics you haven’t gotten around to. Then, try your hand at writing a similar fiction story together as a family. Do a literary analysis by breaking down the story into parts: protagonist, antagonist, theme, plot, setting. Replace your own ideas for each category, and the fun begins! Younger children are great spontaneous story tellers and can give terrific ideas while the older ones can be the scribes and write it down. Try adding literature activities to enhance the story. Make a recipe, craft, art project or do a research paper.

2. Try relaxed schooling to instill a love of learning and less jumping through hoops.

Kids who love to learn become lifelong learners! Give your child time where nothing is scheduled by adding free play time into the day. Kids who are free to think can invent, problem solve, learn to listen to their thoughts and listen to God. Proclaim the ending of each school day at 2pm or 3pm, then don’t look at schoolwork or answer questions until the next day-just be mom and let them just be your child

3. Cook across the globe.

Learn about another culture’s music, food, and art. Try your hand at notebooking by having each child keep a notebook of all the wonderful things learned, drawing pictures and including photos. Interview friends, church members or neighbors from different cultures.

4. Join or start a co-op!

It’s enjoyable learning together. Both kids and moms make friends and a change of environment is refreshing! Check out To Co-op or Not to Co-op in our TTD365 archives for more details. It’s easier than you think and yields great rewards.

5. Use a slow cooker to ease dinner time stress.

Let each child take turns preparing it with you in the late morning. This is great for soups, stews, enchiladas, roasts, chili and so much more! Teach an older child how to plan meals and let them produce a week’s menu plan. Incorporate nutrition education. Help them prepare each meal to give them confidence then assign them one or two meals per week to prepare.

6. Try a new winter sport together as a family – sledding, skiing, ice skating, hiking, or animal tracking.

Being outdoors in winter can be invigorating if you dress warmly. It can also help to stave off those winter blues!

7. Take a risk and reach out to another mom and swap kids for an afternoon.

Your house this week, her house the next week. Chances are pretty good that she needs a break too! Plan a fun but easy craft to keep them busy or just let them free play.

8. Listen to a sermon series as a family from one of your favorite preachers.

After all faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God! Let little ones color or keep hands busy while listening. Teach older children how to take notes.

9. Make phonics cards with preschoolers.

This is a great way to keep little hands busy! Have you kiddos cut an 8.5 x 11 piece of cardstock in half. Have them cut out their favorite magazine pictures. Afterwards dot the alphabet on half of the sheet so they can trace the letters, then let them paste the corresponding picture on the other half. Hide the cards around the room. Upon finding one, search the house for another object that has the same sound.

10. Take regular teacher in-service days!

I was shocked when I read the local public schools taking off again for another teacher in-service day. Teachers need regular breaks to regroup, refresh and stay up to date on educational techniques. We need to take this seriously! It is one of the most frequent words of advice I give to new homeschooling moms. Obviously, we homeschool moms have different needs. Assess you needs carefully. Remember: going to the grocery store alone my be part of your in-service day, but not all of it! Schedule a teacher day on dad’s day off, so you can take time to get away and breathe!

If you’ve found a way to shake things up a bit when life got overwhelming, let us know by sharing your ideas in our Facebook group or in the comments below!

This article was originally published on our Homeschool Launch Blog.


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Homeschooling Parents

About David and Leslie Nunnery

Leslie Nunnery and her husband David founded Teach Them Diligently, the nation’s premier source for gospel-centered homeschool events. With seven years of homeschooling experience from preschool-high school and a passion to encourage and equip homeschool families, this mom of 4 shares her know-how and insights weekly through Teach Them Diligently media and on

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Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention
2435 East North Street, Suite 1108 PMB 363
Greenville, SC 29615

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