From Christiane Marshall’s Desk:

Want homework help? Guidance in peaceful living with children? Then you want to sign up for this newsletter today!

One of my favorite speakers, Glen Doman, once said that families have a whole room for their cars, but they don’t have a learning space in their homes for children. That stuck with me while I was raising my children. I remember growing up with a large and growing library that my parents bought, and oodles of resources – paper, glue, scissors, fabric, sewing machines, a wood shop, wood scraps, balls, games and more.

And I realized that my parents had done just that.

We had a lot of freedom to explore the world – a large backyard with a small “forested” area behind a row of houses, an old apple orchard, a neighborhood with a small lake – all without the fear we have today.

But there is so much we didn’t have back then. Today Donna Vail discusses some aspects of life that were little understood by most of us. It’s a way to empower our children without controlling them. It’s such a hard balance when it hasn’t been modeled for us by our parents. We tend to imitate what we’ve lived, and need to be intentional when we realize there’s a better way. So experiment with the concepts in this newsletter and let us know when you get stuck.

This post is the first of a newsletter to help families, grandparents and teachers create a peaceful learning lifestyle at home and at school. We believe that just like a business can create systems and a positive culture and succeed at what they do, so can families. And we want to help you get there. Along the way, we want you to tell us what you want help with.

This first installmentwant is a little long, but we’re including a short intro and our bios before Donna’s insightful piece.

Before you move on, sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss issue #2!

Before you read this issue, be sure to sign up below for the newsletter so you don’t miss an issue! And please share with your friends who are raising families or who are involved grandparents! We aren’t sure how often we’ll publish, but it will not be more than once a week.


Both Donna and I have homeschooled our children.

Donna’s Bio:

Donna has six children she’s homeschooled over the past 20 years while she also continues to coach and support parents in a family-centered learning philosophy that inspires parents to live extraordinary lives while empowering their children through self-education and customized learning.

Her clients are from around the world and range from professionals and entrepreneurs to stay-at-home moms and teachers, single-child families to families with many children. She works with families who have special needs and those who struggle with children who are creative, tending to be labeled. Connect with Donna and access her wealth of resources at

About Christiane:

Christiane is a special education teacher (intervention specialist) with an M.Ed in Curriculum & Instruction, and an M.Ed in Special Education. Presently, she substitute teaches and tutors and cooks gourmet vegan meals at home and for others. She has five children (one adopted as a teenager) and two grandchildren.

This newsletter is not just for homeschooling families. Our intention is to help all families have the tools they need to holistically nurture their children in positive ways. So whether you’re creating your child’s curriculum, or helping them with homework and giving them enrichment – we want to help.

So we’re calling this newsletter temporarily “Creating Positive Learning Lifestyles.” But we’d like help giving it a better name. Please make some suggestions!

In upcoming newsletters I’ll (Christiane) discuss:

  • Fun learning projects for summer!
  • A simple, powerful and motivating way to assess learning
  • Creating learning spaces – suggested books, projects, supplies for different age groups
  • Fun ways to help your child read better
  • Simple study skills no one ever taught you
  • Creating fun projects and games out of workbook pages
  • Helping your special-needs child
  • IEP goals for home or school
  • Positive communication with your child’s teacher
  • Your questions answered
  • Fun ways to teach your child to read

Donna’s upcoming topics:

  • Academics and how to make learning easier, more effective, and do-able
  • How to develop a lifestyle-of-learning mindset
  • How to bond the family together, during developing years, for life
  • Creative communications for connection
  • Help for work at home parents balancing work, life, and education
  • Practical ways to understand how the brain works for optimum results
  • Bring harmony and family-centeredness to your home
  • Why academics seem so hard and how to bust through the blocks

Featured Article

iStock_000081147305 family in fall

How to Help Your Children Take Ownership of Their Education

When your child takes hours and hours to complete a lesson that would normally only take 45 minutes to an hour, this is a sign something is not in sync. He’s lost his way, isn’t managing due to specific circumstances, has lost inspiration and connection with purposeful learning or has things happening that he doesn’t feel he can control. Often times it’s dismissed as disobedience or when they’re teens, rebellion. But what if it’s not and all this time we’ve been blaming it on them and pushing them to rebellion; when we only needed to partner with them, walk beside them, love them unconditionally and be more of a mentor than parent or teacher?

I begin guiding my children to take ownership of their education from the start. If you have older children, don’t let that stop you because we can always begin from where we stand. This is exactly what I do with clients who have older children, even teens. We have to know, believe and breathe that no matter where we are in life, it’s never too late to start, become better or gain new clarity. This is true no matter how young or old we are in life.

Here’s right where we begin, with you the parent. This is going to necessitate that you first take ownership of being the parent and partner in education and life with your children. While you may know it’s your responsibility, if you’re in a place of non-action, overwhelm, too much of the wrong action, desperation, crying, whining or blaming, these are all tell-tale signs you’re not owning up. These can be cold hard truths. I know, I’ve had to step up to my areas where I’ve not taken ownership. It’s not always pretty. It can be crushing and heartbreaking, but through the worst of the worst, I’ve learned over the years; trust life and love because it’s all always for your highest good. You’re always going to find a silver lining, because this is the dynamic of human growth.

Let’s dive into steps you can take to help guide your children into taking ownership of their education. In the process, you’re going to learn success practices that will not only empower your children but will help you level up in your business, parenting, relationships and personal development.

  1. Mirroring: The family dynamic is wired so perfectly that everyone involved in our current experience is a part of our highest growth. This is true no matter your age or what position you’re holding in the family. What I like about this is it puts us all on equal ground. It also relieves me of controlling them.
  2. The way this works is if you recognize it in others, you’ll have something of the same nature that you need to address. Here’s an example: One day I was talking to my sons about cleaning their desks. They had let their desks get piled with all kinds of things. Suddenly I was struck by the question, how does my own desk look? It had piles and was not organized at all. I let go of “making” them clean their desks, straightened my desk quietly and got it into order. Then it wasn’t long after that they were happily clearing off their desks because they owned it. Another common occurrence is when we expect our children to sit and study. Remember, our children are modeling us and the modeling is a much stronger influence than words telling them what to do. If you’ll notice when you want your children to do their studies yet you are up and down doing laundry, answering calls, the doorbell, cleaning and such, you suddenly realize they’ve stepped away from their studies. Then usually follows a verbal battle to get them back on their work. To them, they’re just doing as you’re doing. It’s almost as if they can’t help it. I like to think there’s magnets in them that magnetize them to me. It’s really a beautiful thing when you think about the big picture that we’re wired like this as humans to be able to adapt to our environment and culture for survival. So we must be responsible as parents to use this as a tool. To work with life, rather than push against it. This means when something is coming up I’m looking in my life to see where it’s present. Then I work on it. If I can clean my desk and sit down to read and study then I will be a better me. I will have more as a person to offer them. And so my modeling is matching what I want to see in them. A big lesson for us all to be what it is we need to be to have the experience we desire. Give it a try, just experiment with it and let me know how it works for you.
  3. Modeling: In addition to the mirroring work above, set out to model what you want to see. Telling your children what to do and leaving them to it does not create a successful result, even with the best of the best children. They are new to all this and learning. While they’re wired to learn and born doing it, we can’t just hand them books and tell them to study. They need a partner, a mentor and a guide. They’ll usually catch on pretty quick but initially you’ll need to orient them, guide them and model for them what to do. While my children are studying I’m sitting at the table doing my own reading and writing. Learning is a lifelong pursuit so I show them that we’re always making time to study and learn in our everyday living. I take a mentoring approach where I walk beside them as partners. My mentor mantra is: Provide, guide and step aside. So I provide content-rich materials that are self-education friendly, I guide them through the process as what to do, then I step aside and let them do the work themselves. Even if it’s messy or wrong. Then we look at it, I guide them and then step aside again for them to do the work. This is allowing them to learn how to do it. They’re going to mess up. They’re going to make mistakes and sometimes they’re going to fail. But this is always in the safety of you. Giving them this example, supporting them through mentoring, allowing them to do the work; this is an investment on your part that will pay big dividends all through the years. Be the model of what you want to see. Woman and Girl, Mother & Daughter, Gardening Planting Flowers
  4. Mentor: One of the top success practices of the most highly successful people in the world is setting goals, doing the work and adjusting along the course. We can set ourselves up with do-able goals but inevitably something will show up to throw a wrench in the well-laid plan. For our academic studies, each day we have a plan as to what we’ll accomplish. One of those goals is to complete a full math lesson each day. Occasionally one of the children will be distracted, not thinking, getting next to nothing done on his math and sometimes hanging upside down in his chair. I could get really upset, dishing out ultimatums, setting timers, punishing, or taking away privileges but really, none of that is very effective. I will sit with infinite patience. After a time of not seeing it improving I’ll ask, “You doing OK? I notice you’re not doing your math.” I might get an OK and still no productivity. Seeing it taking up most of the time we’ve set for studies, I will check in on the items that could be interfering with concentration of study such as: Is the child in a distraction-free environment that inspires learning? Has he had sufficient nutrition to give him brain power? Did he get enough sleep? Is he fighting an illness? Does he need to move around and expend some energy to regain focus, or is there any family or relational stress? Once I’ve either narrowed it down to one of these, or even if it’s none of these, I will sit with him asking, “How did it go today with your studies?” “What did you do that worked to complete your math?” “What did you do that contributed to you not doing your math?” “What do you need to change in order to be able to complete today’s math lesson and move forward in your goals?” “What will you do tomorrow to create a successful result?” “What do you need from me to support you in your goals?” Notice how this always takes it back to the child and what he’s going to do. Now I’m not the one making this happen but rather asking him how he’s going to make it happen. When I let go of being the person to make it happen, it opens up the opportunity for the child to take it on. Now that you’ve let go of “making” everything happen, your children are empowered to be more successful and now you’ve opened up yourself to be more successful. You can be responsible for your business and they can be responsible for their business.

Whether your children are at home schooling, enrolled in a school or if you’re an educator responsible for a class full of children, when we walk beside them as partners they’re empowered to success. Remember, they’re children. While they do need to make choices, it needs to be in the safety you offer and within the selection of what’s best for them. As they grow and get older they’ll be more discerning. Once they take ownership of their own education, you’ll see them fly and I promise that all the times mirroring, modeling and mentoring will be more than worth it. I can’t even begin to describe the blissful feeling within when you see them succeed. Definitely tears of inspiration.

Inspired Action in the Homeschool: Take time to set yourself up with these practices. Begin with one at a time, creating success with it and then moving to the next. If these practices are new to you, take time to read and re-read so you can truly understand it. As you are mentoring your children, don’t forget to also secure mentoring or support for yourself. It can be intense mentoring to level up or support where you can get your questions answered and be reassured because so much of this is a learning curve we all must get around. In the end, the family-centered learning creates whole family success in all areas of life.

Inspired Action for After School: When your children have been gone all day at school they’ll need time to decompress once they get home. Go on a walk together, get out in nature or have a snack together giving them time to decompress and express how their day has been. Then set them up with an inspiring learning environment for their homework. Sit with them to model as described above. Even when it’s done during this short time, it’s going to be that bit giving them a leading edge. Can you read a classic aloud as a family before bed? Or with older children, read the same book and discuss it. The more you can engage in learning with them, the more empowered they will be, in all their learning. This also creates a great family bond that needs extra attention when so much time is spent away from home.

Inspired Action in Schools: In your classrooms, look to see how you can create an inspiring learning environment. These mirroring, modeling and mentoring practices are just as important for you to incorporate because you have many children you influence every day. Better to be fully present than stressed and pressed. Walk beside them, empowering them to take on their own education. Can you create individual meeting times with students or even small focus mentor groups within your classes?