By Shilo Bartlett


Our children go through so many of these within a period of days, months, weeks, and years. Sometimes it can even feel like hours that they go through one stage before they are on to the next! These stages are punctuated by phrases or terms like the “terrible two’s,” or “fabulous fives.”

BakingMy family is currently in “The Growing Stage”-the one where they eat everything in sight. This particular stage means a lot of grocery store trips, which I am not overly fond of.

Just a few days ago I caught myself complaining about it all: the continual grocery store runs, the endless meal-making, and the demand to always keep the cabinets fully stocked. I was upset that I couldn’t keep up with the constant eating. And then it dawned on me…I remember when my kids were two, and three, and four, and I found myself wishing for some of those stages back. I thought about how I should have appreciated that part of their life while it was still here.

The realization gave me a moment to consciously remind myself that this is a time in my children’s life I should embrace. A chance to try to find the fun within the stage, and give them a reason to learn….just like all the other times in our lives that we have the opportunity to teach our children.

You see, the love of learning is not limited by books, or pens, or a classroom. All our lives we are learning new things, whether it’s new ways of seeing things, new approaches to obstacles, or new concepts and skills. The beauty comes not from viewing a stage my children go through as a thing I must “get through,” but as the gift of a teachable moment. (And many times this way of looking at things is more for me than it is for the kids!)

With this in mind, in addition to the usual I also recently enlisted my children’s assistance in the kitchen. I now have “helpers” in the grocery aisles. They help me decide on healthy snacks for school, menus for the week, and on what we need to buy for the house. They then help prepare the food at home with things like setting the table, washing the dishes, and taking out the trash.

I cannot say that this always goes smoothly or that it doesn’t have its challenges. Real and worthwhile education always has its bumps. However, I can say that the precious bonding time that has come from this stage has value far beyond today’s hungry stomach.

Let’s Chat: How do you implement teaching into the stages of your children’s lives?

    Shilo_BShilo Bartlett is a super organized, over reaching, strong-willed mother of three. She loves having the hands-on time with her kids that homeschooling and The Garden School have allowed her. She grew up in the Colorado River Valley, and went to public school until 6th grade. Her mother homeschooled her and her three siblings through high school, and then she attended CMC graduating with a degree in Applied Science in the Veterinary Field. She has always read voraciously, and written throughout her life for many publications. Her family is her passion. Her driving motivation is to encourage a love of learning.


Population Bomb Fizzles?

    By Dave Miller

(So we’re better than three weeks into the new year. How many of you have already reneged on some of your New Year’s Resolutions? I know I have. Blast that old human nature! Nonetheless, one that I am working hard to keep is to post a blog here as often as Lizzie will let me.

While this post is not specifically a “how-to” on homeschooling, it really illustrates a key tenet that most homeschool families will want to adopt; that is, “A faulty understanding of history can lead to an incorrect or downright destructive worldview in the present.” In a quote credited to Sir Acton, “He who knows not the mistakes of history is doomed to repeat them.” One of those errors is the one I have written about below. This would be a great lesson to talk through with your older students. The main idea I want to get across is-as the follow up essay brings home-“With every new mouth to feed comes a mind to think.”


PopulationPopulation Bomb Fizzles? (A history lesson for your Junior and Senior High students)

Have you heard of Thomas Malthus? Here’s a brief bio:

Malthus, Thomas Robert (1766–1834), English economist and clergyman. In “Essay on Population” (1798) he argued that without the practice of “moral restraint,” the population tends to increase at a greater rate than its means of subsistence, resulting in the population checks of war, famine, and epidemic.

Problem is, his theory (Malthusianism) has been proven wrong over and over again ever since he came up with it. In fact, great damage has been inflicted upon the human race in the name of the “population bomb.” Even in Malthus’s time, this “bomb” threatened to explode in England and cause unspeakable devastation. In some instances of government intervention-or lack thereof-disease and squalor were allowed to run rampant throughout poorer villages in hopes of slowing down population growth, especially among this less desirable segments. Then the industrial revolution happened and increased the amount of food available to the population a hundred-fold.

In the early 20th century, Margaret Sanger mixed Malthusian ideas with a generous portion of social Darwinism to create Planned Parenthood. Few are even aware that the vast majority of abortion clinics are located near high minority populations. In Sanger’s writings, her goal was to control the less desirable races, kinda like old Adolf himself.

Do you remember the “vicious beast of Angor” with its “huge and nasty teeth” in one of my all-time favorite films, Monty Python and the Holy Grail? The beast was nothing more than a cute little bunny rabbit. But as Tim, the Enchanter, warned, and the knights of the Round table discovered: “That rabbit’s dynamite!” So were the filmmakers just being silly, or were they interested in pointing out that something so cute and cuddly as a rabbit could really be a ferocious threat? For what is it that rabbits do prolifically? They multiply. And how is the beast of Angor destroyed? With the holy hand-grenade of Antioch, of course! A bomb if you will. And what was one of the issues in the 70s? The coming population bomb!

puzzle brainWhile the world’s population continues to increase, at least in the third world, the food supply has more than kept pace. By and large, starvation is a political crime, as the following essay mentions. I hope you will take the time to read this fine piece of journalism by the folks over at the S & A Digest. If you can’t take the time to read the whole piece, I can sum it up in one sentence: “With every new mouth to feed comes a mind to think.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Explain your answer below.

Weekend Edition
The Best of The S&A Digest

The streets of Mumbai, India, are so congested, you can’t walk on them. So the city is going to spend $300 million to build 50 elevated steel walkways to allow pedestrians to get where they’re going. Mumbai has nearly 18 million people and its sidewalks are crowded with street vendors, some of whom have been selling their wares on the same spot for 20 years or more, according to the Wall Street Journal.

I hear the word “infrastructure” thrown around a lot, especially when investors talk about China and India. But I rarely hear anyone tell me what it really means in simple terms that anyone can understand.

A city of 18 million without enough sidewalk space… that I understand.

Mumbai’s space problem reminds me of Julian Simon, economist and author of The Ultimate Resource II. The ultimate resource Simon refers to is human beings. Peak Oil proponents and other environmental alarmists don’t get that with every new mouth to feed comes a new brain that thinks. Though there can certainly be short-term shortages of various goods and services – like walking space – over the long term, the rule for humanity has been abundance.

Think about New York City. Today’s population (19 million) is roughly similar to Mumbai’s. But 150 years ago, the population of pre-Civil War New York wasn’t near its current size, and the city would be hardly recognizable compared with today’s metro area.

Given Mumbai is starting off with enormous population resources, imagine what 150 years of progress will look like there. New York to the 10th power? It boggles the mind.

From a reader: So exactly why do you feel ‘Peak Oil’ is rubbish?

Some concepts we simply get tired of explaining in detail because to us the ideas have become like part of the furniture. In the same way you wouldn’t explain in detail how to use a chair, when discussing economics, we sometimes forget to explain the inter-workings of supply, demand, price, and replacement (human ingenuity).

The germane fact about Peak Oil is: It doesn’t matter. We are not going to run out of energy – that’s all you need to know. We have already discovered vastly more efficient sources of energy (uranium). Thus, were we to “run out” of oil, we would simply become far more reliant on electricity, generated largely by nuclear power (if not by coal or natural gas). This might happen even if supplies of oil increase, simply because uranium is a better (more dense) source of energy and, in theory at least, ought to provide lower-cost energy.

The prophets of doom are always wrong because they truly don’t understand how economics works.

Consider the fate of the worrywarts who said we would run out of copper by building telephone wires. It never occurred to them we’d discover a better way to transmit information. Well, of course we did – light waves through pure glass tubes. As recently as the early 1970s, Paul Ehrlich – a tenured professor at Stanford University – was predicting widespread famine by the end of the 1980s in his book Population Bomb. Why people believe this nonsense, I’ll never understand. (There hasn’t been a famine in modern times that wasn’t caused deliberately as a war tactic. And there won’t be: We’ve gotten vastly more efficient at growing crops, thanks to better farming techniques and better seeds.)

Whether or not we will literally run out of oil produced with geophysical tools simply doesn’t matter. Assuming people are free to invest in the creation of alternatives, we won’t ever run out of energy. That’s all that matters. Free markets and the laws of economics provide all that we really need. The supply of everything actually flows from human liberty and free markets. These are the forces that create innovation and technological replacement.

You see, the folks working on better energy sources aren’t limited by the physics of geology. More importantly, they aren’t hamstrung by the lack of Hubbert’s imagination. (Hubbert was the original Peak Oil theorist.) Scientists like Craig Venter have already proven algae can be genetically altered to produce oil from sunlight and salt water. Whether this is commercially viable in the next decade or not remains to be seen. The point is, supplies of oil and other useful forms of energy are not truly a matter of physics. Supplies of useful energy are a matter of economics, where human ingenuity comes into play. That is what is so important about human liberty and free markets.

As long as people are allowed to save, invest, and invent as they choose, the problems of the world will be rendered into what they really are: opportunities.

S&A Research


    A professional educator since earning his teaching credentials at San Diego State in 1985, Dave’s 26-year teaching career has been both challenging and rewarding, often in the same day. He and wife Renee have lived and taught in San Diego, Germany, and Colorado, traveled to dozens of countries and are still raising six great kids. Along with his role as Guidance Counselor at The Garden School, Dave has been reinventing himself as a work-at-home dad and recently promoted to Vice President at Lightyear Wireless. Now he gets to teach people how to live the life of their dreams.

Beyond Socialization

    By Renee Miller

In the midst of a discussion about Garden Schooling/homeschooling the other day, I was asked, “What about socialization?” After traveling the non-public school road for over fifteen years, I’ve heard this so often my first instinct is to laugh. I’m not overly impressed with the social skills of students who spend the bulk of their childhood confined to interacting with masses of their peers.school_building[1]

Those of us who attended years of mass schooling know that not standing out kept you from ridicule. And who wants their child to be ridiculed? Yet, if we are going to raise strong leaders, they must expect and know not only how to stand apart, but also how to weather ridicule. And one thing I learned in government schools? Popular opinion shifts with the wind.

To take a different path than the crowd challenges the people around you – your family, your in-laws, your friends. It flies in the face of the billions of dollars of advertising that saturate our waking hours. Yet, that is precisely how God created us to be: different, no two alike.

Each of us with our own calling and gifts to bring to the world-that immeasurable something for which standardized tests cannot account.

The current hyper-socialization children have to endure is rarely questioned. Our society is working from the vantage point that the family and the church are not viable entities to raise children. Only the government is capable enough for the job. However, from our Christian viewpoint, one result of that is people with a thousand Facebook friends and no true community.

community-work-of-the-people[1]Being in genuine community-learning to truly be civil and social-is hard work. It doesn’t happen in an environment of bells and whistles with hundreds of same-aged peers.

People have a deep longing for family and community, and yet little to no idea of how to become a part of one.

So I encourage you in this new year to slow down the pace of our current culture. Step off the conveyor belt of mass education, and get to know a few people well.

To stay in community through thick and thin is rare. Yet the reward is a small glimpse into the richness of the heavenly family that God has in store for us. To provide this “taste of heaven” is what our community is all about.

It’s time we went beyond socialization and got back to community.

May our children venture out into the world with their cup full and their feet firmly on the ground.

Your Thoughts: What does being in community mean for you?

    Renee is the founder and director of The Garden School and Cornerstone Classical School (as well as “The Miller Family School”). Though trained in the public school model–she has taught everything from first grade to junior high science–Renee’s first foray away from this system resulted in The Garden School. Renee holds a Master’s Degree in Teaching and Learning from Point Loma Nazarene College. She is a strong advocate for classical Christian education and an accomplished public speaker. The Millers currently live in a busy multi-generational household immersed in classical and Christian ideals and a whole lot of love.

And the Winner Is…

book[1]Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway and helped us spread the word! We were blown away by your outpouring of love and support. We can’t wait to do more giveaways in the future!

But now, it’s time to announce the winner!

The randomly selected winner of Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts is…

Chantal Howard!

Congratulations, Chantal! Please send us an e-mail at with your address so we can get your book in the mail!

Thanks again to everyone who entered, and please join us tomorrow for our very first post as mom and Garden School co-founder Renee Miller addresses the very hot topic of “socialization.”

We’ll see you then!

Welcome and Giveaway

Welcome to The Garden School Journal! We’re so glad to have you.

It’s hard being a parent. Harder still to be both parent and teacher. But hardest of all is feeling like you’re alone.

That’s why this blog exists. We believe in you and your right to teach your child in the way you choose-whether that means through homeschooling, private school, or otherwise. But we also know it can be a lonely calling. We know, because we’ve been there.

We wanted to create a place where you as a parent could be equipped, encouraged, and empowered. But we also wanted to create a community of parents who came alongside each other, regardless of age or experience.

We envisioned a place where older moms gave advice to new moms just starting out-a place where triumphs were celebrated, teachers refreshed, and ideas exchanged.

That’s why we’re here. To help support you. To share with you. But most of all, we’re here because we believe in you.

Join us every Friday for new posts, practical tips, and encouragement from parents just like you, and please make yourself at home. You can visit our “Resources” page to view books and websites we’ve found helpful, check out our blogroll to see blogs we’ve enjoyed reading, or mosey on over to “The Writers” page to find out more about us. Or just stick around and say hello! Either way, we’d love to have you.

To make sure you don’t miss any of our posts in the future, you can click on the “Follow” button in the top right hand corner.

But now, for some fun news!

To celebrate the launch of this blog, we are giving away one free copy of Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts!*

Ann is a homeschooling mom of six, and you can read more about her book here:

Interested in entering? Here’s the details:

  • Share the link to this blog address through either Facebook, Twitter, or in an e-mail, and help us spread the word
  • Leave a comment here on the blog letting us know where you shared the link, and be entered to win!

Thank you so much for visiting, and stop by again this coming Thursday, January 10, when we draw a name and announce the winner.

We look forward to getting to know you, and we’ll see you then!

*Giveaway open only to U.S. citizens. Garden School writers are not eligible.