About Sarah Mackenzie

Sarah is a smitten wife, mama of six (including twins!) and the author of Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace.
She hosts the Read-Aloud Revival Podcast, and can usually be found hiding behind a camera lens or writing about vibrant and passionate motherhood at Amongst Lovely Things.

5 tips for reading middle grade novels with your kids

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Written by contributor Sarah Mackenzie of Amongst Lovely Things

When my oldest children were small, I couldn’t wait until we could read middle grade novels together. I enjoyed reading picture books with them, of course, but it had been Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl who had sparked my own childhood imagination and turned me into a lifelong reader.

I couldn’t wait to introduce favorite books and characters to my kids.

The first novel I tried to read to my kids was Little House in the Big Woods. It was wildly unsuccessful.

I hadn’t yet developed my own read-aloud skills enough to deliver the long descriptive passages in an interesting way, and my girls hadn’t had enough practice painting pictures in their heads and following along with longer narrative to keep up with what was going on. It was such a disappointment.

Now, I maintain that Laura Ingalls Wilder has written some of the best books ever written (and we have gone on to read her entire series three times as a family), but I don’t usually recommend that parents just starting to read novels with their kids start there.

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Waste your time

Waste Your Time

The following is a guest post by Sarah Mackenzie of Amongst Lovely Things.

I have something of an obsession with being productive and efficient. It’s a good trait when it comes to tackling my to-do list, but it’s a big problem when it comes to homeschooling my kids.

See, homeschooling is all about relationships, and relationships just aren’t efficient.

By definition, to be efficient is to achieve maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense. But relationships don’t flourish or grow that way. Relationships need time, spent lavishly.

This can be a real struggle for those of us who homeschool. We have so much to get to: the laundry, meal planning and preparation, housework, errands, running children hither and yon, making time and space for other daily efforts like exercise, our spouses, and our personal development.

We want to be good stewards of our time, but maybe that time is best spent carelessly when it comes to people.

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Paradigm shift: Curriculum is not something you buy

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The following is a guest post written by Sarah Mackenzie of Amongst Lovely Things.

What if we’ve got it all wrong?

What if it doesn’t matter which books we use, which history projects we take on, how many lessons of math we accomplish in a year?

Homeschoolers spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about “curriculum,” but what if, when we compare spelling programs and choose math books, we aren’t really talking about curriculum at all?

Curriculum isn’t something we buy. It’s something we teach. Something we embody. Something we love.  It is the form and content of our children’s learning experiences.

Saxon Math isn’t the curriculum. It’s just the book that we use to teach the actual curriculum, which is: math.

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