And we have this, which comes straight from the Link to Shit That You Cherry-Pick Because You Think It Supports Your Negligence department.

The premise of the article is that children will just learn to read all by themselves, the way they learn to walk. Just leave them alone, let them play, and it will miraculously happen. You don’t have to do anything at all.

Nicole quotes one little paragraph, which, of course, she thinks totally justifies the Naugler educational system known as Do Nothing At All.

The guy’s major points are these:

Children learn at different rates. Some learn to walk younger than others. That’s normal. And some learn to read younger than others. That is normal too.

I have no quarrel with that concept.

If children want to read, they will learn to read. He cites the increased literacy of the European population after the invention of the printing press as evidence.

And again, I get the idea. Certainly, if a child sees a need to do something, be it using a skateboard or reading a book or in our experience, playing a guitar, he will teach himself to do it.


And maybe not.

What about my husband’s step-father? He’s no longer living, but he was functionally illiterate, to the point that he could not read road signs (except the few he had to memorize in order to get a driver’s license). He wasn’t learning-disabled to my knowledge. He held down a very good job, better than either Joe or Nicole have ever had. His job didn’t require reading.

His situation was the result of several things: poverty as a child, sporadic school attendance, and World War II. I don’t know what grade he was in when he dropped out of school, but he wasn’t out of elementary school. He went to work as soon as he possibly could, and then went off to war.

Why didn’t he ever learn to read all on his own? Certainly his life would have been easier if he had. He constantly had to figure out how to maneuver society without being able to read. But he never did.

In many ways, his life mirrored the Naugler children. Poverty. Few opportunities. Work at an early age.

How much reading do you need to play in the woods on the Blessed Little Property? How much reading is required to wash dogs? Exactly when and how are these children being exposed to situations that would encourage them to learn anything at all?

There is a real danger here that this idea, that children will learn when they want to learn, somehow puts the burden of succeeding on the child. If he fails to learn, well, it’s his own fault. It’s not Nicole’s or Joe’s fault for not providing their kids with educational opportunity. It’s the children’s own fault because hell, they didn’t really want to learn.

I was curious about the writer of the article, so I did a bit of looking.


I will admit that I get turned off almost immediately by somebody who calls himself “Teacher Tom.” It’s way too much like “Groomer Nicole.”

But he teaches preschool at a “cooperative school.” What in the hell is that?


So, it’s a private, non-profit school and it has one teacher. In this case, guess who that is?

You’re right. It’s Teacher Tom.


I was curious about Teacher Tom’s qualifications so I tried to find them. I was unsuccessful. He just says that he’s a “preschool teacher.” And the site above says “skilled preschool teacher.” Nothing about his education. I gave up trying. I have learned that when people avoid telling you what their educational level is, it’s either substandard or not relevant. That doesn’t mean that Teacher Tom is a bad teacher. He might be a great teacher. He might also suck dirt. And if he told me that he had a Ph. D. in early childhood education, he might be a great teacher and he might also suck dirt. But avoiding telling me anything at all just bothers me.

Oddly, he has a parent-teacher in his preschool. Here’s what the site says about her education.

I am a graduate of the University of Michigan and am currently gaining more early childhood education knowledge at North Seattle College.

That’s great. Good relevant information. I like knowing that. Why doesn’t Teacher Tom tell us something similar?

But more about Teacher Tom.

supports public education
click image to link to source

Ah, he supports public education.

click image to link to source

Do you reckon Teacher Tom would think that doing nothing at all, providing your children with no toys to speak of, no educational materials beyond some pencils and one Kindle and a few library books, no guidance of any kind, and little to no interaction with other children except for their siblings for their entire childhood is “education”?

I doubt it.

But anyway, we have a guy here who is writing a blog piece about teaching reading. He teaches pre-schoolers. He doesn’t have to teach anyone to read anything. Pre-school children are not expected to learn to read. They aren’t expected to learn much of anything at all that we would consider “academic.” That’s why it’s called “pre-school.”

He is a staunch believer in something he calls “play-based learning.”

Of course he is.

He operates a pre-school. What else, exactly, are they supposed to do there?

But what is play-based learning?

It’s basically the idea that children learn as they play. I don’t argue with that at all. I think everyone learns as they play. Here’s an example, from just last night, involving my decidedly senior-citizen husband. He bought a hornet trap at Lowe’s yesterday. He took it out of the package to bait it and put it together and hang it.

hornet trap

My husband is the “play with shit until you figure it out” kind of person. I am not. I am the “read the damned instructions, you idiot, and you will figure it out in ten seconds instead of thirty minutes” type. We each have our strengths and our weaknesses. In his case, playing with stuff is often very useful. In figuring things out and having used this technique for many decades, he almost instinctively knows how stuff works. He can “see” it. Often I cannot. I have to read the instructions, step-by-step, and understand and do each one. If I skip Step 4, I cannot do Step 5.

As you can imagine, sometimes we drive each other crazy.

And what we’ve discovered over the years is that when it comes to hands-on stuff like building projects, Dave is light-years ahead of me. He can put stuff together rapidly and often effortlessly. We once worked together laying brick for a well house. He did three walls while I did one (I’m slow). And that well house is a testament to how badly I perform when it comes to laying brick. My wall is all crooked and weird. His are perfect. He can “see” level. I cannot.

But when it comes to fiddly, booky stuff like website design or tax returns, I’m the go-to person. That’s because I read the instructions and do not play around and fuck it all up. I get it done faster that way.

Different people. Different styles. We partner and it works great, except when he is trying to put together a hornet trap and won’t read the damned instructions. I intervened and “helped” and he got done way faster. It was one of those times when he just couldn’t visualize the completed device. I couldn’t either, but that’s when you read the instructions.

So back to Dave’s step-father. He, too, was a “play with it until you figure it out” kind of guy. He had to be. He couldn’t have read the instructions. Maybe he was just able to to “play with it until you figure it out” throughout his whole life and never felt any need to learn to read. I’ll never know, of course.

But according to the “play-based learning” folks, you just let kids play and they figure it out.

And frankly, I’ve watched Dave do this for 46 years, and there’s something to it. It’s not a bad thing. I’m all in favor of it.

However, I am also in favor of learning to read well, so when your efforts at figuring it out fail, you can read the instructions.

question trig

This is from a public high school trigonometry class. I find it very intriguing. The teacher obviously is making sure the students understand that there are practical uses for what they are learning.

This is not, by the way, some bullshit thing I found on the internet. This is an actual problem given to me by a friend whose child is in the class.

Here’s that child’s answer to the problem.

answer trig

Several things are happening here.

First, I was pretty much lost at the words “dimensional analysis.”

Second, this teacher has created a situation where this student was able to “try on” the role of defense attorney. He did this in a math class. I am impressed.

Third, the student was able to come to the very good, logical and scientifically sound conclusion that “a hard copy of pure evidence is more reliable than just taking someone’s word.” I was forty before I began to understand that.

Fourth, this is a public school.

best in the world
click image to link to source

Here are the links embedded in that quote.

America’s public school are among the best in the world. . .

Parents are largely satisfied with the education their children are receiving.

Public schools are not failing. . .

So says Teacher Tom.

But he also does this.






48 thoughts on “Balance”

  1. I learned something valuable from teacher Tom’s blog, so I would consider “tipping” for his work.

    Another spot-on blog, Sally!


  2. Given how little teachers are paid (in general), I’m not as willing to criticize Teacher Tom for that donation button as I am with others.

    He’s not peddling an image of his family and their lifestyle as being one that should be emulated AND one that is desperately needed to support their word-of-the-week lifestyle. This is a side job and if someone likes it, please pay for it. It reminds me of street entertainers. They entertain, if you enjoy what you heard, please consider dropping some money into the collection plate.


  3. The Naugler parents almost never takes personal responsibility for their actions. They appear to pretty much blame everything on everyone else, “ugh trolls did it”.

    Why would anyone think they would exempt their children from being their personal scapegoats? They appear to dump most of their parental responsibilities onto the children, so, in their twisted self absorbed world it makes perfect sense to the parents to blame their children for all their parental failings too, IMO.

    As far as I can see they do not view their children as anything other than chattel, their personal property as “ugh under the 4th amendment” and homemade slave labor working for a scrap here and there.

    In my opinion they use their children to beg, grift, weasel their way out of trouble, to project an image online and off, as constant props and shields. I would not be surprised in the least that they blame their children for their own failures.


  4. Given how little teachers are paid (in general), I’m not as willing to criticize Teacher Tom for that donation button as I am with others.

    I was making a little joke. His donation button is unobtrusive and inoffensive. 🙂


  5. Hmm, did a little research and America isn’t too bad. My kids currently attend the “best” district…in one of the lowest ranked states. It’s sad and discouraging. My oldest child had language issues (speech/articulation, auditory processing delays), knew his letters but couldn’t say the alphabet. By Christmas he was reading 1st grade level. My middle son knew his letters, some words, but really struggled with spelling. My daughter was average when she started but by the end of kindergarten was off the charts. Now then, my youngest is 4-7 yrs younger than the older 3. He was identifying letters and reading sight words at 2.5. By 4 he was reading subtitles on Planet of the Apes fluidly and understanding them. He just started 2nd grade and in is in Gifted/Talented flex group since he’s advanced in EVERYTHING, they want to keep him with his peers but allow him to go where he will academically (too bad it’s so rural here we have no other options).

    The point of this is, my middle son is now 12. At the end of 2nd grade I pulled him out of school and worked with him at home. His spelling is still ridiculous. He has what I think is dysgraphia, sort of the oppposite of dyslexia. He made a chore chart this week, here are the spellings “animales, counairs, founattaure”. Yes, some is due to how he speaks (sounds British) but some of it is that he puts whatever sound he wants with certain letters. He spelled “it” “et” for YEARS. When we homeschooled he would write poems, science reports, stories, math problems. I would grade on subject but then highlight on spelling. Then there was the lightbulb when he finally “saw” how he was misspelling a word. So many were simple everyday sight words. When he tested at school they would have a reader for the math and science parts so he didn’t miss the ?s just because he got caught up in reading even though he knew the actual subject. Well here we are 5.5 years later and he is in his 2nd yr of advanced placement math and science!!!! Who would have ever imagined????? His spelling still sucks but his reading is good enough, I proofread everything before he turns it in, even the rough drafts.

    Just because a child has learned to read and can read you a book even grade/age levels above where they “should be” does NOT mean there may be another issue. And as Sally illustrated, being able to put math and reading together in practice and theory is life and much more complicated. You can’t know if your child is struggling if all you do is see them reading or doing figures.


  6. If you look at how little effort or research Nicole puts in before sharing some meme or post online and apply that to how much effort she puts into educating her children…


  7. N is an idiot. Reading isn’t like learning to speak or learning to walk. While speaking and walking are natural developmental milestones for all children, reading, on the other hand, isn’t natural. Also, if we leave a child alone, he or she will learn to walk pretty much on his or her own. They also will learn to speak, provided they have speaking caregivers; if their parents, for instance, are deaf, the children will learn to communicate to their parents in the same communicative manner…they will also imitate sounds they hear; thankfully, it is highly unlikely that deaf parents with hearing children would not provide those children with opportunities to communicate with other hearing people. But back to reading. For years, I taught literacy courses and some of those courses were to future teachers and our focus was how to teach reading to little kids. Believe me, children would not learn to read if they were not taught. Teaching the alphabet and phonemic awareness related to those alphabet is a task that is best completed by repetition. That’s why we teach children phonemic awareness and identification of morphemes by using little games of rhymes to help small children store those sounds in their memory. We teach cat, bat, hat, fat sat…dog, log, hog, cog, etc….anyway, it doesn’t take children long to identify the morphemic patterns so they can quickly learn to read those simple words. The idea is to teach the simple first that’s why we start with the alphabet then the phonemic sounds…A Ah, B Be, Ba, et. Now it is true that learning to read is much easier at certain ages (usually 5-7) but my granddaughter learned to read at 2 about the same time she really began speaking full sentences. We were as shocked about that as her pediatrician was when he discovered her really reading. But, she didn’t teach herself to read; she learned from her six year old brother who was learning to read (we would all spend time with him teaching him and she was always right in the middle of all that so she was learning too); she also learned to read from her leap pad which read stories to her and it had a cursor that pointed at words and sounds and such; finally, she was addicted to some of the children shows that also provided phonemic awareness…so she was taught. Now, to be sure, she scored highest in the nation on her second grade literacy test (much to the delight of her elementary school) and as a result the university’s graduate program along with the gifted and talented state coordinator begged for us to allow her to attend a special program for really smart kids (two weeks over the summer) and we allowed it. She is smart through no fault of her own or her parents…the DNA crap shoot for her was good and, fortunately, for her, she has a grandmother who is also a professor so she is engaged. Enough of the bragging but I needed it to make my point. While it was easy for my daughter to say no one taught my granddaughter to read, I quickly reminded her that is not true. Also, with all children who are developmentally ready to learn to read, if they are not taught and if they are not engaged, just like anything else, they will not learn it and when they pass through those years when it would have been easy for them to learn and they have to learn, for instance reading, at 12, it is more difficult. Ever try to teach a college freshman how to read? I have and it’s not easy…they are embarrassed to tell you they cannot read and they are self conscious when you have them make them practice reading…even though we have them read using higher level reading materials than, for instance, Green Eggs and Ham…they are not as receptive as little ones. Even genius children will eventually quit trying if they are not given ample opportunities to learn; no matter how easy learning is to those students.
    So, walking, talking, feeding oneself, dressing, exploring, and all of that natural stuff will eventually occur….a child will eventually figure out how to jump even if no one teaches him or her….but without being taught the tools for reading (the codes or what we all call the alphabet, the phonemes and morphemes, they will not learn). Like Sally, I had a family member who was illiterate. She went about a week into the first grade and learned to write a J, which she called “drawing this letter.” But she couldn’t read a word and refused to learn. She was smart and made quilts that she geometrically designed and she could remember a recipe or a pattern after someone told it to her one time…but she could not read.
    So if N thinks that her children will magically learn to read on their own when they are ready, well, sadly for the children, she is going to be in for a rude awakening and so will those children who no one teaches how to read. And, unfortunately, children today must know how to read. Basic literacy is required for every single job. Factory jobs in the state where I live require a high school diploma or a GED. Any minimum wage job that I can think of requires at least an eighth grade reading level so for those children, their hope for a future that will include making a living is being compromised the longer they are denied the basics of education….


  8. Can you imagine the number of books that would be required to sufficiently educate 11 children? Now, please tell me where those books would be stored in a tuny garden shed that houses 13 people and all of their various personal effects. Logic tells me that there is no room for the books.

    Not to mention that yes, children do learn at different rates, but the odds of having 11 children and not a single one of the having any type of learning difficulty have to be pretty small. So inadequate access to books, coupled with a mother who thinks if her kids isnt learning a skill it is no big deal, equals substandard education. It doesnt take a math genius to solve the equation.

    I suppose if a parent is okay with their kid operating at a preschool level then this is a wonderful article. I expect a bit more from my kids.


  9. @ Calyxta

    I read an article once that stated if the advanced learners in America are compared to the advanced learners in other countries there is not that much of a gap in test scores.

    Americans have set up a system where all children (regardless of academic ability) are educated and tested together. The children who are not as advanced may drag down the test scores, but we as a society still benefit from all children being educated enough to hold jobs in the population.


  10. Unbelievably frustrating. It’s like a spit on the face of Malala Yousafzai and all the other young girls denied the right to an education.

    As a Social Worker, I work with many clients who are working to overcome barriers to employment. As a result of these barriers, the cycles of poverty, abuse, and addiction are nearly impossible to break. One of the biggest barriers is what we refer to as ‘disrupted education’ and literacy issues. Talk about ‘hobbling’ children–place them in chaotic home environments, neglect their educational needs, and they will surely be ‘hobbled’. One thing I notice is that although many of the adults I work with have a desire to learn (maybe learn basic adult math and English so that they can get a decent job) they need to learn *how* to learn first. That means being able to sit and focus on stuff that you might not choose to sit and focus on for fun. Millions and millions of people, the world over, have somehow not magically gleaned the ability to read.

    People who want to move their lives forward, increase safety for themselves and their children, and become financial independent are held back by lack of literacy. That’s the way it is. And this is a DIRECT result of lack of formal education. Full stop.


  11. magenta,
    For many years, I have volunteered at a local literacy council where I teach classes English reading and writing to folks whose first or even third language isn’t English; I also teach GED courses; and civics classes in preparation for those taking the citizenship exam. What I find with these particular students is that they work really hard to complete their goals and for those getting their GED, they wish they had done better, stayed in, even liked school. For many of the older folks, their reasons are always the same…they married young and dropped out of school to support a wife and pregnant wife. Or they are women who got pregnant and had to drop out of school…they all want the same thing: to get their GED and get better paying jobs.
    I look at folks who are “hobbling” their children and I just want to scream….why in the hell would anyone set their children up for failure? I cannot imagine. Don’t we all give children all the extras in life so they will succeed and here the Ns are bragging about keep their kids hobbled.


  12. “Can you imagine the number of books that would be required to sufficiently educate 11 children? Now, please tell me where those books”

    Yes! This part kills me. There’s no way they have enough books for 11 kids to read. So sad.


  13. My grandfather was unable to read for the same reasons as your father in law and it caused him much pain and embarrassment. He tried so hard to learn to read when I was learning but he just could not do it on his own. He eventually attended an adult literacy program at our local library and being able to read his diploma upon completion was one of the proudest days of his life. After I had kids he would spend hours upon hours reading them any book they climbed on his lap with because he had never been able to do that with his kids or grandkids. He died when my youngest was fairly young but he remembers spending rainy days on Granddad’s lap reading all his favorite stories.


  14. Because my seven year old has a metabolic disorder and is immunocompromised, he Has to be homeschooled. (Allow me to give a special middle finger salute to the ignorant fuckwits who have eroded our herd immunity to the point that my child cannot attend our local elementary as the vax rates are too low. Despite the fact that he is fully vaccinated, his immune system cannot mount an effective defense. Pertussis could easily kill him.). However, I homeschool in conjunction with our local school district. I have PROFESSIONALS who have spent years studying how children learn and how to best address the many challenges to learning a child like mine has to help me with lesson plans and resources. If I were to simply expect him to “pick up” skills by osmosis, he would be in deep trouble.

    There are lots of things that I have taught myself to do. I picked up sewing from my grandmother. For many years, I considered myself a pretty competent seamstress. I could operate a sewing machine safely, could follow a pattern, blah blah blah. However, when I bought a brand new Viking sewing machine, it came with a series of classes. I didn’t think I needed them, but decided to take them simply as an opportunity to get out of the house. That’s when I learned that what I had taught myself was adequate, much of it was wrong…. And doing things right is the difference between a garment that will cover you up and keep you warm, and a garment that fits perfectly, hangs nicely and looks handmade vs, homemade. I do not understand the level of narcissism that both J and N exhibit– they consistently deride the knowledge of experts, even when their failure is staring them in the face.

    Reading is such a complex and critical skill it’s heartbreaking that N is so blasé about her negligence in teaching it. Kids have to do more than simply be able to identify words on a page. They need to have a good understanding of and ability to use a decent vocabulary. They need the ability to retain information they’ve read and be able to demonstrate understanding. It makes me sick how many skills these kids aren’t being given access to- skills that are critical to their ability to function in our society.

    One of my main goals as a parent is to render myself obsolete. When my kids leave home and hit the real world I want them to look around and say, “Oh yeah, I know how this works.” N and J’s intentional isolation and neglect of their children not only doesn’t prepare their children for independence, it leaves them vulnerable on numerous fronts to exploitation and abuse. I truly hope that as the kids grow they are able to make connections that allow them to not only to catch up with their peers, but give them the ability to thrive.


  15. I went to nursery school and kindergarten. I learned how to interact with my peers in a positive way. I learned how to finger paint and how to make no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies.

    In first grade my teacher taught me to read. First we learned the sounds that the letters of the alphabet made. Then we were taught how to ‘sound out’ words using that skill. If I was left to my own devices I wonder if I would be able to read at all today.

    Not all kids can learn to read by themselves. Good grief, does this even need to be said?
    Memo to Teacher Tom…


  16. At least we know that the elder two, possibly three Naugler children enjoy reading and read fluently. Let’s hope that they are able to teach their younger siblings to read, and that they are granted time and materials to do this.

    I know of at least two other families of comparable size to the Naugler family. Both live in comfortable houses of appropriate size, and their children are consistently clean, well-dressed, given medical care, etc. One of these families home-schools, at least in part. The other family does the same. But the difference is that the fathers work outside the home to support their large families, and the mothers are educated, dedicated and intelligent women who teach their children from planned, comprehensive curriculums, read aloud at bedtime, provide music lessons, and make sure their children who have special needs, as is the case in both situations, receive appropriate special education and health care. Both families prominently display hundreds of books of all kinds in their homes, and those books are used and enjoyed. In both cases, the children have friends from outside their families and are involved in activities that are not strictly family-oriented.

    I’m glad the Nauglers use the public library to obtain books, and hope that the children’s librarian and other staff members are providing reading guidance to the Naugler children. It would be great if the kids could also attend library programs, which are free to all. I’ve seen no evidence of this, sadly – of course, Nicole or Joe would have to provide transportation and stick around in the building while the children attended storytime, craft sessions, book club, or whatever other activities their local public library offers.

    But that’s a pretty good deal – stimulating, enjoyable and educational activities, involving other kids, led by a caring, responsible, educated adult – free for the asking. Of course, it’s tax dollars at work, and we all know how the senior Nauglers feel about taxation…


  17. – they consistently deride the knowledge of experts, even when their failure is staring them in the face.

    I bet we can all attest to instances like this one. I took cheese making classes from a local Mennonite guy. When our son started piano lessons, even though I know how to play the piano, we got him lessons from a pro.

    Heck, we are getting ready to paint our kitchen cabinets. My husband is Mr. Paint. (He ran a paint and wallpaper store for years.) Yet, we went down to the local paint store and talked with as many people as we could find – professionals. Dave understands better than the average person that paint formulations change. Products come and go, and some remain but are improved. We looked online. We sought expert guidance in addition to his expertise. Hopefully, we will have a nice result.

    But this is Life 101.

    Nicole skipped that class, apparently.


  18. At least we know that the elder two, possibly three Naugler children enjoy reading and read fluently.

    How do we know this? I don’t know this at all.

    I have seen stuff supposedly written by the eldest son. One thing he wrote was plagiarized completely, a total copy and paste job. The other was written Joe Naugler-style, which I would not call “fluent.” (Holy run-on sentence!)

    That’s it. I’ve seen no other samples of their writing.

    Nicole makes claims about their reading, but for fairly obvious reasons, I am skeptical of Nicole’s claims.

    I hope you’re right.


  19. So Sally, my burning questions tonight are: what brand and paint did you pick and are you painting over old varnished or new cabinets? TY


  20. Paint: INSL-X Cabinet Coat, made by Benjamin Moore. Lots of looking first. The Benjamin Moore store recommended that over Benjamin Moore Advance which was our other choice. Lowe’s has a cabinet paint but the reviews are pretty terrible.

    Prep appears to be everything. Don’t prep right and you’re asking for trouble.

    Old nasty oak cabinets. Greasy grime built up for years. They were awful when we moved here. They’re still awful.

    First: TSP to clean off the grease and grime and crud. Steel wool or other scrubber.

    Second: deglosser.

    Third: A light coat of wood filler so the oak grain will go away.

    Fourth: sanding.

    Fifth: oil-based primer (KILZ)

    Sixth: two coats finish

    We’ll see how it goes. It will take a while to complete because each step requires a day or so. The electrician comes tomorrow to do the lighting and we can’t do anything until he’s done.

    Before. 🙂 The cabinet over the stove has been removed, and will be installed higher up to accommodate a microwave with hood. Dave is going to build a soffet above the cabinets to fill that void that collects grime. Cabinets will be white with bronze hardware. Walls bright yellow, except the exterior wall which is dark logs. Backsplash will be white subway tiles. New pendant lighting. Same countertop (it’s in pretty good shape and there is no money to replace it right now, since I’ve gone bananas with the whole “let’s do this” thing). Small kitchen. There will be a new bamboo floor all over the whole house except for the two bathrooms, which will be tiled.

    Unlike the Nauglers, this is a real “plan” and we’ve already bought the flooring and the paint and the lighting and the electrician is booked for tomorrow. The living room is already painted. The hallway is painted all but the final coat. We’re walking around on subflooring mostly. All our stuff is in the bedrooms. It’s sort of awful, but it will be good later.


  21. I volunteered in our local elementary school when my children were young. I mostly helped with reading. Our school was a mixed urban school with children from various economic and racial backgrounds. The theme I witnessed repeatedly with these children were their parents never read with them. It broke my heart to have child after child tell me they wished their parents read with them.

    I will admit my children were all readers except for one. They were all reading well before school age but my husband and I were both early readers. From the time they were born were constantly read to them. They have always had numerous books at their disposal. Yes I will admit I am a bit of a book hoarder.

    I see no evidence of Nicole or Joe instilling a love of reading into their children. I haven’t heard stories about reading to them before bedtime. She has small children and that should be a cornerstone of their education.

    Yes children do often learn to read on their own. But those children are generally from literate families. They are usually from families where reading is part of the daily routine. They are children whose mothers or fathers sit with them and read book after book.

    I noticed Nicole merely shared this article. She has stated she doesn’t know how her children learned to read. She hasn’t shared stories of reading Goodnight Moon for the billionth time to a toddler. i just don’t think her children are getting those experiences and it’s sad. The younger years set the standard for the rest of life. She isn’t setting her children up for success.


  22. Sadly, many people who are functionally illiterate end up quitting a job to avoid promotions where full literacy is required. A person may get a job flipping burgers but when the manager wants to reward them for a job well done, promote them to head crew member which requires daily paperwork, they quit because they are too ashamed to admit they have difficulties. So that person is stuck at a low-level entry positions with a spotty work history because they quit so many jobs. Shame hurts people. It hinders self-confidence. The Naugler’s have sentenced their children to a lifetime of shame.

    Back in the good old days you could get away with lying on your job applications and say you had a H.S. diploma but in this information age that is no longer possible.


  23. Both my kids walked after 15 months and didn’t say any full words till age 4. Stuttering, tantrums, lack of eye contact…you gotta know your children aren’t developing right if they don’t reach milestones.


  24. I have my doubts that Nicole or Joe successfully completed a high school education despite their claims. I suppose since Nicole went right into grooming, she does not fully comprehend how necessary a formal education is. It also might be why she failed at many of her businesses because she does not understand basic book keeping. As for Joe, he never successfully navigated himself into the labor market. Both of them have profound misconceptions of what it takes to succeed academically, socially or emotionally in this world. They live on the margins of society because they can’t cut it any other way. It’s a pity that they do not love their children enough to give them a better chance to succeed. In fact, it seems like they are purposely crippling their kids in every way possible so they can feel superior.


  25. I was not able to go to college right out of high school. Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond my control I ended up entering the job field immediately. Luckily due to having a decent high school education which included several college credits I was able to secure a job above entry level wages. And ultimately I was able to get an associates degree, although at that time I had already left the job field and my children were older. Honestly I think it was good for my children to see me in school. They saw me studying and it helped them to see the benefit of education.

    In a few weeks our third child will enter college. Two are on an academic path and the third is on a career path. We wanted to make sure that our children understand the importance of education and we’ve given up a lot to make sure that a college degree is in their futures. Good parents always want more for their children than they had. I don’t want my children struggling to complete a degree in their 30s. I don’t want them going through low paying job after low paying job because they lack qualifications. It’s unfortunate that the Nauglers cannot inspire their children to fly high. Without an education they are limiting them. It doesn’t even have to be an academic education, there are wonderful technical programs out there but all require a basic education.


  26. Jeannie Waller:
    “Ever try to teach a college freshman how to read? I have and it’s not easy…they are embarrassed to tell you they cannot read and they are self conscious when you have them make them practice reading…even though we have them read using higher level reading materials than, for instance, Green Eggs and Ham…they are not as receptive as little ones.”

    I teach general ed English to vocational college students who want to get an AA along with their diploma in Ultrasound Technology. The textbook was basically let’s write an essay every week, and I couldn’t do that because they didn’t read well enough to write. So I went back to my boxes for some High School English stuff, and decided they would read a book, take a test and write a book report. We read A Wrinkle in Time. Most of them liked it and got the point. It was pointless using the textbook to teach them. We used lots of powerpoints and handouts and they did ok.

    I also teach Sociology ( Communication) and Psychology as well. Only class I don’t teach is math. It’s a private college so my lack of a credential doesn’t bother them. I have teaching experience in K-12 and he was ok with that. I’ve learned a lot and I hope they do too.

    I keep telling them if they can’t write a legible report they’ll never get a job.


  27. I’m one of those kids who “just started reading” at age 4. I was reading stuff like The Lord of the Rings and Britannica articles before the end of the first grade. But I also have ridiculously high verbal intelligence, probably as a result of having ASD, which tends to give a person a set of abilities that graphs like the tines of a fork–some extremely high, others extremely low. And I was raised surrounded by books; the breadwinner’s job involved handling books all day.

    I don’t think any of the Naugler kids “just started reading.” I think the oldest kids taught the younger kids, using whatever materials they had lying around, while the Naugler parents were busy staring at their phones.


  28. J and N missed alot of things….
    For example, how well does N read? How could she miss her hot water tank is electric and not gas? Then whine about the bill. She didn’t read the small print when signing her lease?


  29. I agree with BettyAnn a LOT! Nicky and Joe are so SUCK on Themselves they would tell the WHOLE WORLD every time them kids learned something and go in to GREAT detail of what SHE DID and HOW SHE DID IT. ANYTHING! Just as she does every dumbass thing Her and Joe do as it is. I truly believe they have NO CLUE where to start when it comes to teaching a child anything. Just to Teach requires a EDUCATION. Along with not knowing the subject you are trying to teach said child. I mean how can you teach something if you yourself have no clue what it is your teaching? IF Nicky would just put her own self worth on the back burner and think about them poor kids she would go OUT OF HER WAY to give them everything they need to know for a long happy life. Instead it is always about HER! Right or wrong its always about her. IF the grooming shop was doing SO GOOD cause of her great grooming and of course she said she was teaching her kids how to groom too………then why Micky D’s? That just don’t seem right unless they don’t want to groom cause they was FORCED to do so? I mean I just might get me another job too if I was forced to do a job I didn’t like or want to do as a kid just cause Mom was to busy running her Face Book Empire. IMO her sorry excuse for Un-schooling is just another way to say I’m to stupid to teach my kids or to LAZY to teach them. I don’t even think about Joe teaching them kids anything so the reason his name is never brought up.

    SALLY! Once again BRAVO! I always learn from this blog and the Comments WOW yual make me feel stupid I can just IMAGINE how Nicky and Joe Feel about themselves each and every moment they read this Great Blog! Tyty 🙂


  30. Sally, I hope you will post pictures of your kitchen when it’s done.

    I’m interested to see how the bright yellow works. It’s one of my favorite colors and my kitchen needs painting. 😉


  31. This is my first time commenting. i have lurked and read for a long time.

    I live in Seattle and own a preschoolers and am very familiar with teacher Tom and the co-op preschools here. I actually hate that Nicole is using one of his blog posts for anything, because her lifestyle is certainly not what he’s overall talking about.

    I think his website doesn’t explain the co-op concept that well. It’s a unique preschool setting. Parents are required to participate in the classroom. It is completely not a program where you drop your kids off and have no involvement. Because of the parent participation, fees are very very inexpensive, especially compared to the absurd preschool tuitions here.

    For example, in a class that meets two days a week, half the parents work in the classroom one day and the other half work the other day. All classes are play based. They are all run by the local community college. Parents enroll in a class when their kids are enrolled and earn early childhood education credits. During class time there is a point where half the parents have class themselves with a parent educator and the other half of the parents and the preschool teacher continue school with the kids. It’s a great model for providing parent support and education.

    Teacher Tom is one of the most popular teachers and his classes fill quickly with long wait lists. He does some awesome playbased learning adventures and is also big on the kids exploring and discovering things for themselves. He’s been a preschool teacher a while and is not a fan of preschool being academic.

    We haven’t taken classes with him, but I haven’t heard him as a huge proponent of unschooling forever. Just really pushing parents to let little kids be kids. And just learn by being. Seattle is a very educated tech city and a number of parents freak out when their three year olds aren’t sitting at a desk learning to write letters.

    Not trying to knock your post at all. Just wanted to provide more background.


  32. I am willing to bet anything that any child that “taught themselves to read” according to Nicole was taught by an older sibling. She doesn’t know how they did it! just that they did because they are reading! because she doesn’t pay enough attention to them. How good their reading skills are I don’t know.

    I and my siblings all knew how to read before we started school because our mother read to us constantly and our house was overflowing with books and we went to the library and used book sales every chance we got. I remember she had a series of about 50 very thin picture books about phonics/learning to read that we used, lots of rhyming and such…they worked great on my younger siblings. However, I apparently had learned to sight read before she got those books – memorizing whole words by following along while a story was being read aloud. No one realized what was going on for a very long time, my reading skills and comprehension were great but my spelling was often terrible and I couldn’t pronounce words I’d never heard said aloud or hadn’t memorized yet. Decades later I still can recite many children’s books from memory but struggle with the idea of phonics and wish I had learned the “right” way.


  33. Holy Crap,
    I cannot sleep, so I took a trip over to Teacher Tom’s Blog. He hasn’t posted his education or credentials because he has none. I read all of three paragraphs and, bless his heart, his writing wouldn’t keep him in any first year writing program let alone get him out of one. All his accusations against Microsoft and Walmart without one piece of evidence…plus, I doubt, as he says,that he can make it through his life without using Microsoft products. LOL. Even without citations of all his outrageous claims, his incorrect or, in some cases, absent punctuation and his poor grammar usage makes me wonder if he speaks as poorly as he writes, and, if so, his poor students will be picking up incorrect grammar and later, when they have a high school or college writing teacher, will have to unlearn those awful ways of writing/speaking….argh!
    Having said that, it’s no wonder Homesteader N found Teacher Tom to be enlightening. They both seem to want to be experts in fields that neither have spent much time learning about….LOL….


  34. Hi Sally and fellow commenters!

    LOVE the snippets about your life in Alaska, the kitchen remodel, hell, everything you show us is pretty damn interesting! Thanks for sharing with us.

    The idiots on FJ are at it again. Guess they ain’t happy unless they’re ripping someone apart. LOL Too much time on their hands is my guess. And jealousy at Sally’s honesty, knowledge and way cool life! 🙂

    Hey, Basement Dwellers (on FG)?? Try a job. Or a hobby that requires you to get out of the damn house!!


  35. Statistics regarding our children, here in our regional communities, according to Louisville Metro United Way.

    This excerpt is from the Kindergarten Readiness Program~
    “The first five years of a child’s life are a time of enormous social, emotional, physical and intellectual growth. For children to grow into successful adults, they need a supportive and healthy early foundation. We know that nearly 1/2 of the children in our community are not prepared to enter kindergarten ready to learn, and we know that children who start out behind, tend to stay behind. In fact, nearly 2/3 of students who reach the fourth grade without proficient reading skills end up on welfare or in prison.”

    And this one is from the High School Graduation Program~
    “Education is the foundation for a child’s success in work and life, and high school graduation is a major milestone toward achieving that success. In fact, high school dropouts are four times more likely to be unemployed as those who have completed four or more years of college; sadly only 3/4 of students nationally graduate on time and the statistics are similar for our region.
    Students only spend 20% of their lives in school, so it’s important that learning continue outside of the classroom. By establishing a system that helps steer local students toward high quality out-of-school time programs, Metro United Way hopes to provide a stronger educational foundation to help decrease the high school drop-out rate and increase college degrees, thus benefitting the entire community in the long run.”

    It’s silly to state children learn to read on their own. When they are ready. And not include the other conditions that foster a readiness. It’s noticeable that a child will often gain enthusiasm in wanting to learn to read, when they are read to. Or when a sibling is reading. Young children have insatiable curiosity, and they want to do what others are doing around them. Their minds are little sponges, as is often said. A tremendous period of developmental growth, intellectually. I’ve read and do agree, as example, learning another language is always easier for the younger child than later in life.

    As Jeannie Waller said, “Also, with all children who are developmentally ready to learn to read, if they are not taught and if they are not engaged, just like anything else, they will not learn it and when they pass through those years when it would have been easy for them to learn and they have to learn, for instance reading, at 12, it is more difficult.” And as the stats above said, those children that start out behind, tend to stay behind.

    Our little ones are little sponges. They are eager to learn, about most anything going on around them. I remember the sweet time, every night before bedtime. My little ones would pick out the book they wanted me to read to them. Sometimes the same book, over and over again. Then, they started wanting to lead, and read the book to me. Mostly memorization, hearing the story and reading along with me. Hearing me pronounce the words, and identifying letters. I do know when my daughters learned to read, it didn’t just poof out of the air. One was 4 years old. She would sit in the center of the circle, as family sat around her. And she would read to us. What I don’t know though, is what age she would of learned to read without our storybook reading time together. Which I suppose would be “play” time, as most all a young child’s day is filled with play. And moms and dads are the playmates. The books were the toys.

    From reading, this little girl of mine also learned to write cursive. She loved repeating memo notes I would write, copying my cursive handwriting. When she started kindergarten, her teacher was quite impressed. That’s why I say, feed those little sponges and you will be amazed as we often are, the learning capacity in those highly developmental tender years.


  36. Oh and Sally, I cannot express enough how I am enjoying this post! And the many informative comments. The dialogue your blog creates, is always interesting. One of the reasons your blog is a favorite, is the engaging interactive.


  37. Learning to read versus LEARNING to read. I use the caps to identify the difference between identifying a word or words and knowing the meaning and having the ability to use those words outside of the story one is learning: in education, we call this transference. Around the third grade, most kids learn from very qualified teachers how to transfer those very basic skills they have learned in K-2. They learn how to use words in many different situations and they learn that learning to read and reading to learn are two different things. They transfer the reading and writing skills to different situations (reading to learn) and they also begin transferring other skills they have learned such as group behaviors and art work and beginning math skills. Any elementary teacher who is good will look for ways for students to transfer knowledge learned in one way to knowledge gained in another way. Transference is pretty easy with those basic reading and writing skills; more abstract ideas, however, transference isn’t so easy. You can teach students how to write a book report all day long and even teach them to write a analytic essay but have those same students transfer those skills into writing a business brief or a sales proposal….doesn’t happen. This is one of the reasons that some homeschoolers arrive at college at a disadvantage. Their parents provided them with very good basic skills but they were limited in the amount of transference techniques they provided to their kids. The kids arrive at college and they are not familiar with writing genres…and to be fair, there are some public school kids who are in the same boat but they have had some experience with a variety of genres so they do catch up; likewise, I’ve taught homeschool kids who had educated parents (mom or dad was a professor or teacher) and those kids could teach the class but that’s the exception not the rule. My point is that un-schooling or letting kids learn on their own at their own pace without anyone providing them with the tools they need to move various literacies around so they can transfer those skills handicaps the kids. Of course, I don’t think N and J have hopes of their kids going to college nor do they want their children to aspire to do anything other than fast food counter work, which is a shame. But, for N to post these crappy assed blogs and memes about education when she is clearly trying to make a comment about something she knows nothing about is about as idiotic as me trying to enter a discussion about physics or geometry….not going to happen cause I can barely add single column numbers. I know this so when my grandkids come to with math issues, I tell them go see granddad cause he is the mathematician….Same when they need to know about writing code or doing program stuff…go to him…he is that person. I know my weaknesses and readily admit them, but N….she is all knowing…donchaknow?


  38. Not trying to knock your post at all. Just wanted to provide more background.

    Very much appreciated. I got the impression from what I read of his blog that Tom would not be thrilled to see his writing being used to justify not doing anything at all to teach kids.


  39. I am very much in agreement with not making little kids learn academic subjects. Unless you’re talking about a genuine prodigy or somebody with significant impairment, everybody’s at roughly the same place by age eight-ish anyway. Little kids need to be calibrating their senses by working with concrete objects before moving on to abstract concepts, and working on gross motor and fine motor control before they try to form letters and numerals. All this push-push-push and test-test-test…Kindergarteners should not be coming home mentally fried, but that’s what’s happening, at least in my school district.


  40. Sally:

    In regard to the reading levels/abilities of the older Naugler children, I doubt very much if the older boys would both build and fill bookshelves in their “boy cave” with multiple paperbacks – adult westerns, mostly, from what can be seen- if they did not enjoy reading. Kids who enjoy reading tend to be good readers.

    Nicole has also posted photos of the multiple public library books she says her eldest daughter has borrowed and quickly read (or which someone borrowed for her). The daughter’s posted artwork includes pictures based on the cover art of some of these books (“The Clan of the Cave Bear” series, in particular). Again, I doubt if she would paint pictures based on books she has not read.

    Of course, someone else could have produced that artwork, but it seems unlikely that even the Naugler parents’ deception would reach this level, considering the time and skill involved in producing said pictures.

    And given Nicole’s propensity for exaggeration and less-than-accurate accounts of reality, it’s also quite possible that someone else built and loaded up the boys’ bookshelves to give the impression that they are readers. It’s also possible that Nicole or Joe borrowed large stacks of library books which Nicole then claimed were quickly read by their daughter, and it’s possible that Nicole or Joe ordered the girl to produce artwork based on said books.

    It just seems highly unlikely.

    I stand by my premise: the older son and daughter and perhaps the second son are good readers who may have taught their younger siblings to read. The actual reading level of the younger children remains unknown, although if I remember correctly, Nicole did remark about the younger daughter’s reading quite a while ago, and I think this may have been where the “I don’t know how she learned to read” comment came from.

    I doubt if that Nicole or Joe have taught or are teaching the younger children how to read, or read much to them. At one time, the family did own some picture books, which can be seen in Nicole’s earlier blog entries, when they were living in rented quarters. Whether those books survived the various moves and are presently somewhere in the garden shed is unknown.

    So yes, it’s surmise. But there’s good evidence that the older children read well and enjoy reading, regardless of the oldest son’s deficiencies in writing clearly, and it’s not out of reason to conjecture that these children may have taught their younger siblings to read and perhaps write.

    At least, to read and write a little. That’s hardly adequate- but it’s better than no education at all. I’ll take semi-literacy over illiteracy any day.


  41. I do not take it on face value that the daughter actually read all of those books. My daughter (roughly the same age) likes to “collect”books from the library, from used books sales, from the school book fair, but she seldoms reads them. It is frustrating for me. I loved to read at her age. She, however, doesn’t. She is more interested in gettting a book then she is actually reading what is in the book. This could be because she struggles with reading comprehension, so she doesnt really remember what she has read.

    I dont know if this is true for the young Naugler girl or not. I am just saying it is a possibility. The kids get absolutely nothing, so a trip to the library must be like Christmas to them. It is hard to say if the books are actually utilized once they are acquired. Do the drawings depict events from the books or are they just characters from the book? Can she write a paragraph about the chapter she just read? The world will apparently never know.


  42. Sally
    “I bet we can all attest to instances like this one. I took cheese making classes from a local Mennonite guy. When our son started piano lessons, even though I know how to play the piano, we got him lessons from a pro.”
    I have been canning since I was a small child; my mother had me help her, help our neighbors, help my older sisters, and anyone else who needed an extra hand canning. I moved into my own apartment during my sophomore year in college, and I hated to see all the produce that my sister sent me home with would possibly go bad, so I bought a pressure canner and visited several used stores and bought a ton of canning things and I canned. But, I have to tell you that I thought I knew every thing there was about canning and then a year ago, I decided to attend, with my daughter, a community class on canning. While all the pressure canned food that I have done have always been done by FDA and the pressure canner’s instructions, I didn’t exactly water bath according to what the FDA considers safe. I am alive and so far I’ve never heard of anyone getting sick eating my salsa or other water bathed food, but I learned that botulism is right under the lid so now I water bath according to the charts. I also took sewing classes even though I’ve been making my own clothes and my grands and my own kids’ clothes forever….The experts are there for a reason, no?


  43. I have four kids. I homeschool them all. We have so many books and supplies that all our closets and shelves are bursting. I couldn’t imagine how much I’d need for 11 kids. It does make one wonder.

    Thay said.. I do believe that children below school-age learn best by play. With my toddler, we go over the basics such as colors, shapes, letters and numbers but that’s about it – he’s such a bright young kid just from following the lead of his siblings and their friends.

    With my older children, my experience has been that reading is not a self-learned skill. My daughter could identify basic words at 5 but that’s about it. The rest has been taught by me. Actually, reading is the one thing we spend most of our time on (that and mathematics) because it is such a critically important skill to master. I just do not understand how some homeschooling parents feel comfortable completely leaving their kids to their own devices.

    I remember an episode of Wife Swap where one of the families were radical unschoolers. Their 12 year old couldn’t read. So I added the parents to my FB since they did lectures and were self-appointed unschooling “gurus”. Disturbing.. the tales of the mom being drunk at her “lectures” and just a lot of drama but these people have a huge following. Always be weary of anyone with self-appointed titles.


  44. The name of that unschooling family is the Martins. They are loved and hated in the unschooling family. There is a blog out there somewhere about them, well mostly about the mom and her issues. She is certainly not representative of unschoolers. She is mostly a self appointed guru who has a knack for plagerism. I’ve found in life when someone appoints themselves a guru it’s best to run far, far away.


  45. Also, I want to say that I mean no offense to unschoolers. In our community, we understand what that term really means but generally speaking, I just stick using the term homeschooling because most understand it and it doesn’t cause as much of a shock. There are successful unschoolers out there but the ones that aren’t overshadow.


  46. The “unschoolers” in our neighborhood seem pretty par for the course. I recall her saying, “Thank god our province doesn’t require mandatory testing. ” That was my first clue. I’ve since heard through other local kids that the eldest tested at a grade eight level in her senior year. I believe she was trying to get into university. I know (because he was at my house many, many times ) that the middle son couldn’t read much at all (he was eleven at the time ). She once admitted to me that she’d ‘given up ‘ with the last child. He’s perhaps 8 or 9. Last I heard (reliable local teen girl ), the eldest had stated that her mother doesn’t want her to go to art school or learn to drive. She’s 18. Of course not. Who would raise the youngest she “gave up on “? It’s being trapped through love and duty and abuse at it’s finest.


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