Charlotte Mason: The Teacher Who Revealed Worlds of Wonder (with Lanaya Gore and Twila Farmer)

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Charlotte Mason and her principles have a huge influence in the homeschool world. But author Lanaya Gore and illustrator Twila Farmer have brought the person of Charlotte Mason to a whole new audience with their new picture book! It was a delight to chat with them about the picture book writing/illustrating process and all they’ve learned about homeschooling over the past several years. Be sure to check out Charlotte Mason: The Teacher Who Revealed Worlds of Wonder for yourself after you listen to our conversation!

Be sure to check out all the other interviews in our Homeschool Conversations series!

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Charlotte Mason The Teacher Who Revealed Worlds of Wonder (with Lanaya Gore and Twila Farmer)

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Who are Lanaya Gore and Twila Farmer?

Lanaya Gore has written Laying Down the Rails for Children as well as other books that help homeschool families easily implement the Charlotte Mason method. She loves hot herbal teas, cozy books, hiking in the woods, and blogging about her family. Lanaya and her husband live in rural Missouri and are in the midst of homeschooling their four children.

Charlotte Mason The Teacher Who Revealed Worlds of Wonder (with Lanaya Gore and Twila Farmer)

Twila Farmer has been illustrating books and publications for over twenty years. For half of that time, she traveled internationally illustrating on location for nonprofit organizations. This experience not only filled her passport, but more importantly taught her the impact of clarity and culture in visual communication. Those projects continue to inform her work as she seeks to visually share the truth and beauty of God and his creation through her art. Twila now lives in Missouri. When she’s not drawing, Twila homeschools her son, gardens with her husband, practices karate and tries to keep their four cats from sneaking into the house.

Twila completes her MFA in Illustration through the University of Hartford in 2022.

Charlotte Mason The Teacher Who Revealed Worlds of Wonder (with Lanaya Gore and Twila Farmer)

Watch my Homeschool Conversation with Lanaya Gore and Twila Farmer

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Amy Sloan: Hello, everyone. Today I am joined by two guests! I have Lanaya Gore and Twila Farmer.

Lanaya has written Laying Down the Rails for Children, as well as other books that help homeschool families easily implement the Charlotte Mason method. She loves hot herbal teas, cozy books, hiking in the woods, and blogging about her family. Lanaya and her husband live in rural Missouri and are in the midst of homeschooling their four children.

Twila has been illustrating books and publications for over 20 years. For half of that time, she traveled internationally, illustrating on location for nonprofit organizations.This experience not only filled her passport but more importantly, taught her the impact of clarity and culture in visual communication. Those projects continue to inform her work as she seeks to visually share the truth and beauty of God and His creation through her art. She lives in Missouri as well, and when she’s not drawing, Twila homeschools her son, gardens with her husband, practices karate and tries to keep their four cats from sneaking into the house.

I’m so delighted that you both are here today.

I know I gave the official bio there at the beginning, but I’d love to hear from both of you, a little bit about yourself, your family, and especially how you came to start homeschooling.

Lanaya, why don’t you get us started?

Lanaya Gore: Sure. We just moved here to Missouri. We’ve lived in Florida and Texas, and Iowa, but my husband grew up in this town, and we were able to move back into the house he spent his childhood in. We get to watch farming around us, so I’m absolutely loving that. I’ve always lived in this city, so this has been a really fun experience. We have four children. The oldest has actually just got her associate’s degree from a Bible college, so she’s moving on in her life. Then we have two high schoolers and a middle schooler. We’re in that stage where they’re becoming independent, and doing more work on their own, and trying to figure out how to homeschool high schoolers.

Homeschooling, I actually was homeschooled growing up, but I did public school, homeschool, and private school. I had all three of those, and I just knew that I wanted to homeschool my children. When my husband and I were dating, we had this day we called “the great day of questions” where we just wrote down a bunch of questions we were going to ask each other. One of mine was, “What do you think about homeschooling?” He said, “I don’t know much about it, but as long as our kids don’t wear blue jean jumpers, I’m fine.” He’s like, “I don’t want them to dress weird.”

I was like, “Okay, I think we could figure that out.” We jumped on board right from the beginning.

Amy: I love that story. Yes, the denim jumpers were definitely a thing back when I was being homeschooled in the ’80s and ’90s.

Lanaya: I know. I don’t mind them, but okay.

Amy: Twila, how about you?

Twila Farmer: Yes, I also live in Missouri. I grew up here, but I’ve lived in a lot of other places and now back here as well like Lanaya. I have a husband and one son. He’ll be in fourth grade this fall. As far as how I got started homeschooling, my mom homeschooled me for one year in high school. It actually ended up being more like one semester. We were able to finish so much content in a short period of time. We finished more than two years in just a little over a semester. I was able to go to college two years early just from that one small time of homeschooling.

I learned, firsthand, the value of homeschooling to allow students to go at their own pace. I’ve always had that in mind, but then when I started traveling and illustrating in different locations, it seems like for people who are working in other countries other than the one that they were born in, figuring out how to educate your children is a lot of big decisions. Do you send them to an international school? Do you send them to a school that is in a language different from the one that we speak at home? Do we homeschool? Do we do a hybrid? It seems like I was always surrounded by some of those decisions that people were making, and learned a lot about a lot of the options.

When we found out we were expecting our son, we actually started looking into schooling options while I was still pregnant. We started visiting schools and a few people were like, “You really don’t have to have that all figured out quite yet, but homeschool is always an option.” We decided, for his kindergarten year, to try this model called University-Model School. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that. He went to school three mornings a week, and then I taught him at home the rest of the time. There were a lot of perks about that, especially the group time, group activities.

I really saw how the curriculum was still along the lines of just filling out worksheets, and then taking tests that evaluate kids. To me, it seemed arbitrary standards. When I started noticing that he had some signs of learning, processing differences there, some dyslexia and dysgraphia, I was like, “I think maybe we can address this better at home.” We started homeschooling, and we haven’t stopped. It has been a good one-on-one experience for us.

How have your homeschool expectations changed over the years?

Amy: Twila, I know you’re still early on in your homeschool experience and adventure, but have you seen any ways in which maybe your expectations or approach to home education has changed over those years? I’m also curious because I know you just illustrated this book about the life of Charlotte Mason, if you had been familiar with her work already, if that’s been a part of your homeschool, or–

Twila: Those are really good questions, because I had heard of Charlotte Mason. I knew that she had something to do with nature, and that’s about it until this project came along. When I started reading more about Charlotte Mason, I found that a lot of what she seemed to promote was in line with the directions I was already heading with our learning at home experience, particularly because I really was wanting to give my son the tools and the environment for him to make his own connections because that’s what he remembered.

It seemed like just memorizing– We tried one curriculum where it was a lot of memorization of rote facts. I found that if he didn’t have a comprehension of what we’re studying, it just didn’t stick. It’s like the glue wasn’t there to stick in his mind. I’d already noted that when he has the things in place so that he can make these connections between different subjects, and different time periods, and things like that, it just stuck in his brain, and then he’d tell everybody about it. We were already heading in that direction. I’m definitely new to Charlotte Mason because of this, but we’ve incorporated several more things that she has recommended and plan to do more of that this year as well, this fall.

Amy: How about you, Lanaya? How has your approach to home education grown and changed over the years? Now you have middle school, and high schoolers, and even now a college graduate. When did Charlotte Mason come on your radar?

Lanaya: When I homeschooled, we used Abeka, and it’s still very popular homeschool curriculum. Then in the little private school I went to, we used ACE, which is Accelerated Christian Education. It’s still, I would say, a textbook system, but it’s little booklets for each subject. I learned from both of them, and I appreciated both of them. I don’t want to put them down, but I wanted something different for my kids. I didn’t want the textbook just handed to them. I don’t need to be there. They can sit down and answer the questions themselves, and read it themselves, which might be great for some families.

I wanted to be involved. Maybe it’s because I love education, or I love to read, but I was like, “I want to read the books to my kids, and I want to be there whenever the idea strikes them or they learn how to read.” You want to watch their first steps. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to homeschool my kids. I was looking for something different, and when our oldest was– This is interesting. I was in a teacher resource store, and I saw this booklet that said Activities and Unit Studies for a Two-Year-Old. I was like, “Oh, Elizabeth is almost two, I can start homeschooling.”

I bought the book, and I started doing school with her, which is really just like crafts, and learning the ABCs, and reading a book that has to do with the theme if you can find one at the library. It wasn’t too schooly, I don’t think, but I love a schedule, so it was perfect for me to plan little activities for her to do during the day. I was interested in unit studies. I was like, “This is different from textbooks,” so I explored that for a bit, and then I wasn’t too impressed with it. I started searching again by the time she was in kindergarten. That’s when I took a quiz online that’s “Find Your Homeschool Method,” and Charlotte Mason is what it told me.

I had never heard of her, so I started searching for her on the internet, who’s Charlotte Mason? Simply Charlotte Mason and AmblesideOnline were the two big ones that had a lot of information about her and the method and her ideas. I read everything I could, joined the Yahoo groups, and things like that. Just started learning, how do I do this?

Read her volumes. At first, you just grab the practical things, “She said to read this book, and she said to teach reading this way, so let’s just do that.” You don’t really have the foundation, why did she think this, and so you’re doing little bits and pieces.

Over time, you keep reading and learning, and you figure out, “Okay, this makes sense,” or, “This is natural.”

How it’s changed over the years, I’ve learned more about how to do it better for sure, but I’ve also not only done Charlotte Mason, we’ve done some outside classes that weren’t Charlotte Mason because I want my kids to have other teachers, and I want them to experience a classroom setting where they have to take a test, and they have to take notes. I want them to have some experience with that. We’ve always done or tried to anyway, do some outside classes as well.

Amy: Yes, we all find the ways to bring our educational philosophies and our principles into the actual realities of our life and make it work for our family, right?

Lanaya: Absolutely, that’s right.

Charlotte Mason The Teacher Who Revealed Worlds of Wonder (with Lanaya Gore and Twila Farmer)

Writing and illustrating a picture book about Charlotte Mason

Amy: Lanaya, so you take a quiz, which I love, you’re like, “Who is this Charlotte Mason person?” You start researching her, and her philosophies obviously influence your homeschool. How did you get from that to being interested in writing a picture book about Charlotte Mason? Then I also wanted to know specifically, as you were thinking about writing this story, why did you choose the medium of a picture book?

Lanaya: Sure. The Charlotte Mason method is around a person, her ideas. I really love and appreciate her as a person. The more I read about her, I was just, “She can be a mentor to a lot of moms and teachers.” I had the adult biographies written for adults that I knew were out there, Essex Cholmondeley’s and Margaret Coombs’ biographies. I’d read about her, but those aren’t super accessible to everyone. At the time I bought them, they were hard to find and expensive. A lot of moms just aren’t going to read to that depth, but I want people to know about her.

Then also, kids, my kids hear about her. I listen to podcasts, I talk to my husband. They read some of her books, her writings. We talk about it during habit training, so her name is familiar, and they’re probably like, “I have no idea who this is. Who is this woman? Her name keeps coming up.” I was thinking on two fronts, really, for kids to read for sure. That’s where the picture book aspect comes in, but also for moms, or people new, or just being introduced to Charlotte Mason, I thought this could be an easy read, and it’s a beautiful atmosphere.

A beautiful picture book, it’s attractive. You want to sit down and read it. That’s the reason I was thinking of a picture book.

Amy: Yes, you’re never too old for a really good picture book, right?

Lanaya: Yes, that’s right.

Amy: How about you, Twila? How did you first get interested in illustrating this book?

Twila: Right now in my life, I’m sure both of you will understand this, your priorities are shared between a lot of important things when you have a family. Homeschooling is really important to me every day. Getting some time in to illustrate is important every day, and it’s important to me that all these priorities integrate, that they go together, that they’re not competing against one another. I want whatever I am spending my time on to benefit my family and to encourage them. That’s one criteria I look at in deciding what projects to take on.

Is this something that’s going to integrate with the other things that are a priority? At this point in my life, I don’t have time to illustrate things that are meaningless. It needs to be really meaningful. When Blue Sky Daisies contacted me about this project, and I knew who Lanaya was, we had not met each other but we knew of each other, and so there was an appeal there to take on this project simply because it was written by Lanaya. Also, as I got to reading it and reading about Charlotte Mason, I said, “This is a really meaningful book that lines up with my values, and is something that other families that are like mine, that are homeschooling their kids, it’s going to appeal to them and encourage them.”

That’s valuable to me, but even the fact too that Lanaya and the ladies at Blue Sky Daisies are also homeschooled moms just meant so much to me. I was like, “Okay, I’m going to be collaborating with these others who have shared values, who also want everything to be built upon this foundation of a biblical Gospel worldview.” That’s rare for a project to come along, where all the people involved have a Gospel-centered worldview.

Then also as I started reading about Charlotte Mason, and especially about the places that she lived, I was like, “These are really beautiful places. This could make some really pretty pictures. That sounds fun to be able to make these pictures from this particular time period and these particular places.” I just really wanted to do this project.

What was the process like writing Charlotte Mason: The Teacher Who Revealed Worlds of Wonder

Amy: I’m really curious, just the behind-the-scenes, the whole picture book collaboration process, and how this works. Twila, was the book already set before you began the illustrations, or were you guys collaborating along the way? Would you pass an illustration to Lanaya? How did that practically work?

Twila: On most picture books that I’ve worked on, actually, all of them other than this, the publisher is like a middle man. The author writes the book, submits it to the publisher, then the publisher determines who’s going to be the illustrator. They take over the editing and the art directing. I’ve never actually met an author before on other book projects, so this was really a really unique and fun experience for us to be both involved at the same stage. Whenever I would get a set of drawings done, I would submit them not only to Blue Sky Daisies but also to Lanaya.

That was really valuable because Lanaya has the knowledge of Charlotte Mason and her time period and had done a lot of research. When it came to, for example, one spread in the book shows a young lady and her dad driving up to Scale How. There’s a quote on that spread from this young lady. I originally drew this girl looking, oh, maybe like 11 years old or something with her dad. She has this sun hat on and things. When I gave those to Lanaya and the other ladies, Lanaya wrote back and said this young lady would have been older.

She would have been the age to go to a teacher’s college, and it would have been wintertime. By collaborating, we were able to get things just as accurate as possible, which is really important for a picture book biography. I’m sure that there are things that aren’t quite because of my lack of knowledge, but I think by collaborating, we were able to just make it as best and as true to life as possible.

Amy: Lanaya, what was the experience like for you? What was it like seeing your words come onto the page in a picture form?

Lanaya: That was a wonderful experience because Twila took it and just went above and beyond even what I thought it could be. She would send, first, I think they were little sketches, pencil sketches maybe, which was real nice. They were small, and it was like, “This is how it’s going to be laid out, and here’s what I’m thinking.” You can do a lot of changing during that time. Then, was there a second phase, and a third? I don’t remember how many phases, but it would get more elaborate, and then finally you’d get the final colored painting.

I did have some ideas. I was like, “Maybe you could do this on this page,” but she knows what she’s doing, and she had some great illustrations. One of them that really surprised me was the Northern Lights. She did this beautiful spread of the Northern Lights, and it totally fit with the text, and it’s really gorgeous. That would have never come to my mind. It was a lot of fun to see what she came up with, and she did her research too. She knew what she was doing. There’s another illustration where it’s the inside of Scale How, the teacher training college, and there’s a fireplace.

Leah Bowden, I think you know her, Modern Miss Mason, she interviewed us, and she mentioned to her, she’s like, “How did you know what this room looks like? I’ve been in this room.” Twila was like, “I’ve never seen this room, but I just was researching the time period, and I knew this is what it should look like.” I just thought that was so neat that she did a picture, didn’t really know that’s what the room looks like. It was a really fun collaboration for sure.

Amy: Wow, that gives me goosebumps. That’s really fun.

Lanaya: Yes, I know.

Favorite stories about Charlotte Mason

Amy: Lanaya, as you were researching, and learning more about the life of Charlotte Mason, did you have a particular favorite story about her, either one that made it into the book, or one that didn’t perhaps?

Lanaya: There’s not a lot of stories about her childhood, and we don’t know a lot about it. She didn’t talk too much about it. All of the stories I could find from her child, they are in the book. That’s what we know. One thing that really impressed me about her was she had a lonely life. I don’t want to say it was horrible or anything, but she was the only child at home, and she started working at 12 as a teacher’s apprentice, and it was not easy. She’s making a little bit of money, she’s walking home at night. She is to go collect money from the parents, and she’s in charge of little kids, and she’s 12.

Ugh, I can’t even imagine that. Then when she was 16, her mother passed away, and in less than a year, her father passed away, so she is alone in the world, and she was not left money, so she’s got to make her own way. She didn’t have really family backing her, and so she was alone. Just to see how she did not despair, she took that, and you can see in her life, how she made family and community around her. She would live with friends, or with a family. Then when she started the school to train girls to be governesses and teachers, she would call it the House of Education because she wanted it to be home.

I think this loneliness and this hard time in life made her a blessing to other people and to herself. She made community around herself, and to see that she turned that hard darkness into beautiful light, I love that story about her.

Amy: Yes, something that she could have used to feel sorry for herself, or become insular, and said it was an opportunity to look outwards, and serve others.

Lanaya: Yes.

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Amy: That’s beautiful. Twila, do you have a favorite story that you learned from the book, from the text, or a particular favorite page spread, or illustration from the story?

Twila: My favorite illustration is the cover of the book because, often, when an illustrator does a book, you finish all the interior pages first, and then the cover is then last, so that it can be a summary of not just the story, or the theme of the book, but also of the style, and the color palette, and everything, so that it best represents what’s inside, and will hook people in to want to turn the pages. That was true with this book. We already had the final drawings all figured out, all the problems solved, and laid out. Then we started talking about the cover, what are we going to put on it?

I think we were still trying to decide what title or subtitle to go with. I took my son to this garden that’s just maybe 15 minutes or 20 minutes from where I live. We go there often, it’s really small. It’s a Asian-styled garden. It’s called Chance Garden, in Centralia, Missouri. We were there last fall, and it was just so pretty. We talked about, for the cover, to have some sort of frog pond or something that the kid is exploring, with Charlotte Mason in the scene observing or guiding. I saw this Koi pond, and I just, “That’s it, that will fit what we’ve been working on for the previous–“

I don’t know how many months at that point we’d been working on this. 8 months or 10 months, at least since I had been involved in it. It was like, “This is going to work,” so I took some pictures, but because the girls who had modeled for the other figures in the book were available to come up at that point, and pose in that particular place for me to take reference pictures, I ended up having to piece together all these different pictures from different places to get that cover. I just wasn’t sure if it was going to turn out.

When it ended up we have, I feel like, a good visual summary of Charlotte Mason, and of who she was as an instructor, but even like a mentor, and a guide, I think it worked, and I was happy with how that turned out. Not only that, but for me, where I know the people who let me take pictures of them to get the lighting and stuff, like my niece is on the back cover of the book, and one of her friends posed as Charlotte Mason, that’s meaningful for me too to have these people that I know. My son is one of the little kids on the cover, and so that was my favorite.

I would hope that if Charlotte Mason were here and could see it, that she would be pleased with how she was presented in that image. That one is my favorite.

Amy: Wow, and I love how it has so many personal connections for you too.

Twila: Yes, because that garden is one that we go to frequently to observe how nature changes, and how the seasons change things, and how just even from week to week, the different flowers that are blooming, and stuff, that’s our particular place to go to document that, and so it seems fitting that would be the place that we put on the cover of a Charlotte Mason book.

Charlotte Mason The Teacher Who Revealed Worlds of Wonder (with Lanaya Gore and Twila Farmer)

Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Surprises

Amy: Twila, do you think there’s anything about homeschooling, in general, or Charlotte Mason homeschooling maybe, in particular, that might surprise someone outside the homeschool Charlotte Mason world?

Twila: One thing I was surprised by when I looked her up online is that she’s kind of the initiator of the whole scouting movement. Everybody is familiar with Boy Scouts, or Girl Scouts, or Frontier Girls, or all these different groups, but maybe, people who aren’t familiar with Charlotte Mason, they’re familiar with these other groups. That was my understanding when I read about her. Is that accurate, Lanaya, that she’s kind of the person that started that idea?

Lanaya: Yes. A governess who had been trained at the House of Education was being a governess for this family, Baden-Powell, I believe was the last name of the family. She was teaching the little son. He was walking home, and all of a sudden, his son up in the tree says, “I’ve got you dad.” He’s like, “You should have been looking all around you, you should look up as well.” He’s like, “Where did you learn that?” His governess had taught him because, at the House of Education, they had been learning some scouting maneuvers, and they thought this would be good to teach children as well, so she was teaching the son.

That man, Baden-Powell, he started the Scouting Movement because he saw, “Oh, children can learn this, and it would be good for them to learn it.” Yes, she had the influence that got that started.

Twila: That’s really interesting. I think that that’s really significant because I think of her time period, the late 1800s, early 1900s as being a time where there’s this overlap between industrialization and then people following old traditional ways of doing things. The fact that she started this initiative during that time, and it has remained strong, popular, and gained popularity through all the changes in technology and industry, I think that’s really significant.

Amy: Yes, there’s a timeless quality to her principles. Lanaya, is there anything that has surprised you or you think would surprise someone else about the way Charlotte Mason homeschooling has looked in your family?

Lanaya: Yes. One thing that came to mind was just how simple her method is, and yet it is very rigorous. I think some people look at it, and they think, “Oh, that’s for little kids.” They don’t think we could continue this in the middle school or high school. Her method, while it is simple and natural, it is not easy. It is rigorous. You definitely can use this for the older grades. Like you said, her principles are timeless. They will carry through once you get down to what are the principles and just look at the little practical things.

For instance, she would have children studying three languages at a time. You don’t start with three, of course, you start with one. They would learn how to speak it and understand it, and then they would narrate in the language. They would listen to a story, say, in French, and then narrate back in French. Once they could do that fairly easily, they would move on to the writing portion in French, and then maybe add in Latin. I don’t know exactly how they did the languages. Then once they could speak Latin, they would move to the writing portion, and they would start another language, like German.

I’m like, “Oh my goodness, this is hard.” Anyone who thinks this is only for little children, they don’t really know what she recommended. I think that can be a surprise. Even narration, I have tried narrating to myself different books, I’m like, “I don’t know how my kids do this.” I told them they had to, so they learned, but I have a hard time doing this myself. While it seems so simple and it really is simple, it is plenty rigorous even for older children.

Amy: Lanaya, I realized I’ve just completely neglected to say the actual title of your book. How about if you tell us the official title of your book. We’ve been talking about Charlotte Mason a lot. Do you think this book is just for Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, or who do you hope reads this book and gets something out of it?

Lanaya: This is Charlotte Mason: The Teacher Who Revealed Worlds of Wonder. Definitely, it’s going to appeal to Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. They know about her, so they’ll recognize the name. It’s a beautiful book. It is written toward, oh, I don’t know, 8-year-olds to 12-year-olds, 14-year-olds, I guess, but I think moms would even get a lot out of it. I know little kids who are enjoying looking at the pictures, so, families in general. Any homeschooler, especially if you’re wanting to introduce someone to Charlotte Mason, I think this could be a good introduction.

I tried to put in this book also, not just about her life but where her ideas came from, as far as I knew from the research I’d done, and what her main ideas were. There were several mottos. I tried to put all the main mottos in there and explain what they meant. Education is the science of relations, for example. I think it could be a good introduction for Charlotte Mason, for those who aren’t very familiar with her. Even anyone interested in education, I think any teacher, they could read this, and it could make them rethink the way they educate.

Like, “Maybe the way we grade and we have rewards, maybe there’s a different way to get children to love learning.” Any educator, really, who’s interested in other methods of education. Then, even if you’re not homeschooling, I think moms, because Charlotte wrote a lot about how to train your children. It really surprises me how much she wrote on that subject, habit training. How does the mind, and the heart, and the soul work together? You’ve got to train the will, and you can’t just think whatever you want. When ideas come to your head, you have to examine them and say, “Is this a good idea?

Is this worthy? Am I going down a bad path?” You get to make those choices. She talks so much about those type of things. Even mothers who just have little kids at home, this would be a benefit to her as well.

Amy: I love giving books as gifts at baby showers. Especially if someone is having a second, third baby, a lot of times they don’t really need any more baby stuff, so that’s a perfect time to give books. I could see this being a really great baby shower gift or baby gift for someone.

Lanaya: Absolutely, yes.

Amy: It might be a little less intrusive than, “Here. Let me give you all the pink books.”

Lanaya: There are six volumes, thousands of pages, yes.

Amy: Maybe a little less intimidating for a young mom, or for any mom, young or not.

Lanaya: Absolutely, yes.

Charlotte Mason The Teacher Who Revealed Worlds of Wonder (with Lanaya Gore and Twila Farmer)

What are you reading lately?

Amy: Here at the end, I’m going to ask you guys the questions that I am asking all my guests. Twila, I will start with you and just ask, what are you reading lately?

Twila: Okay. I’m reading some things with my eyeballs and some things with my ears. I don’t know if I can, but I’m listening to a lot of audiobooks lately. The things I’m reading with my eyeballs, I’ve been reading Against All Opposition by Greg Bahnsen. It’s a book about apologetics, and I’ve been reading Principles of War by Jim Wilson. I’m always reading a historical novel. It’s just the fun thing, and it always gets me interested in time periods. Then I start looking everything up to see if the author portrayed it, like how much of it was actually historical.

Right now I’m reading one by Melanie Dobson. I can’t remember the title right now, but it’s about World War II. As far as what I’m listening to with my ears right now, I just started The Abolition of Man by CS Lewis, and I finished, just last week, Eve in Exile by Rebekah Merkle. I really recommend it. I thought it was really, really good. I highly recommend that book. I’ve been listening to Pinocchio with my son, which I’ve never really liked. It’s such a dark tale of-

Amy: It’s a little weird.

Twila: [laughs] -this creature that just will not obey, and will not have wisdom, which I think is the point of the story, but anyway, we’re listening to that.

Amy: I love– We use those same phrases in our family. We talk about reading with our eyes and reading with our ears because sometimes one is better than the other, at different times and for different kids. I would also highly recommend Greg Bahnsen. He has so many great things. My teens have been going through his book, Always Ready, in their Sunday school class, and I read that as a teen. He’s an excellent resource for apologetics.

Twila: Yes.

Amy: How about you, Lanaya? What are you reading lately?

Lanaya: I love talking about books. I love she had so many recommendations, so I’m going to have to write these down or something so I can read. Okay, let’s see. I’m reading Kristin Lavransdatter, which is a series of three books about a girl in medieval Norway if I’ve got all of that correct. It just follows her life from a young child to getting married, and all the kids she has, and her relationship with her father and with God. There’s a lot of the church is very involved in her life. That’s been my fun read. I guess that would be historical fiction too, but that’s been a lot of fun to read.

I’m making my way through the CS Lewis books. I’m on Miracles. I’m pretty sure I’ve read this one before, and I’ve forgotten most of it. Two paragraphs really stick out to me, and I’m like, “I know I’ve read these,” but boy, I needed to read it again, I guess. It’s pretty dense. It’s not one of his easy ones, in my opinion, but I’m almost through with that one. I am reading Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles. I think that’s a Victorian novel, and I’m listening to a podcast who’s going through it, and so I’m reading along with them. It’s a sad book. I wasn’t expecting it. I’m sure there’s a couple of others, but those are the three that come to mind.

Amy: I love talking to guests and asking this question although it’s dangerous because then I end up adding to my TBR list, of course.

Lanaya: Exactly.

Amy: Everyone is always like, “I’m reading more than one. I’m sorry.” I think that’s okay. Everyone comes is reading more than one. That’s part of what’s so fun about this question. You see all the different facets of our reading life that are happening at the same time, so it’s fun.

What are your best tips for helping the homeschool day run smoothly?

The final question is, what is your best tip for helping the homeschool day run smoothly, Lanaya?

Lanaya: When I was preparing for this question, I think I came up with three or four. I was like, “No, she asked for one. She asked for my best. I don’t know if this is my best.” To make the homeschool day run smoothly, just have a routine. I love routine, I work well with routine. Our first week of school is always pretty hard because there isn’t a routine yet. You’re trying to figure that out, but once you can find it, and because things interrupt, my husband works from home, and we are like, “Oh, he’s got a meeting at 9:30 every morning, so we probably shouldn’t be singing during that time.”

You’ve got to figure all that stuff out, but once you get it going, try to stick with it. I have found that first half of school, those first four months or four and a half months before Christmas, everything is quieter around. There’s not as much going on as the second half for some reason. I’m like, “Really concentrate on school and don’t skimp. Do a full math lesson every day. If you’ve got the time, do it because that second half, I don’t know, we get sick or something. People visit, we go on vacations. I’m not sure, but it’s just a little busier.

I’m like, “I’m okay. Because we did so well that first half, we can just do a half of a math lesson today, and we’re going to be all right.” Really put a lot into it on the front end, and you’ll feel better about it on the back end.

Amy: Oh, I relate to that so much. I think also you’re just tired. January and February, it’s dark, and you’ve come off the holidays, and you’re like, “We’ve been homeschooling forever. ” Same thing in the week. I always feel like Mondays and Tuesdays are super productive, and then it just goes downhill. You got to really get out there and be productive at the beginning.

Lanaya: You’re right, yes.

Amy: How about you Twila? Do you have a tip for keeping the homeschool day running smoothly?

Twila: I asked my son yesterday, I was like, “What do you think is the best thing about homeschool? What makes it go well?” He said, “Cuddling.”

Amy and Lanaya: Aww.

Twila: That’s going to be my answer.

Amy: Best answer ever.

Twila: We have a recliner that’s big, and we don’t really fit in it very well but we try to both fit in it. He’s still little enough that he can fit in it with me. Anytime that I’m reading to him, or he’s reading to me, or we’re discussing something, we’re usually in that chair cuddling. It may be my imagination, but I think the rest of the day, other subjects go better when we spend time just connecting like that. On a similar note, my husband and I both noticed that if the weather is cooperative, and we can get out and take him on a walk, take my son on a walk before school starts, that it’s just an opportunity for him to get his ideas out, and tell his stories, and be ready to sit down and listen, and focus.

Those are, I guess, addressing the externals a little bit but it seems like that helps us. The benefits of tech free days are obvious.

Amy: Yes. People talk about game schooling, travel schooling. I think we need to make cuddle schooling a thing.

Twila: I also think that.

Find Lanaya and Twila online

Amy: This has been so great to chat with you both today. Can you tell me or tell people where they can find you all around the internet, and where people can find your book. Lanaya, how about if you get us started there?

Lanaya: Yes. It’s Charlotte Mason: The Teacher Who Revealed Worlds of Wonder, and you can find that on Amazon, or you can go to, and they’ll direct you where to get it as well. Then I can be found on, let’s see, I’m on Instagram and Facebook, lanaya.gore. That’s L-A-N-A-Y-A-.G-O-R-E. I think those are my handles for both of those. I mostly talk about my kids or book stacks or something is what I’ll post. That’s where I can be found.

Amy: How about you, Twila, where can people find you?

Twila: Yes, I have a website,, T-W-I-L-A and then farmer spelled like Farmer in the Dell, or whatever., and then I’m on Instagram. I think my name on that is Twila J Farmer. Then, on Facebook, as Twila Farmer illustrator. Those are the main three platforms that I keep up with.

Amy: Okay. I will have links to all of those places so people can find you, and grab your book and the show notes for this episode at Thanks so much, ladies. Bye.

Lanaya: Goodbye.

Twila: Thank you.

Lanaya: Thank you so much.

Check out all the other interviews in my Homeschool Conversations series!

Homeschool Conversations Video Interviews Podcast Amy Sloan
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