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6 Can't-Miss At-Home Tailgate Tips

6 Can't-Miss At-Home Tailgate Tips

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If you are staying home this Super Bowl Sunday, follow these tips

Planning a get-together? These tips will come in handy!

Trying to pull together last minute plans for Super Bowl Sunday? Here are mytips of making your at-home tailgate a success!

The Guest List

Mix it up. Invite friends, family and a few other people outside of the "usual suspects" to keep things interesting. In my case, this is usually other chefs!

Put the “bowl” in Super Bowl
Make a punch bowl drink -- Although I'm a Giants fan, I live in California wine country, just north of SF. We're working on a punch bowl called Punch Drunk Sea "Chicken" with tequila blanco, honey, lemon, blood orange and IPA. My bartender, Josh Trabulsi, at the Burritt Room concocted this.

The Main Event
For the Super Bowl the main meal should be simple, filling and a crowd-pleaser. Some staples we do at home are pizza on our wood burning oven and real Buffalo wings (my wife is from Buffalo.) With the wings, serve the sauces on the side so they can sit out and not get soggy. Keep things bite size though -- cut the pizza into small square bites.

Many hands make light work
Don't do all the work. At a Super Bowl party, guests are usually asked to bring something. So don't take everything on by yourself and have each guest bring an app, a drink, or a side.

Seattle vs Denver Beers
Get beers that represent the participating teams. It's a fun talking point and allows people to try something new. Both Colorado and Washington have a great selection of local breweries that you can find at specialty beer stores.

Watch the game!
Don't spend the whole night in the kitchen. If you have to grill, make sure it's stuff you can do in advance and serve at room temp, like grilled beef or chicken and vegetable skewers. Or do hot pot meals like chili that everyone always likes.

Click here for the Super Macaroni and Cheese Recipe.

6 can’t-miss trails you’ll want to see in Niguel, Aliso

Cactus contrast with views of Aliso Viejo's hillside tract housing on the West Ridge Trail in Aliso and Wood Canyon Wilderness Park.

Both hiker and mountain biker tracks are seen on the doubletrack West Ridge Trail, a route that offers expansive views of Aliso Viejo and surrounding areas.

A mountain biker heads out West Ridge Trail. The trail follows a ridgeline toward the coast, offering numerous chances for exploration in the form of mountain biking and hiking trails that branch from it.

Climbing rocky bluffs and rolling hills that jut into the coastal zone, hikers in Aliso Viejo and Laguna Niguel are greeted by city-to-sea panoramas and Pacific breezes.

In the heart of South County residential development, the hiking experience here is unexpected, offering clear contrasts between the natural and developed land.

With all this in mind, we’re recommending six must-hike trails in an area that many tend to overlook.

1. Aliso Summit Trail/South Laguna Ridge Trail

Trailhead: Aliso Summit trailhead is on Highlands Avenue and Ridgeview Drive South Laguna Ridge trailhead is on Pacific Islands Drive and Talavera Drive in Laguna Niguel. Street parking is available.

Length: Aliso Summit is 2 miles out South Laguna Ridge about 1 mile. Hike to ocean 3 to 4 hours round-trip (6 to 7 miles).

Difficulty: Easy to moderate, depending on whether you hike all the way to the beach

Overview: This trail provides stellar views of most of the Laguna Coast and panoramic views of Laguna Niguel’s portion of Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. Aliso Summit Trail begins at Highlands Avenue and Ridgeview Drive, and runs into Laguna Ridge Trail along Talavera Drive.

The most committed hikers will be rewarded with the ocean in Laguna Beach, but rebuild your strength for the hike up. The trail begins with a wide gravel road and hikers are rewarded with panoramic views of the ocean within a quarter mile of the Talavera Drive entrance. During almost the entire descent, hikers have a prime view of the ocean. The trail forks in two directions. To the south, it empties into Badlands Park. If you take the dirt path to the west, you hit the half-mile Valido Trail, which is a moderate, more direct descent. Either way, bring at least 1.5 liters of water and snacks and be prepared to refill your water supply at the base if you’re in for the round-trip.

2. Castle Rock Road to West Ridge Trail

Trailhead: Hollyleaf and Castle Rock Road near Canyon View Park, Aliso Viejo. From the 73 toll road, head south on Pacific Park Drive to Canyon Vistas and go west. Turn left on Silkwood, right on Bottlebrush, and park along Hollyleaf for easiest access. Street parking is usually plentiful.

Length: 4 miles, round-trip

Overview: Aliso Viejo residents will get a kick out of this trail, which provides all-around views of the city including the Vantis development and the Renaissance SportsClub hotel. You can also observe how Laguna Beach, the 133 highway and the 73 toll road all intersect at the top of a series of bluffs that provide vertigo-inducing drop-down views. Keep an eye out for mountain bikers this area is a favorite and the well-maintained road sends them zipping down the mountain. The trail eventually links up with the famous Top of The World trail that overlooks the Laguna Beach coastline.

3. Soka University Millenium Trail

Address/directions: 1 University Drive, Aliso Viejo

Parking: Free parking on campus

Overview: The Soka trail loops around the campus, providing rarely seen views of certain canyons and vistas in Aliso Viejo. Walkers can also take in the 103-acre campus of the private, four-year liberal arts college that opened in 2001. This hike isn’t difficult, but the views are worth a trek and you might even get a view of the deer and small animals that have been spotted and posted on Soka University’s Facebook page, which showed two deer along the trail earlier this month.

4. Colinas Bluff Trail

Trailhead: The corner of Marina Hills Drive and Golden Lantern, Laguna Niguel. Park at the Albertsons shopping center on the corner the trailhead itself is across the street and about 50 yards south on Golden Lantern.

Length: Up to 6.7 miles, round-trip

Overview: This doubletrack mixed-use trail on the border of Laguna Niguel and San Juan Capistrano at first takes a short climb from Golden Lantern to the ridgeline. From there, it’s nothing but expansive views overlooking both cities. While the trail surface itself is well groomed, the route climbs and descends repeatedly &ndash a solid workout for hikers or trail runners. Its convenience, along with several high points that allow for nearly 360 degree views, more than make up for the suburban nature of the trail. Trail users pass just behind residents’ backyards in several sections.

5. Dripping Cave (aka Robber’s Cave)

Trailhead: Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, 28373 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Niguel

Length: 5 miles, round-trip

Overview: This relatively short, mostly flat hike or bike trail has a sweet prize at the end &ndash Dripping Cave, or Robber’s Cave, where the infamous Juan Flores gang hid out between robbing the stagecoaches that traveled from San Diego and Los Angeles. From the parking area, take the Aliso Creek Trail into the park. It’s paved, though a dirt trail parallels it. Take a right on Wood Canyon Trail, a double-track dirt trail. Then, keep an eye out for a sign to Dripping Cave on the left, and take the three-quarter-mile Dripping Cave Trail up to the overhang itself.

Trailhead: Canyon View Park, Canyon Vistas and Silkwood, Aliso Viejo (can also be accessed from main park entrance). Park on the street.

Length: 6 miles, round-trip

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Overview: If you’re an Aliso Viejo resident, the access point to Wood Canyon Trail at Canyon View Park is particularly convenient. Hikers and mountain bikers alike take this thoroughfare into the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, to trails such as Rock-It or Mathis Canyon. It’s also an alternative route to sights like Dripping Cave. One loop option is to take Wood Canyon Trail into the park and climb back out to the same neighborhood via the West Ridge Trail. The opportunities for exploration off this trail are numerous.

Tailgate Food Ideas for Appetizers

You'll get the party started on the right foot when you use these tailgate food ideas for appetizers. From salsa to the classic nachos, these party appetizer recipes can be packed up and taken to the game day site if you'd like. These classic recipes are an indelible part of any good tailgate party, and are sure to be hits with all of your guests. Just set out some disposable napkins or plates so guests can snack away without any messes, and these easy party appetizer recipes will be ready to serve.

    Tailgate food is practically synonymous with cheese, so it's no surprise to see this recipe for cheese dip at the top of the list. This easy recipe can be paired with your favorite pretzel rods, fresh cut vegetables, or an assortment of crackers — or even all three options! What's better than the classic deviled egg? Try these smoked deviled eggs! This make-ahead recipe includes plenty of nuance and flavor, and will be an unforgettable addition to your tailgate party spread. Use your smoker to make this delicious appetizer. This recipe for bruschetta is a great way to use some of the tomatoes in your garden! Instead of assembling the bruschetta on top of the slices of toast at home, consider packing the toast and bruschetta in separate containers. When you arrive at the tailgate party location, simply spoon out the bruschetta on each slice and then serve. Including a vegan recipe or two in your tailgate party menu doesn't have to be a difficult task. This spinach dip uses is easy to make and is vegan, too. Pita chips, fresh vegetables, and small slices of bread will all be perfect accompaniments to this dip. A bowl of nachos at a stadium can be greasy, light on flavor, and so disappointing. If you want to wow the crowd, then keep this recipe for nachos up your sleeve. True to the name, these Portable Nachos are easy to make and pack up for any game on the calendar. Store-bought hummus will be but a distant memory when you try this hummus recipe. The six-ingredient recipe can be made within minutes and will be the perfect addition to your slate of appetizers and snacks before the game. If you've never made hummus before, then you need to give this recipe a try!

2. There's no such thing as too many layers

Seriously, layer up. Yeah, it'll make going to the bathroom slightly inconvenient, but it's worth the trade-off. We've already covered outerwear such as gloves and scarves, but you should definitely be wearing Under Armor and tight long johns before you even think about putting on clothes. Your rule of thumb should be, "It's easier to subtract layers than add them."

I find that sweatpants trap heat better than jeans, especially if you have another pair of pants on underneath. On top, you could wear Under Armor, a T-shirt, a sweatshirt and then a jacket. If that's still not enough (no judgement here I'm freezing once the temperature dips below 70), then you should invest in a fleece blanket. My sister got me a sweatshirt blanket (like this one for $40 at Amazon) for Christmas because she was sick of me complaining about being cold, and I think it'd be perfect for cold weather tailgating because it will absolutely fit over all your layers!

11 Tips for Perfect Grilled Sausage, Including the One Thing You Should Never Do

Think you know how to cook sausage on the grill? We tapped an expert for tips on what makes grilled sausage truly great—just in time for a socially distant tailgating season (and an al fresco Oktoberfest at home while you’re at it).

Nothing says summer like grilling up some sausage—but it’s a pursuit you can continue to enjoy into fall. With a vast spectrum of options at your fingertips be it pork, poultry, beef, or beyond blended with herbs and spices, plus the occasional add-in like apple, jalapeño or cheddar, there’s truly an option for everyone.

Schaller & Weber Sausages, $79+ from Goldbelly

Cooking your tube of meat (or plant-based filling) is a relatively stress-free affair, but to achieve that crisp (but not burnt) outer char and juicy (but not raw) interior, a game plan is in order.

We spoke to Jesse Denes, Vice President of Schaller & Weber, Manhattan’s premier purveyor of German-style sausages since 1937, for his expert tips and tricks on how to grill your brats, kielbasa, and spicy Italians to perfection.

Know Your Sausage

“First things first, you need to figure out if you’re dealing with a pre-cooked sausage or a fresh sausage,” says Denes. “That’s going to change things significantly.”

If you’re handling fresh meat, carve out more time on the grill and be extra vigilant about cooking your sausage all the way through. A more delicate touch is also advised. “Fresh sausage is a lot looser and it’s a lot easier to lose some of that fat and moisture,” he reasons. “The casings aren’t necessarily as tight.”

Do Not Puncture!

Denes pokes holes in the theory that you should prick your sausage casing before grilling. Doing so will provide an escape hatch for that precious flavorful fat to ooze out, leaving you with a sad, dry hunk of meat.

“It may rip itself naturally during cooking. That’s fine,” Denes notes. “Normally when it gets to that point… you know it’s done.”

Simmer Down Now

A poorly grilled sausage tends to be charred on the outside and lukewarm on the inside. To ensure a consistent cook, consider a quick bath before sparking up the grill.

“Our best trick is to bring the sausage to temperature in water,” says Denes, who recommends a 10 minute simmer. “The whole idea is you want to get it cooked through pretty evenly before you start to crisp up the outside. So you get that snap and that bite and a little bit of that char.”

If you don’t have access to a pot of hot water, going full grill is fine too. Place the sausage over indirect heat, shut the lid, and cook for 10 minutes. Denes warns, “If you just cook it straight over the direct heat, what you’re going to wind up doing is burning it or drying it out.”

Beer Me

Drinking beer and grilling sausage go hand in hand, so why not take that pairing to the next level? “If you want to add a little flavor, boil your sausages off in beer,” says Denes. “It gets a nice lager flavor into the sausage.”

But don’t stop there. After your sausages are done with their brew bath, throw in some sliced onion and peppers and let them enjoy a sudsy soak.

Hot, Hot Heat

Now that your sausages are evenly cooked inside, it’s time to get that coveted crisp on the casing, hopefully with those signature grill marks.

The best way to achieve this is with the heat cranked up to 11. “Once you’ve got your sausage over the direct flame, lid up,” per Denes.

6 Spicy South Indian Recipes You Cannot Miss


Think South Indian food and you are at a loss of words to describe the same. It has to be one of the most unique sub-cuisines of India, with dishes so versatile that you are always spoilt for choice. There are plenty of options for days where you want to give your tummy a break and enjoy something light, cool and homely, and on days you are particularly adventurous, there is a whole gamut of options to pick and choose from. Here are some spicy and scrumptious dishes that have ruled our hearts since forever. We guarantee you would be making these recipes over and over again, for some of these are a big hit among all age groups already.

Here Are 6 Spicy South Indian Recipes You Must Try:

1. Tomato Chutney

This is one of the two chutneys that are almost always served with all classic South Indian snacks. Vada, idli, uttapam, dosa, there is nothing that this chutney cannot go with. Unlike in coconut chutney, this tomato chutney offers enough room for you to satiate all your spicy cravings. Try it for yourself with this recipe.

Tomato chutney is a popular South Indian condiment.

2. Chicken 65

This crackling recipe is every chicken lover's dream come true. Tender chicken chunks tossed in a special 65 masala promise a spicy, tangy and a wholesome affair. The appetiser is also much less complicated to make than you think. Care to try? here's a recipe.

3. Kozhikodan Biryani

This toothsome and tempting biryani is a whole gamut of flavours. The juicy meat and the intensity of spices and how it seeps through the rice truly makes for a robust treat. Kozhikodan biryani is one of the most popular recipes hailing from Calicut. The biryani is also topped with boiled eggs. Click here for the recipe.

Biryani is a rice-meat combo we can never get enough of

This south Indian appetiser is the most soothing thing you can treat yourself with this winter. Rich, and red in colour, this soup is made with the goodness of tomatoes and high-protein toor dal and a special rasam masala that is nothing short of magic. Click here for the recipe.

5. Kerala Chicken Roast

Crispy and succulent chicken roasted in a melange of rustic masala masalas and curry leaves. This semi-dry chicken recipe is fried until perfection. The green chillies, pepper and onion add to the drama. Click here for the recipe.

This tiny, crispy, fried snack is a sensation in Karnataka. Much like pakoras, punugulu are also super crunchy. They are made with a maida batter, the chopped chillies give it just the amount of hotness. Pair with sambhar, rasam or chutney. Click here for the recipe.

Try these recipes at home and let us know how you liked it in the comments section below. Also, let us know about the recipes you liked the best.

(This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.)

About Sushmita Sengupta Sharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.

Six Can’t Miss Things to Do and See in De Smet, South Dakota

July 21, 2018 By Sandra Hume
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In my younger years—with no husband in sight—I joked that whomever I married must be willing to take a honeymoon trip to all of the Little House sites. When I did find my own “beau,” he was, ironically, a farmer—quite a foreigner to this suburban Boston girl. Although love was the catalyst for relocating from my longtime New England home to the High Plains of western Kansas, I discovered a bonus beyond that: I was now in close proximity to the Little House sites.

And I was going to see them.

From my first sight of the sign lettered “Verdigris River,” I learned to recognize “Little House chills.” Over the next fifteen years, they would consume me time and again… standing on the rolling hills of Pa’s homestead claim in South Dakota … marveling at the countertops Almanzo customized for his petite (exactly my height!) bride in Missouri… standing in the cool water of Plum Creek, still perfect for wading on a Minnesota summer day. For Little House fans, there is absolutely nothing like seeing Laura Ingalls Wilder’s world come to life.

Now with three children, I’ve traveled to the Little House homesites more times than I can count. I’ve waded with them in Plum Creek. I’ve held out my hands to receive the gift of a handful of pebbles on the shore of Lake Pepin. Along the way, I’ve learned a thing or two about making the most of the trips. Travelers — especially families — need advice, so to answer the call I’ve created a series of travel guides to the Little House sites, LAND OF LAURA. The first guide I’m releasing is about De Smet, South Dakota, and is available on Kindle and in Paperback.


Tied for my favorite homesite (I won’t tell you with which!), De Smet is the setting for almost the entire second half of the Little House series. As such, it’s one of the most visited. From the swelling hills of open-air Ingalls Homestead to the smaller-than-you-realized Surveyors’ House, De Smet offers enough real-life Little House moments for fans to fill at least a couple of days. Maybe even three. (I won’t tell you how many hours my daughter has spent with the kittens on Ingalls Homestead. Let’s just say I could have paid the sweet little things babysitting wages.)

Here are my top can’t miss attractions in De Smet.

Ingalls Homestead. Prairie vistas. Covered wagon rides. Room to run. Cuddly kittens. Little House crafts. Whatever the ages of your family, all will enjoy a morning or an afternoon spent at Ingalls Homestead, the very land Charles Ingalls homesteaded in the 1880s—which he wouldn’t have gotten if not for Mr. Edwards, the wildcat from Tennessee, holding off the other impatient homesteaders. You can even stay onsite—in a covered wagon, a bunkhouse, or your own tent.

Image courtesy of Sandra Hume

The Surveyors’ House. Remember how Laura ran ahead of the wagon to be the first inside the surveyors’ house, “the largest house she had ever lived in”? The house that felt so big to Laura is probably the size of a modern-day kitchen, but it’s still tremendously exciting to be inside a home the Ingalls family actually lived in—and that Laura described so well in By the Shores of Silver Lake.

Photo © Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society, De Smet, SD.

The Third Street House. Included on the same tour is the house that Pa built on Third Street in town, which the Ingalls family moved to in 1887 from the homestead—he didn’t remain a farmer after all. Ma, Mary, and Pa lived in this house for the rest of their lives. Rose Wilder Lane, Laura’s journalist daughter, mentions this house in “Grandpa’s Fiddle,” published in the William Anderson–edited A Little House Reader. Look for the lovely portrait of Charles and Caroline on the wall.

Ingalls home that Pa built in 1887. Photo © Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society, De Smet, SD.

The De Smet Cemetery. Walk among the tombstones in the peaceful De Smet Cemetery, just south of town, and you’ll see dozens of names you recognize from the pages of the Little House books — such as Reverend Brown, the “fiery” pastor who married Laura and Almanzo, and his wife, also named Laura. Laura Ingalls Wilder died in Missouri, but the entire rest of her family is buried in this cemetery.

Image courtesy of Sandra Hume

Lake Thompson. This lake that so enchanted Laura and Almanzo on their Sunday drives is southeast of De Smet a few miles, but it’s worth the drive to see the expanse of the second largest natural lake in South Dakota and think about our favorite nineteenth-century couple falling in love on their buggy rides.

Calumet Avenue. Called Main Street in Laura’s books, Calumet Avenue is home to so many locations familiar to its pages — like the Loftus Store, which is currently in operation as a gift shop (yes, they sell suspenders). The memorial society has set up a walking tour of this area, so check all the windows and doors as you go by so you’ll know when, for example, you’re standing in front of what used to be Fuller’s Hardware.

Are you planning to visit any of the Little House on the Prairie locations this year? We’d love to hear about your journeys on our Facebook Page and be sure to subscribe to our free newsletter for more in-depth profiles of the best places to visit!

Emerging as the new Austin hot-spot, the Rock Rose district is full of new restaurants and bars that showcase North Austin&aposs The Domain as a thriving entertainment district that can compete with the best of Austin nightlife. The art-inspired streetscape fuses Austin oddities with upscale entertainment, keeping the destination pulsing with visitors and locals alike. Head to Rock Rose to explore all that the new district has to offer. Here are a few of our favorite spots for food and fun:

Offering a unique tapas and cocktail menu, this expansive 3-story rooftop bar is the perfectly posh place to unwind during your visit. The posh rooftop patio is decorated with sleek white furniture, suspended swings, breezy cabanas and open spaces that are perfect for mingling and making new friends. With a menu full of photo-worthy cocktails from mixologist Ryan Baird and tapas options that are both delicious and perfect for sharing, 77 Degrees&apos swanky vibe is sure to impress.

Credit Mark Weatherford.

Stop in to the brand new brick and mortar location of this famed east Austinਏood truck, headed਋y Executive Chef Thai Changthong. Thai Kun򠿪tures an expanded menu with delicious, inventive Thai food options including flavorful satays, refreshing papaya salads and a cocktail list that will turn your regular old happy hour into #happyhappytime. Characterized by the open kitchen and no-fuss atmosphere, Thai Kun stays true to the laid-back and Austin-cool vibe of its humble beginnings.

St. Genevieve

Fulling embracing its namesake, Saint Genevieve, the Patron Saint of Good Times, Rock Rose’s new upscale lounge is a space made for gatheringਊround good food and libations. The space is clean welcoming to all who enter. Stop by for਋runch or a happy hour drink, share a few of the delicious plates and let St. Genevieve become your new go-to hangout spot.

The Dogwood

The Dogwood keeps it casual among the other high-end bars that occupy the Rock Rose district. This spot incorporates classic Southern hospitality into the service as well as the menu. Enjoy live music or dance the night away with a DJ during your next visit. The spacious patiosਊnd unbeatable views give The Dogwood a community-centric atmosphere that’s great for large gatherings.

Shop in Style

Of course, what would The Domain be without shopping? Rock Rose includesਊ handful of shopping options including Raven + Lily, an਎thical fashion and lifestyle boutique dedicated to empowering women through design. Raven + Lily provides handmade, fair-trade and eco-friendly products,ਊll while employing over 1,500 marginalized women.

Newly opened Golden Bones is the shopping destination for fashion-forward women who want to stand out. Golden Bonesꂾgan as a small collaboration between two best friends and has developed into the new go-to store on Rock Rose for chic apparel, accessories, shoes and more. They offer a variety of products aside from clothing including unique home dຜor and gifts for women of all styles and interests.

What are Overnight Oats?

So what exactly is this delicious breakfast dish we’re talking about? Essentially, overnight oats are a simple no-cook way of making oatmeal by soaking oats in milk for several hours (usually overnight).

This makes the oats soft, creamy and easier to digest.

The texture is similar to traditional stove-top oatmeal, minus the hassle of having to prepare it in the morning (which equals more time for sleep, hooray!).

You can either eat them cold straight from the jar, or heat them up to achieve something similar to freshly cooked oatmeal.


My homeschooling friend Jane had a little boy named Kenny who was uninterested in reading. When he turned seven, she grew frustrated and started pushing it every day. “He started to stutter,” she said, “but I didn’t get the message.”

I didn’t realize what was going on in Jane’s home. I just remembered that she had told me once that Kenny wasn’t interested in reading. So one day when I was in the neighborhood, I dropped off some material about late-blooming readers. She said she felt like my visit was like a direct rebuke from God saying: QUIT PUSHING.

So she quit the daily reading lessons and let her son play with his Legoes, which was what he liked to do. “He started making the most amazing, creative, intricate inventions,” she said. “He quit stuttering, his self esteem went up dramatically, and he just blossomed.” A year later, she tried reading lessons again, and this time they “took.” Kenny learned to read easily.

Many intelligent children, like Kenny, are not ready to read at age 6. Some of these late bloomers are not merely intelligent, they are geniuses — like Thomas Edison. Why is this so? If a child is smart, why can’t he read?

It’s plain biology. Each child has his or her own timetable for physical development. The pituitary gland controls the developmental calendar, says child psychologist James Dobson in his tape, “The Late Blooming Child,” and no amount of parental anxiety or social pressure can speed up that timetable.

One aspect of growth that the pituitary controls is myelination. This is a process that insulates a child’s nerve pathways with a white, fatty substance that makes electrical impulses move quickly and efficiently to other parts of the body. First each nerve pathway (or axon) must grow to a certain diameter. Then a myelin sheath begins to form gradually around that axon, like the layers of an onion.

Until myelin begins insulating the axons of a particular body system, electrical impulses cannot pass consistently through the nerves in that system. It is then impossible for the child to control that part of his body. His control develops gradually as myelination develops gradually. The last body system to become fully myelinated (sometimes not until age 8 to 10) is that part of vision that allows reading to occur.

Raymond Moore, former director of the Hewitt Research Foundation, compiled research from neurophysiologists, ophthalmologists, psychologists and research psychiatrists during the 1980’s. He said their results consistently show that children learn to read more easily after their vision, touch, hearing, and muscle coordination become more developed, and after they develop the ability to reason abstractly.

When pushed, children can learn to read before they are fully ready, if the axons are partially myelinated. Children can do it, but it frustrates them because they are working without the necessary tools. Think of trying to flip pancakes with a piece of aluminum foil instead of a spatula, Moore said. You can do it. But you can’t do it well. If that were the way you had to make pancakes, it would be so frustrating, you might decide to quit making pancakes.

When children are pushed into reading before they are ready, he warned, they become frustrated and discouraged. Then, by age 8 or 10 when they have the neurological ability to pick up the skill easily and run with it, they are burned out and have lost their motivation for schoolwork.

The solution for late bloomers, Moore said, is to let them wait. Instead of pressuring them to read, respond warmly to them one-to-one. Provide an environment that encourages them to explore, create and think. Encourage them to love learning and enjoy books that you read to them. Work on developing their language and thinking skills.

My husband and I stumbled across Moore’s research reports in 1984, soon after we started home schooling our late blooming first grader. Moore’s studies gave us encouragement to back off and allow our late bloomer to follow his own reading readiness timetable at home. Instead of pushing him to read, we read good books to him. We explored the desert, visited museums, drew maps, created crystal gardens, experimented with art media, and made crafts. And we talked, talked, talked about all the things we did.

Our son developed a wide vocabulary and a strong sense of good grammar and proper English by listening to good literature and engaging in stimulating conversations. This also taught him to think. When reading finally clicked for him at age 10, he caught up fast.

Our three children all began reading when they were ready to read. Our early bloomers learned to read at the ages of 5 and 6, and our late bloomer learned at age 10. Yet by age 13, all three were reading at a college level.

As a nation we are causing unnecessary damage, stress, and wasted effort by being impatient with children’s normal development and pressuring teachers to make all their students learn to read by age 6. As homeschoolers, we are free to refuse to bow to this social pressure and devote our efforts instead to providing the kind of stimulating, literature-rich environment that encourages children to love learning and read when they are ready.

A language-rich environment puts in place the tools children need for using what they read when they become able to read. This environment is good for all children. In our home, we found out that the kind of place where late bloomers can thrive is the sort of place where early bloomers thrive, too.

Originally published March 31, 1996 in the El Paso Times, revised for the Southwest Homeschool Network newsletter October 2004

Watch the video: 10 Tailgate Party Tips. HGTV (May 2022).