Tips for Helping Your Child Overcome Undesired Behaviors

Tips for Helping Your Child Overcome Undesired Behaviors

At ShillerLearning, I recently answered this parent question:

"My 12-year-old son used to be best friends with another boy in the neighborhood but now that's off and they a scream at each other all the time, what do I do? "

two kids playing in the park


What’s your goal?


Is it to keep them from screaming at each other? Or something else?


Whatever goal you have, ask yourself why you have that goal. When you answer that question, ask yourself why that’s the reason. Keep asking why until you have the real reason: The REAL uncomfortable truth you are dealing with.


For example (I’m brainstorming here, I don’t know your situation), maybe you feel responsible in some way and that if you had parented differently there would have been a better outcome.


Whatever you come up with, now fill in the blank in the following sentence: The right thing to do in this situation is _______.


For example, you can’t go back and re-parent but you can have a transparent and open-minded (non-judgmental) discussion with your son about why he’s engaging in this behavior and helping him to understand his goals and the best way to reach them, just like you did for yourself above.


Tips to make this process work:

1. Don’t jump to conclusions: take logical baby steps and don’t assume ANYTHING

2. Don’t judge: deal with facts only

3. When you have a negative emotion, realize you have it but don’t show it: make your behavior support your goal, not your ego


What situation have you been in like this? What did you do?


Let's help each other: Tell us your story so we can share it anonymously with our readers. You may email or comment below.

Larry Shiller

Larry Shiller is President of ShillerLearning, whose mission is to help kids learn and fulfill their potential. Shiller has degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard Business School and is the author of Software Excellence (Prentice-Hall).

A father of three, Shiller is active in non-profits and his hobbies include working with local startups, music (Shiller is an accomplished violinist who - when not helping children learn math and language arts - performs in the NYC tri-state area), tennis (Shiller's team made it to the USTA national finals in his skill bracket), Quoridor (Shiller is a former USA Champion), backgammon (Shiller is the Voice of Backgammon, doing commentary on backgammon tournaments worldwide), table tennis, and flying (Shiller holds a private pilot's license).

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Comments (1):

Susan Lantz on

There might be something else going on. I would have a sit down with my son and try to find out if there is some hurt feelings, or something else going on. Maybe the other boy has a new friend and doesn’t want to include your son. There could also be a misunderstanding between the boys that needs to be worked out.

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Mother Culture Moms Teach Better with Education

Mother Culture

Why Homeschooling Moms Are Leading by Example with Their Own Education

Mother Culture- Why Homeschooling Moms Are Leading by Example with Their Own Education

I absolutely love being a homeschool mom, it is such a blessing. Being able to affirm and educate my child has been a life altering change for both of us. What I didn’t consider when we decided to homeschool, was how much my parental guidance and example to learn myself would shape what our homeschooling looks like. But something unexpected has happened while I’ve been homeschooling. A feeling that I just can’t ignore any longer... Seeing my son have a love for learning and experiencing seeing him learn new things has made me want to learn too!

What Is Mother Culture/ Mom School??


Shortly after beginning to homeschool, I started hearing the phrases “Mother culture” and “Mom school.” I wasn’t quite sure what these meant as a homeschooling mom. Where these special programs for moms to learn how to homeschool? Were they someone trying to bring back basic culture and manners? No, not quite. Basically, these phrases relate to the growing community of homeschooling parents who are learning alongside their children. Parents who are being an encouragement and setting an awesome example by learning new skills and developing their own education.


Developing your own education helps to affirm your at home schooling and set a great example for your kids. It also helps to keep your mind fresh and ideas sharp. You’ll find great encouragement for moms at home among the community of homeschool mom’s who are also learning, and it’s something great to do FOR YOU! I had a Mom friend with 5 children tell me that she needs something to do other than “Think about wiping noses and bottoms all day.” So true! Your parental guidance and example makes such a difference!


What Are Homeschool Parents Learning About?


This answer is as diverse as the number of homeschooling families that exist. Do a quick web search for “Mother culture” or “Mom school” and check out some of the encouragement from those who are walking the walk and learning with their children.

Ideas for what to study include:


  • Work ahead in your student’s curriculum, many parents choose to start between 5th and 7th grade.


  • Study a period of history you’re weak in knowledge on, or a culture you don’t know much about.


  • Choose the subject you’re most intimidated by and make it your “masters,” education is power and will help you feel less worried about what’s to come in your role as teacher.


  • Catch up on the classics, grab some classic literature and dig in!


  • Study that thing you wish you’d have taken a class on in college.


  • Take up a foreign language.


  • Do some ancestry studies.


  • Read Maria Montessori’s books, and other writings on the Montessori Method.


  • Take a few personality tests, work through books on temperament and learn more about YOU.


  • Learn to cook, sew, make herbal remedies, ferment your own food, raise chickens, or anything else you’ve said “someday…” to- someday is here!


But, I Don’t Have Any Extra Time to Learn!


Finding the time to add in something extra can feel intimidating. I totally get it, I work full-time, homeschool, hand wash all my laundry and dishes and cook 3 meals a day from scratch. I don’t telll you this to brag, I tell you because something I’ve really learned in the last two years is there’s always time and we can always find time to do something that matters.


Try having the kids listen to an audiobook or watch an educational film to 15-30 minutes while you learn. Ask a friend to do some childcare swapping. Sit down and work next to your children. Get up a little earlier or stay up a little later at night. You can find the time if you’re creative! Look on Meetup, Facebook, or Yahoo groups to find a mom’s group near you. Moms teaching other mom’s through classes, book clubs and co-ops are getting much easier to find. Perhaps you can find a homeschool mom’s group to study together? This will help provide opportunities for you to hang out with other grown-ups and learn together. If nothing exists, start your own or join an online community. No matter what you decide to do, know you’re setting a great example of education and learning for your homeschoolers.


If you still don’t have a clear idea on how to find time as a homeschool parent, I can help. We held a webinar with dozens of homeschool moms to share:


- How to enjoy the structure of a schedule without the guilt if you don't follow it to the minute
- Ways to escape comparison and the "Pinterest Perfect" life
- Building in "relax time" to your homeschool for your family to recharge and renew
- Three words that will save you from feeling you MUST have "all the answers" when your kids have questions
- Ways to love your homeschool when you're a working mom


Watch a whole hour long video on How to Enjoy Homeschooling Through Bad Days, Overwhelm, and Change

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Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

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Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. Amanda and her family reside in an Airstream parked in Washington State. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When not homeschooling, she also blogs, works as a virtual assistant, and loves creating hand-lettering pieces.

Homeschooling an Only Child

Homeschooling an Only Child

Joys, Challenges, Tips, and Stats

He sits next to me wrapped up in his favorite blanket. We laugh as we read our current literature selection, Robin Hood. There is no baby needing a diaper change. No big sister wanting help with her creative writing project. It's just the two of us. The day is ours. My family looks different than most homeschooling families. We have chosen an at-home education for our only child.

It is a unique journey filled with joys and struggles alike. I have the advantage of being an only child myself. I understand what it's like to be the only kid around. Although I went through public school so we're navigating this homeschool journey together. Here is a peek into our journey, stats on only children in the US, and encouragement for other families homeschooling an only.

Homeschooling an Only Child in the United States

Homeschooling is on the rise. The NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) estimates 3.4% of children in the United States are educated at home. This is approximately 770,000 kids. I am actually surprised. I thought it would be higher than this.  


The statistic I was floored by is that 20% of United States families are single-child families. In large cities, only-child families are found in 30%-40% of homes. Seattle happens to have the most number of single-child families at 47%! Parents in a large city are generally LESS likely to homeschool, however.  

The NCES found over 60% of homeschool families have three or more children. Data has not been collected on the number of families homeschooling an only. It's definitely not reflective of the 20% of US families that have one child.  


Over 60% of homeschool families have 3 or more children.  


I know a lot of homeschoolers. Most of my closest friends are homeschool parents. I hardly know any other parents of only children. I have never met another homeschooling parent of an only child in person. I've been able to connect with a few online. I interact with thousands of homeschool families. We are definitely in the minority homeschooling an only.

Unique Joys and Challenges in Homeschooling an Only Child


Yes, homeschooling an only is hard. Homeschooling any family size is going to present its own unique difficulties. It's also full of joy! These are a few of the unique things an only child homeschool family faces:


  • Loneliness- Not only loneliness for the child, for homeschool parent as well. Yes, the phrase "lonely only" can ring true. However, in a culture that's largely big families- it's easy to feel lonely as a mother too. Kids connect a lot easier to one another regardless of family size. I would love to have another mother in my life who is homeschooling an only to be friends with. I have yet to find anyone in my area homeschooling an only. The other only child homeschool moms I've connected with online say the same thing. Plus, our kids get lonely for other kids to play with. I remember that vividly as a child. We also value our friends and the time we get with them because we know how fleeting it can be to have a playmate.


  • Learning becomes a family affair- Homeschooling an only opens up new connection for the entire family. I have the chance to dive in deep to everything I am teaching my son. I get to study everything with him. No getting him started on something while I help a sibling. My entire attention and focus is on whatever he's learning. I am amazed at how much I've already learned and grown. I often tell people that WE are in second grade. My husband loves to come home and hear about what we've been learning together and he loves to help out as he can.  


  • Curriculum is much more expensive- One of the benefits of most curriculum is that you can use them with multiple kids. The price of curriculum goes up a whole lot in your mind when you know you'll only be using it once. Yes, you can sell it after you are done. I find it's a bit more of a mind game when I look at the price tags for something knowing it's only going to be used by one kid. One thing I love about ShillerLearning's materials- the kits last a LONG time instead of one school year.  


  • Energy wanes- Being the sole playmate and the educator is exhausting sometimes. I get worn out pretty fast. My son does too. Kids feed off each other's energy. Without another kid around sometimes we both get tired and cranky.



  • Higher demands- There are much higher demands on both of us than on a larger family. We don't have several kids to split the chores between. We don't have older siblings to help teach concepts I am struggling with. There are no other kids to bounce ideas off of or to provide entertainment. Plus, only children have an extremely high likelihood of putting a ton of pressure on themselves. Knowing this first hand, I try to minimize it as much as I can. It still rears its head pretty often.


  • Deeper bond- Our bond has gotten so much deeper as a homeschool family. I remember as a kid never wanting to leave to go to school. Homeschooling wasn't something I knew about as a kid but I didn't want to go to school. Only child families usually report being more connected to one another and having a stronger relationship. Having the chance to homeschool and learn together has been a beautiful relationship for us. I truly can't wait to see how it changes and grows throughout the years.


  • Not enough time- I joke with people all the time that the only thing I don't like about homeschooling is there's not enough time. The homeschool world is vast. There are great resources out there. Mothers that homeschool large families have the advantage to get to try more materials out. They're able to find what works well for them, and grow in their profession as a home educator. I once read it takes a professional 10-15 years to find their footing in a career. I won't get that long as a homeschool mom. I won't get to read all the books or try all the programs I want. I don't get to go back for a re-do of things from when my son was younger that I loved. I value and cherish each day because of this. It also makes me sad.


Tips for homeschooling an only

Want to make the jump to try homeschooling your only child? Already have an at-home education set up for your child and want tips and encouragement? Here are a few tips:

  • Find a nature group, coop, or regular group for play-dates- You both need it. A once-a-week nature school or art class might be one of the best choices you make for your homeschooled only. It gives you a chance to have some space from one another, gives you a break, and gives your child a consistent group of friends.  


  • Music and art are your friends- Turning on a little classical music and creating an art piece can help diffuse the most tension-filled day.


  • Pick curriculum wisely- Look for materials, such as ShillerLearnings's, that will last several years. For other materials, find a friend with children whose ages are bookends to yours you can borrow from or split the cost with.


  • Love your library- It's the best place to save money and meet other homeschoolers!


  • Have open communication- This is a must among your spouse/partner and your child. Keep the dialogue open about the struggles and joys of your experience.


  • Take a break- Being an only child parent is demanding. Make sure you get a break on a regular basis. Even if it's for an hour alone in your home while your kid goes to a friend's. You've got to take that time or you're going to struggle.


  • Learn together- Find subjects you both are interested in and dive in together. My son and I are studying homeopathy together and it has been incredible.

Model lifelong learning- Give your student the chance for some independent study time. While they're at it, pick up a topic you're interested in as well.  

  • Get help- If you need to get help with cooking, chores, or cleaning to focus on education, that's ok! The demands of educating an only are high and it's ok to get help. It is also ok to get help for subjects that are difficult for you to teach.

  • Connect- Find a way to connect with other only child homeschoolers. The Internet is an amazing tool!

  • Let things go- If you try something in your homeschool that isn't working, let it go. You'll both be miserable trying to force something you both hate.  

  • Have fun!- This is the journey of a lifetime for both of you. It's the only chance you're going to get. Have fun, let the memory of bad days roll away, and enjoy the adventure.


Do we have any other only child homeschool families in our community? Reach out and let us know your tips, challenges, and how we can support you! You can reach me at

Make sure to check out our Free Monthly Activity Packs. We design them to be usable by only children through large multi-age families, my son even helps create some of the materials! You'll find a new one every month and they're an excellent way to get free materials for your child to use.

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. Her family resides in an Airstream parked in Washington State and loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When not homeschooling, Amanda blogs, loves reading, and creates hand-lettering pieces.

Homeschool Quotes to Encourage You

Homeschool Quotes to Encourage You

Homeschooling can be an absolute joy. Watching our children learn to write, learn shapes, learn numbers, and so much more is a gift for all at home schooling parents. There are the hard days too. The days when nothing seems to go to plan, the days when we’re not getting along well with our children, the days when focus is difficult . We hope these quotes will provide you some encouragement on the good days, and the hard days. These are some of our favorite homeschooling quotes, with plenty of quotes from Ms. Montessori herself.


Homeschool Quotes To Encourage You


“It is not enough for the teacher to love the child. She must first love and understand the universe. She must prepare herself, and truly work at it.”

“Let us leave the life free to develop within the limits of the good, and let us observe this inner life developing. This is the whole of our mission.”

-Maria Montessori


“The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home.”

-Harold B. Lee

“Kids who are in school just visit life sometimes, and then they have to stop to do homework or go to sleep early or get to school on time. They are constantly reminded they are “preparing for real life,” while being isolated from it.”

- Sandra Dodd

“Education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire.”

- W.B. Yeats

“Homeschooling allows you the freedom to step off the highway of learning and take a more scenic route along a dirt road.”

- Tamara L. Chilver

“Learning can only happen when a child is interested. If he’s not interested, it’s like throwing marshmallows at his head and calling it eating.”

-Katrina Gutleben

“An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing.”

-Charlotte Mason

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and
understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
-Albert Einstein


“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
-Ben Franklin

“The satisfaction which they find in their work has given them a grace and ease like that which comes from music.”

-Maria Montessori

“Homeschooling allows you to make the curriculum fit the the child, rather than making the child fit the curriculum”

- Homeschool with Love


“The home is the first and most effective place to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self control, the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home.”

-David O. McKay


“Once upon a time, all children were homeschooled. They were not sent away from home each day to a place just for children but lived, learned, worked, and played in the real world, alongside adults and other children of all ages.”

-Rachel Gathercole


“When you homeschool your children, you have to make sacrifices: of your time, of your energy, of your money. Speaking of money, you know, when I look back, living on one income all those years meant we didn’t drive expensive cars or go on extended high-end vacations. But that wasn’t important. What was important was that we had time together…nothing can replace that. You can have that time too. Concentrate on the positives, and enjoy your time with your kids. You won’t be sorry.”

-Barbara Frank


“Our aim is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core.”`

Maria Montessori



Want to see more quotes? Check out our Quotes Pinterest board.


See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. Her family resides in an Airstream parked in Washington State and loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When not homeschooling, Amanda blogs, loves reading, and creates hand-lettering pieces.

How the Montessori Three Period Lesson Has Changed Our Homeschool

How the Montessori Three-Period Lesson Has Changed Our Homeschool


When my boys were young, they both attended a sweet little Montessori school down the street from our house.

It was wonderful – the attention to individualized learning was amazing to me and my boys flourished in that educational setting. At our first “parent-teacher conference,” their wonderful teacher introduced me to the Montessori concept of a Three-Period Lesson.

I remember thinking, “Wow, that just makes so much sense!” and then promptly forgetting about it when she showed me my son’s handwriting practice.

Four years later I found myself homeschooling those same two boys and found myself struggling with the way traditional curriculum was structured. Page after page, text book after text book, my boys and I plodded through that first year, with only barely satisfactory learning and very little joy.

“I want something closer to what worked so well for them at their Montessori school,” I thought.

Vaguely, I remembered the introduction to the three-period Lesson I had been give so many years before. Was it worth giving it a try at home?


What is the Three-Period Lesson?


At its most basic, the three-period lesson is simply a lesson in 3 parts. The lesson is designed to move the learner from an introductory level of understanding to mastery of any one concept or object.


The three-period lesson includes: Introduction, Association/Recognition, and Recall.


Period 1: Introduction (This is…)


This is the child’s very first exposure to a new topic being learned. In this period, we are simply providing a name for the concept and allowing the child to explore. This is not the time to explain all the details or expected outcomes. It is just simply naming the item or concept, and allowing your learner to do the rest.


For example, I showed my son Africa on the globe last week. Pointing to it, I said, “This is Africa,” and then allowed him to move his fingers over it and say some of the names of countries he saw. When we were finished, I said, “Well, that’s Africa” and we moved on to another lesson.


Period 2: Association/Recognition (Show me…)


This is the most important (and the most fun!) period of learning. It lasts for as long as it takes for a child to fully grasp new learning. It can extend across weeks and even months, but should never be rushed.


The “Show me” period is all about allowing your child to explore and learn as much as possible about the idea or object itself and to confirm that the learner has moved beyond “period one” (is at least comfortable with the name of what is being learned).


In our home, this period often includes games, hands-on activities and projects to help my sons gain a deeper understanding of the material. It also allows them to make connections between the new concept and others that have already been mastered.



Period 3: Recall (What is this…?)


This is the first time a learner is asked to name the concept itself. It is only done with the teacher feels confident that the learner will be successful. (Think of it as a comprehension “quiz” to confirm that your child has achieved mastery.)


My boys love this part of learning, because it doesn’t feel like a test at all. In fact, they feel like they are the teacher, explaining back to me what they’ve learned!


The three-period lesson is a natural fit for homeschooling as it is grounded in relationship and child-led learning. I encourage you to give it a try.

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Shawna Wingert

Shawna Wingert is the creator of Not The Former Things, a blog dedicated to homeschooling children with learning differences and special needs. She loves finding out-of-the-box ways for out-of-the-box learners to thrive. She is the author of two books, Special Education at Home and Everyday Autism. You can follow Shawna and Not The Former Things on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.

Homeschooling with chronic disease

My Experience Homeschooling with Chronic Disease

My Experience Homeschooling with Chronic Disease

When I was pregnant, I remember grabbing up as many books as I could on parenting styles, homeschooling and raising kids. I even came up with a huge list of fun activities for kids that I hoped to do someday. My husband and I spent hours discussing everything from medical choices to textiles, baby carriers to cloth diapers, Montessori to Waldorf. What we never could have prepared for was how drastically our parenting would be altered by me, yet to be diagnosed, autoimmune diseases.

A Journey to Diagnosis

Six years before my son was born, long before I was engaged or thinking much about children, I was sick. I saw twelve different doctors in a two-year period and never got any real answers as to why I was feeling the way I was and experiencing some difficult symptoms. My last year of college included two urgent care and one ER visit. As my grades slipped, so did my health. I was extremely active on campus and plugged my way through all the while feeling terrible. Two weeks after graduation was my wedding, I was so sick that I took medication right before I started walking down the aisle.

Four years after I started seeking answers I was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder. One year later I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy and soy intolerance. My health was better, but not great, when my son was born.

It took another four years, a lot of doctors and footwork to finally be diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases when my son was four. By the time I got an accurate diagnoses, I was dealing with such intense fatigue I could hardly get out of bed some mornings and so much pain that I could no longer pick up my son. We had been doing a Montessori-based homeschool preschool for two years and really enjoyed it. The thing with chronic illness, is sometimes you feel great for a long time and then out of nowhere WHAM it hits you like a ton of bricks.

One year after my diagnosis, I came down with a bad case of mono. I spent about 6 weeks in bed. My thyroid tanked again, and all my illnesses got much worse. I was so sick, we made the difficult decision to stop homeschooling for a bit, so I could focus on getting better. My son spent two years at an amazing afternoon program at a local Montessori charter school while I focused on resting and healing.

Why Homeschooling Is Best For My Family


While my health isn’t, and likely never will be, 100% I have more good days than bad now. People often suggest keeping my son in school instead of homeschooling.  


Honestly, homeschooling works SO much better with chronic disease (at least for our family)  


No joint pain or headaches while I sit in carpool lanes. No fear of having a Raynaud’s attack (a circulation disorder which causes me to lose feeling in my fingers and toes during chilly weather) and not being able to get to school on time. No more getting sick constantly from the bugs my son brought home from school. Sending him to school for a time was absolutely what we needed to do. It was the right choice at the time, just like starting to homeschool again was the right choice at the time.

There’s a great analogy written about life with a chronic illness called the spoon theory, written by Christine Miserandino. In the spoon theory, Christine states that when we wake up we only have a limited number of spoons to use to get through our day. People without chronic diseases can have as many spoons as they want. We get too tired, too sick, have too much pain, and our spoons run out. Homeschooling through this experience has taught me about time management, being transparent with my family, and asking for (and accepting) help. It’s helped us to develop my son’s empathy, given him a chance to develop and become independent, and grown us incredibly close together. While none of my illnesses are life threatening, there’s something about being sick all the time that makes you reevaluate your priorities. I spend more time learning myself, sitting with my son during his school time, and finding fun opportunities to explore and learn together.

Life with a chronic autoimmune disease is never easy. It is possible to homeschool and thrive at it. I’ve also found new friends through the journey of other mom’s dealing with chronic disease while at home schooling. If you have a chronic illness, please feel free to reach out and let’s chat about making a homeschool plan that works for your unique needs and situation.

Another tip? Make sure to check out our free activity packs. They require little to no prep work, are great stress relief, and are awesome to use on the hard days when you need some new activities for the kids to work on while you’re not feeling great. They’d even be great to print up and give to a Grandparent, babysitter, or friend who can help.

Like this? Make sure to check out these other encouraging posts

10 Lessons Homelessness Taught me About Homeschooling Through Crisis and Transition

How Using the Montessori Method Changed Our Homeschooling

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Washington. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

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