10 Days giveaway winner!

Since I am so technologically-challenged, I opted for the “write-everyone’s-name-on-a-hot-pink-slip-of-paper-and-choose-from-a-hat” format of winner selection.  

My oldest asked what I was doing…

…so I let him choose.

And he chose Allie with her comment on post #10!  Congrats, Allie!

Allie, please email me at fruitinseason@yahoo.com.

Thanks to all who read and commented!  I so enjoyed connecting with all of you.  I hope you visit again sometime so we can continue to encourage each other!


10 Days of "I Wish I Had Known"- Day 10- The End

I’ve spent a lot of time these last two weeks pondering the things I would do differently if I had it to do over again.  Homeschooling is nothing if not a profound journey of mistakes, growth and change.  There’s no getting around the fact that homeschooling is hard work.  It’s a life of sacrifice and frustration and humility.


Yet it is also a life of rich rewards.



I want to end this series with a list of blessings I never could have imagined had we not begun this crazy journey in the first place.  These are the things I want you to know now, especially if you’re on the fence, considering taking the first step, but fearful or anxious of what you can’t know or see in advance.

For me, I now know…

  • the joy on Daddy’s face when he comes home for lunch to find us all here, and the mess of arms and legs he has to untangle himself from before filling his tummy
  • the scent of little bodies as we read aloud on the couch, snuggles and hand-holding, laughter at the funny parts
  • witnessing the a-ha! moments, instead of having them lost amidst a sea of 24 children with a teacher who doesn’t care nearly as much as I do 
  • the peace of field trips to places uninhabited during the school day– museums, parks, even the grocery store
  • morning game time with Daddy- chess, Stratego, Connect Four, wrestling, Zoob races, and checkers (among others)
  • the pride on a little face when he can show his big brother something he learned, and the subsequent encouragement from big to little, siblings making relationships to last a lifetime
  • discussion, disappointment, and sometimes tears, when a favorite book ends; like a close friend’s absence after a long visit
  • the shared blessing of “caught” moments, teaching compassion and forgiveness, for example, alongside science and grammar 
  • the rediscovery of the love of learning, making connections right alongside my kids
  • the realizations that we must never stop learning, that our children are our best teachers, and that Jesus is never closer than when we lay aside our selves to serve our families

May God bless you on this journey!

~You have till tomorrow to comment on any of the posts in this series and be entered to win a little package of homeschooling mama goodies.  Here’s a sneak peek at what’s included…


Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th! I love these ladies and we know you will too.

10 days of Character Studies | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of Christmas Countdown Ideas | Milk & Cookies
10 days of Creative Writing | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of Crockpot Meals | The Happy Housewife
10 Days to a Godly Marriage | Women Living Well
10 Days of Growing Leaders | Mom’s Mustard Seeds
10 Days of Homeschooling High School | Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
10 days of I Wish I Had Known | Fruit in Season
10 days of Keeping Your Marbles | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of Kid-friendly Food | Planner Perfect
10 Days of Language Arts Lesson Planning | Jimmie’s Collage
10 Days of Learning Apps | Daze of Adventure
10 Days of a Mason Jar Christmas | Cajun Joie de Vivre
10 Days of More JESUS in Christmas | Preschoolers and Peace
10 Days to a Peaceful Home | Raising Arrows
10 Days of Raising a Life-Long-Learner | Bright Ideas Press
10 days of Science with Math | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of Teaching Values | Our Journey Westward
10 days of Winning your Child’s Heart | I Take Joy

10 Days of "I Wish I Had Known"- Day 9

{Click the button on the sidebar for the whole series}

As I’ve written this series, it has occurred to me that many of my “a-ha” learning experiences have morphed out of my desires and expectations (both pro and con) from the very beginning of my homeschool journey.  One in particular has been a challenge and a surprise to me.
Probably at the top of our list of reasons we wanted to homeschool in the first place was to give each of our children an individualized education.  We could meet each child where they were, give them one-on-one attention, spend as long on a concept as we needed, or skip it entirely.  We knew our children would be different from each other in theory (though how this would manifest itself we didn’t quite know at the time) and we embraced that knowledge.  With stars in our eyes behind rose-colored glasses, we began homeschooling our oldest when he was in Kindergarten.
He was incredibly easy to teach.
I studied up on the classical method, and found it a great fit for the two of us.  I already mentioned on day 3 that I tried to work pretty much everything in with my oldest in our first years of homeschooling.  And it all worked.  I thought he was so smart and I was such a good teacher.
Try to look past my arrogance for a minute to hear the rest of the story.  
What I see now is that the reason things worked so well was that he and I learn the same way and are good at the same things.  We are both first-born, structure-hungry, book-loving, good-with-numbers, quiet-and-focused learners.  I was basically teaching myself in a little boy’s body.

In the years that followed, the powerful lesson I learned was this:

Not only does it matter that our children learn differently from each other, but that they potentially learn differently than we do.
I seriously underestimated the power of personality, birth order and learning style when it comes to homeschooling.  Things worked so well for my son that I expected it to be the same with my daughter.  But when we started, I realized that she is completely different from me in nearly every way, and I almost didn’t know where to start.
  • Where I am an introvert, she is an extrovert.
  • Where I can sit and work with a concept till I get it, she needs very short lessons and frequent breaks so she won’t die of frustration.
  • Where I understand that mistakes are part of learning, she crumples if it’s not perfect the first time.
  • Where I can learn something simply by reading it, she needs to do it, and see it, and hear it.
  • Where I am very analytical, she has a fabulous imagination and needs time to dream.
For some reason, it never entered my mind that teaching someone so different from me would be so hard.  I constantly have to adjust my method, my expectations, and my attitude when trying to give my daughter what it is that she needs, rather than what I find it easy to give.

Homeschooling is nothing if not refining for us as homeschool parents.  I have learned how important it is to pay attention to the subtleties in my children, the things that make them who they are, and cater to those things in our learning.

And someday my younger two will thank me for working this all out before they got in the mix.

What kind of learners and personalities do you have in your homeschool?  Have you ever thought about how they are different from you?  How can you best teach them in spite of those differences?

Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th! I love these ladies and we know you will too.

10 days of Character Studies | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of Christmas Countdown Ideas | Milk & Cookies
10 days of Creative Writing | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of Crockpot Meals | The Happy Housewife
10 Days to a Godly Marriage | Women Living Well
10 Days of Growing Leaders | Mom’s Mustard Seeds
10 Days of Homeschooling High School | Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
10 days of I Wish I Had Known | Fruit in Season
10 days of Keeping Your Marbles | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of Kid-friendly Food | Planner Perfect
10 Days of Language Arts Lesson Planning | Jimmie’s Collage
10 Days of Learning Apps | Daze of Adventure
10 Days of a Mason Jar Christmas | Cajun Joie de Vivre
10 Days of More JESUS in Christmas | Preschoolers and Peace
10 Days to a Peaceful Home | Raising Arrows
10 Days of Raising a Life-Long-Learner | Bright Ideas Press
10 days of Science with Math | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of Teaching Values | Our Journey Westward
10 days of Winning your Child’s Heart | I Take Joy

10 Days of "I Wish I Had Known"- Day 8

{Click the sidebar button to find the rest of the series}

When you think of a school schedule, what does it look like?
September through June?  8am to 4pm?  Two weeks off for Christmas?
If you went through public or private traditional school, your default will be what you know.  Add that to the regulations in some states (180 days, 900 hours, marking and providing attendance sheets…) and it can all feel pretty rigid.
But as homeschoolers, we really can form a schedule to fit our family.  I knew this going into our homeschool journey (it was one of the “pros” on our decision-making list), yet I didn’t really internalize what was right for us for a few years.  And what I found surprised me a little:

I loved the idea of getting started early and finishing by lunchtime…


…but my husband often doesn’t go to work till noon.

I loved the idea of year-round school…
…but my husband is a college professor and gets summers off.


I knew that anything we did (aside from parking in front of the TV or fad-game-system-of-the-week) counted as learning…
…and that proved to be true, and so freeing!

So when you look at your schedule, try to think outside the box of convention and figure out what will work best for you.  A commenter on one of the previous posts mentioned a four-day school week with Fridays off for catch-up, field trips, and other activities.  I know of some families who do a six-week-on, one-week-off rotation, and others who do unit studies and finish each with a family trip that relates directly to what they’ve studied.  

What ended up working for us is this:

  • a school day that begins at around 9:30 or 10am, after a leisurely breakfast, chores, and games with Daddy; and ends at around 4pm with many breaks in between (especially for the younger ones)
  • a Monday-Friday school week
  • a December that is mostly geared toward family activities, with Daddy off for the semester by week two
  • a very light summer, with some math and language thrown in each week to avoid the black hole of “review” throughout the subsequent fall
  • catch-up, or mental health days, taken off every few weeks
Schedule is one of those things that we often don’t think much about when beginning (at least I didn’t spend a lot of intentional time thinking about it!), but finding our groove is a freeing and rewarding thing when it happens!
I love to hear what works for others.  So, do tell…
what kind of schedule do you follow?
Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th! I love these ladies and we know you will too.

10 days of Character Studies | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of Christmas Countdown Ideas | Milk & Cookies
10 days of Creative Writing | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of Crockpot Meals | The Happy Housewife
10 Days to a Godly Marriage | Women Living Well
10 Days of Growing Leaders | Mom’s Mustard Seeds
10 Days of Homeschooling High School | Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
10 days of I Wish I Had Known | Fruit in Season
10 days of Keeping Your Marbles | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of Kid-friendly Food | Planner Perfect
10 Days of Language Arts Lesson Planning | Jimmie’s Collage
10 Days of Learning Apps | Daze of Adventure
10 Days of a Mason Jar Christmas | Cajun Joie de Vivre
10 Days of More JESUS in Christmas | Preschoolers and Peace
10 Days to a Peaceful Home | Raising Arrows
10 Days of Raising a Life-Long-Learner | Bright Ideas Press
10 days of Science with Math | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of Teaching Values | Our Journey Westward
10 days of Winning your Child’s Heart | I Take Joy

10 Days of "I Wish I Had Known"- Day 7


{Click the sidebar button to find the whole series}


I am an all-or-nothing type of gal.  I am absolutely, positively blessed to be married to a man who is my “steady”, my “even”, my “calm”, ’cause to tell you the truth, my emotions and moods would leave me in a heap some days if I didn’t have him to hold me up.
What does this have to do with homeschooling, you ask?
Good question!  Let me tell you:
When we started, I thought I would lovelovelove every day.  I was so fired up and full of conviction that  I was sure I would never want to quit.  
I seriously underestimated the power of “the slump”.
There are different types of slumps.  There’s the typical winter, dreary, I’m-so-over-this-and-the-kids-are-too slump.  There’s the my-child-is-having-difficulties-and-I-don’t-know-how-to-help slump.  There’s the my-hormones-are-wacky-and-I-need-a-day-off slump.  And there’s the more selfish (though perfectly understandable) when-will-there-be-any-time-for-meeeeee slump as well.
The question then becomes this:
How will I deal with the days that I don’t love homeschooling?
I write this from a raw place.  This year is turning out to be my most un-motivated and I’m having more bad days than I normally do.  So what do I do when this happens?  Here are some things that help:
  • Spending time in prayer.  This should be our first response.
  • Reading back over our homeschool journals.  I write in a composition notebook regularly about our weeks of learning.  I include the books we read aloud, any lightbulb moments, field trips, and other important happenings.  This is not for any official assessment, but provide memories of our journey.  I love reading back over these; it’s encouraging and reminds me why I love this life.
  • Being honest with my husband.  Early on, he didn’t know how to handle “the slump”.  He would freak out when I said I wanted to throw in the towel.  Now he knows that those moments pass and that he just needs to listen and maybe give me some extra time to get out of the house (which usually involves alone time at the library or bookstore).  I would recommend Todd Wilson’s book “Help, I’m Married to a Homeschooling Mom” to help your husband “get it.”
  • Shaking things up a bit.  Knowing that this year I was having a hard time getting into the planning groove as I normally do, I decided to throw some fun things in there to break up the typical routine.  While we study US geography I have planned a few Mommy-and-children-only trips to bordering states.  These include overnights in hotels, meals out, and fun field trips that typify those states.  
  • Writing out the benefits of homeschooling.  I’ve spoken these with my husband, but need to rewrite them to remind me on the bad days.  If you’re a new homeschooler and all fired up, might I suggest you write a letter to yourself for the bad days?  You very well may need it someday.
You may even decide one day to stop homeschooling altogether.  I don’t have any wisdom or advice for making this decision, but it would involve a lot of prayer, reflection, and discussion with your husband and perhaps a trusted, non-judgmental, homeschooling friend who’s further along on the journey.
The important thing to remember is that some days will be hard.  Period.  Anticipating your own needs on those days may be an important thing to do on the good days.

What do you do on the “slump” days (or weeks)?  If you haven’t had any yet, what might you do to prepare for them now?

Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th! I love these ladies and we know you will too.

10 days of Character Studies | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of Christmas Countdown Ideas | Milk & Cookies
10 days of Creative Writing | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of Crockpot Meals | The Happy Housewife
10 Days to a Godly Marriage | Women Living Well
10 Days of Growing Leaders | Mom’s Mustard Seeds
10 Days of Homeschooling High School | Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
10 days of I Wish I Had Known | Fruit in Season
10 days of Keeping Your Marbles | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of Kid-friendly Food | Planner Perfect
10 Days of Language Arts Lesson Planning | Jimmie’s Collage
10 Days of Learning Apps | Daze of Adventure
10 Days of a Mason Jar Christmas | Cajun Joie de Vivre
10 Days of More JESUS in Christmas | Preschoolers and Peace
10 Days to a Peaceful Home | Raising Arrows
10 Days of Raising a Life-Long-Learner | Bright Ideas Press
10 days of Science with Math | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of Teaching Values | Our Journey Westward
10 days of Winning your Child’s Heart | I Take Joy

10 Days of "I Wish I Had Known"- Day 6

Welcome!  If you’re just joining me for the series here’s a look back at the posts from last week.  You can also click on the sidebar button to find them all in one place.

Today’s bit of hard-earned wisdom is this:
Instead of spending energy trying to convince the naysayers, 
spend it cultivating relationships of support.


When we first were considering homeschooling, I knew we would have a battle with some in my family.  To be honest, one of my main “cons” was the fact that I didn’t think we’d get a lot of support for the idea, and being a people pleaser made it all the more difficult to decide in favor of homeschooling when the time came.
But we did decide to homeschool.  And there was hostility toward the idea, expressed in the silent treatment, as well as some not-so-silent opposition when the silent treatment was ended.
I proceeded to make the mistake of trying to convince the naysayers.  
My husband and I knew we were doing what was right for our family.  We believed wholeheartedly in the principles behind our decision.  We had all our bullet points ready to go in the event of a heated argument discussion.  We knew we were coming at this process with our eyes and hearts open.  So I cried about it, tried to talk them into agreeing with me, and wore myself out worrying.  It was a challenge for me to have people close to me not understand a decision that was so important to us.
We soon realized the sensitivity of our decision in other circles as well.  When you make a choice that is in direct opposition to the norm, some people will see your choice as a direct attack on their choices.  Not realizing this at the time, we found ourselves in discussions with friends about the failure of the public schools, about conformity and individualism, and about morality and peer pressure.  We discovered that some things are better left unsaid and that some people were never going to agree.  And truly, sometimes agreement isn’t as important as maintaining peaceful relationships.
I wish, looking back, that we would have spent less time in those first years trying to convince others, and more time building relationships with those who were supportive.  We now have a wonderful network, both in person and online, of homeschoolers and homeschool-friendly non-homeschoolers.  The family members who were against our decision, are now thoroughly impressed with how wonderful homeschooling has proven to be in our family.  They have learned of the benefits firsthand– in the progress and well-being of our children- and have come to be the homeschooling advocates in their own circles of influence.

Does this mean that we don’t have any more people not agreeing with us?  Of course not!  (And the “socialization” question gets really old by year seven, let me tell you!)  But it does mean that we don’t waste the energy trying to convince, instead seeking to prove by our actions and dedication how amazing the homeschooling lifestyle can be.  

And, by the way, when you have a bad day?  Take it to those who will understand, not those who will say “I told you so.”  I learned that lesson the hard way too!

Can you relate?  Do you have naysayers you weary yourselves trying to convince?  Do you have a network of support?
{Remember that for every comment on any post during these ten days, you will be entered into a giveaway of goodies!  Winner will be drawn on Saturday, November 19th.}


Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th! I love these ladies and we know you will too.

10 days of Character Studies | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of Christmas Countdown Ideas | Milk & Cookies
10 days of Creative Writing | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of Crockpot Meals | The Happy Housewife
10 Days to a Godly Marriage | Women Living Well
10 Days of Growing Leaders | Mom’s Mustard Seeds
10 Days of Homeschooling High School | Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
10 days of I Wish I Had Known | Fruit in Season
10 days of Keeping Your Marbles | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of Kid-friendly Food | Planner Perfect
10 Days of Language Arts Lesson Planning | Jimmie’s Collage
10 Days of Learning Apps | Daze of Adventure
10 Days of a Mason Jar Christmas | Cajun Joie de Vivre
10 Days of More JESUS in Christmas | Preschoolers and Peace
10 Days to a Peaceful Home | Raising Arrows
10 Days of Raising a Life-Long-Learner | Bright Ideas Press
10 days of Science with Math | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of Teaching Values | Our Journey Westward
10 days of Winning your Child’s Heart | I Take Joy


I just saw that I was nominated for “Best Encourager” over at the Homeschool Blog Awards.  Thank you!  I’m honored to be among the other nominees.  

10 Days of "I Wish I Had Known"- Day 5

Have you experienced the nearly-divine beauty of the Rainbow Resource annual catalog?
One of my favorite things to do in my early years of homeschooling was to grab a highlighter, sit with this heaven-sent gift when it arrived in the mail, and flip through every. single. page.  There were so many possibilities!  And I was certain that as I searched through the the vast array of choices I would find the curricula that were perfect for our family.
Each summer, when my order came in the mail, I would pore over each purchase and plan and dream and just know that whatever problem we had come upon would be solved, or any interest that had been waning would be rekindled.  Curriculum made me giddy.  And I bought a LOT of it!
Of course, nothing can live up to expectations built up that high.
We had our share of “snug and comfortable” in the curriculum department, and even a few “perfect fits” but we also had times of gnashing of teeth.  Along the way there were some lessons we I had to learn, and I hope you are able to benefit from our times of trial and error:
  • There is no “one size fits all” curriculum.  It’s more like “this specific curriculum fits this exact type of kid“.  Choose based on your child’s learning style (here’s a great book to figure this out), your personality, and your family’s unique blueprint.  And be prepared to change when the next one comes along.
  • Chuck it (really) if it doesn’t work.  We went through three different and popular math curricula with my daughter before settling on one completely out of the mainstream that is more “unschool-like”.  Scary for me?  You betcha.  Better for her?  Definitely.
  • Adjust the curriculum to fit how you want to use it.  There were many years that we skipped a full 60 lessons in my son’s math program because it was so heavy on review.  This meant that he would begin a new year of math in February or so.  He’s now way ahead and we can spend more time on the really challenging concepts.  
  • Make your own curriculum from bits and pieces of different ones.  I have never really liked any spelling curriculum that we’ve tried.  They all seem contrived and silly to me.  One year I used the lists from Sequential Spelling (if I had to pick one, this was my favorite of the ones we tried), rousing games of Spelling Baseball (a family game I designed), Dolch sight words I found online, and extra words to define from my children’s independent reading.  And we just read a lot.

I have become convinced that if Jesus had ever been in a group of homeschooling moms and dads, he would have paraphrased Mark 2:27 to suit us:

“Curriculum was made for the homeschooler,
not the homeschooler for the curriculum.”

Now that I have the confidence to pick and choose, adjust, cut and splice, our curricula to fit our family, our homeschool is much more pleasant and my kids learn with less time and effort.  I encourage you to do the same!
How can you adjust your curricula to better suit your children’s needs?

Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th! I love these ladies and we know you will too.

10 days of Character Studies | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of Christmas Countdown Ideas | Milk & Cookies
10 days of Creative Writing | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of Crockpot Meals | The Happy Housewife
10 Days to a Godly Marriage | Women Living Well
10 Days of Growing Leaders | Mom’s Mustard Seeds
10 Days of Homeschooling High School | Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
10 days of I Wish I Had Known | Fruit in Season
10 days of Keeping Your Marbles | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of Kid-friendly Food | Planner Perfect
10 Days of Language Arts Lesson Planning | Jimmie’s Collage
10 Days of Learning Apps | Daze of Adventure
10 Days of a Mason Jar Christmas | Cajun Joie de Vivre
10 Days of More JESUS in Christmas | Preschoolers and Peace
10 Days to a Peaceful Home | Raising Arrows
10 Days of Raising a Life-Long-Learner | Bright Ideas Press
10 days of Science with Math | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of Teaching Values | Our Journey Westward
10 days of Winning your Child’s Heart | I Take Joy

10 Days of "I Wish I Had Known"- Day 4

I am going to give you permission in this post.

It will not be long.

It will certainly not be profound.

But it will be true.  And you will thank me.

PMS is a good enough reason to take a day off.  
And so is a messy house, a broken dishwasher, an unexpected day off of work for Daddy, a gorgeous day that begs to be spent outside, suitcases that sit out waiting to be packed for an upcoming trip, and a completely empty pantry and fridge that have been ignored for days as you rush to put out other fires that come up.
Yes, we must teach and guide our children.  Yes, we must keep some semblance of order and schedule (of course, that’s my opinion…).  And yes, we can’t slack off weekly because we just never seem to have it all together.
But this is a post about grace.  And if your home environment is one in which your children can find productive things to do even if there’s no “Lesson #24” or “Spelling test” on the agenda, they will continue to learn.  Really.
Sometimes, quite simply, our peace of mind as homeschooling moms (and dads…but if you’re a dad you can ignore the PMS reason…) is worth a day off of our formal schedule.  Grumbling around full of stress and anxiety about the things that overwhelm us, or suffocating under a cloud of hormones, does not create an environment conducive to learning anyway and it is way better to just take Afinil to get rid of those unnecessary thoughts.  And you will snap at the kids and they will walk around on eggshells.  Who can remember their times tables on a day like that?
I know some moms who schedule catch-up, or mental health days every few weeks.  I tend to take them when I most need them and they are like little surprises for the kids.  We work together to get whatever it is done that is most pressing, then make brownies or snuggle in and watch a movie.  Everyone benefits.  And we’re all much happier when we get back to the school work the next day.
So go ahead.  Take a day off.  Permission granted.

Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th! I love these ladies and we know you will too.

10 days of Character Studies | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of Christmas Countdown Ideas | Milk & Cookies
10 days of Creative Writing | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of Crockpot Meals | The Happy Housewife
10 Days to a Godly Marriage | Women Living Well
10 Days of Growing Leaders | Mom’s Mustard Seeds
10 Days of Homeschooling High School | Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
10 days of I Wish I Had Known | Fruit in Season
10 days of Keeping Your Marbles | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of Kid-friendly Food | Planner Perfect
10 Days of Language Arts Lesson Planning | Jimmie’s Collage
10 Days of Learning Apps | Daze of Adventure
10 Days of a Mason Jar Christmas | Cajun Joie de Vivre
10 Days of More JESUS in Christmas | Preschoolers and Peace
10 Days to a Peaceful Home | Raising Arrows
10 Days of Raising a Life-Long-Learner | Bright Ideas Press
10 days of Science with Math | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of Teaching Values | Our Journey Westward
10 days of Winning your Child’s Heart | I Take Joy

10 Days of "I Wish I Had Known"- Day 3

As far as their education goes, I am it.

Sure, my children will have music teachers, and tae kwon do masters, and other wonderful adults in their lives as the years go by.  I am so thankful for those people who choose to pour themselves into the kids in their care and make an impact on their lives.  My children will have memories and mentors outside of our family to look back on and treasure because of the gift of these adults in their lives.

But when it comes to academics and the “grand scheme of things”, it is primarily my responsibility to orchestrate all the details, teach all the grammar, and correct all of the work (not to mention find SPACE for it all!).

It is one HUGE job. 

And even though it is a job of never-ending details for the homeschooling mom or dad, there is a lie that we fall into so easily as we take on this journey.  Here it is:

We have to teach them everything.  Right now.  This year.  And they can’t forget a bit of it or we will go down in history as a homeschooling failure. 

I am a reader.  I got all the books needed to start homeschooling.  The ones that tell us what our child should know when, and how we should assess their knowledge, and which curriculum is the best for which grade level.  Of course, they often contradicted each other, but I gleaned from them what I thought I needed to know, and consequently began to plan for our year.  I also got out my Ohio requirements notification form and, along with the notes from my other research, began jotting down subjects:

  • Math
  • Grammar
  • Writing
  • Spelling
  • Reading
  • Bible
  • Science
  • History
  • Ohio History
  • Geography
  • Art
  • Music
  • Foreign language
  • Typing
  • Fire Safety
  • Health
  • Physical Education
  
Are you kidding me???

The problem was that I didn’t think they were kidding and I set out to cover all of that in first grade.  (Well, Ohio history didn’t quite happen…but don’t tell my local superintendent’s office.  Shhhhh…) My poor oldest child came along for the ride, doing swimmingly well, and he learned and retained quite a bit.  I wish, though, that I had relaxed (“relax”…isn’t that a word you newbies have heard a lot from older homeschooling moms?  Have you heeded that advice?  Hmmmm?) and realized that I had not one, but twelve years to teach him all of those things on that list.

And when we boil it all down, isn’t it true that the only thing we really need to teach them is how to joyfully learn and explore?  

I have come to see that the skills of reading, writing and solid math computation are the main ones we must nurture in the elementary and middle years of schooling.  I have yet to reach high school with my brood, and I realize the value of a rigorous academic plan once those years arrive and my children are focusing on the areas they wish to pursue in life and career.  But I see now that the twelve years we have together produce layers in learning that eventually create a thick quilt of knowledge and love for learning and life that will cover a multitude of facts not known.

So to end this post, I’ll leave you with some practical ways to “relax” as you lay a foundation of life and learning in your home:

  • Use writing only in writing work.  When your children are young and struggling with forming letters, do spelling verbally instead or by tracing in sand or salt on a cookie sheet.  Use scrabble letters, play word games in the car.  You may find (as we did) that you don’t need a formal spelling curriculum at all.
  • Skip a subject for a semester or even a year.  Last year, after doing a rotation of US Geography and World Geography twice, I scrapped formal geography altogether.  We read lots of books and talked about the places within them, still looked them up on a map, but we didn’t do anything more strenuous that that.  We’ve now all come back to geography with a renewed spirit.
  • Only do a few math problems a day.  You, as the homeschool mom or dad, know what your child knows and what he doesn’t.  If he knows, skip it!  Sounds simple, but it’s surprisingly hard to do when all of those 25 problems beckon from the page.
  • Live the subject instead of teaching it.  Do you really need to print out dozens of worksheets for health?  Or can you just include the kids in meal planning and grocery shopping and discuss healthy eating in organic ways (get it?  “Organic”.  I crack myself up)?  Of course, you may have one who loves worksheets like I do, but again, don’t do it simply to feed the “ought to” monster.
  • Just play games.  This is probably one of my favorite ways of relaxing as a homeschooler.  We have dozens and dozens of games.  Some teach logic, some teach math facts, some teach spelling, some teach money, all teach manners and social skills.  We play games a lot in our learning and it makes our school fun and painless.  Rainbow Resource has a ton of educational and fun games to choose from.
I hope this helps you see what “relaxing” looks like.  Enjoy your kids.  Enjoy the process.  Don’t listen to the ought-to’s.  Instead pray, and trust that the Lord will guide your steps and pour Himself into your family as you seek Him.

Do you find that you get caught up in the feelings of overwhelm and that they affect your joy in homeschooling?  

Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th! I love these ladies and we know you will too.

10 days of Character Studies | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of Christmas Countdown Ideas | Milk & Cookies
10 days of Creative Writing | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of Crockpot Meals | The Happy Housewife
10 Days to a Godly Marriage | Women Living Well
10 Days of Growing Leaders | Mom’s Mustard Seeds
10 Days of Homeschooling High School | Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
10 days of I Wish I Had Known | Fruit in Season
10 days of Keeping Your Marbles | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of Kid-friendly Food | Planner Perfect
10 Days of Language Arts Lesson Planning | Jimmie’s Collage
10 Days of Learning Apps | Daze of Adventure
10 Days of a Mason Jar Christmas | Cajun Joie de Vivre
10 Days of More JESUS in Christmas | Preschoolers and Peace
10 Days to a Peaceful Home | Raising Arrows
10 Days of Raising a Life-Long-Learner | Bright Ideas Press
10 days of Science with Math | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of Teaching Values | Our Journey Westward
10 days of Winning your Child’s Heart | I Take Joy

10 Days of "I Wish I Had Known"- Day 2 The Schoolroom

So you’re getting ready to start your homeschool journey.  It’s coming up on September and the excitement is building for the beginning of the school year.  I remember those days as a kid, don’t you?  I loved when the boring days of summer ended and stores were full of shiny new pencils, brightly colored backpacks, and fall clothes.  I loved finding out who my teachers were and discovering what the year would bring.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the hype of a new year.  Even as a homeschooler.

But when the big yellow bus rolls by, your children will not be on it.  And what will the day look like for you?  Will you start by ringing a bell or saying the pledge of allegiance?  Will you and your students each have their own desk and sit politely waiting to start the day?  Will your kids need to raise their hands to get your attention?

There is nothing inherently wrong with this scenario.  But let me ask you:

Why?

Do you want to make your home environment just like school simply because it’s what you’re used to?  Maybe because you were brought up in that environment and are scared to not bring it home?

While we did not have the complete school-at-home package when we started, I certainly did my part to make things look pretty.  I got excited about purchasing white boards and stools and little tables.  We made a schoolroom that glowed with pale yellow paint and had a bulletin board strip along the perimeter with lovely posters of parts of speech, the act of photosynthesis and the human skeleton.

To tell you the truth, I still love that room.  It is school to me.

But our children will have a different experience.  Especially if we choose to homeschool right from the start, they will never feel the need to buy new “stuff” in August or have a new outfit on when the first bell rings.  Unless we make that their experience too.

Let me reiterate that there is nothing wrong with bringing school home.  It’s all in the intention and how we choose to learn with our children.  We just shouldn’t do it because it feels like we should, or because we’re afraid of doing it a different way.

Our schoolroom is still our “schoolroom”, but to be honest, we only work in there a small portion of the week.  Most of our learning time is spent snuggled on the couch, sprawled out on a beanbag, sitting at the kitchen table, or at the park.  I tried to create an environment conducive to school for our family while overlooking the fact that our family itself already is the environment I sought.  

(And don’t tell anyone, but I’ve been secretly thinking that a ping-pong table may just be the next item to find its way into the “schoolroom”.)

Do you have a schoolroom?  Is it a place of inspiration, or has it become stale?  Share your wisdom!

Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th! I love these ladies and we know you will too.


10 days of Character Studies | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of Christmas Countdown Ideas | Milk & Cookies
10 days of Creative Writing | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of Crockpot Meals | The Happy Housewife
10 Days to a Godly Marriage | Women Living Well
10 Days of Growing Leaders | Mom’s Mustard Seeds
10 Days of Homeschooling High School | Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
10 days of I Wish I Had Known | Fruit in Season
10 days of Keeping Your Marbles | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of Kid-friendly Food | Planner Perfect
10 Days of Language Arts Lesson Planning | Jimmie’s Collage
10 Days of Learning Apps | Daze of Adventure
10 Days of a Mason Jar Christmas | Cajun Joie de Vivre
10 Days of More JESUS in Christmas | Preschoolers and Peace
10 Days to a Peaceful Home | Raising Arrows
10 Days of Raising a Life-Long-Learner | Bright Ideas Press
10 days of Science with Math | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of Teaching Values | Our Journey Westward
10 days of Winning your Child’s Heart | I Take Joy