Navigating “Do I have to?” Homeschool Days

Posted by on Nov 14, 2016 in Homeschool Helps, Homeschooling Basics, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Navigating “Do I have to?” Homeschool Days

Our first few years of homeschooling were sweet days of learning and creativity. Fun days. But once we hit the later elementary years I kept hearing the same phrase, “Do I have to?”

homeschool days
It definitely was subtle, but eventually it started to ruin my mornings.

Do I have to …
finish these multiplication times tables
write all these spelling words
diagram the rest of these sentences
read this book
do long division today

Do I have to started with just one lesson and finally crept into each homeschool day. And one day he asked,  “Do we have to homeschool today?” He asked most likely because I said “no” the first time to something so trivial he was brave enough to ask me to wash the whole day’s schedule.

So I did. No, you don’t have to – let’s do something else … something more fun that we’ll both enjoy. That’s really why I said no. I said no because I didn’t want to do it either. I didn’t want to hear the mumbling and complaining. I didn’t want to arm wrestle over one more thing. I certainly was tired of being the bad guy!

Yet the truth is ~ when we save our children from the “have to” monster we’re really not saving them from character building. We can help them indulge in their laziness.

At forty I do not ask, do I have to pay taxes? Do I have to cook everyone dinner again – we just ate 6 hours ago! Do I have to get my annual exam done? Am I being extreme, maybe. But we still have to clean our rooms, brush our teeth, and change our underwear! Why do we start weighing if they have to do school work? I have learned … it’s much harder to climb out of the pit of laziness if you do not fall into it at all.

There is a beautiful compromise I have found with my second homeschool son.
Do I have to write my spelling words ten times? No, but why don’t you write them three times each?
Do I have to do this timed multiplication quiz? No, why don’t we leave out the timer and you finish at your own pace.

Some days there is no good reason to push through practice problems or the same reading comprehension questions a child has clearly mastered. Let them know that. “Because you already know this … let’s move on.” If they do not know the material forward and back do not skip it. On those days teach the art of compromise. If you toss something small today it might mean having to battle through an entire Algebra class later.

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Don’t Miss Your Only Chance to Save On These Homeschool Bundles

Posted by on May 10, 2016 in Curriculum, Homeschool, Homeschool Helps, Sale, Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Build Your Bundle Homeschool Sale Has Begun!
(This post contains affiliate links)

This is your chance to save on some really great curriculum and resources.

Here are just a few of the BYB details:

  • You have the option to choose one or all of the 15 bundles that are available.
  • You have the option to build your own bundle.
  • When you buy 2 bundles you will receive 1 for FREE!!
  • When you make a purchase you will receive a FREE Bundle of Bonus Books.
  • This sale lasts for one week only, May 16 – 23.

What do you need to do? Grab a cup of coffee, take a look at the BYB site, and start planning your savings strategies now!

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Great Books for Family Vacation

Posted by on Jun 8, 2015 in Book Club, Books, Uncategorized | 0 comments


You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child. Dr. Seuss

I remember that long family car ride from New York to Texas. I shared the cramped backseat with my older sister who was a stickler for not crossing the center line.  If a toe even rested near the imaginary line she would donkey kick me back to my side of the car.  No electronics invited in the 80’s, we relied on the written word for entertainment.  I ended up filling every page of my coloring books before we crossed the NY state line.  It was a long drive to Texas.

My tech savvy boys do not appreciate a good game of license plate poker. Or the long dead game of “I’m going on a picnic and bringing …” alphabet memory fun.  My boys know iPads, kindles, and portable DVD players.  I think all of these inventions are brilliant.  They can turn a twenty hour car trip into a quick 8 movie marathon.

Sure we have fewer nagging questions “are we there yet”, but we have also cultivated instant gratification and glazed over entertainment zombies.  Bathroom humor, from tv shows, fills the car as I beat my head against the window to theme songs.

My husband and I have made a new effort to utilize the time in the confined car space to enhance our family vacations. Audiobooks or reading aloud in the car offers great family bonding opportunities to inspire creativity and adventure.

Our favorite vacations all have a book title intertwined. We once read Journey to the Center of the Earth right before we headed down into the deep Luray Caverns in Virginia.  An adventure to Boston, Massachusetts followed Who Was Paul Revere and What Was the Boston Tea Party. Our proud eleven-year-old acted as tour guide pointing out the important buildings we had just read all about.

What fun to ride the midnight train from Salt Lake City, UT to Reno, NV. The children pretended they were on the Hogwart’s Express.

Not sure which great book to read on your next family vacation? Here are over 50 classics compiled into themed vacation categories: animal, water, western, historical, European, basic adventure, and biographies.

Safari / Zoo / Farm Vacation
The Jungle Book
Black Beauty
Charlotte’s Web
Mr. Poppers Penguins
The Tale of Desperaux
Old Yeller

Beach / Water / Cruise Vacations
Treasure Island
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Odyssey
Swiss Family Robinson
Moby Dick
Robinson Crusoe
Peter Pan

Western Vacations
Lewis and Clark
White Fang
Call of the Wild
The Adventures of Munford: The Klondike Gold Rush
The Courage of Sarah Noble

American Historical Vacations
Johnny Tremain
Last of the Mohicans
Sarah, Plain and Tall
Little House on the Prairie
Red Badge of Courage
Uncle Tom’s Cabin

European Vacations
Oliver Twist
The Adventures of Robin Hood
Sherlock Holmes
King Arthur
The Three Musketeers
Don Quixote
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The Apple and the Arrow
The Diary of Ann Frank
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
Greek Myths

Any Vacation:
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Stuart Little
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Around the World in 80 Days
War of the Worlds
To Kill a Mockingbird
A Wrinkle in Time
The Giver
Percy Jackson
The Hobbit

Great Biographies:
Learning about the people who impacted an area is definitely a great opportunity to have more respect and appreciation for it.
Clara Barton
Daniel Boone
Harriet Tubman
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Hudson Taylor
Fredrick Douglas
C.S. Lewis
George Muller
Florence Nightingale

Younger Series:
Stop by the library and grab a few of these younger fun series!
Magic Tree House
Boxcar Children
A-Z Mysteries
Capital Mysteries
Nate the Great
Captain Awesome
Encyclopedia Brown
Flat Stanley

Most classics have an abridged version, I highly recommend starting with those first. You will have fewer vocabulary lessons in the middle of a story.

More tips from a former rigid read-aloud mom:

1. If you are not a reading together type of family yet – pitch it to your children first. Let them know you want to share a favorite adventure with them and you will be having some “story time”. Discuss what you expect and then pick a book together.  Be sure everyone unplugs (that includes the adults too)!!

2. Recognize when it is time to stop. If your children are absolutely not interested do not speed read a chapter just to get it done. Some pages are overwhelmingly descriptive (The Hobbit) you need a stopping point before the chapter officially ends. I used to be ridiculously offended my boys were not eager to hang on every single spoken word. Do not take it personally.

3. Do make it a habit by practicing a bit of reading together every day. This will take some time to build a great habit of easy listening.  If you do not feel like reading a monster of a book pick up the audio version and listen together.

4. Do not plan on reading for an entire 21-hour drive. I don’t even want to hear my voice for that long! Set aside the movies and toys for a bit, but do not trash them completely.

5. Not driving this vacation? Read together before bed, in the airport, or during some outside down time.

6. Enjoy the journey. This is something fun to do with your family not another grueling task to add to the vacation itinerary. Some days I would be so flustered to get the reading time in and feel stressed I had a squirmy little one distracting me. I learned to pass off the book to my husband and enjoy listening for a bit myself. Older children make for great narrators too!

Looking for more great reads? Follow our Pinterest Board: Reading.

Keeping track of your child's homeschool work for you!

Keeping track of your child’s homeschool work for you!

Add fun to your next family vacation by reading a great book together!  Show us what you are reading this summer.  Snap a photo of your book cover and use our hashtag #applecorereads

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2015 Build Your Bundle Presale Giveaway

Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The 2015 Build Your Bundle Sale is almost here! To celebrate the upcoming sale, they are doing a pre-sale giveaway for 3 bundles of your choice AND offering you a special coupon code.

Enter to win 3 bundles of your choice!

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win any 3 of 19 individual bundles. We cannot tell you what products are in the bundles just yet, but just know, THEY TOTALLY ROCK!

There are several individual bundles, priced starting at $10. The 2015 Build Your Bundle Sale will consist of the following bundles, plus, of course, the BUILD YOUR OWN OPTIONS!! These bundles are full of products from popular publishers!

  • Preschool-Kindergarten
  • 1st-3rd grade (2 bundles!)
  • 4th-6th grade (2 bundles!)
  • Middle School
  • High School
  • Charlotte Mason
  • Notebooking
  • Copywork
  • Unit Studies
  • Just for Boys
  • Just for Girls
  • Character Bundle
  • Just for Moms (2 bundles!)
  • Fine Arts
  • Special Needs Bundle
  • Non-Faith Based/Secular Bundle

Grab a Coupon Code

You can receive a coupon code, just for giving us your email address! Refer friends for additional savings.  Enter your email address to get a coupon code you can use when the 2015 Build Your Bundle Sale starts!


The Build Your Bundle Sale is ONE-WEEK ONLY – May 25th – June 1st 2015.

Don’t miss the BIGGEST homeschooling sale of the year. When you enter the giveaway OR enter your email for a coupon code, we will be sure to send you a reminder email so you do not forget.

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Tips to Navigating a Homeschool Convention

Posted by on May 10, 2015 in Homeschool Convention, Homeschool Helps, Homeschooling Basics, Uncategorized | 0 comments

How to navigate a homeschool convention. #homeschooling #applecore #StefLaytonThe first year I started homeschooling I was terrified to attend a homeschool convention.  Just peeking at the convention website felt like information overload.  Rather than attend, I skipped it completely.

The second year I walked around the place in a daze.  I missed half the speakers I wanted to hear because I was lost.  I also forgot what I wanted to buy and ended up purchasing more toys than curriculum.  I’d like to blame that on the distraction of having my boys with me, but I was alone.  Really, I was unprepared.

Homeschool Conventions can be a great blessing to the homeschool family and should not be harder to figure out than Algebra II problems.

Tips to Navigating a Homeschool Convention

1. Before you purchase your ticket check out what the convention offers.  You might not be a curriculum buyer but a breakout attender.  Check out the breakout topics and if any apply to your heart.  Do not just go because you feel like you have to go. Go because there is something you absolutely want to experience.
You might want to meet new vendors, get your hands on curriculum to flip through, or hear veteran speakers offer encouragement.  Have a reason for going!  Once you have a reason use it as a filter.  It will be easier to navigate the convention with your goal in mind. You can weed out what you do not need to hear or things you do not want to buy.

2. When you purchase your ticket online print out the speaker schedule, vendor hall or map, and vendor list.  This information is fantastic to check out before you arrive.  You do not go grocery shopping without a list or idea of what you need. Do not “wing” a convention.  Highlight the vendor booths you want to visit.  This should not feel like a scavenger hunt. You will not win any awards for finding the Teaching Textbooks booth, maybe just free shipping.

3. Be intentional with your time and pick your breakouts before you step foot in the building.  Always be flexible, but if you are running from one room checking out topics to the next it will only lead to frustration. And you might just be that “crazy frazzled homeschool mom” I was a few years ago racing into a session late just to walk out 15 minute later. It is disrespectful to the other attendees and the speaker.

4. Plan a budget. If you are going to pick up your curriculum at a convention have a budget in mind. Check out what the books cost before you go to make sure you are getting the best deal.  Bring some extra cash for coffee, lunch, or those little items you not thought about before (microscope, timeline posters, pocket knives, Homeschool Moms Rock t-shirts, etc.).

5. Bring something to carry all those heavy books. My first convention I muscled 3 bags of new textbooks to the car and could not lift my arms above my head for the rest of the week.  You can bring a small carry on case or craft box on rollers. It sounds inconvenient when you’re starting out, but you will be skipping back to the car while everyone else is dragging their bags.Rolling Cart

6. Check out curriculum you have no plan on buying. Conventions are the best opportunity to see what else is on the market. I am a loyal Apologia Science user, but it is always fun to see what other science curriculum is available. I can flip through books easily without buying anything, and be reassured that I am not missing out on something.

7. Talk to vendors. I have worked with vendors and they really enjoy talking to their customers. They want to know what you have liked and what is not working. This is their opportunity to receive feedback and maybe start working on some new curriculum everyone wants.  Take time to ask questions, get more ideas on how to best use their curriculum, maybe get involved with the company, see what else they do aside from creating curriculum, and just get to know the brand.

8. Follow brands on social media.  Many companies now have a Facebook page or twitter account. It is far easier to keep up with a sale, new product, or store information than receiving a million emails or magazines in the mail. It is also easier to like a brand with one click than filling out all those mass mailing address forms.

Three tips that everyone knows but we sometimes go brain dead after raising children or neglect ourselves.

1. Eat a great breakfast and bring some snack bars. Chances are you are going to get hungry and you do not want to miss a speaker because your stomach went wild kingdom and you had to leave the room. Eat a great protein filled breakfast and pack a few snacks that will give you energy not make you want to nap.

2. Wear comfortable shoes. A convention can be a long few days, and nothing is ever right next to each other. Our local convention takes up two floors and a monster long exhibit hall.  Not to mention off-site parking.  Unless you have a job interview with a vendor, wear comfortable clothes. People are looking at textbooks not your shoes.

3. Have fun. This is your chance to take a break from teaching and soak in encouragement.  Sure, conventions want to sell you stuff, but there are so many speakers and brands that truly do care about your heart.  Go with the excitement of being refreshed and recharged!


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HomeSchool Bundle Sale!

Posted by on Jul 14, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The first ever build your bundle sale is coming on July 21. There will be several bundles to choose from so enter to win$100 to use towards the purchase of your bundle because there will be something for every homeschool family available here. Including you!
Enter to Win $100 Towards the Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!
I can’t tell you what products will be available in each bundle.  It’s top secret, but here is a quick look at the types of bundles that will be available:

Save 83% On Preschool Curriculum & Resources at the Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale! Save 80% on K-3 Homeschooling Curriculum at the Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale! Elementary Homeschooling Curriculum Bundle - 82% Off!
Save 84% on Middle School Homeschooling Curriculum at the Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale! Save 84% on High School Homeschooling Curriculum at the Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale! Charlotte Mason Style Homeschooling Curriculum Bundle - 85% Off + 3 Bonuses!
Homeschooling Mom Bundle of Encouragement & Organization - $118 Value for JUST $10! Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!
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