Posts Tagged "homeschool"

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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Curriculum Wars

Posted by on Aug 22, 2016 in Curriculum, Homeschool Helps | 0 comments

Curriculum Wars

If you are new to homeschooling or a ten year veteran … the questions and opinions about The Perfect Curriculum are endless! But be careful not to fall into the Curriculum Wars.  You’ve heard the conversations. Which curriculum is the best?

curriculum wars

Choosing the curriculum that is right for YOUR child is important. Being bullied into trying something just because someone else loves it does not mean it will be the right pick for you. Nor does it mean your choices are null and void!

A few years ago two friends were victims of the Curriculum Wars.  Homeschool Friend A couldn’t understand why Homeschool Friend B wouldn’t use Homeschool Curriculum C. So they stopped speaking to each other. One friend told me, “Well, you wouldn’t understand you pick all that “hands-on stuff”, but I know her daughter loves to write just like my daughter does. If she’d just use it I bet she’d have a better day.”

A word of veteran homeschool wisdom – do not push a curriculum war agenda! Sadly we do this about our diets, exercise programs, discipline style, bedtimes, sports teams, political candidates, and on and on. It’s word of mouth marketing – but we can become bullies. I have this soccer mom acquaintance who seems to think her opinion on every topic is right. Having a conversation with her is impossible.

Once you pick your curriculum – be faithful and use it for you. I promise it did not turn into trash overnight. And it sure didn’t become garbage because a friend does not use it.

It might not have worked for someone else, it might look intimidating, or it might have a bad reputation for not being difficult enough. That’s right, I still love Teaching TextbooksIf the stuff is a complete disaster, doesn’t work well with your children or your time … then chunk it. But you have to try it first to know.

Curriculum Wars

As homeschool moms we have influence. We’ve been doing this thing for awhile. Be careful what you do and do not recommend and how you recommend it. Not every family is like your family. Not every learning style is like your child’s learning style. Be gentle. Do not play the Curriculum Wars game.


Just this summer a new-to-homeschool friend asked for my opinion. I shared what I thought would be a good fit. She picked something completely different. I was not offended, nor did I tell her she made a mistake. I am still excited for her homeschool journey!

We should all be excited for each other rather than alienate the only people who actually get how hard it is to homeschool.

As new homeschool moms be willing to listen, but decide for yourself what will and will not work for you. You know your children. You are around them most. An opinion is nice, but it never should make you feel bad!

Do not feel pressured to try something just because “so and so” did it. When I first started homeschooling I copied the woman who introduced me to homeschooling. Her schedule, curriculum, and chore charts. I wanted to stamp out homeschoolers. It did not work – oh it so did not work for us!

You will find your groove and it will be great. Give your curriculum choice a chance and do not feel bullied into doing something different.  Then when you look back to help the next generation of homeschoolers be kind with your knowledge and we can all stop the Curriculum Wars!

Looking for more posts on curriculum?  Read: Finding The Perfect Curriculum, Signs that the Curriculum Is Not Working, and Free Lesson Plans

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End of the Year Reward

Posted by on May 24, 2016 in Homeschool | 0 comments

End of the Year Reward

What a great school year! Are you ready to celebrate? Before you sleep in or turn on the long summer of television programs, plan a little End of the Year Reward!

end of the year reward
In the professional world employees usually are given raises or bonuses for hard work. They might be acknowledged with prizes or other recognition. Reward your students and reinforce the idea that their hard work means something.

End of the Year Rewards do not have to be extravagant. Plan something simple, meaningful, and show appreciation for the hard work your children have put forth.

We often cook our children’s favorite meal (tacos) and say a few things we are proud they accomplished. Give them a round of applause for learning to read, mastering multiplication, finishing that long paper, winning the science fair, or acing their SAT!

We have rewarded the “last day of school” with a new comic book or movie. What fun to wrap up the day with a movie, their own root-beer and bag of popcorn!

You might even plan an end of the year field trip. We finished one homeschool year with a trip to Legoland. It was the best day ever for my lego loving boys. Maybe get together with other homeschool friends and plan a picnic. Bring some balloons and cupcakes.

Personally, we do not pay for grades. But if that is an agreement in your home – open up the wallet and pay for those A’s.

My best advice, however you decide to enjoy the end of the year reward plan it before the last day of school!

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10 Questions About Homeschool Co-ops

Posted by on Aug 26, 2015 in Homeschool Helps, Homeschooling Basics | 0 comments

Homeschool Co-opIf you are starting homeschool or just have a few questions about homeschool co-ops, we are hoping to answer them here.

When I started homeschooling I wondered, what is a homeschool co-op and more importantly, should I join one? Do I need one?

A homeschool co-op is generally a group of home educators joining together and cooperating on teaching different subjects.  For instance, one mom might handle science experiments while another mom handles history. A group of moms work together and join forces to help with the load of teaching.

10 Questions About Homeschool Co-Ops

1.What is the difference between a homeschool co-op and a homeschool group? The purpose of a homeschool co-op is to cover specific school subjects. Science, history, literature, art, drama, speech, debate, etc. Homeschool groups are a bunch of homeschool families who get together for the sole purpose of socialization and field trips. One mom might arrange the field trips but there is no real learning time, projects, or activities accomplished. It is a social group.

2. How often do Homeschool Co-Ops meet? Usually, weekly. Most co-ops have a designated day to meet each week with a planned assignment / goal.

Are Homeschool Co-Ops free? Typically, no. Most co-ops have a “joining fee” or charge for supplies, etc.

4. Do Homeschool Co-Op subjects count toward core education? YES! Whatever project or activity you work on keep it. Incorporate it into your portfolio or online grading reports. Keep in mind you are not “covered” by the co-op. {it is not an umbrella school, private school, etc.}

5. What is the benefit of a Homeschool Co-Op, really? Homeschool children have the opportunity to work with others, learn in a group setting, experience different teachers & teaching styles. Some moms have degrees in specific fields and overly love the opportunity to teach that subject again.

6. Do I “have to” join a homeschool co-op? Absolutely not. However, they are a great benefit if you need help teaching a specific subject {I know nothing about art} or if you have a desire to teach a subject to a group of children! Science experiments are always fun in a group – a homeschool co-op is perfect for that.

7. How do I find a homeschool co-op? You can check with the local church,, yahoo groups, or a google search: “your town name homeschool co-op”. Be sure to keep an eye out at your local homeschool curriculum fair or convention for co-ops. Always ask other homeschool moms. Do not be afraid to ask for a contact name and email.

8. Should I start a homeschool co-op? Maybe. First pray then see if there is a need – besides your own. Keep in mind a co-op is a cooperative. You can not do it alone. I believe a group of 3 homeschool moms (or dads) can do something great. Ecclesiastes 4:12, a thread of three strands is not easily broken. Consider a convenient location, supply costs, and who will help teach what.

9. Is there a downside to being in a homeschool co-op? Besides the obvious: leaving the house for a full day, preparing lessons / teaching other students, being close with other women who raise their children differently, etc. If you look for the negative you will find it in any situation. I believe the more involved you are the less time & desire you have to find wrongs.

10. What questions should I ask a director or leader of the local homeschool co-op? Always ask questions before joining!
* is this a religious co-op or secular? this might matter to you during a science lesson.
* how many subjects / what activities are taught each week? make sure you’re joining the right age range & grades before giving your first grader a debate class.
* how much does the co-op cost? surprise fees are no fun for anyone.
* how can I help? be prepared to offer your skills and talents. co-ops are not drop off dates. find a mommy’s day out instead of a co-op.

You might not want to start your own co-op, but would rather teach one class in your own home. Go for it! I had a blast teaching Apologia science in my kitchen one year. Five friends sat around the table every Tuesday morning ready for hands-on science fun. Again, consider the cost of supplies and do not be afraid to charge before the class starts!

Maybe you have a potter’s wheel, a love for history, or desire to start a running club.  I believe there are so many homeschool moms with talents and gifts being untapped. Help the homeschool community and start something or offer your time to a local co-op.

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Not A Know-It-All Homeschooler ?

Posted by on Aug 24, 2015 in Homeschool Helps, Parenting | 0 comments

I always figured it would be high school math that gave me away. It would be the day my son realized I am not really as smart as I pretend to be. That I am not a know-it-all homeschooler! Yet it happened much earlier than I expected when he asked about seahorses.

not a know it all homeschooler

First grade science and I was backed into a corner over a question about seahorse reproduction. Seahorses! The only male species to carry the babies and I didn’t know how that worked, exactly. At the time I also didn’t know they anchored themselves with their tales so they do not float away.

Seahorses. Okay. I don’t know, but let’s go find out.

Then we found cute tadpoles in our dirty pool. Again, I ran into the fear of not knowing something when I didn’t know what happened to the tadpoles tail, exactly.  Because telling a first grader that it just “looses it” is not scientific enough.

Tadpoles. Okay. I don’t know, but let’s go find out.

We still haven’t made it to high school math and it was pretty obvious I was not a know-it-all homeschooler.
I didn’t know about snail hibernation.
I didn’t know about Egyptian gods.
I didn’t know the state bird of Texas – sorry Texas.
I didn’t know why volcanoes became dormant.
I didn’t know how to make giant pretzels.

We figured it out, together. We hit the library, a lot. We googled, daily. We bought field guides. We kept topical resource books.

You might be thinking of all your weaknesses; why you’d never make a great homeschool mom. Or that you’re not a know-it-all … and right there is the real beauty of homeschool!

Learn together. Experiment together. Rejoice in getting a second education. Have fun. Make memories!

Because the truth of it all, I’m not a know-it-all homeschool mom and I hope I am not raising know-it-all homeschool boys. I hope I am teaching them how to admit they do not have to know everything but have a desire to find the answers and continue to learn long past graduation.

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

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

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