Posts by StefLayton

Just Keep Swimming

Posted by on Feb 1, 2017 in Homeschool Helps | 0 comments

It seems February kicks off the homeschool blues. Now that the holidays are over we realize we’re not finished with that curriculum and we have a long way to keep going. Our attitudes drag as we accept the fact that we have been living Ground Hog’s Day over and over.

We notice we forgot about scheduling that great field trip.
We’re running low on art supplies.
Math still is a four letter word every morning.
The library fines have added up to a date night dinner.
Rather than look forward to another failed science experience you’re wondering, are we there yet?!
just keep swimming

Do not fret, you can take some advice from Nemo, “just keep swimming”.

Most times my children adopt my attitude towards things. Even homeschooling. If you are dragging to the table uninterested in reading one more chapter from that long history book chances are your children will drag too!

Instead of dragging and complaining why not incorporate a new read. Check out our list of great books.

Set the tone of your mornings. Put a smile on your face. Bundle up and take a picnic break outside. Or plan that field trip and get out of the house.

Simple touches go a long way. Add cheerful flowers to your table and play worship music. Or start the morning with some yoga stretches.

We recently incorporated a “quick draw” contest. Each morning the boys grab their dry erase boards and I give them a challenge to draw an object within minutes. From superheroes to the last geography lesson, the boys enjoy the challenge and laughter as they explain their quick draws. It has become a nice start before our homeschool lessons {and it’s a convenient review opportunity too}.

You do not have to put on the homeschool winter blues! Just keep swimming through these February days before the joy and excitement of spring arrives.

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Should You Take a Winter Break?

Posted by on Nov 28, 2016 in Homeschool | 0 comments

Should You Take a Winter Break?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas for many homeschoolers. The excitement of fun outside weather, Christmas crafts, Advent readings, and snuggling by the fire for the Christmas movie marathons begin to beckon us far (far) away from our homeschool books.

Should You Take a Winter Break?

Over the past nine years of homeschooling we have tried many different options. We have taken time off for Christmas, and we have fallen behind. Other years we have schooled through the winter, and we all were burned out by February. What is a homeschool mom to do?

winter break

With every post we encourage you to do what is best for your family! Ask yourself some practical questions of what a winter break could look like in your homeschool.

Is skipping 3 months of homeschool a brilliant idea if you want to finish by Spring? Probably not.

Are you ahead in some subjects and therefore you can keep a lighter “winter schedule” to enjoy a snowy break? Do it!

Is your 8th grade failing Algebra? Don’t shelf it for weeks on end.

Can you incorporate seasonal lessons into “Winter Schooling” activities? The Homeschool Scientist offers great winter lessons. We have also shared many sites that offer Free Lessons Plans

A lighter homeschool day is always better than no homeschool. Especially when you try to transition back into a full schedule after the holidays.

Traveling this holiday season? School on the road. Stop by the local historical spots or check out a museum (see if they have a reciprocal rate with your local museum). If you use computer based / online curriculum you can always pack a laptop and fire up lessons at night or even on the airplane.

If you do not feel comfortable taking a long winter’s nap and forgetting you homeschool – don’t take off! If you feel guilty not taking time off to enjoy Advent – do take off!

Always remember what is good for one homeschool family is not always good for every homeschool family. Most importantly … enjoy your family this winter season.


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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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Redefine Falling Behind

Posted by on Sep 26, 2016 in Parenting | 0 comments

Now that the school year is in 5th gear a parent can easily become terrified of falling behind. I released myself from such a burden many years ago, because I made time to redefine falling behind for our family.

falling behind

Your Falling Behind should be different than mine. It should be different than your best friend’s or even your bible study teacher. Yet we all want to put this term on and wear it around as if one-size-fits-all. Just like pantyhose … that’s a lie.

My youngest attends a one-day-per-week-private-homeschool. Every Wednesday afternoon he comes home with a beautiful yellow assignment sheet. Four days are listed with four assignments for each day and subject. It might be one page, 1/2 a page, or one large project broken up over four days. It’s lovely. I appreciate it. But there is very slim chance we’re going to complete everything on that sheet.

Years I begged, demanded, threatened, and even bribed the child to finish it all, because I like check marks. Check marks make me feel safe, warm, and comfortable. My son has no regard for check marks.

My son also has delayed fine motor skills, so writing 8 sentences can take up to an hour for him. I have to redefine “falling behind”.

My oldest son has joined a soccer team across town. And by town I mean major city. Even if we leave an hour early for a 40 minute drive, I still can not control interstate traffic. Often times we’re late. I have to redefine “falling behind”. When will we get there? When we get there!

Wouldn’t it be nice if we stopped keeping to others expectations and kept to where God has placed us? Falling behind should be different for each family according to those family’s needs!

A single mom friend turned down a request from the PTO. They wanted her to make dinner for the 5th grade teachers. Since she’s “just” a single mom and has time to serve others. She said no. People can think she’s falling behind on her service commitments or others can see she’s protecting her family time.

Maybe you need to have a chat with your husband and ask his expectations or needs. Once he explained he didn’t care if the oven was clean all he wanted were clean undies and towels in the drawers – life got easier around the house. I was able to prioritize than feel overwhelmed with everything.

Before you throw on your falling behind garment of shame, stress out, make life miserable for everyone, and go a bit crazy this year … take some time to decide what is realistic for your family and where you should place the “falling behind” measurement.

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Simply Ways to Make Geography Fun

Posted by on Sep 12, 2016 in Homeschool Helps | 0 comments

Simply Ways to Make Geography Fun

Geography has always been an interesting subject to me, but for some younger students it can be overwhelming. 7 Continents, 4 sometimes 5 oceans, imaginary lines, 4 hemispheres, and over 190 confirmed countries. Add the  different landforms, temperatures, and languages … the Earth can make students feel like it’s just a spinning sphere of confusion.

Simple Ways to Make Geography Fun

1. Invest in an inflatable globe. Globes are easy to spin, point, and even toss around for review. They make it easier to locate different lands because of reference points. I can easily see where Africa is compared to Asia – but if I print a map of Africa … I just see Africa.
You can also use a dry erase marker on inflatable globes to draw navigation or trade routes, regions, etc. It is much easier than printing out a new map each week.

2. Explore one country every few days. Do not be afraid to stick to one country and really learn about it. Discover landforms, major cities or rivers, borders, imports and exports, regional food, plus famous landmarks or famous people. Sure a child can sing a song and memorize words, but when asked to point to those countries on a map they look lost. Ask them one unique thing about that country and they can only chant the next country in their cute song. The library will be your best friend to check out books, movies, and reference materials.

3. Purchase Country Notebooking Pages. Let’s be honest. We all want to create the perfect curriculum, but just don’t have the time to make our way through Pinterest to piece it together. You can easily grab a beautifully compiled pack of almost 200 countries and study the world at your own pace! No mean teacher’s planner to bark deadlines and remind you how much you’re “behind” this year. Print a country and enjoy learning about it.

We might sing, It’s a Small World, but I disagree. It’s a big beautiful world full of interesting places – enjoy learning about them with your children.

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