Posts by StefLayton

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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Back to School Ready?

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

Back to School Ready?

It’s back-to-school time! If you’re starting this week, next, or even next month here are a few tips to be back to school ready!
back to school ready


Clean Space. Do yourself a huge favor and clean up your work space before you start work! If that’s a desk, table, bookshelf, or something else … get organized. Signed up for sports? Put a plastic bin in your trunk and throw all the equipment in there. Don’t start day one behind the clean up eight ball.

Calendars. If you set alarms on your phone, google calendar, or print one – get your calendars ready. If it’s for the day, week, or month have them out and ready to roll! Print your lesson plans too! Looking for free ones? Check out our post: Free Lesson Plans.

Fill the Pantry. Hungry children are a bummer, but an empty pantry is a complete kill joy. I even pull out snacks in the morning and put them in our EasyLunchBox coolers. My boys know when it’s “snack time”, so they just go to their color cooler and pull out one of the snacks.  Some days I put out a fruit tray early and they can snack without stopping lessons to ask for food.

Get Rest. If I sound like a broken record, good! Rest is so very important for a happy home. For moms, growing students, and every one involved – get a good night’s sleep. Do not start bedtimes the day before school starts. Get in the habit a few days before so there are no dragging unhappy faces the first day. Wondering about bedtimes? Read our post: Homeschool Bedtimes.

Set Goals. In the beginning I was just happy to finish a homeschool year. But as we creep up on high school I realize we have so much more potential than to just army crawl our way across the finish line. Sit down with your children and ask what they hope to accomplish. What do they want to learn. Where do they want to field trip, etc. Within reason of course – try to incorporate some of their ideas into your homeschool. It will definitely give them something to look forward to this year. It will also help you to say NO to all those other things that pop up and steal your time.

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Homeschool Bedtime

Posted by on Jul 25, 2016 in Parenting | 0 comments

Homeschool Bedtime

Since we homeschool we are asked many different parenting questions. Recently I was in a deep conversation with a friend. She was telling me how hard it was to get her children up in the morning for school.

“Well, you don’t know, but it’s hard to drag them out of bed. Then we rush to throw breakfast at them as we run out the door” she explained.

We don’t have to catch a bus or beat the first period bell, so she assumed my boys stay up late and wake up late.  She was shocked to learn my boys went to bed earlier than her public school boys. When is a good homeschool bedtime?

homeschool bedtime
As with almost everything … bedtime falls into the category of WWBFY. What Works Best For You.

* If your children are miserable when they wake up – make them go to bed earlier.
* If your children have a hard time falling asleep even after a long day of activity – let them stay up longer.
* If your children are not exhausted by the end of the day – get them active to do something that will make them tired.

Yes we homeschool, but my boys are expected to get up out of bed! We do not stay home so they can be lazy. We homeschool, but college is not forgiving. Jobs and bosses are not lenient toward laziness. I want to raise strong men of character, not happy nappers.

Of course, if we travel or stay out late I allow my children to sleep-in and get rest. Even if they want to be cool and brag about a midnight bedtime, growing teenage boys need rest. Allowing your children to stay up later, sleep in longer, and neglecting responsibility is not a healthy option. It will eventually catch up.

I am a wife. I want to have quiet time with my husband without the interruption of children.  We have a rule that children are to be in bed with their lights out at least an hour before I go to bed myself. I like a nice quiet house before I turn off lights and go to bed myself.

If you are looking to find the perfect bedtime try out different times. Keep in mind the daily activity and the attitude of how each child wakes up in the morning. Adjust little one’s bedtime by 15 minutes and older children by 30 minutes.

Need help creating Healthy Bedtime Habits, check out my post at The Marathon Mom!

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Embrace Art

Posted by on Jul 10, 2016 in Homeschool Helps | 0 comments

Embrace Art

Aside from PE, art is probably the most neglected homeschool subject. It’s easy to ignore “art”.

Art is messy. Art requires time. Art can be intimidating if you are not an artist. You might be able to fake a science experiment, but bad art is a dead giveaway of something gone wrong.

embrace art

5 ideas that might just help you embrace art

1. Your children know you are not related to Michelangelo, and they do not expect you to decorate the next great ceiling. Let’s be honest, their art lesson isn’t about your ability (or lack of). Allow your children the opportunity to feel free to create. When I stopped feeling pressure to create something amazing to be “the example” and just let my boys enjoy art time – we all felt a million times better about art. I became a student with them.

2. Try different art media. One of my boys hates chalk pastels. The other hates watercolors. You might not like paper mache. Don’t do it! Give your children a chance to try out different paints, materials, projects, and then see which is liked best. You do not have to force them to use something they do not enjoy.

3. Open your mind about “art”. For the longest time “art” meant painting. When I realized art actually means: something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings. Do not pigeon-hole art to mean painting. Whatever your children create with their imagination and skill that is beautiful or expresses an idea — that’s art.

4. Raise up a generation of cleaners. I do not mind doing anything creative as long as we all work together to clean up! Many hands make a big job small. No one leaves the table before all the supplies are washed and put away. Art time is far less of a monster burden when I am not the only one scrubbing glitter off the table.

5. If creativity does not come naturally, grab a craft book and get inspired. Once a month I take my son to the library and check out a book on crafts. We flip through the book and write down the projects he wants to complete. We write out our supply list, set a budget, and hit the craft store together. This way we are definitely working on life skills and not just something gaudy to send to Grandma.

Hopefully we all can start embracing art and give our children the opportunity to create beauty. It might not be beautiful to us, but that is the greatest thing about art! It’s is so unique and different to everyone. If only math were that forgiving.

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10 Things List for Summer

Posted by on Jun 27, 2016 in Parenting | 0 comments

10 Things List for Summer

If you’re anything like me you’re thinking, summer … great … what are we going to do now?

Summer is a fun time to relax and chill out poolside. But then what? What happens after that one week of VBS? After the pool? After the splash pad? After the water guns break?

Do you have a plan to fall back on when boredom strikes?

10 things list for summer

Sure you can turn on the XBox or give your children more screen time. Why not come up with a 10 Things List for Summer?

I suggest making a 10 Things List and pulling it out whenever you face the slow ticking clock. Only when you face the slow ticking of the clock. Not to do all these 10 Things in a row!! Create a 10 Things List each month of fun activities, places to go, movies to watch, etc. that you can do together.

10 Things List to get you started …
1. play hopscotch – tired of numbers, use superhero symbols
2. be the star of their silly movie (you know they always want to make movies)
3. build an obstacle course
4. catch fire flies – you can only do that in the summer!
5. make homemade ice cream or ice pops
6. read a book series and then watch all the movies
7. build a garden (small or large, herb, vegetable, or flower)
8. pick 10 crafts from a craft book
9. make a masterpiece of sidewalk chalk
10. start a water balloon war

Summer should not be dreaded, but rather fun! Enjoy your summer with your children and engage in fun activities – no matter how silly or young they make you feel. Write a 10 Things List each month of summer. Include your children – ask what they want to do. If you have to set boundaries “does not include money” or “is not out of the country”, then let them know!

Looking for more ideas? Check out our friend, The Happy Housewife’s Bored Activity Cards!


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