Is Virtual School the Same as Homeschool?

Connections Academy, Epic, K12….all of these virtual public school programs are often confused with ‘homeschooling.’  Today we’re going to answer some of the most common questions that we hear.  Each student has different needs, and these options might be the right fit for you family, but they’re not actually homeschooling…

If we’re ‘at home,’ isn’t it homeschool?

  • Homeschools are parent-directed and privately-funded.
    • Homeschool families are responsible for providing the curriculum and instruction.  There are no funds set aside for homeschoolers, and they are usually restricted from participating in public school activities.  Curriculum and activities are paid for by the family.  At the Book Shack, we strive to help families ease that burden through our resource room.
    • Parents have the freedom to choose curriculum and resources that match their worldview.  They decide how to plan education and track records.  (Some states also require parents to keep records, complete testing and / or portfolio review, and take standardized tests.  Oklahoma currently does not.)
    • On the flipside, there are also no government regulations (in the state of Oklahoma).
  • Virtual schools are government-directed and publicly-funded.
    • Virtual school programs provide the curriculum, instruction, and access to extracurriculars at no expense to the family.  Teachers are usually state-certified, and parents do not play an instructional role.  This is “public school done at home.”
    • Students must comply with state standards for testing, as well as all other laws applicable to school-age students (eg, vaccinations).
    • The virtual schooling program must be completed at / by a certain time and in a particular order.  There is no time for student-directed ‘bunny trails.’  A minimum amount of ‘seat time’ must also be spent for each class.
    • Virtual public schools are free, as in they are paid for by tax dollars.  Like brick and mortar public schools, however, there are still extra fees that come up.  The price of a ‘free education,’ however, is the freedom to choose how to educate your student.

If I use virtual schooling, and want to call myself a homeschooler, why do you care?

  • Because the rights and freedoms of homeschools are different from ‘traditional’ schools, it is important to maintain a distinction.  Each state has their own legal requirements.
  • The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) maintains a position that to confuse the two groups will eventually erode protections that homeschool families currently have, and fought hard to receive.  These rights, such as freedom to choose our own curriculum, were hard-won by previous generations of homeschool families, and we would be remiss to let them slip away.

How does the Book Shack & Homeschool House feel about virtual public schooling?

  • The Book Shack does not offer resources to families who are using virtual public schooling, as their materials are already covered by the state.
  • The Homeschool House does offer its space and classes to virtual public school families.  This is a community effort to bring together all children who are schooling at home.

Teaching the Special Needs Child

For some parents, having a special needs child is the impetus to homeschool.  For others, it’s a nerve-wracking concern.  Wherever you fall on the spectrum, homeschooling a special needs child is an adventure!

With the advent of No Child Left Behind, special needs children both gained and lost in the classroom.  There is more advocacy and information, and accommodations are understood and generally more accepted, but there is still much temptation to box students in.  Many families are choosing to homeschool because their special needs children’s needs are not being met in the traditional classroom.

It can be very overwhelming to homeschool a special needs child, especially at first.  You not only have to plan the academics, but also the therapy and interventions that are required for your child.  In some states, the school system will still help with these needs, but Oklahoma is not one of those states.  We parents are required to find therapists and cover that cost on our own.  It is one of the prices we pay for a lack of legislation and state-mandated testing for homeschoolers.

Getting a Diagnosis & IEP (Individualized Education Plan)

  • If your child has been in the school system, then he probably has an IEP.  Know that it will expire and you cannot get a new one once he’s been pulled to homeschool.  Don’t fret over it; just know it.  Keep a copy of the IEP paperwork to take to therapists and doctors when seeking assistance.  Your therapist will probably do a therapy-specific evaluation, so be sure to keep that paperwork, too.  Start a file…
  • If you are starting from a homeschool environment, your first stop will be the family doctor, who will refer you to one or more therapists.  They will do initial evaluations, which you will want to keep on file.
  • All of this paperwork is your ‘leg to stand on’ should there be any questions about your child’s performance in the future (not likely, but possible).  They are helpful in building your case once you reach the upper grades — as your child may need testing accommodations.  You are eligible to file for accommodations on tests such as ACT and SAT.

You are the Expert

  • No one understands your child like you do.  You know his likes, dislikes, what bothers him, and what works best.  Working with therapists, you can use his strengths and weaknesses to tailor a program specifically toward his needs.
  • For example, our son loves airplanes and aviation, so we have used many aviation-oriented games for therapy.  Because he’s interested in the topic, he puts forth more effort into mastering those difficult tasks.

Providing Tailored Instruction

  • As parents, you have already spent years teaching your child and learning in which ways he learns best.  Equipped with this knowledge, you are prepared to become an individual classroom teacher as well!  Knowing your child’s strengths and weaknesses will help you to tailor the lesson plan to his needs.
  • For example, if he has dysgraphia, allow him to orally discuss topics, or teach keyboarding at a younger age.  If he has trouble with multiple instructions, provide short, individual directions.

Moving at a New Pace

  • If your child grasps a concept immediately, feel free to move forward.  By the same token, if he’s having trouble understanding something, take as much time as you need.  For subjects like math and language arts, a failure to build a strong foundation leads to crumbling academics later on.  In a traditional school setting, there is only so much time for each concept, but in the homeschool, you have the freedom and flexibility to take as much time as necessary!
  • Don’t look at it as your child being six months behind in math.  Look at the fact that you are putting in the time to cement a solid foundation.  Some children are ‘jumpers,’ meaning they don’t show any academic growth at all for a long time, but then ‘jump’ two or three grade levels over a short period of time.  Given a strong foundation, things will eventually click into place!  Without that foundation, however, you’re merely building an academic house of cards.  Move at your child’s pace…

You are Not Alone

  • Support for special needs homeschool families comes in many places!  Here at Homeschool House, every single one of our leaders has at least one, if not more, special needs children.  Feel free to ask us questions, and we’ll do our best to point you in a helpful direction.
  • There are special needs-specific homeschool conventions, Facebook groups, and even local playgroups (look toward your cities, Tulsa and OKC) for these families.  
  • Most curricula offer ways to tailor toward special needs learners.  You may have to call the curriculum publisher directly, but they’re usually amenable to discussing how it can be adapted.  The Book Shack can also help you with locating curriculum to fit your child’s learning style.


c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

Homeschool Encouragement

Whether you’re new to homeschooling or about to graduate another child, there will come a time this year when you need to hear words of encouragement.  Here are some of our favorite encouraging books…just for you!

The Read-Aloud Familyby Sarah Mackenzie

If you think you should only read aloud to your children until they can read on their own, then this book will convince you otherwise! Sarah does a great job of laying out the benefits of reading aloud as a family even as your children grow into middle and high school.
Perfect for: Charlotte Mason, Unit Studies, Unschooling, and anyone who loves snuggle time!
Homeschooling 101 by Erica Arndt

Homeschooling 101 is a great book if you are just embarking on your homeschooling journey or if you need a little pick-me-up. Erica walks you through steps like choosing a curriculum, planning lessons, organizing your day, and staying on schedule. 
Perfect for:  New homeschoolers and those looking to make some changes
How to Get Your Child off the Refrigerator and on to Learning by Carol Barnier

Your child doesn’t have to have ADHD in order for you to benefit from this book. Carol started researching ways to help her son, who does have ADHD, but I don’t know a parent who doesn’t have a child at some point is just plain fidgety. This book gives great tips on getting them focused on learning at different stages.  She’s also an entertaining convention speaker!
Perfect for:  Moms who are ready to pull their hair out…
The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell

At over 500 pages, this is a huge resource! Debra not only gives tons of resource suggestions like curriculum suggestions, homeschool supplies, and parent-tested ideas and solutions, but she also provides guidance on making homeschooling more enjoyable and effective for everyone involved.
Perfect for:  New homeschoolers and those transitioning (such as to high school)
Know and Tell by Karen Glass

I didn’t realize how narration builds into so many skills later in life until I read Know & Tell. Better late than never! Karen does a great job in this book of talking about what narration is, why it’s so important in your child’s education, and also how to help your child improve their narration.
Perfect for: Unschooling, Unit Studies, Classical, and pretty much anyone who talks with their kids
12 Homeschool Myths Debunked by Kent Larson

If you have a family member who is skeptical of your decision to homeschool your children or if you are just starting out and have some doubts about whether you can do it, this is a great book to pick up. Kent was a skeptical homeschool spouse himself, but when he started researching homeschooling statistics about academic success and socialization….he turned into a huge proponent of homeschooling!
Perfect for:  Those with ‘well-meaning’ friends and family

How Children Learnby John Holt

John Holt explains that “learning is as natural as breathing” for young children. In this book, he explains how children learn best and how we, as parents can encourage this learning. This is a great read for parents if you are feeling the pressure to have school look like a classroom.
Perfect for:  New homeschooling parents and anyone who is interested in multiple intelligences
How We Teach by Jimmie Lanley

A bunch of homeschool moms share what homeschool in their house really looks like. It is more like a reference book on homeschooling methods than a “cover to cover” read. You will see what Charlotte Mason looks like or maybe classical education in the high school years. Does unschooling interest you? Unschooling moms describe their days, too. The book is divided by age groups, so you can skip to see whatever interests you most. 
Perfect for:  New homeschoolers or those needing a change
Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt

Providing your children with good books is a fantastic way to encourage a love of reading in them from an early age. Gladys discusses how to give your child a broad world view and to spark their imaginations with books. The book starts by discussing what is a good book and how to choose one, then the book lists are broken down by age group, making it very easy to find what you are looking for.
Perfect for:  Moms who want to incorporate more reading books into their school day

The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart

If you want your child to have an “exciting, even enchanting experience” in homeschooling, then you should read this book. Julie gives inspiration and advice from her experience homeschooling her five children (now all grown). This book will inspire you to model life long learning for your children.
Perfect for:  Parents of younger homeschoolers

Teaching from Restby Sarah Mackenzie

Could you use a little more peace in your homeschool? Teaching from Rest is a great read for the type-A mom who needs a reminder that she is not in charge, God is. Sarah’s book is such a great reminder about what is important and how to ‘teach from a position of rest’ that we all need in our hectic homeschool lives. 
Perfect for:  All moms at least once a year
Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon

This book is a must read for every parent and teacher. If you are considering taking a more relaxed approach to your homeschool of if you feel like it needs to be very structured and look like a regular classroom, please read this book. Laura does a fantastic job of making the case for a slower-paced, more relaxed learning environment for children. 
Perfect for:  Unschoolers and those who want to step off the gas for a bit
10 Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen

Just the title makes me feel like I need to read this. Ugh, isn’t this one of the biggest worries a mother has…am I doing what’s best for my child in the long run? Esolen  gives suggestions on how to encourage imagination in your child, too. Don’t worry, he builds you up after he tears you down!
Perfect for: Any parent who wants reassurance that they’re doing the right thing

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise

Susan Wise Bauer and her daughter do an amazing job of laying out the concept of a classical education in The Well-Trained Mind. This was one of the first homeschooling books I read and it took away a lot of the “I don’t know what to teach” anxiety.
Perfect for:  Classical and new homeschoolers
Relaxed Homeschooling by Christine Owens

Relaxed Homeschooling is a “step-by-step guide that will teach you how to inspire learning at home”. I mean, what homeschool mom doesn’t want that?! The table of contents includes candy floss, the hidden secret of books, how to pick an awesome book, to watch or not to watch, and what toys are worth it.
Perfect for: New homeschoolers and those with young children

Hidden Gifts of Homeschooling

  • Living Life Together
    • Traditional schooling usually means an early morning wake-up call, followed by a mad dash to get to school dressed and fed, a full day in a classroom, an afternoon of extracurriculars, an evening of homework, and bedtime.  Rinse and repeat.  The family becomes more like a group of people who share the same dorm!  Switching from traditional school to public school can be daunting for some parents because suddenly they are together all. of. the. time.  And it’s a transition.  However, once you get through that (usually short) transition, there’s nothing like it!  You are there when the concepts click.  You get to see the milestone successes.  You get to snuggle as you learn to read together.  You get to play with the manipulatives right beside them during basic math.  You are the educational light, mama!
  • Getting Social
    • But what about socialization?  That’s a question homeschoolers often hear.  What folks don’t stop to consider is that true socialization doesn’t look like a group of 100+ peers, all the same age, sitting in a tin can classroom.  That’s a petri dish.  Socialization is a mix of ages, races, and cultures interacting in real time out in the real world.  I would argue that homeschoolers can be better socialized than their traditional school peers!
  • Siblings as Friends
    • Having a close sibling relationship doesn’t mean that there aren’t squabbles…like an old married couple, any time you have people who spend that much time together, there are bound to be ticks.  Getting to spend this much time together, rather than separated by different grades in school and mounds of homework in the evening, is a beautiful benefit that your kids won’t recognize until they are older.  They are working together, growing together, and helping each other develop.  On those days when you want to beat them with a broom – from the personality conflicts – remember that they are smoothing each other’s edges!
  • Not 8-Going-On-21
    • How often have you seen a seven year old girl who is dressed and acts as though she’s going on twenty?  One beautiful aspect of homeschooling is that our children have the opportunity to really BE children.  They don’t have to pretend to act grown up, or grow up too fast, in a worldly environment.  That doesn’t mean that we’re sheltering them, but rather that we keep things age-appropriate…allowing time for reading, exploration, free play, and boredom (one of the best gifts of childhood!) well past kindergarten. 
  • Child-Led Learning
    • Unlike Common Core, and even schools who don’t abide by that, homeschoolers have the opportunity to jump down bunny trails!  What do I mean by bunny trails?  When your child develops a sudden interest in space, you can study the history of space, the science of microgravity, etc etc etc…your whole school day can revolve around the topic of space, OR you can simply take a day off of school for in-depth research, following a trail of topics as the child explores his interest.  No matter the age of the child, this is a valuable asset to your homeschool!
  • Parent Influences
    • Everybody’s got an opinion…but as homeschooling parents, we have the option of introducing sensitive topics, often at the time we see fit, and discussing them with our children.  That’s not to say that we don’t discuss different worldviews, but we’re able to be the first opinion they hear, to help guide them through difficult issues with our morals.
  • Flexible Time
    • While there are still appointments, co-ops, and other time commitments, as homeschooling parents we have the flexibility to plan our own schedules.  The school year (9 month or year-round?), the school week (4-day or 5-day?), and the school day itself (start at 8?  start at noon?  take a 2 hour siesta?) are all places where we can tweak the schedule to suit our families’ current needs.  It also allows us the opportunity to build in times of rest, which is so important for both physical and mental health!

If you’re new to homeschooling, and need a bit of time to get your feet under you, come by the Homeschool House and chat with us!  You can also check out SchoolhouseTeachers, which has tons of full courses that are taught by experienced teachers.  (We wouldn’t recommend it if we hadn’t used it ourselves quite a bit!)

DD’s Journal – Through the School Years

As the school year comes to an end, I see so many changes.  Teaching two instead of one been the biggest change, but I have to say…big brother has really stepped up with advice for his sisters!

It’s funny how as the year progresses, the Light Units disappear!  We are planning the closing of the year with much anticipation!  The sunny days make school seem, well, DULL.  The girls are enjoying bike rides, new kittens, and all the flowers!  

This year I had to rethink my teaching.  My number 2 daughter was really struggling with pre-algebra.  So, being a somewhat creative mom, I came up with an IEP plan for homeschooling!  I want her to succeed; so she and I set goals and discussed what she felt would help her with the transition into more difficult math.  And it is working!  Not every child will be an Einstein, but we as home educators have the ability to take what could be a DISABILITY and turn into a work of PROGRESS!

On another note, I found that both of my daughters really enjoy writing.  They write short stories and essays with a flare!  

And of course we had our “planning conference” for the next year.  I really encourage the children’s input for curriculum.  So we are ready to put down the moola for school year ’19-20!

It seems like if was just yesterday I taught my oldest to write his name, and *POOF* he is a full grown man -working and driving, being a productive citizen!  So my pearl of wisdom is:  enjoy these times…all of them.  From getting b’s and d’s written in the right direction, to learning times tables, suffering through endless history lessons, and the tears and arguments…because…they go by way too fast!  

So dear friends….as we close another year, may your pencils forever be sharpened with erasers, that rulers, compasses, and protractors never be lost, and that our wee ones always know, how much we truly love them!

Blessings to All,

                  Dee Dee

Tips from Seasoned Homeschool Moms

If you’re new to homeschooling, or still in the stage of considering having a go at it, the prospect can be daunting.  You look around at other homeschooling families, and they seem to have it all together, but we all started at the same spot you’re in right now….

In addition to these tips from fourteen seasoned moms, we’ve put together a packet of Homeschool Helps, including planners, graphic organizers, record logs, and templates to help you on your journey!  Snag this FREE packet here.

Melanie, from Raising Real Men, says…

  • Relax – introduce your little ones to the joy of learning in a gentle and realistic way.  K12, Epic, and other forms of online schooling are not the same as homeschooling.  These are run like the public schools, and are not a relaxed form of learning.
    • There is a new trend toward ‘home school charter schools,’ but this is also not true homeschooling.  This is more akin to sending your child to a private school.

Gwen, from Geez Gwen, says…

  • Homeschool is not a public school, and that’s the point. Do not try to recreate public school in your home. Embrace the opportunity to be flexible, to offer student directed lessons, and to be very hands on about the learning experience.

Charlene, from Hess Un-Academy, says…

Erin says…

  • There is secular and religious curriculum – make sure you know what you’re getting when you spend your money!  We’ve found that choosing one over the other isn’t a big deal, as it’s easy to adjust as needed, except when it comes to science.  Science is the subject where it makes the most difference.

Yvie, from Homeschool On the Range, says…

  • Keep a record of all the books you read for school, not just the textbooks / curricula.  This is especially important if you’re a Charlotte Mason or Unit Studies family.
  • Read aloud to your children…no matter their age.  The snuggles are priceless, and the books will often lead to soul-searching conversations with teens.  If you’re not sure where to start, check out The Read-Aloud Family.

DeeDee says…

  • If you don’t finish the full curriculum, don’t stress over it.  There’s so much overlap in the grades that missing some lessons at the end of the year doesn’t really matter.  What matters is finishing the year, taking time off to rest, and enjoying time with your children.

Dawn, from The Schoolin’ Swag Blog, says…

  • There is no one right or wrong curriculum. Take some time to decide what you want your children’s education to look like and find the curriculum that works for your family.  And remember, there will be hard days — this is not an easy task, but it is totally worth it.   {Fifty Reasons to be Thankful for Home School (on the Hard Days)}

Kym, from Homeschool Coffee Break, says…

  • Relationships are more important than academics. Your kids’ hearts are more important than their grades or achievements. You are the most qualified person to be in charge of your child’s education, because you love them more than anyone else (other than the Lord) and want the best for them. Be confident!

Nicole says…

  • I always hear “I’d never have the patience to homeschool my kids!,’ but people have the patience for whatever they want to do.  With five kids, I know all about those days when your patience is thin, but they’re your kids…and you love them.  If you want to have the patience, you will.

Emily, from Table Life Blog, says…

  • Trust your instincts.  You know your abilities and your kids better than anyone else. Your voice is the one you should trust the most!

Jennifer, from The Deliberate Mom, says…

  • Seek community. You are not on your own in this homeschooling journey! A helpful, inspiring homeschool community can do wonders for your morale. If you don’t belong to a homeschool community, there are many options available. You can join a local association, co-op, or even an encouraging online homeschool group.

Surya, from The Busy Mom Club, says…

  • Don’t be scared to change if something isn’t working. That’s one of the great things about homeschooling- you can change to suit you and your kids’ needs. You can change schedules, curriculum, topics, routines, anything…and it will all be just fine.

Holly says…

  • Follow your state’s graduation requirements.  There are usually multiple tracks – one for college-bound students and one for general education – and it is of the utmost importance that you follow them if your child is college-bound.

Beth says…

Ultimate List of Homeschool Conventions {USA}


April 26 – 27   Birmingham   Birmingham Homeschool Fair and Convention

May 9 – 11    Mobile    Mobile Homeschool Convention  (Teach Them Diligently)

June 22   Cullman   North Alabama Lifelong Learning Expo


April 5 – 6   Anchorage  APHEA

April 23  Soldotna    IDEA Curriculum Fair

April 24 – 25   Anchorage   IDEA Curriculum Fair

April 26   Fairbanks   IDEA Curriculum Fair

April 29   Juneau   IDEA Curriculum Fair


July 19 – 20   Phoenix   AFHE Convention

August 29 – September 1    Phoenix   Free To Be Unschooling Conference


March 21 – 23   Rogers   Rogers Homeschool Convention (Teach Them Diligently)


May 2 – 5    Garden Grove   California Homeschool Network Family Expo

June 13 – 15   Ontario    California Homeschool Convention  (Great Homeschool Conventions)

June 22    Costa Mesa   Southern California Catholic Home Educators

July 11 – 13   Pasadena    CHEA

August 8 – 11   San Jose   HSC Conference


May 23 – 25   Denver    Denver Colorado Homeschool Convention  (Teach Them Diligently)

June 13 – 15   Denver    Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference


Middleton   CT Homeschool Network Inc.



May 23 – 25   Orlando   FPEA

August 8 – 10   Jacksonville   Florida Homeschool Convention  (Great Homeschool Conventions)


March 8 – 9    Atlanta   Waldorf Homeschool Conference

April 25 – 27    Atlanta   Atlanta Homeschool Convention  (Teach Them Diligently)

July 26 – 27    Atlanta   Southeast Exhibit and Expo



February 16   Idaho Falls   Idaho Falls Homeschool Conference Curriculum and Resource Fair

June 7 – 8    Nampa    Homeschool Idaho


March 15 – 16   Peori    APACHE

May 30 – June 2    Bourbonnais     ICHE


March 22 – 23    Indianapolis   IAHE

May 3 – 4    Fort Wayne   FWAHS


June 6 – 8    West Des Moines    Homeschool Iowa Conference


April 12 – 13     Wichita   Teaching Parents Convention




March 21 – 23     Rockport    HOME


April 20 – 21    Frederick MD     Maryland Association of Christian Home Educators

July 12     Mt. Airy    Maryland Homeschool Conference


April 26 – 28  Worchester   MassHope


May 17 – 18   Lansing   INCH


April 11 – 13    St. Paul   MACHE Convention

June 31 – July 1   St. Paul    Minnesota Catholic Home Education Conference and Curriculum Fair


May 17 – 18    Starkville    MHEA


March 28 – 30   St. Charles   Missouri Homeschool Convention  (Great Homeschool Conventions)

April 5 – 6     Kansas City      Midwest Parent Educators Conference

June 7 – 8    Grandview     KC Catholic Homeschooler



March 8 – 9        NCHEA


New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

June 21 – 22    Albuquerque   CAPE

New York

August 1 – 3   Rochester   New York Homeschool Convention  (Great Homeschool Conventions)

North Carolina

May 30 – June 1    Winston Salem    THRIVE

North Dakota

February 28 – March 2     Jamestown    NDHSA


April 25 – 27   Cincinnati    Ohio Homeschool Convention  (Great Homeschool Conventions)

May 20 – 23   Sandusky    Unschoolers’ Waterpark Gathering

May 30 – June 1   Columbus   Columbus Homeschool Convention (Teach Them Diligently)

July 19   Cincinnati   Brave Learner Conference


May 3 – 4    Oklahoma City     OCHEC

May 31 – June 1    Tulsa    Tulsa Homeschool Expo


February 16     Lebanon   Mid-Valley Homeschool Conference

June 28 – 29    Albany   Oregon Christian Home Education Conference


April 15   Carlisle    PHAA

June 14 – 15    Lancaster    CHAP Convention

Rhode Island

South Carolina

March 21 – 23 Greenville  South Carolina Homeschool Convention  (Great Homeschool Conventions)

May 31 – June 1    North Charleston   Lowcountry Homeschool Convention

June 29   Columbia   REACH Homeschool Expo

South Dakota

May 10 – 11   Sioux Falls    SECHE


March 28 – 30   Nashville  Nashville Homeschool Convention  (Teach Them Diligently)

July 19 – 20   East Ridge   Chattanooga Area Homeschooling


February 15 – 16    Frisco  Be Wild + Free

March 7 – 9  Fort Worth  Texas Homeschool Convention  (Great Homeschool Conventions)

April 11 – 13   Waco   Texas Homeschool Convention  (Teach Them Diligently)

May 9 – 11     Arlington   Arlington TX Homeschool Convention

May 30 – June 1    The Woodlands  THSC Convention


January 26    Layton    Winter Homeschool Conference

April 20 – 21   Cottonwood Heights   UTCH



March 22 – 23   Williamsburg   VaHomeschoolers Conference and Resource Fair

June 6 – 8   Richmond   HEAV Homeschool Convention


April 25 – 27    Redmond    Family Discipleship and Homeschooling Conference

May 30 – June 3     Vancouver    Life is Good Unschooling Conference

June 21 – 22    Tacoma   Washington Homeschool Organization

West Virginia


February 24 – 28    Lake Geneva    Unschoolers Platform


Tips on Choosing a Homeschool Conference

Some questions to consider include:

  • Are there any speakers that you really want to see?  (Research some of the ones you don’t know and you might locate a gem.)
  • Is there child care or an activity available?  If not, are children allowed in the presentations?
  • Will there be a vendor hall or used curriculum sale?  (You can usually get great deals here!)
  • Does the total price (tickets, transportation, and hotel) fit in your budget?
  • Is it religious or secular?  Does that fit with your beliefs?

We hope you are inspired this homeschool conference season!

Educator Training & Resources

Do you know how many great opportunities there are for homeschooling mamas to get educator training right here in Oklahoma?  We’ve compiled a short list of some of the best (and most overlooked) ones for you to attend!   {Feel free to drop us a line with others that you know, and we’ll get them added to this list….let’s collaborate!}

OERB’s Classroom Training

OERB offers FREE petroleum-based curriculum for teachers and homeschoolers across the state of Oklahoma.  All levels of teaching are covered in their workshops, which are like a mini-retreat!  The classes offer hands-on curriculum for each subject that focus on the petroleum industry.  (ie, Core History teaches high school history from the viewpoint of Oklahoma’s oil & gas past)  In addition to classroom training, you’ll receive a nice lunch, some snacks, a goody bag, and a day off from the kids!

Ag in the Classroom

Similar to OERB, these FREE courses are offered based around the agricultural industry.  Each workshop covers all levels of teaching (whereas in OERB, you select your student’s level), so you’ll get information, curriculum, and goodies to use with all of your children together.  Additionally, there are numerous free lesson plans available on their website for you to use!

Oklahoma Nature Study

Learn about our diverse natural areas and state parks through real-life and virtual field trips.  You can download curriculum materials, and earn trading cards and certificates of completion.

Oklahoma Geological Survey

There are several opportunities available here, including visiting with a geologist, the traveling library, hands-on geology kits, a resource room you can visit, touring the Sarkeys Energy Center, and the traveling fossil kit (which is very nice!). 

Project Wet

Using water as a theme, Project WET provides hands-on activities to enhance the teaching of science, math, social studies, language arts, and many other required subjects. Project WET is primarily designed for teachers of grades K-12.  This training costs $20, but that training comes with supplies and curriculum.

Project Wild

Oklahoma Project WILD provides educators with the tools, training and resources needed to engage students in active, hands-on learning about wildlife and the environment. The activity guides are available only by participating in interactive, hands-on, fun workshops. 

Cool Beans – Soybean Board

While we haven’t personally attended this one, it is a one-day workshop for middle and high school teachers focusing on soybeans and doing science experiments with bio-fuel.

Project Learning Tree

Focusing on forestry, biodiversity, and climate change, these workshops are offered online for educators.  (This training is NOT free.)  However, each month, free curriculum and student activities are posted on their site, and the activities change, so check back regularly!

Homeschooling Styles

Choosing the right curriculum for your family means first determining your family’s homeschooling style.  Some families are strictly one style, while others prefer a blend of styles.  Within the leadership of the Book Shack, we cover nearly every style imaginable…so if you ever have questions, just ask, and one of us will be glad to assist you!

Your family might try out one style and find that it’s not for you.  It may take a few years to settle down into the right fit for your family, and that’s completely normal.  When contacting the Book Shack for assistance, however, it helps us to help you if you know your family’s preferred style.  

So….what’s your style?


This approach utilizes three stages of learning : grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric.  These stages match up with elementary, middle, and secondary school.  This is a rigorous approach to schooling, but produces results.  Examples of this style include Story of the World, Classical Conversations, and Memoria Press.

Charlotte Mason

This approach involves ‘living learning.  It revolves around reading aloud together as a family, and following child interests.  Nature walks, art museums, and living books are all a part of this approach.  Examples of this style include My Father’s World, Ambleside, and Tapestry of Grace.

Unit Studies

This approach takes all of the subjects and smashes them together in an in-depth study of a topic.  For example, a unit study of Rome might include reading and writing about Rome, studying the history of Roman emperors, calculating timelines and marketplace purchases, creating artwork and projects from Ancient Roman times, and studying water (from the aqueducts built during this era).  Examples of unit studies include Sonlight, Learning Adventures, and Amanda Bennett.


Similar to unschooling, this is a child-centered approach that focuses on nature, arts, crafts, music, and movement.  Technology is not a big part of this curriculum.  One example of Waldorf curriculum is Oak Meadow.


Definitely for the Type B family, this is a child-centered approach to schooling.  There are no formal lessons, or even formal curriculum, but the children follow their interests and learn from life experiences.  Schedules are not utilized, and there is much flexibility and freedom.  This does not mean that they don’t read, write, and do math, but that they follow their interests.  Math might be adding up the tab at the restaurant, or figuring the tax.


This is just a fancy way of saying ‘a combination of styles.’  If you tell us that your family is eclectic, please tell us which styles you prefer, and which ones you do not want to use.

Stay-at-Home School

This is the one that we don’t really consider homeschooling, because it’s more like public school at home.  This is your Epic or K12 family, who uses tax dollars and receives their curriculum from the state.  This is the only style not utilized by a member of the Book Shack leadership.

Charlotte Mason Method19th century educator
·       living books
·       nature journal
·       music, art, poetry
·       great literature (vs. “twaddle”)
Ambleside Online
Five in a Row
Classical3 stages of learning: 
·       grammar
·       logic
·       rhetoric
Focuses on teaching kids how to learn
Well-Trained Mind
Story of the World
Classical Conversations
My Father’s World
Veritas Press
Memoria Press
Textbooks·       School at home
·       Common to use this style in the first few years of homeschooling to build confidence
Bob Jones
Alpha Omega
Liberty Online Academy
Calvert School
Unit Studies·       Hands-on
·       Literature-based
·       Geared towards Charlotte Mason method
·       Encompasses multiple subjects through one topic·       Multi-grades together
Five in a Row
My Father’s World
Tapestry of Grace
Learning Adventures
UnschoolingJohn Holt
·       Child-led learning
·       No formal curricula
·       Daily life learning

WaldorfEurope late 19th – early 20th centuries
·       Holistic liberal arts
·       Subjects are not separated from each other
·       Textbooks only in older grades
·       Early education is focused on experiences & activities (like Moore formula)
Oak Meadow

DD’s Journal – Homeschool Convention Time!

It’s that time again!  Every homeschool mom’s delight!  Homeschool children are singing the song of “their People”……Yes!  It’s homeschool convention time!

We plan for months, checking the vendor list, noting what we need to purchase (free shipping!!), what we want to look at, and of course, the gathering of the freebies!  Our children get excited, they will be amongst children like them!  I know that mine were excited for the book vendors, the hands on exhibits, and the most important….the young entrepreneurs booth.

I have to admit…I have been homeschool conventioning (is this a word?) since the denim jumper days!  I still drag my “box on wheels”, which by the way, gets some strange looks! I carry a small spiral notebook that has my needs and wants…when I visit my curricula booth, I am welcomed with a big hug and and friendly, “Good to see you again this year!” 

Every year I meet up with all my home school moms and we plan our yearly lunch….a walk downtown to our favorite Mexican restaurant! And this is with at least 9 children in tow!  If you have never been to a convention….you are missing out! The smell of new text books, an entire booth dedicated to paper products!  (YES) There is a booth where you can purchase the dreaded frogs and squids for dissection, and there are books galore for reading enjoyment! And this mom purchased two fabulous novels written in the 1800’s! 

Oh! The freebies! Pens, pencils, water bottles, candy, lunch bags, and keychains…..of course some of the best are the free drawings for curriculum, i-Pads, and lap tops!  From one home school mom to others…if you get a chance, visit a homeschool convention! It is day of fun and encouragement! PLUS….this can be considered a “professional day” for your records!

Next year….my plans are to attend 2 (yes..TWO) conventions! I may go into book overdose!  Here’s to lazy summer days! Oh…who am I fooling! I don’t know about y’all, but this girl has some deep house cleaning to do!