Celebrating Spring Holidays in Your Homeschool

It’s spring – time to dance with the flowers and soar with the birds!  By spring, we’re starting to think about summer break, finishing out the homeschool year (unless you’re year-round),, and thinking about upcoming holidays…  Here are activities, books, and resources for incorporating the holidays into your homeschool.  Pick and choose what works best for your family.  Bloom in springtime!

All of these resources are appropriate for middle and high school.


Books to Incorporate


Unit Studies


Online Unit Studies


Hands-On Activities


Download the entire holiday bundle of book lists for free.  Can’t get enough of the holidays?  Incorporate the Bricks Through the Year and History of Our Holidays bundles into your homeschool year, too!  

I know many of us are still in the thick of winter weather, but you’re probably starting to dream about spring right about now. Soon enough warmer weather and longer days will be here. But in the meantime, now is a great time to start planning some fantastic activities!

This week I’ve teamed up with some of my fellow homeschool bloggers to bring you some fantastic Spring themed tips, resources, and even a few FREEBIES. Be sure to check them all out below!

Gardening Homeschool Curriculum

Gardening Homeschool Curriculum

Celebrating Spring Holidays in Your Homeschool

Celebrating Spring Holidays in Your Homeschool

Birdwatching Resources for Homeschoolers

Birdwatching Resources for Homeschoolers

Valentine’s Day Unit Study and Ideas for All Ages

Valentine’s Day Unit Study and Ideas for All Ages

5 Tips for Navigating Spring Sensory Triggers for Neurodivergent Kids

5 Tips for Navigating Spring Sensory Triggers for Neurodivergent Kids

101+ Low Prep Spring Outdoor Activities for Kids

101+ Low Prep Spring Outdoor Activities for Kids

5 Ways to Celebrate Spring with Nature Study

5 Ways to Celebrate Spring with Nature Study

The Good & the Beautiful Curriculum in High School


The Good & the Beautiful is a breath of fresh air for your homeschool! The price is very affordable for families, there are morals included in every lesson, and it’s designed for the busy mom with its open-and-go format.  While it is Christian-based, it offers up a neutral world-view, allowing parents to tailor it toward their family’s beliefs.  The print quality is amazing, and the vintage reading material is a delightful change from what our children were gravitating toward before we switched to this curriculum.  At the high school level, the curriculum is set up to reinforce time management skills and responsibility.

The courses combine subjects, using a cross-curricular approach to tie concepts together.  It is faith-based, with a general Christian, non-denominational worldview with the goal of producing not only intelligent minds, but also high character and the ability to recognize and appreciate what is good and beautiful in life and in learning.  The goal is not to teach specific doctrines, but to teach general principles of moral character such as honesty and kindness.  Affordability is another aspect that separates this curriculum from others — namely, it is affordable!  In fact, the company makes their math and language arts curriculum, from levels 1-8, completely FREE for anyone to download

Language Arts

The Good & the Beautiful’s language arts is one of my favorite program components, as it covers reading, spelling, writing, dictation, literature, grammar, vocabulary, geography, and art.  By including geography and art, it takes a bit of a unit study approach.  For example, in High School-1, unit five covers the Arctic areas.  They read a book about the Arctic, and the geography, art, vocabulary, and writing assignments tie in with that region.  You can cover quite a bit with just the one class!  Each high school course is one credit of English, ½ credit of geography, and ½ credit of art.  Pencil drawing is taught in each level. The other mediums taught are watercolor, charcoals, and acrylic paint.

The curriculum is set up to reinforce student responsibility and time management skills in addition to grammar, writing, and reading.  Each year is divided into ten separate units.  The student is able to take a unit and work on it for two to three weeks before turning it in for grading.  However, some students need a little more guidance.  In the online support group, there are course schedules free to download in the files section.  Additionally, Sparks Academy offers live / blended classes for students using the Language Arts curriculum (level 7, and high school levels 1-3 are available).  These classes meet with a flexible schedule on a weekly basis, as well as live meetings quarterly via video chat.  Students have schoolwork assigned each week and work on group assignments throughout the year.  These classes help not only the student, but the parent as well, as it puts the burden of teaching onto an outside source, provides a sense of accountability for the student, and allows for grading from a source other than the parent.  


History

The current history includes read alouds, audio recordings, and accompanying worksheets.  At the high school level, each quarter (each historical era), the student has a short list of research projects to complete before we move on to the next era.  This goes back to student responsibility and time management.  I use the term ‘current’ because TGTB is in the process of re-writing all of their history units, but we don’t know when they will re-release or what they will look like.

One of the things I like about history is that it takes the classical education approach – of four different eras of history – and teaches from all four of those each school year.  Rather than doing an entire year of ancient history, we’re doing one quarter on ancient history each school year (with each year focusing on a different region, such as Egypt or Greece).  It’s easy to get burnt out on a particular era when you’re knee-deep in it for an entire year, so we like that things get mixed up!  The history curriculum has a minimum of four read-alouds each year, so if you don’t like reading together, it might not be a good fit for your family.  However, for us, it’s given the kids the perfect excuse to still curl up with mom in their teen years.

For folks wanting something a bit different, or teacher-led, Sparks Academy offers live / blended classes for middle and high school students using The Good & the Beautiful’s Constitution course for Government and Economics and Notgrass for World and American History.

Science & Math

These subjects are topics that come up regularly in the TGTB with Middle and High School Students group.  The short answer is that TGTB doesn’t currently offer these subjects specifically for high school and there is no one recommended program, but dozens of choices.  You’ll need to choose the one that fits your family’s teaching style, and your student’s learning style, the best. 

The available math courses currently go up through Level 6, with levels 7 and 8 projected in 2023 and 2024.  These are amazing for visual learners!  See what we thought of Math 5 and Math 6.  Sparks Academy provides three levels of science: General Science, Physical Science, and Chemistry.  If you want to use what you already own, there’s also a printable plan for using TGTB sciences in high school.  You can find more vetted online options for math and sciences here.

Record-Keeping & Grades

While you won’t need to keep everything from the courses for a portfolio, you’ll want to keep copies of any essays or research projects, as well as some of that beautiful artwork!  Some states require more record-keeping than others, so always check into your state requirements.  For our own family, we keep one complete language arts unit, in case there is a question of what type of work was completed, in addition to the above list.  Also, you may want to add complete course descriptions (many of which can be found in the files of the high school support group).  These, along with the aforementioned portfolio pieces, will usually satisfy any inquiries from colleges or other outside sources…include well-meaning family members.

If you’re thinking on college prep and being ready to submit all that information, we have created a low-cost program for parents homeschooling high schoolers that covers college-prep topics.  Check out Through the Door: Homeschool to College Success!

Sparks Academy

 Sparks Academy provides live / blended classes for high school students, using The Good & the Beautiful for language arts, Apologia / Berean Builders for science, and Notgrass for history.  These classes meet weekly, allowing students the opportunity to discuss the literature, get additional instruction on concepts covered, and show off their art projects and recitations.  Students receive a grade for these courses from a source outside of the home.

Sparks Academy is not affiliated with The Good & the Beautiful, but is run by parents who use and love their curriculum.  They are providing support, accountability, and community for upper grades families who use this curriculum by creating an online homeschool co-op for high school students.  Currently, students can register for High School Levels 1-3 in language arts.  For families who just need a bit of extra help, there are writing consultation packages for Levels 6, 7, and High School (for those who only want essay feedback).

Visit Sparks Academy to Learn More!

A few Extra Notes

Download a free guide to using The Good & the Beautiful curriculum in the high school years!

Using Living Books to Homeschool

When you were a kid, did you learn more from textbooks or from reading books just for fun? I definitely learned a lot more from historical fiction than from any history textbook!

Trying to recreate public school at home, right down to the textbooks, is something new homeschoolers often do (especially those pulling students out of school). But, by using living books in your homeschool, coupled with family-style learning, it can be so much more FUN and rewarding.  Plus, when you use living books in your homeschool, your students are apt to retain more once the year ends. 

What is a Living Book?

Living books are reading material that pull you into a subject and get you emotionally involved with the characters (a la chapter books), so it’s easier to remember the events and facts.  These books literally bring the event(s) they are talking about to life with storylines and imagination! When is the last time a textbook made you feel alive and invested in what was being studied? Probably never.

Living Books….

  • Allow the reader to visit another era and experience the culture or history.  During the ‘Rona, one of the books we read together was Fever 1793. We like to take our read-alouds and turn them into learning units, like this one, to reinforce concepts learned in the story.
    • TIP: If you’re using read-alouds as a base for school, it’s helpful to read multiple books about the same event. Having different perspectives helps students to learn critical thinking skills.
  • Put the reader into the book.  This allows your children to experience different cultures and places that they may not otherwise see. The more detailed the descriptions, the more vividly your child will relate, and it is through learning about and relating to other cultures that we break down barriers.
    • TIP: Cultural literacy is learning about other perspectives, including across genders, world regions, and historic eras. It is helpful if you have some background knowledge to incorporate the protagonist’s perspective — so if you are going to read a book set during the Civil War, do a bit of research on the Civil War before reading the novel. It will help bring the story to life!

Benefits of Family-Style Reading

Reading together as a family helps to encourage a lifelong love of reading and literature. Whether you begin when your child is a newborn or as a teen, there are so many positive effects!  

Note to parent: If you do not start reading aloud until your child is a teen, there will be a transitional time as they become accustomed. Do not give up!

Tips for Using Living Books as Read-Alouds

1. Do the voices

Sure, you might feel goofy at first, but nothing gets children engaged in a story faster than having a different voice for each character! Through the years, we’ve had many a good laugh as mom tried to pull off several accents, with varying degrees of success. But you know what? They remember the stories!

2. Let them be active

Legos, play-do, and coloring books are great quiet activities to keep hands occupied while ears are listening. It never hurts to pause and ask a few questions, but you’ll probably find that they are more engaged than you think.

3. Read from many genres

Mix it up, with historical fiction from multiple eras, contemporary fiction, and the occasional non-fiction.

4. Keep a home library

Yard sales, Facebook groups, and consignment stores are a great place to scout used books. Even if your child is a toddler, when you find a classic piece for a few years down the road, go ahead and snag it. A good home library will encompass many different topics and genres, including both fiction and non-fiction books.

5. Read every day

Whether you read for five minutes or an hour, set aside some time each and every day to read.  We get it…busy days mean shorter reading times.  But it’s too easy to get out of the habit, so make it a priority!  If necessary, use an audiobook to do the reading in the car.

6. Pass the book

If your children are old enough, take turns reading. Keep it age-level appropriate and for short lengths of time. When my children started reading aloud with the family, they read one paragraph at a time, then a page, and then a full chapter.

7. Read at level AND below level

As an adult, do you only read collegiate-level and above books? Neither do I. Sometimes it’s nice to settle in with a fun book, regardless of the target age range. For struggling readers, this can help them feel more successful, too, as they build those skills.

8. Use picture books.

In the non-fiction realm, picture books are an excellent way to help illustrate and explain difficult concepts… I’m looking at you, science! But also understand that not every book needs pictures. Not having pictures in a book allows children to stretch their imaginations and come up with those mental images.

Choosing Quality Books

As with everything in life, there is yin and yang. When choosing living books for read-alouds, or as a base for studies, keep in mind that not all books are “good” books.  “Good” books…

  • Have realistic characters. They are flawed. They live in the real world. But they often learn to overcome their flaws during the story.
  • Teach a moral lesson. Whether through acceptance or overcoming, the protagonist learns some sort of character lesson in the story.
  • Are engaging. These are not dry reads, but intriguing plots full of details that will keep the reader hooked and involved.

“Bad” books…

  • Are not real world. In these books, everything is awesome. Or horrible. There are no real-life events. Or they are overly moralistic.
  • Are poorly written. With poor grammar and speech (we’re not talking about the use of dialects, which can add to the authenticity), these books do more harm than good for your student’s mastery of language arts.
  • Have poor characters. They are boring, self-absorbed, and do not learn anything through the story.

Using Living Books to Study Core Subjects

Sparks Academy

The language arts classes at Sparks Academy utilize five to six novels each year to teach history, geography, character, and literary concepts. Each of the four levels builds upon the last, until students are ready to write in any form requested of them – whether at a career or college!  There are four levels offered currently, including High School 1High School 2High School 3, and Level 7(The last one is for 7th/8th/9th grade, depending on your student’s skills.) This is an online co-op, with weekly student interaction in the private classroom forum. Learn more here.

Homeschool Planning for Parents & Teens

Homeschooling is a big job!  If you’re trying to be mom, wife, housekeeper, chauffeur, and teacher…you’re going to tucker out quickly.  Homeschool planning can help you start off on the right foot! 

Remember this, you can be flexible and creative with your schedule.  There are as many different ways to homeschool as there are homeschooling families.  Also, your home is not a school, and you don’t have to re-create school, so don’t be afraid to do what works for you!

Homeschool Planning: Getting Started

You’ve heard the phrase, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  Some folks may think they don’t need a planner (I’m guessing these folks are under 40), and truthfully, failing to plan may not be quite that bad, but it does mean forgetting important things.  Maybe you’re a tech person, or maybe you prefer pen and ink, but find a planning method that works for you!

Start by outlining the year.  Make a note in each month of birthdays, holidays, vacations, and any planned time off.  This could include upcoming moves, pregnancy due dates, or other big events.  After noting these, make sure you have the minimum number of required school days for your state (usually 180). 

While you’re planning, include some field trips.  If you like routine, maybe plan a specific day each month (eg, third Friday), or you can just wing it!  Also be sure to leave some blank spaces – days for catching up, following bunny trails, and for those #LifeHappens moments.

Homeschool Planning: Choosing a Groove

Now that you have an idea of what your calendar year looks like, decide what rhythm you want the school year to have. 

  • Do you want to follow a traditional school schedule, mimicking the public school calendar of August through June, with similar breaks?  This might be a good option if your children have cousins or friends that they want to see on school breaks.
  • Do you want to school year-round, spreading out the work at a relaxed pace and taking time off regularly?
  • Do you want to have a four-day school week, leaving one day each week free for field trips, appointments, and playdates?  This can be a good option if you need to schedule regular appointments, as you’ll know you always have this day of the week free.

When you’re making your plan for the year, you’ll want to put in scheduled appointments and schedule out the first few weeks of school work, but don’t plan too far in advance.  Why?  Because life happens.  You might need to adjust the class work load, adding more or relaxing it, depending on your student’s progress.  No need for you to waste time planning every single day of school when it will change.

Each month, reevaluate where your student is and plan out schoolwork for the next month around the appointments, field trips, and blank spaces.  Oh ya.  And write in pencil.  Because things change.  When it comes to planning, we follow the Robinson’s advice with curriculum lessons and just, “Keep Moving Forward.” 

For older students – in middle and high school – it’s never too early to help them start their own planning as well.  This teaches personal responsibility and time management.  Check out the Five Best Planners for Teens to find an option perfect for your teen. 

Homeschool Planning: Ages & Stages

Depending on the age of your student, you’ll need to plan a little more or a little less.  In general, the younger the child, the laxer you can be.

Birth to Age 3

This age is about learning through play.  Life skills, motor skills, and language development are the primary goals.

Preschool and Kindergarten

While children should still be focusing on learning through play, there can be a slight switch to academic goals.  Learning letters, numbers, sounds, how to print their name are the primary goals.

Elementary School

There is still some learning through play, but more focus on academic goals.  This is the time to decide what type of curriculum you want to use – classical, traditional, unit studies, Charlotte Mason, etc – and be sure to cover reading, writing, and arithmetic, as well as introductory science and social studies.  Follow your student’s interests and curiosities!

Learn more about types of curriculum here 

Middle School

This is when students really begin to buckle down in academics, becoming more intentional about learning.  Classes become more difficult, electives are added into the day, and students begin to think about career options for down the road.  Students become more independent and start taking more responsibility for their learning at this age, too.

High School

Start with the end in sight.  Have an idea of what your child might like to do after graduation, and plan courses around this.  Classes are divided into core subjects (science, math, language arts, history) and elective classes.  Don’t forget to plan for standardized testing if college is a possibility.  Internships, hands-on projects, and volunteer hours should all be recorded, too.

Find more specialized advice and inspiration for a variety of lifestyles and challenges in the Homeschooling the Upper Grades series.  If you are confused, overwhelmed, or frustrated by the thought of tackling homeschool planning in the high school years, Sparks Academy offers academic advising and college planning assistance.

Homeschool Planning: Outside of School

Meal Planning

You may not consider meal planning part of homeschooling planning, but it’s really important!  Without having a plan in place for dinner, it’s suddenly five o’clock and you have nothing thawed out.  This leads to a lot of take out, going out to eat, and stressed, hungry family members.

Consider your weekly schedule when meal planning.  If Tuesdays are a full, busy day with evening activities, plan a freezer meal.  Or make a large meal on Monday and serve the leftovers the next day.  Save those time-consuming family favorites for days that are more flexible.

Freezer meals and slow cooking are two easy methods for getting healthy dinners on the table every night AND doing so while saving money.  Try these simple meal ideas to help you get started!

Take a Deep Breath

You have everything in place to have a wonderful homeschool year!  But don’t forget to attend to yourself, too.  Homeschool moms are notorious for wearing twenty hats at once!  We go and go and go and go until we just can’t do it anymore…it’s called burnout. 

Plan a few ‘blank spaces’ and Moms’ Night Outs in that yearly calendar.  Pick up an encouraging book specifically for homeschooling mamas.

homeschool coffee

Career-Based Electives for Teens

Electives are an excellent way to delve into topics and interests – no matter how strange they seem – in your child’s middle and high school years.  There’s your typical shop and home economics, but also specifics like aviation or hieroglyphs.  Think back…when else did you have so much freedom to explore?  As homeschooled teens, the world is their oyster!  

Elective classes give them a chance for career exploration, too.  Your student may discover that he doesn’t really want to be a veterinarian after all….or that he loves to write!

If you want some inspiration or just a quick-start guide, discover several free downloads of elective course curricula for specialized electives in our Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Choosing electives for high school can be both exciting and nerve-wracking.  If it’s a class outside of the core curriculum (required courses for graduation), then it’s an elective class.  What do colleges want to see?  What does your child really need?  And how do you know what to pick…?

Electives can be a good way to make high school fun, to bring some moments of levity to a day crowded with the intense courses found in these upper grades, particularly in a college prep scenario.  What is your child interested in?  Which hobbies does s/he gravitate toward?  Are there any career interests yet?  This is a good way to let colleges know more about your student, as they see which electives made the cut and ended up on the transcript.

If your student doesn’t know what they want to take and / or doesn’t have a field of interest for a possible future career yet, it might be time to check out a Career Exploration course.  The Career Clusters Student Interest Survey is an inventory that helps narrow down your child’s field of interest based on preferences, hobbies, and skills.  It takes about fifteen minutes to complete and then shows the top three fields of interest for possible careers.  This metric includes sixteen different ’career clusters,’ including jobs ranging from entry-level to professional, and is a great way to determine elective choice!

If you have the opportunity, it will benefit your student to take elective choices aligning with his or her career interests.  This will help with determining if that is a good fit (it’s better to find this out in high school than once you’ve paid for that college training!), and will give them some introductory level knowledge, which can be a leg up in the job market.

Have an open discussion about future goals and plans with your high schooler.  Are they considering college?  Military?  Vocational-technical school?  Starting a business?  Each of these post-graduation paths will benefit from a variety of elective opportunities.

Depending on their future goals, create your high school plan.  First fill in your state graduation requirements.  Then add in all the interest-based ideas your teen has and work toward filling in the elective, and sometimes the core classes as well, with those interests.

Be sure to check with your local and state laws regarding what is required for graduating from homeschool high school.  Note the classes, credits, and other details so that when your student reaches their senior year, your transcript is ready to roll.  If you need help, the Sparks Academy School Counselor can help with creating a four-year plan

Discover more inspiration at:

Hands-On Science & Nature Projects for Upper Grades

Spring and summer are a fantastic time to take your homeschool outside!  Hands-on projects can be completed year-round, but during these times, it’s easier to incorporate nature and do big, messy projects.  Getting hands-on helps students to become more engaged, involve their senses in learning, and prevent burnout.  It also helps to flesh out abstract ideas in a more concrete format, applying difficult-to-understand concepts into a real-world application.  This not only helps the student understand more, but also retain more.

Each of these resources is appropriate for middle and high school students.  If you prefer family-style teaching, they can be tailored down, or you may eliminate some of the more complicated aspects, for elementary students.  Want to create your own hands-on nature study?  Download the unit study planner, and get started exploring your family’s interests!


Exploring the outdoors is a great way to learn!  Soak it all in, homeschool mama, and wear your homeschooling style proudly!


Think Like a Scientist

Mathematical concepts and the scientific method are a good place to start…


Get Inspired

Sometimes we just need a little inspiration to get started!


Take a Field Trip

Here are some virtual field trips that will inspire you to take one of your own…


Get Outside

Unplug and get your hands dirty!


Go Wild

Is it animals, wild plants, the jungle, or the human psyche that intrigues you?


A Little of This; A Little of That

Projects and ideas that didn’t really fit in a box…


Explore through the Pages

A literature study is a fantastic jumping-off point for further exploration.  Pick a topic, read all about it, and then get hands on with the additional projects!


Use a Complete Curriculum

Maybe you’re not quite ready to head outside…or maybe you’re required to have more structured learning.  Either way, these curricula incorporate real-world learning projects into the lessons!



Hands-On Subscription Boxes You’ll Love!

Learn about forensic science and methods. Go hands-on with techniques like fingerprinting, collecting shoe prints, and more. Use the same tools the pros use to detect the presence of blood and identify theft suspects. Each box comes with gear that real investigators use along with activities designed to let you learn by doing. Your first box contains a free one-year subscription to our online detective game. Examine the evidence and solve the case.


MATTER

We search planet Earth for the most interesting forms of matter. Each month we ship fossils, tools, specimens, materials, or artifacts that have been carefully selected as some of the most interesting pieces of matter in our accessible universe. Part museum, part laboratory, perfect for quarantine! Feed your curiosity or spark someone’s else’s. This one is for the kid who knows everything!! It will spark an interest for further research…

Beautiful Discovery

Beautiful Discovery kits use visually and kinesthetically engaging patterns of nature to unleash your hidden pattern power and give you STEAM skills. Items include eco-games, art, origami, drag and drop code, models, natural wonders, full color informational cards, full color picture books and booklets, paints and colored pencils, drawing sheets with art lessons on patterns seen in the natural wonders.

Perfect for the student who is hesitant about math, but all about art! This box combines the beauty of nature with real-world math through projects with seashells, crystals, dried leaves, flowers, for their beautiful patterns. There’s even an computer coding element with simple drag and drop block coding that will simulate the patterns seen in the natural wonders studied in each box.

Spangler Science 

Let’s make science fun one month at a time! A subscription to Spangler Science Club is a guarantee that we’re working together to prepare your young scientist for a future STEM-based career. Choose from one of three levels of hands-on science kits and subscribe to amazing science delivered every month!


Groovy Lab in a Box

With Groovy Lab in a Box, you will receive boxes full of everything you need to learn about and do hands on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) experiments for ages 8+. We blend Scientific Inquiry and the Engineering Design Process, which allows children to create ingenious inventions, enhance problem solving skills and FUN!

Homeschooling Teens: College or Career Track?

For the last few generations, the collegiate years have been a crucial part of the growing up experience.  The system has changed, however, since my generation attended college, and it’s failing.  Inflated costs have driven up student debt so high that many cannot fathom how to escape it upon graduation, even with a good job lined up.

Also, because so many students are still being funneled into colleges, even with the prospect of crippling debt, there are too many graduates for the available jobs.  Students are either going on to graduate school, in the hopes of getting a job in their chosen field, or taking whatever job they can find.  Simply put – there are too many professionals being graduated, and not enough professional jobs.  

Or as Mike Rowe put it —  “America is lending money it doesn’t have to kids who can’t pay it back to train them for jobs that no longer exist. That’s nuts.”

Rowe continues, “Schools have done away with vocational training to focus on academic learning, creating a one-size-fits-all model of college-to-workforce that doesn’t recognize the real opportunities in the workplace and the real needs of society.”  And while it’s true that there are many careers which do require advanced training, such as those in the medical field, but not every career will require that four-year degree, and companies are just now starting to respond to this realization.

See the four traditional paths from high school – university, technical college, military, and career – in this article on ways to cut down on the cost of college.



General High School Help

As the homeschooling community continues to grow, one of the biggest concerns we hear from parents is that they don’t know what to do for high school…
  • Must-Read — Teens’ Guide to College and Career Planning 
  • Before this homeschooling life, I worked with eighth, ninth, and tenth graders…and loved it!  Teens are so exciting.  They are old enough to have a real, heavy conversation with (and it’s really fun to explore the basis for their opinions), but young enough to still need and want guidance (even if they won’t admit it).  From those years of experience, my experiences with my own children, and just the sheer memory of being a teen myself….here are five suggestions for motivating your student.
  • The Homeschooling the Upper Grades e-book is a collaboration project with bloggers from around the world, covering a wide variety of topics and issues facing the homeschooling parent of teens.  Twenty-two topics spanning special needs learners to academically gifted, and college to career-oriented students, are covered in this free download.
  • Worried you’re going to miss one of the pieces for moving from homeschool to college?  Here is the help you want with transcripts, scholarships, and making the transition!  In Through the Door, you and your teen will work through thirty-three modules to smooth the way from homeschool to college life.
  • Looking for high school help?  It’s not the academics for high school that are nerve-wracking so much as it is all of those ‘special things,’ like testing, applications, and deadlines that must be met for a smooth transition into college.


Career Exploration

Maybe your teen knows exactly what s/he has wanted to be since childhood.  Maybe they have no idea.  A little career exploration is good for both scenarios, as it helps to better understand what those jobs truly entail…

  • Must-Read — Career Planning for Teens: Discover The Proven Path to Finding a Successful Career That’s Right for You!
  • Career-focused electives can be a good way to make high school fun, to bring some moments of levity to a day crowded with the intense courses found in these upper grades, particularly in a college prep scenario.  What is your child interested in?  Which hobbies does s/he gravitate toward?  Are there any career interests yet?  This is a good way to let colleges know more about your student, as they see which electives made the cut and ended up on the transcript.
  • Career Exploration guides seventh through twelfth grade students to discover their career path or college major.  This eight-week elective course provides possible directions to the next step.  Each lesson includes informative articles, self-inventory worksheets, relevant links to additional information, and inspiring true stories.
  • The Career Center offers a whopping fifty-five different courses, ranging from eight weeks to full-year, to help your student further explore their interest and see if it is a good fit.
  • Parents can also pull together resources to create a year-long, career-based course for their student’s interest – such as this one on Architecture.  For technical or hands-on careers, check with your local community college to see if they have dual-enrollment high school programming.


Maturity / Relationships

Teens are navigating a tricky time of life, caught between the worlds of adolescence and adulthood.  Now is the time to talk about all those hard things…before they take the next step.

  • Ask Powerful Questions
    • Explore the clarity of intent, connecting through rapport, creating openness, reflective listening, and empathy. How can we explore the space between ourselves and others, and exchange meaningful perspectives? Just ask—powerfully.
  • Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen 
    • The fourteen essential conversations to have with your tween and early teenager to prepare them for the emotional, physical, and social challenges ahead, including scripts and advice to keep the communication going and stay connected during this critical developmental window. 


Read Prior to Graduation


Organizational Skills

Whether it’s a bedroom, an office, or digital life, having a good system of organization can save your student time and trouble down the line…


Life Skills

Resources for a wide range of students and their needs…


Thinking Skills

Critical thinking is something every parent should help foster, age-appropriately, from the earliest years.  We want our teens to go out into the world with eyes wide open…

  • Must-Read — Do the Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations
  • Looking to focus on critical thinking skills?  This Guidebook Set features four books, each with multiple lessons that are direct, concise, and help students relate concepts to their daily lives. Two of the books are designed to make students think about thinking and thought processes.  The other two books are motivational and inspirational in nature, showing examples of people who trudged through difficult times to make a difference in the world.
  • Literary Adventures for Kids is a language arts curriculum that fosters both writing and critical thinking skills.  There are five different year-long classes to choose from, each including a blend of classic and modern books and encouraging students to ‘think beyond the book.’


Technology Skills

We live in a digital world, and any path your student chooses is going to require certain technological skills…beyond the cell phone.

  • Must-ReadFuture Skills: The 20 Skills and Competencies Everyone Needs to Succeed in a Digital World
  • Regardless of the path, all students need to become familiar with the Microsoft Office family. This elective curriculum uses project-based learning to teach critical thinking, problem-solving, research, and out-of-the-box thinking skills. It celebrates students’ creativity and innovativeness and allows students to learn by creating solutions, all while introducing learners to a full range of Office skills.
  • Using short, online unit studies, this site introduces your student to apps, online programming, and other ‘new tech’ being used currently in both educational and on-the-job settings. Students develop skills and practice through short, fun projects.
  • The Guide to Digital Student Projects is an excellent starting point for learning how to organize via computer (as opposed to the old-school, paper method).


Test Skills

We all know that test skills are a must for college entrance exams, plus academics in general, but many careers require occasional training and testing as well.  It’s good to brush up on those skills…

  • Must-Read — Mind Over Scatter: Conquer Any Test with Sharper Focus and Less Stress
  • Do you have high school students who are considering college?  One of the steps they’ll need to take is standardized testing.  This is especially important for homeschooled students as it helps to provide outside validation to the grades on their transcript.
  • Even if you know the material and are prepared for your test, it’s completely normal to experience test anxiety.  In fact, to a degree, anxiety helps you perform better on the test!  However, too much can prevent you from doing your best…so what test skills do you need?

Three Out-of-the-Ordinary Homeschool Goals for Your Child with Special Educational Needs

Today’s post comes from Sharon Czerwien, who loves homeschooling her two children, one with Sensory Processing Disorder. Sharon is the author of the children’s book, “Bumps Are Okay for KIDS and Other Biblical Lessons Learned from Monster Trucks!” She blogs at www.bumpsareokay.com.

Does the following conversation sound familiar to you:

-Child: “I hate school! I don’t want to do school today!”

-Parent: “Well, at least you don’t have to be in school for 7 hours every day. You should be glad that I let you have so many breaks and give you the opportunity to bring your favorite things to the school area…”

I have had these conversations with one of my children (on several occasions!), and I have not always said the above part in the most patient of ways. I am a work in progress.

One of my children has Sensory Processing Disorder. School can be hard, frustrating, angering, and discouraging for this elementary-aged child.

The Understood Team writes that Sensory Processing problems involve:

“…Trouble managing information that comes in through the senses. These issues, sometimes called sensory processing disorder or sensory integration disorder, can have a big impact on learning and on everyday life.” [1]

No matter if your child struggles with this sensory need or with any special need that directly affects all-things life and school, I hope you can find encouragement from the Understood Team. Online, this team makes it their mission to guide those who think and learn in ways other than “the norm.”

Encouragement for Special Need Families

If you have a child who has special educational needs, please take hold of the following:

YOU are the best person to help guide your child through his or her different adversities. Whether in educational hurdles or life challenges, you know your child best. You are your child’s greatest cheerleader and support system. YOU are just what your child needs!

Home Educational Goals for Special Need Families

When it comes to homeschooling goals for special needs families, here are some “goal traps” that may creep up unexpectedly. By “goal traps” I mean homeschool goals that may accidentally be given too high of a priority for a child with special needs.

  1. That your child stays at grade-level in each subject
  2. That your child goes through the same amount of material each year as your other child
  3. That your child needs to learn basic math facts or phonics principles in the “correct year”
  4. That you as the parent must cover everything on your child’s daily school checklist

Hopefully, removing these “goal traps” will open you up for these “out-of-the-ordinary” homeschool goals.

*Here are three “out-of-the-ordinary” homeschool goals to think through:

  1. For your child to not hate learning—as much as possible!

I know—you have the right to say, “Wait! At the beginning, you said that your child hates school. Why is your own homeschooling goal not being met?”

My child would honestly tell you how much he hates school. That is why I included the phrase, “as much as possible.”

Hard school will be hard for your child. Your child’s special needs will be hard, and understandably, you cannot remove all hardships from your child. However, throwing out the above “goal traps” will immensely help your child not to hate school more than necessary.

It is okay if your child is not on “reading level” or cannot start learning multiplication facts during the same year as other age peers. You know your child best, and a slower pace may be necessary AND be just what your child needs to have personal educational success in your child’s right educational timing.

In my case, I need to not overly push my sensory child beyond what my kiddo is capable of in that moment, resulting in needlessly causing my child to hate school even more. I must give priority to my child’s sensory needs before any educational goals can be met.

  • For your child to learn to persevere!

I view it as more important that your child have experience and practice in what true perseverance looks like than to learn division rules in the “right” year.

Your precious kiddo has more opportunities to stretch in this area of perseverance than many other children. Look for any (even small!) examples of your child having a persevering attitude and highlight these in a special way.

You can keep track of perseverance moments in a special-to-you way and review these with your child often. Encourage your child that he or she is doing great at doing hard things!

Perseverance examples do not have to only happen in school. Your child may show perseverance in a big way outside of school time. These can be highlighted, too! (In the picture, you can see how we document perseverance moments through our “perseverance notebook” filled with example pictures.) [Insert Picture]

  • For your child to learn to self-regulate!

Having your child be the top speller is not nearly as important as he or she learning to deal properly with frustrations.

I like the book, The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. The main character in the story learns about the importance of breaks when her anger gets too strong. With this book as a springboard, you and your child could work through ideas to help when your child feels the anger boiling inside.

The Takeaway

Home education is a beautiful way to work with your special needs child at the right pace, to take the right breaks, and to reach more than just the traditional school goals.

I cheer you on! There is nothing more exciting than seeing your special child succeed. Plus, “success” may look different but be just as extraordinary!

Exploring Beliefs for World Religions Day

The Encarta World Dictionary defines religion as “people’s beliefs and opinions concerning the existence, nature, and worship of a deity or deities and divine involvement in the universe and human life.”  In a world that is constantly struggling for peace, having a better understanding of belief systems and values can help us to understand different people and cultures…which may lay the foundation for a thoughtful progression amid a multitude of complex cultures.  Studying world religions can lead to a better understanding of the relationships between religion and politics, economics, and social structures..


Novel Studies & Curricula


Short Primers


Art: Stained Glass Windows

Supplies

Directions

  • Print out the picture that you want to copy. We used shields and crests.
  • Trace the picture on the tracing paper with the black marker.
  • Color it with crayons. Use bright colors. Don’t color too hard, or the wax will run!
  • Cut out your shield and laminate it to make the colors even brighter. 
  • Hang it up and let the sun shine through!
Find more history-themed art projects in Recycled History!



    

Literature: G.A. Henty & Comparative Books

  • Beric the Briton
    • This tale of the Roman invasion of ancient Britannia remains one of G.A. Henty’s most popular novels of all time. Join Beric and his best friend Bodouc as they live the adventure of a lifetime – captured by the Romans, trained as gladiators, and placed in the service of Emperor Nero himself! When the story of a mysterious “Christus” begins to circulate the Roman Empire, Beric and Bodouc are forced to confront their pagan past. Will the two young prisoners be able to overcome their thirst for revenge and discover the source of true forgiveness?
  • For the Temple
    • The troubles in the district of Tiberias, the march of the legions, the sieges of Jotapata, of Gamala, and of Jerusalem all come to life. In this impressive and carefully studied historic setting, you will follow a lad, John of Gamala, who passes from the vineyard to the service of Josephus, becomes the leader of a guerrilla band of patriots, fights bravely for the Temple, and after a brief term of slavery at Alexandria, returns to his Galilean home with the favor of Titus. The fall of Jerusalem is brought to life in this classic.
  • The Kids Book of World Religions
    • By gaining a greater understanding of the cultures and beliefs of people around the world, children build respect and tolerance for the differences that make each of us unique.With objectivity and accessibility, this title in the Kids Book of series looks at the histories, scriptures, places of worship, religious leaders, gods and major festivals that are the foundations of many of the world’s religions.
  • Investigate the World through Religious Tradition
    • Over 7 billion people live on the earth, and 84 percent of them describe themselves as being religious. Few topics incite such passion as religion. What does that mean? Why are humans invested in ideas that may never be proved? Why has religion played such an important role in history?



It’s NOT Ancient History! Making Connections with World History

Although the people we study in history lived decades or even centuries ago, their actions impacted how we live our lives today.  Names, dates, facts…these are some of the things that I hear students complain about when they talk about disliking history.  It’s too confusing…they can’t put it into context.  A visual display, however, can help tie everything together in an easier-to-digest format!  Our two favorite, visually-appealing ways to link historic events include this book (fantastic for those with small spaces) and this wall chart (for those with a dedicated homeschool area).

But it’s not just faceless names and random dates; history is full of transitional events that have altered the world’s story.  By learning about different eras, you start to see what changes might happen in the future and what would drive that change.  For example, learning about the fall of Rome teaches you that even the most powerful society can fall apart—and what happens to cause that crumbling.  

By studying history, humanity has a chance to learn from its mistakes, theorize about alternative options based on correcting past mistakes as it moves forward with future events.  After all, history rhymes…so it’s likely that there will be a chance to act differently in the future.

There are five concepts – or 5 Cs – of history.  These are at the heart of every question historians ask as they seek to better understand the past, and they include (from most easily understood to the more complex): change over time, causality, context, complexity, and contingency.  The strangeness of the past enables us to step back and look at our society and ourselves from a new perspective—indeed, we might start to look a bit strange to ourselves!  (Think not?  Check out Motel of the Mysteries)

General Ancient History

Classes

Printables

Extras

Egypt

Greece

Rome

Asia / Middle East

Medieval

Mythology

Rabbit Trails

Innovative Ways to Study World Geography

Geography gets a bad rap for being boring, but usually that’s just because it’s not being taught in an engaging way.  After all, who wants to look at a bunch of maps for places they’ve never been (or possibly never even heard of) and think about people and things they will never see?  To really get kids interested in geography, you have to bring it to life!

Why study geography?

Geography is the study of humans and people through space, throughout time, and how those spaces have shaped history.  Every place has a history behind it, shaped by humans, earth, and climate.  By studying geography, we gain meaning and awareness to those places, which also puts history in context.  It helps us see the why, when, and how of what happened in history.  Learn more about History, Mythology, and World Cultures.

Studying countries also helps with spatial awareness and mapping skills.  If you don’t know where a place is, or the physical context of the area, how can you understand what is being reported on the news?  Learning about land, resources available, and how that has shaped a culture of today helps you understand the uniqueness of each local culture.

Geography helps us to explore and understand the differences in cultures, political systems, economies, landscapes, and environments across the world.  By understanding these things, we can explore the connections between them.  As we learn how all people are interconnected, it makes the world a little bit smaller, making us care just a bit more about our fellow man…even if he is halfway around the globe.


Read All About It

  • Living Literature Units


Walk through the 50 States


Play a Game


Rabbit Trails


Experience It

Rabbit Trails & Child-Directed Studies

Unlike traditional schooling, homeschooling affords you the opportunity to jump down rabbit trails! What’s a rabbit trail? This is when your child develops a sudden interest in a topic, and you spend the whole day (or week, or month) exploring that topic in-depth, following the trail as far as it goes, or until your child moves on to another interest. Regardless of age, this is a valuable tool to add to your homeschooling toolbelt!

Educational Philosophies Encouraging Rabbit Trails

Charlotte Mason
Developed by a 19th century educator who believed in reading ‘living books’ rather than ‘twaddle,’ 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. 

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).  Units may be literature-based, and this is a great style for teaching multiple grades together.

Unschooling
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.

Places to Find Rabbit Trail Ideas


Parent Guides & Resources

Going Behind the Scenes — Factory Tour Field Trips!


Factory tours are a fun and frugal way to add unique field trips to your homeschooling year! You get an educational glimpse into the inner workings of companies and how products are made, and you never know what is going to spark an interest in your kids! Always be sure to check if there is a minimum age requirement to visit, to make reservations if required, and see if there is a nominal fee. If the tour is free, and their store sells inexpensive items, consider purchasing something as a thank you and to help support the company in their educational outreach.

Join us on these Factory Tours!


We don’t JUST go to food factories…though it may seem like it.  What can I say?  When you’re driving all day, roadschooling, you want to stretch your legs and eat at the same time!  Here are some non-food factories.  Be sure to use the Field Trips Planning Pack for all your factory tours, and make those school days count!

Related Resources

10 Blunders That Are Sabotaging Your Student’s Productivity

Are you struggling to find productivity in your day-to-day? Are you feeling like you are constantly putting out fires and not making any progress on the things that matter most to you? If so, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with productivity because they are making some common mistakes. In this blog post, we will discuss 10 blunders that are sabotaging your personal productivity. Once you become aware of these mistakes, you can start taking steps to correct them and finally get stuff done!

Blunder #1: Not Having a Plan

One of the biggest productivity killers is not having a plan. If you don’t know what your goals are or what steps you need to take to achieve them, it’s going to be very difficult to get anything done. You will likely find yourself spinning your wheels and getting nowhere fast. Take some time to sit down and figure out what you want to achieve. Once you have a goal in mind, break it down into smaller steps that you can take to get there. Having a roadmap will help keep you on track and prevent wasted time.

This will get you nowhere fast on both the little things AND the big things. When looking at the major life decisions for what comes after high school, it’s easy to get stymied by all the “what ifs.” Do a little research and choose a path, you can always course correct later. Download the free Homeschooling Help book or pick up the High School to College course.

Blunder #2:  Not Breaking Down Tasks Into Smaller Steps

Another common mistake people make is not breaking down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. When you have a big project or goal that seems overwhelming, it can be tempting to just try to power through it without taking the time to break it down. However, this usually leads to frustration and a feeling of being stuck. Instead of trying to tackle the entire project at once, break it down into smaller steps that you can complete one at a time. This will help you stay focused and make progress until the task is done.

Something I’m always telling the students at Sparks Academy, particularly as they begin to tackle large assignments, is – “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” A racer runs a marathon one mile at a time. And a good student tackles a large project one chunk at a time.

Blunder #3: Not Scheduling Time for Important Tasks

If you don’t schedule time for the things that are important to you, they will likely never get done.  It’s easy to fill up your day with busy work and put off the things that really matter, but this will only lead to frustration. Make sure you schedule time for the tasks that are most important to you, and stick to that schedule as much as possible. This will help ensure that you are making progress on the things that truly matter.

The ability to prioritize important tasks, culling the wheat from the chaff, is a hallmark of a good leader, and leadership skills are important for all kinds of successes in life, from employment to relationships. See how to boost your leadership skills here.

Blunder #4: Not Having a Dedicated Workspace

One of the biggest productivity killers is not having a dedicated workspace. If you are constantly working in different locations, it can be difficult to stay focused and get things done. Make sure you have a designated space that is just for work. This will help you stay focused and avoid distractions.

It’s possible to work from your kitchen table, but having a private workspace makes getting into the study zone much easier. Having set work hours and visual cues, such as a small sign or wearing headphones, will let well-meaning family members know you’re working.

Blunder #5: Not Taking Breaks

It might seem counterintuitive, but taking breaks can actually help you be more productive. If you are working non-stop, you are likely to get burnt out and make mistakes. instead of trying to power through, take a break every few hours to recharge. This will help you stay focused and avoid errors.

Your break can be a walk around the block, shooting some hoops with a sibling, or picking up a musical instrument for a bit. It could be having a snack or taking a field trip to town — after all, every field trip doesn’t have to be long and / or exotic…

Blunder #6: Not Staying Organized

Another common mistake people make is not staying organized. When you are constantly trying to find things, it can be very frustrating and time-consuming. Make sure you have a system in place for organizing your work so that you can find things quickly and easily. This will save you time in the long run and help you stay on track.

Get a hold on this with the Rise & Shine Student Planner. Each month contains an at-a-glance calendar, with space for notes and a to-do list. Weekly pages are broken down by day, and daily pages provide space for habit tracking, notes, meal planning, and an hourly planner.

Blunder #7: Trying to Do Too Much

One of the biggest productivity killers is trying to do too much at once. When you are constantly jumping from one task to another, it can be difficult to focus and get anything done. Make sure you are prioritizing your tasks so that you are only working on the most important things. This will help you stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Having a plan will help you keep on task.

Blunder #8: Procrastinating

One of the biggest productivity killers is procrastination. When you put off tasks, they tend to pile up and become even more daunting. Make sure you are staying on top of your tasks by setting deadlines and holding yourself accountable. This will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and ensure that you are making progress.

Are you easily distracted, noticing every sight and sound around you? When working on a task, are you often side-tracked and have a difficult time focusing? Procrastination is one of the hallmarks of distractibility. Learn how to focus more easily, which will help your studying.

Blunder #9: Not Getting Enough Sleep

One of the biggest productivity killers is not getting enough sleep. When you are tired, it can be difficult to focus and get things done. Make sure you are getting enough rest so that you can be productive during the day. This will help you avoid feeling exhausted and ensure that you are able to focus on your tasks.

Eliminate this blunder with the New Year, New Me Habit Tracker. This reusable calendar features monthly at-a-glance pages and weekly pages with space for notes and planning. Each week also has a habit tracker grid to help keep the momentum going with your new habits!

Blunder #10: Not Eating Healthy

Another common mistake people make is not eating healthy. When you are not getting the proper nutrients, it can be difficult to focus and stay on task. Make sure you are eating a balanced diet so that you can maintain your energy levels and avoid feeling sluggish. This will help you stay focused and productive throughout the day. 

It may take some adjustments in your shopping and cooking habits, but eating real food (and not nuking it in the microwave) is so much healthier for you!  Your body will appreciate the difference, and after a little bit your mood will improve as you begin to feel more energized. Check out the No Sweat! Cooking Bundle for quick, easy, and healthy meal ideas.

There are many common mistakes that people make that can stand in the way of their personal productivity. By avoiding these mistakes, you can ensure that you are able to stay focused and get things done. Make sure you try to implement some of these tips so that you can increase your productivity and achieve your goals.

Teaching Civil Rights and African-American History

Studying the civil rights movement helps students to better understand American history, making connections between the past and the present.  Though the struggles have changed, the song remains the same, and we want a new generation to learn these principles of civics and how to be an active member of society.

The most well-known of the civil rights movements started in the mid-fifties and went into the late sixties. The goal was to eliminate racial discrimination and segregation in the United States. The civil rights movement had its origins in the post Civil War / Reconstruction era and was a in response to the Jim Crow laws prevalent during the time immediately after the abolition of slavery. Over the course of the century, various less successful civil rights movements were formed, but the one started in the 1950s saw the most success. Most of the movement’s members tried to employ forms of nonviolent mass protest and  civil disobedience. These entailed things such as boycotts, sit-ins, and marches through public places.

Civil rights exist to protect individuals’ freedoms. These include freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, privacy, and they protect individuals from being discriminated against based on race, age, gender, religion, and social class, etc. Also included are political rights such as right to fair trial, due process, self-defense, and the right to vote. These are freedoms which are called by many basic human rights and should not be infringed by any movement or agency. Many people have differing opinions on what are considered basic human rights, but human rights as we define it in a public setting are comprised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document was written in 1948 and includes definitions of various such civil and political rights.

Interactive Curricula

These online literary guides have everything you need to study the book. They include vocabulary, grammar, free-write questions, videos, rabbit trails, and project ideas.


The Written Word

Beef up your homeschool library with these additional helpers.


A Novel Approach

Using spine literature, novel studies incorporate research, writing, hands-on projects, and video to bring a unit to life.


Course Curricula

Go in-depth with your studies, covering a full semester or more with lessons, videos, readings, and projects.



Download the FREE World History Timeline with Study Connections!


Meal Planning for the Busy Homeschool Family

Meal planning is essential for the busy homeschooling family. It not only helps you save time and money, but also eat a bit healthier. After all, who wants to eat frozen pizza and chicken nuggets every night? (Maybe that should say ‘what adult,’ rather than ‘who.’)

Your weekly meal plan might be broken down to the day, or you might plan for five days worth of meals, and then choose what you’re in the mood for each day.  This is a personal choice, and will depend on how much structure you and your family need.  When you’re meal planning, keep in mind:

  • Your family’s food preferences — no need to make breakfasts if no one eats that early
  • Your weekly schedule — have some quick and on-the-go options for busy days
  • Family dynamics — older kids can help with prep, cooking, and cleaning
  • What’s on hand — for less waste / spending, create menus that use on-hand ingredients


Online Meal Planning

Ordering groceries online isn’t an option where we live, but it is for many people in urban and suburban areas.  If you want to order online, start a grocery list and keep adding to it throughout the week (similar to if you have a paper one on the refrigerator to take in-hand to the store).  Some folks swear by online shopping, saying they prefer to spend the extra money for someone else to do the shopping because it saves them from impulse purchases.  You know whether you tend to impulse shop or not, so again, this is a personal (and potentially geographic) preference.)



Appliances & Early Meal Prep

Kitchen appliances are a huge time saver today…something our grandmothers would have cherished!  You’ll want to take some time to get to know your appliance, but utilize them for convenient, healthy meals.  Incorporate appliance-specific recipes into your meal planning each week to save time.

If you have them on hand, use your crockpotair fryer, and InstaPot.  However, if you’re in the market for a time-saving kitchen appliance, you can’t go wrong with the Ninja Foodi.  This is the one we have, and it is A-MAZ-ING!  (It does even more than the famous InstaPot.)


This little guy is a powerhouse – and barely takes up any room on the counter!  It does the job of eleven different appliances, making it not only a time-saver, but a space-saver in the kitchen.  As a former roadschooling family, I highly recommend this to any travelling families…it takes up just a little extra space in the car, but is very much worth it to have healthy meals while on-the-road.

So what all does Ninja Foodi do?  Pressure Cook, Air Fry/Air Crisp, Steam, Slow Cook, Yogurt, Sear/Sauté, Bake/Roast, Broil, Dehydrate, Sous Vide & Warm.  At 6.5 quarts, it’s large enough to feed a family of 4-6, but probably won’t work as well for larger families. It makes up to three pounds of fries, and can hold a six-pound roast, so it will depend on ages and how much food is needed.

I love it because of its versatility and efficiency.  The other night, we made arroz con pollo – from dried rice and frozen chicken – in less than 45 minutes!  For this and other great recipes, we picked up a very handy book called Ninja Foodi Complete Cookbook for Beginners.


Freezer Cooking

If you know you’re going to have a busy period, try freezer cooking.  This is essentially cooking everything ahead of time and then pulling it out of the freezer to reheat.  Not all recipes lend themselves to this method, but many recipe PARTS do.  You can prep taco meat or spaghetti sauce ahead of time, making dinnertime easier.  Check out the freezer cooking resources below to get you started!

  
A Slow-Cooked Year
This book includes : the whats and whys behind crockpot cooking, how-to tips and tricks, safe crockpot guidelines, printable planning sheets, and more than thirty seasonally-appropriate, kid-friendly recipes!
Another Year of Freezer Cooking
For anyone who wants to get a leg up on getting healthy meals on the family table, without much fuss…this book includes : the whats and whys behind freezer cooking how-to tips and tricks pantry freezing guidelines, printable planning sheets more than thirty seasonally-appropriate, kid-friendly recipes!

Snag this adorable tee to tout your homeschool status and celebrate the #HomeschoolMomLife!


Resources for Meal Planning


Novel Studies & Hands-On Helpers


Recipes to Get You Started!


Take the 30 Day Challenge!

Thirty days of whole foods, at-home workouts, and spiritual rest…you’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain from hitting the reset button.  You’ll get a month of grain-free paleo menus, plus Life Made Full’s 30-day guide will enrich your life physically, emotionally, and spiritually, setting you up for your best year yet!



How to Be a More Effective Homeschooling Parent

Can we be honest for a moment?  Homeschooling is a HARD JOB.  It’s a huge responsibility.  There’s the part that everyone sees, and then there’s all the other stuff underneath the surface, which takes a lot of mental energy.

Homeschooling has the potential to place an enormous toll on a your mental mental health.  You might become excessively tired, cranky, or sad, or have difficulty concentrating, or have lethargy that leaves you not even wanting to teach at all.  (aka, burnout)

Taking care of yourself, both physically and mentally, is so important to being an effective teacher and enjoying happy homeschooling days.  You know these, but it never hurts to be reminded, especially if you find yourself needing to re-center.
  • Acknowledge that this is a busy season of life
  • Create a routine to reduce stress
  • But be flexible with your routine, when needed
  • Ask friends and family for help
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Exercise both your mind and body
  • Take a moment all to yourself
  • Remember to have fun
Try incorporating some of these other methods for a healthier, happier homeschooling life!

Outside (the body)


Physical


Mental

Foodie


Herbs & Herbal Remedies


Resources for Further Learning



Make this year YOUR year! This reusable calendar features monthly at-a-glance pages and weekly pages with space for notes and planning. Each week also has a habit tracker grid to help keep the momentum going with your new habits! Just print and reuse each year for your planner.


Come Fly With Me!! Aviation & Flight Resources for Your Homeschool


Aviation history is over two millennia old, with earliest forms existing in China’s kite-flying.  DaVinci dreamed of man flying in the 15th century, and the Montgolfier brothers began manned flight with hot air balloons in the 18th century.  Lilienthal experimented with gliders in the 19th century, but it wasn’t until two brothers took a short break from gravity, in December 1903, that flight really ‘took off!’

Since that time, modern scientists and aviators have worked together to grow the industry by leaps and bounds, including zeppelins, jet engines, flying boats, pilotless drones, space flight, and long-distance space travel…

Aviation Field Trips


Space-Themed Field Trips


Aviation / Space Unit Studies


Aviation / Space Resources


Hands-On Learning  

       (we have both of these…and love them!)



For more AMAZING flight-themed resources and projects, check out the Flight Unit Study
Aerospace Engineering collection, and the FAA Aviation Curriculum (all grades represented).



Learning the Art of Discernment

Nike says, “Just do it.”  While spontaneous decisions work well at some points in life, there are other choices that require a depth of thought and consideration that won’t allow you to ‘just do it.’  Maybe something doesn’t feel right, or maybe it feels completely right…how will you know?  This is where discernment comes in to play.

To discern means to judge, evaluate, and distinguish.  Some people come by this naturally, while others must develop it, yet those who are gifted with discernment are often seen as judgmental, critical, and unloving.  However, we live in an age when ideas are spread globally within an amazingly short period of time, and discernment is the only way to cut through the noise and find the important, and correct, information.


A good discerner understands falsifiability and knows the difference between an argument and an assertion.  What should you know?

  • Argument – a claim supported by reason or logic
  • Assertion – an unsupported claim, often an opinion
  • Falsifiability – capacity for an argument or hypothesis to be proven wrong
  • Did you know – Facts can be both true AND false!!
  • Nice and charming do not equal honest.  Often when someone is accused of teaching something false, someone else will defend them by saying “But they are such a nice person.”

Decision-Making

In decision-making, the three steps of the discernment process are awareness, understanding and action.  All three are important — if you make a good decision, but fail to act, you’ve ultimately made a poor decision.  If you fail to apply consideration, and act hastily, you’ve not chosen well.  Therefore, it is important to go through the process completely.

Some decisions will be personal, such as where (or if) to attend college, where to move to, or whether to take that job.  Other decisions will be more general, yet no less important, such as who to vote for or how you feel about a particular issue of national / world importance.

Awareness

Know yourself.  This includes your hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses.  How do you perform under stress?  What is your ideal career / future plan / {insert decision here}?  How do others see you?

Start at the beginning.  What do you already know about the decision ahead of you?  What are the pros and cons, or the various factors?  What kind of support do you have?  Are there multiple perspectives involved?

Understanding

Give it time.  Not all decisions will have the luxury, but if you have the time to wait, do more investigating, and ruminate upon your decision, you may find that you do better.  No one is impervious to this process — folks familiar with scripture will remember that even Jesus agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

Spend Time in Thought / Meditation / Prayer.  After making a decision, but before action, you should feel a sense of inner peace with your decision.  This is a feeling of tranquility about the next steps, and not just relief that you’ve finally made a decision.

Action

Get going.  Whether this means applying to college, putting a down payment on a house, accepting that job, going into the voting booth, advocating for a group or issue, or however else your decision manifests itself…now is the time to act.

Evaluate.  Every action has a reaction, a consequence.  There are both good and bad consequences, external and internal.  Internally, how do you feel now that you’ve acted?  Do you still have that peace?  How have others reacted to your decision?  Do you need to reevaluate and course correct?

It is worth remembering that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.  Ultimately, you are the one who has to live with yourself, and so it is important to focus on the internal response.  (Obviously, if your decision was to commit a felony, there will still be an external response you need to heed….)


Developing Discernment

Practice through Literature

These books can be difficult for students to plow through at times, but the online unit studies help break down their components, allowing students to practice predicting and analyzing, both of which lead to stronger discernment.

Parents can use these books to teach kids to ask meaningful questions, recognize bias, and stand up for themselves…


Learn about Worldviews

In a world that is constantly struggling for peace, having a better understanding of belief systems and values can help us to understand different people and cultures…which may lay the foundation for a thoughtful progression amid a multitude of complex cultures.  These courses provide that background.

Be a Detective

Develop Supportive Skills

Read (or Watch) the News

Remember to look at sources from both left-leaning and right-leaning media.  How do the stories compare in tone and coverage?  Try to find one topic and look at the stories on each side.

Celebrating the Winter Holidays in Your Homeschool

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Winter brings a plethora of holidays, and for many families a long break for resting. Here are activities, books, and resources for incorporating the holidays into your homeschool and time off. Pick and choose what works best for your family. Stay warm!

All of these resources are appropriate for middle and high school.

Books to Incorporate


Unit Studies


Online Unit Studies

Cooking Activities

Don’t forget to teach the Art of the Thank You Note

Download the entire holiday bundle of book lists for free.  Can’t get enough of the holidays?  Incorporate the Bricks Through the Year and History of Our Holidays bundles into your homeschool year, too!  

Pick up the Gnome-Themed Autumn Cookbook totally FREE!

This adorable gnome-themed cookbook is perfect for your seasonal autumn and winter recipes. Pages include:

  • Family stories & memories
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Dessert
  • Blank Pages (reproducible to add your family’s favorites)

How World Mythologies Show We’re All Connected

Author G. K. Chesterton wrote, “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

Stories and myths have shaped and reflected world cultures for millennia.  They tell of how the world was created, how humans relate to the world, and how humans relate to each other.  They are ingrained into our cultures, and as children we listen to these tales or read folklore, learning more about our own world and the cultures of others around us.

In spite of the development of societies all around the world, often independently of each other, there are many common threads that run through these tales.  Throughout all world mythologies and cultural stories, there are common threads of birth, death, the afterlife, good and evil, and the origin of both man and the world itself.  Younger children learn of these stories in fairy tales, which tend to be watered down to their level.  Older children may delve into an occasionally very dark world of these dragons…but these myths show that the world’s dragons can be slain.


If you’re interested in incorporating world cultures and mythologies into your homeschool, here are some resources to guide you…


Get Started

Online / Tech-Based Unit Studies

Resource Books

  • Introduction to World Mythology for Kids
    • This collection of mythology for kids takes you from ancient Mesopotamia to the Abenaki tribes of the Native Northeastern US and Canada, showing you myths from around the world. From the Japanese myth of Momotarō The Peach Boy and his loyal animal friends to the Slavic myth of Vasilisa the Wise and her enchanted doll, this beautifully illustrated collection of mythology for kids takes you on a journey through the sands of time. You’ll explore diverse cultures across the globe through the incredible tales of gods and goddesses, earth-shattering giants, mighty dragons, magical lakes, and more.
  • Myths & Legends: 25 Projects to Build
    • Through hands-on projects and exciting stories, this title in the Build It Yourself series aims to ignite young people’s curiosity in multicultural mythology and legends. Each chapter, which focuses on the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, or the Americas, provides a succinct introduction to major themes and characters in a culture’s mythology, a glossary, short retellings, and more historical and cultural background, followed by easily assembled projects, as in the section on Sub-Saharan Africa, which presents instructions for making Ashanti Adinkra cloth and a Bata thunder drum. The gray-toned format, featuring spot illustrations, is lackluster, and a few of the projects, particularly the Hopi kachina doll, reference sacred objects that shouldn’t be designated as crafts. With proper context and discussion, though, this title offers solid, interactive opportunities to explore world mythology.

World Mythology Unit / Book Studies



What Comes Next? Life Skills with Special Needs Homeschoolers

For some parents, having a special needs child is the impetus to homeschool. Many families are choosing to homeschool because their special needs children’s needs are not being met in the traditional classroom. For others, it’s just one more challenge they aren’t sure how to face. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, homeschooling a special needs child is an adventure!

Homeschooling allows the flexibility for students to go at their own pace.  You get the set the schedule.  You can change the curriculum if it isn’t working.  You can have one long work period, or several shorter work periods spaced out with transitional times.  With family-style schooling, older special needs students can school alongside younger siblings, at the same level, without them feeling as though they’re “behind.”

It can daunting to think about what post-graduation brings for the special needs student, but s/he is in a great position as a homeschooler!  In the upper grades years, homeschooling allows students the time to explore passions and career interests.  Take some time to examine your special needs student’s strengths, combining those and their interests to find a career exploration starting point.

Background Information & Resources

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) covers thirteen specific disabilities, but its implementation varies widely from state to state when it comes to assisting homeschool families.  Learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, health disabilities, impairments (speech, visual, hearing, orthopedic, and emotional), intellectual disabilities, and traumatic brain injuries are all addressed by the act.  Check with your state department of education, and HSLDA, to see what your state will and won’t do for homeschooling students.  

A federal agency, the Rehabilitation Services Administration provides vocational rehabilitation and other services to individuals with disabilities to maximize their employment and independence after the high school years.  Each state has their own local agency to help work one-on-one with families.

SPED Homeschool and HSLDA are good general resources for any homeschooling family with special needs students.  These resources are primarily for the younger student, but are a good place to start.


Getting Started with SPED Homeschooling


Addressing Specific Needs


Life Skills for SPED Teens

Special Needs-Friendly Curriculum


An Age of Revolution! Exploring World Change in Your Homeschool

From the mid 18th century to the mid 19th century, the world underwent a series of revolutions across many areas of life, including culturally, politically, economically, technologically, and through war. Call it the age of Aquarius…call it a response to the world connectivity spawned by the age of exploration…whatever the reason, new ideas and actions swept the world, changing it forever.

The American Revolution, largely influenced by the Enlightenment period, is considered the beginning of the Age of Revolution.  Then came the French Revolution, Irish Rebellion, Haitian Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, and civil unrest in Spain and Germany.  Shortly after the War of 1812, European powers came together to form the Holy Alliance in an attempt to restore the monarchies and prevent future unrest.  Less than a decade later, there were uprisings in Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal.  The working class would no longer sit back, and around the world they began to demand more rights.  

The Age of Revolution also includes the Industrial Revolution – this is when mass production in factories replaced hand-made goods, led to the growth of cities, birthed consumerism, and eventually led to the transportation revolution.

American Revolution Resources

Novel Studies

                  Take a Virtual Field Trip


                  Hands-On / Funschool Learning


                  World Event Unit Studies


                  Additional Reading


                  Government Resources


                  Complete Courses


                  • For more resources, check out Expansion, Independence, and War! It covers both American and world history. Students will learn about major conflicts in American history, spanning from the French and Indian War to the September 11 terror attacks.
                  • The American Revolution course introduces elementary and middle school students to the key battles and players of the Revolutionary War and incorporates history, geography, reading, critical thinking and analysis, and cursive writing throughout.
                  • From the discovery of the New World to the end of the American Revolution, let Dave Stotts take your family on a Drive Thru History. Join him as he takes you to the places where America was born, shares facts about history you have never heard, and has a great deal of fun along the way. Plus, enjoy a special set of worksheets only available here!  Find out more about Drive Thru History

                  Download the FREE World History Timeline with Study Connections!


                  Celebrating the Autumn Holidays in Your Homeschool

                  It’s time for pumpkin spice and everything nice!  By autumn, we’re starting to settle into our homeschooling routine, thinking about upcoming holidays, and wondering how we’ll fit it all in…  Here are activities, books, and resources for incorporating the holidays into your homeschool.  Pick and choose what works best for your family.  Happy fall, y’all!

                  All of these resources are appropriate for middle and high school.


                  Books to Incorporate


                  Unit Studies


                  Online Unit Studies


                  Cooking Activities


                  Download the entire holiday bundle of book lists for free.  Can’t get enough of the holidays?  Incorporate the Bricks Through the Year and History of Our Holidays bundles into your homeschool year, too!  

                  Pick up the Gnome-Themed Autumn Cookbook totally FREE!

                  This adorable gnome-themed cookbook is perfect for your seasonal autumn and winter recipes. Pages include:

                  • Family stories & memories
                  • Breakfast
                  • Lunch
                  • Dinner
                  • Dessert
                  • Blank Pages (reproducible to add your family’s favorites)

                  Legal Documents Every 18 Year Old Needs


                  After eighteen years of caring for your child, it can be alarming to realize that on that magical birthday, they suddenly take on ALL the responsibilities of adulthood, whether they are equipped or not. Young adults who are eager for independence may push back against a request to sign a college power of attorney, believing they don’t really need it or you’re trying to control them.  However, at some point or another, most young adults find themselves in over their heads, may end up in credit card debt, wind up in a car accident, or get into trouble at school. All of these are scenarios you, the parent, could assist with at age 17, but cannot once they turn 18…unless you have some legal protections in place ahead of time.

                  Medical Emergencies

                  HIPPA / Healthcare

                  HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is a federal law that creation national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.  This act also contains standards for individuals’ rights to understand and control how their health information is used. 

                  The act was created to make protect individuals’ healthcare information, but comes into play with your adult children when, at age 18, you can no longer legally go with them to appointments, inquire about test results, or even find out why they are in the hospital unless the child has given express, written consent.  

                  A few of the things you need HIPAA consent for include:
                  • Appointments
                  • Test Results
                  • Insurance claims
                  • Billing
                  • Benefit eligibility inquiries
                  • Referral authorization requests
                  Protect your child by having him/her complete a HIPPA authorization form.  Send one to the college and keep one on file at home.

                  Medical Power of Attorney

                  A medical power of attorney form is strictly for health care choices should your son or daughter become incapacitated.  There is also the option of a general durable power of attorney, which covers financial decisions as well as medical.  Find your state’s medical power of attorney information here.


                  Financial / Durable Power of Attorney

                  Durable POA enables a designated agent (such as the parents) to make financial and medical decisions on the student’s behalf.  When signing it, your child can choose whether that power transfers immediately or only if s/he becomes incapacitated.  You can also write in start and end dates to reassure that this is a limited power of attorney for college.

                  Powers may include:
                  • Managing bank accounts
                  • Paying bills
                  • Filing taxes
                  • Applying for government benefits
                  • Breaking a lease

                  A durable power of attorney document applies only in the state in which it was formed—so if your child is attending school in another state, you should secure power of attorney for the other state as well. Some states also require the signature of a witness or a notary public.

                  College-Specific

                  FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.  The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

                  Generally, schools must have written permission from the student to release any information from a student’s education record.  This includes class schedules, transcripts, and grade point averages, but also extends to financial records within the school, such as scholarship information and money due, and living circumstances, such as dorm room assignment or any personal issues the student experiences.

                  Protect your child by having them provide written permission allowing the school to discuss all FERPA-related topics with you, as needed.


                  Protect Your Child in 10 Minutes

                  You can get all of these young adult power of attorney documents at Mama Bear Legal Forms.  It’s considerably cheaper than going through a standard lawyer because this is what she does, and she has templates for each state, rather than re-creating the wheel each time (it’s the time that costs you more money).  

                  You’ll want to have these in place before your child goes off to school, but don’t fret if you’re running behind — there’s no time like the present!  The package includes: HIPPA, FERPA, power of attorney for health and finances, plus a free App for scanning, storing and sharing.  If you visit through this link, you’ll also save 20% off your order.

                  Exploring Asia in Your Homeschool

                  As the largest and most-populated continent, Asia birthed some of the world’s oldest civilizations and continues to shape the world as a whole in the 21st century.  From the Bronze Age ‘Assuwa,’ to ‘Anatolia’ in the Golden Age of Greece, to the approximately forty-eight countries that comprise the region today, economically, politically, and culturally, studying Asia and its history helps students to learn more about the modern world.



                  Resources to Study Asian Geography


                  Resources to Study Asian History (& Food!)



                  Resources to Study China


                  Resources to Study Japan


                  Resources to Study Korea

                  Resources to Study Vietnam


                  Resources to Study India

                  Resources to Study Polynesia

                  Resources to Study the Middle East



                  Download the FREE Diversity Book List with Study Connections!

                  Homeschooling Around Town – The Art of the Field Trip!

                  A big part of our school year is the field trips. Generally, we will study a topic ahead of time and then take the field trip – this helps them to fully understand the hands-on experiences. The kids have been to nearly every state, and experienced a wide range of of historical, scientific, and cultural activities that they wouldn’t have been able to do solely in our home state. Not every family is able to road school, but that doesn’t mean that field trips shouldn’t be a part of your school.

                  Field Trips in Town

                  • Attend a library program
                  • Local historic architecture
                  • Air Shows
                  • Historic Re-enactments
                  • Climb rocks
                  • Historic Museums (some are free)
                  • Pick-Your-Own Farm Visit
                  • Zoo (only free on certain days, or with a pass)
                  • Local newspaper
                  • Factory tours (some are free)
                  • Visit the beach, lake, or riverbank
                  • State Fairs have homeschool days
                  • Visit the local airport
                  • Work in a community garden
                  • Shadow a business (teens)
                  • Animal workshop at the pet shop

                  Field Trip Starters


                  Unique Field Trips


                  More Field Trip Ideas

                  • Check out the Roadschooling Page to find unit studies and field trips built around your location.  There’s something for just about every state in the United States up there!
                  • Finally, though these aren’t free, educational subscription boxes are a great way to bring the field trip into your home. Here are some of our favorites!
                  • Use the world diversity book studies from Literary Adventures to travel the world from the comfort of your own home.  You can go anywhere!

                  Celebrating Your Homeschool! Beginning & End of Year Traditions

                  Some families choose a name, and even a mascot, for their homeschool.  Some have Not-Back-to-School parties with their local co-ops.  There are as many homeschool traditions as there are unique families!  What do you do?


                  Back to Homeschool

                  • Kick off the new school year with cute shirts for everyone!  Get matching shirts and call them your family’s field trip uniform.  💖
                  • Everyone is out buying back-to-school supplies….the neighborhood kids have cute, new clothes…and your kids are suddenly wondering why they aren’t having nearly as much fun going back to homeschool.  But there are many fun ways to celebrate going back-to-homeschool!
                  • Download several different Responsibility Charts & Writing through the Holidays packet, along with dozens of other goodies, free at Homeschool On the Range’s Subscriber’s Library.
                  • A good planner can work wonders for keeping you organized from the get-go.  This undated, reusable planner has you covered with daily plans, schoolwork, long-range planning, and meal organizers as well as chore charts and book lists!
                  • It might seem daunting to create a unit study at first, but anyone is capable of creating a unit study in just a few easy steps.


                  Got Oxygen?

                  • On the airplane, they tell you to put your oxygen mask on before putting your children’s on…because we’re not really useful to others if we’re passed out.  Or burnt out.  Remember to take some time this year to focus on self-care.
                  • You may be one of those families that has been homeschooling for 9 years or so and now are on the home stretch, or you may be new to the journey and have gotten in over your head and wondered if this is the right choice. Any and all of us could use a Booster Shot at some point…


                  During the Year


                  End of the Year

                  • Is your feed flooded with pictures of kids receiving various awards at their schools?  No need to feel left out.  Homeschool kids deserve awards too!  😎  And we’re homeschooling, so you know what that means…..personalized awards!!!

                  Save Your Sanity! Tips for the Homeschooling Mom


                  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….

                  The first thing to keep in mind is that 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 and want the best for them. Be confident!

                  In addition to these tips, we’ve put together a packet of Homeschool Helps, including planners, graphic organizers, record logs, and templates to help you on your journey! 

                  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.

                  Learn about the different homeschooling styles so that it’s easier to search for relevant tips. You can learn about different homeschooling styles here.  And 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.

                  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)}

                  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.  At SchoolhouseTeachers, the Mama’s Corner has regular get-togethers to foster community!

                  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.  Remember your WHY.  Why did you start homeschooling?  What’s your ultimate goal here?  In A Parent’s Alphabet, we lay out several reasons, from A to Z, to help you refocus.

                  For high school students, 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. You can learn more about transcripts and requirements here.

                  A vision is so important and so grounding. I recommend mom finding a personal vision for school. The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hint, Teaching from Rest by Sarah MacKenzie, and certainly anything by Ruth Beechick.

                  Sometimes you just get a little bit down, or off-kilter.  When that happens, and it will, look to Words of Encouragement for New (or Weary) Moms.  You’ll find yourself bouncing back in no time!

                  Maybe you just have too many things going on at once.  We know…we’ve been there, too.  In Prioritizing Your Life, you’ll find a free downloadable e-book to help you sort things out, find more time in the day, and settle in a bit.

                  Every mom, homeschooling or otherwise, can use a bit of pampering in her life!  Like they say on the airplanes, if you don’t put your oxygen mask on, you can’t save someone else.  Or in this case…when mom’s burnt out and ready to give up, nothing is getting accomplished.  Find your zen in Pampering for the Homeschool Mom.

                  A schedule is your servant, not your master, but schedule is a wonderful tool to help you accomplish your homeschooling goals, and just because you have a plan for each day doesn’t mean each day will go according to schedule. You will have interruptions, accidents, spills, and people dropping in. But you can take control!  See how Flexible Scheduling Can Work for You.

                  The initial excitement of homeschooling is important. It helps plunge you into a whole new way of thinking and living. Over time, however, and as you progress, the excitement sometimes wanes and the demands of homeschooling can become overwhelming, exhausting, engulfing.  Remember to focus on Personal Wellness and Homeschooling for long-term success!

                  Homeschooling is a full time job. Act like it. Just because you don’t have to drive anywhere doesn’t mean you can’t have special school hours where nothing else gets scheduled. Guard your time you set aside, whenever that time is. All the other things can be scheduled around the few hours you need to get school time accomplished.  See how you can manage the Hardest Part of Homeschooling, when it’s not the kids.

                  You really can leave grade levels and school metrics behind, and build an interest-led, completely personalized homeschool experience for your children based in your unique family culture.  Finding a mentor, another homeschooling parent to talk to regularly, is a huge boost!  Need a hand up?  See 5 Homeschooling Mentors You Need to Follow.

                  When we fill our well up, we’re doing our family a favor. When we take care of ourselves, we have a better self to give. We are more present, we probably check our phones less often, and because our needs are met, we enjoy our time with our children. The time we give to ourselves matters and can help us to let go of any resentment and anger.  Pick up strategies for prioritizing at A Home School Mom’s Guide To Self-Care And Keeping Anger At Bay.

                  Whatever you are great at, whatever makes your heart happy, whatever your child/children do well with —do that first.  It may seem counterproductive to start with the one subject or thing that where you are actually on target or ahead when you feel like you are behind in everything else, but it usually results in more cooperative and happy kids.  See other things to try When Your Homeschool Moring Is Giving You The Blues.

                  Finally, don’t forget to fill up your tank!  Whether it’s with a cute shirt or kitschy homeschool gear, a treat that relaxes you and brings you joy, or simple inspiration, find something that speaks to you and remember the old adage — when mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy!


                  You’ll definitely want to check out…

                   homeschool coffee

                  Finding Your Groove — Homeschool Styles

                  When looking for curriculum, you’ll want to consider your homeschool style.  It may take a few years to settle down into the right fit for your family, and that’s completely normal.  

                  Not sure what your style is?  


                  Consider…

                  • What’s your teaching style?
                  • What are your goals?
                  • How do your kids learn best?
                  • What values do you want to instill in your children?
                  • What’s your lifestyle? Do you prefer routine or flexibility?

                  Within each of these homeschool styles, you have the flexibility to be creative and make your own student-directed classes.  Maybe your child is interested in becoming a veterinarian, but you can’t find a class for that…make your own!  You’ll need approximately 140 hours of work, hands on and academic, to count it as a full year.  Use this Create-Your-Own Class Planner to help you get started.

                  Download and print the Homeschool Curriculum Guide

                  Classical

                  Focusing on the trivium, the three stages of learning: grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric, this is a Socratic method that includes public speaking, memorization, and a full school day. The trivium stages match up with elementary, middle, and secondary school. This is a rigorous approach to schooling, but produces results.  Compass Classroom offers several great options for classical instruction, and you can try their sample resources for free.

                  Charlotte Mason

                  Developed by a 19th century educator who believed in reading ‘living books’ rather than ‘twaddle,’ this approach involves living learning. It revolves around reading aloud together as a family, and following child interests. Nature walks, art museums, fine arts studies, and living books are all a part of this approach, and there is a focus on instill good character habits.  One of our favorite Charlotte Mason providers is The Homeschool Garden.  (See more information, or just try them free.)

                  Unit Studies

                  This approach takes all of the subjects and integrates them 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).  Field trips and hand-on projects are frequently utilized. Units may be literature-based, and this is a great style for teaching multiple grades together.  Techie Homeschool Mom offers fantastic, online unit studies that also teach various technologies.  Try one free!

                  Unschooling

                  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, with a focus for teaching a love of learning and developing the ability to be self-educating. 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.

                  Waldorf

                  Similar to unschooling, this is a child-centered approach that focuses on nature, arts, crafts, music, and movement.  Much of schooling is done out in nature, and technology is not a big part of this curriculum.

                  Eclectic

                  The eclectic method is just a fancy way of saying ‘a combination of styles.’  This includes picking and choosing from the smorgasboard of different curriculum providers to meet your student’s various needs.  Literary Adventures for Kids is a beautifully-eclectic, online language arts program that your kids are sure to love!  Try their Psychology course for upper grades free here.

                  Textbooks

                  This is a fairly common style in the first few years of homeschooling, especially if you’ve pulled your children out of public school, to build confidence.  Don’t forget to do a bit of de-schooling before starting the semester!  Traditional schoolers focus on common standards and often complete a full day of classwork.

                  Stay-at-Home School

                  A lot of organizations don’t consider this to be “real” homeschooling since it’s being paid for and run by the government and someone else is doing all of the teaching.  For a small percentage of people, though, whether it be because of job commitments, life ‘events,’ or something else that is preventing them from being able to sit down and dedicate themselves fully to educating their children, institutions such as K12 and Epic really are the best fit.  It’s never my first recommendation, but still a valid option.


                  One of our favorite all-in-one resources for families is SchoolhouseTeachers.  It includes all classes, for all grades…and it’s one price for the entire family, whether you have two children or twelve.  There are many different learning styles to select from, so if you have one visual kid who needs a relaxed pace and one aural kid who needs a more stringent pace, there are classes that will fit them each.  With over 475 classes available, plus extras for mom and dad, this is my favorite resource to offer new families who are wanting to dip their toe into homeschooling but aren’t sure how to begin!


                  Want a little help getting started?  Download the free e-book, Getting Your Homeschool Off on the Right Foot!

                  When choosing a curriculum for your family, you’ll want to consider ‘intelligence’ and learning styles.  A Genius in Every Seat helps you work through determining these factors…
                  This e-book comes with a workbook component for surveying yourself and your students, along with suggestions for putting the results into practice.

                  Connecting World War I and World War II in History Lessons

                  world war resources

                  While WW1 did not directly cause WW2, many of its after-effects led to weakened European states who were weak, needed strong leadership, and opened the door for dictatorships. The consequences of the first world war indirectly led to the second.

                  End of World War I

                  On the morning of November 11, 1918, the French delegation witnessed the Germans signing the Armistice that would go into effect at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. It was exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the event that had set the ‘world’ part of the war into motion. The perceived humiliation and harsh terms of the subsequent Treaty of Versailles created a motive for Hitler and the leadership of the Third Reich to seek revenge. One of the terms of the treat was that Germany had to pay the equivalent of $124 million (in 2021 terms). Another term took sections of Germany and gave them to Czechoslovakia and Poland.

                  Dictators from the Depression

                  After the Treaty of Versailles was signed, the world plunged into a different kind of chaoes. Germany fell into economic troubles, but they weren’t the one country struggling. Russia and Italy also had difficulties recovering. History has shown us that, during times of chaos, people look to strong leaders who they hope will get the job of done so the country can recover. This was no exception. The political leaders who came to power during this period – Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini – were very powerful.

                  Though born in Austria, Hitler considered himself a German. He fought for Germany during WWI, being partially blinded and shot. After the war, he became a spy for the Social Democratic Party who spied on another German group, the German Workers Party. It was during this time that he became well known and began to get a following. Germans were struggling, financially, as they were required by the Treaty to pay back damages and reparations from WWI. Hitler began to speak out and lead protests. He was sentenced to jail at one point, where he wrote his autobiography, Mein Kampf. After release, he had even more followers and began his ascent to power.

                  Tsar Nikolas was overthrown in the Russian Revolution, at the end of WWI, by the Bolsheviks, a Communist party. In 1922, Russia and several other countries joined together to form the Soviet Union under Lenin’s leadership. In 1924, when Lenin passed, Stalin came to power. Stalin wanted to industrialize the Soviet Union to strengthen the economy. He introduced a plan called ‘collectivization,’ where the Soviets took land from individual owners, and gave it to the State (the government). The idea was to increase efficiency, store more food, use less labor (more machines), and send farmers to work in factories.

                  Mussolini is often seen as the founder of facsism, a fom of totalitarian government with a capitalist economy. Before he came to power, the Italian government was led by a king-appointed Prime Minister. Mussolini had a group of ‘blackshirts,’ people who went around stirring up trouble, beating up political opponents, and generally clearing the way for his rise to power. The king appointed Mussolini as PM in 1922 so that the blackshirts would stop the violence. (This is called ‘appeasement,’ and it’s not a good idea.) In 1925, Mussolini became a dictator, taking away freedoms and forcing loyalty.

                  Appeasement & the League of Nations

                  The precursor to the United Nations, the League of Nations was formed at the end of WWI to ensure world war never occurred again. Unfortunately, they were afraid to act against aggressive countries, for fear of starting another war. This was another form of appeasement (remember the king of Italy?). One of the earliest instances of appeasement was when Mussolini decided to invade and conquer Ethiopia in 1935…and the League of Nations did not act. Hitler then decided to try his hand at reconquering some lands.

                  Under the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was not to have a large army, but that was ignored as the German army swelled and the country also formed an Air Force and Navy. By the late 1930s, Hitler had begun to annex places like Austria and Sudetenland (part of Czechoslovakia that had been taken from Germany after WWI). The League of Nations did try to act at this point, and on September 30th, 1938 they created the Munich Pact, which allowed Germany to have Sudetenland, but would not allow them to go any further. This was another act of appeasement.

                  Post World War II

                  After World War II, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin created a new international security agency, the United Nations, with hope of preventing WWIII. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as new world super-powers at the end of WW2. They had been allies during the war, but mostly because they had a common enemy. These new super-powers had extremely different views about government and economics — one was capitalist and the other communist — and they had a lot of distrust of each other. This distrust led to nearly fifty years of a Cold War – a war without actual fighting, but with the continual threat of nuclear warfare. Both the Korean War and the Vietnam War were extensions of the Cold War.

                  World War I – Era Resources

                  Novel Studies & Printables

                  Videos

                  World War II Resources

                  Printables

                  Novel Studies

                  Field Trips

                  Videos

                  Audiobooks

                  Post World War II Resources

                  Novel Studies & Printables

                  Download the FREE World History Timeline with Study Connections!

                  37 Ways to Make Your Homeschool Delight-Directed!

                  student led schooling

                  What is Delight-Directed Homeschooling?

                  Delight-directed homeschooling can be a remedy for mid-winter burnout, but it can also be an all-the-time homeschooling style. It is a method of education that allows your children to explore what they love and work at a flexible pace, ebbing and flowing with each new bunny trail.

                  To those thinking along the lines of traditional schooling (ie, government schools), it may seem that the student isn’t really learning anything, but not only will your student be learning…they’ll be learning far more than you could have imagined! It’s about depth…not breadth. The topics can vary through the year, jumping around, or they can stay fairly focused.

                  Delight-directed schooling is very similar to the unit study method, but tends to go even deeper than a typical unit study. Let your student be the guide!

                  Learning through Literature

                  Literature studies are so much more FUN!  As an added bonus, because they incorporate knowledge through relating to a character and / or story, your students are apt to retain more once the year ends. 

                  What are living books, and how can you use them to make your homeschool shine? Get all the tips & tricks in Using Living Books to Homeschool.

                  Novel studies can be used to cover concepts from language arts and history to science and math.  It’s been our students’ preferred learning method for years, and we’ve created well over one hundred of them! Here are just a few of the odd topics that cropped up as a result of their delight-directed learning…

                  • Fever 1793 + Epidemics in World History
                  • Willa of the Wood + Basic Foraging
                  • Shouting at the Rain + Severe Weather
                  • Nick & Tesla + Nikola Tesla / Electricity
                  • The Golem & the Jinni + Kabbalah unit
                  • Charlie Hernandez + Hispanic Mythology
                  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham & Civil Rights
                  • My Side of the Mountain & Wilderness Survival
                  • Serafina and the Splintered Heart & Writing a Ghost Story
                  • Island of the Blue Dolphins & Introduction to Sailing
                  • Finding Langston & the Poetry of Langston Hughes
                  • Motel of the Mysteries & Archaeology
                  • Caroline’s Comet & Astronomy
                  • Writing Fantasy with the Hobbit
                  • Crime and Punishment & Free Will vs Determinism
                  • Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation & Albert Einstein

                  Audiobooks

                  Some students learn better through audio, rather than reading. Audiobooks are a fantastic way to incorporate literature unit studies, without taxing struggling readers to frustration. Which is not to say that you shouldn’t keep working on reading, but sometimes a work-around is in order…

                  Specialized Topics

                  When students are REALLY into a topic, they’ll even begin to educate you. You never know what you’re going to be learning each day as a homeschooling parent! These bundles help dive into some very specific interests…

                  In-depth Classes

                  The classes at Sparks Academy utilize literature, videos, and student interaction to study science, language arts, history, geography, character, writing, and literary concepts. This online co-op includes weekly student interaction in the private classroom forum. Learn more here.

                  Try-It-Out Deals

                  delight directed learning

                  38 Ways to Teach Writing (that are FUN!)

                  teaching writing

                  Writing is an integral part of the language arts classes taught at Sparks Academy. We offer four levels of instruction, each building upon the last, until students are ready to write in any form requested of them – whether at a career or college! But maybe you don’t want a full class….how can you make writing fun at home?

                  Literature Studies & Living Books

                  What are living books, and how can you use them to make your homeschool shine? Get all the tips & tricks in Using Living Books to Homeschool. Scroll down to snag pre-made bundles of novel studies!

                  Literature Units for Middle School

                  Virtual Classes
                  • My Side of the Mountain & Wilderness Survival
                  • Serafina and the Seven Stars & the Biltmore House
                  • Serafina and the Black Cloak & Appalachian Folklore
                  • Serafina and the Splintered Heart & Writing a Ghost Story
                  • The Call of the Wild
                  • Alex Rider & Spies
                  • Ranger’s Apprentice & Creative Writing
                  • Theodore Boone & Understanding the Legal System

                  Literature Units for High School

                  • Oliver Twist & the Industrial Revolution
                  • Crime and Punishment & Free Will vs Determinism
                  • The Things they Carried & the Vietnam War
                  • Five People You Meet in Heaven & Human Impact
                  • The Chosen & the Zionist Movement
                  • Things Fall Apart & the Colonization of Africa

                  Online Classes

                  Another fun option for teaching writing is through the language arts classes Sparks Academy! There are four levels offered currently, including High School 1, High School 2, High School 3, and Level 7. (The last one is for 7th/8th/9th grade, depending on your student’s skills.) This is an online co-op, with weekly student interaction in the private classroom forum. Learn more here.

                  Writing Projects & Activities

                  Writing Units

                  Writing Activities

                  Maybe you just need help with writing feedback for your student? We’ve got you covered!! Use the form specifically for the Good & Beautiful or any other curriculum.

                  writing styles pin

                  51 Ways to Teach World History with Literature

                  Trying to recreate public school at home, right down to the textbooks, is something new homeschoolers often do (especially those pulling students out of school).  Literature studies, however, are so much more FUN!  As an added bonus, because they incorporate knowledge through relating to a character and / or story, your students are apt to retain more once the year ends. 

                  world history

                  What are living books, and how can you use them to make your homeschool shine? Get all the tips & tricks in Using Living Books to Homeschool.

                  Novel studies can be used to cover concepts from language arts and history to science and math.  It’s been our students’ preferred learning method for years, and we’ve created well over one hundred of them! If you’re looking to teach World History through literature, here are 51 units to try….and don’t discount audiobooks, too! They’re a great addition to a busy homeschooling day!

                  Another fun option for teaching history is the World History class offered through Sparks Academy. This is an online co-op, with weekly student interaction in the private classroom forum. Learn more here.

                  world history pin
                  • Motel of the Mysteries & Archaeology
                  • Island Boy & Ancient Hawaii
                  • Encounter & the Tainos
                  • A Loyal Foe & Wars of the Roses
                  • Around the World in 80 Days & International Eats
                  • Number the Stars & the Holocaust
                  • To Kill a Mockingbird & Racism
                  • House of the Seven Gables & Witch Trials
                  • The Night Witches & Women in Aviation
                  • The Lookout Tree & the Great Acadian Upheaval
                  • Animal Farm & the Russian Revolution
                  • Breaking Stalin’s Nose & Josef Stalin
                  • King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table
                  • True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
                  • Flashback Four: Pompeii Disaster
                  • Someday We Will Fly
                  • Zlata’s Diary & the Slavic Wars
                  • Treasure Island & Pirates of the Caribbean Sea
                  • Farenheit 451 & Types of Government
                  • Red Stars & Russia in World War 2
                  • The Long List of Impossible Things & Post-War Germany
                  • A Tale of Two Cities & French Revolution
                  • The World Made New & Early Explorers
                  • Kane Chronicles + Egyptian Mythology
                  • Percy Jackson + Greek Mythology
                  • Heroes of Olympus + Roman Mythology
                  • Magnus Chase + Norse Mythology
                  • Midsummer Night’s Dream + Celtic Mythology
                  • The Golden Bull + Mesopotamian Mythology
                  • Call It Courage + Polynesian Mythology
                  • Mansa Musa + African Mythology
                  • Tristan Strong + African-American Mythology
                  • Charlie Hernandez + Hispanic Mythology
                  • Aru Shah + Hindu Mythology
                  • The Storm Runner + Mayan Mythology
                  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon + Chinese Mythology
                  • The Dragon Pearl + Korean Mythology
                  • Coyote’s Daughter + Native American Mythology
                  • Race to the Sun + Navajo Mythology
                  • We Were There with Byrd at the South Pole
                  • We Were There at the Normandy Invasion
                  • We Were There at the Battle for Bataan
                  • We Were There with Richard the Lionhearted in the Crusades
                  • We Were There with Florence Nightingale in the Crimea
                  • We Were There at the Battle of Britain
                  • We Were There with Cortes and Montezuma
                  • We Were There with Caesar’s Legions
                  • We Were There with Charles Darwin on H.M.S. Beagle
                  • We Were There with the Lafayette Escadrille
                  • We Were There at the Battle of the Bulge
                  • We Were There on the Nautilus
                  • The King’s Fifth
                  • Red Falcons of Tremoine
                  • Golden Hawks of Genghis Khan
                  • Red Hugh of Ireland
                  • Calico Captive
                  • The Story of Eli Whitney
                  • Island of the Blue Dolphins
                  • The Lost Kingdom
                  • The Secret Garden
                  • Heidi
                  • Girl of the Limberlost
                  • The Winged Watchman
                  • When the Dikes Broke

                  Charlotte Mason History

                  If you’re more of a simply-Charlotte-Mason style family, check out the Homeschool Garden sessions. These easy to implement sessions are planned out and ready for you to place in your schedule wherever it fits best.  I could spend several hours trying to dig up resources, but they have already done the work for me (and really, who has that kind of time anymore?).  They have a variety of subject sessions, plus five different Advent studies, and you’re sure to find a few that intrigue your family.  One of the best parts about these units is that everything is included – there are no other purchases required. See inside a sample session here.

                  Want to give it a go? Use code FRIENDSANDFAMILY to take 50% off any one session (not bundles) at The Homeschool Garden.  Where it asks, be sure to tell them Yvie sent ya!  😊

                  You can find all of the above novel studies in the five unit bundles below! (Sample units are in blue.) Enjoy the journey, and remember….DO THE VOICES!!!

                  45 Ways to Teach US History & Geography with Literature

                  Trying to recreate public school at home, right down to the textbooks, is something new homeschoolers often do (especially those pulling students out of school).  Literature studies, however, are so much more FUN!  As an added bonus, because they incorporate knowledge through relating to a character and / or story, your students are apt to retain more once the year ends. 

                  What are living books, and how can you use them to make your homeschool shine? Get all the tips & tricks in Using Living Books to Homeschool.

                  us history

                  Novel studies can be used to cover concepts from language arts and history to science and math.  It’s been our students’ preferred learning method for years, and we’ve created well over one hundred of them! If you’re looking to teach American History and Geography through literature, here are 45 units to try….and don’t discount audiobooks, too! They’re a great addition to a busy homeschooling day!

                  Another fun option for teaching history are the US History and Government/Constitution classes at Sparks Academy! This is an online co-op, with weekly student interaction in the private classroom forum. Learn more here.

                  american history pin
                  • Casualties of War & Vietnam War
                  • No Promises in the Wind & the Great Depression
                  • Out of the Dust & the Dust Bowl
                  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham & Civil Rights
                  • Dusty Sourdough & Alaska
                  • The King of Mulberry Street & Ellis Island Immigration
                  • Paper Son & Angel Island Immigration
                  • The Red Menace & McCarthyism
                  • Johnny Tremain & Faces of the American Revolution
                  • Sounder & Sharecropping
                  • World War II Code Talkers
                  • Flashback Four: Hamilton-Burr Duel
                  • Within These Lines & Japanese Internment Camps
                  • Flashback Four: Titanic Mission
                  • Flashback Four: Lincoln Project
                  • Freedom Summer & the Summer of 1964
                  • Farenheit 451 & Types of Government
                  • The Great Gatsby & the Roaring Twenties
                  • Witch of Blackbird Pond & Salem Witch Trials
                  • The World Made New & Early Explorers
                  • Stitching a Life & Jewish Immigration
                  • We Were There on the Oregon Trail
                  • We Were There at the Battle of Gettysburg
                  • We Were There at the Boston Tea Party
                  • We Were There in the Klondike Gold Rush
                  • We Were There with the Mayflower Pilgrims
                  • We Were There with the Pony Express
                  • We Were There with the California Forty-Niners
                  • We Were There with Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys
                  • We Were There with Jean Lafitte at New Orleans
                  • We Were There at the Oklahoma Land Run
                  • We Were There on the Chisholm Trail
                  • We Were There at Pearl Harbor
                  • We Were There when Washington Won at Yorktown
                  • We Were There at the Battle of the Alamo
                  • We Were There at the Opening of the Erie Canal
                  • We Were There at the Battle of Lexington and Concord
                  • We Were There with Lewis and Clark
                  • We Were There when Grant Met Lee at Appomattox
                  • We Were There with the California Rancheros
                  • We Were There at the First Airplane Flight
                  • We Were There on the Santa Fe Trail
                  • We Were There at the Driving of the Golden Spike
                  • We Were There at the Opening of the Atomic Era
                  • We Were There on the Nautilus
                  • We Were There with Lincoln in the White House

                  You can find all of these in the three unit bundles below! (Sample units are in blue.) Enjoy the journey, and remember….DO THE VOICES!!!

                  18 Ways to Teach Science through Literature

                  science nature homeschool

                  Trying to recreate public school at home, right down to the textbooks, is something new homeschoolers often do (especially those pulling students out of school).  Literature studies, however, are so much more FUN!  As an added bonus, because they incorporate knowledge through relating to a character and / or story, your students are apt to retain more once the year ends. 

                  What are living books, and how can you use them to make your homeschool shine? Get all the tips & tricks in Using Living Books to Homeschool.

                  Novel studies can be used to cover concepts from language arts and history to science and math.  It’s been our students’ preferred learning method for years, and we’ve created well over one hundred of them! If you’re looking to teach science through literature, here are 18 units to try….

                  science literature pin
                  • Fever 1793 + Epidemics in World History
                  • Willa of the Wood + Basic Foraging
                  • Shouting at the Rain + Severe Weather
                  • Nick & Tesla + Nikola Tesla / Electricity
                  • N&T Robot Army Rampage + Introductory Robotics
                  • N&T Secret Agent Gadget Battle + Spy Gadgets
                  • N&T Super Cyborg Gadget Glove + Robotics
                  • N&T Special Effects Spectacular + Making Special Effects
                  • N&T Solar Powered Showdown + Solar Energy
                  • Misty of Chincoteague & Horses
                  • Hugo Cabret & Clocks / Time
                  • Caroline’s Comet & Astronomy
                  • Fuzzy Mud & Microbiology
                  • Hatchet & Outdoor Skills
                  • Legacy of Flight & Airplanes / Flight
                  • The Science of Breakable Things & the Scientific Method
                  • Frankenstein & Human Anatomy
                  • Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation & Albert Einstein

                  Another fun option for teaching science is the Physical Science class offered through Sparks Academy! This is an online co-op, with weekly student interaction in the private classroom forum. Learn more here.

                  It’s Time for Holiday Homeschool! {18+ Tips & Unit Studies}

                  holiday homeschool ideas

                  The holidays are a time for creating moments with the family.  Many homeschooling parents choose to take the entire month of December off to participate in holiday events, including the Sparks Academy co-op, but there is a way to incorporate holidays into those school days, and there are many Christmas & Chanukah resources for your holiday homeschool.

                  Even if you live in a state with strict requirements on hours and subjects, there are ways to be creative!  Cooking is home economics; shopping is budgeting and math; writing cards is language arts.  Kids in public schools are spending most of the month of December – particularly in elementary grades – doing arts and crafts, and there’s no reason you can’t, too.

                  Classified by age group, pick and choose from these resources to create a #HolidayHomeschool plan that’s just right for your family!

                  Chanukah Resources

                  Chanukah homeschool resources
                  • History of Hannukah (elementary / middle)
                    • Learn the history of Chanukah, how it relates to Alexander the Great, and how to play the Dreidel game in this holiday-themed unit.
                  • All About Chanukah (family)
                    • Each of the ten unit studies in this year-long bundle centers around a book for middle school level and includes videos, cooking projects, hands-on activities, writing assignments, and more.  There are also resources for younger children in eight of the ten units.
                  • TalkBox.Mom Chanukah story (family) – This free Hebrew printable also has an English translation and comes with an audio download to assist in pronunciation.   {Bonus:   Get $20 off your first TalkBox! Use coupon: holly20}

                  Christmas Resources

                  elementary homeschool christmas resources

                  Elementary

                  • 12 Days of Christmas School
                    • Press pause on all the traditional curriculum for an easy to implement and fun Christmas curriculum for homeschoolers! The 12 Days of Christmas curriculum includes: Language Arts, Science, Nature Study, Math, Art, Music, and World Cultures. With over 12 days of lessons, this is the perfect curriculum for those crazy days between the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Give your elementary student a full curriculum for the holidays!
                  • Budgeting for Christmas
                    • Using catalogs, mailers, flyers, gift books that you collect, students can create shopping lists and budgets for a holiday gift giving.
                  • Candy Cane Unit
                    • This 23-page unit study includes the history of the candy cane, candy cane puzzles (Math), a candy cane STEM challenge, and funny candy cane mad libs (grammar). You’ll also watch how candy canes are made (both by hand and in a factory), conduct your own candy cane experiment, and finish it all off with a fun treat.
                  • Christmas Around the World
                    • Your family will love studying world cultures and geography this season with this Christmas Around the World unit! This print-and-go resource will transport your family around the globe to study 7 countries. Kids will use the critical thinking skills of comparing and contrasting as they study what makes each culture unique. And the best part is that all the facts are included- no need to waste hours searching for resources and doing research. Enjoy celebrating Christmas Around the World with your kids this season!
                  • {Techie} Christmas Around the World
                    • Learn about 10 countries and their Christmas traditions, create hands-on and digital projects, and prepare an ethnic Christmas feast!
                  • Christmas Science Projects
                    • This downloadable PDF includes 4 science projects in the fields of chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering. Each experiment ties in with a popular children’s Christmas picture book. Complete supply lists and step by step directions make it easy to complete the projects. Each project includes a printable observation chart to help kids make observations, collect data, and record their experiment results. Each experiment also includes a brief explanation of some of the science concepts that kids will be learning about. Bonus extension activities are included for 2 of the experiments.
                  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
                    • Let’s read the book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Then let’s go on rabbit trails of discovery about Christmas, Mistletoe, Santa Claus and more! We will toss some magic dust in the air and jump into the book with hands-on adventures. And when we’ve finished the book, let’s throw a party and celebrate like the Whos in Who-ville!
                  • {LIVE} How the Grinch Stole Christmas:  Part I & Part 2
                    • Jon Miller, Instructor of Humanities at the North Carolina School of Science and Math, has been reading ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ to the delight of students and alumni (and their children) for over 25 years.
                  • NORAD Santa Tracker
                    • NORAD has done a great job with video shorts that introduce your children to landmarks and Christmas traditions from around the world! In the Village, kids can play games, build gifts, code Santa’s computer, and more!  
                  • Schoolhouse Teachers Christmas Corner
                    • During the month of December, there are TONS of great resources for you to cover every subject with Christmas-schooling.  (They have these for several other holidays, as well.)  Resources are available for all ages.

                  Middle

                  • A Christmas Carol
                    • In this course, A Christmas Carol Online Book Club for Middle School, we will read through the book A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. As we are reading, we will go on rabbit trails of discovery into history, science, art, and more. We will find ways to learn by experiencing parts of the book through hands-on activities. At the conclusion of the story, we will have a party school to celebrate this classic Christmas story. This online literary guide has everything you need to study the book. This course includes vocabulary, grammar, rabbit trails, and a writing project. It is perfect for advanced elementary or middle school level literature.
                  • Have Yourself a Little Latin Christmas
                    • Get into the holiday spirit while continuing Latin studies with these 22 pages of games, activities, and history!  Includes: Crafts, Caroling, Reading, Games, and Puzzles.
                  • Budgeting for Christmas
                    • Using catalogs, mailers, flyers, gift books that you collect, students can create shopping lists and budgets for a holiday gift giving.
                  • {Techie} Christmas Around the World
                    • Learn about 10 countries and their Christmas traditions, create hands-on and digital projects, and prepare an ethnic Christmas feast!
                  • Christmas Science Projects
                    • This downloadable PDF includes 4 science projects in the fields of chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering. Each experiment ties in with a popular children’s Christmas picture book. Complete supply lists and step by step directions make it easy to complete the projects. Each project includes a printable observation chart to help kids make observations, collect data, and record their experiment results. Each experiment also includes a brief explanation of some of the science concepts that kids will be learning about. Bonus extension activities are included for 2 of the experiments.
                  • Home for the Holidays
                    • Homeschool through the holidays with this holiday bundle that includes three full-length history-based holiday unit studies plus several extra crafts and activities!  Full length units include: 1940s Christmas, Victorian Age Christmas, and Christmas in England.
                  • Schoolhouse Teachers Christmas Corner
                    • During the month of December, there are TONS of great resources for you to cover every subject with Christmas-schooling.  (They have these for several other holidays, as well.)  Resources are available for all ages.
                  • Symmetry Snowflakes
                    • If you’re looking for a way to decorate for the holidays while also proudly declaring your love of science, here are templates for paper snowflakes with winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics incorporated into the designs.
                  • Winter Wonderland: Mixed Media Workshop
                    • Includes 20 full-length, step-by-step video art lessons. Each unique art piece reflects a different aspect of winter – Christmas, snowy winter scenes, winter flowers, winter poetry and even a few delicious holiday recipes! And for the holiday season, we’ll be including easy and beautiful handmade gifts to give, ideas for Christmas cards, and simple homemade Christmas decorations and ornaments to create. In this workshop, we explore and experiment with various art forms including: sketching, acrylic painting, watercoloring, collage art, sculpting, hand lettering, art journaling, and MORE!
                  • Joy to the World Ornaments
                    • ‘Tis the season to gather the kids and the art supplies! We’ve got a super easy Joy to the World Christmas ornament craft to help you kick off the Christmas season with some creativity!
                  • LiterARTure Christmas Carol
                    • In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts who help him see a better way of life while teaching him the meaning of Christmas. In this lesson, we will create an old fashioned Christmas wreath in front of a frosty window.
                  • A Nutcracker Christmas
                    • The Nutcracker Ballet tells the story of young Clara Stahlbaum, who receives a Nutcracker on Christmas Eve. Later that night, the Nutcracker comes to life and battles the great Mouse King, which leads him and Clara on a fantastical journey. In this course, we create five pieces inspired by the Nutcracker ballet in a colorful, crazy, abstract style: the Nutcracker, a Christmas Tree, the Mouse King, the Grandmother Clock, and of course, the Sugar Plum Fairy.

                  high school homeschool christmas resources

                  High

                  • A Christmas Carol
                    • In this course, A Christmas Carol Online Book Club for Teens, we will read through the book A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. As we are reading, we will go on rabbit trails of discovery into history, science, art, and more. We will find ways to learn by experiencing parts of the book through hands-on activities. At the conclusion of the story, we will have a party school to celebrate this classic Christmas story. This online literary guide has everything you need to study the book. This course includes vocabulary, grammar, discussion questions, rabbit trails, and a writing project. It is perfect for high school level literature.
                  • Have Yourself a Little Latin Christmas
                    • Get into the holiday spirit while continuing Latin studies with these 22 pages of games, activities, and history!  Includes: Crafts, Caroling, Reading, Games, and Puzzles.
                  • Advent Calendar Project
                    • Art meets home economics when your high schoolers create a personalized advent calendar for the entire family to enjoy year after year!
                  • Home for the Holidays
                    • Homeschool through the holidays with this holiday bundle that includes three full-length history-based holiday unit studies plus several extra crafts and activities!  Full length units include: 1940s Christmas, Victorian Age Christmas, and Christmas in England.
                  • Schoolhouse Teachers Christmas Corner
                    • During the month of December, there are TONS of great resources for you to cover every subject with Christmas-schooling.  (They have these for several other holidays, as well.)  Resources are available for all ages.
                  • Symmetry Snowflakes
                    • If you’re looking for a way to decorate for the holidays while also proudly declaring your love of science, here are templates for paper snowflakes with winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics incorporated into the designs.
                  • Winter Wonderland: Mixed Media Workshop
                    • Includes 20 full-length, step-by-step video art lessons. Each unique art piece reflects a different aspect of winter – Christmas, snowy winter scenes, winter flowers, winter poetry and even a few delicious holiday recipes! And for the holiday season, we’ll be including easy and beautiful handmade gifts to give, ideas for Christmas cards, and simple homemade Christmas decorations and ornaments to create. In this workshop, we explore and experiment with various art forms including: sketching, acrylic painting, watercoloring, collage art, sculpting, hand lettering, art journaling, and MORE!
                  • LiterARTure Christmas Carol
                    • In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts who help him see a better way of life while teaching him the meaning of Christmas. In this lesson, we will create an old fashioned Christmas wreath in front of a frosty window.
                  • A Nutcracker Christmas
                    • The Nutcracker Ballet tells the story of young Clara Stahlbaum, who receives a Nutcracker on Christmas Eve. Later that night, the Nutcracker comes to life and battles the great Mouse King, which leads him and Clara on a fantastical journey. In this course, we create five pieces inspired by the Nutcracker ballet in a colorful, crazy, abstract style: the Nutcracker, a Christmas Tree, the Mouse King, the Grandmother Clock, and of course, the Sugar Plum Fairy.
                  family style homeschool christmas resources

                  Family-Style

                  • Christmas Around the World
                    • Eighteen countries (not including the United States) are addressed in the e-book.  It also includes a recommended reading and activities list, cultural movies, and Christmas music from around the world.
                  • Friday Boxes
                    • Give the gift of gratitude for Christmas and the New Year to follow!
                  • History of the Holidays
                    • This includes eight holidays, and each unit has introductory text, which will give the student the holiday’s history and customs. After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students. You will also find a short list of reading books and fun hands-on activities!
                  • Spanish-English Christmas Carols
                    • Celebrate Christmas and practice your Spanish foreign language simultaneously! This 14 Christmas carols are beautifully printed in both Spanish and English – to help with language learning and for your caroling pleasure.
                  • TalkBox.Mom Christmas stories
                    • Available in seven different languages, these free downloads have English translations and also come with audio to help you with pronunciation!

                  Keep in mind: 

                  • Flexibility is good, but try to keep some semblance of a schedule.  This will make it easier when you go back to ‘regular’ school in January.
                  • Time spent reading together as a family is never time lost.

                  Looking for something? Check the Gift Guides for Families

                  How to Begin Homeschooling in Oklahoma

                  Oklahoma is considered to be loosely regulated in terms of homeschool laws.  Oklahoma law does not require parents to register with or seek approval from state or local officials, conduct state testing with their students, or permit public school officials to visit or inspect homes.  

                  beginning to homeschool
                  • If you want to start homeschooling and your child is not yet enrolled, you do not need to do anything. 
                  • If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, you need to formally withdraw your child from that school.
                  • If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered enrolled for the following year, you should withdraw your child before the next school year begins, so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant. 
                  • Some schools may have you sign a form that releases them from the responsibility of educating the student and also stating that you are assuming full responsibility for the education of your child.

                  The compulsory age to begin school is five, so children between the ages of 5 and 18 years old must attend school or comply with the homeschool laws.  The state law says homeschoolers should school at least 180 days per calendar year, with at least six hours per day.

                  As an Oklahoma home educator, you have the freedom to choose the subjects, curricula, and educational methods that will guide your homeschool plans.  Required school subjects under Oklahoma law include: reading, writing, math, science, citizenship, Oklahoma history, United States constitution, health, safety, physical education, and conservation.

                  While you do not have to be a certified teacher to homeschool, the instruction provided must be supplied in good faith and must be equivalent to the education provided by the state.  Although not required by law, it is recommended that academic progress be recorded via attendance records, information on textbooks used, samples of schoolwork, portfolios, and test results.

                  If you are uncomfortable or unprepared to do the leg work to teach a particular subject, consider outsourcing it. This is particularly true for upper grades and advanced level work.

                  Schools are not required to furnish textbooks, resources, or other materials to home schooled students.  They are also not required to allow student to participate in extracurricular activities.  Homeschooled students are also not eligible to receive special education services from the school district.

                  Finally, homeschooled students are required to take a standardized test upon re-entry to the public school system to determine grade placement and / or course credits. However, the requirements are extremely stringent, and most public school officials will tell you that, if you intend to send the student to public high school, they should begin as a freshman. There have been many instances of students having to start their high school career anew as a freshman, so plan accordingly if at all possible.

                  For more information, visit the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.

                  Frequently Asked Questions About Sparks Academy

                  frequently asked questions

                  FAQ Answers

                  What’s a blended class?

                  So glad you asked!  These are classes hosted online that include textbook and video elements, discussion feeds with peers, and live, virtual meetings.  Each week, the students are interacting through facilitated discussion in a private forum.  Rather than labeling these live classes, we have labeled them blended because we will not be meeting live every single week.  

                  How and when will the class meet?
                  Each class has its own class join code in Canvas. Classes “meet” weekly via shared assignments and moderated discussion during the school year (August 14, 2023 – May 4, 2024 for the ’23-’24 school year). Most classes are pre-recorded with community discussion and group chats. Periodically we have live class meetings. These are on the syllabus for your student to plan ahead. If you are unable to attend a live class, it will be recorded for later playback. Self-paced coursework will be assigned between classes. Scheduled classes are posted in Central Standard Time.

                  What it my student is absent?
                  Since the coursework is assigned on a weekly basis, students have the flexibility to complete it on their own schedules. If your student will absent for an extended period of time, or you are predicting an act of nature (eg, hurricane at your home), please contact us so we can make arrangements. If a family emergency arises, please do the same. We understand that life happens occasionally.

                  I don’t think I quite understand how a pre-recorded class works with group discussion? If it isn’t live, how do they get to interact with the instructor and each other?

                  • That’s a good question, and one our test group grappled with, but currently what it looks like is: periodic live classes (once per quarter), discussion threads, peer reviews, and digital interaction through the platform with face-to-face interaction in those live classes (which will be recorded for any students who miss attending). Some of the classes also contain a group project component, where they will be working together, virtually.
                  • Our original plan had been to stream every class live as live interactive, but the internet capability where we live simply isn’t up to the task. And I’m not moving just for streaming. 🙂 However, we are able to secure a place up in the city every so often to hijack their net for those live streaming classes.

                  What technology will we need?
                  Required technology: Digital notebook (Google Docs or One Drive), internet access, Canvas (you will be sent access instructions), and the ability to use camera & microphone during class discussions

                  Who is teaching these classes?
                  History and language arts classes are taught primarily by Yvie Field, a homeschool mom with close to twenty years of educational experience (both homeschool and classroom), as well as some adjunct appearances by parental figures who are retired teachers, particularly in high school language arts. Science classes are taught by a former teacher and a teaching assistant. We may bring other, experienced and vetted, teachers on board, as well as guest speakers who are experts in their field and / or bring a unique perspective on the material. As the academy expands, we are looking to add licensed teachers for our science and math classes.

                  Where can I see a sample class?
                  Currently, there is a Language Arts 1, a Physical Science class, a Chemistry class, and an American History class for sample on the Academy page.

                  What if my student has questions?
                  Within our online platform, Canvas, there is an email icon which will allow your student to directly contact the teacher with any questions.

                  How do you ensure students’ privacy?
                  None of our students’ personal information is revealed in the online classroom. Students log in using a screen name. They do not provide last names or any contact information in the online classroom. Only teachers can see any personal information about each student.​ Work assignments are submitted via email and will only be shared with student permission for educational purposes. Teachers are not responsible for archiving data, so be sure to keep a copy of your work. Sparks Academy uses security protocols, but is not liable for data breaches or lost data.

                  Do I have to buy the curriculum, or will it be provided?
                  All co-op members are required to purchase the PDF or physical copy of each course that they are participating in. (Purchases are verified. There are a few different options for verification.) In most cases, you will only need the student textbook. This information is provided in the course description. The student texts for Economics and Energy Science come as part of the enrollment fee.

                  Grading
                  All students receive a grade based on projects, quizzes, journals, and class participation.

                  Why is it called Sparks Academy?

                  Our oldest son is a blacksmith, and also a fan of word play. When we were hanging out in his shop one afternoon, watching him work (and making sparks), it just developed. Then he came up with the slogan, and the rest is history…

                  What if I just want someone to help with writing assessment, but don’t need an entire class?

                  We offer writing assessment and feedback packages for The Good & the Beautiful Levels 6, 7, and High School. If you are using any writing curriculum other than TGTB, please purchase the high school level.

                  If you usually use The Good & the Beautiful, why did you choose Notgrass for history?

                  TGTB is currently revamping their entire history program. Once they release it, we will examine the changes to see if it is still a good fit. In the meantime, Notgrass is an amazingly comprehensive program that will prepare your high schooler for further academic challenges! There is still a possibility that we will offer both Notgrass and TGTB history options for you to select from in the future, but we simply cannot say for sure right now.

                  What if my student just needs assistance with focusing on college prep?

                  One of our new classes is College: Applications & Essays, but if you’re more of the DIY type, you can pick up all the information in one easy download, here!

                  Behind the Scenes at Sparks Academy…

                  The new year is always exciting, but for us 2021 was a time of looking forward to this new endeavor!
                  January kicked off our recording sessions
                  In February, writing options were created for parents who just need writing assistance.
                  Finally, the skeleton was rolled out for six classes, and our test group began to work their way through the system, noting kinks and places for improvement so we can bring you the best experience!
                  Our February poll showed just how many people were craving quality teacher-led programs in high school science and math!
                  With folks expressing interest in science, we decided to share the lesson plans we developed for our own children.
                  March showed that recording was happening, but slowly. Technological quirks made for a steep learning curve!
                  Some folks wanted to know what a class looked like…so before there were sample classes, there was a peek inside the ‘making of a class.’ Students can find citations and links for every class in the lecture video.
                  ….and then those sample classes went up! You can find them at the Sparks Academy tab.

                  We’re glad you’re here and hope to see you in class soon. Have a wonderful day!

                  Essential Reading List for High School Girls

                  After polling several homeschooling families on what they thought was the one must-read book for high school girls, we’ve put together a list of thirty-two books that all girls should read in middle and high school.   They include old classics and new favorites, and have lots of character-building lessons, too! Parents should always preview books first….many of these are only appropriate at the high school level.

                  Charlotte Bronte

                  Jane Eyre

                  L.M. Montgomery

                  Anne of Green Gables series

                  Pam Munoz Ryan

                  Riding Freedom

                  Jerry Spinelli

                  Stargirl

                  Gene Stratton-Porter

                  A Girl of the Limberlost

                  Julie Berry

                  Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

                  Audrey & Jeremy Rolloff

                  A Love Letter Life

                  Margaret Mitchell

                  Gone With the Wind

                  Jane Austen

                  Pride & Prejudice

                  Robin Jones Gunn

                  Christy Miller series

                  Corrie ten Boom

                  The Hiding Place

                  Bruce Wilkinson

                  The Dream Giver

                  Harper Lee

                  To Kill a Mockingbird

                  Nathaniel Hawthorne

                  The Scarlet Letter

                  Margaret Atwood

                  The Handmaid’s Tale

                  Louisa May Alcott

                  Rose in Bloom

                  Thomas Hardy

                  Tess of the D’Urbervilles

                  Maud Hart Lovelace

                  Emily of Deep Valley

                  Nancy Demoss Wolgemouth

                  Lies Young Women Believe

                  Brené Brown

                  Daring Greatly

                  George Orwell

                  1984

                  Louisa May Alcott

                  Little Women series

                  Mabel Hale

                  Beautiful Girlhood

                  Viktor Frankl

                  Man’s Search for Meaning

                  Robert T. Kiyosaki

                  Rich Dad, Poor Dad

                  Emily Bronte

                  Wuthering Heights

                  Henry Cloud

                  Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life

                  Og Mandino

                  The Greatest Salesman in the World

                  Clarissa Pinkola Estes

                  Women Who Run with the Wolves

                  Mary Pipher

                  Reviving Ophelia

                  Jordan Christy

                  Dave Ramsey

                  How to be a Hepburn in a Kardashian World: the Art of Living with Style, Class, and Grace

                  Total Money Makeover

                  Download your Essential Reading List here!

                  For more literature resources, check out SchoolhouseTeachers! It includes all classes, for all grades…and it’s one price for the entire family. There are many different learning styles to select from, so if you have one visual kid who needs a relaxed pace and one aural kid who needs a more stringent pace, there are classes that will fit them each. With over 475 classes available, plus extras for mom and dad, this is my favorite resource to offer new families wanting to dip their toe into homeschooling! You may also like…

                  Essential Reading List for High School Boys

                  Boys tend to fall staunchly into the ‘reader’ or ‘non-reader’ category.  Sometimes it just takes a little push toward more action-packed, exciting, adventure-filled stories to move them from one category to the other!  We’ve put together a list of thirty-two books that all boys should read in middle and high school.   Not only are they full of adventure (which they’ll love), but they have lots of character-building lessons, too! Parents should always preview books first….many of these are only appropriate at the high school level.

                  Rudyard KiplingJust So Stories
                  L. Frank BaumThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz
                  Robert WestallThe Machine Gunners
                  Madeleine L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time
                  Theordore TaylorThe Cay
                  Jack LondonCall of the Wild
                  S.E. HintonThe Outsiders
                  William GoldingLord of the Flies
                  Mary StewardThe Crystal Cave
                  Robert HeinleinStranger in a Strange Land
                  Mark TwainAdventures of Tom Sawyer
                  HomerThe Odyssey
                  Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird
                  John KnowlesA Separate Peace
                  Erich Maria RemarqueAll Quiet on the Western Front
                  Thor HyerdahlKon-Tiki
                  Claude BrownManchild in the Promised Land
                  Michael ShaaraThe Killer Angels
                  F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Great Gatsby
                  Earnest HemingwayThe Sun Also Rises
                  George Orwell1984
                  Ken KeseyOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
                  Woody GuthrieBound for Glory
                  Gary PaulsenHatchet
                  Patrick O’BrianMaster and Commander
                  Robert Penn WarrenAll the King’s Men
                  E.M. ForsterA Passage to India
                  Fyodor DostoevskyThe Brothers Karamazov
                  Richard  YatesRevolutionary Road
                  James CainThe Postman Always Rings Twice
                  Sebastian JungerThe Perfect Storm

                  Download your Essential Reading List here!

                  For more literature resources, check out SchoolhouseTeachers! It includes all classes, for all grades…and it’s one price for the entire family. There are many different learning styles to select from, so if you have one visual kid who needs a relaxed pace and one aural kid who needs a more stringent pace, there are classes that will fit them each. With over 475 classes available, plus extras for mom and dad, this is my favorite resource to offer new families wanting to dip their toe into homeschooling! 

                  You may also like…

                  Must-Have Supplies for Homeschooling Moms!

                  This is sure to be the most-unusual back-to-school season in our lives…  How will it work?  Where will we school (for those families who outsource some or all of the school day)?  What will we need?  Will masks be a school day requirement?

                  Seasoned homeschool moms will attest to this list. We welcome new homeschool moms into our fold…..no denim jumper required! Here are fourteen must-have supplies for moms homeschooling middle and high school…

                  Food / snacks

                  The number one most-under-projected purchase is the amount of food you’ll need to keep on hand for any one day of school. These are teens…and they’re home ALL DAY….and don’t forget about Second Breakfast!

                  Library Card

                  Each December, our library spits out a little piece of paper showing us how much we’ve saved that year by using the library instead of purchasing the items we checked out. Without fail, that number has been over $25K every year! And it’s only grown as the kids have gotten older and their materials have gotten pricier. That’s not to say we don’t buy curriculum, because we definitely do, but those subject-specific books (like “The Real Fighting Stuff“) can be really expensive…thank heavens for the library!

                  3 hole punch

                  One of the most underappreciated members of the secretarial lot, the 3-hole punch allows you to take a chaotic mess of papers and organize them into binders. There is not beauty in the chaos when you have three kids’ papers scattered all over the kitchen….punch them, put them in binders, and put them on the shelf until you need grades.

                  Coffee / wine

                  Whether it’s 6 am or 6 pm, one of these is always going to be appropriate. Which end of the day you choose to put them is entirely up to you…. Just don’t let your stock dwindle. That could be a bad day.

                  Shortcut to ST on desktop

                  We can’t say enough about SchoolhouseTeachers, which basically lets you sign the kids on and then teaches them all their classes. Video-based, downloadable, interactive…pick your poison. Each student’s desktop needs a shortcut directly to their SchoolhouseTeachers dashboard so you can turn over the algebra headache instruction… What is ST?

                  Favorite chocolate hidden in a tampon box

                  You made cookies and didn’t get any. You bought your favorite candy and only found empty wrappers. We’ve been there. Solution? Get your favorite chocolate, and hide it in an empty tampon box! No one will steal it now…

                  Stapler

                  This one seems like an easy oversight, but every home office needs a stapler. ‘Nuff said.

                  Desktop / laptop

                  Whether you choose cumbersome or portable – and they each have their benefits – it’s good to have an actual computer on hand, rather than just tablets and cell phones. There are so many things that require all the functions of an honest-to-pete computer, both online and offline.

                  Printer & ink

                  Did you buy digital curriculum? What about that nifty five-page freebie you just had to have? Are you really going to pay someone to print out eight pages of flashcards for you?

                  Computer paper

                  See above. Seriously… Must. Have.

                  Sense of humor

                  None of us got out of high school unscathed…so why would we think we can get out of teaching high school unscathed? Some days are going to be better than others. Pull on your big girl panties, try to keep it light, and remember what Annie said…. ‘You’re never fully dressed without a smile!

                  Quiet place / lock on bathroom door

                  Hmmm. Those days when our toddlers would just barge into the bathroom? They’re not gone. The kids just stand behind the door now talking to you. I like to keep the tap running…for an hour…so that I can’t hear them…while I read quietly in the bathroom.

                  Laminator

                  Everyone thinks they don’t need a laminator. Until they do. And you do. Need one. That is if you don’t already have one. Flashcards, printable games, and dry-erase worksheets are all vastly improved and gain an extended life with a laminator. We also like to make booklets, like the Memorization Book, which will last kid after kid after kid…

                  Plan / goals

                  Um, yeah. Your kid is in high school. Which means that s/he is about to leave the nest (hopefully). Do y’all have a plan? College, votech, career? This is the time to make goals and help your student move ever closer to the edge of the nest…get those wings ready!

                  Dry Erase Pouches

                  Not just for elementary school parents! These dry erase pouches are fantastic for reusing with things such as graph paper, mapwork, and geometry graphics. Students who need a little extra practice on math facts and handwriting can put them to use as well.

                  Noise Cancelling Headphones

                  If your older student has younger siblings who are doing schoolwork or playing, it can be distracting and frustrating trying to concentrate on schoolwork. Noise cancelling headphones help your student tune out the pitter and tune in to classwork.

                  Coil binder

                  You might think you don’t need a coil binder. If you have a great printer – such as Family Nest Printing – you might not. But you’ll want to ask them to bind your printed books for you. This allows you to buy digital curriculum once, print a book for each kid (as it’s needed), and bind it up like printed textbooks!

                  Pre-Planned Goodies

                  Remember that analogy about putting on your own mask on an airplane before putting one on your children?  Homeschooling moms can easily fall into the trap of forgetting to take care of themselves, too… Schedule a monthly reminder to step back and regularly take care of yourself! See our Seven Ways to Pamper Mom!

                  Want to know what’s on your kids’ back-to-school checklist? Check our the Must-Have Supplies for Homeschooling Teens!


                  Secure your entire curriculum by purchasing a family membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com. One membership covers every subject. Every grade. Every student.

                  Most Commonly Asked Homeschooling Questions…Answered!

                  new homeschooler

                  Can I just pull my child out of school?  Is that even legal?

                  The short answer is, yes, you can pull them out and it’s legal.  But each state has different laws, but HSLDA knows all of them.  If you’re planning to homeschool, joining HSLDA is a must, no matter which state you reside in, because they’ve got your back. 

                  How do I get started?

                  Homeschooling can be expensive if you don’t put some thought into it at the beginning.  {See The Costs of Homeschooling.}  The first thing you should do, especially if you are pulling kids out of public school, is to plan for an adjustment period.  You might hear this referred to as ‘deschooling.’  This will give you time to take some notes and make a plan, but it also gives your student(s) time to transition.  (The longer they were in public school, the longer this may take.)  This is when your child comes to realize that the days of being lectured and provided answers have passed, and it is now time to be more proactive and take some responsibility for their learning.  Trust me…they’ll come to appreciate this.

                  Deschooling also gives your family a chance to find a new rhythm.  Remember when everyone had to pull their kids out of school, without warning, during COVID?  People were overwhelmed.  Their lives were being turned on a dime.  This transitional time allows you to get past the “argh!  We’re together all. the. time.” phase and into a more family-oriented groove.  I’m not gonna lie…it can be hard for some families, particularly those who are accustomed to running all the time.  But you’ll get there.

                  Deschooling, however, doesn’t mean watching tv and playing video games every day.  This is a chance to re-ignite that natural passion for learning.  Take up a craft or art project.  Read some books.  Get outside.  Take field trips.  This is a chance to get back to the basics of learning.

                  Tips for Transitioning to Home-School

                  • Keep a routine as best you can.  Set up a daily schedule that includes work, rest, and play. 
                  • Try to regulate screen time.  This may be difficult if classes are being held online, but try anyway.
                  • Be patient with yourself and others.
                  • Be willing to learn alongside your kids.  You might find you enjoy the lessons!
                  • If you are working from home, be willing to check in on your kids every 20-30 minutes to be sure they are doing their classes.

                  One fantastic option for families just starting out is called SchoolhouseTeachers. .. 

                  • One family membership covers all the kids…whether there are two or twelve…and everything you need to homeschool every subject for every grade!
                  • There are varied course options, including streaming, interactive, and downloadable.  We personally (here in rural-ville) tend toward the downloadable ones, but I know many families would rather have streaming.

                  If you’re not a member of SchoolhouseTeachers yet, this is an AMAZING time to check it out! You’ll get two years for the price of one, plus extra goodies, when you sign up for an Ultimate (PreK–12) Annual Membership

                  Use promo code: SHARK20 right now and receive the low rate of $179 for TWO years—only $89.50/yr! You’ll also receive a FREE canvas tote and PRINT back issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine (tote color and magazine issue will vary, no refunds)Every subject. Every grade. Every student.

                  But how am I supposed to get it all done in a day?

                  First-time homeschoolers generally try to replicate public school at home.  It’s what they know, and it’s familiar.  Trust me…many mommas have gone down this road before!

                  Learning to re-frame the day, however, is the first step toward homeschool freedom.  When you understand and accept that there is considerable learning value is almost everything you do, it relaxes your attitude toward school…which transfers to your students and makes for a more enjoyable experience.

                  How to re-frame?

                  • First, learn the lingo.  
                  • Does your child understand something?  Wonderful!  They have ‘comprehension.’  
                  • If you quiz your child on his ABCs, does he know them?  Great!  He just passed an ‘assessment.’
                  • Second, master documentation.

                  Say your elementary student spent two hours outside, skipping rope, playing with sidewalk chalk, catching bugs and examining them, and making leaf prints.  That’s physical education, art (or handwriting, depending on what was drawn), science, and nature study!

                  Baking cookies together as part of holiday preparations?  This activity has math (measurement and time), chemistry, reading, home economics, and nutrition lessons!

                  We’re not suggesting that everyday consist of this type of schooling, though there are families who do ascribe to this theory – it’s called Unschooling, and you can learn more about it here.  

                  The point is that each day doesn’t need to consist of books, papers, and pencils to ensure that learning is happening.  When children are excited about something, they’re sure to learn and retain more!

                  What do I do about my special needs child? 

                  This is a subject that’s near and dear to the Homeschool House leadership, as each and every one of us has at least one special needs child.  You’ll find several articles on our blog about this subject.  Here are just a few….

                  Uh….planning.  Is that really necessary?

                  In a word, yes.  Benjamin Franklin once said,’ Failing to plan is planning to fail.’  What that means is that you need to have some idea of goals before you start teaching.  Is college a goal?  What about learning to read by the end of the year?  Different ages require different goals.

                  Some parents plan an entire year in advance.  Others plan for the month, or the week, while some just plan for the day.  How you choose to plan is going to be largely dependent on your preferences.

                  Me?  I’m a planner.  But I don’t like planning long-term because things are always changing (hello…COVID, anyone?).  After many years of homeschooling, our family has found that planning for the week ahead works perfectly for us.  Even then, there are some weeks when things change and the planning book gets marked up.  Life happens.

                  Some people do their planning online, while others prefer to use a paper planning book.  As part of the planning, you’ll review what’s coming up in each curricula subject, make sure you have materials and library books on-hand, and take into consideration any upcoming appointments during the school day.

                  If you’re planning for an entire month, plan to sit down for about a full day to lay out exactly what needs to be done. If you’re planning for a week at a time, prepare to spend about an hour laying out the week’s work.  Some people (no finger pointing at one of our Shack leaders J ) prefer to write down at the end of the day what was accomplished….no planning required and her book is never marked up with changes!  Again….personal preferences.

                  Planning a Bit Easier

                  There are some curricula that take all of the planning out the mix.  A World of Adventure, BookShark, Sonlight, My Father’s World…these are all curricula that provide the planning sheets for you.  It’s open and go…just make sure that you have any materials on-hand for art or science lessons (they’ll tell you what you need).  If you’re just starting your homeschool journey, and very anxious about planning and making sure that everything is covered, you might start out with something like this.

                  How on earth do I homeschool multiple ages at once??

                  Whether you have two children or eight, homeschooling multiple children is a juggling act.  One of the best things that you can do is have some ‘schooling together time’ so that there is a set time when everyone comes together as a unit.

                  Teach Together

                  With children of about the same age – up to four years apart – you can teach some of the subjects simultaneously.  Curricula such as The Good & the Beautiful, Gather ‘Round, BookShark, or A World of Adventure lend themselves toward this type of family-style teaching, with cohesive read-alouds and teaching time while each student gets an age-appropriate workbook.

                  Read-aloud time doesn’t have to mean that all the children are lined up neatly and politely on the couch!  Legos, coloring books, and other quiet play toys are a great way to keep little (or not-so-little) hands occupied during this time.  Discuss the reading as a family at the end of each session.

                  Unit Studies

                  Similar to the curricula cited above, unit studies allow your entire family to work together on one topic, with each student researching or studying at their own level.  After a family trip to the aquarium and some study-together time, a toddler might color a page about seahorses, while a high schooler might do a research paper on the same topic.  Together, all of the students could complete a science experiment, play a game, and do art projects.

                  Individual Subjects

                  While it’s easier to combine history and literature, subjects such as math and science need to be a bit more age-specific once students hit middle school.  Again, if they are only a couple of years apart, students could still study together.  Middle school, however, is when students begin to work independently, so this is a good opportunity to give them some of that freedom.  For many families, math is the one that requires each student to have different, grade-appropriate lessons, and tends to take the most of mom’s time.  An outside course, such as the Saxon Dive CDs, can really help here!

                  What curriculum do I need?

                  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. You can also check out reviews!

                  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.  

                  What style is best for your family?

                  • When choosing a style (and there’s a good chance you’ll change as your children grow), consider these questions…
                  • What’s your teaching style?
                  • What are your goals?
                  • How do your kids learn best?
                  • What values do you want to instill in your children?
                  • What’s your lifestyle?  Do you prefer routine or flexibility?


                  To the Overnight Homeschooler…

                  free homeschool plan

                  There are five of us here at the Homeschool House. DeeDee and Erin are our ‘people-people,’ while Nicole, Jennie, and myself do a lot of the behind the scenes work. It takes all hands, each with a different strength, to make it work!

                  Tonight, though, I want to write you from my own voice. My name is Yvie, and I run the website for the Homeschool House. If there’s been a tech glitch…well, it’s probably my fault. My apologies!

                  One of my sisters and her husband are active duty Coast Guard. They also have two young children who, until this week, were in day care and school. Like so many other families around the nation and world, they’ve found their lives suddenly turned upside down and have become overnight homeschoolers.

                  I sat down during the early part of this week and helped come up with a plan to help them educate the kids / keep them occupied so that she can continue to work from home at the same time. I’m making these same plans available to other families as well, in the hopes of alleviating stress for other families in the same situation.

                  Why? Well, because what I’ve heard from her several times this week is that she’s overwhelmed. So many companies and people are trying to be helpful, but it’s all just too much, too fast. I’m figuring there are a lot of parents out there in the same boat.

                  Hey lil sis…

                  I know you’ve gotten emails and seen social media posts about all these free homeschooling conventions online that teach you how to homeschool. Those are good, and I know a lot of the folks talking at them. If you had the time, I’d say go for it….but after talking to you for five minutes earlier, I also know this is out of the question.

                  Yes, you’re overwhelmed. Do you remember when we first pulled the kids out of school? No? Well, it was a lot like this….only we had planned for it. But there were still growing pains as we found a new not-public-school groove. Not if, but when, you need someone to vent to for a minute….you know the number!

                  SO. Here’s what you’re gonna do. First, you take a deep breath. Ok, good. Now take another one. Go make a half-caf, too, to sip on while we go over this. Give me twenty minutes and you can be on your way. Ten if I talk like you! (She talks really fast.)

                  Second, put a lock on that pantry. The girls will eat you out of house and home before you know it now that y’all are home all the time. I am so not kidding…ask any of your homeschooling friends from gymnastics or scouts.

                  Third, print out that list of classes I just sent you. It has a chart for each kid, with the core classes plus some electives. I know your time is crazy-busy, so I’ve picked out ones that will be easy for them to use and require the least amount of assistance from you. You’ll still need to check in and look over their work every so often, but it won’t require full-time one-on-one. (Readers – you can access that list here.)

                  Totally FREE Resources (yes, we’ve used them all, mostly when the boys were younger)

                  • www.Starfall.com – Reading & spelling for elementary school
                  • www.SpellingCity.com – spelling for any grade
                  • www.ABCMouse.com – preschool and elementary school learning games
                  • Use this Scribd resource for accessing books to read aloud together or for novel / unit studies.  Also use your local library’s download service (Hoopla, Overdrive)
                  • LitWits.com is offering FREE fun studies.  Use 17READ4FUN at checkout to get one free.  These are good for ‘Fun Fridays’ or any other day when you just feel like snuggling on the couch and doing nothing.
                  • Lots of articles, for any specific question/need you have
                  • Occupational Therapy At Home
                  • Speech Therapy At Home
                  • If you just want to try out the SchoolhouseTeachers thing before committing, you can get the first month for only a dollar with code ONEDOLLAR.  Sign up for the month to month and just cancel once the school year is over (unless I can convince you to come to the dark side!!!)

                  I love you! It’s going to be a long couple of weeks as you find your new groove, but we’ve been through worse, and I know you’ll look back on this time and be glad you got to bake cardamom bread, catch bugs outside, start a garden, and enjoy the time with the kids….even if you did it all while juggling your base job. HUGS!!!

                  New Homeschool House Request Procedures (nope, didn’t send her this part of the letter! I mean, she’d just call anyway…LOL)

                  For families who are wanting to use this as a jumping off point into homeschooling, the Homeschool House has amended its request procedures. Find out how you can easily request books and curriculum.

                  We’re all in this together. Some of us have been doing it a lot longer, but you know what? We all started out the same way. The only difference was that we had a little more time to get our ducks in a row….and some of us are still doing that. Got a question? Reach out and ask for help! You’ve got this, mama! Take care, stay healthy, and give hugs! ~Yvie

                  When we first started homeschooling, there were days I wanted to pull my hair out. My mom liked to tell me, “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on!” In honor of her support (she has always been a great ear), we’re going to take 50% off everything in our store through April 15th! Use code TIEAKNOT.

                  The Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Student

                  SPD kid

                  With Sensory Processing Disorder, normal daily demands in a classroom are stressful. Homeschooling provides an alternative for your child that allows him or her to grow with accommodations and love…

                  With SPD, normal daily demands in a regular classroom become stressful.

                  • Bright lights can cause headaches
                  • Humming lights are distracting
                  • Hearing other kids breathing is annoying
                  • People may be talking or laughing too loudly
                  • The teacher’s words may be too fast or confusing
                  • The sound of the school bell is scary
                  • Smells may seem overwhelming
                  • The seat may feel too hard
                  • The clothes being worn may irritate the skin
                  • The kid in the next seat may be too close for comfort
                  • It is difficult to listen to the teacher and write at the same time

                  SPD students may be labeled as ‘picky’ or ‘finicky,’ and their issues may be ignored.   This response can lead to an emotional roller coaster.

                  • It can be difficult for the student to label emotions (they end up called ‘fear’)
                  • It may be difficult to identify the source of the problem
                  • Once identified, it can be difficult to share those emotions, and they are often dismissed
                  • This can lead to a cyclic reaction, as the struggles are then internalized, leading to more difficulty with regulating emotions
                  • The more heightened and dysregulated the emotions, the more difficulty the student will have filtering out sensory input. 
                  • Do you see the cycle?? 

                  Is your child highly sensitive?  How many of these statements apply to your child?

                  • Over-sensitive or under-sensitive to noise, touch, smell, etc
                  • Easily distracted
                  • Agitated, anxious, or irritable
                  • Poor tolerance for frustration
                  • Impulsive, with poor self-control
                  • Obsessive-compulsive
                  • Repetitive, uses self-stimulation
                  • Oppositional-defiant
                  • Tunes out or withdraws
                  • Has tantrums and meltdowns (beyond the toddler years)
                  • Rigid / inflexible thinking
                  • Need to maintain control in situations
                  • Need for routine, sameness, and predictability

                  Examples of self-stimulatory behavior include rocking, hand-flapping, vocalizing, or jumping. These behaviors are an attempt to self-regulate the arousal level and screen out unwanted stimulation when over-aroused.  They can also be used to maintain alertness when under-aroused.  These self-stimulating behaviors are often used early on, until the child learns other ways of regulating arousal.

                  It can be helpful to learn your child’s specific nervous system quirks.

                  • What calms him?
                  • What alerts him?
                  • What are his sensitivities?
                  • What overwhelms him?
                  • What are his sensory preferences?
                  • What interaction style is he drawn to (or does he avoid)?
                  • What learning style works best for him?
                  • What helps him feel safe and accepted?

                  The SPD child may not have any issues during the school day, but while keeping it together, he is accumulating stress neuro-chemicals throughout the day.  The teacher doesn’t see the problem, but it is the parent who experiences the meltdowns after the child gets home to a ‘safe’ environment.  These ‘after-effects’ show up as meltdowns and shutdowns.

                  Meltdown Shutdown
                  Stress chemicals reach boiling point
                  Coping skills collapse
                  Child acts out to escape or avoid situation and reduce anxiety
                  Hitting, kicking, pushing, throwing, slamming, biting self or others, and head banging all provide proprioceptive stimulation which releases stress chemicals
                  Occurs when chemicals build quickly
                  Stimulation becomes too overwhelming, and nervous system shuts down
                  Child may be lethargic, limp, unresponsive, and staring or closing eyes
                  Occurs when chemicals increase gradually

                  Many people see the child as oppositional and purposefully acting out, but in true meltdowns, the child loses all self-control.  He is not being oppositional; his stress chemicals have reached a boiling point and overtaken him.  Trying to counsel, scold, or reason during a meltdown is ineffective.  Reasoning skills are neurologically unavailable at this point, and the child is often remorseful after calming.  Punishment only works if the child has some degree of control over his behavior.

                  It is helpful to touch base with all teachers, support staff, and even relatives, to help them understand.  To help your child develop a learning profile

                  • Define comfort zones (what is calming)
                  • Know which interaction style is most comforting (what makes him feel safe)
                  • Define sensory sensitivities and develop accommodations
                  • Know his strengths, weaknesses, dislikes, and tolerance levels
                  • Create a list of supports and best teaching strategies
                  • Know which triggers are the most overwhelming and how to quickly soothe these

                  Learning to help your child with sensory disorders falls into four categories

                  1. Organize Nervous System – Incorporate physical activity daily; consult with a doctor about a sensory diet, supplements, and medication (if needed).
                  2. Reduce Sensory Overload – Develop sensory accommodations to prevent overwhelm; establish a plan for calming meltdowns.
                  3. Reduce Confusion – Develop a routine, with visual strategies for transitions.  Slow down the day, particularly during transitional times, and continually review with the child.  Take changes slowly.
                  4. Establish Boundaries – Set clear boundaries for both the child and interactions with others.  Set expectations and work with child on self-advocation (once older) and using accommodations.  Respect his comfort zones.

                  Teaching Tools

                  There are many different strategies for helping the SPD child learn to cope with daily stressors.  It is best to choose one too and work at instilling it before moving on to the next.  Select an easy-to-incorporate one first, to help build self-confidence, before tackling more difficult ones.  Over time, these can become a part of the daily routine.

                  Proprioceptive Activities Vestibular Activities
                  Stretching
                  Wall pushups
                  Squeeze ball
                  Run, jump, skip
                  Lift, carry, push/pull heavy object
                  Vacuum or sweep
                  Play leap frog or tug-of-war
                  Hit, kick, bounce, throw ball
                  Calm, crawl, scoot, pull up
                  Roll / knead dough or clay
                  Wrestle, rough house, pillow fight
                  Weighted vest, lap pad, or blanket
                  Jump on trampoline
                  Swing on swing set or hammock
                  Run, skip, ride bike
                  Spin, rotate, swivel chair
                  Sit & Spin
                  Play on scooter or wagon
                  Rock back and forth on rocking chair
                  Hopscotch, tag, chase
                  Swingset – slide, seesaw, trapeze
                  Rock back and forth on therapy ball

                  Anti-Perfectionism

                  Help the child learn to fight perfectionism.  All children, regardless of sensitivity, can benefit from learning to ‘fail to succeed,’ meaning to learn from failure.  Teach the child to focus on effort and attitude, rather than performance.  Explain that ‘good enough’ is still good.  (You can demonstrate this by baking cookies that are purposefully less than perfect, and then having a tasting party!  Are they perfect?  No.  Are they good enough?  Yes.)  Make a game of making mistakes each day.  (Obviously, not life-threatening ones.)  Model how to own the mistake and learn from it.  Play games where there are ‘snags,’ such as Chutes & Ladders.

                  Relaxation Training

                  Integrated Learning Strategies has several breathing exercises for teaching children to self-soothe. Check them out at this page.

                  Attention & Focus

                  • You may have to remind him to refocus several times a day, but try to do so without anger or frustration.
                  • Break large tasks into smaller bits, and recognize the completion of these smaller tasks.
                  • Use charts to help keep them focused on the tasks at hand.

                  So how does this play out in the real-world?   You can break the cycle of the ABCs of SPD!

                  Antecedent Behavior Consequence
                  Asked to do something
                  Homework assignment
                  Community event
                  Hitting self or others
                  Screaming
                  Hiding
                  Escape / avoid task at hand

                  For each of the three antecedents, we’ve outlined possible cognitive or sensory deficits that lead to the behaviors and provided alternative procedures for approaching them.

                  For example, when asked to complete a task, the child may not understand multiple steps of instruction. By breaking the task into smaller chunks and allowing time to process the request, the child can feel successful.

                  Deficits Procedures
                  Cognitive
                  Delayed processing
                  Multi-step direction difficulty
                  Short attention span
                  Trouble transitioning
                  Difficulty with uncertainty  

                  Sensory
                  Sensitive to touch / noise / smell Overwhelmed by crowds
                  Difficulty processing oral directions
                  Request
                  Use short phrases and visual cues (c)
                  Give time to process directions (c)
                  Break task into smaller chunks (c)
                  Use cues before transitioning (c)  

                  Homework assignment
                  Break homework into small chunks (c)
                  Do one thing at a time, with breaks (c)  

                  Community event
                  Use headphones or ear plugs to block noise (s)
                  Avoid crowded times (s) Prepare by previewing what will happen (c)

                  If you have a child with Sensory Processing Disorder, then you already know that normal daily demands can be a bit of a minefield. You’ve probably already developed several strategies, perhaps unwittingly, to help him cope. Homeschooling provides an educational path for your child that allows him or her to grow with accommodations and love. You’ve got this, mama!

                  DD’s Journal – Mid-Winter Blues

                  Well, I think I can see spring on the horizon!  So, we know what that means.  Planning for the next school year!  Woo Hoo! Yeah whatever. 

                  We all know better. We get a tingle down our spine every time we go to the mailbox and see a new curriculum catalogue!  We turn the pages with utter excitement, thinking of all the exciting learning that we can do for the next year.  We dog-ear pages and circle descriptions…..with great anticipation!  Oh the EXCITEMENT!  And then comes our Debbie Downers. 

                  First our most treasured prodigy begins with the long drawn out moans of, “Moooooooooommm!  I don’t want to do latin…whhhhyyyy do I have to do I have to do Algebra??  Seriously….this reading list is from the dark ages!”  Oh those precious faces so full of potential and ANGST. 

                  As we work hard, making our brains sweat as if we were doing Zumba in the Sahara, contemplating what classes each of our precious jewels would surely excel in, what will be needed for high school credits, and of course the super fun electives!  Oh, how we plan! 

                  Then the other downer appears…..you know the one.  The one at the end of the order form….yeah…that one….TOTAL.   That little box can take us from euphoria to the deepest darkest place in our children’s messy closets!   Then comes the saddest part…what can we do without?  Oh! My heart breaks to a million pieces, falling to the floor with tinkle of fine glass! (Look at me…practicing my descriptive writing!) 

                  BUT!  A thought jumps into my brain like the ding on the microwave!  THE LIBRARY!  YES!  I will make my own curricula…I will research, plan, outline, do all the worksheets and assignments!  I CAN DO THIS! 

                  Who am I fooling????  I have science experiments in the back of the fridge….that started as “left overs for lunch.”  I just can’t seem to recall what lunch…or when.  And if you look under the beds, the dust bunnies have formed a commune of free love and peace.  

                  We all have been there.  It is so hard to build your curricula to your children.  We battle costs, fear, intimidation, and failure.  But, with that said, we find such joy in what we see our children accomplish.  As home educators we celebrate the grades; but also the special little nuances, learning to tie shoes,  writing their name, finding them being quiet….with a book, seeing them help the elderly get a shopping cart from the rack….so much that cannot be measured in an aptitude test.  Moms, do not stress over the books and the grades!  Look at the human you have made and now are molding to be a generous, kind, caring, and loving person.

                  Mama, hold the head high! We are strong, smart, and capable!  We have coffee running through our veins!  We can teach, cook pizza rolls, change a diaper, and pay bills!   We are THE WONDER WOMEN of the world!  So, get your bracelets on, attach your lasso of truth (but does it work on a 3 year old?), put on that push-up bustier and high heel running boots, and get out there and show the world, “I AM A HOMESCHOOL MOM AND I AM STRONG AND FEARLESS!”

                  Well, except for the fear to open those containers in the fridge…

                  Hang in there moms…we got this!

                  Dee Dee (with coffee and sleep pants!)

                  2020 Ultimate List of Homeschool Conventions {USA}

                  2020 homeschool conventions

                  We’ve compiled the ultimate list of 2020 homeschool conventions, along with a planner to help you organize your weekend and keep track of workshops and vendors! 

                  If you are a convention organizer, or just know of one that should be on this list, please send us a quick note and we’ll add it!

                  Teach Them Diligently attendees — Use coupon code Mission10 for $10 off registration!

                  Alabama

                  Teach Them Diligently  – Rogers – May 7-9, 2020*

                  Alaska

                  APHEA Convention – Anchorage –  March 27-28, 2020
                  IDEA Curriculum Fair – Soldotna – April 28, 2020
                  IDEA Curriculum Fair – Anchorage – April 30-May 1, 2020
                  IDEA Curriculum Fair – Fairbanks – May 4-5, 2020
                  IDEA Curriculum Fair – Juneau – May 7, 2020

                  Arizona

                  EESA Convention – Phoenix, AZ – June 12-13, 2020
                  AFHE Convention – Phoenix – July 10-11, 2020

                  Arkansas

                  Teach Them Diligently  – Rogers – March 26-28, 2020*

                  California
                  HSC Conference – San Jose – August 6-9, 2020
                  CHN Family Expo – Garden Grove – May 7-10, 2020
                  VHE Convention – Modesto – July 24 & 25, 2020
                  Great Homeschool Convention  – Ontario – June 18-20, 2020

                  Colorado

                  Teach Them Diligently – Denver – May 21-23, 2020*
                  CHEC Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference – Denver – June 25-27, 2020
                  Unschoolers’ Platform Conference – Colorado Springs – February 23-27, 2020

                  Florida

                  FPEA Convention – Orlando – May 24, 2020
                  Great Homeschool Convention  – Jacksonville – June 25-27, 2020

                  Georgia

                  Teach Them Diligently  – Athens – June 11-13, 2020*
                  Homeschooling for Excellence – Atlanta – July 23, 2020
                  SE Homeschool Expo – Atlanta – July 24-25, 2020

                  Idaho

                  CHOIS Convention – Nampa – June 5 – 6, 2020

                  Illinois

                  APACHE Homeschool Convention – Edwards – March 27-28, 2020
                  Illinois Christian Home Educators State Convention – Naperville – May 28-31, 2020

                  Indiana

                  Homeschool Day at the Capitol – Indianapolis – January 13, 2020
                  IAHE Convention – Indianapolis – March 27-28, 2020

                  Iowa

                  Homeschool Iowa – West Des Moines –  June 11-13, 2020

                  Kansas

                  Midwest Parent Educators Convention – Kansas City – April 3-4, 2020
                  Wichita Homeschool Convention – Wichita – May 15-16, 2020

                  Kentucky

                  Homeschool Conference of East Kentucky – Pikeville

                  Memoria Press Conference – Louisville – July 6 & 7, 2020

                  Maine

                  Central Maine Homeschool Expo – Bangor – April 21, 2020
                  Homeschoolers of Maine Annual Convention – Rockport – March 19-21, 2020

                  Michigan

                  Information Network for Christian Homeschoolers – Lansing – May 15-16, 2020

                  Minnesota

                  Minnesota Catholic Home Educators Conference – St. Paul – May 29-30, 2020

                  Missouri

                  Midwest Parent Educators – Kansas City, MO – April 3-4, 2020
                  Great Homeschool Convention  – St. Charles – March 26-28, 2020

                  Nebraska

                  NCHEA Conference and Curriculum Fair – March 6-7, 2020

                  New Mexico

                  CAPE Convention – Albuquerque – June 19-20, 2020

                  New Jersey

                  New Jersey Renaissance Faire – Columbus – May 28-29, 2020

                  New York

                  Great Homeschool Convention  – Rochester, NY – July 30 – August 1, 2020

                  North Carolina

                  Autodidactic Radical Gathering of Homeschoolers – Spruce Pine – May 3-7, 2020
                  NCHE Thrive Conference – Winston-Salem – May 28-30, 2020

                  North Dakota

                  NDHSA Home Educators Convention – Jamestown – March 5-7, 2020

                  Ohio

                  Great Homeschool Convention  – Cincinnati – March 26-28, 2020
                  Unschoolers Waterpark Gathering – Sanduski – May 24th-28th, 2020
                  Teach Them Diligently  – Columbus – May 28-30, 2020*

                  Oklahoma

                  OCHEC Convention – Oklahoma city – 
                  Tulsa Homeschool Expo – Tulsa –

                  Oregon

                  Oregon Christian Home Education Network – Portland – June 19-20, 2020

                  Pennsylvania

                  CHAP Homeschool Convention – Lancaster – June 12-13, 2020

                  South Carolina

                  Great Homeschool Convention  – Greenville – March 19-21, 2020

                  South Dakota

                  SECHE Conference – Sioux Falls – May 8-9, 2020

                  Tennessee

                  Teach Them Diligently  – Nashville – February 27-29, 2020*

                  Texas

                  Great Homeschool Convention – Ft. Worth – March 12-14, 2020
                  Texas Unschoolers Conference – Waller – April 16-18, 2020
                  THSC Convention and Family Conference – Allen – April 30-May 2, 2020
                  THSC Convention and Family Conference – The Woodlands – May 28-30, 2020
                  Teach Them Diligently  – Waco – April 2-4, 2020*
                  Texas Home Educators Convention – The Woodlands – August 7-8, 2020

                  Utah

                  Latter-Day Saints Conference – Ogden – May 27-28, 2020
                  The Good & the Beautiful – Lehi –

                  Virginia

                  VaHomeschoolers Conference & Curriculum Fair – Glen Allen – March 20-21, 2020
                  HEAV Virginia Homeschool Convention – Richmond – June 11-13, 2020
                  Immaculate Heart of Mary Homeschool & Parent Conferences – Fredericksburg, – June 19-20, 2020

                  West Virginia

                  CHEWV Homeschooling 101 –

                  Washington

                  LIFE is Good Unschooling Conference – Vancouver – May 21-25, 2020
                  Washington Homeschool Organization Convention – Tacoma- June 26-27, 2020

                  Wyoming

                  Homeschoolers of Wyoming – Cheyenne – May 14-16, 2020

                  ** Teach Them Diligently attendees — Use coupon code Mission10 for $10 off registration!**

                  Tips on Choosing a Homeschool Convention

                  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’ve put together a convention planner to help you organize your weekend and keep track of workshops and vendors. Take this FREE 20-page convention planner to your next event! Also pick up the FREE What Your Child Should Know…. checklist while you’re there…

                  Why to Attend a Homeschool Convention + FREE Planner

                  With everything becoming connected online, is there really any reason to physically attend a homeschool convention? After all, that comes with the added expense of travel, and then you can’t just shop online in your pajamas…

                  There’s just no substitute for community and face-to-face contact, and a homeschool convention offers benefits that you won’t find anywhere else!

                  Finding Your Tribe
                  I can’t prove it, but maybe the reason homeschool conventions begin in early spring is because they know we’ve been cooped up all winter, and most families are suffering from ‘February Fever.’ We have to break out, find other homeschooling families, and shake off winter!

                  An Ounce of Encouragement
                  It can be lonely homeschooling, whether you live in a big city or a rural area. Getting into a crowd of people who have made similar life choices can be affirming. Plus, you’ll be able to bounce ideas off of others, get new ideas, and remember that we’re all in this together.

                  Teach Them Diligently

                  Information from the Source
                  It’s one thing to read a book. It’s another to actually sit down and talk with the author and get personalized information. You can actually do that at conventions! Reap the benefits and wisdom of experienced homeschoolers. You can do this in the vendor hall, in a one-on-one setting, walking around the hotel (but be mindful of their limited free time), or within the workshops themselves.

                  Workshop Paths
                  Many conventions these days are creating ‘paths’ of workshops, meaning they have a series for new homeschoolers, those with special needs children, and those preparing for college. You’re not confined to those workshops, but by following the path that fits your family best, you have a pre-set schedule that will allow you to maximize what you learn from these experienced speakers. Oftentimes, there are special discounts offered within the workshops, too! J

                  Curriculum Discounts
                  The exhibit hall is packed full of vendors offering fantastic discounts on their curriculum. There are usually some pretty nice extras to supplement the curriculum that you won’t find anywhere else, too! If you’re in the market for something new, you can actually flip through and examine various selections, talk to the publishers (or authors) about them, and make a well-informed decision for your family. You can maximize your time by looking ahead to see which vendors will be represented and make a note to visit their booths. (There’s a page for this in the convention planner!)

                  It’s a Family Affair
                  There seem to be two types of convention-goers….those who take the whole family, and those who make it a girls’ weekend. (Having done both, my preference falls toward the latter…everybody needs to cut loose with friends sometimes, right?!) If you take the whole family, though, you’ll have a (typically) rare opportunity to get Dad involved. 

                  Usually the dads are off working full-time so that moms can stay home and homeschool.   Both parents care about education, but Mom is the one fully-entrenched. Taking Dad to a convention will give him a different perspective, and new appreciation, for the daily grind of homeschooling. As for the littles, there is usually some sort of day camp set up for them to enjoy time with other kids while Mom and Dad get some one-on-one time to either attend workshops or go sleep in the hotel room…

                  We’ve put together a convention planner to help you organize your weekend and keep track of workshops and vendors. Take this FREE 20-page convention planner to your next event! Also pick up the FREE What Your Child Should Know…. checklist.

                  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?

                  Join the Homeschool House crew in Rogers, Arkansas!

                  Teach Them Diligently 2020 Homeschool Convention Registration is now open.

                  DD’S Journal: Holiday Edition!

                  Dear friends…

                  Well it has happened AGAIN!  As I sit and look at my lesson planner, it hits me, like wrecking ball! (But, I am fully clothed LOL) 

                  Thanksgiving is in 27 days and Christmas is in 54!  Where oh where did the days go? I imagine planning for the holidays in a public school is stressful,  but as we homeschoolers know…we can either rock it….or pull our hair out ! 

                  I know when mine were littles, we would really RELAX during the weeks between the holidays.  One year we decided to have a homemade tree.  We hand made all the ornaments,  we used water balloons and bright tissue paper and made some amazing paper mache’ ornaments!  We also used standard balloons and made large ornaments to hang from the ceiling. It was really a lot of messy fun.  In other words, we did all of our art for the year in a couple of days!

                  I love the holidays and homeschooling!  You can incorporate so much into your teaching!  We have studied Christmas traditions in other countries,  researched the first Thanksgiving…and being of Native American Heritage, we did a focus on the First People’s history of Thanksgiving!

                  You can also download a free holiday guide – with Christmas reading lists for all ages, a holiday-themed cross-stitch design, and gift guide as a thank you gift from our webmaster and her blog, Homeschool On the Range.

                  So, dear friends as we prepare for the Holiday season, we as mommy educators can do so much to make a holiday more than food and gifts!  We can do history, art, science, and language arts (family Christmas letters), and hand writing…..and they will never know! 

                  Wishing you the best for the Holidays!

                  Dee Dee

                  The Costs of Homeschooling

                  The Costs of Homeschooling

                  One of the hidden costs of homeschooling is time.  It takes a lot of time and focus to properly homeschool, which makes working a full-time job difficult.  There are, however, many homeschooling moms (or dads) that work part-time or seasonal jobs.

                  HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) estimates that homeschooling families spend approximately $300 to $600 per year, per child, on educational needs.  This can really add up!  There are ways, however, to save money…

                  Curriculum

                  The biggest chunk of change you’ll notice right away is the cost of curriculum.  There are so many different types of curricula out there that we recommend doing a little bit of investigation before investing money into one. 

                  If you have access to one, attending a homeschool convention is an excellent way to get your hands on several types of curricula, flip through the pages, and see which ones will or won’t work for your family.  Personally, when we started homeschooling, my husband and I started ruling out which ones we didn’t like for our family, as that helped narrow down the shortlist to about six that we wanted to check into further.

                  You can check curriculum websites for samples, often full-module downloads to try out you’re your family.  If you’re near Oklahoma, you can come by the Book Shack and take home some different types of curricula to try.   Mardels or a used bookstore are also good options for this, though you won’t be able to take them home (free) to try out with the kids.

                  If you choose curriculum carefully, you should be able to reuse it for subsequent children or resell it.  For example, we use Saxon Math and only had to purchase each textbook once.  We purchased one student book for each child to use (and could have had them write on notebook paper, but student books aren’t that expensive, and it was easier for the kids to write in the books).

                  Co-ops, Classes & Extracurricular Activities

                  Foreign language, homeschool band, physical education, debate classes – these are things that work best when taught in a group setting, and are often covered in cooperative settings…but that costs money.  It is, however, cheaper than weekly lessons!

                  For some families, especially at the high school level, science or math classes get outsourced to a ‘real teacher.’  Not everyone feels comfortable teaching at those advanced levels, particularly for a child who is preparing to attend college.

                  All of these expenses cost money, but should be included in the homeschooling budget, because they are a necessary part of education.

                  Field Trips

                  When we were roadschooling, nearly 90% of our homeschool budget went toward field trips.  After all, if you’re only going to be visiting a place once, you make the most of it, right?

                  We still spend money on field trips each year because experiential learning is a fantastic way to cement concepts and foster a love of learning!  There are many options for frugal and free field trips if you just dig a bit. 

                  • Follow your local museums on Facebook, and you’ll see when they post free days for educators, homeschoolers, families, or just the general public. 
                  • Visit the fire station, police station, or town mayor for a lesson in civics and emergency management. 
                  • Visit a local factory to learn “how it’s made.”  
                  • Take a step back, and look at your area like a tourist.  What nooks and crannies have you yet to explore?  Many of these small places are free or frugal!

                  Experience is Valuable

                  Most new homeschooling families spend more money than experienced ones.  This is partly due to needing to purchase curriculum and all of the materials upfront (whereas more experienced ones tend to have leftovers on hand, or purchase in bulk during back-to-school sales). 

                  Another pitfall is purchasing several different types of curriculum.  Sometimes things don’t work out as intended; sometimes they’re just not a good fit for your family.  Many times, new homeschoolers aren’t ‘in’ on where to get curriculum at a reduced price.

                  Finding those Resources

                  • The Book Shack – The upstairs ministry of Homeschool House, the Book Shack has been providing families with FREE curricula and materials since 1999 (originally named the Book Samaritan).  Find out more about requesting materials, or visiting, here.
                  • Bibliomania – This homeschool consignment store is one of the Book Shack’s biggest supporters, and we love to support them, too!  They have a walk-in store in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where you can come and visit with the proprietors and thumb through all kinds of curricula.  They also have an online store at Amazon.  You can also call the store directly, or private message through Facebook, and have the option to pay with Paypal or credit card over the phone.
                  • ChristianBook – If you hit ChristianBook at the right time (sign up for the email list, and they’ll tell you when this is), you can get curricula at deep discounts.  They also have books, craft kids, home décor and stuff for adults, and (my favorite!) “surprise boxes” — $100+ in books for only 9.99. 
                  • Amazon – Not surprisingly, since they sell everything but the kitchen sink (actually, the probably sell those, too!), Amazon is a great resource for finding books, supplies, science kits, craft kits, and even curricula…sometimes at cheaper costs since you can buy them from a third-party vendor.
                  • SchoolhouseTeachers.com – This online resource offers all core classes, plus several electives, for every grade level…up to adult learners!  Use code TRIAL to get the first month for only $5. By doing so, you’ll have an automatic, ongoing monthly discount but also will get your first MONTH as a member for only $5. If you don’t love it, just cancel it after the first month and all you will have lost is a skinny latte.  Find out more about ST here.