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

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

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.

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.

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 $15 off your first TalkBox when you bundle it with your book! Use coupon: REFGSZXRLU9KL}

Christmas Resources

elementary homeschool christmas resources

Elementary

  • 12 Days of Christmas Math
    • This huge 200+ page PDF is stuffed with hands-on activities and printables to complete 12 fun Christmas themed math lessons!  Each day includes complete directions and printables, plus bonus tips, extension activities, and worksheets to reinforce the concepts your kids are learning. Harness that Christmas excitement to make homeschooling fun this season with this easy-to-use resource!
  • 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!
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!
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

Holiday Homeschool Giveaway!

The last two years have been crazy to say the least! We all know families that have been hit hard with job loss, displacement, and more. In efforts to ease financial burdens and help you further explore your homeschool opportunities, we’re giving away over $1050 of homeschool and educational printables, courses, and curriculum! Thanks to these amazing bloggers and brands that love supporting the homeschool community, we’re able to give back to not one, but 3 lucky homeschool families in the best way! Inside the giveaway, you’ll find more than $1050 spread across 3 prize packages to bless three amazing families! Learn more about each of our prize packages:

Prize Package 1 ($378 Value)

Cover Story Cloud Set (Grades 6-9) from Clear Water Press, 1 year subscription from Connect through Music, DIY Printables for Teachers and Homeschoolers from Living Life and Learning, Planet Voyagers from Simply Fun, a Personalized Name Meaning Gifts & Amazing Name Cartoon from CrossTimber, and a Complete Diagnostic Assessment package from Basic Christian Education.

Prize Package 2 ($391.90 Value)

Annual Family Membership from SkillTrek, 1 year subscription from Connect through Music, God Made Music from Praise Hymn, Inc. (Winner chooses grade level and either CD’s or MP3), The Homeschool Garden Ancient History I morning time curriculum from Everyday Graces Homeschool, Holiday Big Book Bundle from The Successful Homeschool, Year 1 Curriculum + the companion Discovery Pack from Let’s Go Geography, and a Personalized Name Meaning Gifts & Amazing Name Cartoon from CrossTimber.

Prize Package 2 ($391.90 Value)

Online Music course of your choice (up to a $97 value) from Music in Our Homeschool, 1 year subscription from Connect through Music, 2 Titles from The Great Science Adventures series (K-8) from Common Sense Press, The Good Manners Resource Pack (digital edition) from Homeschool Adventure, Julia Rothman Notebook Companions Complete Set from Daily Skill Building, 3 books from Carole P Roman’s diverse cultural and historical series from Carole P. Roman, Mommy & Me Journals (Complete Year) from In All You Do, and a Personalized Name Meaning Gifts & Amazing Name Cartoon from CrossTimber.

Want to enter to win? Simply enter by following as many sponsors on the form below, and you’re in it to win it! You are responsible for reading the Terms and Conditions before entering. Entering this giveaway confirms that you have read and understand the terms.


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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, 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 15,2022 – May 5, 2023 for the ’22-’23 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. 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 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, 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 text for Economics comes 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!

As our gift to you, we’ve put together a holiday bundle, with several crafts and activities, plus three full-length history-based holiday unit studies!

Snag your free gift here – expires 11/30   

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.

Homeschool to College Success!

Worried about getting all of the pieces right in the high school homeschool puzzle?

Through the Door will help you with what you need, from a homeschool perspective, to confidently face high school and college.

This book & worktext set will help you and your high school student breeze through the steps of college and scholarship applications, as well as brushing up on study habits and life skills.  The worktext includes activities, worksheets, and planning pages, and accompanies the book.

homeschool high school college

Yes! I want a blueprint for homeschooling high school!

Text modules include:

College Prep–

  • Before Back-to-School
  • What Colleges Want from Homeschoolers
  • Create a Successful College Applicant
  • Choosing a College Major
  • Exemplary Entrance Exams
  • Dual Enrollment
  • AP Exams vs CLEP
  • ACT, SAT, CLT & ASVAB
  • High School Transcripts
  • Higher Ed, Worth the Cost?
  • Scholarships

Study Skills–

  • Become a Study Sensei
  • Best Planners
  • Habits of Highly Successful Students
  • Maximize Your Memory
  • Reading for Real Depth
  • Remembering More from Your Reading
  • Study in Cycles
  • Next-Level Note-Taking
  • Effective Essay Writing
  • Rocking a Research Paper
  • Test-Taking Strategies in the Classroom
  • Tackle Test Anxiety
  • Using Your Old Tests
  • Talking with Teachers & Professors

Life Skills–

  • Get a Leg Up on Summer Jobs
  • Job Application Process
  • Ace that Job Interview
  • Balancing a Checkbook
  • Taxes for Teens
  • Understanding Loans and Interest
FAQ Who am I?
With 20+ years experience in education and counseling, I have a passion for helping other homeschool moms.  I’ve worked in elementary, middle, and high schools in both a teaching and school counseling capacity. For the past seven years, I have been homeschooling our two boys – one gifted and one special needs – and understand the struggles that many moms face.

Who is the online self-paced workshop for? 
It’s for parents and students in middle and high school.  Many of the modules are for the college-bound student, but it is helpful to the career-bound student as well.

How will it be delivered? 
This is a downloadable book and accompanying workbook.

Yes! I want a blueprint for homeschooling high school!

Creating an IEP for the Homeschool Special Needs Student

Parents of special needs children have a difficult row to hoe…one fraught with worry, sleepless nights, and a seemingly never-ending list of doctor and therapy appointments.  Some hope that public schools will help address their child’s needs.  Some avoid the school system and go for the tailored education approach.  There is no right or wrong path to take…only the one that is right for your family.

If the special needs student attends traditional school, they will be given an IEP – an individualized education plan.  This is a legal document that defines what a student needs according to his or her diagnosis.  It outlines a special education program that provides tailored instruction and support services, such as speech or occupational therapy.

Within the homeschool, an IEP can also be a valuable tool.  By sitting down and taking stock of the student’s needs – really taking stock and writing it down – you can evaluate where you’re at, where you want to be, and design a plan for how to get from point A to point B.

Crafting the Individualized Education Plan

When crafting the IEP, consider the following:

  • What are your student’s biggest struggles?  Include academics, motor skills, and life skills.
  • What is your student’s preferred mode of learning?  Visual, audio, kinesthetic?  How can you tailor lessons to that learning mode?
  • Realistically, where is your student today?  Where would you like your student to reach?  (Be realistic.)  Which ONE goal would make the biggest difference in your student’s performance, either in the classroom or in daily life?

The first thing you’ll want to do is take an honest look at where your student is performing.  It doesn’t matter how many grade levels behind that may be, just record the level of current performance in each subject.  This will give you a realistic picture of where you are.

Second, list any support services that you will need, such as speech, physical, or occupational therapy.  This plan is appropriate for students with mild to moderate special needs, as students will severe special needs most likely have been working with a provider since shortly after birth.  Also address any life skills you’d like to see addressed.

Create academic goals for your student.  Make them realistic, or you’ll be setting both you and your student up for frustration.  For example, if he is six grades behind in reading level, aim for growth of two grades per year.  You might be surprised and find that you have a ‘jumper’ – a late bloomer who ‘jumps’ six grade levels in one year!  Write down your goals, and include strategies for how you will meet them.

Create life skills and support services goals for your student.  Write them down, addressing strategies for how you will meet each.  For example, ‘Speech Therapy, 30 minutes three times a week’.  Some of these skills and goals may seem basic, but when you’ve identified the need and written it down as a goal, you’re more likely to address it!

At the end of the school year, reassess your student to see which strategies worked.  Given the informal nature of homeschooling, feel free to continually reassess and alter therapy / strategies as needed.  This is one of the perks of the individual attention you can offer at homeschool.

Some homeschooling families are fortunate enough to have speech and occupational therapy services offered through the school.  For these families, they have created an IEP with the public school as part of the process for obtaining these services.  Oklahoma is not a state, however, that provides educational support services to homeschoolers. 

Once you have determined your student’s needs, see if your medical insurance (including state insurance) will cover any of the services.  If they will, your family doctor can refer you to a provider.  If they will not, you can begin working with your child at home until the situation changes.  Check out Speech Therapy for Homeschool and Occupational Therapy in Homeschool for free / frugal therapy ideas.

Download the FREE templates for creating an IEP in your homeschool.

FREE Homeschool Materials

Once you’ve explored homeschooling styles a bit, you’ll probably set off looking for curriculum.  Here are some places where you can score curriculum and materials for free!   

Many of these are digital resources and require no extra resources or use books you can check out from the library.  Just remember that you’ll still need to pay for any printing.  Here is one of our favorite places to print!

Complete Curriculum

Language Arts

Science

Math

Social Studies

Arts

Is Virtual School the Same as Homeschool?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teaching the Special Needs Child

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

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

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

Getting a Diagnosis & IEP (Individualized Education Plan)

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

You are the Expert

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

You may also be interested in: Creating an IEP for the Special Needs Student or the Sensory Processing Disorder Student

Providing Tailored Instruction

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

Moving at a New Pace

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

You are Not Alone

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

You may also be interested in: Homeschool Encouragement

WELCOME TO HOLLAND

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DD’s Journal – Through the School Years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings to All,

                  Dee Dee

Educator Training & Resources

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

OERB’s Classroom Training

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


Ag in the Classroom

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


Oklahoma Nature Study

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


Oklahoma Geological Survey

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


Project Wet

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


Project Wild

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

Cool Beans – Soybean Board

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


Project Learning Tree

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

DD’s Journal – Homeschool Convention Time!

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


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


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


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


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

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

~DD

DD’s Journal – End of the Year Reflections

Another school year is coming to a close.  This year really flew by fast.

13 years I have been at this…my oldest will be finishing his Junior year.

I swear it was just yesterday he learned to write his name! 

As I look over my dinning room table, well….maybe I should say “school table”, there are workbooks, text books, notebooks, and and tray of pencils that are without erasers, and all with broken lead;  through this mess I can see the the amazement of learning.

Homeschooling is not as easy as some would think.  You spend hours pouring over curriculum samples, deciding on what type of teaching and learning will work best with each of your little scholars.  You plan lessons, field trips, experiments, and extracurricular activities.  And, all the while you are also doing laundry, planning and cooking meals, cleaning house, shopping, doctor’s appointments, the many trips to the library, and any other task that needs to be done.

Not only is the table a mess, so is my house!  Deep cleaning is usually put on “hold” until summer break.  My therory on this is that I will only have my childrens’ attention for a moment, and that this house will wait, for these little minds need to be dust and cobweb free more then my home.

I have heard so many say, “How can I stand to be home all day with my kids?” or “I need my “Me Time”.  For which I gladly reply, “These children were a gift from God to me, and my time with them is so short, I want their memories of education to be one of family, learning without stress, and having life skills.”  My “me time” is at 5am….when the house is silent…

So, as these last few weeks are coming to a close, and I prepare for for the next year of learning….my heart is full.  The outcomes of this year’s goals have been met, the children have grown, they have learned, they have aquired more life skills, but most of all….they are growing into loving, honest,  and well adjusted young people. 

Yes my life is super busy, and sometimes I look around at my house and just sigh….but this is my life, a life of continous chaos, but it is all mine….and  I LOVE IT!

~DD

Shack Diaries

What IS the Book SHACK?

  • Sooner Homeschool Angels Curriculum Koop (yes, we know co-op doesn’t start with a K…but it worked)
  • We are a cooperative homeschool organization, which means that everyone works together. You may volunteer time, donate curricula, or donate funding to help cover utilities / supplies. While we are extending the ministry of the Book Samaritan, we will be changing how things were run. We will not be mailing supplies – hence it is now an Oklahoma co-op – you will have to come to the ‘storefront.’ As things progress, we will post here. Our projected opening date for the ministry is December / January.

Summer 2022 – Reopen under new name, the Script’morium.

November 2020 – Closed. Under re-construction.

June 2016 :  Closing out the Book Samaritan and starting the move

 July 2017 :  Back-to-School Night and sharing books with families

Please remember that, while we are centrally located in Oklahoma, this ministry is available to all co-ops across the state and (hopefully soon) nationwide.  We were at our local homeschool co-op’s back-to-school night, but it is not a ministry just for them…it is for all homeschoolers and new teachers.

Our First Event (the one where we have to drastically downsize due to no building availability yet…..)

We love hearing comments like this!!!!!!

These are our busy little bees!  


They used to go work up at the Book Samaritan with us twice a year, helping the owners to organize books and keep things in order.  


Then, in the summer of 2016, they moved 65 truckloads of books…stacked from side to side, floor to as high as they could safely go.  These were some tired little puppies, but I think they deserve a lot of credit (hence the trip to Medieval Times) for helping to get the Book Shack up and going.


We also had a few helpers from our local co-op, who could come for a day and help move things around.  All told, it took four weeks to move items from the Book Samaritan in Pawhuska, Oklahoma down to our new home in Prague, Oklahoma.  


And then we found out that our 501(c)3 wasn’t coming through.  We lost our new home and had to immediately downsize (just like if you were foreclosed upon) – losing 95% of the items we had managed to salvage.  It was a bad week…


Well, it was a long week for us.  It was a good week for the 100+ families that we were able to help in our big “homeschoolers helping homeschoolers” event!!


Following that, we had some health issues to deal with, while at the same time continuing to get all of the paperwork straightened out.  We’ve also spruced up the website a little bit – adding tabs across the top of the page that will answer many of your questions.


Now that it’s come to fruition, can you imagine just how happy these little faces are about knowing that their Spring Break will be spent doing none other than……………….moving books?  😯

Let’s give a hand for our very best helpers!!!

If you’re not sure what you’re looking at…that would be our 501(c)3 non-profit status letter.  

They say that ”it takes money to make money,” but the truth is that it takes money to help other people, too.  As much as we’d like to never have to ask for donations and financial support, that’s just not realistic.  Therefore, after much debate, we found a few ways that will allow you to support the Book Shack without having to stretch your budget even further.

Where do these donations go?  

They are used for :

  • boxes & packing material
  • packing tape
  • blank paper & shipping labels
  • light bulbs
  • bookshelves
  • staples, clips & other binding materials
  • *postage for recipients

(*= We are currently unable to offer this, due to having no operating costs at this time.  See policies for more information on how postage is currently being covered.)

We spent the day at BiblioMania Homeschooling Materials in Tulsa forging new friendships!! 

They have been so wonderful to help us as we get started and continue to work to get this organization up and running smoothly!  

If you’re in Oklahoma or NW Arkansas, you should definitely check them out for this semester’s materials.  

About BiblioMania

The store

 was founded in Tulsa, OK, in 1992, and is a unique source for gently used homeschooling materials on consignment. With dozens of years of homeschooling experience under their belts, the ladies who run the store have a wealth of information and encouragement, and will cheerfully answer your homeschooling curriculum questions!  (They’ll also provide hugs and strength when you’re ready to throw in the towel.)

Visiting

If you’re going to visit the store, be aware that it’s in the back corner of a strip mall.  It looks something like the pic on the right.  Here is their contact information :

12929 E 21st St Suite I

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Phone : (918) 438-9889

Our little helpers loaded up even MORE books and were ready for a rest on the long ride home!  I think that they, more than anyone else, will be happy when the organization has a permanent home and the boxes no longer need to be lugged around!  LOL

We’re having a fundraiser this weekend….and it’s going to be HUGE!  We’re talking seven truckloads of items….from several different houses….so you know there’ll be something for everyone!  Come on out….bring your friends & family….and if you have an hour or two, sit a spell and take a volunteer shift.   AND we made the paper.  It’s been a busy week!  😊

After over fourteen long months of dragging books around and storing them in garages, we have finally found a home for the Book Shack!

Wings as Eagles Christian bookstore, in Prague, has graciously offered us a space above their store to use.  It is upstairs, so be prepared.  If you have a physical disability, we will work with you to get you the materials you need.

To find the Book Shack, look for the Wings as Eagles store – on the corner of Hwy 99 and 9th Street – then look for the antique-barred door just to the right.  That’s where you’ll enter!  Head upstairs to Room C, and come on in!  (Moving to Shawnee as of April 2019)

We received some VERY big donations last week, which is AMAZING!!!   We are so grateful for the community of folks who are working together to help each other out.  😃

Within these donations were many items that are more appropriate for a classroom setting, including math manipulatives, games, classroom reproducibles, classroom posters, reading books (like for a classroom library), and a few other things that are more appropriate for classrooms than homeschool.

These items are still available for any of our homeschool families that come to visit (though they cannot be mailed, as they cannot go media mail rate), but we have such a surplus, and these are the types of things that classroom teachers need for their classrooms, so we decided to partner up with the local school district and invite public school teachers to come and pick out items that they need for their classrooms.

On Monday and Wednesday of our July opening dates, both homeschool and classroom teachers will be able to visit the Shack to ‘treasure hunt.’  Depending on how well this event goes, we may open up the Shack to teachers again next summer. 

Re-framing the Day in an Educational Context

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!

Welcome To Oklahoma Book Shack!

Thanks for stopping by. This is Sammy the Web guy 🙂 and we are currently under construction here. So mind the mess 🙂 as I dig through and get something everyone can enjoy and use. So keep checking back as things will continue to evolve and grow.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars!  This Wednesday is the grand re-opening for the Book Shack, along with the Homeschool House learning co-op, in Shawnee.


Look forward to seeing you there!

~Erin, Nicole, Holly & DeeDee