Homeschooling Made Simple

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I am about to embark on my 15th year of this incredibly difficult and rewarding journey called homeschooling. Even though I am what many would consider a veteran homeschooler, it seems that the longer I do this, the more I realize there is for me to learn.

But homeschooling doesn’t have to be complicated and one of the best ways to simplify it is to ask others who have walked this same road to share their experience. Another way is to find the best resources you can to help you in your journey.

Have you ever wanted to get answers from other homeschoolers to your burning questions? Here's your chance!Over the years, I’ve found that our homeschooling journey has morphed and changed as our family situation has changed, as I have learned new methods that worked better for us, as I have gained confidence in the fact that my kids are learning “enough”, and as I have had the opportunity to talk to and learn from other homeschool moms.

I know what a treasure it has been for me to be able to talk to other homeschool moms and hear about what has worked for them and what hasn’t. It’ s also just nice to talk to other moms and know that I’m not alone. With that in mind, I gathered some wisdom to share with you.

I asked other homeschool moms, some just starting out and some with decades of experience to share a piece of homeschool advice with you.

Advice from real homeschoolers:

“Keep it Simple, Sister. When you are first starting out, add one thing at a time and work at it until you get your feet under you before adding one more thing. Start with the basics, and don’t add too much too fast. You can do this. When you start to get overwhelmed, take a step back and think about what you can let go or accomplish in a more simple way.” ~ Amy, Homeschool Encouragement

“Don’t compare the way you homeschool with others.” Alecia, Learning 2 Walk

“Do what is right for your family. People will tell new homeschooling families, “Don’t replicate school at home.” I’ve said that to new homeschooling families myself. However, the fact is, you’ve got to do what works best for your family. If that’s a school-at-home environment, so be it. If it’s unschooling – or anywhere between the two – that’s okay, too. Chances are, your homeschool will change and evolve as your family grows and changes and as you get comfortable homeschooling. Different seasons will bring different needs. Embrace what makes your family unique and don’t be afraid to let your homeschool reflect that.” Kris, Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

“If it doesn’t work, change it. So many homeschoolers feel they have to be loyal to a certain company even when their child may not learn well with that curriculum. Or they have spent the money on it, so they feel they need to finish it. Every child learns differently. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to drop it and replace it with something else, until you find what works for your child.” ~ Katie Hornor, Paradise Praises

“I cannot stress enough the importance & the impact that making your children a part of the planning can have. When they feel they have had input in WHAT they are going to learn about – they are more invested. They take ownership of their schooling. It also pulls the family together as a team, planning your next move.” ~ Kelli, Adventure Homeschool

“Expect hard days. Know that there will be days when no one, including you, is in the mood to do school work and everyone is grumpy or whiny. But press on! Because there will also be days where everyone is excited to learn and you are all having so much fun together, you can’t even believe how blessed you are to get to stay home and teach these amazing little people. So be flexible on the hard days, and enjoy every moment of the amazing days, because they all go by so incredibly fast!” ~ Bethany, Math Geek Mama

“In the early years its okay to focus on only one thing at at time. I only focus on reading in kindergarten and first grade. Giving a child the ability to read will unlock the rest of the world to them!” ~ Becky Marie, For This Season

“Make a plan for your days if you must, but also ask your children what they want to learn about. And then set aside time each day for them to explore their interests and passions. This is how you will ignite a love for learning.” ~ Marcy, Ben and Me

“Don’t be afraid to have fun and follow your children’s passions. Children learn the best when they are relaxed, engaged and interested. Having fun with your learning will help trigger better learning and retention of concepts. Plus, it helps develop a life long love of learning.” ~ Shelley, STEAM Powered Family

Ask for advice from others, but ultimately remember that your homeschool does not have to look like anyone else’s. Your homeschool is a reflection of your family and their needs. Trust God’s guidance and have faith that He will lead you to the resources you need when you seek Him.” ~ Vicki, Simply Vicki

“Probably the hardest lesson that I’ve had to learn as a new homeschooler is that my year will never, ever turn out how I think it will. This was a very difficult and painful lesson for this Type-A perfectionist! As a result, I’ve learned to set broad goals for each child and for our homeschool year, but to leave enough room in our homeschool experience for God to come in and change things up as He sees fit. By keeping my goals high (but my expectations open), I have found so much freedom and joy! I encourage every homeschool mom to keep this kind of flexibility (what I talk about in my book “Plan to Be Flexible“) in her daily and weekly homeschool planning. Focus on setting specific pillars in your day (or goals you want to achieve in a certain timeframe) but then give enough room and space for that learning to happen in real and natural ways. This is what I call “rhythm-based homeschooling” and it allows for moms to prioritize growing relationships with their children instead of trying to force-feed knowledge.” ~ Alicia Michelle, Vibrant Homeschooling

“Use the tools and resources that are available to you. Trust me, you’ve already got enough to do. No need to reinvent the wheel!” ~ Kim, Not Consumed

“Never compare what your homeschool looks like or functions like to any other family’s homeschool. Just like each one of our children have different personalities and learning styles – the dynamics of each homeschool family will vary greatly as well. Remember it’s not about what anyone else is or isn’t doing – rather it’s all about teaching our the children to learn in the unique way God created them to. Have fun and enjoy!” ~ Carlie, Today’s Frugal Mom

“Delight-directed homeschooling has taught me to allow my children to be who they are–to cater to their gifts and interests. It has also given me the freedom to be who I am–to capitalize on my own strengths and interests and to stop comparing myself to other homeschooling moms whose gifts and talents are not my own.” ~ Ami, Walking by the Way


My personal homeschool advice:

What I Would Tell a New Homeschool Mom

Reflecting on my biggest homeschool mistake and what I do differently now

10 Children’s Books With Surprise Endings

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We recently found a book that I used to read to our older kids when they were younger and the kids and I have been reading it almost every day since then. What makes the book so much fun is the surprise ending!

10 Children's Books with Surprise Endings

The book is called Under the Bed and when you’re first reading it, it seems like a regular read-aloud book about a young bear who comes in and wakes up his dad to tell him that there’s a monster under the book. As a parent, it’s easy to relate to the exasperation the daddy bear feels as he tries to talk his son into going back to bed. He tries to convince him of course that there is no monster under his bed. I don’t want to give away the surprise ending, but it’s one that makes my kids giggle!

Here are some other books that we enjoy that have surprise endings (though maybe none as surprising as Under the Bed!):

Children's Books with Surprise EndingsWhat are your favourite children’s books with unexpected endings?

Books that Encourage

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No matter where you are in your life right now, whether you are going through a hard time right now or in a good space, reading the right books can uplift, encourage, inspire, motivate, and even transform.

Books That EncourageThese books are ones that can minister to a weary heart and bring comfort on hard days. I have found encouragement from some of these books while others are ones that I have yet to read but friends have recommended them and said that they have been helped and strengthened by them.

Join me this month as I share ways to help you move towards the life you want to live. Join me in the challenge. Ready to jump off the cliff?

31 Days Towards the Life You Want

Books for Kids About Liking Who They Are

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Self-esteem is a word that gets thrown around fairly liberally, but it is important for kids to learn to embrace their uniqueness and to like themselves for who they are. They get so many messages from the media about having to aspire to some sort of unattainable perfection that it is important that we counter that with our own message about them being good enough just the way they are.

These messages can be even more important for kids who may feel different because of a special need or a visible difference such as a hearing aid, scarring or being significantly larger or smaller than same-age peers.

Books for Kids About Liking Who They Are

I often use books in helping me reinforce the values I am trying to teach my kids. Here are some books that help teach kids about being okay just being themselves:

A Bad Case of Stripes – This is one of our all-time favourite read-alouds! We’ve even done some really fun activities to go along with the book and help cement the concept of being who you are.

A Bad Case of Stripes ActivitiesSpaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun – This is a neat book because it lends itself to discussions on bullying, family traditions and embracing your uniqueness. Essentially, it’s a book about having the courage to be who you are, presented in a way that kids can easily understand and relate to.

I Like Myself – This is another family favourite. What parent doesn’t want their child to be able to say they like themselves?

You are Special – The underlying message in this book is that God cherishes each of us, exactly as we are, regardless of how the world perceives us or of how others treat us. It’s a long book for a read-aloud so you may want to break it into parts. Another book by the same author (Max Lucado) called If Only I Had a Green Nose reminds kids that they are created as unique for a reason.

I Love My Hair – This book obviously doesn’t apply to all kids, but if you have a daughter of African descent who struggles with liking her hair, this book is awesome! It has helped Dancing Queen to feel like her hair is another part of herself to be celebrated, not hated.

The Dot – “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.” This book helps kids discover their talents and encourages them to follow their own path.

The Skin You Live In – This is a great book about diversity and self-esteem. It is simple enough for even young children.

The rest of the books in the list above are not ones we have read yet but they seem to be ones that teach the same lesson. Are there any that you would add to the list?