Helpful Tips for Beginning to Homeschool Mid-Year

Starting to homeschool is never easy, but it isn’t any more difficult to start in January. In fact, it’s a great time to start.

Homeschooling Mid Yearsummer homeschool

I’ve noticed over the years that many people take the homeschool plunge in January. I know, some of you might think… Really? Well, it’s not so weird when you stop to think about what they might have gone through last fall. Usually, those who start in January have just endured something that causes them to not put off homeschooling another minute!

Just a few pointers…

  • Check with your state guidelines for homeschooling to see that you have complied with everything that is expected
  • Take time to find out how your children learn. Ask their previous teachers, sit down with them and do a few “worksheets” or watch an educational video. Perhaps you could even find a few online homeschool sites and try them out. Discover how they learn! (auditory, visual, kinesthetic(hands on)
  • Decide on how you want to homeschool. If you are new to this you might want to start with something that does most of the work for you like an all-in-one curriculum or perhaps an online homeschool program.
  • Research the different curriculum options that fit your child’s learning needs as well as the needs of family
  • Purchase the curriculum
  • Set learning goals for your children – what do you want to accomplish this year?
  • Set your schedule – decide on how many days that you want to homeschool and then divide up the lessons and assignments to reach your goals in the allotted amount of time.
  • Set a side a place where your kids can learn comfortably.
  • Get learning!!


Competition – Healthy or Harmful?

runMost of us are probably wondering the same thing… where does the idea of competition come from? and is it healthy for our children?

Competition is definitely not a contemporary idea. In fact, the downplay of competition in schools across America is rising. Many educators believe that competition is harmful and damaging to the young psyche. Let’s take a look at history…

As long as can be remembered competition has been a part of our society and our world. True competition in the historical sense is partnering with our competitors and pursuing excellence all while realizing that the experience gained in the pursuit is worth more than the outcome. This is where things get derailed. The importance of the “pursuit of excellence” is the key to competition. Not the base desire to just win. Take for example the Olympic Creed, “The most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.”

Taking it back even further into history, the Word of God instructs us to “run the race”, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” II Tim. 4:7, and Heb. 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” The idea here is not to win, but to run with patience… to acquire the lessons and experience and goals that the race brings with it.

Even the Latin roots of the word competition show us this – petere means to strive and the prefix com  means with. Thus denoting the idea that competition is to strive along side WITH not against! This is the pure form of competition, and thus one that is healthy and contributes to growth in our children. However, after the fall of man sin corrupted everything and thus competition became corrupted and degraded to the singular goal of winning joined by arrogance and disrespect.

The corrupted version of competition is the reason why so many people have shied away from incorporating competition at all. However, the pure form of striving together with someone toward a goal – all while pursuing excellence is meaningful and definitely motivating. Remove competition completely and students stagnate… everyone wins a blue ribbon for art – why try harder? Everyone gets a reward for the foot race – why give my best?

Keeping competition pure – is key to using it as a healthy motivator. Philippians 1:27, “that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel.”  This verse in Philippians is talking about staying true to the Lord, however the idea of striving together for a common goal is fundamental. Notice that the verse talks of one spirit and one mind – again this idea of healthy competition doesn’t accept degrading one another – nor being lifted up in pride but having the same mindset – and the same GOAL. True competition will enable us grow and learn from the journey!

I Cor. 14:12 “seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church”

What is Your Favorite Method of Homeschooling?

Homeschooling with Many Children

family“ Hi… I’m Jamie… and I have six kids.” Excuse me while I practice up for my “mothers of many children” support group.  I’m just joking, but that statement pretty much sums up my time in almost every respect. During this season of my life, my children affect everything that I do. Whether it’s work, managing my home, homeschooling, date night, and even “me” time… my children are an integral aspect of the decisions that I make.  Sometimes so much so that I feel completely overwhelmed.

Ever feel that way? I’m sure you do… even friends of mine with only one child feel the same way. So, what is the deal? Are we just selfish, or is this a natural part of parenting?

Well, maybe a bit of both… LOL… (I know I sure can be!) but really it is what many mothers feel on a regular basis. The fact that you feel overwhelmed at the immense daily task of caring for a large family is no reflection on whether or not you love your children. It does show that you take your responsibilities seriously, and credits you with caring. All good things… so don’t feel bad. A few years ago I let the weight of these cares this crush me. I literally lived “overwhelmed.”  A dear friend once realized this in my life, and took the time to encourage me to take inventory of my life and trash everything that I really didn’t “have to” include. I know it sounds simple, but after I made this a conscious part of my daily thought processes… it really helped. It’s changed how I live. Sure, I still have to consider my kids when I plan “me” time… and date night… and everything else but I regularly get rid of anything that isn’t necessary or doesn’t encourage and build me and my family up.

A few tips to getting it done…

1) When someone asks you for help, and you are already overwhelmed… just say “No, I’m sorry.” and then smile.

2) When your children want to play every sport and do every extra curriculum activity imaginable, sit them down and explain that they need to focus on one thing and then maybe next year they can try something else.

3) Schedule time for breaks. Whenever I begin to feel  like everything is piling up, and I have nothing else to give… I schedule time for me to get refreshed. There is no way you can keep giving out to your children without being filled. Making sure to spend quiet time with the Lord can be life changing.

4) Schedule time for fun activities in your homeschool day. Laughter truly can be the best medicine. Take time to smell the roses with your kiddos. You’re making memories that will last alot longer than the to do list on your fridge.

5) Don’t be afraid to keep it simple. Make simple suppers, ask the kids to use the towels more than once to limit laundry, use homeschooling helps like online curriculum or even video lessons.  No one ever said you had to be Wonder Woman… just “mom!”

Carnival of Homeschooling – Spring Refreshment Edition

homeschool encouragement

I don’t know if you are anything like me, but as a homeschooling mom of six… there are times that I just need a bit of refreshment. Schoolwork becomes overwhelming, housework becomes tedious, and patience runs thin… it is then that I know I need to get my “cup filled” back up. How can I continue to give to my children and my family when my cup is empty. Frankly, it’s nearly impossible. That’s where these carnival of homeschooling editions come in. There have been so many times that I have felt exhausted and my homeschool motivation level way past E… that I’ve opened up one of these Homeschool Carnival blog posts and have found refreshment and encouragement in so many areas of my life. It is my hope and goal to return the favor for each of you this week. I hope that somewhere in the posts of this blog carnival you will find the refreshment, motivation, inspiration, or just plain old laughter that will help you get through the next few months of school! It really is so great when the homeschool community helps each other…

So, sit back, relax… and get your cup filled today…

Sometimes refreshing can come in different forms. There are times when I can read a fellow homeschool mom’s blog post and immediately I can see that I am not alone in this daily struggle to make sure my children go forward and not backward. At other times, just hearing about a new curriculum can give me hope that it might possibly be the one that will help us turn the corner! In any case, I hope that these posts inspire you with a breath of fresh air…

homeschool tipsLaura Grace Weldon gives us a new perspective on Respecting a Child’s Urge to Discover in her blog post about encouraging our children to discover on their own.

Dewey’s Tree House reminds us of some great time tested homeschooling “tools” in Tools of an Old Homeschool Mom: “Key to” Math and more.

Remember, You Are Not Alone! is a great post by the Read Aloud Dad… he encourages us to keep up the “good work” of reading to our children daily!

Here’s something that was fresh for me… Dorothy Sayers and the Lost Tools of Learning by Petticoat Government present a different perspective on how to compare the study of math and science at home to this book.

Sometimes we can see the “big picture” when we look at the pros and cons of something… The Drawbacks of Homeschooling is presented this week by Letters from Nebby.

How we teach affects how our children learn… The Thinking Mother encourages us to …Stop Telling Students, “Said is Dead.”

New Curriculum ideas are another great way to add some freshness to your homeschool. Just because it’s spring doesn’t mean you can’t start something new! In fact, that may be “just what the doctor ordered.”

Online Education for Kids submits a post delineating all the homeschool greats… in their post The Super Heroes of Elementary Homeschool Curriculum.

A great way to get a fresh perspective is to get outside! Gardening – Project Based Learning You Can Eat!  is a great blog post by the Time4Learning Community Blog to encourage you to do just that!

I love to look at making plans for next year and Homeschool vs. Public School encourages us to do so with their post Homeschool Plans for Next Year by giving us a glimpse of unschooling.

DenSchool provides much needed inspiration in her post about a March Homeschooler of the Month. You can read about this achievement and learn how to submit an entry for another Homeschooler of the Month award!

Fill Your Bookshelf has a great idea for a new unit study, read her post John James Audubon unit study and see if your family might like to try this!


Sometimes refreshment just has to come through taking a look at things that are bigger than ourselves and even our homeschool. Sometimes it just takes a word from a friend… I often realize that my struggles are very small in light of what so many others have to face. Getting a look at the “bigger pictures” often cures our frustration with the little things!

Proclaiming God’s Faithfulness really makes it plain on how we can “finish the race” well in their post, Don’t Be Blue; Strategies for Fighting the Winter Blues.

Katherine over at No Fighting No Biting helps us take a look at why we have an epidemic of underachieving boys and men who don’t want to grow up through her post Underachieving Boys.

Nerd Family Things presents a great post called 10 Math Card Games. It gives us 10 math card games to try with our kids.

I love a recipe for new things… In fact, craft recipes are such fun I know that whenever I pull one of those out –  my kids are usually thrilled!

Homemade Goodness sends us a post about Two Easy Homemade Glue Recipes that would work great for your next craft session with the kids… or if the wiggles get really bad… you could even use it to glue them to their chairs.

Sometimes we have to respond to negativity… Alasandra does this over at her blog Alasandra’s Homeschool Blog.

I’m so glad  that you stopped by, and I hope that this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling “filled your cup” and refreshed you today!

carnival of homeschooling

Next week the carnival of homeschooling will be hosted by Home Grown Mommy.

If you want to find out more about the Carnival of Homeschooling you can visit the link, submit a post, or even host – if you are brave enough!

Article repost… Knee jerk Homeschooling?

My dear friend Kerry from Let’s Homeschool High School has just posted a very thought provoking article, take a look…

In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, social networks are lit up like pinball machines with comments, questions, and ponderings from parents about whether they should just pull their children out of school to homeschool them.  While I completely understand the reaction, I want to share my thoughts on why I think choosing to homeschool should be more than a reactionary response to specific current events.

1. Quick choices based in fear make children feel unsafe
While we ALL feel less safe in light of the recent attack at Sandy Hook and previous attacks in other public places, the chances of us or our children being a victim of a mass shooting are still infinitesimally small. While the constant news media coverage makes us have strong empathy for the victims, the downside is that we feel, perhaps unreasonably, that the same school we have felt comfortable sending children to day after day is suddenly unsafe. By making a quick decision to homeschool a child based on this feeling of fear, we are likely confirming to the child that the world is a generally unsafe place instead of putting the tragedy into perspective and realizing that while these incidents are beyond heartbreaking, they are still quite rare.  If you feel uneasy about sending your child back to school, it would be better not to voice that fear to your children directly, but instead, to take some time and do your research about homeschooling, and then make the decision after the initial fear has passed.

2. Homeschooling requires real time and commitment
Maybe you feel as though homeschooling is the best choice for your family in light of recent events – – and maybe it IS – – but be aware that it requires time, energy, and dedication that you may not be fully prepared for.  Even if one of the parents in a family is already staying at home full time, he or she would probably be quite surprised by how much their day would radically change if homeschooling became part of the equation.  No matter what style of homeschooling you use, or what curriculum you follow, parents who educate a child at home are deeply involved in their learning.  They need to be available all through the day for teaching, support, guidance, and direction.  I might even dare to add that homeschooling parents aren’t well known for having an abundance of “me-time”.  Not that this should discourage anyone who is considering homeschooling, but it’s definitely a factor to think about before making a quick decision to pull a child from their current school situation.

3. Homeschooling is a lifestyle
And by that, I don’t mean the stereotypes that people have of homeschooling families such as they are all required to have eight children or that they are all precocious little adults-in-kids-bodies.  What I mean is that becoming a homeschooler can have it’s own form of “culture shock.”  While you might envision pulling your child from school and schooling them at home as merely an EDUCATIONAL choice, the truth is that you are making a choice that will affect most every aspect of your child’s life – – their self-image, their friends, their hobbies, their priorities, their outlook toward society and their place in it.  ALL of those things will be markedly different once they move from the realm of the “schooled” to the “homeschooled.”  These changes are often quite welcome for parents who have slowly and thoughtfully made a decision to teach their child at home, but for parents who pull a child from school quickly, these changes can feel sudden and not necessarily easy to adjust to.

My positive experiences with homeschooling have made me one of the strongest proponents of it anywhere, and I feel disingenuous by ever discouraging someone from bringing a child home to learn. But, with fourteen years of homeschooling experience under my belt, it feels only fair to at least advise parents to really put a LOT of thought into the decision and to be aware of all the factors involved before committing to something as life-changing (for good or bad) as becoming a homeschooling family. My best wishes of peace, sound judgment, and surety for all those of you who are pondering this choice today.

Kerry Jones is a freelance writer and online marketing consultant in North Carolina.  She has two sons, one who recently graduated from homeschool, and has been secular homeschooling since 1999. You can also visit her website to read more of her articles about homeschooling in the digital age.






Creating Your Own Preschool Homeschool Curriculum

This year I decided I was tired of using the same old boxed curriculum. I know it works, but I had grown up with it, and I had taught it for 17 years. I needed a break. So, as my youngest became ready to start kindergarten I wanted to find something that was challenging yet different. Yet, I wasn’t able to find ONE curriculum that met my standards. So, I put together a collection of my own.

Here are a few of my ideas… some of them are a work in progress!

Math – I used a text I found on Complete Curriculum. I purchased this membership when it first went viral for $4.95! I believe it is $20 now, but you get 10 text downloads for that price. She also does a few days of Time4Learning.

Language Arts – I found two HUGE workbooks from Brain Quest. I also used several smaller workbooks( I found those for $1 each) that simply have work pages on each letter of the alphabet. We review and do pages on the same letter of the alphabet for several days to make sure that she completely understands each letter and its sound. She does several lessons each week in Time4Learning as well.

Science – She is with the other children (ages 8,11, and 11). We use Apologia and are studying Botany this year. We use the notebooking technique, and she is LOVING making a collection of what we study!

History – She also is with my older children, and we are using the Time Travelers History series. We have lots of projects, which she enjoys doing with us.

Handwriting – I am using some great handwriting worksheets from Spelling City.

We also bought several new puzzles and educational games (she had done ours till she had them memorized). With all of these options- each day can be different and exciting. I also try to break up the various study times with activities or outdoor field trips for science. Keeping her moving helps keep her excited and ready to learn!


Teaching Bible in Your Homeschool

As a Christian, I believe that everyday should start with prayer and acknowledging my dependence on my Savior. I do try to begin our homeschool day in the same manner. We study God’s Word, pray, and even sing some fun children’s songs. Yet, sometimes the busy- ness of our day will rob this time. A dentist appointment, and unexpected visitor…To be honest, I noticed that our days tend to go much more smoothly when we spend a few moments having “Bible” time. We make it fun, not too deep… (only what a 5 year old can handle) and focus on living our lives in a way that is pleasing unto the Lord.

There are some really awesome curriculum kits out there that can make your Bible time – easy and fun. One of my favorites is Positive Action for Christ… I have used several different levels of their curriculum… I just adjust it for whatever grade I am teaching.

The Explorer’s Bible Study is also a great Bible curriculum for children’s  individual study. Great if you don’t like “teaching.”

The What We Believe Series by Apologia Press also looks like a great curriculum. Haven’t tried this one… but I love Apologia’s other stuff!

Also BJU and ABEKA have great Bible curriculum… you can even get ABEKA’s on DVD… though the teachers may look a bit dated… they really are good teachers. My children learned a lot when we used the DVD series!

Learn Action and Being Verbs with a Game

Distinguishing between action and being verbs can often be challenging for young learners. Try this action packed game to help your grammar students get a grasp on the types of verbs.

1. Have 40 index cards. Write action verbs (like hop, skip, jump, walk, run, twist, clap, leap, etc.)on 20 of them, and being verbs on the others.

2. Have kids line up in two lines like a relay race. Have a start and then a finish line.

3 Mix up the index cards, and then you stand on the side. When it’s time to go flash the cards, and the children who are first will have to follow the verb on the card to get to the finish line. When there is a being verb, the students will just stand still… when there is an action verb they will do that action. If you only have a few children, have them go through the stack of cards – going back and forth between the two lines… whoever finishes first is the winner!