About Kara Anderson

Kara is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom, with a goal of encouraging fellow mamas in real-life homeschooling. She also's the happy co-host of The Homeschool Sisters podcast.

The power of play

Written by Kara S. Anderson

I’ve been thinking a lot this summer about the importance of play, and how it can help kids dive deeply into learning.

It began simply, with an idea – to put something out for my kids each Monday this summer that they could explore at their leisure.

I didn’t want to force anything. Instead, I wanted to make something available that could be our go-to for the week.

Unschoolers call this idea “strewing.” I’ve been calling them Monday Morning Invitations, and so far they’ve included ideas like making sidewalk chalk paint and giant bubbles, crafting a s’mores solar oven and creating gnome homes.

Some of them have been huge hits and extended far beyond the initial week. Some have been minor misses. The kids didn’t hate them, but the idea didn’t stick around as long.

But all have been fun and hands-on, and maybe arty or science-y (and usually a little messy).

And all have reminded me of what can be learned through play and time and space.

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How to fall in love with homeschooling


Written by Kara S. Anderson

We are wrapping up our homeschool year right now, and I am kind of done.

In fact, I might have just said the following to my husband:

“We’re so done with homeschooling. How long do we have left? A week? That’s not so bad.

You can do anything for a week. You can be on fire for a week.”

Now that statement taken on its own doesn’t really sound like someone who loves homeschooling.

But I am. Do you know why?

Because immediately after saying that, I quit.

There was no pomp, circumstance or fanfare. I simply told myself that I was done for while.

Because I’m the boss, applesauce.

(OK, really, I just put away the math book that was driving me nuts and told myself I’d take extra time Monday to work on laundry.)

Maybe we’ll do an inter-session. Maybe we’ll start back a week early.

But probably, we’ll just do what we’ve been doing for years now and make up our own rules. Everything seems to work out just fine when we do.

And THAT friends, doing it YOUR way – is the main key to falling head over heels in love with homeschooling.

Here are a couple of other tips:

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How therapy dogs helped me relax about reading


Written by Kara S. Anderson

“It tastes just like cheesecake,” she said laughing.

She was, of course, referring to dog frosting – the dog frosting she had whipped up from scratch to decorate her homemade banana pupcakes.

Frosting them was the last step in a process that had taken most of the day. She had also made applesauce treats and pumpkin bones.

She was getting ready for the last week of her read-to-a-dog program until the summer session.

It’s always hard to say good-bye to Gus and Mimi, Ozzie, Odie, Grace, Finn, Cocoa, Love, Koda and the other dogs who have become such good friends.

I adore every dog who has ever taken part in Books and Barks – their humans too, and the caring librarian who facilitates this program that I have no doubt, helped my daughter learn to read, and has built her confidence and fluency in a way that has never been stressful or hard.
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Kara’s homeschool day in the life (with a 10- & 12-year-old)


Written by Kara S. Anderson

When I first began homeschooling, no one told me that February was going to make me feel like nothing was working.

It actually took years until I learned about the “February Slump,” wherein everything feels dark and cold, and you start to wonder if your kids wouldn’t be better off just working in a coal mine.

Last year, we went to Florida in February. I recommend that – something about bringing home a suitcase full of sand makes the next 25 days so much easier.

This year, I woke up one day with a weird pain in my jaw that made it hard for me to do basic things like talk and chew. The not-talking I could handle, but the not-chewing? THAT made me hard to be around.

And so, we muddled through for a few weeks until a nice man in a mask gave me a root canal. I never thought I would be so grateful for anything as I was for having my roots canaled (or whatever it is they do in there – I don’t want to think about it.)

It turns out, not being able to homeschool the “regular way” led us to some new resources and ideas, and the whole thing turned out to be a blessing.

A homeschool day in the life

So today, I share with you a day when we took homeschooling off-road; a day when we had to get a little creative.

You know what? It worked out just fine!

One quick note: This brief experience made me remember this podcast episode with Melissa Wiley and Pam Barnhill where Melissa talks about “tidal schooling” and what that looks like for her family.

It reminded me to see this difficult few weeks as a season, and to not add guilt to the mix!

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How do you want your homeschool to feel?

Written by Kara S. Anderson

I was talking with Melissa Camara Wilkins recently about the holidays, and she asked the best question:

How do you want the holidays to feel?

That took me back a step. I don’t usually think about the holidays that way – I’m too busy focusing on what to do next. I often see the Christmas season as one giant to-do list, until I can hit my bed face-first Christmas night, exhausted, but finally able to rest.

That’s not how I want to feel about the holidays, though, and that’s not how I want to feel about homeschooling.

I don’t want these years to be filled with nothing but check-boxes and to-dos.

And so I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to how our homeschool feels, and what I want it to feel like going forward.

As January rolls around in a few weeks, and we begin a new semester of learning, here are some of the things I want to focus on:

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