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.

Tomatoes and timelines: Giving our homeschoolers room to bloom

tomatoes1picmo
Written by Kara S. Anderson

I’ve been thinking a lot about my green tomatoes lately.

It hasn’t been a good year for tomatoes at the Anderson Ranch. We’ve gotten a couple of precious Cherokee Purples, and a few handfuls of Yellow Cherries, but mostly, our tomatoes have stayed green, or been attacked by chipmunks or never grown at all, their little flowers curling up; giving up.

Meanwhile, in a corner nearby, our hot peppers have gone absolutely bananas. One plant really took off, and we’ve had more hot peppers than it’s advisable to eat.

We’ve pickled some and made hot sauce, but honestly, we’re all tired of our eyes watering and our throats burning, and a little irritated that the tomatoes couldn’t at least pull their weight enough to give us a few jars of salsa.

But gardens do what they do. We can water them and weed them, and yell at them and cross all our toes, but there are good growing seasons and not as good growing seasons, and there are roughly 8,000 variables, and if we think we really have any control, we’re fooling ourselves.

Home education is similar, of course. There are math years and Shakespeare years and years when we worry that our children are not blooming – they are slow to grow in a particular area, and so we tear our hair out and stay up at night worrying.

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Using the bullet journal system for homeschool planning

Using the bullet journal method
Written by Kara S. Anderson

The first step is to not panic.

I know – the school year is starting, and your shelf is NOT READY, and that math thing you wanted to try is back-ordered and it doesn’t matter anyway because your oldest says that this year he’d prefer to just not do math at all.

Wouldn’t we all, kid.

Instagram and Pinterest are mocking you with the pictures of stylish schoolrooms (you meet at the corner of your dining room table that doesn’t slope), and the kind of judgy lady from co-op just called and told you that they really need someone to teach Ancient Greek to the pre-schoolers.

You don’t have to do much, just crafts and a puppet story time, and then learn and teach Ancient Greek.

I get it. The beginning of the school year is both wonderful and overwhelming.

There are so many possibilities and it all feels fresh and new, and mostly do-able, except for the small parts that are terrifying.

So I’d like to offer that maybe what you need is a notebook.

I know if doesn’t seem like much. In fact, you can literally buy one for 17 cents at Staples right now.

But I’m telling you, there is an amazing power to writing things down, and getting them OUT OF YOUR HEAD. Especially when you are feeling overwhelmed, which happens a little lot this time of year.

The way I do that is through bullet journaling.

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How lifelong learning has changed our homeschool

How lie-long learning has changed our homeschool
Written by Kara Anderson

Every summer, I take a class.

It’s usually just a few nights, and over time, it’s become easier and easier to make room in my life for this quirky tradition.

I’ve taken knitting and yoga, photography and felting, and every year when the course catalog comes, I set it aside for a while and then peruse it late one night, deciding if it will be a year for Greek or Graphic Design.

My favorite classes are held at my old college campus, where my love for learning was reinvigorated after a long hiatus.

I didn’t like school in middle school and hated it in high school, but in college I came alive again.

I took Philosophy and foreign languages and Logic and eventually Feature Writing, which led me to join the student newspaper and find my place.

I took “The Poetry of Love” and Criminal Psychology and I dabbled and explored.

I took what interested me, and learning became wonderful again.

I had forgotten it could be like that.

And so I still love, all these years later, packing a bag and trying to find my class – sitting in a desk and taking notes …

I still love to learn.

I want my kids to have that, or rather, I want them to keep it – I don’t want them to lose it in middle school, especially since middle school starts for my son in the fall.

And so I’ve spent a lot of time the past several months trying to figure out how to keep a love of lifelong learning alive for my kids.

I’ve decided that it comes down to a few things:

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When you just really want to start homeschooling

When you just really want to start homeschooling
Written by Kara Anderson

The first time I tried to read Robin Hood to my kids, they were 1 and 4.

A relative had given us a set of beautiful, bound classics from the 50s – books her own children read, and I was determined to share them all with my kids.

Of course, I thought, I should definitely start as soon as possible. And so we began with Robin Hood one early September.

We (well, I) were very into Waldorf Education then, and so I decided to incorporate Robin Hood right after Circle Time – right after we blew out our Circle Time Candle, which I always placed on the floor, because I saw someone do that once.

So to recap, I was preparing to read a one-pound, 1950s-era version of Robin Hood to my two children – one a baby, still fitfully nursing in my lap, and the other a precocious boy who just really wanted to climb the furniture.

And I had a lit candle, on my rug.

Just to recap.

I put my candles on non-flammable surfaces now.

I put my candles on non-flammable surfaces now.

Looking back, I had fallen into a familiar trap, that of wanting to Make Homeschool Real with my tiny people.

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Are you a weird (enough) homeschooler?

karamainpicmoWritten by Kara Anderson

People ask me every once in a while.

They lean in close, touch the top of my hand and say it in a way that I think is supposed to mean,

“Of course I’m not referring to you … ”

“But aren’t some homeschoolers a little, you know … weird?” they ask wrinkling their noses or raising their eyebrows.

Yes. Probably.

BUT.

I often think that many of us are not weird enough.

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