Kara’s homeschool day in the life (with an 8- & 11-year-old)

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Written by Kara Anderson of Quill and Camera

A few months ago, someone asked me if my kids ever don’t want to do school.

I smiled, because that was the type of question I wondered about early on, when I didn’t really know any homeschoolers.

I kind of knew one, and she was sort of mean. I was scared to ask her anything, because one time another mom asked her if her son could have the blue cup and she snapped: “We don’t do that here.” I knew then that the best course of action was just to run for my life.

So instead of asking her my homeschooling questions I took to the Internet, which was a huge mistake. Because the Internet has everything on it and that can be a bit overwhelming.

A homeschool day in the life 2016

You read the blogs – doesn’t it feel sometimes like everyone else has it figured out?

I want to tell you that I don’t. There are definitely days when my kids just don’t want to do school.

There are resources we have tried that people swear by, and one or all of us hates it.

There are things other mamas do that frankly look like a lot of work, so I pin those things and never look at them again.

But every morning, I get up, I make my tea, and I start anyway. Here’s what that looks like on an average, imperfect day:

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How much should your push your sensitive homeschooler?

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Written by Kara Anderson of Quill and Camera

I used to do this thing when my kids were small.

When we would enter a busy place, I would sort of situate them in front of me, and waddle behind them, steering their shoulders as we navigated the room or store or farmer’s market.

I thought this made sense because if they were in front of me, I could see them. There was less chance of losing them in the crowd.

The problem, of course, was that I was sending a toddler or pre-schooler into the fray ahead of me, with no idea what sorts of sights, sounds and smells they would encounter.

More than once a little one turned around, threw their arms around my kneecaps and started wailing.

How did it possibly take me so long to figure out my mistake – that I was literally pushing my kids into all sorts of unknown situations?

This sort of push-waddle-steer might not be a big issue for a lot of kids.

Eager kids.

Excited kids.

Kids who would view Disney World as a dream come true instead of a scary, loud, sensory disaster, for instance.

Somebody else’s kids.

But for my kids, doing this was overwhelming and scary.

When I finally realized my mistake I did things differently, and the results were very different. They could enter situations feeling safe and confident.

They knew I was there. That’s a big deal.
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5 ways to grow your confidence as a homeschooler

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Written by Kara Anderson of Quill and Camera

Recently, someone referred to me as a “homeschool veteran.”

I told my hair stylist about it and she responded with open-mouthed shock:

“Girrrrl!” she said. “They were basically calling you old.”

And then she tried some different things with my part and started talking about doing something fun with color. I think my hair stylist’s answer to any perceived insult about aging is “more layers.”

Now the thing is, this person wasn’t calling me old. She wasn’t insulting me at all, actually – just the opposite. She was lending me a bit of credibility, telling people that I have experience.

We just started our seventh year of learning at home.

So I totally know what I’m doing.

Right?

Because the thing is, I just don’t always feel like a veteran.

Homeschooling still feels overwhelming for me sometimes. We change paths periodically. Just when we find a plan that works, something shifts, and I’m on the hunt for ideas again.

Maybe that’s how you feel too?

Or maybe you’re just starting out – this is your first year, and you’re wondering if your mother-in-law, your judgy neighbor or the random lady at the park is right – maybe you aren’t competent enough to do this.

Maybe you made a huge mistake. (Hint: You probably didn’t.)

Today I want to share some tips for growing your confidence when you feel a little shaky.

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Working from home & homeschooling: The hardest part of Kara’s homeschool year

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Written by Kara Anderson of Quill and Camera

I was laid off from my job as a newspaper editor the day I turned nine months pregnant with my first child.

I remember trying to carry my box of desk-junk and pilfered Swingline stapler out to my car. What the heck am I going to do now, I wondered.

Months before, I had worked out a sweet deal with my boss for a 12-week maternity leave, followed by working from home, then going back just a day or two a week.

But our company was purchased and I was let go, told I was welcome to submit a resume again after my baby was born.

(I like to think that that’s why I took the stapler.)

I freaked out a little, but when my son was born I realized just how lucky I was. I had an opportunity to reinvent myself.

I started to consider freelancing. I applied a few places and got some writing work.

I’ve been working in some form or fashion ever since (taking a short break when my daughter was born three years later).

Freelance writing was a great fit for a mom of littles. I would get a job, followed by a month or so of silence. Just when I was convinced my phone would never ring again, I’d get another assignment.

It was very manageable. Until last year.

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Why we practice life skills summers

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Written by Kara Anderson of Quill and Camera.

It was a few years ago now that we had our very first life skills summer. And it all began really simply.

I made each of my kids a morning checklist:

  • Get dressed
  • Brush teeth
  • Brush hair
  • Make bed

My daughter was a pre-reader at the time, so we made her a picture checklist. And for the three months between our regular co-op meetings, from the end of May until early September, we practiced the items on the list every day.

Until it became automatic.

Until all I had to say was “Ok guys! Do your checklists!” and everyone knew what I meant.

What was remarkable, though, was how much this one little thing helped us when the school year started up again.

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