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.

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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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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