About Melissa Camara Wilkins

Melissa Camara Wilkins is a homeschooling mom of six in Southern California. She writes about being who you were made to be and letting go of the rest.

Focus on this first in the new school year

Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

August may be a good school planning month (though I’ll tell you secretly, I like January better), but what I’m planning right now is dorm supplies and dining hall meal plans and one million important conversations, because in a few VERY SHORT WEEKS, my oldest daughter leaves for college.

Regular life—and regular homeschooling—will continue for my husband and I and our five younger kids, but our family will look a little bit different. I don’t know yet how our days will shift and how everyone will feel and what will need adjusting.

So what will our new school year look like? Well, it will be the same as always, and also I have no idea.
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12 great book-to-movie adaptations for families

Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

Creating a homeschool lifestyle that works for our family involves a lot of things I didn’t expect at first.

For example? One of the most important things for keeping our days running smoothly is not lesson planning. It’s not even meal planning, though that would probably be wise.

The most important thing for keeping our family sane is REST.

By “rest” I do mean sleep, but I also just mean reserving some time for being unproductive on purpose.

Without rest, the kids get overwhelmed and easily distracted. Without rest, all our tempers get a little short. We end up bickering about nothing and everything. Without rest, I turn into a cranky mama-robot of doom, cycling joylessly through chores and tasks and appointments. (Just me?)

So rest is important.

Rest is also hard. I continue to be terrible at it, even with lots of practice. The best solution I’ve found is to build regular times of rest into our schedule, whether I think we’re going to need them or not. (We will. We will need them.)

We all have a daily quiet time, so our ears can rest.

The kids go to bed before I do in the evening, so my brain can rest.

And on Friday nights, the kids know to expect a Family Movie Night so we can all take a break and rest together.

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To the mamas of high school seniors-to-be

Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

T his fall, my youngest daughter will be kindergarten-aged and my oldest daughter will be a freshman in college. When I say “freshman in college” I mean “that thing where she moves away to live in a dorm and does not come home until maybe Thanksgiving.” What on earth is happening here.

(We also have two more elementary-school-aged kids, a middle schooler, and another high schooler, so I basically have the whole spectrum of educational opportunities going on under my roof right now.)

This last year has felt like a whirlwind of applications and deadlines and college visits and plans, and when I think about all the mamas of high school seniors-to-be, I want to give every one of you a hug. This is hard.

No matter what path your almost-grown child chooses next, it’s hard to be heading into the end of this phase of parenting.

What I want you to know

I would tell you not to freak out, but if you’re anything like me, you started freaking out about your child growing up and moving out somewhere around the day they were born, so I assume that ship has sailed.

Instead, this is what I want you to know as you step into this last year of parenting your high schooler:

It’s all going to be okay. And at the same time: “Okay” may look nothing like you thought it would.

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What do unschooled teens do all day?

What do unschooled teens DO all day? Ideas and resources for interest-led learning for teenagers.Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

Teenagers are awesome.

The teenagers I know have interesting ideas, share perspectives I haven’t thought of, and are still open to learning even as they’re showing me new ways of looking at things.

At the same time, being the parent of homeschooled teens has opened up a whole new list of fears and expectations and things to worry about (hooray?):

Does interest-led learning work for teens? What will they do all day? What SHOULD they do all day? Are they doing enough? What IS enough, anyway?

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How to help kids deal with disappointment

Advice for parents when kids are disappointedWritten by Melissa Camara Wilkins

A couple of weeks ago, some girlfriends and I went out for coffee and talked, as you do, about all the things in our lives and in our families’ lives that have not gone according to plan lately.

He didn’t get a part in the play. She didn’t make the team. His best friend moved away. She didn’t get the summer job. He didn’t understand. I wasn’t invited to that event even though it looks like everyone else on Instagram WAS.

We all know it will all be okay, but… it’s also awful.

It takes me approximately one hot second to make my own disappointments mean something about me. I let myself believe that if I wasn’t invited, it’s probably because no one is interested in my perspective, or because my relationships aren’t what I thought they were, or because I’m just not the kind of person other people want to have around.

I make it all mean that I’m not enough and I don’t belong.

My kids usually go for the more-expansive explanation: It’s not fair and the world is ending.

That’s about how it feels. But I don’t want any of us to get stuck there, right? Ultimately, I want my kids to know that they can experience disappointment and survive. Unmet expectations will not crush them. Even smashed-up hopes, broken hearts, dreams that didn’t quite come true—I want them to know these can all be endured.

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