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. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, frazzled, and frustrated, or just want to bring more intention to your days, she’d love to send you a free copy of The Simpler Summer Guide. It’ll help make your life simpler, all summer long.

Write your own permission slip

Write your own permission slip.Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

The smell of freshly sharpened pencils is the scent of possibility. I stand by that. A sheaf of blank paper, piles of sticky notes: these are the things dreams are made of. Doesn’t everyone love school supplies? (Please say yes.)

I am keeping an eye out for new markers, but in the meantime the supply I’m really stocking up on is permission slips.

A permission slip, really?

“Permission slips?” you might ask. “Those little papers that say, Yes, my child has permission to ride the bus. Yes, my child has permission to pet the goats. Yes, my child has permission to visit the bakery/factory/power plant for educational purposes? That is not even a school supply.”

Oh, but it is! (And never mind the thing about the goats, that isn’t relevant here.)

A permission slip says, “Hey, this thing that you were not sure was okay? It is okay. It is definitely, totally, completely, okay.”

It isn’t an excuse or a get-out-of-jail-free card. It’s a way of saying, “I’m not going to do things the usual way. Here’s what I have decided to do instead.”

And before we jump into this next season, I think we might need to write some for ourselves.

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3 steps to a simpler summer

3 Steps to a Simpler SummerWritten by Melissa Camara Wilkins

A couple of my friends have been talking about how few summers we have with our kids, and how to make the most of them.

I say helpful things, like, “oh,” and, “hmm,” and “Eighteen! It’s not a very big number, is it?” This is code for “this conversation is making me so anxious that I may break out in hives at any time.”

It’s not that I am trying not to notice how fast my kids are growing up (though that is probably true).

It’s just that there are so many good ways to spend a summer. Should we go for summer camp or summer reading? Block party or beach bonfire? Water slides or water balloons? Roller coasters or roller skates? Field trips or museum trips or road trips or trips to grandma’s house?

And if I skip it all in favor of free play, will the only thing my kids remember be how they sang “I’m bo-ored” all summer long?
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3 tips for finding good books fast

3 Tips For Finding Good Books
Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

A few months ago I met with some friends for a Let’s All Talk About Parenting Night.

A “parenting mastermind group,” if you will. Or “an excuse to troubleshoot over tall glasses of lemonade.” Either way.

We met in the evening, so we had to figure out what to do about food. Should we assign dishes? Sign up to bring stuff? This was actually more effort than anyone wanted to spend, so we decided to all just bring something. Anything.

We ended up with the aforementioned lemonade, but also wine and cheese and fruit and crackers, veggies and hummus, a couple of salads, a pasta dish, and something chocolate.

Everyone brought their own best thing. We put all our offerings together, and we had a feast.

I think life is like that, too. I have something to offer, you have something to offer.

Our gifts may be wholly unrelated to salad and chocolate, but we’re each holding something we can share with our families and with our world.
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4 words you really need to hear right now

4words
Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

You know what? I’m proud of my kids.

They’re creative and funny, they’re interesting and curious, and they pursue all kinds of ideas I would never have thought to investigate. I bet you feel the same way about your kids. I bet you even tell them that.

Maybe you don’t use those particular words, but I bet your face lights up when they show you their latest creations. I bet you ask thoughtful questions when they tell you what they’re reading or writing or puzzling over.

I bet you celebrate their projects and their accomplishments, because they’re pretty great. I bet you let them know that you’re proud of them in a zillion little ways.
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Melissa’s homeschool day in the life (with a 2-, 5-, 8-, 9-, 12- & 15-year-old)

melissamainpicmo
Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

I feel a little silly writing to you about our daily routine, because between holidays and travel and sick kids, the pattern of our days has been off for weeks.

Our usual daily routine starts with breakfast and morning chores. After that, I try to structure our time and our environment and let each kid choose what to work on within that framework.

So all morning, the house is more-or-less calm and I’m available to help kids with focused work. After lunch we have quiet time, when we can each rest or work on our own projects without being interrupted (much). Then in the afternoons we play or run errands, make and eat dinner, prepare for the next day, and go to bed.

dayinthelife3

This week, though, is a planning week at our house.

This is a new system we’re trying this year and so far we love it. We do our usual projects for four weeks, and then we take a planning week to reflect on what we’ve been working on, and to make plans and goals for the next four weeks.

Here’s what that looks like:

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