For a happier homeschool, stop saying these 7 things


Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

Right now, I am staring at my computer screen, thinking about all the reasons I can’t write these words to you. I’m too tired. My thoughts won’t come together, they keep shimmying away when I’m not looking (not unlike my preschooler at bedtime).

My ideas might not even be important enough to share with you. I just can’t do it.

That is what I am thinking. I just can’t. That’s my story.

But some stories are true, and others are just stories.

We read a lot of Mo Willems books around here, and lately Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs has been on read-and-repeat mode.

Do you know what the moral of that story is? The marvelous Mo writes: “If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.”

That story about me not being able to write to you right now? That is the wrong story.

Are you living in the wrong story?

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4 questions that will simplify your homeschool this fall

Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

September always makes me think two things.

One, I really should have bought more markers while they were on sale for forty-seven cents a box. (Back-to-school sales are the best.)

And two, How can I make things simpler around here?

I actually ask that second question every few months, because last season’s rhythms and routines might not be the best choices for this season’s. (Though my kids would be happy to turn our summer routine of hanging out at the pool into a year-round habit, please and thank you.)

Let’s clear something up real quick, though: SIMPLE does not mean EASY. Simple means not complicated, or at least less complicated.

To me, making things simpler means living more in alignment with who we are and what we’re about. That’s much less complicated than doing things because this is the way they’ve always been done, or because we think we “should,” or because we’re afraid of missing out.

Making things simpler means letting go of ideas that aren’t working, and finding practices that do work for our families. It means making changes so your life fits you (or anyway, fits you better than it did before).

I have a few questions I come back to when I’m ready to make things simpler. These are the questions I’ve been asking to simplify my September.

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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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One simple trick for dealing with homeschool doubts

Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

You know how we homeschool mamas are full of wisdom and confidence at all times? How we always know the best path, and always have a plan, and always know where this thing is headed? You know?

Hold on, I’m sorry, I have to get back up. I just fell off my chair laughing.

Right. So… I am just like that confident mama except not like that at all.

I am pretty sure that we are doing the best we can, most of the time. But then one of my kids will ask, “What are times tables again?” or “I’ll never have to get a grown-up job and buy my own groceries, right?”

At those times, the critic in my head has some things to say, things like: “You’re not doing this right. You’re not doing enough.”

Here’s how to get back on track when your inner critic starts chatting:

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Melissa’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 3-, 6-,9-,10-,13-, and 16-year-old)

Melissa's Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 3-, 6-,9-,10-,13-, and 16-year-old)Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

I always feel a little nervous sitting down to write these day-in-the-life posts. I’m never sure which parts of our day you’ll want to hear about! And will you wonder why my three-year-old is changing into her fourth outfit since breakfast? Because I do not have an answer to that question.

My sixteen-year-old daughter was asked to describe her days recently. She wrote this:

I make breakfast for myself and one of my younger brothers, then do half an hour of yoga. After that, I do my schoolwork—I’m a lifelong unschooler, I manage my own workload and have a lot of say in what I study—and spend an hour outdoors. When I’ve finished, I’m free for the day.

Three sentences, friends. My run-through is going to be somewhat longer and will include far more parentheses.
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