About Shawna Wingert

Shawna Wingert is the creator of Not The Former Things, a blog dedicated to homeschooling children with learning differences and special needs. She loves finding out-of-the-box ways for out-of-the-box learners to thrive. She is the author of two books, Special Education at Home and Everyday Autism. You can follow Shawna and Not The Former Things on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.

5 ways social media helps me homeschool

Written by Shawna Wingert of Not the Former Things

Social media is a big topic, especially for parents.

Most of the time, when we read something about it, it’s about the drawbacks.

It’s a distraction: “Put the phone down and enjoy your kids!”

Social media invites comparisons: “Pinterest isn’t real life; never compare your life to a perfect picture on a screen.”

It’s replacing real life interactions with virtual ones: “Find a community that you can actually meet with in person!”

The truth is, I agree 100% with all of these statements. I am not going to dispute any of the potential pitfalls of social media. I have experienced them myself and continue to be as intentional as possible with my social media engagement in an effort to avoid the negatives.

What is also true, however, is that social media has been one of the most helpful and successful tools I have found in homeschooling.

[Read more…]

What does ‘homeschool success’ look like?

Written by Shawna Wingert of Not The Former Things

When we first started homeschooling, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what we needed to do in order to be successful.

The summer before we began, I talked incessantly about focusing on my boys’ interests and creating project-based activities to help them learn.

Then the school year started.

We did all the things I had in my head. We created a mock-business complete with a profit and loss statement for math. We dissected a fish and studied its eyes. Wednesday were library days and Fridays were for art.

We did all the learning projects I had planned, but two things inevitably happened:

  1. My children melted down and had no interest in the map project, read aloud, or math manipulatives I had been so excited about, OR
  2. It went perfectly, with engaged learners and lots of fun, but I would immediately doubt that it was enough or that it really counted as learning or that my kids were really learning what was necessary.

Either way, it did not feel like a success. In fact, most of that first year felt like one big failure.

Defining success in our homeschool was so very difficult in the beginning.

[Read more…]

The best advice I’ve ever heard about selecting homeschool curriculum

Written by Shawna Wingert of Not the Former Things.

This time of year makes me so happy.

Spring is in the air. We are finishing up our school year and anticipating summer activities.

This time of year is also when many of us homeschoolers start to plan and purchase curriculum for next year. It’s one of my favorite parts of homeschooling. I get starry eyed just thinking about the scopes and sequences, the planning forms and the boxes of beautiful books on the doorstep.

While I love it, the truth is, this spring fling with curriculum has cost me a lot of time, effort and money over the course of the past eight years.

A few years ago, I was talking with another homeschool mom about a curriculum I was drooling over. I explained that I thought it would help my son to learn to read. He was struggling with the basics and I was afraid that he was not progressing as he should.

She gave me some of the best advice I have ever heard about selecting a new curriculum.

Her simple yet profound advice?

Never buy new curriculum because of fear.

[Read more…]

Shawna’s homeschool day in the life (with a 12- and 15-year-old)

Written by Shawna Wingert of Not the Former Things

Every year, before sitting down to write this annual post, I go back and read my previous days in the life.

It’s a tremendous blessing to have such a wonderful record of my boys’ different ages and all the various homeschooling approaches we have used.

This year, I did the same.

Honestly, it made me really sad.

This day in the life is not recording one of our best, or even one of our average days. This day in the life is in the midst of a very difficult season for my youngest son – physically, emotionally and educationally.

I am recording it however, the same as I have our previous three years, with transparency and a whole lot of grace, for myself and for my boys.

[Read more…]

Why I don’t add anything new to our homeschool in January

Written by Shawna Wingert of Not the Former Things

I love the idea of a new year.

A fresh start. A list of ways to get back on track after the busy holiday season. A new planner.

All of it makes my type-A self a little giddy.

In the past, I have applied the same ‘New Year, New You’ approach to our homeschool.

I mean, what better time to add something new, change up our schedule, and refocus all the priorities I have for my boys’ education?
[Read more…]

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