5 of the best-kept secrets for new homeschoolers

Written by Kara S. Anderson

There are many things that I wish had known when I started homeschooling.

I was so excited, but so confused. I felt like I had to pick a philosophy and stick with it, even if parts of it didn’t work. I felt like I had to start in pre-school, and I put a ton of pressure on myself to recreate a school-like environment at home, even though I also had a tiny baby to care for.

So today, I wanted to share some of the things that I have learned. These are some of the homeschooling “secrets” that I wish people would have shared with me.

I hope this post gives you a bit of a head-start, and maybe helps you feel a little less pressure. Deep breath! You’ve got this, homeschool mama!
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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 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.

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3 ways to maximize summer learning without doing school

Written by Kari Patterson.

“Note to self: By mid-May you are just so done.”

This is a memo I left to myself, last year around this time, when I was army-crawling across the finish-line of school, joylessly trudging through the final obligatory lessons.

See, when the sun comes out and the natural world awakes, there are a thousand outdoor adventures to be had, and quite frankly no one wants to stay inside to study. Most of all me.

So while I respect the year-round homeschooling mentality, I’ve found for our family, we need summer. And this year, by a little better planning ahead, we were able to indeed finish our formal lessons by mid-May, and can I just tell you: It has been glorious!

But a summer break doesn’t mean we do nothing for three months.

Remember, a change is as good as a rest. Summer is one of the best times for learning, but not in the traditional sit-down-and-study sort of way. I’m finding that the best way for us to maximize summer learning isn’t by trudging through or quitting altogether, it’s through taking advantage of the unique opportunities summer affords and capitalizing on those. There are lots of ways, but here are three of my favorites: [Read more…]

Why we waited more than 10 years for extracurriculars

Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool

Once upon a time I begged my parents to let me take dance lessons.

I had learned to play the viola through school since the age of 11, but these would be my first private lessons. I knew the expense would be a big deal for my family, but I loved dancing and wanted to learn more. Eventually they said yes (thanks again, Mom & Dad!) and I had a blast that year learning a little tap, ballet, and jazz each week.

I was 15-years-old.

I can’t help but wonder if we have extracurriculars a little backwards these days, though. In our society, parents seem to beg their kids to take lessons.

They sign them up as five-year-olds for piano, soccer, karate, ballet. They fork over hundreds of dollars.

And often as each month passes by their kids grow to hate piano, soccer, karate and ballet.
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