On how I finally stopped hating workbooks

Written by Jamie C. Martin of Simple Homeschool

When we first began homeschooling, workbooks represented two things I desperately wanted to avoid: an impersonalized learning system and the idea of fitting all children into the same box/grade level.

We had a few workbooks on our shelf, but I only used them at a child’s request–not very often.

However, as my kids became older, I slowly began to see two benefits that workbooks also have to offer:

1. They leave a paper trail. This comes in handy when you need proof of all the learning, both informal and formal, that happens under your roof.

2. They can calm a mama’s or papa’s homeschool jitters.

Sometimes when you’re homeschooling, you feel completely out of your element. Making a habit of even one workbook page a day can take the edge off those insecurities.

When my kids were littles, my main goal was for them to fall in love with learning. It still is! But I think having the tiniest amount of book work might have settled my own worries just a tad while giving them 95+% interest-led learning freedom.

If this is something you’d like to try, look for a way to encourage your kids to agree to the idea, too, so that even this small minimum will not become a battleground.

Tip: I often tape a $5 bill in the back of a workbook and find that to be quite the compelling incentive! We also use our positivity bean jar to encourage this type of work.

Over the years we have found a few workbooks that worked well for us. So when the opportunity came to partner with Workman Publishing, creators of the colorful Big Fat Notebooks and our favorite Star Wars workbooks, I eagerly agreed to take a peek at their new line of summer workbooks.

Here’s an official overview:
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5 questions to ask yourself before buying curriculum

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Curriculum

Written by Purva Brown of The Classical Unschooler

It’s that time of year again. When April rolls around, it’s as if we all take a nice, deep breath.

Spring has finally arrived. The winter doldrums are over.

The burnt out feeling is gone and we are ready. Eager to start another year. Hope renewed. No longer tired, no longer dragging ourselves out of bed, we look forward to the smell of new books, exciting new things to learn.

Are you beginning to think about what you might need for next year? Are you going to a homeschool conference or convention soon?

Before you buy any shiny, new curriculum, before you plunk down your hard earned money in hopes that you and your kids will love it, save yourself some heartache by asking yourself these five questions.

They will help you set the tone for a better year and could even save you some heartache:

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Heal the World Book Club


Written by Jamie C. Martin of Simple Homeschool

The idea came to me a few days after the election. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

Because no matter how we voted, one thing we likely agree on is that this past election season hurt on some level. Another thing we agree on?

Our world needs hope and healing. And we want a better world for our children.

I want my kids to love others, even those who differ from them. I want them to want to make the world a better place, to want to serve others–just because it’s right to do so.

Most of all, I want them to know that they can start doing all of the above NOW, making a difference before they’ve even reached adulthood. I want them to feel empowered, not disenfranchised or apathetic.

And I believe books can help.

That’s why I wrote Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time.

And it’s why I want to invite you and yours to join our new Heal the World Book Club!

Just take a peek:

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How to add more play to your homeschool (and not feel guilty)


Written by Caitlin Curley of My Little Poppies

From history to language arts, math to music, and everything in between, don’t miss Cait’s full list of games for every subject!

week before Christmas, my husband turned to me and asked, “So… have they been doing any math?”*

I felt myself bristle at his words. I sat up straighter, jaw set, defensive. “Of course we’ve done math!” I sputtered.

We had done math, just not much traditional math because it was the holidays.

My mind raced:

  • We had read piles of math storybooks
  • The kids had followed a recipe for bird cookies independently, tripling the recipe so they would each have plenty
  • There had been lots of baking
  • The children had done some holiday shopping
  • We had watched a favorite DVD
  • And, of course, we had played countless board games

How to Play More in Your Homeschool (And Not Feel Guilty) How to Add More Play to Your Homeschool (And Not Feel Guilty)

But there was nothing tangible, no proof.

And that happens a lot with homeschooling.

Despite the intangible nature of our pre-Christmas mathematics, I was prepared to defend my case. After all, I know how well my children learn when I combine fantastic read alouds, experiential learning, and educational games.

I need not have worried; he believed me. There were no further questions. The doubt had passed.

* Now this is where I need to pause and tell you that my husband is my biggest homeschool supporter and cheerleader, but even the most amazing homeschool dads fall victim to occasional doubt and second-guessing… especially during holiday chaos!

The truth is, I used to doubt this approach to learning. 

  • Is it okay to set curriculum aside and pick up a book?
  • Can games be considered curriculum?
  • Does this really count as homeschooling?

Thankfully, this doubt has passed, too. I’ve been homeschooling long enough to know when we are doing something well.

I even have a name for it: gameschooling.

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Science in a box for ages 9 and up

Science in a box for ages 9 and up
Written by Jamie C. Martin of Simple Homeschool

Just a few years ago, everything for homeschoolers began to arrive in a box.

You could get crafts in a box, geography in a box, history in a box, preschool in a box, and more! They’d arrive in the mail once every month, and voila: something easy and educational to do that day with the kiddos, leaving you feeling like a homeschool parent champ.

Of all the monthly boxes/subscriptions we tried over the years, Little Passports ended up being our favorite. (Those of you who have read Give Your Child the World probably won’t find that too surprising!)

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Each month we traveled–via mail–to a different country. I loved that these packages weren’t overwhelming. They didn’t force me to spend hours preparing anything; they contained just enough to help us learn and to keep it fun for both the kids and me.

Over the years we visited more than two dozen new lands. But then something sad happened.

My children kept growing up.

And they slowly aged out of all these cool monthly boxes–Little Passports as well. After all, most monthly subscriptions are geared toward elementary aged kids.
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