10 Tips for Teaching Your Children through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tips for Teaching Your Children through the COVID-19 Pandemic

We are living in unprecedented times, with the Coronovirus pandemic throwing our lives into unexpected turmoil and change. To stop the spread of the virus, almost everything is cancelled. Suddenly schools, restaurants, stores, and more are closed for an indefinite amount of time. 

Parents are finding themselves responsible for teaching their children at home for the first time, some while they are still required to work themselves.

If you’re a parent in this situation, I want to encourage you to look at this as a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your children and enjoy learning with them.  Give yourself and your children time to transition, this is a big change for both of you. Talk openly about what’s happening in the world and help your children process their emotions through this.

Realize that you have already been teaching your children so many things! Who taught them to walk, talk, get dressed, and to get along with others, etc.? YOU did!   You’re just adding the academic piece to the picture. You can do this! And there are a lot of resources available to help you!

Here are 10 tips for teaching your children during this time:

1. Focus on developing a learning lifestyle rather than trying to imitate what the public school does. You’re a family, not a classroom of 30 kids, so structured learning times will often be shorter than the eight-hour public school day.  Look for learning opportunities throughout your day and take advantage of them. Listen to your children’s questions and help them find answers – discovery learning like this is one of the best ways for kids to learn. Encourage your children to think of things they want to learn about and then provide the resources for them to do it. Read Charlotte Mason’s approach to learning, it’s relaxed and very effective.

2. Focus on Math and Language arts skills. These are core subjects that your children should continue to work on during the pandemic.  If you plan to have your children return to the public school system once this pandemic ends, teachers are recommending that you follow the Core Standards, especially for these two subjects. 

 If you don’t know your children’s skill level in these two subjects, do an assessment through Let’s Go Learn –  use the family version under retail and do the assessments. This assessment will help you learn what areas your children need extra work in as well as where they have strengths. Focus on helping them retain what they know and continue learning from where they are at. There are many free resources to help you do this (see list below). 

The other subjects are also important, so as you can fit them in, also provide resources for your children to learn science, history, art, music, phy-ed and health. There are resources listed below for these as well.

3. Find ways to make learning fun!  We have a plethora of fun learning opportunities on the web that are free or inexpensive. Use Pinterest or one of the many resources I’ve listed below to help teach your children.

  • Play board games with your children (check out my blog posts on using games and my Recommended page for ideas)
  • Read aloud to your children (Read Aloud Revival is a great resource for book ideas)
  • Do virtual field trips via video or on the web
  • Bake together, do fun projects around the house together
  • Be creative, find fun things to do related to your children’s interests. If they’re fascinated with Legos, find some fun things to build on Pinterest (there are some great creative ideas for things to do with kids on Pinterest!) If they love animals, consider getting a new pet and having them help with training and care. Build learning opportunities around their interests.

4. Teach your children life skills. Do your children know how to clean, wash clothes, make food for themselves, etc.? This is a great time to help them develop these skills.  With them home all the time, you’ll need their help in keeping the house clean, and they need to learn these skills. Set up a chore system to keep things running smoothly so you’re not nagging them. This is a great time to do some organizing and teach your children organizational skills. Teach them basic hygiene, how to avoid catching or sharing germs in a pandemic! (Download a free PDF of age appropriate chores)

5. Set up a daily routine. Children need routine and your children will be looking for structure to their day.  Some children may even benefit from having a schedule posted on the wall showing when you will have structured learning times and when they have free time.  Remember to take breaks between any structured learning times.  Children need physical activity to get refocused, especially younger children. (Download a free PDF of a sample schedule)

6. For the working parent. If you’re working full or part-time you can adjust your schedule so you’re teaching your children when you’re free. For the times that you’re working, provide your children with learning opportunities and resources that they can do on their own. Have an hour quiet time each day and have older children help with younger children as needed. Enlist your children’s help with home chores and meal prep/clean up, it helps them build essential life skills and will ease your stress.

7. Create age appropriate learning stations in your home (art, science, math, reading, geography, etc.). Learning stations can be a bin with materials in it, or a specific area of the home with learning materials.  An Art station would have creative arts and crafts materials with idea books or printed guides from Pinterest or the web.   A Reading station would have great literature for them to read.  A Math station would have math games or an IPad with math learning apps, games. A Science station would have materials for them to do an experiment and information on how to do it. A Geography station would include a map of the U.S. or the world, with books about the world and the different areas, or geography games.   Require your children to spend time doing at least 2-3 learning stations a day as well as independent reading and doing some math exercises.

8. Listen to audio books. Listening to books builds literacy skills, listening skills, focusing skills, imagination, and more. Here’s a free app with audio books or access the public library online through the cloudLibrary app.  http://www.openculture.com/freeaudiobooks. Audible stories are also offering free audio books for kids during the pandemic.

9. Encourage a love for learning. Help your children understand the importance of being lifelong learners – there’s always more to learn and it’s to our benefit to keep learning all through our lives! You can be an example to them by showing them that you are still curious and want to learn new things.

10. Seek advice from friends or experts.  Call friends that are in the same boat to see what they’re doing for teaching their children. On Facebook join the group called “Emergency Homeschooling” – there are lots of great ideas there! There are also many other Facebook homeschool groups, just plug in “Homeschool” and join some. Call a homeschool family you know and ask them for advice. I’m also happy to schedule an online meeting with you to help you figure out a plan for your family. Contact me for a consultation

If you’ve got teens at home, check out this post on the 5 Do’s and Don’ts of Homeschooling your Older Student from Crosswalk.

Most importantly, as a Christian, I encourage you to pray for God’s peace, guidance and help during this time as well. You aren’t alone in this. He is there for you if you reach out to Him and pray.

Do you want to learn more about trusting in God?

God loves you and wants a relationship with you – He wants to help you through this stressful time, I encourage you to turn to Him and trust in Him.

Free or Inexpensive Teaching Resources:

All subjects:

Teachers Pay Teachers:   there’s a plethora of free worksheets and teaching resources for many subjects and all grades, many are free.

Kahn Academy   – sign up to access teaching resources for math, science, arts and humanities, computing, ELA, and more.

Free audio books and courses on many subjects at Open Culture

Audible Stories – free audio books

ETap Full curriculum online – free during this crisis

More free resources: http://www.openculture.com/free_k-12_educational_resources

PBS Learning Media – free resources and videos

Academy Adventure

Phonics:

  • Starfall Learn to Read app
  • Abcmouse.com  – an app for reading, math, science, art & colors
  • Phonics free resources: Sound City
  • All About Learning has both a reading and spelling program that are excellent (there is a cost for these) and there are free resources as well.
  • Sight word lists and learning resources at Sight Words.com

Math:

  • Numbers and Math for Kids app by EDUBUZZKIDS (preK-K)
  • Prodigy Math Game app for 1-8 graders
  • Khan Academy

Preschool/Kindergarten unit study curriculum

Five in a Row – a unit study that uses a short children’s picture book as the basis for studying science, history, art, etc.

Science

Social Studies

Art

Music

Physical Education

Could you use help staying organized during this time?

Check out The Homeschool Life All-in-One Planner!

This planner has everything you need to manage your home and school well! It guides you through setting up a chore system, meal planning system, goal setting, and has great record keeping documents for homeschooling. Download the digital version for only $18.00!

Please comment below and share any free resources you’ve found! Or feel free to ask questions…

Free Zoom Meeting to learn more about teaching your children at home on March 25th – SIGN UP TODAY!

Join me for a free 45 minute webinar: Making the Most of this Time with Your Children – where I’ll share more helpful insights on how to use this time of school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic to help your children learn and grow, and stay sane doing it! Wednesday, March 25th 7:00 p.m. Contact me to sign up!

Homeschooling Through High School: You CAN do it!

Many homeschoolers begin to panic as they approach the high school years. They fear they can’t continue homeschooling because it’ll be too difficult to teach high school level courses.

I remember feeling concerned about teaching our children high school math. What if I couldn’t teach high school math?? Maybe you’re worried about teaching a different subject in the high school years.

I’ve heard other people say they don’t think homeschooling will provide a quality education for their student in their teen years. I don’t believe this is true!

As parents, we CAN provide an excellent education through homeschooling in the high school years!

I believe there are many good reasons to continue homeschooling through high school or begin homeschooling students that are in high school.

 We have four children, two of them were homeschooled all the way through high school and graduated from our homeschool.  We ended up sending our middle two children to a charter school in 10th grade because of some serious health problems I was having, and they finished their high school education there.   Although the two that went to the charter school did well there, one of them sadly lost his love for learning while he was there. He also told me he felt more challenged at home than he did in the charter school! In hindsight, I wish we had continued with homeschooling for both of them as well as the other two.


I’d like to encourage those who are afraid of homeschooling through high school that it is do-able! With God all things are possible, and He will give you the ability to do whatever He calls you to do! If you’re feeling the nudge to keep homeschooling all the way through high school, let me give you some good reasons to do so.

Home is still one of the best learning environments

One-on-one teaching is still the ideal way to learn. Students are usually less distracted in the home environment.  Also, as a parent, we are usually aware if our student doesn’t understand a subject and can let them slow down so they can grasp the concepts better. In other cases, the student is ready to move faster, and they have the freedom to go move ahead more quickly through their educational material.

 You have the opportunity to customize your teen’s education by providing resources to explore their interests and develop strengths and skills. There is more flexibility with homeschooling, and this gives your teen more hours for creative endeavors, volunteering, or getting a job. Having the opportunity to pursue their interests often helps students discover a career path that fits them well.

The homeschool environment is a great learning environment because it most closely resembles the real world – it provides opportunity to learn with children of different ages rather than segregating according to age.  Your teens will have more time to help with household chores and with younger children, preparing them for real life. Many teens grow in maturity as they help teach a younger sibling.

Another benefit is that you have more time with your student to teach them real life skills that they’ll need when they go out into the world of adulthood.

According to research statistics provided by the Home School Legal Defense Association, using national averages, homeschoolers are achieving 30% higher scores academically (in all subjects) than their public school counterparts in testing.  Colleges are seeking out homeschool students because of their excellent academic standing and because they tend to thrive in the college environment.

Homeschooling builds stronger family relationships and gives parents more opportunity to continue teaching godly values

The teen years are a strategic time to cement family relationships that will last a lifetime. With parents as the teen’s primary role model, parents can continue teaching godly values and morals. Most homeschool teens develop mature manners and can interact well with people of all ages. Homeschooled teens are less peer dependent than students who are surrounded by their peers eight hours a day at school.

 Homeschooling provides a more positive socialization experience


In the public school, teens are exposed to drugs, violence, bad language and more! There is a lot of peer pressure to conform to whatever the larger group thinks is “cool”. With homeschooling, teens are able to think for themselves and be who they really are, without that pressure to conform.

Parents can help their teens develop important life skills such as evaluating and choosing friends, conflict resolution, and handling romantic relationships. There are many opportunities for socialization in the high school years:  church youth groups, boy scouts, girl scouts, 4-H, community orchestra or band, homeschool co-ops, high school sports teams, volunteering, book discussion groups or just getting together with friends.


Many resources available


Homeschooling through high school might seem like it’s a bit overwhelming, but there are many resources out there to help. Take advantage of seminars available to help with the logistics of record-keeping, grading, planning out the four years of high school, and making a transcript. (And consider attending a homeschool conference in your state!)

You can also accelerate academic learning with homeschooling. Many homeschool teens are ready for college level courses between the ages of 14-16! They can complete high school requirements in less time and move on to college level courses through CLEP testing, DSST testing, AP testing, or PSEO. (Not all states offer Post Secondary Enrollment Option or PSEO, so check your state education website)

 There are co-ops or homeschool academies specifically for teens. There are tutors, video teaching tools, and there’s always the possibility that you and a friend can trade off teaching in areas that you are more comfortable in.  For example, I know of two families that did a teaching exchange where one mom taught both families’ children creative writing, and the other mom taught piano to both families’ children.

Feeling overwhelmed with choosing curriculum for your teen? Contact me for a high school consultation! I’ll help you set up a high school plan for your student. You can also check out this list of high school resources from HSLDA.org.


Some strategies for success in homeschooling through high school

1)     Give your child a college preparatory high school education, then no matter what they pursue, they have the high school education they need. Click HERE to see recommended high school graduation standards.

2)  Invest in yourself! Find a place to get some training. Go to your state’s homeschool conference and look for seminars that will help you. If you live in Minnesota, Cheri Frame of Credits Before College offers high school workshops throughout the state.

3)     Invest in your weaknesses- what is the subject area you are most afraid to teach? Invest in good curriculum to help you or invest in a class for your student for that area of study.

4) Take advantage of the Post-Secondary Education Options (PSEO- Taking college classes for both high school and college credit), if your student is academically ready. Or consider using the CLEP, DSST or AP testing program to get college credits while in high school.

5)     Encourage your teen to grow spiritually and take advantage of opportunities for leadership, volunteering and helping others. Serve together in a ministry of some kind or go on a short-term mission trip together. These things will build great character.

6)     Seek God’s help in all your decisions and in your daily life with homeschooling your teen. He will give you wisdom and direction when you seek Him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths” Proverbs 3:4-5

7) If your student is a struggling learner, homeschooling them through high school can be one of the best ways to help them reach their full potential and help them build confidence for their future endeavors. There are many resources to help you if you’re homeschooling a struggling student. (see Recommended page for resources for the struggling learner)

Homeschooling through high school is a very rewarding and exciting
opportunity to see God do great things in your life and in your teen’s life!

Step out in faith and give it a try!

CLICK HERE to download a guide to Homeschooling the High School Years.

Download this free 4 year high school planning document!

How about you? Do you see other benefits for homeschooling the high school years? Or do you have some tips for those just starting the high school years? Please share them below.

6 Tips for Helping Siblings Become Good Friends

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Many of us begin homeschooling hoping our children will become good friends with one another in the process. Unfortunately, most families experience some conflict and that can put a damper on family relationships.  But with God’s help, we can help our children become good friends, teaching them to work through their differences in a godly manner.

Here are some tips to help:

Tip #1 PRAY for your children and for wisdom!

Pray for God to work in your children’s lives, for godly character and good relationships within the family. Pray for His help and for wisdom to handle the struggles that come each day. HE IS FAITHFUL! He will help you and guide you in your parenting as you seek Him.

Tip #2: Foster close family relationships

God created the family to be a safe place to find love and acceptance. We can foster this by creating an atmosphere of love and appreciation for one another in our family.

  • Talk with your children about the importance of loving and caring for family.
  • Remind your children that friends will come and go, but family is forever!
  • Encourage older children to be a good example of loving one another – they have a lot of influence over siblings, their loving and caring attitude will be contagious.
  • Encourage children to treat their siblings with respect and appreciate their God-given differences. Compliment them when you see respectful, loving attitudes.
  • Don’t compare your children to one another, especially in front of them.
  • When a conflict arises, remain calm. Help your children talk through how they feel and what is happening. This trains them for dealing with future conflicts.
  • Remind your children that God wants us to strive for peace. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Tip #3 Teach the root cause of conflict

Disagreements are a natural part of life because people have differing opinions or thoughts.  However, when a disagreement or conflict turns into a fight or quarrel, the root cause will typically be a sinful attitude on the part of one or both parties. 

James 4:1-2 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it.”

When we let our sinful attitudes take over (selfishness, greed, unforgiveness, laziness, pride, etc.) we’re typically living to please ourselves rather than trying to please God.

As children understand that sinful attitudes cause conflict, we can help them recognize their self-centeredness and sinful attitudes when they’re having a conflict. Ask them, “What do you think is the root cause of this conflict?” This often defuses the conflict as God reveals their sin and changes their heart.

Tip #4: Teach about loving God and having godly character

Being intentional to teach our children about God’s love, encouraging them to grow in their faith and helping them develop godly character traits all will help reduce conflict in your family.

Practical ways to do this:

1. Read the Bible, a devotional, or Bible study guide for families together every day.

2. Memorize verses related to character traits you want to see your children develop.

3. Focus on studying a specific character quality for a week or two as a family.

4. Watch for character training opportunities throughout the day.

 Resources: Growing the Fruit of the Spirit or my blog posts on developing godly character in your children. krismcox.com

Tip #5: Teach about how people deal with conflict

The Young Peacemaker is a great study for teaching children God’s way of dealing with conflict. Author Corlette Sande says conflict is like a slippery slope where we can slip into negative responses. Teaching your children about this slippery slope will help them recognize which response they’re using during conflict and equip them to deal with conflict God’s way!

Our family read The Young Peacemaker together and it truly helped transform relationships in our home! I highly recommend this study. (ages 5-15+)

Here are the three zones in the slippery slope:

 (The Young Peacemaker, p. 22-23)

1. The Escape Zone:

If we slide off the slope into the escape zone, we respond to conflict with:

  • DenialI didn’t do anything wrong!
  • Blaming … It’s their fault, not mine!
  • Running awayIf I just avoid this person, then I don’t have to deal with this problem.

2. The Attack Zone:

When we slide into this dangerous zone on the slippery slope we respond with:

  • FightingI’m so mad, I’m going to hit you!
  • Put downsYou’re stupid!
  • GossipJoey is so mean, he…

3. The Work-It-Out Zone:

This zone is God’s way of handing conflict. Here we react to conflict by:

  • Overlooking itThis isn’t a big deal.  I don’t need to let this bother me.
  • Talking it out Could we talk about this and try to work it out?
  • Asking someone to help us deal with it if we can’tMom, Joey and I are having a fight, could you help us work it out?

Using this slippery slope as a guide, help your children learn to deal with conflict God’s way.

Tip # 6: Teach about repentance, confession and forgiveness

Corlette Sande also says the most important skills we need to deal with conflict are repentance, confession and forgiveness. Taking responsibility for our wrong behavior and being sorry for it is key to reconciliation.

Teach your children these definitions and talk about how to apply them during a conflict:

  • Repentance: the action of being sorry for your actions or attitude. The Bible says this includes a change in behavior as well.
  • Confession: admitting that your actions, thoughts or words were wrong or sinful.
  • Forgiveness: a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person.

 I can’t promise you that you’ll have no conflict in your home when you apply all these tips, but I do believe God can use conflict to build character and deepen relationships, and He’s at work in our lives and our children’s lives. He will help us as we seek Him!

Questions for support group discussion:

1. How do you foster spiritual growth and building godly character in your home? 

2. Share some effective ways you deal with conflict between siblings in your home.

3. How do you intentionally foster close relationships in your family?

4. Read through the slippery slope description in Tip # 5 and talk about how you see your children responding to conflict. Talk about ways you can use this model to teach them God’s way of handling conflict.

5. Share ideas for using conflict to help your children grow in character.

6. Take time to pray for one another regarding any prayer needs shared in this discussion

Recommended resources:

Growing the Fruit of the Spirit   Kris Cox and Kris Hage

Making Brothers and Sister’s Best Friends   Sarah, Stephen, and Grace Mally

The Young Peacemaker   Corlette Sande

The Miller Family Series Mildred A. Martin

Character Companion for the Miller Series Kristyn Hage

The Heart of Anger Lou Priolo

Help! I’m Feeling Overwhelmed with Homeschool Planning!


Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Are you stressing because it feels like school is just around the corner and you don’t feel ready for your homeschool year?

Maybe you’ve already done some planning, but you’re feeling like there’s still so much to do. Or like many of us, you may have put off planning all together, thinking you’d get to it later and now you’re starting to feel anxious.

This time of year tends to be when homeschool parents start thinking about the next school year and begin feeling a little stressed out. That’s why I want to share some ideas for how you can finish your homeschool planning with less stress and pressure … and still enjoy your summer months!

TIPS FOR YEARLY HOMESCHOOL PLANNING

1. First and foremost, seek the Lord for help and guidance each time you work on planning

This is so important! God wants to help you in your school planning! As we get more and more experienced we can sometimes just jump right into planning and forget how important it is to seek the Lord’s guidance as we do.

2. Schedule in a few hours to work on planning each week ~ THIS IS KEY!

You’re more likely to get your planning done if you schedule in a time to work on it every week and don’t just let it happen whenever, because it will likely get put off! Write it in on your calendar! If you have a lot of children to plan for, you may need a couple time slots each week to plan.

One mom I know said her husband offered to give her one evening a week all summer long to work on her homeschool planning. What a great idea! Maybe your kids are old enough that you can sit outside and work on your planning while they play one morning a week.

Some might prefer to take a whole weekend away to work on homeschool planning – if that’s your preference, then make sure you schedule that weekend away soon! Early July is a great time for this.

3. Evaluate last year and set goals for this next school year

Take time to think about what you liked and didn’t like about this last school year as you begin planning for the next. What curriculum did you like enough that you want to use it again for the next level of learning? What routines in your daily life worked and which didn’t? Do you want to change up your yearly schedule?

Set some goals for this next school year for each child and for your homeschool year. Keep your state’s homeschool laws in mind, considering which subjects the state requires that you teach. You can find this information on your state’s homeschool group’s website or on hslda.org.

Here’s a free evaluation and goal setting form that you can use to help you think through these things and begin to set goals for each child. You may also want to consider your child’s learning style preferences when choosing curriculum, especially for the subjects they struggle in. Download my free informal learning style assessment to learn more about this.

4. Plan for one student at a time

When you have more than one child, it can feel a bit overwhelming to think through all the subjects you need to plan for each child. I recommend focusing on one child at a time, thinking specifically about the subjects you’ll need to teach them individually. Math and Language Arts are the two subjects that follow a specific scope and sequence, and therefore, often need to be taught to each child individually. (unless you have two children who are at the same skill level in one or both of these subjects) If your child is in high school, you may be buying individual curriculum for all or most of the subjects, as their learning tends to become more independent in those years.

5. Plan for subjects that you can teach all your children together

Bible, Social Studies, Science, Music, Art, Health and Physical Education can all be taught together as a family through the elementary and middle school years, and some of these can still be taught together in the high school years as well.

It’s fun to teach all the children these subjects by reading or sharing the information to them all together, and then giving them assignments that are appropriate for each child’s age and skill level. An older child could do a project or book report, while a younger child might help the older child with a project or do an easier project, such as coloring a picture or making a lapbook.

Look for curriculum that will help you teach your children all together if possible, especially in these subjects listed above.

6. Order curriculum

Once you’ve figured out what curriculum you want, place your orders! If you can get this done in July (at the latest), you’ll avoid the problem of items being out of stock. You can look for used curriculum if you want to save money or go on Facebook to some of the homeschool swap groups and see if you can find someone who has what you want and wants to sell it.

Here are a few good used curriculum sites:
homeschoolclassifieds.com


thehomeschoolmom.com/homeschool-help/used-homechool-curriculum-sources/


A list of used curriculum sites can be found here: a2zhomeschooling.com/materials/curriculum_shop/budget_curriculum_shop/used_homeschool_curriculum/

7. Schedule time to review curriculum and learn how to use it ~setting aside the time is KEY!

Once your curriculum arrives, schedule in time each week to work on reviewing it. Pick one curriculum to focus on each week and you’ll feel less overwhelmed by the feeling you’re not getting enough done. Plan out your weeks, and which curriculum you’ll focus on, so you know you’ll get it all done in time.

8. Consider how your yearly, monthly, weekly and daily schedule will work best

You can be working on this as you review curriculum. Consider how many units, chapters or lessons there are in each subject, and plan how much needs to be done each week to get through the curriculum.  A typical school year is 180 days or 36 weeks (unless you school year- round!), so you can determine how much your child will need to complete each week to finish in that much time.

Think through which subjects you’ll need to be working individually with a child on, and plan what time of day would work best for that, and what the other children will do while you’re teaching the one child.

I have some great templates for thinking through scheduling  in The Homeschool Life All-in-One Planner.

Only $33 (includes tax)

9. Remember to include Bible study and character growth as part of your learning each day

I recommend starting your school day each day with family Bible study or a character study. It really sets the tone for the day and helps everyone’s attitudes to be in the right place. Praying together each morning can help you find the peace you need to start your day as well.

Look for some good family Bible study materials or character studies to do over the year. Check out Growing the Fruit of the Spirit for your Bible study guide this next school year!

10. Look for ways to integrate your subjects so that assignments and projects will promote learning in more than one subject.

You can also save yourself a lot of time and energy if you incorporate projects and reading (both read aloud books and readers) that cover more than one subject as your child does them.

For example, you can read aloud a book on Egyptian mummies and pyramids for history and you’ll also be learning the science behind mummification and building pyramids. For language arts, your child can read, The Magic School House Research Book- Mummies and Pyramids by Mary Pope Osborn. They could write a book report on it or share what they learned with the rest of the family. Art could be building a pyramid together as a family with clay or Paper Mache.  Here’s a fun free unit study on Egypt to help you plan (there are lots of free or inexpensive unit studies available online!) https://www.homeschoolshare.com/ancient_egypt.php

Curricula that use the unit study or Charlotte Mason approach typically integrate subjects like this. If you’re planning your own studies, download this free planning sheet to help you determine how you can integrate subjects as you study.  

11. Look for ways to help your student become more independent in their learning if old enough

Once children can read well, they’re ready to do more independent work. Assignment sheets for each week help your child know what is expected and will help them learn to manage their time and be responsible. Check out The Homeschool Life All-in-One Planner to find an assignment sheet template and learn how to do this.

12. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and pray for His help in your planning whenever you feel stressed!

You’re not doing this homeschool journey alone! God wants to help and guide you as you plan and prepare for this next school year. As a believer, you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you, guiding you and giving you wisdom. Rest in the Lord and know that you can do this with HIS help!

Keep Your Summer Filled with FUN and LEARNING!

Summer is such a great time to relax and have fun together as a family, and to also build deeper relationships with our children! I love this time of year!

I recently heard it said that we only have 18 summers with our children, so we need to make the best of each one of them! They’ll be grown up before we know it, and we don’t want to have regrets about how we spent the time we had with them. Make each summer memorable and make an impact in your children’s lives!

As parents we also want to guard against “summer learning loss” or the “summer slide.” Studies done by the NWEA (a research-based organization that creates assessments for measuring growth and proficiency in children’s learning) show that children in grades 3-7 are losing a sizable percentage of their math and reading skills during the summer months. And the loss increases with age. In 3rd grade students are losing approximately 20-27% of their reading and math skills over the summer, and by 7th grade they’re losing 36-50% of their math and reading skills over the summer months. These studies are certainly motivating to keep our kids working on these skills through the summer months!

How can we make summer fun and yet keep it filled with learning opportunities?  Here are 3 ideas:

Set up a routine for the summer months

Children thrive on routine, even in the summer months. Of course, it can be a more relaxed routine, but a little routine is still very helpful for most kids. You don’t have to have a specific start time for your day (let your kids sleep in if they will!), but having a plan for what you want them to do each day is a great idea and will help them spend their time doing things that matter this summer.

  1. Bible time together

 It’s so important to continue to teach your children about the Lord each day, spending some time together in God’s Word and in prayer as you start or finish your day. Work on building godly character in your children over the summer too. With the extra time you have while school is not in session, you could even take time to memorize some scripture together as a family or enjoy learning more about a specific topic in the Bible like the Fruit of the Spirit. Check out Growing the Fruit of the Spirit
for building godly character and learning more about the Fruit of the Spirit as a family – this includes fun activities for all ages!

2. Read Everyday

  • Read aloud every day to your kids

There are so many benefits to reading aloud to your children!  One of the biggest benefits is that it builds literacy skills in children.  The National Center for Education Statistics found that children whose parents read to them tended to become better readers, and they performed better in school!

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children,” (from a Commission on Reading report) 

Check out my post 7 Benefits of Reading Aloud to Your Children to learn more about the many benefits of reading aloud to your kids. 

  • Children who can read should be reading independently every day

The best way to build reading skills is to practice, practice and practice some more! Having your children read for 15-20 minutes a day all year round is a great way to help them increase their reading skills and it will also help them avoid the summer slide in their reading abilities. 

Many libraries have a reading challenge with fun rewards to help motivate children to read over the summer. If your child needs motivation, you can also come up with your own reward system for reading every day…a date with Daddy or Mommy, a fun excursion somewhere or a special treat they would love.   Also, check out Sarah Mackenzie’s Read Aloud Revival blogs and podcasts to get some ideas of great literature to have your children read

3. Math Minutes!

  • Games are a great way to practice math skills and still make learning fun! There are so many great math games available today. Check out my post Fun Games to Teach and Strengthen Math Skills  for some ideas of great games to try this summer.
  • Baking & crafts can also practice math skills.  Make some cookies and practice fractions or division.  Here’s a fun post on crafts that use math skills from artsycraftymom.
  • Set up a lemonade stand to teach money skills. What neighbor can resist your cute kiddos selling lemonade on the street side? And it’s a great way for the kids to learn money skills and have fun too!

4. Field trip time!

Make a point of planning some fun onsite learning by going on field trips with your children this summer once a week or once a month! So much fun learning happens when we go to places like the zoo, the history museum and so on! Minnesota has an amazing resource in the Minnesota Field Trip and Activity Library – check it out to get some ideas of fun field trips to go on this summer! Your public library might also have a list of fun places to take your children as well.

5. Daily Chores

  • Helping with household chores builds important life skills all children need to develop!  Make a list of things that need to be done to keep each room in your house clean each day and then divide these tasks into daily and weekly chore lists. (Separate them out and make lists for each child with an equal number of chores each day.) Download my free chore chart here to use for this purpose. If you’ve never had your children do chores before, have a family meeting and talk about how important it is for everyone to help with keeping the house clean and about the life skills and the level of responsibility they’ll be developing…the way it’s presented can really make or break how your kids respond to taking on more responsibility! You can make chore time fun by turning on music and even encouraging singing and dancing as they work!

Set goals for what you hope to do this summer

The best way to make sure you accomplish all you hope to over the summer is to set some goals and make a plan for how you’ll actually complete those goals!

Make a list of ideas for the following categories along with which week you want to do each one this summer:

  • Places or people to visit
  • Books you want to read (for yourself, for your kids and for read aloud books)
  • Tasks you want to complete
  • Fun activities you want to do
  • Other things you have to do or events you will attend

Check out this amazing post on from hobbyhelp.com on 60+ Awesome Activities to do with Your Kids for some great ideas to make this summer AWESOME!

The Homeschool Life All-in-One Planner has some great goal setting templates to help you think through goals for each of your children and for the family.

Be intentional about building relationships with your children

Your children will love it if you make a special point of spending one-on-one time with them several times this summer! Weekly or monthly, whatever works for you. This is especially important if you have several children. Sit down with each of your children and make a list of things that they would like to do with you one-on-one and then set some dates to do those things. Here’s a great post from https://www.embracingasimplerlife.com/kid-date-ideas/  on ideas for how to plan dates with your children and make them happen!

I guarantee those parent/child dates will be some of the most memorable moments your children will have this summer! But if you’re not intentional about this, it likely won’t happen, so get something on the calendar and make it happen!

I pray this summer will be one that you’ll look back on and say, “that was one of the best summers yet!”

I’d love to hear your ideas for how to make summer full of fun and learning – please share below!

Growing the Fruit of the Spirit in Your Children

It’s challenging in our world today to raise godly children with a strong faith and commitment to God. Sadly, our society is gradually turning away from God and His principles.  There is pressure from all sides to follow the ways of the world and not God’s ways.  More and more, especially with social media as influential as it is, our children are being pushed to live like the world rather than like Christ.

I remember when our youngest son was a teen, he was struggling with his faith, trying to discern whether he wanted to follow the ways of the world or the ways of God. We were praying fervently, as we saw his struggle through his outward attitude and behaviors.

God is so faithful! Our son has shared with us that around that time in his life, he asked God to show Himself to him if He was truly real, otherwise he was going to live for himself and his interests. He was so close to giving up on his faith.  But God DID reveal Himself to our son shortly after that prayer! He has grown to love the Lord with all his heart and currently serves Him full-time in a youth ministry in the heart of Chicago! I praise God for His work in our son’s heart!

As believers, we need to be diligent to help our children understand the importance of following God, or the world and the things of the world will draw them away from God. With God’s help, we need to pray for them diligently and help them learn to pursue the Lord with all their heart. And not only is it important to teach them about living godly lives, we need to model it in our own lives. Our mission as parents is to disciple our children like Christ discipled the apostles.

As we disciple our children, the first and most important goal we ought to have is to guide them into faith in Christ as their Savior and Lord. The Bible says that salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone. He paid the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross and then rising again to be our Advocate, Savior and Lord. As we place our trust in Christ to save us from our sins, His Holy Spirit comes to reside in us to help us live the holy lives that God desires of us as His children.

As we teach our children God’s Word, a key passage that explains how we can live a life pleasing to God is Galatians 5. Verses 22-23 talk about the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit comes from the Holy Spirit who lives within us once we have put our faith in Jesus Christ.  

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

The fruit of the Spirit is a biblical term that summarizes the nine-character qualities that should be evident in the life of a Christian who is living by the Spirit (controlled by the Spirit of God). As a Christian allows the Holy Spirit to transform his or her life, these character qualities will become more and more evident.  Remember that we can’t expect all the fruit to grow at the same rate or even at the same time.

Our spiritual fruit grows in much the same way as grapes ripen on a vine. If a cluster has nine individual grapes on it, they are all getting what they need to grow from the vine. But each one ripens at a different rate. Some may become fully ripe and sweet, while at the same time others are still green and sour.

Similarly, our spiritual fruit of JOY may be mature and very sweetly evident in our lives, while the fruit of PATIENCE may be much smaller and a little sour to others at times. God has a big word for this process—it’s called sanctification. It means we are set apart to become just like our Lord Jesus Christ.

God does the work of sanctification in our lives and in the lives of our children. As parents, we can be a part of that by teaching our children about God, His love for them and about having godly character. We can help make their heart fertile ground for God to plant the seeds of spiritual growth and the fruit of the Spirit.

With summer upon us, many of us consider this a time of less structure in our days, a relaxed season of fun and rest from school. That’s great! But may I encourage you to NOT take a break from spending time in God’s Word with your children.

Summer is the perfect time to spend extra time learning about God and about godly character with your children! Some routine in your day is still valuable and starting your day together looking at God’s Word is a great routine to continue!

I want to recommend a book called Growing the Fruit of the Spirit, written by myself and my dear friend, Kris Hage, written to help families study the fruit of the Spirit with their children. This book is for all ages, so it’s great to use for a family Bible time.

This study is meant to help you in the process of discipling your children so that they will live godly lives, serving the Lord with all their heart.  Growing the Fruit of the Spirit is full of spiritual insights, stories, activities and scriptures to share with your children as you study these passages on the fruit of the Spirit. It makes learning God’s Word fun!

I’ve also written several blog posts about developing godly character in our children – these posts are full of ideas for how to develop them… character qualities like kindness, responsibility, gratefulness, etc. I encourage you to check these out too.

Whether you do Growing the Fruit of the Spirit or some other study, I pray you’ll see your children grow in their faith this summer and begin developing the fruit of the Spirit and other godly character qualities as you cultivate their hearts, allowing the Holy Spirit to help them grow!

Growing the Fruit of the Spirit is ON SALE THIS WEEK!

Click HERE to download a free sample lesson from Growing the Fruit of the Spirit!

Overcoming the Most Common Homeschool Fears

I remember when I first started homeschooling, I had so many fears! In fact, we almost didn’t homeschool because of those fears. I thought I might ruin our children, or they might become awkward or ‘different’. I was concerned that I wouldn’t do a good job, or that I might fail somehow.

 I’m so thankful the Lord helped me to look past my fears and reminded me to fix my eyes on Him instead of my fears!

What is Fear & Why Do We Have It?

Fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or problems, or is a threat, something difficult to endure.

But many of us have fears that are NOT actually about something that is dangerous, or that will cause pain, problems or a threat. We fear things that are not actually something to fear at all!

F.E.A.R. is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. There’s no true threat of immediate physical danger, no threat of a loss of someone or something dear to us, actually there’s nothing to fear at all. 

My homeschool fears were certainly not unusual, in fact, I often hear parents share the exact same fears that I had back when I was first homeschooling.  But many of these homeschooling fears are like the second definition, they are false evidence appearing real!

That’s why I wanted to walk through several of the most common fears that homeschool parents tend to have to help you overcome them.

Four of the Most Common Homeschool Fears and How to Overcome Them

#1 – What if I don’t do a good job teaching my kids?

Many of us don’t feel qualified to teach our kids, we don’t have a teaching degree or maybe we weren’t a good student ourselves. Or possibly we feel we aren’t creative enough or that we don’t have enough patience.

The good news is that you’re NOT doing this homeschooling thing on your own! As you seek the Lord for wisdom, He will be walking right beside you, giving you wisdom and insights as you teach your children.  Daily, moment by moment, I encourage you to seek His help. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  God wants to help you!

There are also wonderful curricula out there today to help us in teaching our children.

You can explore curriculum options and find good curriculum to help you teach your children – and you don’t even have to be creative – the curriculum does that for you! Here’s a post on choosing curriculum that will help you figure out what you might want to use as tools for teaching your children: Choosing Curriculum to Fit Your Family. A wonderful resource to learn more about all the curriculum options out there is Cathyduffyreviews.com.

If you weren’t a good student yourself, you will be more able to empathize with your student if they struggle, and also more likely to provide a better way for your children to learn because of your experience.

If you feel like your knowledge is weak in certain subjects, you can purchase curriculum that will  do some of the teaching for you. For example, my math skills have never been strong, and so when our children got into upper level math, we bought a video-based curriculum that taught our children math. Plus, my husband is a math-wiz, so he was able to help them in the evening with anything they didn’t understand.  God took care of this weakness for me and our children all became good at math, even though it’s not one of my strengths.

A great resource to help make sure you stay on track with all you need to do each year for homeschooling is my book Homeschooling with Confidence.

#2 – What if my kids fall behind other kids their age academically because of homeschooling?

The National Home Education Research Institute has done studies on homeschool students’ academic success. Their studies show that homeschool students’ average score on academic achievement tests is in the 65th-80th percentile. That’s 15-30% higher than the average score for public school students, which is 50%! Check out their information at nheri.org.

However, these statistics are averages and there may be circumstances when a homeschool student does fall behind.  For instance, homeschooling tends to be one of the best ways to educate a child with learning struggles. You may have chosen to homeschool because your student is struggling to learn, and if that’s the case, they likely are behind other students their age because of this learning issue. But your homeschooled child will be protected from the bullying and teasing that happens to children with learning struggles in the public school. And you can move along at their pace without anyone criticizing them for being behind. I’ve seen struggling learners do so much better academically when their parents take them home to educate them.

Even if your student is behind a bit academically for whatever reason, if you’re homeschooling them, you can work with them one-on-one and help them catch up to the best of their ability.

Some kids aren’t ready for formal education until they are between the ages of 8-10, and then they catch up quite quickly to their peers as they begin formal learning. (check out Better Late Than Early by Dr. Raymond & Dorothy Moore) and some kids struggle in certain subjects and just need a little extra help. Homeschooling them is one of the best ways to teach them, because you can focus on their weak areas and help them improve.

Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child's Education by [Moore, Raymond S., Moore, Dorothy N.]

#3- What if my kids don’t get enough socialization or are ‘different’ because of homeschooling?

Socialization is often a big fear when parents consider homeschooling, and it’s one of the questions you’ll get asked frequently when you say you homeschool!

The crazy thing is, most homeschool children are well socialized. This is one of those fears based on false evidence.

The dictionary defines socialization as the process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society. Most parents are more than qualified to teach their children how to behave, and in fact, they are MORE qualified to do so than a classroom full of a child’s peers!

There is a LOT of negative socialization that happens in a big classroom – bullying, disrespect, peer pressure to conform to worldly standards, materialism, self-centered behavior, etc. 

We can focus on building godly character in our children as we spend our days teaching them. This is the best kind of socialization! In fact, I’d say that if our children turn out different, it typically is for the better, because we can help them to be kind and considerate, responsible and respectful.  That kind of ‘different’ is what we want!   

We were motivated to homeschool because of the beautiful example we saw in our neighbor’s girls who were home educated. They were respectful, responsible, well-mannered, and able to converse with adults as well as children!  They were some of our best babysitters when our children were little because we knew we could trust them.

Check out this YouTube video by Israel Wayne on Socialization to learn more about this much misunderstood concern.

#4 – What if I can’t handle teaching my kids plus all the other responsibilities I have already?

Homeschooling is like having a full-time or a part-time job, so we do need to weigh the cost of time as we decide on homeschooling.  We need to determine our priorities and if homeschooling is something God is leading you to do, then He will help you to find the balance you need in your schedule to do it.

We may need to change what we’re currently doing to be able to fit homeschooling into our schedule. Our children’s education is important and if we have too many other responsibilities, we may need to cut out some of those things for a season so we can do a good job teaching our children. 

Our children can be a big help to us in keeping up our home and managing meals, etc.  In fact, having them help with housekeeping and meal preparation are great ways to teach them to manage their own home someday!

In my planner, The Homeschool Life All-in-One Planner, I have information on how to implement a chore system as well as templates to use for that. I also have a section on meal planning to help you streamline planning and making meals each day. There’s a section on organizing and planning out your school days as well, and lots of resources to help you manage your home and homeschool well! Check our The Homeschool Life All-in-One Planner!

The Homeschool Life All-in-One Planner with digital templates for all consumable documents

If you’re sensing that homeschooling is for you, or you’re already homeschooling but having lots of doubts, seek the Lord to give you clear direction and peace. Oftentimes our fears are just lies from the enemy, trying to get us to turn away from what God is leading us to do.

Seek the Lord for wisdom as you wrestle with your homeschooling fears. Are they real or are they based on false evidence?

God has many promises for us as we work through our fears:

 “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28–29

You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”
Psalm 32:7–8

Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6b–7

Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear. 
1 John 4:18a


What are your homeschooling fears? Please share them below and any ways that you’ve found to overcome them.  I’d be happy to pray for you as you wrestle through your fears as well.  

Strategies for Managing Your Home While Homeschooling

When I first started homeschooling, I didn’t really think about how much it would affect the rest of my responsibilities. Maybe you can relate to this?

 

I was so excited to start teaching our children, so I was very focused on how and what to teach. I didn’t think too much about how I would manage all the other things I needed to get done in a day…but that didn’t last long! The messy house, the lack of good meals, the struggle to find things – these all started to cause frustrations and I realized that I needed to do something to help things run more smoothly in our home while homeschooling.

 

You see, homeschooling is like having a part-time or full-time job, depending on how many children you’re teaching. Because of this, it’s helpful to set up systems of organization for the various areas of responsibility you have in managing your home. A meal planning system and a housekeeping system are essential to keep you from going crazy!

 

I personally found it helpful to make a weekly schedule for the various areas I needed to organize in our home. Over the years I developed a weekly system for meal planning and housework/chores. I’ll share what has worked for me in the area of meals and housework, and some resources and links for other ideas as well.

 

Here are some tips for managing meal planning and housekeeping and doing it well, all while homeschooling:

1. Meal Planning

I’m so thankful to my sister-in-law, Donna for her ingenious ideas on how to make meal planning easier!
Donna created a weekly meal system in which she listed seven evening entrees with side dishes, and she included the list of groceries she needed for those meals on the same sheet.

 

 

She created eight weeks of meal plans with this system. She saved the lists in a plastic covered sheet placed in a binder along with plastic sheets filled with recipes for all the meals listed on all the meal-planning sheets. Each week when it was time to get groceries, she took out one of the weekly meal planning lists and went to the grocery store to purchase what she would need for the week. I started using this system and found it saved me a lot of time and energy. I didn’t have to come up with new meals every day or even every week – once I had the system set up, it was a breeze to plan and make meals for each week.

With this system, I would sometimes change the order of the meals listed on the sheet and make something on a different day than I had originally planned, but I always had all the groceries I needed for each week as long as I stayed with making the meals listed on that sheet. I just looked at the list in the morning and got out anything frozen that needed to thaw and I was ready for the meals for that day.

This meal planning system is available in The Homeschool Life All-in-One Planner (In the planner, you’ll also get the template so you can tweak it and reproduce it as needed.) and it’s also in my Homeschooling with Confidence book -both are available in the store section of the website.

Here are some other meal planning resources and ideas:
E-meals (They plan and shop, you cook!)

Once a Month Cooking (Mimi Wilson and Mari Beth Lagerborg) 
  Once a Month Cooking (kindle version)

• Cook ahead and freeze – this saves a lot of time when it comes time to make a meal on a busy day. You can buy in bulk, then brown hamburger, chicken pieces, onions, and peppers, etc. ahead of time and freeze to use later.

• Crockpot cooking
The Easy 5 Ingredient Crock Pot Book 
Taste of Home Slow Cooker Book 
Fix-it and Forget-it Big Cookbook – 1400 Best Slow Cooker Recipes 

• Pressure cooker fast cooking Instapots have been growing in popularity, but I also like the Crockpot Multiuse Express Pot because it does both slow cooking and fast pressure cooking. It’s less expensive, has better ratings and does more! 

• Places to find new recipes:
 tasteofhome.com
 Pinterest.com
 delish.com
 allrecipes.com

2. Housekeeping system

It’s crazy how the house still needs to be cleaned when we’re homeschooling! If only it would just stay clean while we all live and learn in it full-time, right?

The good news is, along with having the kids living in and messing up the home all day long, you also have their help to clean it up! That’s what chores are all about! And it’s good for them to learn how to keep up a home anyway. Someday they’ll have a home of their own and will need those skills, so don’t feel guilty. Start delegating and training your kids to do the housework! They need these skills for when they are out on their own.

Chores are also character-building. Having your children doing chores helps make them more responsible. It also helps them learn to serve others and learn to work well with others. It may be challenging at first to teach them all the aspects of cleaning a house, but the benefits will be so very worth it!

I remember when one of our boys came home from college one weekend. He said that he had to teach his roommate how to do his own laundry because he had no idea how to do it! Our kids had been doing their own laundry since they were 9-10 years old! He was amazed that his roommate didn’t know how.

Not sure how to set up a chore system? Here’s a list to get you started:

(Both The Homeschool Life All-in-One Planner and Homeschooling with Confidence have a list of age-appropriate chores to help you determine what your child can do at the age they are at, plus you’ll find several different chore chart templates to choose from.)

• Make a list of all the rooms in your home.
• Write out what needs to be done in each of these rooms to maintain them and keep them clean (dust, vacuum, wipe down the fridge, counters, etc.).
• Separate the list into items that need to be done daily and items that can be done weekly. I would also recommend setting up a regular once-a-week “House Cleaning Day” where you do a deep-cleaning, and everyone helps with those chores that can be done once-a-week.
• For each chore on the two lists, make an index card with the details of what is expected of the person doing this chore. (For preschoolers, keep their chores simple and use pictures.) Include things like putting away clutter, cleaning windows, doorknobs, etc. (If you need guidance on this, go to flylady.net and check out her detailed cleaning lists.)
• Determine how you can separate each of these lists into the appropriate number of individual chore lists based on how many children you have. For example, we have four children: for helping in the kitchen, one helped with breakfast, one with lunch, one with dinner and the last emptied the dishwasher.
• Make a list of personal hygiene skills you want your child to practice every day and include that in their list of chores to be done.
• Make up a chore chart for each child including daily chores and some weekly chores. Each week, or month, make up a new chore chart and rotate which chores your child is doing for that week or month so that they will eventually learn to clean the whole house.

Here’s one type of chore chart you could use…

There are other chore systems available if this doesn’t fit your needs:
A mobile app for chores 
Chore chart that includes a schedule 
Chore sticks in a jar

I believe managing your home in these two areas (meals and housekeeping) is super important when you’re homeschooling. It helps your days to be more relaxed and gives you more time to enjoy your children.
Please share ideas in the comments if you have suggestions for others on how to manage meal planning or housekeeping well in your home – I’d love to hear from you!

Finding Joy in Your Homeschool Journey

The holidays are done, and the new year stretches before us. It’s time to begin a new semester of school…and I’m guessing that some of you may not be feeling very excited about getting back into a school schedule again.

Maybe you feel a bit overwhelmed with the idea of a whole new semester ahead of you. Or there was a difficult subject that you’re not looking forward to teaching again.  Maybe it’s just that the daily school routine has become boring and you need some changes to happen.

Sometimes homeschooling can feel like a lot of work, right? I remember only too well. Other families are sending their kids off on the bus and you’re teaching your kids again AT HOME. And YOU are responsible for what they learn. It can feel like a heavy burden at times, even though it’s what we’ve chosen, right?

So how do you find joy and motivation when you really just want to go back to bed, or go read a good book, or go hang out with a friend instead of doing the “school thing”?

If this is you, let me give you some ideas for how to find JOY IN YOUR HOMESCHOOL JOURNEY AGAIN!

  1. PRAY AND SEEK THE LORD each day! Rest in Him…

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this homeschool thing! God is with you and wants to help you and give you wisdom for every day and every situation as you teach your children. As you begin each day, spend time with God, seeking His strength and asking Him to give you a thankful and joyful attitude.  Many times, when I’m feeling discouraged or unmotivated, I really just need the Lord to help me change my attitude so it’s in line with His will in my life. He can help you get motivated and find joy in each day. He can help you look for things to be thankful for as you go through each day. I remember one year when I was feeling down and discouraged, not really looking forward to each homeschool day. I sought the Lord’s help and He reminded me of the many blessings I had and helped me to look for things to be thankful for each day. He also helped me see that I needed to take better care of myself…more on that shortly.

Remember that your attitude will rub off on your children! If you’re excited about a new day, looking forward to all God is going to teach you, your children will be too! A joyful attitude is infectious!

Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

 

 

  1. REMEMBER IT’S REALLY ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS!

 

We often get so focused on academics and making sure we’re getting everything accomplished that we forget that one of the most important things about homeschooling is that we’re building relationships:

  • Our children’s relationship with God
  • Our relationship with our children
  • Our children’s relationships with each other
  • Outside relationships with others

Ask the Lord to help you make relationships a priority this semester.

  • Focus on helping your children grow in their faith and in godly character. Check out my blog post on ideas for building your child’s faith: Resources and Ideas for Building Your Child’s Faith. I also have several posts on godly character – just put that phrase in the search box and you’ll find them!
  • Focus on spending quality time enjoying being with your children, playing a game, reading to them, or just snuggling.
  • Focus on helping your children love one another, helping them to develop a deep friendship with their siblings.

You’ll be surprised at what this change of focus will do for your family and your homeschool days!

 

  1. TAKE A LITTLE TIME TO RE-EVALUATE

 

  • Are you possibly struggling with burnout? Do you give so much of yourself that you’re not taking time for yourself and your needs? Homeschool burnout is very real! You need to take care of yourself, get proper rest and exercise and eat well plus allow yourself to enjoy the things you like to do sometimes in order to avoid burning out. That same year when I was so down and discouraged, I realized that I needed to get more regular exercise and so we joined a gym as a family and I found that getting regular exercise was good for me and also for our children! Check out this blog post: “Encouragement for the Burned-out Homeschool Mom” 

 

  • Do you need to consider a change of curriculum? Are you finding you dread a certain subject? Or have you noticed your children seem to complain about doing some subjects? Maybe it’s time for a change of curriculum. Check out cathyduffyreviews.com for new ideas on curriculum and read this post on Choosing Curriculum.
  • Focus on developing a love for learning using delight-directed studies and adding some fun ideas and games into your school day. One year I was just so tired of the “same old, same old” everyday, and so I purchased the book “Ignite the Fire” by Terri Camp. It was so helpful to get me out of the rut we were in! One idea she had was to have the kids each make their own mailbox (decorated shoe box!) and then write letters to each other (creative writing).  The kids loved it!  She has many wonderful ideas to help your children love to learn!

Also check out these blog posts on delight-directed learning, teaching tips and using games to help make learning more fun:

 

 

  • Download my free “Homeschool Evaluation and Goal Setting PDF” available on the sidebar to help you assess any changes you may wish to make for this second semester.

 

 

  1. BRAINSTORM with your spouse or other homeschool friends on ideas to make this semester better for you and your children…

    so school is something you DO look forward to! I also do homeschool consulting and would love to meet with you to help you think through how you can bring more joy into your homeschool days if this is a struggle for you. For the month of January 2019, I’m offering a 15% discount for consultations as well!

 

  1. RELAX AND ENJOY LEARNING WITH YOUR CHILDREN!

So much learning can happen without textbooks. Allow yourself to relax a bit, to allow some learning to happen naturally as your children ask questions about life and things that happen in their world. That’s called Discovery Learning – and because it’s something they’re interested in, they will be much more attentive as you research together about the topic of interest. Discovery learning provides some of the best learning and often the information you learn through these types of teaching times will be retained better than when you use some fancy lesson plan!

 

  1. EXTEND GRACE…

    to yourself and your children as you get back into the routine of school after a holiday break. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes you a week or more to get back into a regular routine with school and life.  REST in the LORD on a daily, moment by moment basis as you teach and have a blessed school year!

Please comment below if you have other ideas that have helped you find joy in your homeschool journey… I’d love to hear your ideas!

*Photo credit  Kelli Tungay on Unsplash

6 Tips for Homeschooling with Confidence

 As I talk with homeschoolers, one of the most frequent questions or concerns that I hear is “I don’t know if I’m doing enough?”  or “What if I’m doing something wrong or not teaching them enough?”

Even though most parents are going above and beyond what they need to do in teaching their children, there’s still this underlying fear that they aren’t doing enough, that somehow their children won’t measure up to other children their age.

“What if we miss teaching them something really important?”

 “What if they don’t do well on their annual achievement test?”

“I’m afraid I can’t do this teaching thing, as well as the public or private schools, do.”

Can you relate to this?

I know I can. Frankly, many homeschoolers struggle with these fears.

We start comparing ourselves to some of our more successful homeschooling friends. Or we even compare our children to children in public school and wonder if our children are missing out on some great educational experience.

We see that the Johnson children are well above average in their math skills, or the Jones children are so well-mannered, just like little adults. How do they do that? And why aren’t our children like this? The comparison cycle begins, and it can really bring us down.

How do we deal with these nagging feelings of insecurity and doubt with homeschooling? The fears that we aren’t doing enough?

How do we stop that irritating comparison game that we all play?

How can we homeschool with confidence and stop feeling inadequate?

 

Six tips to help you homeschool with confidence:

  1. Pray for wisdom, seek God’s guidance, and trust God to direct your decisions.

    This may sound cliché, but ultimately this is the first and most important weapon we have against the fear and doubt that so often plagues us. God promises us that He will give us wisdom when we ask and that He’ll guide us when we seek Him for direction, so we can rest in that promise. If we seek Him, we can trust that what He leads us to do will be enough! Spend time each day seeking God and His direction for your day and your teaching, He is faithful to help you!

 

  1. Focus on discipleship and building godly character first!

    Major on the majors! Helping our children come to know and love the Lord is truly the most important thing we can do as parents. Once they know the Lord, He’ll be working on them, helping them to want to do their best in all they do, including their school work. Praying for and helping your children develop godly character can be one of the most effective ways to have a successful homeschool.  Focusing not only on their character but also helping them to have a godly heart attitude in which they strive to be obedient out of love for you and the Lord is key. As your children grow in their faith, God is at work, helping them to be all they can be.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7: And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Inga Cannon states:

“When exploring God’s requirements for what our young people learn, it is important to establish a Scriptural definition of knowledge. II Peter 1:5–8 provides a clear description for an educational sequence which will honor God:

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,  and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ ESV

Knowledge, then, is explored information within the boundaries of faith and character development.”

(see my posts on Building Godly Character)

 

  1. Remember that children don’t mature and learn at the same rate, so if your child isn’t up to “speed” so to speak, it may be due to maturity, not a learning disability.

    It’s normal for children to develop at different rates physically. One child might learn to walk at age 9 months while another doesn’t walk until they’re 14 months.  This goes on all through the developmental years, with children learning different large motor skills at different rates, learning to talk at different ages, reaching puberty at different ages, etc.  Just as children develop at different rates, they also learn at different rates. One child may be ready to read at age 4, while another doesn’t learn to read until they’re 10!  Just because they’ve turned 5 doesn’t mean that they’re ready or mature enough to learn to read and do math.  According to Dr. Raymond Moore in his book, Better Late than Early, some children are not ready for formal learning until ages 8-10! Yet our society pushes us to begin teaching children formally at age 5, and many children just aren’t ready. One of our boys struggled to learn to read, we started teaching phonics at age 4, and it wasn’t until he was 9 that the phonetic concepts finally clicked, and he started to read fluently. The amazing thing was that his reading skills were up to his grade level very quickly once he finally “got it”!

    So remember that it’s okay for kids to learn at different rates, there’s no need to become concerned unless you’re seeing signs of a learning disability.  Click HERE to see a list of learning disability signs from the US Dept. of  Health and Human Services.  A great resource if you suspect a learning disability is diannecraft.org.

4. Guard against falling into the comparison game.

Allowing yourself to fall into the comparison game is a sure-fire way to lose confidence in your homeschooling abilities. I’ve seen it happen so often, a young homeschool mom notices that one of her homeschool friends seems to do such fun, creative things to teach her children and she feels inadequate.  I struggled with this way too often in my homeschooling years.

The thing is, you can’t be perfect in all areas, and so you’re almost always going to find someone who does something better than you do. Comparing yourself to others isn’t helpful.

 It’s difficult to completely break the comparison habit, but with God’s help, it’s possible to do it less by remembering that it’s okay to be unique! I want to encourage you to focus on following God’s lead rather than trying to please people.

God chose YOU to raise your children because He knew that with His help, you were the best choice as mom or dad for those children! And you will do things differently than another family might, and that’s OKAY! Be free to live life as God leads you to live it and to educate your children as God leads you to do so.

Pray daily for help to stop comparing yourself to others. Seek the Lord for direction each day and trust Him to guide you. It’s okay to seek advice from others you respect but try not to compare yourself and your homeschool to others.

When you start to feel bad about how you’re doing, ask yourself, “Is this from God or is it because I’m comparing myself again?”

 

  1. Utilize resources and do your best academically.

    There are SO many curriculum options out there to help you teach your children! It can be a bit overwhelming, but options can be a blessing because you can customize your curriculum to fit your needs. Check out cathyduffyreviews.com to get some insights into the various options for curriculum on each subject. I also love to consult with families, helping them find the right fit for curriculum based on their needs as a family and their children’s learning styles. Learn more about a consultation HERE.

Once you have curricula or teaching resources to help you, then you just need to do your best to teach your children, trusting God for guidance on a daily basis.  Follow the teacher’s guides, follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and RELAX! Most homeschool children score between the 65th to the 85th percentile on the annual academic achievement tests.  Go to the National Home Education Research Institute’s webpage to learn more about how homeschoolers are doing.

If you’re concerned about where your child is at academically, here are a couple of resources you can use to verify that you’re on track. (But remember that kids mature at different rates though, so don’t fret if your child isn’t quite up to their grade level – just set some goals to work towards getting them there!). 

What Your Child Needs to Know When by Robin Sampson

World Book also has a free “Typical Course of Study” Guide available.

  1. Use the Homeschooling with Confidence guidebook to make sure you’re doing all that you need to . . . and enjoy the journey!

    Homeschooling with Confidence is a guidebook for homeschoolers who want a bit of accountability and encouragement! Topics include starting off right, planning & scheduling, learning styles, managing your home while homeschooling, avoiding resistance, developing a love or learning, choosing curriculum, discipleship & character training, and wrapping up your school year well.

    You can find this book in my “store” link or click on the title above.

 

Homeschoolers encouraging other homeschoolers is the best way to help you find confidence in your homeschool journey! I’d love to hear your thoughts…please share with others below about how you find confidence as you homeschool!