Written by Kara S. Anderson
I quit homeschooling once.
I remember the day actually – it was two houses ago now, and I was pacing in my living room. I had my sleeping 1-year-old held to my chest in a baby sling, and it was cold, because it was December and that drafty Victorian was always chilly.
We had started in September after a year of church preschool. Preschool had been rocky because my son didn’t like to sit on the line. It was a whole thing – the teacher kept talking to me after class, and I wasn’t sure what to do, but I was gradually realizing that the school wasn’t a good fit for my precocious boy.
So we decided to try homeschooling. I spent the summer reading books and getting our little home classroom ready.
We started off strong – perhaps too strong. I realize now that I had an even mixture of zeal and terror.
My son, age 4, had shown a casual interest in knights and castles, and so I read the kids Robin Hood. (I mean, I tried to read the kids Robin Hood – they were 1 and 4 and the book was an inch thick and didn’t have one picture – not even on the cover).
We made paper because paper was invented in Medieval Times.
And we planned out a huge Medieval feast. We ate with the lights off.
At the same time, I also tried to follow a book curriculum, and tried to practice Waldorf methodology like my life depended on it.
Is it any wonder that I burned out before Christmas?
I had jumped in a little too far. I was trying to do homeschool so fully, so completely, when that half-year could have been spent reading, playing and not trying to cram 1,000 years of history into 4 months.
I had such relief when the little Montessori-esque preschool accepted my son.
We actually really liked the Montessori school. It had a tree growing in its library. My son loved “Math Mat Time” and music class.
But the school told us that the next year, they wanted to move our 4-year-old into the 6- to 9-year-old classroom because he was an early reader.
We still had another child to consider – and full-days in their grade school were considerably more expensive than the preschool had been.
And so, we decided to try homeschooling one more time. And that time, it stuck.
We just entered out 12th year, and although I’ve experienced plenty of worry and doubt, I’ve never considered quitting again.
So what changed?
I think I was very lucky that I burned out early. The stakes were still pretty low. Even when we started again, I could reason that it was “just” Kindergarten.
But more than that, I realized that if we were in this for the long haul, we had to start treating it like a marathon, and not a race.
I had to pace myself, and stop for (water) breaks, and I had to take a bit more control over how we homeschooled.
When we first started, I used a method that made me feel bad ALL THE TIME.
But when I decided to take the parts of that philosophy that worked for us, and leave the rest behind, I found a new freedom.
Seeing my people
I also decided that the most important part of our homeschool experience was the relationships.
Nothing worked when I pushed. I’m a highly-sensitive introvert, and an Enneagram 9 – that means that pushing is entirely against my nature.
I needed to factor in every person who lived in our house, because home and homeschool are not separate. I had to make sure I never again put the dogma ahead of my people.
And I decided that if we were going to thrive, I had to quit seeing the Internet as a massive homeschool assignment.
There are so many wonderful ideas out there – but we need to keep them in their place. Ideas are great, but if we’re going to stay sane, we have to pick and choose. We have to be homeschool minimalists – wherein we do what works for us and leave the rest.
Learn from my mistakes
If you were to ask me how you can avoid burning out this year, this is what I would tell you:
- Breaks are so important. Take them when you need them. That means if you can NOT teach one more math lesson until the kitchen gets back to a point of at least being functional, it’s okay.
- Stop following social media accounts that make you feel bad. I don’t care if someone has 100,000 followers or all your friends sing someone’s praises.
- Speaking of which, listen to your gut. Mama Intuition is powerful. Don’t ignore how you feel.
- Develop a self-care routine. This doesn’t have to be fancy. Maybe your routine is reading a book in your room each afternoon during nap/quiet time. Maybe it’s a night with friends once a month.
- Learn about your personality and what you need to thrive. Introverts: read Jamie’s book! (afflink)
- Find a friend you can be honest with, who won’t tell you after a bad day that maybe you should quit homeschooling.
- Realize that you can make mistakes. It’s okay. We ALL make mistakes. We all try a math program that bombs – and online craft project tutorials? Forgetaboutit.
Mostly, I want you to give yourself so much grace. You are one person. We all are.
So do your best, and on the hard days, jump into bed as early as you can and promise yourself you’ll try again in the morning.
Remember Emerson …
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Don’t you love that?
We can always begin again.
Have a wonderful school year, friends.
Have you ever considered quitting homeschooling? What helped you stay the course?
Written by Jamie C. Martin of Simple Homeschool
This week’s FEATURED SPONSOR is Be Naturally Curious. Simple Homeschoolers worldwide love their downloadable mini-courses:
Created by professional scientists/nature lovers, these are super-inexpensive and ideal for K-5th grade, teaching concepts through stories, crafts, games, movement-based activities, and experiments!
Several months ago I asked Simple Homeschool readers to tell me their main homeschooling concern. I received hundreds of replies, but was stunned to find that over 75% of them were more or less the same:
- “I just wish I knew I was doing enough.”
- “I feel like I’m not doing enough.”
- “How do I know if I’m doing enough?”
All of us have different families and different children, but the same insecurities. I know, because they sometimes keep me up at night, too.
And so I thought that at the beginning of a new homeschool year, we should take a peek at this word, how it haunts us, and what we can do to break free.
Here are a few things for us to keep in mind:
Enough has a set point.
Think about the other area in which we use this word: MONEY. Most people never feel as though they have quite enough of this commodity. Whatever our income, we tend to hope for just a bit more.
But studies have found that increased money only leads to increased happiness up to a threshold of around $75,000 (basic needs/desires met). Beyond that, MORE cash does not equal MORE joy. What does this teach us?
Enough has a set point. If you’re below it, you feel the lack. However, if you just continue to add more (whether money or, in our case, tasks/assignments) it doesn’t do much for you. It’s this magical set point we’re after for our homeschool.
An external solution can never fix an internal problem.
Remember this the next time you have planners or spreadsheets open on your desk. The perfect schedule will never be enough if you don’t believe that you already are.
No magic checklist will ever make us feel more worthy. Our homeschool plans and achievements don’t define us or determine our value.
The system has the same issues.
A dear friend of mine teaches in our local public schools. One day I asked her, “Do you ever feel like you’re not doing enough?”
“All the time, yes!” she replied. She went on to say that if there’s a child who is struggling in some way, she does her best but always wonders if she could have done more. Teachers who care, whether at home or school, wrestle with this. I find that a comfort.
Also remember that the system isn’t some efficient machine that runs nonstop from 9am-3pm each day. I was recently reminded of this when my niece came home from her first day of 11th grade. Looking through her paperwork, I came to her AP Psychology syllabus. It explained what they’d be learning, and on the back? Was a list of over a dozen movies they’d be watching, in class, as part of their curriculum.
You guys? This is High School AP Psychology! A dozen movies, in one semester, including Groundhog Day and What About Bob! And here you were berating yourself for watching that history documentary this week.
My point isn’t to heckle, but to point out that we often hold ourselves to a crazy ideal of productivity that doesn’t exist anywhere.
ENOUGH on a practical level.
Instead of trying to duplicate a struggling system, let’s capitalize on the huge advantage we have that schools never can: HOME.
Don’t turn yours into an institution! Just set “enough” based on what your unique kids need in this unique moment–whatever their age. If you feel fairly confident that you’ll be homeschooling long-term or for several years, release those artificially-made grade levels and live outside the box. You’re free! Embrace whatever methods suit you and yours.
If there’s a chance you might need to put your kids back into school, however, then use slow and steady, incremental progress to ease your “enough” fears.
To do so, just incorporate a tiny bit of the 3R’s (reading instruction, writing, & arithmetic) into your homeschool days.
Here’s one way this could look in the early years: Order a Brain Quest workbook (afflink) for your child’s current level. Have them do one language arts page, one handwriting page, and one math page each homeschool day. These workbooks have around 300 pages, which means that in 100 days you’ll have finished. So do two a day, MWF, or skip bad days!
If your child can read and write already, ask them when they want to do their pages. Independently upon waking? With you at the table? My kids like it when I rip pages out of a workbook—that way they are not seeing ALL the empty ones still to come. They see a few and think: “Oh, I can do this.”
After everyone’s pages are done for the day, celebrate with hot chocolate, a cookie, the bean jar, a video everyone likes, etc. Do not turn this into a dreaded chore (if it becomes one, make a change). And do not worry about this “reward” spoiling them.
I used to give my kids a cookie each time they used the toilet, but guess what? They never ask for one now! All you’re doing is setting a positive habit, and quelling those fears/voices that scream at you, asking if you’re doing enough.
I’m not saying to do the above and ignore your kids for the rest of the day. I’m suggesting you do a bare minimum, then fill the rest of your day with the power of home:
Read-alouds and discussions, cozy blankets, baking and cooking, dealing with squabbles (this is real life, after all), chores, Lego villages, documentaries and educational videos, board games, copywork, snap circuits, ice cream and audiobooks, passion-driven classes and co-ops, online learning and fun apps–whatever helps you and yours love learning and each other.
Welcome to enough. Welcome to life. WELCOME HOME.
Do your best to enjoy yours! And let your kids enjoy theirs, too.
What have you learned about “enough” during your years of homeschooling?
Originally posted on Sept 18, 2018.
July!!! Back to school sales, sooo many markers, pens, and cute colors. All the things to get a school supply addict excited! For many of us, we are just lucky that whatever we purchase, stays in our home. It doesn't get dumped into a communal bucket, but happily rests in each one of our own children's desk space.
Well, that's the easy part. Stocking up on paper, pens, and crayons is mindless fun. Scoring deals on cute staplers, tape dispensers, scissors, is even better. But what do you do about the real meat of your homeschool?
I love to spend hours searching catalogs and websites for educational supplements, fun things that get our kids excited, new reading material, and of course, the core curriculum. In this blog series, I'll be sharing what we have chosen for each grade by subject! When planning for three grade levels, I have to break it down this way so I make sure I don't miss anything!
This is what happened in May... I had to purchase everything before we went on vacation to avoid late shipments. It was fast paced, and kinda scary knowing that I was on a timeline. Part of the rush in ordering was due to our educational funds needing to be spent by a certain time. And then, the UPS guy showed up with everything in one day.
|No joke... all at one time. Ha!|
Here is our first Core Subject: Language Arts!
I often refer to this as English, because I'm a child of the 80's and that's how it looked on my report cards..so that's just what I occasionally call it. But Language Arts, or ELA usually encompasses English, Writing, Vocabulary, Spelling, and Reading.
We've decided to continue using BJU Press for our English & Grammar. I really love the style of the books, the ease of the Teacher Guide, and how each grade sort of follows another. For Vocabulary, my middle and high schooler are using BJU Press again, and my 4th grader is using BJU Press for Spelling. Then I added Patriotic Penmanship for the older ones to practice their handwriting, and my 4th grader will be using BJU Press Handwriting again this year (not pictured).
|4th Grade Language Arts|
- Simply Fun Word Bits (an educational game using letter dice to create words)
- Silly Starters Write Abouts (Great for creating stories)
- Story Cubes (Also great tools for creative story telling and writing)
- Rhyme Out! (A rhyming game)
- Main Idea Flash Cards
- Not yet ordered- BJU Press Handwriting, Simply Fun Games Gumball Words, and Hot Dots Vocabulary Cards.
|8th Grade Language Arts|
- Thinking Tree Journals Poetry Collection
- Teacher Created Resources Any Novel
- Simply Fun Word Bits
- Writing Starters Write Abouts
- Story Cubes
|10th Grade Language Arts|
"The Amazonia is on fire!" I read as I scrolled through Instagram. Did I see this on the news? No. I read this weeks ago before celebrities and news stations started sharing about the crazy big fire that is sweeping through the Amazon. Completely baffled why regular new sources weren't sharing this, I decided we need to study this magnificent forest now.
I've been gathering information and books for the unit study the entire summer. I scoured the Internet for a detailed guide, coming up scarce, and decided to make this a piece together plan.
Why is studying the rainforest so important? The Amazon Rainforest is the largest forest in the world. It produces 20% of Earth's Oxygen. And it's on fire. It's a protected habitat harboring thousands of creatures and organisms in its' unique ecosystem, some of which haven't even been identified yet. Our planet is special. Our countries often overlook natural disasters in other areas and only focus on earthly fixes in their own regions, but how can we expect future generations to fully embrace our planet without being taught the importance of large natural habitats no matter where they are?!
To begin this study, we are using a Brazil guide from MyFathersWorld.com, Rainforest worksheets from education.com, and The Rainforest guide from Love at Home Education.
Here are the books we have chosen to use:
- Magic Treehouse Fact Tracker Rain Forests
- Magic Treehouse #6 Afternoon on the Amazon
- Where is the Amazon?
- The Most Beautiful Roof in the World
- The Great Kapok Tree
- Rainforest Explorer (Barnes & Noble)
- The Umbrella by Jan Brett
- The Rainforest Grew All Around
- Can You Hear the Rainforest Sing?
- 3D Rainforest Explorer (pop up book)
- Hidden Wildlife How Animals Hide In Plain Sight
- Rainforest Masks
- The Jungle Challenge
- Secrets of the Rainforest
- eat2explore Brazil box
- Green Kid Crafts Rainforest Science
- Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit
- Study a Kapok pod (then we are giving it to the rabbit)
- Professor Noggins Rainforests of the World Game
- The Fox in the Forest Game
- Match a Track
- Global Ranking
Ahhh…the virtues of spiral bound! As a home educator, it’s helpful to have the page stay flat. Some of my favorite homeschool curricula are Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) and Teaching Textbooks (student workbooks) — these are both spiral bound. Teaching is hard enough; it’s nice to not fight your book as well!
Families that desire to purchase California Out of the Box Interdisciplinary History Curriculum, purchase a spiral bound copy from the Carrier Shell Curriculum Lulu store. If purchased instead from Amazon, buyers will receive a paperback copy. Our spiral bound Lulu store copy is $1 cheaper than Amazon, $38.95. If procuring spiral bound copies with charter school funds, follow this link.
If you are looking for homeschool enrichment classes, try these! The Co-Op meets at St. James United Methodist Church in Pasadena on Washington Blvd. There are still openings in robotics, math, chess, geology, and more! This Friday, September 6, St. James Co-Op will have a back to school event. Click here to sign-up for classes, and for more information on this exciting program.
Additionally, most of the classes take charter school funds.
The post Awesome Friday Classes for Homeschoolers in Pasadena appeared first on Carrier Shell Curriculum.
It's that time of year again! Well, maybe a little later than normal this year but I finished before December at least!
The budget calendars are complete and ready to download. Download yours today and be sure to share them with anyone you think would be interested.
Below is a newer version that I created for my loyal subscribers only. This version is also free but you do have to be a subscriber to download these. By subscribing you will receive our updates and be the first to know when the new calendars are ready along with any other free printables available through out the year.
The only difference in these and the originals are that I added in a space for budgeted and actual amounts with a check off area. I also added in an interest section to the debt snowball category. Subscribe here to download these for FREE too!
Motivated Moms is now offering a wonderful new option in their planner system! This is the simple chore system that I have loved for years. This time they are offering a founding membership as there planners are being tweaked.
Here's what a founding membership includes:
- An annual membership at only $9/year.
- As long as you remain a member in good standing you will be locked into this price going forward.
- You'll immediately have access to ALL versions of the Motivated Moms printables inside the membership. Click here to see samples of all the versions. The 2019 planners are all inside right now!
- An app for iOS and Android is currently in development. When it is ready, you will have access to the app at no extra charge! You will also be involved in the development process - you'll be asked for feedback during this time.
If you are unfamiliar with Motivated Moms, it is a wonderful little tool to help you stay on top of your cleaning tasks by breaking them down into little bite size chunks each day. It includes daily, weekly, monthly, and even annual tasks. I've been using this tool for years! It is so simple.
Disclaimer: You will have to actually do the work. If only there were a planner design that did it for you!! Until then, I think you'll find this one is great! No more forgotten air vent changes and more importantly no need to try to remember when you last did it!
|Flowers at a rest stop in Virginia|
Sibling tears over Makayla leaving began Monday night. It was hard. These children have spent more waking hours together than the average family because of homeschooling. This is an enormous blessing! They have strong bonds, know each other deeply, and have many memories together. The children at home have been praying for Makayla by name ever since she left, in every prayer.
The trip to Virginia was uneventful. Moving our daughter into her dorm, one last trip to WalMart to grab a few items, meeting her roommate, and then goodbye. We all cried. It was hard, but I know she is ready to thrive as a young adult.
One thing we did in secret in the weeks before Makayla left for college was gather notes from people who know and love her. We made her a "Jar of Joy". The idea was simple, there were five categories for notes, each printed on a different color paper. There are enough notes in the jar for Makayla to read one every day for the entire first year of college. The categories are:
- Memories - These all are memories of Makayla from across the years.
- Encouragement - These are favorite quotes, scriptures, and personal notes for Makayla.
- Fun Facts - The topics range all over the place.
- Humor - Jokes or funny stories landed here.
- Just Because - This category was the catch all for anything that didn't fit the other categories, and some things that would have fit other categories but were placed here by the person who wrote them 'just because'.
Saturday has started and we went to the post office, the library, returned the van we borrowed for the summer so we would have 3 vehicles, cleaned the church, and then grocery shopping. I'm going to go over next week's homeschool lessons and then it will be time to cook dinner.
Happy End of the Week!
Rebekah helped herself to some cake this week.
She is quite the climber.
Another week has slipped by at our house. Sunday was peaceful. We enjoyed church as a family and spent the day together after that. I love our peaceful Sabbath evenings together.
Monday was full of homeschool lessons. We read great books. Art created. Group science was on the sense of smell, with lots of spices and essential oils to smell and identify. Math lessons went smoothly. It was just a normal, full morning. Then we played Ticket to Ride at the request of the 14 year old boy.
By late afternoon we were going through bins of clothing in the attic, seeing what fall/winter clothing we have for each child and what things we need. I made a list with sizes, details of what they have and need, and finished the process with 7 of the kids.
|Joseph has been using chalk pastels regularly this week.|
Tuesday school random notes:
- Reading about lighthouses, Greek scientist Archimedes, levers, a circus, the sense of smell, microscopes, an elf in the mountains, microbiology. Reading poetry and discussing it.
- Microscope exploration for the biology students, learning parts and how to use the different objective lenses and focus.
- Math topics included adding and subtracting fractions, multiplication and negative numbers, skip counts, adding to make 10, simplifying and solving algebraic equations.
- Language Arts included sentence diagramming, commas in a series, changing silent e words to -ing words and back, rhyme scheme and stanzas in poetry, homonyms, spelling, sentence dictation, challenging words (vocab), etc.
- Handwriting. Lots of handwriting.
In the afternoon we got through the last two kids clothing bins. Rebekah napped. We made homemade pizzas for dinner.
One of the kids used a free coupon to rent Secret Life of Pets 2 and we watched it as a family after dinner.
The rest of the morning was spent doing school. Today's The Good and the Beautiful history lesson was about several famous Greeks. We read about them, placed them on our timeline, compared when they lived with other peoples and events we are familiar with, and talked about their contributions to the world. We only have one more lesson set in Ancient Greece before moving to Ancient China. If I get terribly energetic we may do an Ancient Greece themed art project.
I thought it would be fun to share a peek at the Good and the Beautiful Language Arts. One thing that I love about TGTB is that their language arts courses rotate your student through so many subjects. It is not just reading and writing. They integrate things so well. For example the geography/map work is related to the stories you are reading or the people who wrote the poetry/created the art/wrote the stories you are studying. Here are notes about what was covered today in the various levels my kids are in:
- Spelling practice.
- Sentence dictation.
- Grammar definition card review.
- Geography cards reviewed.
- States/Capitals Ladder reviews.
- Poetry memorization practice.
- Reading aloud (elocution) in a variety of forms: poetry, story, vocabulary and definitions, factual information relating to geography, an artist's experience as a POW in WWI, and an author.
- Personal reading of stories set in several time periods and places, depending on the level.
- Reading challenging words.
- Grammar/punctuation practice with focus on apostrophes, commas, dependent clauses, independent clauses.
- Beginning to write a 'How To' Essay.
- Learning about protagonists, writing about the protagonist in a story, creating a list of possible protagonists and their descriptions for a future writing project.
- Mapping European countries (related to an artist whose work would be studied).
- Observing a painting and then oral discussion of the painting.
The kids planted sunflowers this year.
They are growing and blooming so the
kids brought a few in this week to enjoy.
Friday is here and the afternoon is in progress. Kids are pursuing their own interests. Rebekah is napping. It is the end of the school week and it is wonderful!