Mastermind Your Homeschool Blog

Become a Homeschool Mastermind Today | The Homeschool Genius

Welcome to the Year 2020!

By now, you’re probably aware that this blog is taking a new direction. Don’t worry, I’ll still be sharing my homeschool journey. In fact, I won’t be taking away anything. You’re free to enjoy all my old blog posts and resources. I love when creators leave a trail that leads to the very beginning of their journey. In my case, that trail began when I had zero readers.

I admit I wasn’t writing for anyone then. I was writing for myself. My blog simply served as memoirs—”aha moments” that I wanted to document for the purpose of looking back on. To this day, I revisit my old blog posts and am reminded of important lessons I’ve learned along my journey. It was always my pleasure sharing these moments and life lessons with all of you.

Welcome to The Homeschool Genius!

And this is where The Homeschool Genius comes in. After five years of homeschooling, I’ve realized God has been helping me become the mastermind of my homeschool journey. In that, I’ve learned to draw out the little genius within my children, rather than forcing society’s one-dimensional view of intelligence onto them.  I want to share what I’ve learned with all of you!

If you’re like me, you’ve tried homeschooling other peoples’ way. You’ve tried implementing popular methods, incorporating popular curricula, and imitating popular homeschool influencers. Or, maybe you’re just getting started and you’re intimidated by what you see online.

Can I just say the first few years of homeschool are challenging? Especially when we try and follow what every other homeschooler is doing on social media or in the books we read. Sometimes we need someone to tell us:

  • We don’t need an expensive curriculum.
  • We don’t need a homeschool room.
  • We don’t need to overschedule our children.
  • We don’t need to push early reading.
  • And, we don’t need to have the perfect circumstances to homeschool.

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you don’t need to be like that homeschool family! You know, that perfect social media family with the hot mom, perfect kids, and immaculate home? Yea, even that mom wants to be like the one she portrays on the Gram.

I could go on and on with my list of “don’t needs,” but I digress.

So, what do we really need?

We need to mastermind our own homeschool, rather than copying and pasting a highlight reel we see on the Internet and wondering why it’s not working for our family.

With that said, I want to share my homeschool journey with a bit more purpose. I want to share exactly how I’ve become—and am continuing to become—a mastermind of my own homeschool, and I want to help you become a mastermind of yours.

You Are a Homeschool Mastermind

So, what’s a mastermind? We’ve all heard of the word and probably used it at some point but allow me to submit the definition to ensure we’re all on the same page.

The good ol’ Merriam Webster thesaurus defines a mastermind as “a person who designs and guides a plan or undertaking.” Such a person is deemed one with outstanding creative intellect. Synonyms for mastermind include words like director, leader, manager, planner, developer, and of course—genius.

Do I even have to explain why I chose the word “mastermind” to define homeschool parents? It takes outstanding creative intellect to design and guide a plan for homeschooling. We are essentially all the synonyms I mentioned above and then some! Yet, most of us don’t feel that way because we’re burdened with feelings of inadequacy. We don’t feel like we’re enough. Whether we feel we’re:

…not planning enough.

…not smart enough.

…not teaching enough.

…not patient enough.

…not put together enough.

Or whatever other “enoughs” we can think of.

Let’s Get Started!

I’ve got the cure. Or, rather I’ve got the C.U.R.E for those feelings of incompetence that creep into our minds and make us doubt ourselves. Here’s how you can start becoming a mastermind of your homeschool today.

  • Construct a clear and concise vision and mission that aligns with your core values.
  • Unveil your child’s inner genius and allow it to drive your unique journey.
  • Remember self-care is giving your family the best of you, not what’s left of you.
  • Embrace failure as a teaching moment and an opportunity to succeed later.
The Homeschool CURE Chart

Download a free copy of The Homeschool C.U.R.E. Chart, Here!

The Homeschool C.U.R.E. Chart is more than just an acronym, it’s a surefire way to help you homeschool with purpose and stay focused on your unique journey. Print it, laminate it, and hang it in your office or schoolroom for inspiration. I’ll be sure to further explain how to make The Homeschool C.U.R.E. applicable to your homeschool journey in future posts. For now, I just wanted to say hello and offer a little explanation for the new direction of this blog.

More Resources

For more homeschool management resources, click here.

Read about how I plan for my homeschool here.

Your Turn!

Tell me: how can I help you become a mastermind of your homeschool? What type of content would you like to see? Let me know!

Until next time, friends…

Homeschool for FREE

FREE Homeschool DEALS Your Wallet Will LOVE

Homeschool can get expensive but the great news is it can also cost close to nothing! When we began homeschooling five years ago, we utilized free resources to make our journey affordable. Some of those free resources are listed here.

Five years—and too much money spent on fancy curricula—later, we’re back to the basics. This year, I’ve researched more resources to add to our arsenal of homeschool freebies. These resources span across grade levels and subjects, so this post has something for everyone.

Why opt for freebies?

Taking advantage of free resources is a cost-effective way to test what types of subjects, lesson plans, and teaching styles help your child thrive best. It’s also a great way to save money for what really matters—lots of field-trips, adventures, and social opportunities!

Listed below are FREE resources to help you save some coins this upcoming school year. Of course, most of these resources require you to at least have access to a computer, printer, and some ink. Other than that, all you really need are basic school supplies—which you can snag for free at your local back-to-school teacher supply drive. However, please only participate in these drives if you’re truly in need.

*Note: This is an updated version of 30 FREE Homeschool Deals That’ll Help You Save Some Coins

So, without further ado:

FREE Homeschool DEALS Your Wallet Will LOVE

 

1. Free Homeschool Deals

Free Homeschool Deals offers free unit studies, supplement materials, and much more. Free resources are available for most subjects and grade levels.

2. Easy Peasy Homeschool

Easy Peasy offers free curricula in all core subjects for levels pre-k through high school.  This is also a great site for elective courses like physical education, foreign language, and more. The reviews are mixed on this curriculum, but people like it for the most part. The common complaint is that it’s not challenging enough for advanced students.

3. How to Homeschool for Free

This site offers free unit studies, electives, and other resources for homeschool families. You can find materials in all core subjects for all grade levels.

4. K12 Education

K12 is an online public school, not a homeschool. Therefore, you will be subject to public school laws. However, this program is great for families on the go. Some people love it, others hate it. The common complaint is the program includes too much busywork and not enough flexibility. A great benefit, though, is that you’ll receive free school supplies, books, and other materials needed for your child’s courses.

5. Homeschool Math.net

Homeschool Math.net is a great lesson-plan resource for mathematics. The site only serves students up to the seventh grade so you won’t find much for high school students, here. The great thing about these lesson plans is they come with video instructions and lectures as well as follow-up worksheets. You can find any math subject from simple addition to pre-algebra.

6.  Homeschool Buyers Co-op

This site offers a wonderful database full of free homeschool curricula and resources. You can even find promos, coupons, and great homeschool deals on just about anything you need to plan your curriculum.

7.  The Pioneer Woman

The Pioneer Woman offers another great database for free homeschool resources, awesome tidbits on motherhood, and more!

8.  Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a free virtual academy for pre-k through high school students. You may select a course in any core area of your choice, or create a course of your own. What’s unique about this academy is you’ll find free courses in engineering, computing, economics, and finance, among others. They even have SAT prep and other standardized test prep courses to prepare your high schooler for college.

9.  Teachers pay Teachers

Not only can you find MY free resources here, but a plethora of other free resources and curricula for grades pre-k through high school.  What’s great about TpT is all materials are made for teachers by teachers. Check out my growing shop to find some free goodies!

10.  Weather Unit Freebie

Encouraging Moms at Home shares an awesome weather unit freebie for preschoolers. Take advantage! You can also find other great deals and homeschool tips on this site.

11.  United States Unit Study

Midwest Modern Momma shares a free United States unit study that can be adjusted for any age. The study comes with a load of free printables. Check it out!

12. The Magic School Bus

If you’re looking for a free science curriculum for pre-k through second grade, look no further. Cornerstone Confessions shares a Magic School Bus science unit for the entire school year! This unit is full of awesome experiments and activities. If you already have a Netflix subscription (or other subscription that offers The Magic School Bus series) this course is completely free.

13. Ambleside Online

If you’re a fan of the Charlotte Mason method, you’ll love this free resource. Ambleside Online offers free courses from pre-k- through high school in all core subjects. This site also offers free Bible courses for those looking for a religious curriculum.

14.  Budget Homeschool

Budget Homeschool offers free study guides, lesson plans, books, and more!

15.  An Old Fashioned Education

Are you old school? Well, An Old Fashioned Education is the site for you! It’s important to note that this site is Christian inspired. The site offers core subjects as well as elective subjects like etiquette, speaking, and art appreciation, among many others.

16.  Classroom Freebies, Too

This site is a great resource for all things “freebies!”

17. NASA Image and Video Library

NASA launched a new resource that offers free searchable audio, video, and imagery library for the public. Popular images include that of the Earth, unique observations of the Milky Way, and vivid auroras in Jupiter’s atmosphere. Check it out!

18.  Free Kids Books

This site has a book for every age from 0-100. And, yes, the books are free to download! Or, you can simply read them online. What I really like about this site is most of the books have ratings. The site also offers a user-friendly category search so you can search for anything from coloring books to early reader books in a jiffy.

19.  Lesson Pathways

Lesson Pathways is a curriculum-building site that offers free resources for curriculum customization.  The resources offered covers grades K-5. Registration is free and gives you access to some awesome goodies.

20.  Guest Hollow

Guest Hollow offers a free science of the seasons curriculum, geography curriculum, and many others.  There are some great resources for all ages, including high school students. Go take a look!

21. Scholastic

Scholastic has a teacher’s corner that serves teachers of all grade levels. This site is full of lesson plans, unit plans, teacher guides, activities, and more. Not to mention, they offer recommendations on awesome books to accompany your lessons!

22. Crayola

Believe it or not, Crayola offers free lesson plans for language arts, math, STEM, social studies, and, of course—art!

23. School Zone

School Zone has a program called Anywhere Teacher. If you sign up for a free subscription, you have access to 28 educational activities that rotate monthly. The program connects children ages 2-8 to online learning and resources.

24. Hoffman Academy

It doesn’t get any better than free online piano lessons at Hoffman Academy. We’ve personally taken advantage of this resource, so I can truly say that my kids enjoy these fun, quirky lessons. The lessons are step by step and offer units for beginner and intermediate levels.

25. STEMfinity

STEMfinity offers a database for all things STEM. Check out their resources for activities and lesson plans for science, technology, engineering, and math.

26. Code.org

Code.org offers free videos, games, and lesson plans for all things coding. This site serves parents and teachers of grades pre-k through high school. It’s also user-friendly for independent learners. My fourth-grader utilizes this site frequently to improve his coding skills.

27. Scratch

Scratch allows students to program their own stories, games, and animations. The site also includes guides and tutorials for parents and teachers. This is another site my kids frequent. It’s very kid-user friendly. My boys coded several games and animations using this resource and have been doing so since their kindergarten days.

28. Kidzone

Looking for worksheets for your children? Kidzone has got you covered. All worksheets are printable for grades pre-K—5. You can find worksheets on letters, numbers, shapes, colors, and more. The site also offers worksheets for phonics, math, science, and geography. Lesson plans and thematic units are also available. This was my go-to source for kindergarten worksheets our first homeschool year.

29. Education.com

Education.com offers worksheets, lesson plans, games, and more for grades pre-k through high school. They offer resources for math, reading, writing, science, social studies, foreign language, and more. Be sure to check out their Teaching Tools section because you can read the ratings and comments on the lesson plans they offer.

30. National Geographic Kids

National Geographic Kids is a great virtual dictionary for fun facts about animals, geography, the solar system, and more. The site also offers educational games, quizzes, and videos for kids of all ages. We loved it as a supplement to our curriculum on life science and habitats. We also used this resource to supplement our geography curriculum.

31. Nike Anderson’s Classroom

Of course, I’m including my growing online shop, Nike Anderson’s Classroom. I offer free resources for pre-k through second grade. Check out my free geography resources, reading comprehension worksheets, memory verse activities, handwriting practice printables, and more! Be sure to follow me on TpT to be the first to know when I upload a new free resource.

32. National Treasures Workbooks

National Treasures Workbooks is a McGraw Hill company. Right now, NTW is offering free workbooks for reading, spelling, and grammar practice for grades K-6. All you need is software that supports PDF files and a printer, of course.

33. California Science Workbooks

California Science is another McGraw Hill company that’s offering free downloads for their science workbooks. These workbooks are offered for grades 1-6. Among the free downloads are interactive textbooks, reading and writing in science workbooks, and activity lap books. 

34. The Math Learning Center

The Math Learning Center is offering free downloads for its Bridges in Mathematics practice workbooks. Downloads are currently available for grades K-5 and provide practice in key skill areas. They even offer the workbooks in Spanish!

35. Duolingo

Duolingo offers free foreign language courses for any age. The site offers a variety of languages from Spanish and French to Chinese and Hebrew—and more! If you’re a parent or teacher, you can sign up and customize lessons for your students to keep track of their progress.

36. EWorksheet.Org

E-worksheet offers educational resources for all grade levels. Subjects included are English, math, and science for grades 1-8, and economics, political science, and civics for high school levels. There are also other electives available so go and check them out for yourself!

37. Math Drills

Math Drills includes over 50, 000 free math worksheets. The worksheets cover a wide range of topics, including—but not limited to—geometry, pre-algebra, money concepts, and more. The site also offers holiday-themed and interactive math worksheets.

38. Lynda.com

Get a free one month trial with Lynda online courses. Try a course on business, web design, photography, and more for up to one month free of charge. Not only is this a great way to try a course for free, but also to decipher if the program is worth the investment. While these courses are geared toward higher education, children as young as 9-years-old can participate. My fourth-grader enjoyed some of their coding courses.

39. XtraMath

XtraMath is a free web program that offers supplemental math activities. The site also offers a service to parents and teachers that allows them to sign up for a free account and track students’ progress. This program covers the basics; addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. It’s aimed at helping children develop the fluency they need to prepare them for advanced math.

40. Typing.com

Typing.com has a comprehensive typing curriculum for all skill levels and it’s FREE! Students, parents, and teachers can create custom lessons and monitor progress with timed tests. The lessons are also available in Spanish.

41. Vocabulary.com

You can create classes, assign lessons, and track your students’ progress with Vocabulary.com. This site offers featured vocabulary lists on topics like test prep, literature, speeches, and more. You can also customize your own list. This summer, my kids learned Minecraft terms.

42. Kiddle

Kiddle is a safe visual search engine just for kids. Your child can research and receive results on safe sites and pages written specifically for children. However, as with most filter systems, it’s not entireley foolproof.

43. Starfall

Starfall is a great resource for early elementary students that offers free reading resources. This site provides tips on teaching beginning and emerging readers, as well as free downloadable practice worksheets.

44. Fun Brain

Fun Brain offers hundreds of games, books, and videos for grades K-8. Subjects covered are math, literacy, reading, and problem-solving.

45. Storyline Online

Storyline Online is an award-winning website that “streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations.” You can find popular titles like The Rainbow Fish, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and more.

46. ABCya

ABCya offers over 400 educational games for grades K-6. You can find games that offer fluency practice on a variety of skillsets from reading to math. There are even fun holdiay-themed games for extra practice during holiday breaks that won’t feel like learning at all!

47. Math Game Time

Math Game Time is a great resource for games, worksheets, and instructional videos for grades pre-K through 7. This resource covers basic math concepts like problem-solving, probability, physics, fractions, percentages, and decimals, among others.

48. Sheppard Software 

Sheppard Software is an educational website that offers hundreds of free online learning games. Kids can enjoy fun games on geography, chemistry, health, nutrition, and history, just to name a few. You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy this website, as Sheppard Software also offers educational games for high schoolers, college students, and even adults.

49. Into the Book

Into the Book offers interactive reading comprehension activities for students, teacher tools for educators, and resources for professional development. Strategies students will learn are visualizing, summarizing, inferring, making connections, synthesizing, prior knowledge, evaluating, and questioning.

50. Cool Math 4 Kids

Enjoy games and lessons in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and fractions. Cool Math 4 Kids also offers virtual manipulatives that allow students to work with ten frames, base ten blocks, number lines, and pattern blocks. Students may take a quiz and earn a certificate for a job well done. Games are designed for children under the age of twelve.

51. Dance Mat Typing

Dance Mat Typing is an interactive system that helps students learn to type with ease. There are four levels and three stages for each level. The site includes typing games, tests, and keyboard tricks.

52. Sum Dog

Sum Dog is an online learning service that helps students excel in math, English, and spelling using game-based learning. The service helps parents and teachers keep track of their student’s progress, allowing them to identify and recify potential learning gaps.

53. Scholastic StudyJams!

StudyJams is a Scholastic resource for teachers and parents that offers interactive math and science activities. The resource introduces and reinforces more than 200 important topics ranging from volcanoes to photosynthesis. Key vocabulary terms and quizzes are also available.

54. Math Blaster

Math Blaster is a virtual hub for outer space-based massively multiplayer online (MMO) gaming.

55. Fun 4 the Brain

Fun 4 the Brain offers games for math, science, English, and more.

56. A Plus Math

A Plus Math is a resource offered by Varsity Tutors to help improve math fluency in basic math concepts. The site offers worksheets, flashcards, games, and homework helper services. Subjects covered are addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and geometry. 

57.  Science Kids

Science Kids is a resource for all things science and technology for kids. The free site offers experiment ideas, games, facts, quizzes, projects, lesson plans, videos, and more. Lesson plans include subjects like earth, animals, chemistry, space, biology, and technology, among others. Images are also available to aid instruction.

58. PBS Kids

PBS Kids offers educational videos and games for preschool and early elementary students.

59. Arcademics 

Arcademics combines the excitement of arcade games and education. Teachers and parents can enroll students, assign games, and track scores. Subjects covered include—but is not limited to—spelling, geography, typing, language arts, integers, money, time and more. You can find games for grades 1-6.

60. Turtle Diary

Turtle Diary offers games, videos, quizzes, worksheets, lessons, contests, assessments, and apps for students, teachers, and parents. The site serves grades K4 through 5. There is also a teaching tools service that allows you to generate your own worksheets, create assignments, and more.

61. Cool Math

Cool Math is an educational game site that serves users ages 13 and up. The site covers topics like geometry, algebra, trigonometry and more. Some interesting features are their math dictionary, math survival guide, and geometry and trig reference.

62. The Good and The Beautiful Curriculum 

The Good and the Beautiful offers free downloads for their level 1-5 language arts curriculum. This curriculum encompasses geography, art, reading, spelling, phonics, and grammar. There are lots of gorgeous illustrations, so I highly recommend using a color inkjet printer. The company also currently offers a free download on their Marine Biology Science unit.

63. Epic! Books for Kids

Epic Books for Kids is the leading digital library for children ages 12 and under. The site features award-winning books on fiction, non-fiction, STEM, biographies, and more. There’s a low-cost monthly subscription but you can sign up and receive a FREE one month trial. The site will track your child’s reading progress and log the amount of time they’ve spent reading.

64. Physics Crash Course

There are a ton of awesome educational YouTube channels out there, I list some, here. However, this Physics Crash Course channel deserves the spotlight on this post. This channel features over 40 videos on topics ranging from Newton’s laws, kinetic theory, and Maxwell’s equations, to name a few.


That concludes my list. I do hope at least one of these free resources is new to you.

Your Turn!

If you have other resources you’d like to mention, let us know down below! Sharing is caring!!!!

Summer Homeschool Schedule for Learning

Do We Homeschool Year-Round? Our Summer Learning Routine

 

It’s summer vacation for most of us in the United States. For many parents, that means figuring out ways to occupy the kiddos.

I’m quickly becoming a mom-group junkie, especially when it comes to homeschool groups. Since summer schedules seem to be a hot topic, I figured I’d go ahead and write a post detailing what a tentative summer schedule looks like in the Anderson household and how we incorporate learning.

But first, I owe you a quick update.

As most of you know we live in Georgia, which means summer break started in May. So far, our boys have enjoyed weekly VBS’s, sports camp, swimming lessons, summer movie screenings, community events, playdates, and more. This is probably one of the busiest summers in our entire homeschool career. Most importantly, our boys are learning things that textbooks can’t teach. Things like how to be a team player, respond to mean kids, meet new friends, and grow in self-confidence.

While summer break is the perfect time to take advantage of all the social opportunities it has to offer, many new homeschooling parents beg the question; How do I prepare my children for the next academic year?

There’s no right answer to this question but let me present you with a few studies. Consider this study that reveals students lose a significant amount of knowledge in reading, math, and spelling during summer. This learning loss accumulates over time leading to a regression in academic proficiency, which we all refer to as the summer slide.

There’s no denying that taking a substantial break from academics poses the risk for children to forget key learning concepts. For this reason, you’ll find that the average curriculum incorporates a review of previously learned material for the first few lessons. Therefore, summer learning loss is already accounted for.

However, if you’re like me and want your children to build fluency during summer, incorporating learning into your summer routine doesn’t have to be a battle. Here are some ideas for how you can encourage your child to continue flourishing during summer months.

 

1. Implement a family reading time.

In our home, I implemented what I like to call a “reading hour.” During this time, everyone grabs something to read, their favorite snack, and hangs out in the family room reading together silently. Afterward, everyone can discuss what they’ve read. For children who aren’t readers yet, try read-alouds or let them listen to an audiobook with headphones on. For struggling readers, research shows that reading just six books during the summer may keep a struggling reader from regressing.

 

2. Make fluency practice easy.

If you don’t mind screens, installing apps like Prodigy, Elephant Learning, Reading Eggs, Epic, and more, can turn tablet time into fun fluency practice. Learning apps are not only a nice break from worksheets, but they also make incorporating summer learning easier on parents by allowing them to create academic goals and track progress. While some of these apps aren’t free, there are a ton of free ones available for download. Some apps even come with a free trial, so take advantage.

 

3. Focus on learning a new skill.

In our home, we carve out some time to encourage our boys to learn something new. We not only want them to retain what they’ve learned, but also increase what they know. Learning new skills sharpens their brains and builds confidence. Some great ideas we’ve tried are:

  • Following drawing tutorials
  • Learning how to play a new song on the keyboard
  • Learning to code a video game
  • Following dance tutorials
  • Learning life skills like tying shoelaces, riding a bicycle, swimming, etc.

 

4. Enter a contest and win money for college.

I’m excited to share this opportunity with you all. Education.com is holding a Limitless Learners Contest for a chance for six students to earn $500 toward college and $1000 to donate to their elementary school or local library. There are no strings attached. All your child/ren must do is this:

Describe a time when you were having so much fun, you didn’t realize you were learning something new!

Kindergartners may draw or paint a picture to reflect their answer, while older kids can write a short story, poem, or even a comic strip. Deadline is October 31, 2019, but why not utilize summer break to sharpen your child’s writing skills and craft a winning response? See details, here.

 

5. Implement a reward system.

I’m a believer in incentives. In our home, screen time is a big deal, so I use that to my advantage. This summer, learning how to spell new words will grant my boys an allotment of precious Minecraft time. Of course, I had to make it fun by printing out this list of key Minecraft terms. I told my boys if they’re going to be playing the game, they need to know the spelling and definition of each term. The result? Over 40 words learned in just one week for my 9-year-old. My 6-year-old also learned 15 new words.

 

6. Develop the whole child.

Some parents focus solely on academics and unknowingly neglect other skills equally important for ensuring a child’s potential for learning, growth, and wellbeing. Outside cognitive development, other skills that should be challenged and developed are physical, social, emotional, and creative skills. In our home, we’ve also added spirituality to the list. How does this whole child approach play into academics? In short, research suggests children who are emotionally and physically healthy are higher academic achievers. But did we really need research to know that? Summer is the perfect time to check in on your child’s socio-emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Some books to read with your kiddos are:


 

If you need inspiration crafting a summer schedule, check out ours below. Keep in mind this schedule is always changing depending on what we do that day, but it comprises all the things we’d like to incorporate into our schedule when we’re at home. I love schedules for children not only because knowing what’s expected encourages positive behavior, but they also teach time management and responsibility.

Summer schedule for home school

What does your summer routine consist of? Let me know in the comment section!

Teacher Appreciation Week Deals

Teacher Appreciation Week DEALS

Happy Teacher’s Appreciation Week!

Being an educator has many challenges. Not only do most public school teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies and curricula, but many of them are also underpaid. If you’re an educator you probably know this. But if this is news to you, I hope you’re encouraged to support our nation’s educators and their dedication to teach the next generation. Here are a few ways you can show your support.

  1. Start a school supply drive to help teachers stock their classrooms.
  2. Partner with your child’s teacher by playing an active role in your child’s education.
  3. Send a teacher a “thank you” note and tell them how much they’re appreciated.
  4. Donate to the public library, which helps the facility remain a free resource for teachers and students.
  5. Vote for state officials that support teachers and education.

I might homeschool my own children, but I have many nieces and nephews who attend public school. My prayer is that more people start supporting educators for their sake and for the sake of future America.

How do I—as a homeschool parent—support other educators? Aside from supporting teacher drives, public libraries, and state officials in favor of education (including home education), I also create educational resources!

Nike Anderson's Classroom Free & Affordable Educational Resources

I started Nike Anderson’s Classroom in 2016 when I placed one of the geography resources I created to use in my homeschool for sale on Teacher’s Pay Teachers. I admit I did not expect to make a dime, but I thought the resource could be helpful to another educator. Even more, I knew that if my boys enjoyed this resource, so would other children. That resource is still my best selling product.

50 States of the USA Geography Activities for Kids

As I created more resources to use in my classroom, I shared the wealth with other teachers. I offer many free products, some of which you can find here, and all of my resources are affordable. I also offer resources with diverse images that reflect the average public school classroom. I believe representation for students of color, even in the form of a worksheet, matters.

This week, I’m partnering with TpT to offer educators discounted rates on my most popular resources. It’s my way of saying “thank you.” Whether you teach a homeschool, public school, or private school, you’re greatly appreciated!

Below, are some resources you might want to grab while this promotion is still going. For other resources, visit Nike Anderson’s Classroom.

UPDATE: This offer is no longer available, but be sure to follow my store to be notified when I upload more freebies and discounts.

Happy Teacher’s Appreciation Week!

Click on any of the images below to download.

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More Like this at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!

Nike Anderson's Classroom


 

Homeschool Room Tour

Should I Have a Homeschool Room? Updated Classroom Tour

We’re fast approaching the end of the school year here in Middle Georgia. In fact, next month’s To-Do List includes a kindergarten graduation for my six-year-old and state exams for my third-grader.

Sometimes, it’s hard to believe we’ve been on this homeschool journey for four years. Yet, here we are. So much has changed. We went from doing school at home to adopting an eclectic homeschool approach with whole-child education as our foundation.

With that being said, I often wonder if it’s necessary to keep the homeschool room going. I mean, I love our classroom, but I must admit—at this point in our journey—it’s just for looks.

Which leads me to this blog post. Many homeschool newbies wonder if having a homeschool room is necessary.

The quick answer is no.

There are many unconventional places we’ve enjoyed learning outside our designated homeschool room. Here are a few:

Homeschool Room Alternatives

1. The living room: The couches in the formal living room are the perfect place to get cozy with a book.

Homeschooling in the Living Room

2. The family room: Whether it’s making ourselves comfortable on the couch, rocking chair, or carpet, the family room has seen more learning than our classroom this year.

Homeschooling in the Family Room

3. The dining room table: Multi-level learning is much easier sitting around the dining room table. We can all see each other’s faces, have plenty of workspace, and I can easily work with both my boys at once.

Homeschooling at the dining room table

4. The kitchen: We’ve had many science lessons in the kitchen, from building volcanoes and robots at the breakfast table to using hands-on kitchen science to bake goodies. It’s also a great place for my boys to read-aloud to me while I prepare meals.

Homeschool Science at the kitchen table

5. The porch: Our back porch has been the perfect place for us to get messy with arts, crafts, and science experiments.

Homeschooling on the back porch

6. The world: The world is literally the best classroom! Whether we’re hanging out at the library, touring the nation’s capital, or going on a field trip, these experiences give our children the opportunity to put their learning into practice. Click here to read about our field trip adventures. Click here for ideas on providing homeschool children with social opportunities.

The World is our Classroom

So, no, we haven’t been making much use of our classroom. If you don’t have one, don’t feel like you’re missing out. Many homeschoolers I know don’t have a designated workspace either. I will say that there have been some pros and cons to having a homeschool room. Here are a few:

Pros to Having a Homeschool Room:

  • Contains Homeschool Mess: All schoolwork and homeschool supplies have a designated space that is contained and can be closed off at the end of the school day. This keeps other areas of your house from becoming a homeschool landfill.
  • Fewer Distractions: Having a homeschool room automatically sets the atmosphere for learning. Children know they’re in this room to learn and are more likely to stay focused.
  • Personalization: Decorating your homeschool room can be fun! Especially when you get the kiddos involved. You can really create a space that is unique to your family and makes your children excited to learn.
  • More Visuals: Typically, your homeschool room will include hanging charts of colors, shapes, numbers, the alphabet, nouns, verbs, maps, etc. Daily exposure to these visuals may help stimulate your child’s brain and facilitate learning—especially if your child is a visual learner.
  • Keeps Things from Getting Lost: Having a child do schoolwork wherever they please is an invitation for items to get lost. You may find yourself spending unnecessary time looking for pencils, scissors, and other school supplies. Your children may also lose their textbooks and other learning materials. Having a designated classroom ensures everything stays put in one room, cutting down on the likelihood of lost items.

Cons to Having a Homeschool Room:

  • It’s Not Ideal: Many homeschoolers discover that learning is actually best when it takes place outside the home. Field trips, library visits, nature walks, etc., are all opportunities for children to set the workbooks aside and put their education into practice.
  • It Segregates Learning: Having a designated classroom may reinforce the idea that learning and life are separate entities when the two are very much intertwined. Being able to learn anywhere may help children understand that learning is accessible anywhere and doesn’t only take place in a classroom setting.
  • It Encourages Overspending: “This will look cute in our classroom” is a phrase I used often. In actuality—even with being a homeschool minimalist—I admit to purchasing things I didn’t need just to “fill-up” our homeschool space.
  • It’s Less Organic: Cuddling up in the oversized rocking chair while I read to my boys about skyscrapers was much more authentic than having them sitting at their desks as I stood at the whiteboard lecturing. Many children I know—including my own—prefer a more organic approach to learning that allows them to better relax and learn at their own pace.
  • It Can Aggravate Cabin Fever: One thing I’ve noticed was that by winter none of us wanted to be in the classroom. Spending most of our mornings in the same confined space started to get old quickly. We wanted to be downstairs where the floorplan was open and the windows were plenty.

Can you homeschool successfully without a designated classroom? Of course you can! But if you must have a classroom and are looking for some inspiration, here is a tour of our updated homeschool space. I figured I’d go ahead and post it should we decide to change or get rid of it altogether next school year.

Homeschool Room Tour

  • Minimalism was the name of the game this year. I wanted to keep the decor simple and only house supplies we’ll actually use. The map is from Dollar Tree, the crayon decals are from Target, and the organizing carts are from Michaels. The bins on top of the carts were gifted from my mother-in-law. 

Homeschool Room Tour

  • This is how I originally had the classroom set up. We got rid of the lamp, which was from Target. I ordered the office chairs from Amazon, which are specifically designed for children. The valences are a Big Lots’ purchase. Lastly, the corner shelf was gifted by my mother-in-law. 

Homeschool Room Tour

  • This is what the space looks like with children working in it! The positive affirmations posters are from Target. The LED calendar and red caddy are also from Target. You can find pencil holders like the one in the picture at Dollar Tree and the table lamp is a Walmart purchase. 

Homeschool Room Tour

  • No homeschool room is complete without a whiteboard. This whiteboard was purchased on Amazon. On the right-hand side of the board, I have my boys’ homeschool schedule and morning checklist laminated for durability and dry-erase use. The affirmation underneath the board says “You are a creator” and I thought it was fitting to place it above the art supplies. The art supplies are sitting on a stand by Melissa and Doug. 

Homeschool Room Tour

  • My favorite space in this room is the reading corner. The letter decals,  lamp, and chair are from Target. I used the shelves on the floor-lamp to house some of our books, which are sitting in organizer bins from Dollar Tree. The pillow and crochet blanket were made by my lovely momma. Lastly, the Minecraft pickaxe and sword were purchased from a local circus, they light up at night!

Homeschool Room Tour

If you’d like to see what the classroom looked like before, click here. Not much has changed, but I love the flow and simplicity of our designated learning space this year.

In closing, if you decide not to have a homeschool room, I hope this post gave you peace of mind. If you’ve decided that a designated homeschool room would be best for your family, I hope you’ve gotten some ideas to help you get started decorating!

Do you have a homeschool room? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments! 

Until next time, friends…

Reasons We Don't Homeschool

Why Homeschool? 3 Reasons We Don’t Use

As a homeschool family going into their fifth year of home education, we’ve been asked many questions about the whys of our homeschool journey.

I knew I wanted to homeschool the very day I was introduced to the idea. My firstborn was just a toddler then, and I was only into the second semester of my master’s program.

I remember my sources presented homeschooling as:

A lifestyle that allowed parents to customize their child’s education according to their  learning style and needs.

As a mother who knew—even then—that her son learned differently from how children were expected to learn in traditional classrooms, the idea of homeschool intrigued me and I decided to perform more research.

By the end of my extensive research, my husband and I were sold on the idea. Not only did homeschool seem to fit our son’s personality, but also our family’s personality. We were—and are still—travelers who would benefit from the freedom that homeschooling had to offer. But I must admit, at the time, homeschool was just a fantasy; something I wanted to do but didn’t think we’d be able to commit to financially. My husband and I were a new young family trying to establish our career paths and we needed two incomes to survive. 

My son went on to attend a preschool program that he enjoyed some days, but there were concerns I’ll refrain from mentioning. His teachers loved him and he graduated knowing sign language and other important concepts taught in preschool. Unfortunately, the issues he experienced left him ill, aloof, and straying from his happy-go-lucky nature. The idea of homeschooling still registered with me.

The timing, however, could not have been worse. Not only did our family just relocate, but we relocated to a town where there weren’t nearly as many resources for homeschoolers as there were in the metro area we once resided. Not to mention, we were crashing with our in-laws and our budget was tight. Homeschool seemed like a no-go.

But then something happened. I found myself researching again. I reread all the reasons why I should and shouldn’t homeschool—all the pros and cons. I read forums and even sought counsel about it. I revisited the idea with my husband, but we were still on the fence. This indecisiveness went on until one month before my son had to register for kindergarten at the public school.

We finally made a decision. I knew if we didn’t at least try homeschooling, we would always wonder. So with the support of my husband and family, I filed my declaration of intent for homeschool.

It took a while for my husband and I to fully grasp why we felt led to homeschool. You can read that post, here. Even to this day, our reasons continue to expand and evolve. What’s for certain, however, are the reasons why we didn’t choose to homeschool.

Here Are 3 Reasons We Don’t Homeschool

1.    To shelter our children. 

This was the major question I had to ask myself—am I homeschooling to protect my children from potential peer pressure? Rejection? Failure? Or any other fears that a parent may have? Let me just say that there is nothing wrong with wanting to protect our children—it is both instinctive and maternal. However, sometimes we can get so caught up in protecting them that we forget to teach our children how to stand confidently on their own two feet.

The truth is, social pressure and all of life’s unfavorable experiences have the potential to happen anywhere—even in our own home. So, unless I planned on my children not having any friends or social life whatsoever, I would have to teach them how to make good decisions in addition to healthy ways to deal with rejection, failure, and whatever else life throws at them. And let’s face it, these experiences don’t necessarily have to be all bad, as they are teachable moments.

2.    To be their sole educator. 

The saying is true that it takes a village to raise a child. And I knew that if I was going to homeschool, it was going to take a village to teach my children. Yes, I would be their primary teacher, but there’s a time when our children benefit from learning from other people. Whether it’s their peers, grandparents, coach, music teacher, or the cashier at the local grocery store—I know that other people have something valuable to teach my children that I can’t teach them myself. This is especially true when experience is the teacher.

Therefore, I didn’t go into homeschooling with the attitude that I was the only competent person to provide my children with a sound education. Rather, I only wanted to homeschool if I knew there was a community out there to help me teach my children and help them to reach their full potential. We were blessed to find not one, but multiple communities we can share experiences with and learn from. Our boys take extracurricular classes, play sports, and participate in many educational field-trips. You can read about it, here.

3.    To control how they’ll turn out as adults. 

We are a family of faith who—naturally—desire our children to share our belief in Jesus Christ. As parents, we desire and encourage our children to share our values. Whether those values have to do with faith, being a good citizen, or simply rooting for our favorite sports team, the more we share them with our children, the better our children get to know us—and what matters to us. 

We also understand that our children are individuals who will choose their own path one day. We cannot control them and we have zero control over who they’ll turn out to be as adults. For this reason, keeping our children home so that we can be the helicopter parent and govern their every move or influence their every decision wouldn’t be a wise investment of our time.


That’s all I have for now, friends. I hope you enjoyed this post.

If you’re on the fence about homeschool, just try it. Try it for one month. One semester. One year. You can always re-enroll your child into public/private school if things don’t work out. Just make sure you make your “why” clear. And remember, your “why” is unique to your family and no one can tell you it’s wrong.

Until next time, friends…

Great Wolf Lodge Review

Pressing the Reset Button | Tips for Planning a Stay at Great Wolf Lodge

Homeschool is great. Sometimes, however, we become so stuck in our mundane routine that we don’t even realize how far we’ve traveled from our vision.

If you’re new here, our vision for home education is this:

To foster a healthy relationship with learning that inspires a lifestyle of educational, mental, and spiritual growth.

While field trips, extra-curricular classes, and formal lessons are great ways to execute this vision, I strongly feel that just being can teach our children the value of rest. In rest, we discover the balance we all need to prosper.

Let me give you an analogy.

You’re probably aware that, when it comes to working out, rest is just as important as the physical activity.

Why?

Because it allows our muscles, tissues, nerves, and bones to rebuild after being broken down by an effective workout routine. Too much physical activity, when not coupled with resting periods, can take a toll on the human body.

In the same way, too much education, without adequate resting periods, can take a toll on childen—and their parents.

Enter the “reset” button.

You know, that button you press when your Wi-Fi has been running a little slower than usual? Yes! I press a similar button to reset my family when things have been a little—slow.

This spring, after pressing that reset button, we took a little trip to the Great Wolf Lodge resort. We called it our mini family getaway where for just a few days we could just be. Let me tell you, it was everything we needed and more!

Before I delve into my tips, I must disclaim this post is not sponsored. We paid our own money to stay at this resort and all opinions are my own. If you missed the video footage of our GWL adventures on Instagram, you can rewatch them on our Instastory highlights under the title “Today” for a limited time.

Now, here are some helpful tips if you’re planning a family getaway to Great Wolf Lodge (GLW) this spring. 

GWL 4


1. Sign up for emails.

Before you book your stay, I highly recommend signing up for emails. All you need to do is go to the company website and create an account. After doing so, check your inbox over the next few weeks. You’ll be surprised by how many promo deals GWL will send you for up to 50% off your stay. Without doing so, you could end up paying $400-$500 per night!

 

2. Your waterpark passes are included.

You probably know this but, in case you didn’t, when you purchase a hotel room for the night, this fee includes your entry to the waterpark for all the guests who’ll be staying in that room. So, if you booked a room for a family of four for $300/night, you will NOT have to purchase additional tickets to the waterpark. Each family member will receive a wristband upon check-in that grants them entry into the park.

 

3. Check for “Homeschool Day” offers.

If you’re a homeschool family, your location may offer “Homeschool Days.” Homeschool Days are basically days the resort invites homeschoolers to enjoy their facility at a discounted rate. Our location’s Homeschool Day was last month during Spring Break. They sent out offers as low as $99 per night! We were unable to take advantage of that deal but will be looking out for it in the future.

 

4. Don’t purchase a day pass.

From what I saw, day passes are around $55 per person. For a family of four, that’s $220. Trust me when I say, you can get a room (which includes your waterpark passes) for the same price, sometimes even less if you watch for promo deals. I highly recommend staying a night at the hotel if you can manage to book it for a lower value. You’ll be able to take advantage of the fun evening activities without worrying about driving/flying home. Plus, how cool is it to sleep at a hotel that has an indoor waterpark?

 

5. It’s an indoor waterpark and it’s warm!

Great Wolf Lodge Review

Again, I’m probably insulting your intelligence, but GWL is an indoor waterpark. Although, I also don’t want to assume you know this information. Some people I spoke with actually didn’t know. All major attractions are indoors. No need for sunscreen or sunglasses unless you’re enjoying the outdoor pool/hot tub. It’s also very warm, about 80 degrees indoors. The water temperature is warm, too! And, yes, it’s open during winter.

 

6. Arrive early.

Standard check-in is at 4pm, but we were allowed to arrive as early as 1pm to have access to the waterpark, which we took advantage of. We simply checked-in, received our wristbands, and enjoyed the water park until our room was ready. And as a side note: our room was ready by 2:30pm, so we were actually able to get into our room earlier than the standard check-in time! However, this is likely because we visited during low-traffic hours.

 

7. Leave late.

Check-out is at 11am, but you don’t have to leave just yet. After checking out of your room, put all your belongings back into your car and enjoy the waterpark (and the rest of the resort) until it closes at 8pm (sometimes 9pm). Your wristband will still work for entry to the waterpark! If you want to keep your room a little longer you can always pay extra for what they call “late check-out.” You won’t necessarily need to, though, because everyone can shower and dress in the waterpark locker rooms. The locker rooms even have a machine to spin-dry your swimsuits.

 

8. You don’t need your wallet.

The wristband you receive upon check-in is attached to your credit/debit card on file. Simply scan it to make purchases at the resort. The wristband is also your room key so don’t lose it! This is pretty handy because you can keep your wallet in a safe in your hotel room and you won’t have to rent a locker ($10-$18) at the waterpark to host it.

 

9. Don’t struggle with your luggage.

If you’re not valet parking (which is an additional cost per day), send someone (your hubby or oldest child) to the front entry and have them bring a luggage cart to your parking space. There’s no additional charge for this service. Simply load up, check in to your hotel room, and leave your cart outside your door when you’re done. A staff member will bring the cart back downstairs for you.

 

10. Skip the upcharges.

GWL offers Wolf Pass packages for up to $60 per child. This is an additional charge. You get the following:

  • One MagiQuest game
  • One wand to play MagiQuest
  • One round of mini golf
  • One entry to the Moonstone maze
  • One climb at the ropes course
  • One arcade card with 20 points (this will go quickly)
  • One candy cup
  • One ice cream scoop
  • One pair of goggles

I personally did not think the passes were worth the money. There are plenty of free events to enjoy at the resort after the kids tire themselves out at the waterpark. There’s morning yoga, face painting, crafting, and story time. There are also several evening parties—including a dance party for the kiddos and more! Make sure you receive an activity schedule when you check in. If you’re staying for more than three days, perhaps the passes could be worth the money, but I wouldn’t recommend it otherwise.

 

11. You can pay for activities/attractions separately.

A Wolf Pass is not the only way to enjoy the resort’s activities. You can save money and just pay for the activities you really want to enjoy. MagiQuest, one of the resort’s most popular attractions, will cost you around $33 per person for the game and wand. That’s nearly half of what you’ll pay for the Wolf Pass. Save your wand to avoid purchasing another one if you plan to return to GWL. Additionally, bowling is only $6 a game. No need to pay $60 for a Wolf Pass if you only want to bowl! I will say the Wolf Pass is worth it if you plan to do more than two activities.

 

12. Visit on weekdays and off-holidays.

GWL 2

Part of the reason we had a wonderful time was because we visited on low-traffic days when the resort wasn’t crowded. Judging from other reviews, visiting on weekends, spring break seasons, etc., is a no-no. When we visited, the lines at the waterpark were not long. Some slides had no wait at all. There were also plenty of chairs to relax in, plenty of tables to eat lunch at, and plenty of room to move about in all the pool areas.

 

13. Take advantage of Camp Howl.

This is the only upcharge that could be worth the money. For $25-$30 per child, you can put your kiddos in a program called Camp Howl and enjoy a child-free evening from 5pm-9pm. This gives you an opportunity to sip some wine (if you drink), enjoy the hot tub, sit by the cozy fire and chat—whatever you and your spouse/friends want to do at the resort!

 

14. Beware of the towel return policy.

Be sure to return your towels before the waterpark’s closing hours. Failure to do so will result in a hefty charge to your credit/debit card. When returning your towels, you MUST ensure you swipe your wristband and hear that “beeping” sound. Some attendants may let you know about this policy (ours did), but judging from other reviews, some of the park attendants failed to relay this information to guests.

 

15. Stay an extra night.

This may not happen for you, but our resort sent us a promo code on the second day of our visit inviting us to stay an extra night for only $75. A huge savings from the $400 per night average! If you’re willing to take a risk, just book one night less than you’re planning to stay and see if your resort will offer an additional night for a fraction of the cost. Keep in mind that we stayed at our resort during low-traffic days, so more rooms were probably available to give us this offer. If you can swing it, you could save over $325 for your last night’s stay.

 

16. Don’t overpack.

GWL 5

The waterpark supplies a seemingly unlimited amount of beach towels, free of charge, but make sure you return them when you’re done! The waterpark also offers certified life vests and flotation devices. You will not be able to bring your own floatie into the park, but you can for sure bring a certified life vest if you’re picky about those types of things.

 

17. B.Y.O.F.

Yes, bring your own food if at all possible. As with any resort, prices are inflated and the food is just so-so. GWL allows you to bring a cooler into your room (not to the waterpark, though). There’s a nice size mini fridge to store it all. We packed sandwiches, cereal, apples, bananas, Gatorade, water, and more! For dinner, we simply drove about 8 minutes to the nearest Chick-fil-a. And I will add that the waterpark states “no outside food” but I saw plenty of families bring in their own food at our location. According to other reviews, some locations will check your bags so BYOF into the waterpark at your own risk. No worries, though, there’s a restaurant inside the waterpark should your kiddo swear they’ll die of hunger.

 

18. Not teen-friendly.

My boys are 6 and 9-years-old and I agree with the people who say this resort is for families with children ages 12 and under. I saw MANY bored teens. Unless your teen has a “kid at heart” personality or is a low thrill-seeker, they’ll probably hide in the hotel room glued to their cell phone. There’s only one high-thrill slide. The other slides were so low-thrill that I saw toddlers get on them. There were also moderate-level slides suitable for 9-12-year-olds. However, there’s an outdoor pool that teens might enjoy, but it’s only open during the warmer months. I’m not a high thrill seeker, so I was happy to get to enjoy the slides with my boys free of fear, haha.

 

19. You can relax.

The lifeguards and staff at my location were phenomenal. They were alert, friendly, but stern. If your kids are pretty well behaved, you can totally relax in the chairs next to the waterslide area and let them go at it! Honestly, I didn’t encounter one child misbehaving (although I know this is rare). The lifeguards are quick to blow their whistles and put them in check. My husband and I did enjoy the slides quite a bit with our children. However, after an hour or so, our thighs started burning from climbing all those steep stairs. We opted to stay in close range while our boys went on the slides as much as they pleased, and we felt like they were in good hands.

 

20. Coffee (and other adult beverages) onsite.

For all my coffee lovers, the resort does have a Dunkin Donuts on-site and the prices are actually reasonable. My husband and I paid about $5 for two medium coffees. For a resort, that’s not a bad price point.  We are not drinkers, but we’ve also peeped that the resort offers beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages in their restaurants. There’s even a bar in the waterpark.  Also, feel free to BYOB to the hotel.

 

21. Celebrate a birthday.

GWL 7

My youngest son’s 6th birthday gave us another excuse to splurge on this getaway. It worked out since his actual birthday landed on our homeschool field day last week and we didn’t get to throw a party. He had a great birthday with his friends, but GWL definitely took it up a notch. They made him feel extra special the entire stay, from singing happy birthday GW-style, to giving him special party hat wolf ears that alerted everyone to grant him birthday wishes. He kept asking how everyone knew it was his birthday. He loved it! Be sure to let the resort know you’ll be celebrating a birthday and get your camera ready to capture the moment.

 

22. Visit the Lagrange, Georgia Location.

If you’ve got options in regards to locations, choose the Lagrange, Georgia location. For starters, the customer service is great (shoutout to Ms. Kim at the check-in counter). The rooms are nice and clean since it’s a newer facility. The Lagrange location is also the prototype for future Great Wolf Lodge’s, as there are newer attractions that other locations do not have. So go and check it out!


GWL 3

Well, that about sums it up! Have you traveled to GWL before? What are your tips?