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. 

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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?

 

 

 

 

 

34 Things You Didn't Know About Nike Anderson

34 Things You Didn’t Know About Me

Last year, I wrote a post titled, 50 Facts About Me, to welcome my new supporters to the family. The post consisted of random questions I pulled from Google’s search engine that varied from where my hometown is to what countries I’ve traveled to. Considering this post garnered a lot of traffic to my blog, making it among my top ten blog posts of 2018, it’s safe to assume you all enjoyed it—or at least thought it was interesting enough to click on?

In any event, we’ve got some new members to our blogging family and I figured I’d write a similar post to help everyone get to know me even better. Last week, I celebrated my thirty-fourth birthday, so it’s fitting that I offer thirty-four fun facts about me that I haven’t mentioned yet. The first few questions are related to blogging. The rest are random, yet interesting. I hope you enjoy this post!

34 Things You Didn't Know About Nike Anderson

 

1. How did you first get into blogging?

I believe it was the year 2010 when I first got a taste of the blogging world. I sort of fell into it. I joined a social media platform for women with natural hair and started sharing my natural hair journey with other women of color. Although this platform no longer exists, some of my writings are still floating around the Internet to this day.

 

2. What inspired you to start your recent blog?

Loneliness. When I started homeschooling my children, it felt like we were the only black homeschool family in the world. My blog allowed me to connect not just with other black homeschoolers, but with homeschoolers from many racial, cultural, and geographical backgrounds. It was my way of saying “I’m here and I’m with you” to all those homeschool moms that felt the same loneliness.

 

3. What is your greatest blogging failure so far and what did you learn from that?

Hmmm. I would say not doing adequate research. When I first started blogging in 2010, I would share any old info’ that popped up in my search engine and it came back to bite me. These days, I seek scholarly sources and am more thorough with my research when applicable.

 

4. What is your proudest achievement as a blogger so far?

Hands down, the number of people I’ve helped. Whether I’ve helped them find a valuable resource, peace of mind, or encouragement, it always warms my heart to open an email from someone who just wants to say thank you.

 

5. What is your greatest achievement outside of blogging?

I’d have to say my mental and spiritual growth. My skin’s a little thicker, I’m more confident, more spiritual, and am pretty much happy and thankful to be who I am and where I’m at in life.

 

6. Who are some of your favorite bloggers?

 

7. Is blogging your profession or just a hobby?

My blog is definitely a hobby right now. While it has helped me earn money, I simply haven’t had the time to make this a full-time gig yet. Contrary to what some people think, even blogging part-time is very time-consuming.

 

8. How often do you communicate with your followers?

Pretty regularly. Join me on Instagram where I post family snapshots and video stories at least four times a week. Follow me on Facebook where I share inspiring stories, budget-friendly resources, and snapshots of our day-in-the-life. I also like to read your blog posts on a weekly basis (if you’re a fellow blogger), so it’s likely you’ll see me drop by with a like and/or comment!

 

9. What do you do in your spare time?

When I’m not blogging or teaching, I’m creating educational resources for Nike Anderson’s Classroom, reading self-help books, writing musings, listening to motivational podcasts or Youtube videos, getting my blood flowing, helping my husband run the family business, exploring local (or far away) beautiful places with my family, eating Mexican food, window shopping, hanging out with friends, laughing until I cry, drinking coffee, or sleeping.

 

10. What are some red flags you watch out for in daily life?

It may seem weird, but too much praise. Sincere compliments are wonderful, but too much flattery makes me suspicious of a person’s intentions. Why? Because it NEVER, I repeat NEVER ended well when my relationships/friendships started off with incessant praise. Sometimes people use flattery as a manipulation tool, so be careful!

 

11. What “old person” things do you do?

Use slang incorrectly, say things like “Is that what the young people are doing these days?” or “What happened to real music?,” declare how “hip” I am, get excited about coupons, retell the same stories to anyone who’ll listen—okay, I’ll stop embarrassing myself now.

 

12. What makes you roll your eyes every time you hear it?

“Natural hair is not for me.” Oh, the irony of that statement. God gave it to you. It’s for you, boo.

 

13. How do you judge a person?

By how they talk about other people and/or treat people with lower economic status. I once read a statement that said, “How people treat others whom they believe are beneath them is very telling of their character.” So far, so accurate.

 

14. When was the last time you were snooping and found something you wish you hadn’t?

I Googled myself once (under my then blogging alias about 8 years ago) and found someone had shared one of my blog posts. The comments underneath that shared post were hateful and non-constructive. It took a while for me to get over it. But it was a lesson learned in so many ways. The primary lesson? It’s none of my business what other people think about me. 

 

15. If you were moving to another country, but could only pack one carry-on sized bag, what would you pack?

  • My Bible.
  • My cell phone.
  • My laptop.
  • My intimates (bras in my size are difficult to find and are expensive).
  • My family photos.
  • My important documents.
  • My makeup.
  • My good jeans (they’re high waisted and very forgiving).
  • Some leggings and comfy tops (I know how to pack military style).
  • My favorite bathrobe.
  • My Ninja to make smoothies.
  • My natural hair products.
  • A converter for my plugs.
  • A pair of heels.

 

16. If you could have an all-expenses paid trip to see any famous world monument, which monument would you choose?

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It’s currently the tallest skyscraper in the world and I would love to take my boys (who love architecture and skyscrapers) to see it in person.

 

17. What’s the most ridiculous thing you have bought?

During my undergrad years, I thought I was purchasing a $99 refurbished laptop from eBay (I know, I know). It was supposed to be a gift for my fiancé (now husband). Turns out when I received it, it was basically a shell with NOTHING inside. No motherboard, no nothing. The computer techs practically laughed us out of the store when we asked if there was anything they could do to “fix” it.

 

18. What outdoor activity haven’t you tried, but would like to?

Zip-lining. My husband just tried it last weekend and I would like to work up the courage to try it one day.

 

19. What’s the worst backhanded compliment someone gave you?

“I love your home—My husband and I are considering downgrading to something small like this.” It’s probably not the worst backhanded compliment, but it’s all I can think of at the moment. Believe me, homegirl was being super shady when she said it. It was a home my husband and I shared when we lived in Atlanta, Georgia nearly seven years ago.

 

20. If you were given one thousand acres of land that you didn’t need to pay taxes on but couldn’t sell, what would you do with it?

Grow crops for food. I’ve been liking the idea of growing my own food more and more lately, and I just might do it one day.

 

21. What about the opposite sex confuses you the most?

The thought-process behind throwing dirty clothes onto the floor NEXT to the laundry basket. Didn’t know this was an epidemic until I spoke with other wives with the same problem. Love you anyway, hubby! It’s all in fun!

 

22. What kinds of things do you like to cook or are good at cooking?

I’m told I make a great spaghetti meat sauce, baked mac n cheese, homemade BBQ sauce, and homemade chewy sugar cookies—just to name a few. I actually don’t like cooking, but I love when people enjoy my food—especially my hubby and children.

 

23. What life skills are rarely taught but extremely useful?

How to handle and overcome adversity. I think too many people give up way too soon. We’d have more successful people if we were taught to expect adversity and were given the tools to come out on the winning side of it.

 

24. What’s the most historic thing that has happened in your lifetime?

There are a few; the 9/11 attacks on the WTC, having the first black POTUS, and the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria—which was the most important election in that country since 1999, and I happened to be visiting during that time. I missed my flight back home to the States due to demonstrations happening in Lagos.

 

25. What’s the most awkward thing that happens to you on a regular basis?

The long, awkward pause when someone asks me how old my children are, what grade they’re in, how many years I’ve been married, or how old I am. For some reason, the answers don’t come to me straight away. Like, I swear I know how old my kids are, haha.

 

26. What’s the most annoying noise?

The sound of my children asking for water for the umpteenth time after going to bed. Haha.

 

27. What animal is the most majestic?

I love lions and tigers (you know you want to finish the song). But seriously, I am a fan of big cats. Have you ever looked into their eyes? So beautiful and regal.

 

28. What seemingly innocent question makes you think “It’s a trap!”?

The good ol’ “What do you do for a living?” I think most creatives hate this question because it simply can’t be summarized in a way that’s pleasing to itching ears. Also, I’ve found that this question stems from one of two places; 1.) Someone wondering how you can afford something they deem a luxury. 2.) Someone waiting for the opportunity to brag about what THEY do. Whatever the case, either your answer will cause them to feel inferior or superior. Neither is a good outcome. I do understand, however, that in some cases this is harmless small talk.

 

29. What small change greatly improves a person’s appearance?

A genuine smile. There’s nothing more beautiful than a face that reflects a heart at peace.

 

30. What topic could you spend hours talking about?

Ugh. natural hair. I low-key get excited whenever someone brings up the topic. I love everything about natural hair from the spiritual journey I’ve experienced, the discovery and acceptance of self, to the science of taking care of it. It’s all so fascinating. So much so that I was once a regular contributor to an online natural hair care magazine. Best hobby ever. But actually, I like talking about anything that’s helped me grow as a person, really—faith, homeschool, family, parenting, you name it!

 

31. What’s the weirdest thing that has happened to you while working at your job?

A couple years ago, I was hit on by a married man in front of his wife (and ALL my colleagues). I was working the front desk at a part-time job after relocating from Atlanta to Middle Georgia and the man blatantly flirted with me while his wife was standing next to him. She said nothing at all but stood there nervously smiling. And, yes, I’m sure it was his wife as I was helping them fill out pertinent paperwork. I thought I was on a prank television show or something. I couldn’t fill out his paperwork fast enough. Mortifying.

 

32. What are some of the most common misconceptions people have about you?

  • That I’m shy.
  • That I’m high maintenance.
  • That I don’t have a sense of humor.

In all fairness, I can see why that’d be an initial impression, as I’m a woman of few words around people I don’t know very well. That’s because I’m trying to discern what type of people they are. You’ll discover a lot about people when you close your mouth and just listen to them speak.

 

33. What was the biggest realization you had about yourself?

I am super TMI. Typically, this happens around people I’m comfortable with. I don’t know how many times a friend has lovingly said, “I didn’t need to know that.” I’m getting better though. It took a few unfavorable experiences for me to wise up and learn when to keep things to myself.

 

34. What values are most important to you?

Faith, peace, love, family, education, health, authenticity, and persistence. But above all; faith, peace, and love.


 

Can you relate to any of my answers? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time, friends…

Fun Educational Spring Activities

Educational Activities to Welcome the Spring

Spring is literally around the corner!

Whether you’re a homeschool family like us, or your kids are home on spring break, I bet you’re looking for ideas on how to enjoy the warmer weather we’ve all been desperately waiting for.

Or, maybe that I’ve been desperately waiting for?

I mean, if you’ve read my recent post, you’re well aware that for me, and many other homeschoolers, winter is burnout season. But we’ve powered through it and kindly welcome the chirping birds (let’s hope they don’t bully us this year and that they make their nests in a location other than our front porch), the budding flowers, the milder days, and the sound of children enjoying the great outdoors.

Enter, springtime! How, oh how, shall we celebrate?

Of course, spending more time playing outdoors, taking bike rides, and basking in the sunshine are obvious ways to welcome the spring months. I, however, wanted to recommend some of the educational activities we’ve done in the past that our boys especially enjoyed. All the activities I’m about to mention are family friendly and age-adaptable. Most importantly, they are super fun!

So, let’s get into it, shall we?


 

7 Educational Activities to Welcome the Spring



1. Learn about bees and pollination.

Bees and Pollination Spring Activities

Where did we learn about bees and pollination? During a spring field trip to our local farm. We learned how bees make honey and how humans harvest it, the differences between male and female bees, and the important role bees play in pollination. We also got to taste some local honey harvested right there on the farm!

You don’t have to venture far to learn about bees, though. There are a ton of YouTube videos and library books on the subject that can be taught right from the comfort of your back porch on a beautiful spring day. But, of course, a lesson on a beautiful farm takes things up a notch.

And while you’re at it, invest in some local honey if the spring season aggravates your child’s allergies. Local honey is a great natural way to combat allergy season. Just a spoonful will do for children over one-year-old. And as a friendly reminder; never give honey to an infant.

 

2. Plant something green.

Planting and Botany Spring Activities

After covering our lesson on plant science, which included an awesome plant-cycle activity in our interactive science notebooks, we decided to get hands on. Planting grass is such an easy, no-nonsense experiment for children because it easily grows in many different environments. My boys loved taking care of their indoor plant and watching it change over time.

We got our seeds for free at a local farm, but you can pretty much purchase these seeds at any Lowes, home depot, Walmart, and even Target. In fact, Target has some pretty cool starter grow kits for tomatoes, carrots, and other veggies if you’re feeling adventurous.

 

3. Pick some strawberries.

Strawberry Picking Spring Activities

Did you know strawberries are the first fruit to ripen each spring? That makes them the perfect fruit to welcome the spring months. So, pack up the kids, head to your local orchard, and get ready to pick some juicy strawberries!

But don’t stop there. Check if your local orchard offers guided tours, classes, or other educational opportunities to maximize your learning experience. Our local orchard taught our homeschool group a lesson on the life-cycle of strawberries and how to properly pick them before we ventured off to pick our own. We also ate some delicious homemade strawberry ice-cream, compliments of the farm.

 

4. Visit a butterfly garden.

Butterfly Garden Spring Activities

Most butterfly gardens are open to the public. Visit one and learn about the many species of butterflies and their native habitats. The butterflies in the garden are typically friendly and will interact with you and your children. My boys even fed them nectar, which was the closest they’ve ever been to the beautiful creatures they tend to chase in our backyard.

Don’t have a local butterfly garden? Invest in a butterfly kit and grow your own butterflies. You can find them just about anywhere, but Amazon is probably your best bet. The kit comes with live caterpillars that turn into adult butterflies. Be sure to set them free after you’ve finished marveling at their transformation.

 

5. Camp out while doing your lessons.

Camping and Spring Activities

Got a tent taking up space in your garage? Pitch it in your backyard and turn it into your spring classroom. Pack your laptop, sleeping bags, and yummy treats to cozy up and watch a documentary together. Or, pack some clipboards for easy writing and do your normal lessons in the fun cozy setting of your backyard tent.

You can also go on a real camping adventure. Just search for popular campsites in your area. Many parks and other recreational areas offer great camping grounds complete with beautiful scenery and the necessary facilities to make the most of your camping trip. Your kids will love solving math problems by the lake or underneath a tunnel of trees in the forest.

 

6. Do some spring-themed brainteasers.

Spring Themed Worksheets & Brain Teasers

Who can resist the plethora of cute spring-themed worksheets on the good ol’ internet? They’re especially handy “boredom-busters” for those rainy spring days when everyone is stuck at home. Education.com has got you covered! Not only does this resource offer an abundance of spring-themed worksheets, but also brain-teasers, games, and lesson plans for just about every topic I mentioned in this blog post.

Check out the brain-teaser below for a fun way to challenge your child’s cognitive thought processes, and improve their concentration, memory, and brain strength. Download it here for FREE!

Spring Maze Brain Teaser

Spring Maze
To celebrate the beginning of spring, these friendly flowers are here to help you through this maze! Be sure to check out Education.com for more learning fun.

7. Learn about local birds and make a birdhouse.

Building a Birdhouse Spring Activities

Making a birdhouse is not only fun, but is also incredibly easy to find in kit-form. We purchased our wooden birdhouse kits from Lowes and my boys had a great time building and painting them. All we needed was a kiddie hammer, some paint supplies, a back porch, and a beautiful spring day.

If you have a local nature center, it is the perfect place to learn about local birds and other wildlife. During our visit, we learned most of the wildlife at our nature center have been nursed back to health after being found injured or orphaned. Our boys got to see owls, eagles, and many other beautiful birds up close and personal. There’s something magical that happens when kids interact with animals!


 

Well, that completes my list. I hope you try out some of these activities this spring. A big thanks to Education.com for another great partnership to bring you awesome educational resources for your children and students. As you know, Education.com is one of my favorite resources so it’s always a pleasure to work with them.

Need more ideas? Click here for other spring-friendly field-trip ideas and join me on Instagram to see what activities we do this coming spring!

Be sure to let me know in the comments what your family’s favorite springtime activities are.

Until next time, friends…

Merry Christmas Black Family

A Christmas Note For You

Merry Christmas, friends!

I hope this greeting finds you full of health, joy, and prosperity. I just want to hop on this blog quickly to wish you well. And since it’d be awkward to write a two-sentence post, I’ll share what we’ve been up to.

Yesterday, we enjoyed a relaxing day with our family. I was able to just be because I’d already completed my Christmas shopping before December and did most of my wrapping this weekend. I also organized and got rid of a ton of stuff via donation.

Family Christmas 2018

It was a great day here in Middle Georgia. It was an unusually warm winter day. All we needed was a light jacket and a smile. The sun was blindingly beautiful and very much welcomed after a couple days of gloomy weather. My boys took full advantage and rode their bikes up and down the street with their friend next door.

Later, we had a gift card to Chick-fil-a so it only made sense to bypass cooking and have a tasty drive-through dinner at our favorite fast food joint. Their spicy chicken deluxe sandwich is my fav! I love how our local Chick-fil-a decorates during this time of year. The giant cone tree filled with sparkling lights. The bedazzled manicured bushes. The fairy-light trimmings adorning the building. It’s so fun and festive!

FYI: My meal didn’t survive the drive home.

That night, we let the boys open one gift. When I was a child, my mother always allowed us to open one present on Christmas Eve, so we kept up this tradition with our children. The boys ended up opening their gifts to each other. I love to take my boys on individual shopping trips to pick out gifts for one another. It encourages them to be thoughtful and strengthens their bond.

Since my little-one loves stuffed animals, his brother got him a plush horse. It walks. It’s loud. It’s annoying. But little brother LOVED it. Although judging from the disapproving look on my husband’s face, I think Munchie will have a mysterious disappearance soon. And, yes, Munchie is the horse’s name.

For older brother, my little-one picked out a Perler bead kit. My eldest son had asked for this kit (and many other things!) during one of our shopping trips to Hobby Lobby. But it was NOT on the list, so I said no. No worries, though, little bro had his big brother’s back and gifted him the kit full of thousands of beads that’ll probably end up in the vacuum. Big brother loved it and the entire family had an impromptu crafting session.

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During our crafting session, I asked the boys what they thought Christmas was all about. We’ve had this conversation last Christmas, but I was curious as to what they’ve extracted from it. I love hearing things from a child’s perspective. My eldest son said it best, “It’s about celebrating Christ being born and saving us from our sins.” Oh, how this celebration should take place every single day of our lives!

After watching Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas on Netflix and sipping some hot cocoa, the boys were fast asleep. Soon, the presents rolled out of the closet and made their way underneath the Christmas tree. Join me on Instagram to get a glimpse of my Christmas Eve winddown on Instastory.

When it’s all said and done, I’m truly thankful for the life God has given me.

I want to end this post by saying this Christmas, please take the time to pick up the phone and call someone who could use it right now. Some people have a difficult time during the holidays. I, myself, have a friend who’s entire family literally just fell apart after her husband walked out on them. Today will be tough for her and her children.

And if you’re the one going through the holiday blues right now. Take heart. I empathize with you. I know there’s very little I can say to ease your pain. But just know that nothing lasts forever. Your pain won’t last forever. May you experience comfort during your season of grief, sadness, depression—or whatever you’re going through. May your suffering not be in vain. May you smile for the first time in days. Weeks. Months. May you make it through this difficult time stronger and more resilient.

Peace be with you, my friend.

Until next time…

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10 Top-Rated Educational Gifts Under $10 That Your Kids Will Want

Good news! It’s not too late to place online orders for this upcoming Christmas!

Many of you enjoyed my post last week detailing what I got my boys for Christmas with a $100 budget. I thought I’d share a similar post this week giving you my recommendations for awesome educational gifts for just under ten bucks each!

Although I’ve finished Christmas shopping, I’m always on the hunt for STEM-related projects to use in our homeschool, gift to my boys and their friends, or to simply recommend to parents and teachers who dislike searching for online deals.

With that being said, this post is meant to be a gift guide scenario for those of you who are interested in educational gift options for your children and/or resources for your classroom. All the items listed below are priced below $10 (as of date) and have high customer ratings on Amazon. They are also appropriate for introducing children to the wonders of STEM.

As you can see, we’re fans of all things STEM. It suits the learning style of my kinesthetic learners. If you’re new to STEM (or STEAM), it’s an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and (Art) Math. STEM stimulates a child’s natural intellectual curiosity and helps develop problem-solving, creativity, decision-making, and concentration, among other skills.

Why include STEM in your home and/or classroom? Because STEM permeates the modern world, yet research shows many students are not graduating from high school with the knowledge and capacities they will need to pursue the STEM careers steadily rising across the nation.

If you don’t get anything else from this post, know that you don’t have to rely on schools or administrations to teach your children (or students!) these wonderful concepts that are imperative for their future success.

What’s great about the following gift guide is that children will have so much fun they won’t even realize they’re learning and developing skills! Since I have two children under the age of ten, these gifts are most suitable for younger children (should be at least six-years-old) but can be challenging enough for preteens who are new to STEM.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclaimer for more information.

10 Top-Rated Educational Gifts Under $10 That Your Kids Will Want

 

 

1. National Geographic Dino Dig Kit

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National Geographic has a great series of dig kits available for the little scientist in your life. In addition to the Dino Dig Kit pictured above, this brand also offers shark tooth, real bug, and gemstone dig kits, among others. Kids will get to discover real dinosaur fossils that include a bone, mosasaur tooth, and dino stool for their rock collection. This hands-on exploration also boasts prehistoric fun facts in the full-color learning guide. A magnifying glass is also included to heighten the fun! Get it on Amazon

 

2. Magnetic Mini Tile Art by 4M

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This amazing set challenges children to create unique works of art that can be attached to magnetic tiles that will hang on any metal surface. The set includes tiles, magnets, a paint-strip of four colors, and a paintbrush. Kids can make beautiful gifts for friends and family or simply display their impressive creations on the refrigerator door. A perfect gift for the little artist in your family! Get it on Amazon

 

3. Illusion Science by 4M

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This science kit boasts 20 classic optical illusions from trick cards to 3D picture cards and glasses. There’s also an instruction booklet included that explains the science of optical illusions and how to create illusionary effects. Even if you don’t have a child who’s into optics, this is a gentle introductory kit that can be fun—and educational—for the entire family! Get it on Amazon

 

4. Metal Model 3-D Building Sets

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This building set is great for helping children increase their logical thinking and problem-solving skills. The set includes metal material made from good quality stainless steel, a screwdriver, and a spanner. Perfect for the little engineers in your life and also suitable for young teens! Get it on Amazon

 

5. Be Amazing Insta Snow 

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If you’re looking for snow this Christmas, this kit is the next best thing! Insta-snow powder turns plain water into a fluffy snow-like substance in just seconds.  There is absolutely no stirring or mixing involved. This kit boasts that the powder can absorb up to 100 times its weight in water and is completely safe and non-toxic. A test tube and snow powder are included. You just provide the water for this fun STEM activity! Get it on Amazon 

 

6. Lemon Powered Clock

Lemon Clock

Engage your child in a fun lesson on battery science using this lemon-powered clock! This STEM kit includes copper and zinc plates, wire, and a clock. All materials are safe and high quality. The kit does require that lemons be provided to make the most of the amazing experience. However, this kit is a fun unique way to explore science with your kids at home! Kidz Labs also has a potato clock STEM kit available. Get it on Amazon

 

7. Green Science Enviro Battery

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Explore the wonders of green energy sources using this Enviro Battery kit. Complete with instructions, this kit also includes wires, zinc and copper plates, plastic cups, an LED lamp and more. Children can use potato, salt, water, and mud to light up an LED bulb and sound a buzzer, among other things! This kit is a wonderful introduction to the importance of leaving a smaller carbon footprint on the earth. Get it on Amazon

 

8. Melissa & Doug Stained Glass Window Art Kit

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Develop concentration, creativity, and fine-motor skills with this stained-glass window art kit by Melissa and Doug. Your child will use a number key system to place glitter stickers over the template. The kit comes with a ready-to-hang wooden frame that allows your child to display their gorgeous project. Hang it in the window and watch the light shine through the glittering stickers! Get it on Amazon

 

9. Tara Toys STEM Projects Robotic Hand

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This robotic hand project is a fun way to learn about tension and compression. This project is user-friendly and easy to assemble. Once built, the robotic hand can reach and grab objects! Also includes a fun learning card detailing the science behind tension and compression. The STEM Projects brand also offers walking dinosaur and fish generator project kits, also under ten bucks! Get it on Amazon

 

10. The STEMpreneur Mini STEM Racer

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This STEM racer kit helps children develop spatial recognition, problem-solving, critical thinking, and fine and gross motor skills. The Rally Cross Racer is one of four racer models sold separately. Get one for each of your kids and have a family fun night building the racers and engaging in a friendly race competition! Get it on Amazon


Well, that concludes my list of ten educational gift ideas under ten dollars. I hope this post helped you. I want to reiterate these gift options are suitable for children between the ages of six and ten. But don’t let my age recommendations stop you if you know your child or classroom would enjoy these amazing STEM projects!

Until next time, friends…


Are Your Children into Writing Christmas Wish Letters? Download these templates for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!

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Do We Still Homeschool?

Do We Still Homeschool? Where Have I Been?

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been on a hiatus. I never intended to take this long of a break from this platform. But here I am six months later writing this post.

During my absence, some of you wanted to know the answer to two questions:

  1. Do we still homeschool?
  2. Where have I been?

Yes, we still homeschool. We’re finishing up the first semester of our fourth year and it’s been great so far. One of the better years, for sure.

But where have I been and why do I keep disappearing? I hope the following sentiments help you understand what is going on inside my head.

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The pride of life. That’s the phrase that kept ringing in my ear whenever I thought about social media. But I never gave it much thought until I heard someone quote 1 John 2:16.

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

1 John 2:16 For all that is on the world

This scripture convicted me, but I didn’t fully understand the extent of that conviction. Desires of the flesh and desires of the eyes are straightforward, but what does the pride of life even mean? Shouldn’t we be proud of the life God gave us and the blessings that come with it?

During this time of conviction, I lost my desire to partake in social media. It started the day I caught a glimpse of my children snuggled on the couch with their dad. As someone who used social media as a platform to connect with my readers, of course, I thought this precious moment was worthy of being captured for the world to see. Only, I picked up my phone to discover it wouldn’t turn on. I’d forgotten to recharge it. I let the moment pass, but couldn’t shake the way I was feeling. Why did I feel so annoyed that I didn’t get to capture that moment? 

I started paying closer attention to my thought process. For self-examination purposes, I scrolled through my Instagram page to get a better understanding of what I chose to post and why. The reality sobered me. There were some questionable posts that I know for certain didn’t come from a desire to inspire or help others. And while I’m typically mindful of refraining from overt bragging, there were many “humble brag” posts that slipped through the cracks.

What are humble brag posts? Posts with an ulterior motive. Posts that look like humility on the surface, but the real motive is to show how good-looking you are, fit you are, intelligent you are, spiritual you are, blessed you are, or successful you are. These posts are typically under the guise of inspiration, tips, ideas, advice, or spirituality—and they are designed to showcase you in the best light possible.

So, I had to ask again; What does the pride of life really mean?  My quest led me to this definition:

“The pride of life can be defined as anything that is “of the world,” meaning anything that leads to arrogance, ostentation [showiness, flashiness], pride in self, presumption, and boasting. (Words in brackets are mine.)

Quotes about Prideful Person

 

Let’s go a little deeper, shall we? What do the pride of life, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes have in common? They are notoriously known as the “three temptations of sin.” Biblical scholars note the very first illustration of these three temptations is in the story of Adam and Eve. We all know the story; Eve sees the apple as desirable to eat (lust of the eyes), good for food (lust of the flesh), and desirable for gaining wisdom and becoming like God (the pride of life). It is the same approach that Satan used to tempt Jesus.

But why is the pride of life so significant? Because it is the vehicle for the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes. Everything we do that displeases God is driven by the pride of life. I won’t even try to think up better examples for the pride of life, as Revelation.co summed it up nicely, here:

  • Desiring to get credit or glory for things that others (or God) did.
  • Desiring for others to worship us or hold us in excess esteem, “to make a name for ourselves.”
  • Desiring to feel valued or more important than others around us.
  • Desiring to have positions of power over others in a way that puffs up our own ego for the sake of bragging rights (Jesus said that those who desire to be great should be the greatest servant).

So, you see, social media platforms are successful because they play off the “pride of life.” We are looking for praise from others, worship from others, status above others, or power over others. Scroll through your social media pages and be real with yourself; how many of your posts fell into any one of the above categories? How many of your posts are disguised as inspiration, ideas, tips, or spirituality, but you can admit that the real motive fell into one of the above categories? How many times did you look at someone else’s posts and covet what they had? Judged them? Or felt superior to them? I am not here to condemn, but to enlighten:

If you are a Believer using social media as your platform, you MUST examine yourself OFTEN!

This is why I had to step away from these platforms. I needed to reevaluate myself. I didn’t want to return (if I ever returned) until I had a clean heart and clear conscious. Make no mistake that God does not place Himself into a box. He can and will use whatever He desires to further His Kingdom agenda—yes, even social media. However, as a Believer I ought to be sure that I’m pointing others to Christ, not myself. I love this quote that I stumbled across, but forgive me for not recalling the author:

A prideful person uses himself as the standard for others’ performance. But a humble person looks at the life of Jesus as the example and points people to Him.

Quotes about Prideful People

 

This quote reminds me of 1 Corinthians 1:31; Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”  It is my prayer that whatever I share from here on out reflects this truth.

The truth is our homeschool journey is a miracle. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without God.

During this season of my life, my desire is to inspire women who are called to homeschool; to allow my journey to serve as testimony that you don’t have to have the perfect circumstances to walk in your calling. If you’ve been trekking with me, you know that God called me and my husband to homeschool at the MOST inconvenient time. With limited finances and resources, homeschooling took a huge leap of faith. And, yet, here we are well into our fourth year! We’ve grown businesses, made awesome friends, and have everything we need to homeschool successfully.

Lately, I’ve been receiving emails and increased visits to my blog. Some of you have written me lovely messages describing how much my posts have inspired you during your homeschool journey. I want to take the time to say thank you! Your encouragement reminded me of why I started this whole thing in the first place. Blogging has been the perfect way for me to combine my love for writing with teaching and inspiring others. Instagram and Facebook have been fun ways to connect with all of you outside the blog and share day-in-the-life videos and posts.

They are not my “platforms,” they are ways to connect with those of you separated by distance. In fact, my prayer is that I make a conscious effort to make God my platform. He is the only foundation on which I should choose to stand.

I’m not saying that everything I do from here on out will be perfect or that I’m now exempt from falling into the pride of life. What I will say is that my goal is to simply be a light in any way the Lord calls me to do it. And as a fun fact: I actually wrote this post in July 2017 during one of my first social media breaks. I never posted it because I wasn’t even sure it was coherent and thought it was too preachy. But whatever the case, it was on my heart to share this just as it is. So here you go!

If you have any questions about faith, family, or homeschool, feel free to drop me a line. Until next time, friends…

 

Why We REALLY Homeschool | The Truth

Why We Really Homeschool | The Honest Truth

 

Hi there! Join me this month for the My Journey to Homeschool series. In this series, I’ll be sharing the why behind our homeschool and the process it took to get there.

If you’re new here, welcome! My name is Nike and I’m entering my fourth homeschool year with a new kindergartner and third grader.

Black Homeschool Moms Who Blog

I’m doing this series for two reasons. One, it’ll help you get to know me better. Two, I really need to revisit my why for self-encouragement as the start of the new school year approaches.

Even though this blog is over a year old, I’ve never quite addressed the reason my husband and I decided to homeschool in the first place. I’ve mentioned the benefits of homeschool that appealed to us, such as flexibility and tailored education, but I never really got into the “heavy” stuff.

Well, that’s because I didn’t want to appear anti-public-school. In fact, you’ll read here that I actually don’t hate public school. I’m simply pro-diversity. I believe there are many paths to success and one of those paths includes alternative education.

Nevertheless, as someone who has experienced and studied education at a professional level, I have some pretty sober things to say about the public-school system. As great as it is to have free education in this country, like everything else in life—including homeschool—public-school has its flaws.

The following reasons are ones that spoke to my husband and I on a personal level. They are in no way meant to sway you in one direction or the other if you’re on the fence about homeschool. Instead, my hope is to inspire you to develop your own “why” if you’re feeling led toward the path of home education.

So, without further ado, here are five reasons we really chose to homeschool our two boys.

 

1. We Weren’t Taking Any Chances.

Racial disparity in the education system is a topic no one wants to discuss, but it’s a real concern for many parents who are raising black children in America. In fact, studies indicate one primary reason black families choose to homeschool is due to dissatisfaction with the low expectations for black students and how they are treated in the education system.

The school-to-prison pipeline for children of color is a reality my husband and I had to consider when discussing the future of our boys’ education. Since we grew up in the public-school system, both of us have witnessed this practice first-hand. While we’ve turned out “okay,” we couldn’t negate some of the psychological damage we’ve had to overcome.

If you’re not familiar with the school-to-prison pipeline, it is defined as followed:

“The policies and practices that are directly and indirectly pushing students of color out of school and on a pathway to prison, including, but not limited to: harsh school discipline policies that overuse suspension and expulsion, increased policing and surveillance that create prison-like environments in schools, overreliance on referrals to law enforcement and the juvenile justice system, and an alienating and punitive high-stakes testing-driven academic environment” (National Education Association, 2016)

It is not our goal to shield our children, but rather utilize homeschool as an incubator of sorts to help prevent premature exposure to harmful disparities in society before they are fully equipped to process these experiences and thrive on their own.

 

2. To Implement a Holistic Approach to Education.

Homeschool offers us the ability to prioritize development in core areas that are often neglected. Physical, social, emotional, and spiritual development hold equal importance to intellect in our home. Since public school comprises about 1, 170 hours of a child’s time each year, there’s less time in a child’s day to prioritize development in areas outside of intellect, unless a more holistic approach to education is adopted.

As homeschool parents, we have the freedom to implement a holistic approach to education without competing with the time restrictions of public school. That means having sufficient time to work with our children and be more intentional about integrating all core areas of development into their school day. This practice is often referred to as whole child education.

Whole Child Education in Homeschool

 

3. To Cater to Our Children’s Intelligence.

If you’ve ever studied developmental psychologist, Howard Gardner, you’re hip to the nine types of intelligence. However, while at least nine types of intelligence have been identified and legitimatized, public schools only cater to students who possess logical-mathematical and linguistic intelligence. That means if a child is not a math-whiz or book-worm, the likelihood of reaching their potential in the education system is slim.

So, what are the other types of intelligence that often get overlooked?

  • Naturalist intelligence or nature-whizzes.
  • Musical intelligence or children who are skilled in sound.
  • Existential intelligence or those who are referred to as “life smart.”
  • Interpersonal intelligence or those who are people smart.
  • Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence or those who can perfect skills through a mind-body union.
  • Intrapersonal intelligence or those who are gifted in self-awareness.
  • Spatial intelligence or those who can think in three-dimension.

It was very apparent to my husband and I when our boys were babies what their dominant intelligence was. In short, they both exhibited strengths in spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, and musical intelligence. These are strengths we are able to fully develop by allowing our boys to incorporate them into their learning—maximizing their academic potential.

 

4. To Increase Their Quality of Education.

It’s no secret that as more emphasis is put on teaching to the test, more education budget cuts are being made, and the student-teacher ratio continues to increase, the overall quality of education has suffered. Couple that with a one-size-fits-all curriculum that is tailored for the average student and you’ve got highly intelligent students who aren’t being adequately challenged and low performing students who aren’t having their educational needs met.

This is a reality for many public schools.

Sending our children off to school just to become great test takers was simply not appealing to us. Nor was sending them into an environment where their success depended on becoming “average” students.

 

5. To Establish a Healthy Environment for Self-Development.

Our children are individuals and we want to keep it that way. Unfortunately, in most public schools there’s a “get in where you fit in” mentality where children are encouraged to become carbon copies of each other and individuality is frowned upon.

As homeschoolers, we aim to provide a healthy environment for our children to discover who they truly are and what they’re passionate about—outside peer influence. In other words, we’re removing the distractions and providing our sons the privilege of defining themselves for themselves and growing confidence in that identity.

Yes, peer pressure is inevitable. Yes, children are bound to make poor decisions. However, the more time our boys spend developing in confidence and character in a healthy environment, the more equipped they’ll be to make sound decisions in difficult moments, and the less likely they are to adopt an inauthentic view of themselves.

Homeschool and Self Development for Black Boys


In essence, homeschool enables us to redefine education by making it enjoyable, interest-led, and a natural part of our everyday life. it’s essential for our family to dissociate learning from something you only do in a classroom or to get good grades. Instead, our desire is to encourage our children to become lifestyle learners

As I mentioned earlier, homeschool is not perfect, either. But it is the better decision for our family during this season of our life.

If you’re new to homeschool, you may find the following posts useful:

10 Things You Should Know Before You Homeschool

30 FREE Homeschool Deals That’ll Help You Save Some Coins

7 Homeschool Must-Haves That Didn’t Make Your List

How to Prepare for Your First Day of Homeschool

I want to hear from you: Are you thinking about homeschooling? If so, why?