Confessions of a Homeschool MOM

12 Confessions of a Homeschool MOM

Hi! I’m Nike. If you’re new to this blog, my family is entering our fourth year of homeschool this year. I can hardly believe it!

My husband and I live in Middle Georgia where we homeschool our two boys, ages 5 and 8. They are entering kindergarten and third grade this upcoming school year.

I love blog posts where homeschool moms keep it real. I know that, for most of us, we enjoy homeschooling our children and want to highlight the many positives of being a homeschool family. However, not sharing the unglamorous side can be crippling for new families who may think they’re the only ones experiencing tough moments.

So, to all the moms (and dads) experiencing any of the following, you’re not alone. Here are my twelve confessions.

1. It’s challenging.

Contrary to what people, who haven’t a clue about homeschool, think, homeschooling is not an easy job. When done properly, it takes a great deal of time, research, knowledge, preparation, discipline, patience, coordination, and proficiency. Whether purchasing a curriculum or making your own, the work that goes into ensuring your children are well educated is extensive. Some bad eggs may give homeschool a bad name, but for the rest of us, we put in that work!

2. It’s uncertain.

Truthfully, I believe there’s a season for everything. I don’t know when our homeschool season will end. Whether it ends after high school or next year, only the good Lord knows. Anything can happen. My kids may want to try out traditional school. Homeschool may be outlawed (Lord forbid!). Or, it may just stop working for us. All I know for certain is, at the moment, we’re enjoying this time and hope it lasts as long as God allows it to.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

3. It’s lonely.

I’ve been blessed to meet and befriend other homeschool moms who invite our family out for parties and playdates, but at its core, homeschool is lonely. That’s because at the end of the day, it’s just me, my kids, and their curriculum. Being the primary teacher in my children’s life means that sometimes I’ll feel isolated and overwhelmed. And while the truth is I’m not alone and this is the plight of every homeschool parent, it sure doesn’t feel that way during those tough moments.

4. I get unmotivated.

I don’t jump out of bed every morning and greet the day like Mary Poppins. Sometimes I’m unmotivated. Sometimes I dread the monotony that homeschool routines can often fall into. Sometimes I’m sad. Sometimes I’m sick. Sometimes I haven’t slept well. Sometimes I doubt myself. There are many motivation killers that can throw me off course at times. But I’ve learned that perseverance is what you do long after your motivation has left you.


5. I don’t know everything.

The truth is, I still have so much to learn. In fact, my boys are becoming smarter than me by the day. They’ve become experts on topics they’re passionate about and the beautiful thing is they’ve also become my teacher in that regard. As a homeschool mom, I’ve realized one of the best things I can do for my children is not to teach them everything, but to connect them to the resources they need to teach themselves.

6. We have tough days.

Most days are great, but some days my boys just won’t cooperate. Sometimes there are tantrums. Sometimes there’s defiance. Sometimes I wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Yes, crying, yelling, and everything in between can be heard on any given day. We aren’t perfect homeschoolers.

If these walls could talk, they'd tell you we're not the perfect homeschool.

7. Unschooling myself is hard.

Since I was trained by the good ol’ public school system, I constantly have to unschool myself so that I can open up more to the reality that we don’t have to sit in a classroom doing schoolwork every morning. There are other ways to learn. In fact, children are learning even when we’re not actively teaching them. Still, it takes time to accept that my children can learn even when I’m not standing at the whiteboard lecturing.

8. I don’t hate public school.

I am a product of public school. So is my husband. So are my friends. We all turned out just fine. I went to an excellent college, earned a degree, and even earned a professional degree. I’ve had some of the most amazing teachers and some not so good ones. I don’t hate the public school system. I thank it, because it was an option when my family couldn’t afford to send me anywhere else. I didn’t take my education for granted. I used it to my advantage, making sure I excelled so that I’d be a great candidate for college. Whether my boys are homeschooled, go to public or private school, I’d make sure that they excel, too.

9. The house gets messy.

You can imagine the mess that accumulates when a family spends most of their time at home. Hey, we live here! In fact, the only time our home is spotless is when we have guests, and everyone panics to “get the house together.” Yes, we have chores and cleaning schedules, but somehow at the end of the day, it seems like every single item we own is covering the tables and floors.

I cleaned my house today... memes, inspiration, quotes

10. I’m glad I didn’t buy a curriculum.

When we first started homeschooling three years ago, I used every free resource I could find for my then kindergartner. He learned to read, write, spell, and do arithmetic without a boxed curriculum. You can find the list of resources I used, here. Holding off on purchasing a curriculum offered more time to study how my son learns, which helped me choose a curriculum that best fit his learning style. Even better? The money we saved that year was put toward extracurricular activities and family trips!

11. My schedules are for show.

I have what I like to call my “ideal schedule” and then there’s reality. That reality becomes our routine. The difference? When I schedule things, it puts our family on a timeclock and makes everyone stressed. When I establish a routine, it invites spontaneity and allows the day to flow organically. Believe it or not, we used to have an alarm that sounded when it was time to move on to the next lesson, eat, have recess, etc. It wasn’t fun for any of us.

12. It’s rewarding.

This is such a cliché, but it’s true. I love learning more about my children, their strengths and weaknesses, their preferred method of learning, how they tend to deal with frustration. I love seeing and being a part of their progression. I love spending the day with them. They are my little buddies!


 

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, it’s worth mentioning that even though some negative moments are highlighted here, the positive moments definitely hold more weight.

I want to hear from you: What are your homeschool confessions? Let me know in the comments below!

 

How to Combat Summer Learning Loss

Summer Schedule to Combat Learning Loss and Restore Order + FREEBIE

The summer vacation sort of crept up on us.

In Georgia, most kids are out of school by the third week of May. But in our homeschool, summer vacation wasn’t supposed to begin until June.

What happened?

My second-grader decided he wanted to take his final assessments early. All his friends at church were already out of public school, and he wanted to join the crowd.

So, I let him.

It was a win-win, really. We had a family trip approaching and I thought It’d be nice to come back home and not have to worry about school work.

The problem?

After that lovely trip to Maryland, where we got to visit my siblings and explore the beauty of Washington, DC, there was total chaos in our home. Fighting over games, tablets, toys, and personal space ensued. Our living room floor was full of Legos, art supplies, and Cheerios. Our kitchen sink housed every single dish from the cabinets by the end of the day. And I was close to losing it.

Capitol Building Washington, DC
Our Family Trip to Maryland Included a Day-Trip to the Nation’s Capital

But then I remembered something; amid our travel adventures, I’d forgotten to write out our summer schedule. So, I did just that.

When I say peace was restored almost immediately, it’s no exaggeration. I showed the schedule to our boys and it was like a weight was taken off them. Knowing their daily expectations offered them a sense of security and control. Even more, creating a schedule that carried out my vision to combat summer learning loss gave me peace of mind.

Let’s not get it twisted. There are still those days when everyone’s mood clashes. Today, as I write this post, is one of them. However, incorporating a summer routine has definitely given us smoother days when we’re stuck at home.

So, what does the schedule entail?

The purpose of the schedule, other than to restore order, is to ensure our boys keep their brains sharp, limit technology usage, and learn something new this summer. I understand resting from the demands of schoolwork is essential for developing brains, but I also wanted to ensure our boys were spending a little time each day building fluency with old skills and taking the initiative to develop new ones.

Take a look at our summer schedule below and download your FREE editable copy, here!

Summer Schedule to Combat Learning Loss
Click the Image to Download Your Editable FREEBIE and Create Your Own Summer Schedule!

As you can see, I’ve split the schedule into three parts: mornings, afternoons, and evenings. Every morning, there are three requirements to enjoy afternoon screen time:

First, our boys must read at least one book or two chapters. My five-year-old is still new at reading so we’ve worked it out where my oldest son does shared-reading with him. There are several studies that illustrate the significance of summer reading to prevent learning loss. However, our reason for ensuring our children hit the books during summer vacation is to simply encourage the lifestyle of reading.

Boys Love to Read Books by Mo Willems
Our Boys Love to Read Books by Mo Willems

Second, our boys must do at least one math activity. I made each of them fun interactive activity binders that house at least 35 activities for math fluency practice. You can read more about it here or purchase it here. These binders are a great alternative to worksheets because the Velcro attachments allow for repeated use until mastery. Additionally, these activities are perfect for kinesthetic learners who thrive with hands-on learning.

Boys Interactive Math Binder
My Son Practices Fluency Using His Interactive Math Binder

Third, our boys must complete their chore checklist. This checklist is basically a reminder for them to clean up after themselves, which is super helpful to me. Since they’ll either be playing with their tablets or watching TV, completing their chores in the morning means the house is likely to stay tidy all afternoon. I laminated the checklist (and schedule) to make them reusable with dry-erase markers.

Chore Checklist for Kids
Chore Checklist for Kids

Believe it or not, these requirements only take my boys about an hour or two to complete after breakfast. After that, they usually build Legos or draw pictures until the afternoon. I also created a list of activities to choose from should they grow tired of building skyscrapers with their Legos or drawing Sonic characters with scrap paper.

Why have a summer schedule?

Like most children, my boys thrive on structure. It offers them a sense of control and limits the frustration that can often trigger defiance and sibling rivalry. I’ve also made it a requirement that both must complete their checklist before afternoon screen time, which encourages them to work as a team.

Schedules are also great for me and my husband, who work from home. We know that from noon until four in the evening is going to be the quietest time to get important things done since the kids are typically quiet during screen time. To be honest, they’re actually so quiet, they’ve finessed us into having longer screen time because we’ve lost track of the clock. We must remember to set that egg timer!

Lastly, schedules are a great way to ensure we reach our summer goals. In our case, our main goal was to ensure our children were still sharpening their brains and building new skills. Trust me when I say that summer learning loss is real, but over the years we’ve discovered that making fluency practice a requirement decreased the amount of re-teaching we’d have to do for reading and math in the Fall. Repetition is one of the keys to mastery for children.

What are some alternatives to screen time?

Evenings in our home are scheduled to help our boys get their minds off the screen. Children must be encouraged to try new things and develop interests apart from television and video games. Therefore, our schedule reminds the boys of some of the things they like to do. Those activities include:

  • Playing the keyboard
  • Cooking
  • Dancing
  • Listening to audiobooks
  • Telling jokes
  • Making crafts
  • Drawing pictures
  • Playing sports
  • Playing board games
  • Storytelling
  • Playing outside
  • Playing MadLibs
Educational Board Games for Boys
Board Games are Great Alternatives to Screen Time During Those Summer Days You’re Stuck at Home.

Not only are these activities fun, but they’re also a sneaky way to incorporate additional learning into our daily summer routine. Of course, most of these activities will hold the attention of older children. But if you have wee ones, visit my friends Zoe, Josephine, and Angela at ThinkBaby.org and read their post “FUN & EDUCATIONAL DIY CRAFT IDEAS FOR TODDLERS.” They’ve got an awesome website full of gems for new and veteran moms!

What happens when we’ve got somewhere to be?

Summer vacation is filled with camps, traveling, sports, swimming, fellowship, and much more! This week, my boys have Vacation Bible School in the mornings. Next week, they’ll have afternoon swimming at our local pool. We try as much as possible to keep them involved with outdoor activities. When we have somewhere to be, we just pick up the schedule where we left off.

For instance, after VBS, my boys complete all their morning requirements and enjoy screen time for the rest of the afternoon. Next week, morning requirements must be completed before afternoon swimming. The remainder of the schedule will commence when we return home in the evening.

Schedules are made to be broken in our home. Therefore, we invite spontaneity. We are known for taking impromptu trips out of town, fellowshipping with friends until the wee hours of the morning, and hopping in the car to attend that local event we just learned about an hour ago. It’s no big deal if we ditch the schedule for things we find more enriching to our lives.

Vacation Bible School FUN Time Travel
Vacation Bible School Shenanigans With My Futuristic 8-Year-Old
HEART 360 (2)
My Boys Had a Blast Spending Their Mornings at VBS Where the Theme Was “Time Travel.”

Why do we have so much screen time during summers?

Summer screen time is a treat because my boys are only allowed screen time on weekends during the school year. Screen time basically consists of anything from watching tutorials, to coding and playing video games. While the allotted time is from noon to four in the afternoon, I admit some days our boys are probably watching screens much longer than that.

My husband and I have no qualms about children and screens, but we do see the value in controlling the amount of time our boys spend watching screens in order to help them develop other interests. Likewise, we’ve recognized that eliminating screen time on school days helped increase their concentration and work ethic, as they no longer tried to “hurry up and finish” school work in order to get to their video games.

There are many scholarly articles that make a case for why screen time is or isn’t good for children. I say, it all boils down to what’s best for your family. I know parents who can’t do any screen time whatsoever due to their child/ren having sensory processing disorders. Our boys can handle limited screen time, but we do heavily restrict what they’re allowed to consume (i.e. no violent or inappropriate games or shows).

Coding on a MAC for Boys
My 8-Year-Old’s Favorite Pastime Is Coding New Games with Scratch.

I hope you enjoyed me sharing a glimpse of what our summer is looking like this year. I decided to write this post because some of you liked the summer schedule I posted on Instagram and I wanted a way to provide an editable copy for you. I also love sharing what works for me in hope that it may work for you, too.

If you’re looking for activities to do with your children this summer, I highly suggest connecting with your local library, homeschool group, or recreation center and check out their schedules. You’d be surprised how many free and low-cost activities these resources have to offer.

I want to hear from you: What are your summer plans? Let me know in the comments!

Want to Homeschool? Three Things It Will Take

Want to Homeschool? 3 Things It Will Take

As the close of our homeschool year approaches, I’ve taken some time to reflect on our successes and failures. In our three years of homeschooling, what components did our good days have in common? What components did our bad days lack? What ultimately led to our success as a homeschool family? These were the questions I asked myself.

During this reflection, I’ve come to realize our success didn’t depend on finishing every curriculum down to the letter. We didn’t. Nor was it defined by my children acing all their assessments. They didn’t. And it certainly didn’t rely on my being the perfect homeschool teacher. I wasn’t.

Instead, our homeschool success depended on maintaining the following elements:

1. Commitment.

I’ve said before that a parent needs neither discipline nor patience to homeschool. What we truly need is the commitment to develop these virtues. A commitment to homeschool to the best of our ability. Why commitment? Because when we’re committed, we do whatever it takes to maintain loyalty to what we’re committed to. Yes, even grow in discipline, patience, and any other virtues we need to homeschool successfully.

I started homeschooling my boys by making a small commitment. About three years ago, I told myself we’ll commit to one year of homeschool and see how it goes. If the year went well, we’d continue to homeschool. If the year went poorly, we’d abort the mission.

During that trial year, there were many times I wanted to give up. But, I was committed to finishing the school year at the very least—no matter how badly I wanted to run to the nearest school and register my kids.

Still, it took more than a commitment to finish the school year. I had to commit to giving it my best shot. Commit to teaching my sons. Commit to growing in patience. Commit to making it work despite the odds against me.

Commitment begets commitment. In order to commit to becoming successful in one area, I had to commit to becoming successful in another.

Commitment Quote, Meme, Inspiration

 

2. Vision.

Our vision is our focus. It defines our goals and carves our path. Whatever causes us to look to the right or left of that pathway will either slow us down or throw us off course. This lack of focus puts us at risk for doubt, comparison, and, ultimately, failure.

I remember when I started homeschooling my first year. I rarely participated in social media and didn’t belong to a homeschool group, so I didn’t know many other homeschoolers. I did my own thing, my ideas were original, and my children had a blast that year. Even better? I stayed in alignment with our homeschool vision, which was to foster a healthy relationship with learning.

Then, I started connecting with other homeschool families. I was so excited to see how big the homeschool community was. Not only were there hundreds of homeschooling families in my area, but there were thousands more on social media sharing their experience and wisdom.

Discovering the homeschool community was a great thing, of course. Until I allowed myself to compare my method with that of others. Slowly, but surely, I began to suck the fun right out of our homeschool by forcing other methods onto my children. In my quest to make them “smarter,” I’d forgotten about our vision.

If it weren’t for defining our vision in the first place, I’d still be forcing unsuccessful methods that made everyone miserable. Although I strayed from it, the vision was what pulled us back on course and inspired us to continue to homeschool in a way that was most authentic to our family.

Without a Vision Meme, Quote, Inspiration

 

3. Perseverance.

Ah, doing something despite how difficult it may be. I bet we can all raise our hand and say that homeschooling is not easy. It will take perseverance to keep us going when we want to give up. Trust me, there’ll be a time you’ll want to give up, if it hasn’t happened already.

One day, I was going through my old tablet notes and came across a familiar post. The title? “I Give Up.” Yep, on March 20th, 2015, I wanted to give up. I wanted to quit homeschool. I just moved to an unfamiliar town, I didn’t know anyone, I had frustrated finances, and I was totally burned-out.

What’s funny? All the reasons I listed for wanting to give up were temporary. I eventually became very familiar with the town I lived in and all the resources it had to offer. I eventually met other homeschool moms and made great connections. Our financial condition eventually changed, and my burn-out didn’t last forever.

I’m so glad I didn’t make a life-changing decision based on temporary circumstances and emotions. I’ve learned part of perseverance is knowing that our current condition is just temporary. If we can just hold on a little longer, we’ll eventually see the progress—and success—we’ve been hoping for.

Perseverance Meme, Quote, Inspiration


I’m so glad you stopped by! Any thoughts on this post? Let us know in the comments!

New to Homeschool? Check out these posts!

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

Homeschool of Shame | 8 Things I No Longer Do

50 Random Facts About Nike Anderson

50 Fact about Me | Nike Anderson

I want to take the time to welcome all of my new readers! To shake things up a bit, I figured I’d share a few random facts about myself so that everyone can get to know me better!

Most of you know the basic facts:

  1. My name is Nike, pronounced nee-kay.
  2. I’m half Nigerian, half American.
  3. I have two boys, ages 4 and 8.
  4. I’ve been married for ten years.
  5. I’m a homeschool mom.
  6. I’m an M.Ed who makes educational resources.

Nike Anderson Family Picture

Now, it’s time to share some “not-so-basic” fun facts about the woman sitting behind the computer screen. Some of these may surprise you. To keep things neutral, I Googled “100 questions to ask people.” Google hit me with this VERY random list of questions. I’ll share fifty of them today! Here goes:

1. Where do you consider “home” to be?

Definitely Rhode Island, where I was born and raised. However, I’ve been a Georgian for nearly eleven years now.

 

2. Do you believe in ghosts?

No.

 

3. Are you religious?

No. I’m one of those “cooky” people that find the term restrictive. I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, died for our sins, and defeated death by rising three days later. I don’t live my life by laws, but by faith.

 

4. If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

I would love to visit Egypt.

 

5. If you could have dinner with any of the presidents, who would you choose? Why?

Since this is just for fun, I’ll say I would’ve loved to have dinner with JFK if I were living during his presidency. Why? Because he seemed to be a fountain of wisdom.  My favorite quote from him? The one from the 1961 address to the United Nations, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”

 

6. What is your dream job?

I always wanted to be a New York Times best-selling author.

 

7. Who is your role model? Why?

My role model is my mom. She has so many characteristics I aspire to. She’s beautiful, intelligent, loyal, strong, talented, humble, encouraging, and generous.

 

8. Do you prefer Coke or Pepsi?

Coke.

 

9. Do you prefer Cheetos or Doritos?

Doritos.

 

10. Do you eat breakfast in the morning?

Yes. One of my favorite meals is a spinach omelet…with cheese, of course.

 

11. When you go to the beach, do you sunbathe or swim more?

I prefer to get into the water. No sunbathing, here. I’ve got loads of melanin, haha. 😊

 

12. Have you ever ridden a city bus before?

All the time. When I was a teenager, I rode the city bus all over Providence. In fact, I took the city bus every day to get to school.

 

13. Have you ever traveled outside of the country? If so, where?

Yes. I’ve visited 5 countries—England, France, Spain, Nigeria, and the Netherland’s. Some of the cities I visited were London, Bath, Stratford Upon Avon, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Amsterdam, and Lagos.

 

14. If you got arrested, what do you think it would be for?

I don’t like imagining these types of situations.

 

15. What is your favorite childhood memory?

I remember my mother helping me get ready for a play that I starred in when I was in elementary school. While doing my hair and makeup, we had some good laughs. When everything was all said and done, she told me I looked beautiful. It was the first time I considered that it might possibly be true—that I was beautiful.

 

16. What was your favorite song two years ago? What is it now?

Hmmmm. Two years ago, I loved the song “Victor’s Crown” by Darlene Zschech. Anytime I got a moment alone, I would bellow this song out in the car. These days, my favorite song is “Holy Spirit” by Jesus Culture.

 

17. What teacher have you had that’s made the biggest impact on your life? How?

Shout out to Ms. Latessa, my former elementary school teacher. She planted the seed for my love of writing. She was the first person to tell me I was a great writer.

 

18. Are you a cat person or a dog person?

If I had to choose, I’d say I’m more of a dog person. Truthfully, I LOVE both!

 

19. What is a quote from any movie that you know off the top of your head?

“If you want to be somebody. If you want to go somewhere. You’d better wake up and pay attention,” from Sister Act II.

 

20. What are you most afraid of?

I try not to meditate on my fears.

 

21. If superheroes were real, who would you want to protect your city?

Black Panther. He has access to the strongest metal in the world.

 

22. What is the silliest reason you’ve ever cried?

Someone forgot to wash my son’s face. He was three at the time, I just had a new baby, and I accused my family (who was helping us) of neglecting him while I was asleep. I blame it on the hormones. I did apologize to them, though.

 

23. If you could be a character on any show, what show would you choose? Why?

And here’s where I admit that I don’t watch TV. Back in the day, it would’ve been The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. 

 

24. You’re stuck on an island with no way off and no one knows you’re there, what three items do you have with you?

Again, I don’t like imagining up negative hypothetical situations.

 

25. What is the name of one song you know all the words to?

One song most people would probably be shocked I know (and love!) is “You’re the One That I Want,” from Grease.

 

26. Are you a sore loser?

No. You can always learn from failure.

 

27. Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed?

Closed.

 

28. Would you rather be attacked by a big bear or a swarm of bees?

You already know I’m not going to answer this.

 

29. What is your biggest pet peeve?

Water on the floor. I hate touching it with my unsuspecting bare feet.

 

30. Where would you bury hidden treasure if you had some?

Wouldn’t you like to know, haha. 😊

 

31. Would you ever strip or pose nude for a photo in a magazine? For a movie?

No.

 

32. What has been your best Halloween costume thus far?

When I was a little girl, my mom made me the most beautiful Belle costume. Beauty and the Beast was my favorite Disney movie at the time.

 

33. Are you stubborn?

Yes. I’m working on it, though.

 

34. Do you sing in the shower? In the car?

Totally. I sing in both! Just ask the driver in the car next to me at the stop light.

 

35. Do you take vitamins daily?

Daily, no. Regularly, yes.

 

36. Have you ever cried because you were so happy?

Yes. On my wedding day (and on everyone else’s wedding day). I also have kids who do adorable things, so happy tears are a regular thing for me.

 

37. Can you swim without plugging your nose?

Yes.

 

38. Have you ever won a contest?

Yes. A very nerdy one when I was a kid. I had to belt-out facts about the history of Thanksgiving in front of the entire school on a stage full of contenders. I knew EVERY single fact, lol.

 

39. Do you want kids? How many?

Yes, I want kids. I already have two beautiful, fun-loving boys.

 

40. Are you missing anyone right now?

Yes. My Rhode Island family and my five siblings. If you’re reading this, call me.

 

41. Do you smile at strangers as you walk by them?

I’m going to say no. Unless I make eye contact with them.

 

42. Do you think your life will change drastically before 2020?

I hope so. The only thing constant is change.

 

43. How do you react when people talk badly about you?

I honestly don’t know when people talk badly about me, which is a good thing because what they think about me is none of my business.

 

44. Where did you get the shirt you are currently wearing?

I’m wearing a tunic and I got it from Goodwill for fifty cents.

 

45. What has been your favorite gift you’ve been given?

I can’t speak on favorites, but a memorable one was from my college friend. She gave me an inexpensive clutch bag with laminated inserts where she wrote out a ton of our favorite memories together. I still have it to this day and read through it sometimes.

 

46. If you had to delete one year out of your life completely, which would you choose?

I wouldn’t delete any of it. Everything, good and bad, made me the woman I am today. So cliche, right? But it’s true.

 

47. What is your favorite thing about school?

Grade school is a distant memory for me, but my favorite thing about school was homework. I loved worksheets!

 

48. Is there something that happened in your past that you hate talking about?

No. I’m transparent about my past. It is my testimony that helps bring hope to others.

 

49. Who was the last person you were on the phone with?

My mom.

 

50. Do you get jealous easily?

Yes. But I don’t stay jealous for long. I’ve learned strategies to conquer the green-eyed monster whenever it threatens to steal my joy. Perhaps I’ll write a future post about it.

(EDIT: Read 12 Ways I Overcame Jealousy)


 

That concludes my list. Did any of these surprise you? Can you relate to any of my answers? Don’t be shy! Let us know in the comments!

Homeschool of Shame | When I Lose My Temper

Homeschool of Shame | When I Lose My Temper

Losing one’s temper looks different for everyone. For me, it looks like screaming orders at the top of my lungs when I get tired of repeating myself. I mean, why can’t my kids just listen the FIRST time, right?

I’ve quickly realized, I wasn’t the only one struggling to maintain my cool. It’s quite a hot topic amongst moms, especially the homeschool moms in my circle.

I’ve also quickly realized I didn’t want my emotions controlling me. It’s not a great feeling. So, I set out to be intentional about improving this area of my life. And I’ve discovered that 99.9 percent of this change required daily doses of tenacity, self-awareness, and mindset renewal.

Months later, I’ve noticed a huge improvement in my temperament, and I want to share some of the things that have been working for me. Here are seven preventative strategies I use to keep me from losing my temper:

 

 

1. I expect my temper to be tested:

Don’t we all prepare for things when we expect it to come? A wedding? A new baby? A midterm exam? Similarly, I prepare for a test in patience because I expect it. Each day comes with its own challenges. I can recite all the positive declarations I want, but they will not stop the challenges of the day from coming. What these declarations WILL do instead is prepare me for the challenges of the day. They give me the mindset I need to better manage my emotions and resist the temptation to be quick-tempered. Here’s one of my favorite declarations inspired by 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:

Today, I choose to be patient and kind. I refuse to be rude, easily angered, or keep a record of wrongs. I will persevere through the challenges that come my way because I know love never fails.

 

2. I realize that I’m in control:

Anger is part of being human. It’s a valid emotion. And, while it doesn’t feel good, the good news is that I get to choose whether it dictates my behavior. I’ve learned that anger is not the problem, but rather what I do with that anger that poses the real issue. I’ve learned my negative response to anger is nothing more than a bad habit that needs to be replaced with good ones. Here are some REAL ways I managed to adopt good habits to dispel anger:

  • Give it to God: If you live with me, or are a close friend, you’ll hear me say MANY times, “God, help me!” when I feel I’m about to lose it.
  • Start declaring love and peace: You’re probably tired of me mentioning “declarations,” but the power of the tongue is a mighty tool.
  • Find the humor in it: Yes, I’ve been known to laugh off anger. Hey, it works!

 

3. I let it out:

Even when I manage to keep my cool and the situation has passed, the anger can still linger. This is when I find a safe space to let it out. If I’m in public, a bathroom stall has never failed me. I pray, I sob, and I wipe my tears and move on. If I’m at home, I take a similar approach but in the comfort of my bedroom. My car has also been my “safe place” to let the tears roll and release some steam.

 

4. I confront the offender:

Sometimes, pent-up anger arises when I don’t confront the offender. Maybe I let my kid off the hook one too many times. Maybe I was overcharged and never bothered to go back to the store to resolve the issue. Small things like this can add up in the stealthiest of ways. Trust me, I never realized how much not speaking up has been the source of my lost temper. What I’ve learned is to not “let stuff go” that actually needs to be addressed. As long as it’s done in love, confronting your offender and resolving issues can be very freeing.

 

5. I take self-inventory:

“What’s going on, Nike? What is the REAL issue?” These are the questions I ask myself after I’ve lost it. What makes this measure “preventative,” even though technically at this point I’ve lost it, is that I can pinpoint certain triggers to be aware of next time around. Sometimes, it wasn’t that I was angry but sad, afraid, or discouraged. Sometimes, I realized the anger stemmed from an insecurity. For instance, when I first started homeschooling, I was insecure about whether I was doing a good enough job. Therefore, a child who refused to do assignments or was simply “not getting it” became a common trigger. Once I identified the trigger, it became less powerful and less likely to prosper against me. Wouldn’t you take the bullets out of a gun you knew would be used against you?

 

6. I take care of myself:

Don’t roll your eyes at this cliché tip. You’d be surprised how much a bad diet and no exercise can affect you. I’m in no way perfect in this area of my life. Sometimes I eat that extra slice of cheesecake and skip that evening workout. But I can say with certainty that the more I do it, the more I’m reminded it’s just not worth it. Why? Because I’m keen on how my mood changes when I do my body a disservice. Exercise is one of the BEST ways to release the stress and negative energy that can lead to a loss of temper. I’ve learned to keep it simple, though. A walk around the neighborhood on a sunny day does plenty for my mood.

 

7. I remember that anger is toxic:

Have you ever seen the rice experiment? A man puts an equal amount of freshly cooked rice into two jars. He labels the first jar “love.” He labels the second jar, “hate.” For a period of weeks, the man spends each day saying positive words to the “love” jar and negative words to the “hate” jar. After just a few days, the rice in the jar labeled “hate” starts to blacken and mold. And after a few weeks, the rice in that same jar is unrecognizable while the rice in the jar labeled “love” still looks good enough to eat. The moral? The words we spew in anger are powerful and toxic.  I try to remember this the next time I want to tell-off someone I love. I picture that “hate” jar, I see their spirit, and I imagine how my words could possibly destroy them.


 

And there you have it. These are six things I actually do that work. With any post like this, I must make the disclaimer that if you’re EVER concerned about your anger, you should definitely seek the help of a professional. There’s no shame in that. But for those who are looking to grow in patience, I highly recommend trying some of these strategies out!

 

Have any helpful tips? Don’t be shy! Let us know in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Homeschool of Shame

Homeschool of Shame | 8 Things I No Longer Do

There are many wonderful things we do at our homeschool that I’m always eager to share. Now, it’s time to share what we don’t do that many moms think we probably should. Up until very recently, I used to do ALL these things as religiously as possible. These days, I’m becoming more aware of what works best for my family. That means doing away with some practices I’ve forced on our family for so long.

I’m not suggesting you stop doing the things I’m about to mention. My hope for this post is to inspire homeschool parents to get rid of what’s not working and do what suits their family instead. Here are eight things I no longer do now that I’m in my third year of homeschool.

 

1. Wake up before my kids:

That’s right. I no longer make it a priority to wake up before my kids. That’s not to say some days (like today) I don’t, but these days I refuse to punish myself for not living up to the unsaid expectations of stay-at-home moms. I’m a night owl by nature and often forced myself to turn-in early to awaken before sunrise. Not only is it extremely difficult to fall asleep before midnight, but late nights are often when I’m most productive. My body would rather work until 2am and awaken at eight in the morning than go to sleep at 11pm and awaken at five in the morning to get work done. I’m learning to accept it.

 

2. Morning devotionals:

Nope. I typically do my devotionals at night and my declarations in the morning. It just feels right. I like to do my declarations as soon as I open my eyes. This includes thanking God and declaring some truth over my life according to scripture. Declarations are not just a morning thing, they are something I speak whenever I start to fall into negative thinking. I’m not perfect at it, but it’s becoming more of a habit with each day. Here are some examples:

I. Negative thought: Replaying failures in your mind.

Declarations: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26). I will focus on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, and anything that is excellent or praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8).

II. Negative thought: Comparing yourself to others.

Declarations: I will examine only myself and be proud of my own accomplishments without comparing myself to others (Gal. 6:4-5). I refuse to let envy destroy me, but I choose to have a peaceful heart that gives me life (1 Cor. 3:3).

III. Negative thought: Feeling angry or frustrated.

Declarations: Today, I choose to be patient and kind. I refuse to be rude, easily angered or keep a record of wrongs. I will persevere because love never fails (1 Cor. 13:4-8).

IV. Negative thought: Worry and fear.

Declarations: I refuse to worry about my life. I know that God will provide everything I need (Mat. 6:25-34). God did not give me the spirit of fear but His Spirit of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Tim 1:7).

 

3. Read about homeschool:

I noticed the more I read about homeschool, the more I compared myself to those seemingly perfect veterans. I stopped making a habit of this. I guard myself by limiting my exposure to any triggers. When I find myself falling back into the negative thought-pattern of comparison, I arm myself with some of the declarations I mentioned in my second point. I’d like to remind you that your homeschool is unique to your family. You don’t have to do it like everyone else!

 

4. Mimic the traditional classroom:

My teaching method once very much mirrored that of the traditional classroom because that’s all I knew. These days, we learn side-by-side wherever we are comfortable. That can be the couch, dining room table, the library, or outdoors. We LOVE our classroom setup, but we aren’t bound by it. Truthfully, we get tired of being in there by the third quarter.

 

5. Plan enrichment activities:

I’m sorry for those of you who followed me for the awesome enrichment activities. I simply don’t plan them much because I don’t have to. These days, most enrichment activities we do are those our curriculum suggests. If I happen to think of something extra fun, I’ll execute that idea. Other than that, I simply can’t be bothered. I now have several side projects that consume the bulk of the free time I once administered to being crafty. In the end, I realized I was only creating more unnecessary work for myself.

 

6. Follow the curriculum verbatim:

I’m more interested in staying true to our homeschool vision than applying ineffective aspects of a curriculum. I’ve seen some moms suffer through a curriculum for the sake of completion. Not at our house. If it doesn’t work, I don’t force it. I recently had to do away with the entire third quarter of my son’s reading curriculum because they assigned reading he simply couldn’t relate to. Forcing him to understand medieval language became counter-productive. Instead, I assigned reading he could enjoy and required him to write summaries of the assigned chapters. Yes, there’ll be some things in his curriculum he MUST do, but I decided the originally assigned reading was not one of them.

 

7. Get dressed every day:

If we don’t have plans for the day, we don’t accumulate laundry. That’s that. I figured it was more important to be resourceful than picture-perfect. So yea, you may have noticed on Instagram that my kids are sometimes wearing pajamas or “house clothes” in the afternoon. I know there are tons of articles that make compelling cases for getting dressed even if you don’t go anywhere. However, I’m at a place in my life where, if I want to be super productive, my pajamas sure aren’t going to stop me. More importantly, my boys don’t seem any less productive than before. This is not to be confused with self-care, which they are most certainly required to do every day.

 

8. Uphold the perfect homeschool image:

I was trapped by expectations. Not so much on this blog (where I share my not-so-perfect moments), but in my daily life where other homeschool moms gave me a smug look if I mentioned using a free curriculum, not participating in expensive extra-curricular classes, or not vigorously training my then toddler how to read Shakespeare or multiply fractions (slight exaggeration, here). This blog felt like the ONLY place where I could speak freely about homeschooling on a narrow budget and in a way that works for ME. These days, I endure smug looks for the sake of releasing another homeschool parent from the bondage of other people’s expectations.


 

Well, that’s all I can think of for now. Kudos to all the homeschool parents that do all of the things I mentioned and it works for YOU. This post is no way saying that these practices aren’t valuable. They just no longer serve our family. Let us know in the comments some things you’ve done away with in your homeschool. See you next week!

Day in the Life of homeschool Preschool and Kindergarten

A Homeschool Day-in-the-Life of My 4-Year-Old | Teaching Preschool

One of the common challenges in homeschool families is finding the time to teach younger children when so much time is dedicated to helping their older siblings with assignments.

I have a four-year-old and a second-grader and, let me tell you, it’s tough! Even tougher for my friends with four children or more. Preschoolers often like to fight for your attention when they see you giving so much of it to their siblings. I’m here to tell you, that’s not such a bad thing and you can use this attention-seeking to your advantage.

When your preschooler sees that learning seems to get and keep your attention, they’re more likely to want to be included in whatever learning their older siblings have going on. At least this was the case for me. I know it’s tempting to let younger children go off and do their own thing, but try adding small assignments to their routine that help them feel like a “big kid.” You may find you have a little more peace during your homeschool hours.

So, here is my day in the life of my four-year-old on any given homeschool day. This glimpse into our world illustrates how I manage to balance time between my two boys. As a side note, you may notice on my blog that I refer to my four-year-old as a preschooler and kindergartner interchangeably. That’s because according to his age he is technically in preschool, but he’s acquiring many skills that meet kindergarten requirements in our state.


A Homeschool Day-in-the-Life of My 4-Year-Old


8:30 am: Devotional

Let’s start with devotional. We’re currently using Our Daily Bread for kids, which we love. The daily devotionals are short, sweet, and to the point. They also are a great inspiration to delve into the Word of God. Both kids enjoy me reading aloud and will sit quietly and attentively while I do so. In previous years, I made activities for my boys to do while I read the Bible aloud. Some days, my preschooler is just not into sitting still so he goes off and plays with his toys, which is totally allowed.  That leads us to…

Tip One: Let your little ones have off days. We all have days when we’re just not feeling something. Allowing them to choose something else to do instead shows that you understand and respect their feelings. It also reduces the likelihood of your little one making a scene which can cause disruption and set the tone for the rest of the day, making it difficult for you to maintain the patience needed to work with your older children.

Our Daily Bread Devotional for Children
My children love Our Daily Bread Devotional for Kids.

9:00 am: Basic Skills Fluency Practice

This is my second-grader’s designated reading time. Since I have him read aloud to me, I need this time to be pretty quiet. This is when I break out my preschooler’s favorite activities. We use the Hooked-on Phonics Fundamentals workbook, which is full of educational cut and paste activities that keep my preschooler busy and happy. During this time, my little one practices fluency with basic skills like letters, phonics, numbers, counting, shapes, and more. He is also engaging those fine motor skills necessary for handwriting. So…

Tip Two: Have independent activities on hand. Give your little ones activities you know they can do on their own to help build confidence, independence, and fluency while you take time to work with older children.

Preschool and kindergarten basic skills fluency practice.
Preschool and kindergarten basic skills fluency practice.

9:30 am: Reading Fluency Practice

My preschooler and I practice reading fluency while my second-grader works independently on to his spelling curriculum. We are using the Hooked-on Phonics curriculum and are supplementing with Bob Books. Hooked on Phonics has its own set of starter books, but he seems to like the Bob Books more. We borrowed our Bob Books from the local library and are allowed to have them for 6 weeks at a time. We spend no more than 15 minutes practicing reading. Another 15 minutes is dedicated to storybook read-alouds.

Tip Three: Schedule one-on-one learning time with your little one when older kids have independent work. 

Hooked on Phonics Reading Curriculum for Preschool
Hooked on Phonics is our curriculum of choice for preschool and kindergarten.

10:00 am: Handwriting Practice 

My preschooler practices handwriting while my second-grader and I delve into his language arts lesson.  I love dry-erase books for handwriting practice because children can practice as much as they’d like without accumulating paper waste. The books we love for handwriting practice are the Kindergarten dry-erase workbook and the Sight Word workbook. I taught my preschooler how to follow the arrows, and to always write from left to right to ensure he’s writing letters, numbers, and words properly. Now, he can pretty much work on his own. Therefore…

Tip Four: Train your little one to work independently during homeschool off-hours. On weekends or when all your older children have completed their homeschool assignments, take just a little time to train your younger children to work more independently on key skills. This may take time and patience but is well worth the investment when you find yourself running from kid to kid during busy homeschool hours.

Handwriting Practice for preschool and kindergarten.
Independent handwriting practice for preschool and kindergarten.

10:30 am:  Everyone takes a snack break at this point.

11:00 am: Geography

My boys do geography together. We use a curriculum base called Beginning Geography and supplement with YouTube videos, library books, hands-on-learning, and kinesthetic activities. This is a great time of day because my preschooler really looks forward to it. He may not understand everything we learn about, but he enjoys doing the corresponding activities.

If you’re wondering how I teach two grade-levels one subject, here’s an example:

This week we’re learning about reading directions on a map using a compass rose. My main objective is for my preschooler to understand that north is up, south is down, east is to his right and west is to his left. Aside from looking at real maps I had on hand, we watched a Youtube video that explained what compasses were used for and how to use them.  To challenge my oldest son, he watched a documentary on the history of the compass rose. Later, we made our own compasses using supplies I had on hand. Then we played a kinesthetic activity where the boys had to jump toward the direction I shouted out. It was so much fun and something both grade-levels could enjoy.

Tip Five: Don’t be afraid to include your little ones in on the lessons. This is especially true if the age gap isn’t that wide between older siblings. In my case, I can use a curriculum base designed for grades k-2 and it’ll work for both of my boys. Last year, we used a science curriculum designed for first and second graders and my preschooler was able to do all of the lessons and experiments with us. Children are sponges at this age. You’ll be surprised by what they pick up on.

Geography for preschool and early elementary
A kinesthetic game for learning directions: Jump to your North, South, East, and West.

12:00 pm: Science

Both my boys also learn science together. This year, we are really loving interactive science notebooks. This is actually my preschooler’s favorite part of the day because he loves cut-and-paste activities. Whenever we finish a lesson, he often asks if we can do another one. I use the same supplemental method for science that I do for geography. We read books, do fun activities, and include hands-on learning and experiments whenever possible. That points us to…

Tip Six: Interactive notebooks are a win for everybody. You can find free or low-cost interactive notebook lessons just about anywhere, for any grade, and any subject! This works especially if you have children with larger age gaps. Everyone can sit around the table with all their supplies and work on their interactive notebooks. Works for us!

Interactive science notebooks for preschool and kindergarten.
Interactive science notebooks are great for preschool and kindergarten.

1:00 pm: Lunch and Recess

2:00 pm: Math

I save math for the end of the day because it’s my boys’ strongest subject. Plus, it’s also a subject that my second-grader can do on his own unless he’s learning a new concept. I like to work one-on-one with my preschooler on the days when my second-grader isn’t learning a new concept. We use math link cubes to practice addition and subtraction. We also practice number sequencing and counting to 20, 30, and beyond. Every now and then we’ll go over basic and 3-dimensional shapes, but he pretty much has that information stored in his brain.

Additionally, I try a variety of hands-on activities that I just make up myself. Matching number quantity to the numerical value is one of the activities we do often, and we can use just about anything we have on hand to do it. I also make use of our addition and subtraction flashcards and have my preschooler use cubes to determine the sum or difference. So…

Tip Seven: Save your little one’s strongest subject for the end of the school day to cut down on frustration. If you happen to need to sneak away to teach your older children new concepts, you can start the younger ones off and they can hold their own until you return.

Math practice ideas for preschool and kindergarten.
Math practice ideas for preschool and kindergarten.

 

Our school day typically ends around three in the afternoon. This is not an everyday schedule as we have fieldtrip days, co-op days, and playdate days pretty regularly. This is, however, the schedule we fall back on to keep us on track.

I’d like to end this post by saying there will be a day when none of this advice works. Take heart, it happens to the best of us. I will say that each semester gets easier. Before our winter break, it was much harder to keep my preschooler engaged and occupied. After winter break, things seemed more manageable. Your family will live if you do away with curricula for a moment to meet the physical, educational, emotional and social needs of your younger children. A break from monotony is always a great idea!

Now it’s your turn: How do you balance homeschool with your children? Give us some ideas that have worked for your family in the comments below!


Need more ideas for preschool? Check out these posts:

Toddler Genius | YouTube Channels That Made My Toddler Smarter

Tot-School Tuesdays | Preschool Addition Facts

Tot-School Tuesdays | Number Matching & Sequencing

Tot-School Tuesdays | “I Can Count” Busy Box

Free Resources for Preschool