Homeschool Room Tour

Should I Have a Homeschool Room? Updated Classroom Tour

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

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

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

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

The quick answer is no.

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

Homeschool Room Alternatives

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

Homeschooling in the Living Room

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

Homeschooling in the Family Room

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

Homeschooling at the dining room table

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

Homeschool Science at the kitchen table

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

Homeschooling on the back porch

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

The World is our Classroom

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

Pros to Having a Homeschool Room:

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

Cons to Having a Homeschool Room:

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

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

Homeschool Room Tour

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

Homeschool Room Tour

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

Homeschool Room Tour

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

Homeschool Room Tour

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

Homeschool Room Tour

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

Homeschool Room Tour

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

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

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

Until next time, friends…

Great Wolf Lodge Review

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

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

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

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

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

Let me give you an analogy.

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

Why?

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

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

Enter the “reset” button.

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

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

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

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

GWL 4


1. Sign up for emails.

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

 

2. Your waterpark passes are included.

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

 

3. Check for “Homeschool Day” offers.

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

 

4. Don’t purchase a day pass.

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

 

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

Great Wolf Lodge Review

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

 

6. Arrive early.

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

 

7. Leave late.

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

 

8. You don’t need your wallet.

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

 

9. Don’t struggle with your luggage.

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

 

10. Skip the upcharges.

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

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

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

 

11. You can pay for activities/attractions separately.

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

 

12. Visit on weekdays and off-holidays.

GWL 2

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

 

13. Take advantage of Camp Howl.

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

 

14. Beware of the towel return policy.

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

 

15. Stay an extra night.

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

 

16. Don’t overpack.

GWL 5

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

 

17. B.Y.O.F.

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

 

18. Not teen-friendly.

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

 

19. You can relax.

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

 

20. Coffee (and other adult beverages) onsite.

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

 

21. Celebrate a birthday.

GWL 7

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

 

22. Visit the Lagrange, Georgia Location.

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


GWL 3

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

 

 

 

 

 

Help Boys learn Effectively

10 Methods to Help Boys Maximize Their Learning Potential

Over the past few months, my oldest son tried a hand at musical theater. That meant extra rehearsals for him and lots of downtime for mom, as I accompanied him.

They performed Beauty and the Beast last week, he was Phillippe, among other characters, and the performance was great. Just in case you’re curious.

During my downtime, I had the luxury of reading one of the books I checked out from the library a couple weeks ago, Boys and Girls Learn Differently! A Guide for Teachers and Parents. I wasn’t purposely looking for this book. It simply fell into my hands while reaching for another book about homeschooling on the same shelf. Nevertheless, the title of this book intrigued me, and I decided to keep it.

Let me paint the picture: my boys often stand when they work, pace when they read, don’t seem to know what walking or a quiet voice is, protest sitting still at any capacity, will mope about writing a book report on a classic novel but willingly write about the history of Minecraft, are drawing and coding fanatics, would rather listen to me read than read on their own, are so video game obsessed that I have to forbid it on weekdays—and the list goes on. 

As a woman, most days I just don’t understand them. But I love learning about their unique ways of learning and how I can better facilitate this process. I’m not here to change them. They’re fine as they are. I’m here to change the way I teach them.

Now, I’m no newbie to research regarding learning differences between boys and girls. Yet, this book taught me some new things and gave me great ideas on how I could foster a healthier learning environment for my boys. I’ve also linked other great resources in my post, should you want to investigate a little further.

I’m not here to debate whether boys or girls learn differently. Truthfully, some of the following tips—as proven by research—are useful for children in general. However, I won’t negate that some of the following methods I’ve applied to my homeschool have worked in our favor.

Although I’m looking through the lens of home education, please note that most of my research came from a traditional classroom perspective. So, don’t fret if you’re not a homeschooler, these tips will certainly work for your family or classroom, too!


Here are 10 Methods to Help Boys Maximize Their Learning Potential

 

1. Forget the desk and chairs.

Trust me—let him move! A boy’s autonomic nervous system causes them to be more alert when they’re standing and moving. Why? Movement activates all the brain cells boys use to learn. Research suggests that children who are more active show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed, and are better test-takers than children who are less active.

 

2. Schedule learning time after outdoor play or physical activity.

Jumping straight into morning learning may not be your best bet. If your little buddy is reluctant to learning, check back with him after he’s had a little outdoor playtime or physical activity. Why? Other than my aforementioned point about movement activating those “learning” brain cells, a study showed that young children who were given recess worked more or fidgeted less than when they were not given recess. Additionally, a 2016 study found that young boys who spent more time sitting and less time playing didn’t progress as quickly in reading and mathematics.

 

3. Let him draw it out.

Have your child draw pictures of a story in sequential order before they write a summary. Why?  Drawing can be used as a mechanism to help students recall details in a story or text before beginning the writing process. In fact, a study contended students who drew before writing tended to produce more words, more sentences and more idea units, and their overall writing performance was higher than the students who wrote without drawing. This method can also be applied to solving math problems and studying informational facts.

Check out my resource Book Report/Summary Guide for Beginners & Reluctant Writers

Book Report Guide for Reluctant Writers

 

4. Pace while you’re teaching a new concept.

Boys typically interpret the world as objects moving through space. We might just hold their attention if we become that moving object. Why? Research suggests instructors’ physical movement increases boys’ focus and engagement during lessons. So, try pacing and using wide-range movements when teaching new concepts.

 

5. Bond.

Young children learn best from whom they’re intimately attached. Therefore, it’s a good idea to intentionally bond with your child to help him reach his academic potential. Why? According to research, the brain needs bonding and attachment to fully grow and learn. Try asking your child about his interests or playing his favorite game with him before starting your lesson. Be sure to give him your undivided attention.

 

6. Establish a consistent routine.

An unstructured routine can cause boys to lose that sense of security they crave, inhibiting their behavior and learning. Why? While children’s brains need freedom to discover information, they also need structure and order to turn that information into a learning experience. Research shows that boys with a structured routine exhibited better behavior in the classroom. However, boys without good structure or had a recent change in their routine exhibited more stress and behavioral problems than their peers.

 

7. Eat a good breakfast.

Time to ditch those refined carbs in the morning and give your lad a breakfast that’s high in fiber and protein. Why? Cereal and other refined carb breakfast foods raise glucose levels and cause jitters in boys—in addition to causing them to feel low. Consequently, according to research, boys tend to become impulsive during sugar crashes, spiking behavioral problems. Of course, if your child does any sort of physical activity in the mornings, unrefined carbs are okay to have.

 

8. Add Omega 3’s to his diet.

It’s a good idea to add Omega-3 fatty acids to your child’s diet to support optimal brain development. Why? Psychiatric and neurological disorders, such as ADHD (a common diagnosis for boys) have been linked to Omega-3 deficiency. Foods rich in Omega-3s are mackerel, salmon, cod liver oil, sardines, and oysters, among others. Got a picky eater? My boys love omega swirl fish oils.

 

9. Learn Outdoors.

Toss the textbooks and let nature be his teacher. Why? Research suggests the great outdoors helps stimulate the learning brain and resolve behavioral nuances. According to other studies, access to nature has also been shown to decrease the symptoms of ADHD. So, let your child have a change of scenery and go explore hidden treasure in your city or town. Beautiful greenery, flowers, rivers, and waterfalls. Creepy crawly creatures and local wildlife (albeit harmless). Or, simply take your workload and sit on a bench at a beautiful park and let the sunrays delight your child while he studies.

 

10. Give him power over his education.  

Try letting your child help you pick out his curriculum, create enrichment activities, and/or choose the time of day he’d like to work on his lessons. Why? Research shows most behavioral problems in males stem from their desire for attention and power. Therefore, giving your child some power over his education may result in him being more receptive to learning and staying engaged. Just be sure when offering choices to your son that you offer preset options that you can live with either way.


 

Got any more tips or resource recommendations for teaching boys? Leave a comment below and share the wealth!

Frugal Homeschool Field Trips to Take This Year

Frugal Homeschool Field Trips to Take This Year

Hi!

If you’re new here, my name is Nike (nee-kay) Anderson and I am a fourth-year homeschooler of two boys, ages five and nine. Welcome to the family!

The field trip conversation emerges quite often in homeschool communities. I’ve noticed most moms would love to do more with their family but they just don’t know where to begin. So, I figured I’d make a post about some of the awesome field trips we’ve taken that are kid and wallet approved! Some of these field trips were hosted by our homeschool group while others were family adventures. I highly suggest joining a homeschool group or co-op if you haven’t already. Having a community takes care of the burden that often comes with planning field trips. It also ensures you’d get to take advantage of discounted group rates and free tours.

Here are Other Reasons to Take Group Field Trips:

  • To expose your children to different experiences that inspire learning beyond the textbooks.
  • To give your children the opportunity to fellowship with their peers.
  • To create pleasant memories of your homeschool experience.
  • To give your children the opportunity to learn from other people (tour guides, teachers, volunteers, etc).
  • To get out of the house!
  • To expose your children to possible new interests of study.
  • To encourage your family to do things you wouldn’t normally do on your own.

What are some personal benefits we’ve experienced with group field trips?

  • I’ve met awesome people whom I’ve had the pleasure of developing friendships with, and suddenly homeschool doesn’t seem so lonely.
  • My boys are more confident in building friendships because they know they will see the same faces.
  • Meeting a couple times a month breaks up the monotony of homeschool life, and takes the pressure off of me to provide my boys with social opportunities.
  • My boys are more aware that they are not the only homeschool kids in the world, and now feel a sense of community.
  • We get to integrate, and form connections with, people who don’t look like us as well a people from different walks of life.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it, shall we?


27 Frugal Homeschool Field Trips to Take This Year


 

1. Tour your local creamery and learn how they make their ice cream.

Coldstone Creamery Tour | Homeschool Field Trips

Be sure to check out your local creamery to inquire about group tours. Our homeschool group has been able to arrange a tour with our local Coldstone Creamery for the past couple years. The field trip typically takes place in the morning during low-traffic hours. Our host gives us a brief history of how the creamery started and an in-depth tour of how their ice-cream is imported, stored, and made. She even shows us how they make their famous waffle cones. Of course, there are yummy samples to taste during this tour. The creamery is also kind enough to offer us a group discount on ice cream. It is the one time our kids get to have ice cream after breakfast and they love it!

 

2. Tour your local orchard and learn about the fruits in season—and pick some of your own!

Strawberry Patch | Homeschool Field Trips

We typically visit the orchard during strawberry season. Not all orchards are created equal, so be sure to choose one that specializes in field trips if you can. It makes a huge difference! Orchards that specialize in field trips typically have awesome learning centers, tour guides, thorough instructions on proper strawberry picking, group discounts on strawberries, and maybe even some complimentary fresh strawberry ice cream! We were able to learn about the plant life cycle, plant our own seeds (which we were allowed to take home), learn about bees and their significance in pollination, taste some yummy local honey, learn about the life cycle of strawberries, and of course pick our own very own strawberries to take home and enjoy.

 

3. Tour your local pizza shop and learn how they make their classic pizza.

Who doesn’t want to know how to make pizza? Take advantage of group discount rates and arrange to have a tour and lunch at your local pizza parlor. Our homeschool group arranged this field trip last year and it was great to not have to worry about packing lunch. There’s just something about eating together that solidifies bonds. Our children not only learned a new recipe, but they also learned the importance of safety and hygienic precautions when handling food in the kitchen.

 

4. Tour your local aviation museum and learn about historical events.

Museum of Aviation | Homeschool Field Trips

If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area that has free admission museums, take full advantage! Some museums also host free events or days when admission is free. I remember traveling to Washington, DC and all the museums were free to explore! Here, in my small town, we’re fortunate enough to have an aviation museum full of history and awesome aircraft exhibits. We’ve visited there many times and it’s a great place for kids to learn about historical events like the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and WWII. Not to mention all there is to learn about the many different aircraft, military vehicles, and notable service men and women.

 

5. Tour your local news station and learn the ins and out of news production.

News Station | Homeschool Field Trips

You may find favor at your local news station, so call around and arrange a tour! Our local news station was gracious enough to give our older children a tour of the facility. Our host was a meteorologist from the weather team. This was perfect because he was able to show us some really cool behind-the-scenes adventures. One of those adventures included some interactive green screen fun! I’d say that was the highlight of the field trip.

 

6. Tour your local police department and learn what officers do when they’re not out patrolling.

Of course, learning how they catch criminals is exciting, but there’s much more that goes into being a police officer. Our homeschool group took a field trip to our local police station, where we received a tour of the building—even where the criminals go when they first arrive. The most exciting part of the trip, aside from getting a tour of the police car and seeing how the siren works, was getting a peek inside the forensic department. The forensic department showed us how their latest technology can accurately analyze collected evidence from crime scenes. Oh, how the kids loved the magic of the blue light, which made invisible things visible!

 

7. Visit the aquarium and learn about aquatic life.

Aquarium | Homeschool Field Trips

We’d have to travel over an hour to visit the huge Georgia aquarium and pay over $100 for the experience. Luckily, we have a local aquatic center for just a fraction of the cost. The kids can see freshwater aquariums, underwater habitats, and learn about native aquatic wildlife. The 200,000-gallon outdoor aquarium houses over 50 species that include trout, alligators, and more. Our group even got to watch the divers clean the tanks and feed the fish.

 

8. Tour your local post office and learn how mail is handled and transported.

Post Office | Homeschool Field Trips

Ever wonder what happens to a letter after you slip it into the mailbox and bid it farewell? Taking a field trip to the post office is a must! Our kids were quite surprised to learn just how much behind-the-scenes it takes for a letter to “magically” end up in our mailbox every afternoon. Our tour guide showed us the entire process of a letter from the time it enters the post office to its departure for delivery. The kiddos even got to check out the mail truck, pictured above, which was a huge hit. The wonder of children always amazes me; they’re impressed by the simplest things we often take for granted.

 

9. Get fishing lessons from your local education center.

Fishing. | Homeschool Field Trips

This is one idea you don’t see on the field trip list very often, but fishing is a beautiful skill worth acquiring. This field trip has been on our list for the past three years. We aren’t a fishing type of family, but we were happy to learn the basics at our local education center. Since it’s a catch and release system, we don’t get to keep the fish we catch (not that we’ve ever caught any, haha), but it’s fun practice and a great pastime for kids. Afterward, we washed our hands and ate our packed lunches with our homeschool group at nearby picnic tables.

 

10. Tour your local fire department and learn about fire safety.

This is a pretty standard field trip, but if you haven’t visited the fire department yet, I highly suggest it. Parents and children alike will learn proper fire safety precautions as well as what firemen do at the fire station. At the very least, you’ll be convicted to change those batteries in your smoke detectors and implement a safe procedure for your family in the event of a house fire. Our children also learned about the safety equipment firemen must wear and their different functions. And since their masks can be pretty scary, the firemen made sure to let our children know that if they’re ever stuck in a fire and see someone wearing a mask, that person is there to help so never hide from them. But, of course, the highlight of this field trip was getting a tour of the fire engine!

 

11. Tour your local farm and learn how to care for farm animals.

Farm | Homeschool Field Trips

One of the perks of living in Middle Georgia is that there are farms everywhere. We’ve visited quite a few farms and have petted our fair share of cute furry pals. Something special happens when children connect with animals. They learn so much just by observing; the gentleness of a sheep eating from your hand, the way horses stand when they’re asleep, how content a pig looks wallowing in the mud. It’s also important for children to understand how important it is to treat animals kindly, and to be shown an example of what taking proper care of animals looks like.

 

12. Arrange a hike and discover nature.

Hiking | Homeschool Field Trips

We love trails! Thankfully, there are plenty to choose from in our neck of the woods, so we’ve hiked quite a few. Taking a nice hike along your city’s most gorgeous trail is such an easy and low-cost field trip that everyone can enjoy. The kids get to explore and burn some energy, and the parents get their exercise in for the day. Everyone wins! If your trail has a welcome center, grab a brochure of the native flora and see how many you can find along the way. Pack a lunch to eat later with your group and bring plenty of water.

 

13. Visit a nature center and learn about native wildlife.

Nature Trail and Center | Homeschool Field Trips

Zoos are pretty popular, but have you ever visited a nature center? Our local nature center was originally a rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned native wildlife that couldn’t be released back into the wild due to the severity of their injuries. We’ve seen a variety of owls, eagles, cougars, aquatic animals, and more. These beautiful creatures are now used to teach children (and adults!) the significance of each species and the role they play in our big world. It’s a beautiful depiction of the interdependent relationship between humans and animals.

 

14. Attend seasonal events together and bond.

Solar Eclipse | Homeschool Field Trip

Arrange to meet up and fellowship at your local fall festival, Thanksgiving parade, Christmas lights show, spring break carnival, Independence Day celebration, etc. In fact, we’ve actually run into a few of our homeschool friends at these events and arranged to enjoy the experience together. Pictured above is our children at the 2017 solar eclipse experience hosted by our local museum. It was our very first field trip of the school year and was very much impromptu. The museum provided education pamphlets, maps, telescopes, and delicious food trucks. How wonderful was it for us to experience this rare occasion with our homeschool friends? It’s an event we can all remember and talk about for years to come.

 

15. Tour your state capital or local government building and meet some of the nation’s leaders.

State Capital | Homeschool Field Trip

Does your state have a Homeschool Day at the Capitol event? If so, arrange a field trip with your homeschool buddies and go! Homeschool Day at the Capitol is when homeschoolers across the state gather to meet and thank legislators. It’s a full day of learning and activities from classes to tours and fellowship with other homeschoolers in your state. But you don’t have to wait for this annual event to schedule a field trip, most capital buildings are open to the public during normal business hours. Pictured above is our trip to the nation’s capital, where we toured the grounds of the Capitol Building and learned its purpose and history.

 

16. Organize a Field Day and work on sportsmanship and team-building skills.

Field Day | Homeschool Field Trips

Field day is probably our most popular annual homeschool event. We find a nice park to host it, ensure proper booking, and then meet and coordinate the events of the day. We accommodate all age groups from preschool through high school, and it’s typically an all morning and afternoon affair, so definitely more like a day trip. Best of all, our children get to bond with their friends while practicing important skills like sportsmanship and team-building.

 

17. Tour your local library and learn how to search for books on your favorite topics.

Library Tour | Homeschool Field Trips

Do you visit the library often? A guided tour might be just the thing to help your children become more familiar with the space, services, and resources the library has to offer. Guided tours offer lessons on how to search for books by author, keyword, or topic, how to identify and search for call numbers, how to request a book through Inter-library loan, and how to access ebooks, periodicals, etc. Our tour even included an interactive call number search game, where students were given a sheet of paper with a list of books that they had to search for and check-off as they found them. It was so much fun!

 

18. Visit a science museum and take a STEAM class.

STEM Class | Homeschool Field Trips

Science museums have much to offer, but did you know some of them also offer extracurricular classes? It’s worth looking into! Our recent trip to the Museum of Arts and Sciences included an interactive lesson on states of matter followed by a craft. The craft required students to make a piece of artwork using a liquid (melted wax), solid  (crayons), and a gas (colorful air bubbles). They also enjoyed a lesson on different habitats, which featured live animals. So, if you’re dreading teaching science lessons to your children, make it easy on yourself and gather a few friends to take advantage of low-cost classes in your area. Be sure to note your museum’s minimum student requirement to ensure you have enough participants.

 

19. Visit the planetarium and learn how to identify constellations.

Planetarium | Homeschool Field Trips

Turns out our local science museum also has a planetarium, which is an awesome field trip idea for astronomy lovers. If you have a planetarium in your area, this is an experience you won’t want to miss. A planetarium is a large room with a dome ceiling that allows you to see what the night sky looks like. It also serves as a theater that presents educational shows right inside the dome. You’ll have to recline for this experience! We couldn’t take pictures while inside the planetarium, so pictured above is the Science on a Sphere exhibit right outside the entrance. Inside the planetarium, we learned how to identify planets and constellations in the night sky. We also watched a 3-D presentation exploring galaxies.

 

20. Visit your local ranch and learn how to make corn flour.

Ranch Corn Flour | Homeschool Field Trips

Not only did we learn how to make corn flour by hand at our local ranch, but we also got to take a dive into the corn bin, among other things. Maybe your local ranch doesn’t offer this service, but I’m sure there are other great services they might offer, like seasonal field trips or guided tours. One seasonal field trip we took advantage of at our ranch was the guided program, Pilgrim to Pioneer Days, which taught the history of Thanksgiving. It included interactive lessons, a tractor wagon ride tour of the 1,500-acre farm, and access to the farm’s attractions. Prices may vary depending on the facility, but for our family of four, this trip averaged $36 for a full day’s experience.

 

21. Visit one of the tallest skyscrapers in your city and learn about its history.

Atlanta Skyscraper | Homeschool Field Trip

Our boys love architecture, especially skyscrapers. Last year, we decided to take a trip into the city and go inside one of the tallest skyscrapers of Atlanta—The Westin Peachtree Plaza, also known as the Sun Dial. Of course, we wanted to visit the tallest one, but we had to settle for the skyscraper that offered open viewing to the public. For a small fee, we rode an elevator up 72 flights of the 723-foot building, the fifth tallest in the city. We read about its history, had a 360-degree view of the Atlanta skyline, gazed through the complimentary telescopes, and pointed out famed landmarks. It was an amazing experience. Even more so through the wide eyes of children. Afterward, we ate lunch and walked the Northside trail (I told you we love trails!).

 

22. Visit your local pumpkin patch during the Fall and enjoy seasonal activities and a hayride.

Pumpkin Patch | Homeschool Field Trip

It shouldn’t be hard to find a local pumpkin patch that offers hayrides and other seasonal activities. Where we live, there’s much to choose from. The patch we like visiting offers face painting, story time, unstructured play activities, a fun hayride, and an array of different types of pumpkins available for purchase. Like most of the field trips I’ve mentioned, this was an organized field trip by our homeschool group and it was completely free!

 

23. Attend a Saturday workshop at Michaels or Home Depot and pack a lunch to eat at a nearby park afterward.

Workshop Class | Homeschool Field Trips

Did you know that Home Depot and Michaels hosts Saturday workshops for kids? If you didn’t, now you know! We used to take advantage of Lowes’ Build and Grow Kids’ workshops in the past but they’ve been discontinued. Thankfully, Home Depot hosts similar workshops where kids can learn how to make different objects out of wood. These workshops take place on scheduled Saturdays each month at participating Home Depots nationwide. Best if all? It’s FREE! And if that wasn’t awesome enough, the kids receive a free kit, apron, pin, and certificate of achievement. Michaels also hosts a $2 Kids’ Club craft project on scheduled Saturday mornings. This is a great, budget-friendly, field trip idea for your family or homeschool group.

 

24. Watch an outdoor movie hosted by your local park.

Outdoor Movie | Homeschool Field Trips

Another awesomely free field trip idea is to enjoy an outdoor movie at your local park. All you have to do is follow their social media pages to stay up-to-date on these types of events. Pictured above, we enjoyed a beautiful day at the lake that ended with an outdoor viewing of the movie, Moana. We enjoyed complimentary popcorn and hot cocoa, and we packed our own picnic. If you want to make this experience more “educational,” read or watch videos about the history and/or making of the movie. My boys loved learning how CGI movies are created. They also followed tutorials on how to draw some of the Moana characters and attempted to learn how to play “How Far I’ll Go” on the keyboard (bless my ears! Haha!).

 

25. Visit a Butterfly Garden and learn about different butterfly species.

Butterfly Garden | Homeschool Field Trips

Ever visit a butterfly garden before? There’s no time like the present to give it a go. I don’t want to assume everyone knows what a butterfly garden is, so I’ll offer a brief definition. A butterfly garden is where live butterflies are in an enclosure and you can walk through their habitat. They are also called butterfly houses and/or farms. It’s an absolutely beautiful observatory, where people can learn about the many species of butterflies and their native habitats. As you can see from the picture above, the butterflies are typically friendly and will interact with you and your children. We even fed them nectar. Most gardens are open to the public, so research your area for the nearest butterfly exhibit.

 

26. Organize a “Lunch & Lesson” and learn something new together over a tasty meal.

Lunch and Lesson | Homeschool Field Trips

Is it weird to take a field trip to someone’s home? We don’t think so! Lunch & Lesson is something my friend and I arranged this month for our children to learn Black History together. The event took place at my home, where I prepared a lesson, craft, and lunch for the kiddos. Pictured above is last week’s Lunch & Lesson. We ate hot dogs and french fries, and learned about Bessie Coleman. Since Bessie Coleman was the first black woman to earn a pilot license, we built and painted wooden airplanes while listening to Newsboys. It was awesome! If this is something your speed, you could arrange something similar and invite people over. It doesn’t have to be Black history, you could cover any subject of interest or simply get together to craft.

 

27. Go to the skating rink, burn some energy, fellowship——and perhaps learn a new skill if you’re new to skating.

Skating | Homeschool Field Trips

Our monthly skating events are not only fun, but an opportunity for my boys to hone their skating skills. In a world where “book smarts” is glorified, sometimes we forget our children also learn through developing gross motor skills. Roller skating works all parts of the body and is especially good for the heart. Like most physical activity, skating is also a great way for children to relieve stress. Our local skating rink is kind enough to open its facility to us during non-conventional hours, so long as we continue to have enough people participate. If your local skating rink doesn’t already offer something similar, you could gather enough homeschoolers and petition for it. It’s worth the group discount rate, and your children will have a place they can regularly fellowship each month.


 

That concludes my list of frugal homeschool field trips that we’ve enjoyed over the years. This list is not at all-comprehensive, but it does include the field trips I can remember off-hand—and also the ones I remembered to document on camera. If this is your first homeschool year and you’re feeling a way about not taking enough field trips, please know this wasn’t our reality our first year either. It took time for us to find a homeschool community we could feel a part of. However, not being plugged in didn’t stop us from enjoying family adventures of our own. I do hope this list inspires you to make the most of your homeschool experience.

Until next time, friends…

 

How To Make Friends In Adulthood and Keep Them

How I Make—and Keep—Friends in Adulthood

So, you’re all grown up now. Perhaps you relocated to a different state. Perhaps you’ve outgrown your childhood friends. Perhaps you’re a stay-at-home mom struggling to meet other moms. Whatever the case, building new friendships in adulthood can be a daunting challenge.

I’ve experienced all the above; I moved to a new state, I outgrew most of my friends, and I was a stay-at-home mom struggling to make connections with other moms. To ice that cake, I’m also an introvert and I homeschool my children—which made it even more challenging to find people I could relate to.

As a woman in her thirties, I’ve made many friends in my adulthood, but lacked the quality friendships I desired.

Quality Friends Memes, Quotes, and Inspiration

Let me differentiate the two. With a casual friend, we might go out to coffee and catch up every now and then, but neither of us is committed to taking the relationship to the next level.

And that’s okay!

Everyone needs friendships like these. I call them seasonal friends.

A quality friendship, however, is a friendship where both parties are committed to realizing the potential of their relationship. It goes beyond the coffee dates and birthday party invites. There’s more transparency, a stronger connection, and most importantly—mutual edification.

I’ve discovered finding a good friend is a lot like finding a mate. In fact, my friends and I jokingly referred to our new friendship phase as “dating.”

Here, I don’t just want to talk about things I’ve learned that helped me make friends as an adult, but also things I’ve found to help sustain those friendships. Of course, I’m coming from the point of view of a homeschool mom, but you’ll find these tips can apply to you regardless of your walk in life.

As a disclaimer, I don’t have a ton of close friends. In fact, there are only two people on this earth I can call a close friend. But please be assured that one good friend is all you need. After all, quality friendships take time, love, and dedication to blossom. So, let’s get to it, shall we?


15 Ways to Make—and Keep—Friends in Adulthood


1. Enjoy your singleness.

If your goal is to make quality friends in 2019, don’t just sit around your house and hope for it. Instead, take that hope to the next level. That means doing the things you love—by yourself.

You must start living!

Enjoy Your Own Company Meme, Quote, Inspiration

You don’t need a BFF to go to the movie theater and watch that movie you’ve been wanting to see. You don’t need a BFF to go eat lunch at your favorite restaurant. And you certainly don’t need a BFF to travel or take advantage of wonderful social opportunities. You never know; you might run into your future BFF at the movie theater, coffee shop, or airport.

Just enjoy your own company!

Yes, I’ve dined alone, traveled solo, and showed up to social events with just me, myself, and I. I made meaningful connections, became confident in conversing with strangers, and even met my BFF!

Fellowship is important, but learning to be content with being by ourselves is also necessary for our personal growth and development. It is where we learn the art of balance.

 

2. Practice wholeness.

I’ve learned that no one should complete me. I should be whole all by myself. In fact, when we rely on people to fill our inner void, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Why? Because people are imperfect beings.

So, how do I practice wholeness?

  • By being intentional about improving my spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health.
  • By maintaining a connection with God through prayer, meditation, and worship.
  • By allowing God to help me regulate my emotions and express them in a healthy manner.
  • By taking my thoughts captive to filter out the negativity.
  • Lastly, by developing healthier eating habits and staying active.

When I actively pursue the path of wholeness, I not only increase my chances of being an edifying friend to others, but also building quality friendships that last.

 

3. Build your confidence.

Practicing wholeness naturally increases my self-confidence, making me more attractive to quality people. Other methods I use to help build my confidence are:

  • Praying before attending events. I ask God for confidence and the courage to be myself. I also pray for the people attending the event. I pray that God gives them confidence, peace of mind, and the ability to make meaningful connections.
  • Remembering names. I try to remember the names of the people I want to build a connection with. Addressing people by their name is a small act that makes a huge impact on potential friends. If you belong to a club or group that has a social media account, don’t feel creepy about studying the faces in profile pictures to memorize their names. I’ve done it!
  • Practice small talk. Small talk isn’t my favorite. I like deep conversations. However, I’ve found that most people gravitate toward small talk, and I should become good at it if I want to make connections. And, to be honest, small talk isn’t that bad once you identify your motive. In my case, that motive is to get to know people better. Simple questions like, “Are you from this area?,” “How many years have you been living here?,” “How old are your children?” (if they have any), and “How is your week going so far?” have given me much success in opening the door to conversation.

Arrogance requires advertising. Confidence speaks for itself. Memes, Quotes, Inspiration

One thing’s for certain; when our confidence levels are high, not only are we more likely to engage in conversation, but we’re less likely to resort to “advertising” ourselves in an attempt to gain friendship. You know? When we try to sound as interesting as possible, but it just comes off as braggadocious? You can never go wrong with asking the questions and allowing a person to tell you about themselves. Most people love talking about themselves!

 

4. Join something. Anything!

Well, maybe not anything. Make sure it’s something you have a genuine interest for. Join a book club, a mom group, an art club, or volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about.

Now, this is where I lose some people.

I know joining a group can seem intimidating. But making quality friends will require getting out of your comfort zone.

I’ve learned I’m never going to meet anyone if I don’t attend the fieldtrips, playdates, and classes hosted by my homeschool group or co-op. I’m not talking about an occasional thing, but actively attending most of the events and raising a hand to volunteer. This practice ensured I saw the same faces regularly, which provided more opportunities to develop quality relationships.

There was a time when I didn’t attend events because I felt “too awkward.” I was always off somewhere by myself and it seemed everyone else was hitting it off, except me. If this is you, please stay in the game! Don’t let these experiences keep you home. Push through the tough, awkward moments.

The more I became comfortable with being uncomfortable, the greater my confidence grew. Eventually, those awkward moments passed, and I found myself getting to know new people.

 

5. Don’t always trust your first impression.

Sometimes first impressions are accurate, but they can also be wrong. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say I’ve unfairly written people off based on first impressions. But, one day, a thought came to mind in the case of negative perceptions:

Instead of being so committed to being “right” about someone, start hoping that you’re wrong. 

Negative Perceptions About People. Quotes, Memes, Inspiration

After all, perception is simply an interpretation, and your interpretation of a person could be wrong. Love always assumes the best of others.

Here’s the thing; speaking from a mom point of view, I’ve learned I was going to see moms at their worst. Not only do most of the moms in my homeschool group have multiple children, but many of them work side businesses, babysit and homeschool other people’s children, and are active foster parents and volunteers. Sometimes, these moms get frustrated and lose their ever-loving mind. So, extending grace toward others is definitely a prerequisite to building friendships in my case.

I admit, I’ve ended up building connections with people I wasn’t too fond of at first. I’ve made sweeping generalizations about their character and God humbled me by showing me I was wrong. I simply judged them based on a moment. These days, I pay more attention to patterns rather than “moments.” Studying a person’s patterns will always offer a more accurate character assessment.

 

6. Ask for them digits.

Am I telling my age with that phrase? Who remembers when we used to say this in the ‘90s? What I mean is, don’t forget to ask your potential friend to exchange phone numbers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hit it off with someone and left an event with absolutely no way to contact them.

It sucks.

I remember when I met one of my dearest friends at a homeschool event. We were chatting it up and hitting it off, but neither of us thought to exchange numbers. At the tail-end of our conversation, her husband actually interjected and suggested we exchanged contact info to keep in touch. We’re such good friends now, but every now and then I think of how we would’ve just left that event with no way of keeping in touch.

I know it may seem awkward in this day and age, but requesting contact info is a bold step worth taking—and a great habit to develop. It shows that you find a person interesting and want the opportunity to get to know them more. A great first impression, if you ask me.

 

7. Be authentic—flaws and all.

The first thing most of us are tempted to do when first meeting someone is to make ourselves look as polished, intelligent, and interesting as humanly possible. After all, we’re advertising ourselves to potential friends. However, in my experience, I’ve found the best way to connect with someone is to be authentic—to allow people to see my imperfections.

So, rather than pretend, I admit to people right away that I’m nervous and apologize for my awkwardness. This usually breaks the ice and even evokes a few confessions of their own. I’ve made more connections this way than I ever made rambling on about my life-story and accomplishments.

I get it. We want to put on our best face to impress people. But putting on a good front will only result in your appearing pretentious and untrustworthy. Even more? We’re tempted to judge people for not being as good at “faking it” as we are. Just be real and free yourself from the fear of judgment. Otherwise, you’ll have to put on this persona every time you’re around this person—which is tiring!

I’ve learned to accept my flaws, which gave me the ability to accept the character flaws of others. It’s not always easy, but it’s necessary for building and maintaining quality friendships.

Accept Your Own Flaws. Quotes, Memes, Inspiration

 

8. Stay true to yourself.

This may sound similar to my last point, but I want to emphasize the importance of being yourself. Can I say it louder for the people in the back? Furthermore, this point speaks more on maintaining a friendship, while my last point speaks more on first impressions.

Sometimes when we get into new relationships, we tend to slowly mold ourselves into what we think the other person wants. Let me tell you, friendships like this are draining and almost never last because that act is difficult to keep up with.

For instance, I’m what many consider a girly girl. I like to paint my nails, wear makeup, dress up, and say “awe.”  But when I used to “date” potential friends, I’d forgo any evidence of who I truly was. I thought my love for playing dress up would be a complete turn-off. I feared they’d see me as vain and shallow, and I knew I was so much more than what I chose to wear for the day. Those friendships didn’t work out. But you know what did work out? The friendships where I remained true to myself.

 

9. Redefine “friendship.”

In grade school, and maybe even college, friendship meant hanging out with your bestie every single day and doing everything together. Perhaps you’ve even spent hours talking on the phone. At least I know I did.

As a thirty-something-year-old married woman with small children, having this type of relationship with another human being is just impossible. I had to redefine the way I’ve known friendship and let go of those expectations formed in my adolescence.

For me, redefining friendship meant knowing most of our encounters will involve facilitating playdates, exceeding small talk, texting more than calling, seeing each other’s homes in less than stellar conditions, and having each other’s back in the case of an emergency.

It also meant establishing boundaries.

I love my friends, but I don’t want to desire their company over that of my own husband and children. But that’s what often happens when we don’t define friendship and put it in its place.

 

10. Have a disagreement.

Not on purpose. What I truly mean is to allow yourself to have a disagreement. Do not fear a differing of opinion. In fact, disagreements make for healthy relationships. You won’t always agree with each other. And if you suddenly find yourself disagreeing that doesn’t mean the friendship won’t work out.

Relax.

Disagreements are bound to happen the more time you spend with someone. This is especially true in new relationships because boundaries are still being drawn and are bound to be overstepped a time or two. How people handle disagreements is very telling of their true personality, so pay attention!

How People Handle Disagreements. Quotes, Memes, and Inspiration

What’s great about these types of hiccups in a friendship is that we can let our guard down (or run!) once we’ve seen what’s on the other side of that smile.

 

11. Take it easy.

Having a new friend can be exciting, but please take it easy at the beginning of the relationship. Don’t expect this person to be your everything. Like you, they have a life to live. It’s not realistic to expect them to meet you for lattes every day and go shopping every weekend. I know you want to get to know them, but you cannot microwave a friendship. It will take time and dedication to build companionship, transparency, and trust.

My biggest mistake was revealing too much about myself too soon in order to move the friendship along. I soon learned that being transparent while maintaining my mystery is an art. If you hang out every day and reveal every detail of your life within the first few weeks of the friendship, what is there to look forward to in the years to come?

 

12. Make your motives plain.

Most people will lose sleep trying to decipher the motives of others. Make it easy for your new pal and tell them straight away what your intentions are. It’s okay to have motives, but you should let the other person in on them. If your motive is to become good friends, express that to them. Let them know you’ve been on the hunt for quality friendships and you’re in the “dating” phase.

During the new phase of one of my friendships, I let my friend know that I’m making more of an effort to reach out to people to form friendships. Lucky for me, she was in that phase of her life, too. So, it worked out for both of us. No guessing. No losing sleep. Just being upfront right at the beginning by saying, “Hey, I think we’re a match!”

As another example, I once told a friend of mine that I wanted to make sure my children built friendships with people who didn’t look like them. That was my motive. I wanted more diverse friendships for myself and my children. She also happens to be an outstanding homeschool mom and human being that I can learn from. That is why I chose to build a relationship with her and that’s okay.

And as fate would have it, our motives were pretty similar. We connected for the sake of our children, but it turned out that we actually liked each other as people. Go figure!

So, don’t be afraid to say: “Hey, our children seem to be hitting it off, would you mind if we connected more?” or “Wow, your children seem to be thriving, would you mind connecting more? I’d love to learn about your approach to child-rearing.” If your motives are pure, sharing them should never be an issue.

 

13. Get uncomfortable.

We tend to gravitate toward people we feel comfortable with—people who are like us. But lately, I’ve been challenged to get uncomfortable. That is, build connections with people unlike myself. I’m not merely talking about physical appearance, but also personality, culture, and lifestyle-wise.

Step Outside the Box Memes, Quotes, and Inspiration

Why is building a relationship with people different from you important? Because it edifies you.

I’m so amazed at how much I’ve learned through my unlikely friendships—how much I’ve grown as a person. I’ve connected with people that couldn’t be any more different, but we’ve discovered our core values are the same.

Connecting with people we’re comfortable with is great, but I encourage you to also connect with people you can learn from. If you’re having difficulty managing your homeschool, connect with someone who does it well. If you’re trying to improve your financial stewardship, connect with someone who is excellent at it. If you want to explore outside your culture, connect with someone who has a rich culture.

These relationships may not always feel the most “comfortable” at first, but they will certainly enrich your life.

 

14. Pay attention to how they treat others.

This one may help you dodge a bullet.

Do they gossip about people often?

You might be next.

Do they put all the blame for the failure of their past friendships on other people and take zero responsibility?

You might be next.

Do they ditch their current friends to hang out with you?

You might be next.

Notice a pattern here? How a person treats their friends is a foreshadow of where your relationship is going with them. Take heed.

 

15. Become the friend you desire.

Have you ever been in one of those frustrated, one-sided relationships where you’re the only one committed to “making time?” There’s no longevity in those types of friendships. Not only have I been that friend who never made time, but I’ve also been on the receiving end.

We’re all “busy.” That’s why maintaining our commitment to making time for others shows we value their friendship.  There must be some sort of sacrifice and it must be reciprocal. I’m not talking about putting off important things, but rather putting off things that “can wait” to grab coffee with that friend or attend that playdate.

Become the Friend You Desire. Meme, Quotes, Inspiration

Everyone has heard the adage: “treat others the way you want to be treated.” This, in my opinion, is the surefire way to grow in consideration, compassion, and humility toward others. If you want a good friend, you must first be one. If you expect others to accept your flaws, you must do the same for them. Extend grace where grace is needed.


 

The key word here is “maintenance.” Most of us are good at making connections but are terrible at putting in the work to maintain those connections. With that being said, these are practices I must work at regularly. They are also practices I know work! Even if you have great friendships, we all need a reminder now and then to make more of an effort to strengthen our bond with others.

If you’re in the same boat I was in, take courage. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for nine years and it took me a while to learn these things. It’s only been the past three years that I could finally call someone a friend. What I found essential is to remember to change my mindset. When I had this notion that there were no good people out there, I was making a rather haughty assumption that I was the only good human being left on the planet.

Which wasn’t true.

Yes, there were people out there who used, backstabbed, and abandoned me. But, going through the fire refined me and increased my discernment to recognize when I was face-to-face with a genuine person. It also taught me that I was no angel, either, and could use a few lessons on being a good friend myself.

Well, I hope this post was helpful. At the end of the day, that’s all I’m aiming to do. Feel free to share your wealth of knowledge about how you’ve made and maintained friendships in your adult years.

Until next time, friends…

SAHM? How to Not Be Miserable.

10 Ways Not to Be Miserable as a Stay-at-Home Mom

Welcome to the New Year!

Okay, so being a stay-at-home mom is no joke. Can we all raise our hand and agree?

I know, I know—we chose this lot in life. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get challenging. And it certainly doesn’t mean we can’t acknowledge it.

So, here I am acknowledging it.

Miserable is a harsh word, but it makes for a great title. I am not miserable. But I do acknowledge that some stay-at-home moms are—and that I, too, have experienced those challenging moments.

I’m not talking about clinical depression or any mental disorder that requires medical attention. I’m talking about feelings of unhappiness, discomfort, and/or inadequacy.

Perhaps I can be of some help. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for nine years to two boys, ages 5 and 9. On top of that, I also homeschool, run a business, volunteer, the list goes on.

I’ve experienced a season where I hardly saw my husband due to his job, where I had to care for a newborn and a toddler while battling the baby blues, where I didn’t live close to family or friends, and where I felt isolated, anxious, and alone. And that is just naming a few!

I may not understand exactly what you’re going through, but I have an idea. Won’t you stick around and read what I’ve learned during those seasons?

Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or an old faithful reader of my blog, I know that at least one of these points will speak to you.

Note: I don’t mean to assume you’re a Believer, I can only write from my personal perspective. If you’re not a Believer and want to be, please refer to the bottom of this post.

So, without further ado, on with the blog:

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



10 Ways Not to Be Miserable as a Stay-at-Home Mom

 

 

1. Know Your Purpose.

Knowing your purpose is directly linked to knowing who you are. When you know who you are and what you’re doing here, you increase your sense of self-worth and wellbeing. This is essential because some negative opinions about stay-at-home moms can really hurt. But when we know who we are, and understand our purpose, those unsolicited opinions roll off our backs easier.

You are not “just a mom.”

You are not “lazy.”

You are not “outdated.”

You heard the call and you answered!

Many stay-at-home moms are called to this particular ministry to inspire people only THEY can inspire. And yes, I said “ministry.” In whatever we do, whether it’s working a corporate job or being a stay-at-home-mom, our primary focus should be to glorify God, love others, and spread the good news wherever we are.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart

There are stay-at-home moms in your city that don’t know Christ or who’ve fallen away from the faith—women only YOU can reach. This is why we shouldn’t only associate with people “like us.” I’ve made some of the best connections with people I’d never expect to have anything in common with.

So, stay on course and realize this lifestyle you chose has more significance than you think.

Your children are the future and they need YOU.

The stay-at-home mom community needs YOU.

And God is working through YOU!

 

2. Know it’s Supposed to be Challenging.

Being a stay-at-home mom is not for the faint of heart. You can’t be ready to quit at the first sign of adversity. If it’s truly a calling then, as with all callings, you can expect to face challenges. Challenges aren’t meant to break you, but to edify, improve character, and increase faith. Therefore, expect:

Frustration.

Tears.

Guilt.

The desire to quit.

Feeling like it’s not worth the trouble.

When these things happen, it can be tough. But remember, we aren’t operating in our own strength, but God’s. When we expect challenges, we eliminate making permanent decisions based on temporary emotions.

When we expect challenges... Quote, Meme, Inspiration

Even more? When we expect challenges, our first inclination will not be to get “sad” when they appear, but to armor up and fight!

 

3. Establish Your Village.

We’ve all heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” No truer words have ever been spoken. We weren’t meant to take on the responsibility of childrearing on our own. It’s not healthy for us or our children. Children need to be exposed to varying personalities, perspectives, and environments to help them become well-rounded adults.

We need companionship and support to help edify us.

It wasn’t always this way but, these days, I’m fortunate enough to have the support of my family, friends, and community. But if you don’t live close to family or friends, sign your kids up for local classes and activities. The public library is a great place to start if you want to know what resources and events your city has to offer. They usually have pamphlets at their front desk, or you can ask a knowledgable librarian. Many events I’ve attended were not advertised online so a Google search may not be your best bet.

And dare I say, join a mom group?

I know, I know. It’s HARD!

You tried, and it didn’t work.

Or, you simply just don’t want to do it.

But hear me out, you will never find the perfect group of women. You, yourself, are not perfect. There will always be some women in that group you can’t stand the sight of. But I promise you, if you stick with it, you can establish healthy friendships. But, you must be determined.

Most women give up too easily. I, myself, gave up easily at one point. But by God’s grace, I was able to connect with other women. And if this introverted, socially awkward black woman can make friends in a 99% white support group in the Confederate South, you can do it, too.

 

3. Create an Income Stream.

Contributing to the household income can be a satisfying feeling. But you don’t have to leave your home to do it. Today, streaming additional income from home has never been more attainable. All you need is a skill you’ve honed and a computer with internet access.

Proverbs 18:16 reminds us that our gift will make room for us!

A mans gift. Proverbs 18:16

I know plenty of moms who’ve put their gifts to use to earn income. They have virtual shops where they sell one-of-a-kind crochet designs. They host webinars that help people manage their finances. They write ebooks and author resources. The possibilities are endless!

I, myself, create educational resources for teachers and parents around the globe, and it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Earning money is just a bonus!

 

4. Make a Difference.

Some of the happiest moms I know are those who serve others. Ever hear the adage “the quickest way to get over your own problems is to help someone else with theirs?” Research shows making a positive difference in the lives of others increases our sense of self-worth and combats anxiety and depression.

I’ll be the first to raise my hand and attest to that. One of the reasons I continue to blog and create resources is because of the emails, DMs, and comments I receive from people who’ve felt I’ve positively impacted their lives in some way. Reading the words “thank you” and “this is just what I needed” never gets old for me!

Getting involved in your community is another way to make a difference. Find a cause you’re passionate about and go for it! That’s where it’s helpful to be a part of a mom group or club. When you belong to a community, it’s easier to be presented with opportunities to serve.

And I want to note that, above all else, you’re making a positive impact on the lives of your children when you serve your family. After all, your family should be your first ministry.

 

5. Step into Your Role.

You are the manager of your home. Yet, many moms stray from the true definition of “manager.”

But what does a manager do?

The purpose of a manager is to set goals, decide what needs to be done to achieve those goals, and delegate responsibilities to ensure those goals are met. You were not meant to do everything alone.

I’ll repeat it louder for the ones in the back:

YOU were not meant to do everything ALONE! 

Don’t you dare do all the housework if you have children of age who are capable of doing chores.

Don’t you dare not consider asking your husband to contribute to keeping the house in order.

Of course, everyone’s situation is different. Perhaps you have an infant or a husband that’s deployed. Perhaps your village is non-existent. But if you can help it, never do everything by yourself. Even children as young as three-years-old can pick up after themselves and wipe down a table using a non-toxic cleaning spray.

And there’s no shame in hiring help if you can afford to. Hire someone to do your lawn care, shampoo your carpets, or deep clean your bathrooms every week. I’m not ballin’ like that at the moment, but if you are, go for it! We must stop shaming moms who hire help and we must stop making overworked, worn-out moms the face of motherhood.

 

6. Count Your Wins.

Let’s forget about how many times we’ve failed. Instead, let’s remember to count our victories. One method that helped me in the past was taking inventory on a regular basis. Every so often, I would ask myself what I did right and reflect on those things. When I started this exercise, it suddenly occurred to me how much I focused on my failures and how rarely I thought about my wins.

Consider this verse:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

Whatever is true...Philippians 4:8

Let’s emphasize, “If anything is excellent or praiseworthy.” You can’t be doing it all wrong. There has got to be something you’re excellent at and is deserving of praise.

When we reflect on our failures, we start identifying ourselves as failures. Which is simply not true. Romans 8:37 tells us we are more than conquerors! Furthermore, we must remember we are what we think. For “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

 

7. Stop Comparing.

Whether you think you’re better or worse than the next mom, comparison is a joy stealer! I know it’s tempting, but please resist the urge.

Most people talk about comparing yourself to others in the form of feeling “less than.” I want to talk about the other type of comparison. It’s easy to see why feeling inferior to another mom isn’t healthy, but I would venture to say that feeling superior to other moms isn’t healthy either.

Consider this:

Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you (Romans 12:3).

We must remember not to mistake arrogance with confidence. Arrogant moms tend to have a revolving door of friends because they depend on putting others down to feel better about themselves. But confidence doesn’t depend on the inferiority of other people.

Don’t be that mom!

I love this verse:

Don’t compare yourself with others. Just look at your own work to see if you have done anything to be proud of (Galatians 6:4). 

It’s easier said than done. But it’s not impossible. What has really helped me to stop comparing myself to others was to live out Galatians 6:4 and focus on my own endeavors. Do you see why I recommended seeking volunteer opportunities and establishing healthy hobbies and friendships? You’ve got to be so busy enjoying an edifying life that you don’t have time to reflect on what the next mom is doing.

 

8. Monitor Your Self-Talk.

Self-esteem is measured by the way we think and feel about ourselves. I used to think of myself as a confident person, but I became amazed at the things I told myself when I wasn’t paying attention. A devotional by Barb Roose, titled Beautiful Already, was what inspired me to REALLY listen to the lies I told myself about myself.

Even today, I must still take heed and pay attention, lest I subconsciously fall into negative thought-patterns.

Why is this important?

Because when we don’t feel good about ourselves, we project those insecurities onto others—including our own children!

So watch phrases like:

I’m not good enough.

Nobody likes me. 

I’m failing at motherhood.

My kids aren’t like those kids.

Remember when I said you are what you think? Whatever you meditate on becomes your reality. Of course, we must be real with ourselves if we need to improve in certain areas, but constantly putting ourselves down isn’t doing us any favors.

You are what you think. Inspiration, Quotes, Memes

9. Practice Self-Care.

I’m going to repeat this airline cliché:

Put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you assist others.

Self-care means different things to different people. For me, it means ensuring I’m pouring enough into myself so that I have plenty left over to pour into others.

Can I be real? I went an entire week without practicing the self-care habits I normally do. I was a complete mess! There are many excuses women use as to why we can’t put themselves first. But the reality is, we make time for what’s important. The question is:

Why don’t we consider ourselves important enough to make time for? 

Exercise.

Quiet time.

Fellowship.

Hobbies.

These things are not luxuries. They’ve been proven time and again to improve our quality of life. They are necessary. I know moms who get up at the crack of dawn just to ensure they have time to exercise, meditate, and work on their hobbies. It’s that important to them. I, myself, know that I’m a better person when I practice self-care.

I know it’s difficult to develop these habits, but all you need is to take one step at a time. Can you commit to seven minutes a day of physical activity? Ten minutes a day to do something you enjoy? One day a month to meet with a friend? Wake up just ten minutes earlier to pray and meditate?

It all starts small! You can increase over time.

Here’s a seven-minute workout routine I like to do when I don’t have much time. Here’s my favorite twenty-minute HIIT workout at the moment.

 

10. Appreciate Your Season.

I can say this, and still, most of us will not feel the truth of this statement until after the fact—savor the moment.

If you don’t stop and smell the roses in the spring, you’ll regret it and long for them in the winter.

Life is full of seasons. As a stay-at-home mom, I’ve gone through many of them.

When I was a nursing mom, I desperately wanted my body back. When I was a new mom, I desperately wanted my baby to sleep through the night.  I think you can see where I’m going with this.

I remember talking with a fellow homeschool mom at the local skating rink. After exchanging a few comical mom stories, she stared into the distance and said:

“If my kids went back to being small like yours, I would play with them more. Take long walks and crunch the leaves with them. I would steal more kisses, more hugs. I spent their childhood waiting for them to get older, be more independent. Now that they are, I realize they are never going to be small again.”

Wow! I absolutely loved every word she said! You will NEVER regret spending more time with your children. How fortunate are we that we get to spend even more time with our children than the average American mom?


I want to sign off by saying, your feelings are valid! This post is not meant to guilt-trip or condemn, but to offer a bit of advice that has helped me over the years.

Of course, I am not an expert. I don’t know everything. All I know is that being a stay-at-home mom is taxing. But what greater purpose to labor for than for the wellbeing of our family!

Until next time, friend…



Want to change your life and become a Believer of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? Say this prayer with faith and conviction, and then find a fellow Believer who can point you in the right direction.

Sinners Prayer for Salvation.

Did you just give your life to Christ? Email me and tell me about it!

 

 

Looking for some FREE resources for your little one? Check out Nike Anderson’s Classroom and follow me there to be the first to know when I upload a new freebie!

Nike Anderson's Classroom Free & Affordable Educational Resources

 

 

Big Homeschool Mistake

Homeschool Burnout | One Mistake I Didn’t Know I Was Making

Free Yourself

Here’s my account of our third homeschool year. As of date, we’re approaching the second semester of our fourth year as a homeschool family. I wrote these sentiments months ago when I was in the thick of my feelings and a light bulb went off. Today, I’m finally posting what has been lying dormant in my Word documents since April 2018.

I share these real mom moments in hope that it can help free some of you from the unnecessary burden you’ve placed on yourself to raise the perfect homeschool prodigy. For some of us, this burden stems from the need to prove to outsiders that our children are meeting the mark. Don’t allow yourself to enter into the New Year still burdened and carrying the weight of everyone else’s expectations for your child.

Feeling Inadequate

I was one of those anxious moms, so to speak. I just sort of lived with it and attributed it to the stresses of homeschool. After all, stress is normal.

Or should it be?

I didn’t jump out of bed eager to start the day. I found myself tired even after a full night’s rest. I was constantly worried about my children’s progress. If they were on target with their peers—if they measured up.

If I measured up as a home educator.

Homeschool Quotes by Nike Anderson

I teeter-tottered with the idea of “traditional school,” thinking to myself perhaps my boys would be better off. After all, who was I to think that I could supply all their educational needs? This was the weight of other people’s words that I carried for a long time.

Abandoning My Homeschool Room

This year, I’ve noticed we’ve been gravitating toward a more relaxed learning environment. The whiteboard in our classroom has not met the stroke of an Expo marker in months. Our workbox drawers have not been pulled open in months. My boys have not sat at their desks in months. I have not stood at the top of the class teaching lessons in months. In fact, I kept telling my husband, “One day we’re going to go back into that classroom and actually use it.”

One day.

I felt guilty. Like I’ve somehow failed as a homeschool teacher. I feared my boys would never learn how to sit still in the classroom. I feared they’d never learn how to raise their hand and wait to be called on to speak. And even though they were still learning, I feared I wasn’t teaching enough.

Doing enough.

Yet, I was exhausted—burned all the way out. Some of the exhaustion stemmed from the war going on in my thoughts.

Mental exhaustion.

Some of the exhaustion stemmed from doing the absolute most.

Physical exhaustion.

Homeschool Quotes by Nike Anderson

I grew tired of force-feeding information to my children. Things that held very little value to them. Things they’d learn just enough to ace a test and then forget the next month. It all felt counterproductive. We weren’t having fun anymore. They went from “YAY, school!!!!!” to “Oh no! It’s a school day?”

They Hated School

I could laugh every time I think about my second-grader “spacing out” while I’m teaching him a new concept. His little eyes just glazed over with a blank stare. His default nod to convince me he’s paying attention. His sigh of relief when I’m finished explaining everything (I tend to be long-winded, haha).

Laughter escapes me whenever I think of my preschooler actually running from me whenever I pulled out his reading curriculum. All the excuses he’d make, like, “I’ve got to draw some pictures, first.” He was the one who initiated his reading journey, yet I sucked ALL the fun out of it by using a traditional teaching approach unsuitable for his learning style. The daily battles to get him to “do his school work” put a strain on our relationship. I’d say things like, “You’re the one who wanted to learn to read.” Yea, I’m sure this is a great way to ensure he shares his interests with me in the future.

My “Aha” Moment

A few months ago, I shared Three Things It Takes to Homeschool. But there was a piece missing; something only revealed to me very recently, after watching a video by Shelly Sangrey.

In that video, Shelly, a homeschool veteran, said something like this, “If you’re still holding onto the standards of public education, you’re missing out on the freedom homeschool has to offer.” The freedom of not being bound by age, grade-levels, and “what your child should know” propaganda. The freedom of not being bound by one teaching method that caters to one learning style. The freedom of not being bound by a classroom. Chairs. Desks. Whiteboards. These things work for some people. But for our family, they just don’t.

Homeschool quotes by Shelly Sangrey

So, if I were to add a fourth point to the post Three Things It Takes to Homeschool, I’d say unschool yourself.

That was my mistake. I was still bound by traditional education and all the stress that came with it. The emphasis on performance and looking good on paper over quality learning.

Unschooling Myself 

I’ve realized that, while we’re concluding our third year of homeschool, I’ve never officially “unschooled” myself. Each time I tried to break away from the traditional model of education, I found myself being lured back in, fixating on grade-levels, assessments, and teacher’s manuals. Why? Because that’s all I knew, and that structure worked for me as an “A” student growing up.

But it doesn’t work for my boys.

What is unschooling exactly? This quote by the late George Bernard Shaw sums it up nicely:

“What we want to see is the child in pursuit of knowledge, not knowledge in pursuit of the child.”

Child in Pursuit of Knowledge by George Bernard Shaw

Slowly, my new motto became, “if education isn’t organic, I want no part of it.” Each of my children have subjects they gravitate to. They burst at the seams with questions about all kinds of things, and I miss teaching moments because I’m busy trying to get them to remember the difference between mass and matter.

My boys retained more information about random questions they’ve asked during fifteen-minute car rides than information they’ve studied for two to three weeks. They don’t mind spending an hour listening to me read a book about architecture because that’s what they’re into. But it’s a struggle getting them to follow along on a book about medieval history.

Revisiting the Root of Education

I get it. There are just some things that children should know and learning won’t always be “fun.” But the heart of education comes from the Latin word “educare” which means “to draw out” and “lead”—yet, I spent more time putting information “into” my children rather than encouraging them to discover learning for themselves.

And, truthfully, children don’t need help learning. They’re natural learners. But they do need guidance; someone to help them develop their ideas and concepts, answer pressing questions, provide the right resources, and demonstrate the lifestyle of learning.

So, instead of “doing school” or “going to school,” we’ve made a point to ask God how to help our children learn to live intentionally with vision and purpose. If we do this, they’ll always seek the knowledge they need to pursue that calling. In that, we can help them develop the habit of “being in pursuit of knowledge.”

Until next time, friends…

Tag, You’re It!

What would you say was your biggest homeschool mistake? Write a comment below!