Back to Homeschool, 1 of 3

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For the next three weeks, I will be blogging about going back to homeschool. Research indicates that writing goals down dramatically increases your chance of reaching them, so all of us need to spend some time planning for success.  If you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants, you go right ahead. We will not judge. However, the rest of us must organize our chaos at least a little bit.

Color-coded schedules help moms.

You are a professional. Plan accordingly. Color code your planner if you prefer.

In this first post, we will focus on looking back at this past year. First, what has worked for you? Secondly, what has not worked? Thirdly, how could you improve? Above all, did you experience burnout? Do you know how that happened? We all know our strengths and growth areas. If we do not, this is the time to sit down and spend five minutes writing down what comes to mind, under two columns called Strengths and Growth Areas. Continue reading »

iNaturalist App

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These days, I am obsessed with a new app called iNaturalist. It is free in the app store on your phone. You can take a picture of anything in the natural world and it will tell you what it is. I do not know the names of all the plants or insects in my neighborhood. If we find a turtle in our backyard, I cannot tell if it is a box turtle or any other type.

Yellow Jacket

Wasp? Bee? Yellowjacket? The app helped us identify it.

So many times, I have taken the kids on a “nature walk” but I could not help them identify much beyond Black-Eyed Susans, Queen Anne’s Lace, and oak trees. It worked when they were younger. I feel we need to learn more. Continue reading »

ARTiculations Curriculum Review

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ARTiculations is the clever name of an art curriculum put together by a Christian high school teacher with a master’s in art education, Hannah Nolt. If you want to teach your children art in a systematic way without having to prepare and plan a whole lot, ARTiculations can help.

Children doing art lesson at home

Designing their own Taj Mahals.

A recent addition to the art curriculum market, ARTiculations has five levels depending on your children’s grades. Level 1, for instance, covers 1st and 2nd grade levels. Level 5 corresponds to high school. First, you would have to decide which level you need, based on your children’s grades. Continue reading »

“Math Island” – Book Review

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Math Island is a book written by John Koller and Gillian Singler for children of all ages. It helps if they are past third grade though, in my opinion. That way, they get more of the math content. The book has two main characters, Lily and Tad, who are siblings. A host of supporting characters joins them from chapter to chapter.

Reading Math Island

Our son reading “Math Island”

Together, Lily and Tad discover – by chance – that they can travel to a magical location called Math Island. A crab named Carl functions as their guide, while other animals also help explain math concepts to the visitors. Continue reading »

Planning for the School Year

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On my week without children, because they spent this week at camp in Georgia, I decided to tackle planning the school year. Over the years, I have tried different planners and even made my own. This year, some homeschooling moms told me about a digital conference which, so far, has been worth every penny.

Trello Board for Homeschooling

My daughter’s first week of homeschooling as laid out in Trello.

One of the workshops dealt with planning your entire school year in Excel. I tried to do what she wanted us to do, but it just never seemed right. What if Lesson 46 does not get done in math one day? Well, you put it on the right side and move it to the next week. Then, you build in make up days. It just seemed too difficult.

The other thing that did not work for me was how fiddly Excel is. The presenter offered some free forms and logs, but they all got changed by the time I opened my Excel file. Then, I had to mess with cell formatting and that’s just not something I enjoy. Continue reading »

Gardening with Children

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One of the most important things you can do for your children is to help them connect with nature. We live in an era of nature deficit disorders due to technology’s influence on our lifestyles. In my own experience, I have had to be intentional about the time we spend outside.

It is easy for me to say, “Well, they are inside and reading. They are watching educational videos or building with LEGO bricks and other building toys. So, they are learning. Why go outside and deal with gnats, ticks, sunburn, and mud?”

Girl pulling weeds in garden

Our daughter helped pull many of the plants out of the garden bed.

Besides, we live five minutes from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and we get black bears in our yard. Also, coyotes, raccoons, deer, and opposum. We feel so much safer inside. Our windows are large, so we can see all these animals, plus birds and insects galore – almost like a National Geographic video right here in our backyard. It is so much safer and easier to stay inside. Continue reading »

How to Avoid Summer Slide

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Everybody needs a break, including homeschooling moms and students. While you should take a few weeks off to relax, you should also consider the perils of summer slide. Sorry for shoulding all over you, but I figured we all need a little encouragement in the right direction now and then.

Baby Turtle

Our son found a baby turtle in our backyard. We left it alone after taking a picture.

We have taken two weeks off after finishing the school year. Now, it is time to get back into a relaxed routine of educational activities like reading and practicing the violin and piano, alternating with physical activity outside, chores, and some screen time. I even make them do a bit of math and writing or spelling now and then. Not every day though. Continue reading »

The End of Another School Year

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You know you have homeschooled for more than five years when you stop making certificates for your children. Ha! This year, I have no interest in making these end-of-the-school year diplomas for my children.

American Flag

Let freedom (to homeschool) reign!

I have a folder full of them for each child from previous years and they just sit there. Nobody will ever look at them. Berean Christian School in Knoxville, our umbrella school, safely stores our cumulative files. That’s what counts.

These certificates I make at home represent a period at the end of the sentence for 2018-2019 and nothing more. The kids don’t care about them. I needed them more than the kids. Continue reading »

The Best Graduation Gifts for Homeschoolers

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Homeschoolers, like any other students, deserve only the best gifts to celebrate their graduation. Therefore, you should make it more memorable by giving the perfect present for reaching an education milestone. No idea what to choose? Read on for the best gift ideas to consider.

Shutterfly Photo Book

Shutterfly Photo Book I put together about 2017


Cash or Gift Cards

Do you know your graduate’s favorite store or restaurant? Get them a gift card for that particular store. Do you  trust your graduate’s ability to spend cash wisely? Then simply write them a check. It’s easier on you and they will have the freedom to personalize their gift according to their own desires. Everybody loves cash or gift cards. You just added to their financial freedom a bit. We all love freedom.



If you are looking for sentimental gifts for homeschooling graduates, a photobook will be the perfect option. It is a great way to remind the graduate about happy times before graduation. This is a perfect way to reminisce about fun times during one’s younger years. If you are looking for a photobook as a graduation gift, check out Continue reading »

Happy Mother’s Day!

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My first Mother’s Day with a child taller than I am makes me feel a bit wistful. Where is my baby boy? My son, age 11, is now taller than I am. When he starts talking about rocket science, I have a hard time following what he is saying.

Mother and Children at the Beach

In Florida, May 2019

My daughter is not far behind him, either. She will probably not grow as tall as he will, but she will certainly get to be taller than I am. I certainly hope so. It should not be that hard any way. I am barely five feet tall. Continue reading »