Archive for the ‘Homeschool Advice’ Category

When You Doubt Yourself

When You Doubt Yourself

The next time you ask yourself: “Are my kids learning anything? Am I failing them?” read these words of wisdom by Homeschool Alliance coach, Stephanie Elms:

Learning and growing is a process that happens over the long term. And by design, it looks messy and uncertain when you are in the middle of it. Because we can’t see the future to understand where the present fits into the bigger arc of our child’s life.

The truth is that you are going to get worried and frustrated because you can’t know for sure that things are working. You will become convinced that you have truly screwed things up.

But this is all a natural part of the process and is actually where the magic happens. Because this is when you start noticing what you and your kids need. As long as you resist the urge for the “quick fix” and instead sit with those feelings, they can provide the valuable insight you need going forward.

The problem is that most of us see that worry and frustration as a sign that we are “doing it wrong.” This leads us to putting too much pressure on ourselves and then, of course, our kids.

So yes, be conscious of those niggling worries. But don’t act on them right away. Examine where they are coming from:

  • A place of fear that you are screwing up?
  • Or a sense that it is something that your kids would benefit from?

Observe your kids. Doing so might provide reassurance that they are, in fact, doing just fine. Or it might validate your feeling that something additional is needed.

In that case, resist the urge to immediately jump in and create “lessons” to fix what you are worried about. Instead, simply set the intention that you want to bring more of that into your lives and see what shows up. You have time. As a friend of mine likes to say:

“There are no educational emergencies.”

And here is a secret. You will miss things. Things will be dropped. There will be gaps. You will have regrets. And you will wish you had done “more” or done things differently. And that is okay. Honest.

The beauty is that the process, as messy and uncertain as it is, does work out the way that it needs to and in ways that we can’t predict. Our main challenge is to trust the process and hang on for the ride. And what a wonderful ride it is!

Stephanie Elms has homeschooled her two boys for ten+ years and is a coach for Brave Writer’s The Homeschool Alliance. She blogs at Throwing Marshmallows.

The Homeschool Alliance

Transitioning from Homeschool to Public High School

Transitioning from Homeschool to High School

We’ve decided to send our homeschooled teen to public high school. Help!

Enjoy the transition if you can. Buy football tickets and go to games this fall. Meet the teachers. Make sure you attend back to school night. Test the lockers and make sure your teen knows how to open and close them, lock and unlock them before school starts. Get new clothes or shoes. Focus on the adventure of school, not on what wasn’t learned at home.

Don’t feel you have to cram. Freshman English will teach the essay again to everyone. Let your child look forward to school and be confident that he or she has been well educated at home. If there are struggles, get help then.

My daughter struggled mightily with algebra at the local high school. I met with the instructor and he gave me a plan to help her and she implemented the plan and wound up catching up in a semester and sailed through math the rest of the year.

Jacob was behind in band (saxophone) and same thing: once he was in that environment, he caught up because he was in that environment and wanted to.

School exerts a kind of pressure that can be healthy when your kids aren’t burned out and have not been in the system.

On the flip side, I thought Jacob was not a strong writer like his sister and brother had been. I put him in regular English and was called into the school to move him into Honor’s English. I was floored. They told me he was advanced. I didn’t know.

So try not to pre-judge the experience.

Good luck and enjoy!

Memories from a Good Public School

The Next Time You Feel Overwhelmed


by Stephanie Elms

When we feel off kilter and have a lot of things going on that are out of our control, our natural instinct is to double down on things that we feel that we can control. For many of us, that often winds up being our kids. Of course, the idea that we truly control our kids is simply an illusion, although it feels very real.

Our kids can sense this. Both our disappointment in them and our expectation that their behavior is needed to fill a need we have. Some kids react by becoming more compliant. Some by becoming more resistant. Both are natural defense mechanisms.

When we are overwhelmed, we become fixated on “what needs to be fixed” regardless of whether it makes sense or not. We worry about things like our kids’ “work ethic” or “lack of motivation” when the reality is that their work ethic and motivation are developed over the long term and have crucial developmental components to it.

Kids naturally live more “in the moment” and just don’t have the bigger picture vantage that comes with maturity and experience. The good thing is that maturity and experience develop naturally. It is not dependent on us to “make” it happen. We can trust and allow it to unfold with our guidance.

So the next time you feel overwhelmed, trust that your worry about your kids may be less about how they are truly doing in that moment and more about your own state of mind.

In these times, it is okay to let go of what you feel you have to do to “fix” things and simply focus on the reality of who your kids are.

Connect with them.

Have fun with them.

Enjoy them.

The rest will sort itself out. Honest.

Stephanie Elms has homeschooled her two boys for ten+ years and is a coach for Brave Writer’s The Homeschool Alliance. She blogs at Throwing Marshmallows.

The Homeschool Alliance

Take Away Insistence as a Tool

Take Away Insistence as a Tool

What if your child refuses to do any homeschool or writing projects?

A couple of things to consider:

  • What makes your child happy? Do that.
  • What helps her feel safe and heard? Do that.
  • What are his interests? Spend time with him there.
  • What are your interests? Spend time with those in front of your kids.

The subject areas can feel unrelated to real life and learning for kids at home. The more we insist they “do what they should” (even the fun stuff), the more they simply dig in their heels. But when we come to the table not with lessons, but with connection, something good happens.

I know you may wonder how the 3 R’s will emerge from that soup, but they will once you re-establish trust.

Take awau insistence as a tool

For instance, in writing—use it.

  • Write on the mirror with lipstick.
  • Send messages on the phone.
  • Toss a paper airplane into the room with a special note from you.
  • Load up your child’s door with Post-it notes and little facts and sayings.
  • Sit at the table and freewrite with your kids.
  • Brainstorm all the topics together and assign one to each other.
  • Let your child tell you what to write about.

Math: Make brownies and tea and then play with Cuisinaire rods and work out multiplication tables. Play board games. Play with dice. Bake. Quilt. Skip count with a jump rope.

Take away insistence as a tool. Pretend you are not allowed to insist.

Let go of the need to get your kids to do something and start looking for opportunities to be with them in their joy, celebrating the learning that is happening right in front of you that you didn’t orchestrate.

Shared on Braveschoolers.

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Are You New to Brave Writer?

Are You New to Brave Writer?

Welcome to Brave Writer! You made it. This is where the magic happens. We’re all about:

  • exploration,
  • curiosity,
  • taking it one thing at a time,
  • not having to know what to do yet,
  • figuring it out as you go,
  • and asking for help.

There are no right answers. There are only attempts to create your own rhythm, style, and routine. We’re here to help you find what works for you!

Brave Writer is a program of interconnecting parts. You can’t mess it up.

If you’re brand new to us, though, here are some blog posts, podcasts, and resources that might help you learn more about our philosophy and practices.

Have a Paradigm Shift

Get to know our educational philosophy. It is THE most important step in implementing the Brave Writer program in your home!

Learn about the Natural Stages of Growth in Writing

Discover which stage of writing your child is in. It’s much more effective to look at how writers grow naturally than to focus on scope and sequence, grade level, ages, or the types of writing that ought to be done in some “established sequence.”

Determine Which Products You Need

Decide which Brave Writer products will work for your unique homeschooling family.

Implement the Brave Writer Lifestyle

Take Brave Writer’s natural and lifestyle-oriented approach to living language arts and incorporate it into your family life. And for a start, do our 7-Day Writing Blitz! It will give you a feel for how the Brave Writer Lifestyle might look in your home.

Practice the One Thing Principle

Start with the product or idea that piques your curiosity or inspires you or seems to meet your need. Ignore the others for now.

Join the Community

The Homeschool Alliance

The Homeschool Alliance provides coaching from Stephanie Elms and me. It’s the one-stop Internet community sandbox for home education. We’ll do it together, one month at a time, one subject or child at a time, making sure that you can see and measure your progress.

Together we will build a community that supports your risk-taking choices, that applauds your successes, and empathizes with your struggles.

Braveschoolers Facebook Group

Our Braveschoolers group offers support from fellow homeschoolers as you allow your knowledge and intuition to guide you to what you need for your particular family.

The Homeschool Alliance