Archive for the ‘Homeschool Advice’ Category

When Should You Make a Change?

When Should You Make a Change

When watching your kid struggle is more painful than learning a new foreign-to-you strategy, you’ll change course.

When the fear of losing your intimate connection with your teen is scarier than accepting your teen’s scary interests, you’ll change course.

When swallowing the abuse hurled at you daily makes you sicker than setting boundaries and keeping them, you’ll change course.

When hiding what you actually believe is more damaging to your personal integrity than admitting your truth and losing your friends, you’ll change course.

When the way things are is too costly to your well-being than the way things could be if you blew up your life to expand your choices, you’ll change course.

When you discover that you’re not trapped and all options are on the table (even the taboo, unthinkable ones), you’ll bravely, slowly, crawling, with a whispered voice…change course.

No one changes course until the tipping point. It’s okay if the tipping point hasn’t yet tipped. Be patient. You’ll know when you know. You’ll move in the direction of your hope and release at the right time for you.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

The Homeschool Alliance

Run Into a Brick Wall with Writing?

The Brick Wall of Writing Resistance

If you’ve run into a brick wall of resistance for writing, ask yourself these questions.⠀

  • How do I react to errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar?
  • When I’m disappointed in the content, what do I say to my child?
  • Do I see writing as a requirement or a revelation?

If your answers reveal expectations that are felt by your child as pressure, it could be that you’ve made the space unsafe for writing risks.

To ensure freedom for risks, shift focus to:⠀

  • Curiosity (what does the writing reveal?)
  • Care (how can I validate what was offered?)
  • Collaboration (what help can I give to grow the writing?)

To write is to risk exposure. Be gentle, kind, and supportive.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

The Writer's Jungle Online

For Type A and Type B Homeschoolers

Type A and B homeschoolers -

PSA: For Type A home educators who wish they could relax and chill a little more but are attached to “the to do list.”

You can be as check-listy as you like in your homeschool. Truth! You don’t have to pretend to be some other uncomfortable version of yourself—that free spirit go-with-the-flow hippie type earth mama—to get to connection and natural learning. Be you! Make that checklist. Change what’s on it.

For instance, instead of 3 pages of math and 15 minutes of silent reading, list the stuff you forget to do in all your ship-shapeness. How about these?

  • Listened attentively when your child told her tale
  • Eased a child’s stress with a hug and kindness
  • Played a table top game with the children
  • Used body activities to teach a lesson
  • Celebrated a learning milestone with a treat
  • Allowed a curiosity to continue uninterrupted
  • Put messy craft materials out on a table (while gritting teeth) for exploration
  • Cleaned up after the kids without resentment

You can put ANYTHING on a calendar or a check list. You decide!

Go forth and be yourself. Expand the ways you lead, while honoring your natural temperament.

PSA: For Type B homeschoolers who wish they made better plans to prove they are being conscientious but hate calendars.

You can be as free-spirited as you like in your homeschool. It’s true! You don’t have to pretend to be some fantasy version of yourself—slick bullet journaler, daily scheduler, definer of objectives and goals for each child—to get to confidence in your children’s homeschool progress. Be you! Follow inspiration. Then plan from behind.

For free-spirits, the advance planning you do is invisible to you. Your mind and attention range over all kinds of important ideas, trivial rabbit trails, and methods you might want to explore as you go on your way. Then one moment out of the blue: an idea occurs to you to test, or a spontaneous big juicy conversation erupts, or you play with a concept like fractions all morning. The spontaneous feel of these learning excursions makes them appear “accidental” or outside what “counts” as education.

Nonsense! In fact, you must count these experiences that never made the list or calendar because your finest work shows up unguided by you!

So pull out that gorgeous, intimidating planner you had to have (but hate to use) and fill it up… with what you’ve already done. Count it all!

At the end of each day, jot down on the right date anything of value that happened:

  • Talking about cheetahs while making lunch
  • Googling how to care for American Girl doll hair
  • Copying addresses onto birthday invitations
  • The pun-fest that dad started at dinner
  • Learning how to change a lightbulb
  • Skip-counting while skipping
  • Singing memorized lyrics to a song (aka poetry memorization)

It ALL counts, even when it’s not planned in advance. Over time, your planner will tell you what you’ve accomplished after the fact rather than stressing you by asking you to prepare to do what you cannot face. Ask me how I know this!

It works! You get to be who you are in homeschool (after all, who you are is how you got here—so it must work for ya!). Let’s keep a record to prove it.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

A Gracious Space series

Homeschooling is Lonely

Homeschooling is Lonely

Lonely thoughts: am I doing it right? Doing enough? What if I fail?

Lonely days: you and your kids slogging through, no one entering your house to give you relief, no one else planning a lesson or setting up the art project or supervising PE while you take a break in the teacher’s lounge.

Lonely outings: a field trip of 5—you and your three kids—in a sea of school children and teachers, or alternatively, the only person with kids in tow while people wonder what they’re doing “out of school.”

Lonely self: wanting friends, not sure who will be your friend, wondering how to find them, make them, keep them, coordinate with them, manage the interactions between your kids and theirs, how to fit in when you don’t have the same philosophy or religion or educating style.

It’s a creeping need—at first, the joy of choosing to spend all day every day with your kids is rewarding, fulfilling, and need-meeting. Over time, the craving for adult contact and affirmation becomes profound, powerful, necessary.

The Internet helps—online conversations can tie us together and give us a place to gather—our own water cooler.

Co-ops help—offering a place for parents to chat while kids get instruction you didn’t have to prepare.

Yet it’s more than that.

Underneath the loneliness is this:
a craving to be understood, to be accepted.

Can we say our truths, our worries, our different opinions and still be accepted and known by the other homeschoolers? Can we share about our philosophy of education without it raising suspicion or creating rifts?

And what if you are not in the majority homeschooling community? What if you come from a different faith or no faith? How do you find friends then?

The hardest part of homeschooling for me was the feeling that I had to qualify to be a member of a given group. The rejection, scrutiny, and exclusion I’ve experienced while homeschooling was excruciating and not unique to me. I know homeschoolers who gave up home education because they literally had no options for community involvement.

If homeschooling is going to thrive, it has to expand and include.

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If you are a human being, your beliefs will shift over a lifetime. It’s impossible to guarantee that what you believe is true now will remain in the same configuration for the rest of your life. If you home educate, you are examining those beliefs daily (because you are studying, reading, and discussing ideas all day every day).

When we form groups around beliefs, we teach people to pretend. We say that you must deny the part of yourself that is curious or disturbed or doubts in order to retain membership in the community. That kind of group fosters vigilance to uphold a single perspective, where suspicion becomes a mode of operation rather than support and kindness. Suddenly the strictures of the group become more important than building supportive relationships around home education.

The best homeschool friendships weather change—create space to revise, grow, experiment, and explore—in education models, in religious affiliation, in non-religious affiliation, in various political beliefs, in parenting-styles.

The weakest friendships are built around reinforcing the party-line—and avoiding the discomfort of difference.

The greatest suffering occurs when someone fails to live up to the group’s stated beliefs and is kicked out or shunned or rejected (or is told that their family is now dangerous to others—that one hurt me the most).

We can cure loneliness in homeschool. We do it by building communities that welcome people committed to the daring adventure of bringing education to life for their children. That’s the ground floor of friendship.

Everything else? Fodder for rich conversations over brunch and mimosas at Mimi’s.

Love one another.

The Homeschool Alliance

How to Find Quality New Books for Kids

How to find new and quality books for kids

Finding quality literature for children can be a challenge. Yes, there are the old classic mainstays, and there’s nothing wrong with those and they can certainly be enriching for children to read. But books are an important part of building your child’s cultural literacy and kids lit (or children’s literature) today is brimming with excellent and imaginative new titles.

Cultural literacy is important for kids. It builds a common vocabulary with their peers using cultural “touchstones” which hone their abilities to communicate effectively. In other words, to understand and be understood broadly.

But how to find good kids lit? As with all genres, there’s going to be a lot that you or your kids don’t jive with for whatever reasons. Trying to find new fiction that is current and exciting, but also appropriate for your family, can be daunting and sometimes it feels much easier to simply fall back on tried and true classic titles. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, don’t get us wrong, but it can mean your kids are missing out on the richness, diversity, and cultural experience of contemporary works.

Know your terms.

Middle Grade typically refers to books intended for readers between the ages of 8-12.

YA (or Young Adult) is meant for readers between the ages of 12-18, and typically features protagonists in adolescence or early adulthood, and can sometimes include more mature subject matter. Check out this Brief History of YA YouTube video from Epic Reads for some more information and background on YA literature.

There is some crossover between these categories (sometimes you’ll see a Middle Grade novel in the YA section, as well as the other way around), but for the most part these categories can be extremely helpful to know when you’re searching for new books. You probably wouldn’t want to get a YA book for an 11-year-old, but on the flip side your 15-year-old might roll their eyes if you hand them a Middle Grade book.

Own Voices is a term that has been popularized recently. Put simply, Own Voices stories are when the author of the story belongs to the group or experience they are writing about, particularly when those groups and experiences are marginalized.

For example, a book with an Asian American main character written by an Asian American would be Own Voices, but if the story were written by someone who is not Asian American it would not be Own Voices. Although diverse books that are not Own Voices can still have value, it is good to keep in mind where the stories your family consumes are coming from and how accurate their representation is.

Know where to look.

GoodReads is a great resource for finding books and they even provide lists that will tell you, for example, what the hot new Middle Grade titles are. You can be as general or specific in your searches as you want. Keep in mind that book reviews are user generated content and unfortunately aren’t always kid-friendly.

Amazon also has a feature that allows you to search for books by age and you can obviously read the reviews there as well.

Once you’ve found some books that look promising, you can also look them up on Common Sense Media to help gauge what kind of content will be in them. Their book section is not the most extensive but if the titles are newer and popular they will usually be included.

If you’re looking for multicultural kids lit, Scholastic has a great resource for finding diverse titles and how to spot good books for kids that avoid stereotypes. Although it’s written for teachers in a traditional classroom, this criteria can still be broadly applicable for use in your homeschool.

And lastly, finding more recent quality releases can literally be as simple as visiting your local bookstore or library. Sometimes just browsing through shelves, or asking an assistant or librarian for their recommendations, will introduce you to titles you never knew existed. And, thanks to Smart Phones, it’s pretty easy to Google a book or an author on the spot to get more information.

Resources in this post


Common Sense Media

Amazon book search by age

How to Choose Outstanding Multicultural Books – Scholastic

A Brief History of YA – YouTube video from Epic Reads

The Arrow language arts program