Category Archives: Homeschooling
Today has been what I will call a “heart-brain divide” day. It’s one of those days where my heart wants to clean and bake and homeschool well and be an awesome mom, but my brain wants to work and be creative and not have to think about being responsible for my kiddos. Oh man, I cringe just writing how I’m feeling, but it’s true and honest and it is what it is. I love my kiddos and I have absolute peace about homeschooling, but the truth is, it’s hard. It’s a worth it, good kind of hard, but you know, there isn’t much time left over for me to give my brain the space it wants (needs?) to do its creative thing. And I’m okay with this, with my choice, most days. But some days, like today, it’s a struggle. So here’s what I’m going to do:
I’m going to give myself a pep talk and you all are invited in to listen in. Here we go.
How to Handle The Heart-Brain Divide Days
Make Sure To Fill Your Soul
I called my husband up and shared with him ALL the feelings. He told me that this is how God made me and that it’s important for me to make space for creative pursuits or I will shrivel up and be miserable. I have fought him on this: “No, I’m good, I just want to clean my house and be with the kiddos and bake stuff.” And he’s all, “I know you. You’ll see. You need to be doing creative things.” He knows me so well. And thank God he cares for me enough to help me make take the time to create and work.
All to say, CHIN UP! Listen to your man. He wants you to take care of the kiddos and the home AND fill your soul. Be wise. Fill up. You’ll be a better mom…a better person…if you take the time to create.
These Days Will Pass
These days of heart-brain divide, they will pass. They are a rhythm. Tomorrow I will wake up and get on with it. I’ll get on with taking care of my people, my home, and myself. One step at a time, slow and steady. Grace will cover this day, my faults, my junk, and all the rest. And what’s more, these days of raising and teaching my kiddos will pass as well, and it will go faster than I want it to go. So I’ll remember that and remember that this is a season and giving myself to the season is good and beautiful and I’ll never regret it.
Fill the soul, but remember the season.
We Are Loved Anyway
Thank God He does not love us based on our bad days. Or our good days, for that matter. I am loved, I am enough, I am going to make it.
He knows all of my failures and He loves me anyway.
Yes and amen.
Love and happy hearts and brains,
To the teachers of the world who give yourselves to help kids, you are light.
Today my smart, talented, darling boy met with a reading tutor for the first time. See my boy, he’s 8, but he has a hard time reading.
We’ve gone over letters and words and we’ve snuggled over books, but the words don’t always click. I see him furrow his brow and tears corner his eyes, and I know that look: defeat.
He can’t make himself read. He can’t figure it out like he can figure out how to ride a skateboard or do his math problems or learn cursive. But that boy is smart and passionate, and so when I told him I was going have him meet with a tutor, he was glad. He wants to read. He told his sisters recently that his favorite subject in school was reading. He added, “I just don’t know how yet.”
And so I called her up, Mrs. K, and she said she’d meet him even though her time was limited. See, she’s in her 70’s and she taught for 40 years, but now she’s retired. She now chooses to give her time to helping kids like my son figure out how to make sense of the letters. What a gift.
Today we had our first session.
And as we were going over some paperwork she said to me, “Pray for me that I have the energy for this.” I smiled, but then I saw why she asked. She gave herself to the work. She was fun and used Legos to help him in her creativity, and she made reading a game and she made him feel like a million bucks. She won both our hearts.
As I watched her magical way, I had the thought, maybe I should put my kids in school. She did crafts and was so patient and kind and creative and I’m not so much. I have such respect and esteem for teachers like her. But then I remember, I don’t teach alone. I can choose to surround my kids with many lights…many teachers and creatives and kind ones who give themselves to good work.
We’re in this together ya’ll.
It truly does take a village. And I thank God for that, for the variety of gifts and strengths He gives to us.
So to the teachers and the moms and the creatives and the inspirers and all of you and all of us, I just wanted to say to you today,
We need you. I need you.
I have been let in on a great secret.
Maybe it’s not a secret, but it was unknown to me until I actually tried it. My Ella, avid reader that she is, was always picking books at the library that were of the Geronimo Stilton sort. Fun, but in a candy-appetite sort of way. Sure, she was reading, and I always encourage reading, but Sally pointed out to me that just like our diets, what we feed our minds daily is important in being healthy. If my girl always reads “candy books”, her mind would be engaged, but not necessarily strong. Plus, what we consume frequently we tend to have an appetite for. I want my children to crave the good things. I also want her to learn about history and interesting people and science and so much more through “living books” and the wide world around us.
All to say, the secret…
It is, the book basket. And specifically, it looks like this: A basket by the bed filled with a biography, a history (can be historical fiction), a science/nature, a classic literature, and a fun book.
There it is, that’s it. That is what my girl has been cycling through the last few months, and it has been the greatest asset in nurturing her mind. Whenever we go to the library (usually every two weeks), she must pick at least five books on those topics. Of course she brings home more books to read, but those are the requirements. And friends, she is not only becoming an excellent reader, I know she is developing a strong mind. Her vocabulary is vast and her knowledge of historical events and people is growing weekly. And all through story and interesting texts.
People often ask me what I use for curriculum. Mostly, the library. We read. We read good, living books on a variety of subjects. We talk about them, and then we look up more information on what we’ve learned if we’ve become curious. We have a few other texts here and there, mainly for math and mapping, but our go-to is the library.
But how, you might ask, do you get your children to read the five books?
Rewards of course! 😉 My children get to pick a special experience if they read a certain number of books. My nine year old has to read 50 chapter books (or, if they are science or biography, they can be 30 pages depending). Her choice of reward? Hershey park with her dad! My son, who has struggled with reading, also has to read 50, but they are of the BOB book variety. His choice? A night out with me in a hotel. Yes, these are expensive items, but they have to read quite a bit to earn the reward. They keep track by keeping a poster in their room and they put a sticker on it for each book they read. It has been a great success! Now listen, I didn’t come up with any of these ideas; I got them from Sally Clarkson. If you’re not following her, you must. She’s lovely and gracious and wise and has done the work in raising her children well. I love her so and you will too.
If you want more ideas, or book recommendations, pick up Read for the Heart: Whole Books for WholeHearted Families by Sarah Clarkson (Sally’s daughter). It is wonderful, and is filled with practical advice for encouraging your children to read.
And just for fun, you must run right now and get your hands on the deeply touching book, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. It is one of the best books I have ever read. The kids and I were hooked; we couldn’t put it down. It is an exceptional work by Kate DiCamillo.
Okay, your turn! What secrets do you have when it comes to encouraging your children to be well-read? Also, what is a current kids book you are loving right now?
P.S. Another way we sneak in “reading” is by listening to audio books in the car. We are currently listening to Anne of Green Gables every time we go somewhere. It’s been a fun way to get more reading into our lives!
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Many of you have asked me if and when I would release an updated Type-B Homeschool Planner. I have decided this year to just release the “plan” version, instead of the full planner.
Unfortunately, I just don’t have the time or resources this year to create a full planner, but I wanted you all to have access to the 14-Step planning guide. So, I have made the guide available in a PDF and you can download for only $2.99!
Download The Type-B Homeschool Plan by clicking the button below!
Just get yourself a notebook, and you’re all set!
What’s in The Type-B Homeschool Plan?
The Type-B Homeschool Plan is the planner for the rest of us.
It’s the planner for the mom who struggles with details, gets overwhelmed with lesson-planning, and is generally laid back but knows she needs to get her ducks in a row if she’s going to homeschool well.
It is simple, clear, and offers step-by-step planning help.
The Type-B Homeschool Plan is everything that was in the original planner, minus the planning pages. I have added a few things here and there to it, but for the most part it is identical to the planner version (so if you already have it, you don’t need to buy it again).
Here’s to sweat-free homeschool planning!
I love homeschooling my kiddos.
But that wasn’t always the case. In fact, I felt fearful, nervous, inadequate, and unsure. I read homeschooling blogs and posts from homeschooling moms who seemed to be so good at schedules and crafts and organization. I began to feel like I had no business homeschooling. I’m not organized, I’m not detailed, and I’m not into crafts or strict schedules.
But I know now that those aren’t the requirements for homeschooling.
I also know now I’m a Type-B mom. And I’m finally okay with that. But before I
accepted embraced who I was, I almost quit.
I remember sitting down on a friend’s couch and telling her that I thought I should just put my kids in school. I wasn’t cut out for homeschooling, and I didn’t want my kids to miss out. I felt so torn up about it. What to do?
On the drive home from her house, I called another homeschooling friend who put her daughter in private school for a year and I explained my thoughts and asked her for advice. She asked me this question, “Why did you decide to homeschool?”
Good question. I somehow hadn’t even considered it in such a long time I had forgotten about it. But there it was: Why?
I said to her, “I want to disciple my kids, and teach them according to their bents and strengths. I want to do life with them and help along, preparing them for the world.”
And there it was. The biggest thing was that I wanted to be with them, discipling them, day in and day out. Yes, I want them to have a strong education, but first and foremost I want to teach them how to live.
It was that conversation that reminded me of the beauty of homeschooling, and further more, it made me realize I didn’t have to homeschool according to how anyone else did it. I could tailer our homeschooling to my personality and our unique family dynamics. Recognizing this truth was a game-changer for our family. And now, I am not fearful, and am much better at not comparing myself to other homeschool moms. I am enjoying homeschooling, and I adore watching my kids grow into who God fashioned them to be.
Here are a few things I’ve learned that led to me enjoying homeschooling…
5 Ways to Enjoy Homeschooling
Know Your Why (and Revisit it Often)
Do you have a “why”?
When my friend asked me why I was homeschooling, it brought me to the core of the matter. It made me think about the purpose behind why I am giving myself to this work of educating my children. And you know, once I answered that question, it was a fresh wind to my soul, and felt excited and delighted to homeschool again.
That was two years ago and I still find it such a joy to home educate.
Embrace Who You Are
There is accepting yourself and there is embracing yourself. I say, embrace the beautiful person that God wove you together to be. Sure, you have your quirks, your shortfalls, and there is that pesky sin-nature, but the core of who you are, all that color stuffed inside your soul from the Master Artist, that’s you. And your personalty is God-given and I believe He delights in it, because when you are fully you, He is fully glorified. To deny who you are, or to try and be like someone else, is to deny His handiwork. So maybe you’re not into details, or maybe you rock at them, either way, be you in how you homeschool and you will experience great joy in the process.
Go With What Works for Your Family
Everyone has a different family dynamic. What works for me isn’t going to necessarily work for you. Figure out the unique chemistry of your people and go with it. Do you like to sleep in and get school going late morning over pancakes? Great! Do you like watching the sun rise and hitting the ground running? Great! Strict schedule keeper? Rock it. Flexible, do school throughout the day mom? Cool. We are all different, and there isn’t a right or wrong way to homeschool. Figure out your family puzzle (as Sally says), and get on with it!
Don’t Push Your Kids Before They’re Ready
Each child learns at a different rate. The beauty of homeschooling is that you don’t have to push them before they’re ready. You can watch and observe as they grow and how they learn, and push gently when the time is right. You’ll know. You gain confidence the more you do this homeschooling thing. I used to think I had to understand how my children learned before we even began, and it overwhelmed me! I finally let that go and just did my best, and it became evident when something was or was not working. I didn’t have to force understanding it, it just presented itself.
Here’s the thing, I once read or heard (can’t remember where) this illustration that helped me in teaching my kids: If you look at a class photo, the kids are different heights. You might have an extremely tall child, or a short child, and varying heights in between. That is what it’s like inside a child, it’s just that we can’t see it, and so we tend to treat children as if they’re all in the same place mentally. The reality is, they aren’t. With homeschooling you have the opportunity to know your child and go at their pace.
My daughter is an avid reader, but my son, who is eight, has struggled. He is still only reading BOB books. But he is improving slowly, and I get to be with him to encourage him and not make him feel anything other than what he is, smart.
Don’t compare your kids with other kids, and be careful not to push them before they are ready. You’ll know.
How does this make homeschooling more enjoyable? You won’t be fearful, you won’t be pulling your hair out when your child isn’t understanding something, and there won’t be nearly as many tears. Unfortunately, the pressure is on for kids, and they feel it, and it is causing unneeded stress in their little bodies. Let them be who they are. Let them enjoy schooling (okay, they won’t enjoy all of it!). Let them be kids and play and for goodness sake, it’s okay if they don’t know world history by first grade!
I’ll end this section by sharing with you what my mentor shared with me, “If you want your children to be brilliant, read to them tons (and give them good books), have them around adults, and play good music!” 😉
Put Blinders On
Honestly, I have avoided our local homeschool conference for two years because I didn’t want to get neurotic about our educational choices. I know that if I go and look at all the thousands of choices, I will compare, fret, and get overwhelmed. It seems there is always something I could be doing better, and wouldn’t you know XYZ has just the product to help me! And ya’ll, I’m a sucker for it. Avoiding the choices the last two years has been very good for me, and I’ve been happier for it, I’m sure. Irony alert: I got asked to speak at CHAP this year, our local homeschool convention! Ha! So, I will be there, but if you see me, remind me to put my blinders on! 😉
Just as an FYI, I don’t there is anything wrong with looking over curriculum choices at a conference, and I’m sure I’ll do it this year, since I’ll be there. The point is that once you make your decision, be confident in it! Go forward, no comparing, no looking back! And this goes for what you read online as well. If you aren’t encouraged by it, bop away and move on! You are you, you are woven uniquely by God, and you are able to school your babes!
Here’s to the delight of homeschooling!
P.S. Get The Type-B Homeschool Plan (lesson planning for the rest of us) for only $2.99 by clicking HERE!