• Getting started is the hardest part of writing. What if I don’t know what to say? What if no one likes what I’m saying? What if I’m saying it wrong? These fears can paralyze reluctant writers.

    That’s pretty much the case in my homeschool: while my daughter loves to read and tell stories, writing anything down tends to throw her into panic mode.

    What’s a homeschool parent to do, then, when a child struggles to write? One common solution is the presentation of a traditional writing prompt: a question or intriguing statement that encourages a thoughtful response. This might work in theory. In practice, though, a traditional writing prompt can prove more problematic than triumphant.

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  • Box Day is one of the most exciting days of the year for homeschool families. It’s the day that the Fed Ex truck stops in front of a house to deliver that huge box of homeschool curriculum:

    • thick BookShark binders filled with Instructor’s Guides
    • stacks and stacks of historical fiction, non-fiction, and biographies
    • science kits with a whole year’s worth of materials for hands-on experiments
    • math curriculum and manipulatives
    • readers and a language arts program

    While it’s always fun to get a package, BookShark Box Day is when the whole family gets excited about a new year of homeschooling.

    Parents Know They Have Everything They Need

    Every homeschool mom and dad feel the responsibility of their children’s education. It’s a serious job to educate our children at home, but Box Day makes parents feel assured. They can look at those boxes and know, “I have what I need. I’m prepared. It’s all planned out for me. I can do this!”

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  • One of the many great benefits of homeschooling is that our kids have the time and space to dive deeply into their interests. Interest-led learning is an awesome way to approach homeschooling, right? Yes—if mom and dad tread carefully. Here are four surefire ways to kill your child’s love of learning by misusing their interests. (Don't do these, okay?) 1. Make Your Child's Homeschool Experience Revolve Around the Interest Your child might be interested in dinosaurs or go-carts or astronomy or jazz musicians. While it’s good to celebrate and explore these topics, there also comes a point where you can go overboard.Read More

  • We read together as a family every night. Sometimes we get so caught up in making it through the book that we never pause to discuss what we're reading. I recently ran across this article about how adding 30 seconds to your bedtime reading can foster empathy, and I had to try it.

    The next night while reading, the main character of our story had just secured his family in a cellar vault, and he was turning around for one last great stand against the impending enemies. I paused and looked up to see how long it would take my doodling listeners to realize that I wasn't continuing.

    As eyes started to meet mine, I saw the urgency with which they wanted me to continue. Don't leave Podo hanging!

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  • When we venture out on field trips, our kids get first hand experiences that a book can never mimic. At the same time, homeschool field trips can be stressful, time consuming, and sometimes expensive. Weather is an added factor to consider with outdoor events such as a Civil War re-enactment. One alternative to packing snacks, loading the van, and buying tickets is the virtual field trip. These online explorations can awaken your child’s love of American history. Besides supplementing your American history curriculum, virtual field trips also provide a way for your child to explore places that may be inaccessible.Read More

  • When we first began homeschooling, I never thought about adding PE to our schedule. I knew my boys were active on their own without any coaxing. I figured that as long as we kept moving, we’d be developing motor skills. I didn't see a need to add a formal Physical Education course to our routine. Lately, I have been more intentional about adding physical activity into our days, and I do that using a wide range of activities like the seventy-five options below. Homeschool PE in the Backyard and Around the House Exercising with children, tweens, and teens doesn’t require a lot of money or even much specialized equipment. We tend to look for ways to get PE accomplished with supplies and materials we already have around the house.

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  • Meet Tanya, a mom to three kids ages 7, 4, and 2. She educates her son at home using BookShark Level 1. We had the opportunity to chat with Tanya and find out why she homeschools and why she loves using BookShark with her active seven-year-old boy who loves history and language arts. Plus Tanya shares some tips for getting started with a new BookShark package, dealing with overwhelm, and book storage. BookShark: Tanya, how did you come to homeschool your son? Tanya: I worked full time, and my son Gabriel was in preschool from age three. When my daughter came along, I ramped down to part time work, and my son went to kindergarten. I really had no intentions of homeschooling.

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  • When we first started homeschooling, we picked a classical curriculum that required five days of school work. Since I had just pulled my son out of a parochial school, I took the the five-day school model as an assumed standard. My son must do five full days of schoolwork to learn just as he had in school. However, that plan didn’t work for long. I quickly discovered that my son was behind in math and couldn’t keep up with the schedule for the classical homeschool curriculum. Soon we were both frustrated.Read More

  • I could see the tears welling up in my eight year old’s eyes. We were on day three of trying to learn subtraction with borrowing, and we were getting nowhere fast. My frustration was boiling over, and his desire to learn was nonexistent by this point. We had reached a stalemate, and I had no clue to the next step. Teaching kids brings its own challenges, but the most challenging aspect is when you have a learning mismatch. For example, you are trying to teach a math whiz when you’re math phobic. Or you are teaching a child who is struggling in math although math comes easily for you. Sometimes a teaching mismatch works well, but very often we struggle more when we can't empathize with our child's weakness or feel insecure about our own inadequacy with a topic.Read More

  • During the school year, homeschoolers in public stick out like a sore thumb. We’re the only ones in the warehouse club, leading small, elementary-age armies through a minefield of produce. We’re the only ones in the cookie aisle, encouraging mussy-haired moppets to determine ratios of cost to value.We’re the only ones in the library fielding questions from second graders about the breeding habits of aquatic mammals.

    It’s like wearing a target on your back: “Homeschoolers, eh? And what are we learning about today, children?”

    Abject fear, thank you.

    What if she can’t remember the difference between meteors and comets? What if he confuses the American Revolution with the Civil War? What if they can’t tell him the answer to nine times five? And, worst of all: What if I’m failing at homeschooling?

    Here’s a better question, though: what if this fear isn’t you? What if you’ve got Impostor Syndrome?

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