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  • I’m not a growth mindset mom, at least not by default. I’ve read all about the importance of developing one, and I’ve written about its benefits. But as many a homeschool parent can attest, being aware of a practice and its real life application isn’t the same thing as actually doing it.

    My kids know to put their dirty clothes in the hamper. Want to guess how many pajamas I find shoved behind the bathroom door?

    The situation’s pretty similar when it comes to me and a growth mindset. I know what it means to have one, and I know when I need to use such an approach. But the minute a perceived failure or challenge shows up at my doorstep, my first instinct is to give up with a cry of "I just can't do this! I'm not good at it. I never have been." The fatalistic, fixed mindset tends to be my default instead of applying what I know about growth mindset.

    Sadly, my fixed mindset affects my children. As we all know, parental attitudes toward failure have a major impact on the behaviors of our children.

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  • When parents first start homeschooling, they may be terrified of making a serious homeschool mistake. Struck by fear, they ask a myriad of questions: What if I choose the wrong curriculum? What if our schedule doesn’t work? What if we get behind? What if I don’t know how to teach my children? What if my kids turn out weird?

    The good news is that all homeschooling parents make these kinds of mistakes without derailing the entire homeschool journey. In fact, depending on how parents respond, many of these homeschool mistakes can actually become homeschool victories. Here’s how to learn from common homeschooling missteps and turn your failures into wins.

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  • Is that book fluff or quality? How to tell We are huge fans of the library and can hardly pass a bookstore without going in. But sometimes I run into issues about what kinds of books the children choose. I am not a fan of fluffy books in which the characters talk about body fluids or boyfriends. And I have reservations about books with disrespectful characters. I don’t want to stifle my children's desire to read, so I begin an internal dialogue: "Is reading a fluffy book better than reading nothing at all?" "If my children read fluff instead of higher quality books, will their education suffer?" This dilemma is hotly debated in the book world, but there isn’t a right or wrong answer. Each family must decide where to draw the line on fluffy books, also called twaddle. At our house, we use the following system:Read More

  • A friend who is considering homeschooling recently asked me, “You’ve been homeschooling now for a decade. What’s the best advice you ever received in that whole time?” Thinking back on ten years of homeschooling advice covers a lot of things. There have been conversations about what homeschooling method is best, how to choose the right curriculum, and whether or not a homeschool co-op is necessary. There have been numerous suggestions on age appropriate screen time, fun ways to review what you’ve studied, and how to help your kids learn independence.

    But I would have to say the best advice I ever received about homeschooling had to do with ice cream.

    Ice cream? To help with homeschooling?

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  • My boys and I enjoy watching travel videos to supplement our homeschool explorations of history, geography, and sociology. We use videos in conjunction with books to help us get a better feel for the area of the globe that we are studying. Typically we will watch a clip or two from YouTube to get a feel for the country or continent before diving into our reading. After viewing a clip, we like to talk about the most memorable part of each video, writing down a few facts that we learned or noting questions we’d like to find the answer to later.

    Then as we work through our Instructor's Guide, we sprinkle in more videos each day to further our learning. The switch from text to screen keeps my children highly engaged and focused. My favorite part is when they point out something we read that is repeated or portrayed in a video (or vice versa). When they make that connection, I know real learning is happening! They are listening and retaining the information!

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  • The day has not gone well. You were ten minutes late for a doctor's appointment. They cancelled and moved your appointment to next week. You fought with the oldest about her math lesson. The toddler destroyed your planner while you were busy with his sibling. You washed three loads of laundry and carried it upstairs. The ,uddy dog came in and took a nap in the basket. You just got a text about book club tomorrow. They’ve asked you to lead discussion on a book you’ve never read. It’s 5 PM. A blinking light on the slow cooker reveals it was never plugged in; your ingredients for dinner are now destined for the trash. The kindergartner is crying, the house is a mess, and the oldest is due on the soccer field in less than an hour. And then there’s a call from the bedroom upstairs: “Moooooooooommmmmmmm!!!!!!! We’re gonna need a huuuuuuge towelllllll!!!!” “SHHHHHH!!!!! Don’t tell her that! If we just shove it over here she’ll never notice!!!!!”Read More

  • 5 Ways to Have Successful Family Reading Time Although having a family reading time is important to my family, I realize that with the numerous other obligations a homeschool mama has, reading aloud as a family might not seems doable.  Our family reading time is one of our favorite times of the day, but it didn’t always look like it does now.  Here are five easy tips to help you and your family have an awesome daily reading time together:

    1. Be choosy about the time of day.

    Your family reading time will be affected by the ages of your children and your daily activities. It may also change over time, depending on how your schedule shifts through the year. Choose a time of day that is more relaxed. If your evenings are always very hectic, that probably isn’t a good time for you.  

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  • Benefits of Book-Based Learning Think back to your favorite textbook growing up. You probably read it word for word, right?

    The weight of textbooks in our backpacks is often more memorable than the textbooks themselves. Not that they aren't chock full of information. On the other hand, books like the fiction and non-fiction literature that make up the BookShark curricula conjure up images, characters and narratives. Certain books are so meaningful and memorable that when recalling their stories, the characters feel more like real people who you knew in your life than constructed characters from lines of text.

    What if one of those special childhood books took place during the Civil War? It’s likely that the reader would learn about the Civil War in a more intimate way than they would through ...Read More

  • Before I met my husband, I spent many summers driving from Texas to Mississippi to visit my granny. On the long drive to her home, my mind would race with questions to ask her about her early life on a farm, how she became a great Southern cook, and what she remembered when her great uncles went off to fight the American Civil War. Having her at my wedding is one of my happiest memories. Sadly, she died when I was pregnant. I was devastated when I realized that our precious time together would be only memories from then on. Today, the possessions that her gentle hands touched and that she passed down to me are not sentimental clutter in my view. They are part of who I am and what I want to pass on to my sons. However, when I began homeschooling my sons, I soon realized that unless I set boundaries, sentimental items can quickly go from calm to clutter. And homeschooling has a way of breeding a lot of sentimental clutter.Read More

  • Choosing the right curriculum can be difficult because there are so many ways to meet the needs of our kids: online subscriptions, co-ops, boxed curriculum, workbooks, interest-led discovery, etc. If you know you want a secular curriculum, however, you can pare down the possibilities by filtering all of your options through that lens. You probably already know that finding secular curriculum is challenging. Here's why. First, homeschooling is relatively rare. Homeschoolers make up 3.4% of all students in the U.S. These numbers are even smaller in most other countries since some nations place significant restrictions on homeschooling or ban it altogether. Second, secular homeschooling is rare among homeschoolers. At most, secular homeschoolers make up an estimated 23% of all homeschoolers. So in a small pool of resources, secular homeschooling takes an even smaller slice.Read More

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