• Since he was little, my son has loved books. Whether I was reading to him or he was reading to himself, he just loved stories. When I started homeschooling him in fourth grade, a literature-based curriculum seemed like the perfect choice, and it was.

    But by the time he was in 6th grade, his younger sisters were in kindergarten and first grades. I had heard from many parents that this is the time when a literature-based curriculum gets unwieldy.  

    While it’s true that using BookShark to teach my children has required some careful scheduling and time management, teaching kids in different grades with BookShark is entirely possible. Here are some of the strategies that we use to make it more doable.

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  • Homeschoolers are record keepers! Depending on our state’s requirements and personal preference we fill folders and boxes, create portfolios and transcripts, write lesson plans, make charts, take hundreds of pictures, maybe even blog.

    Here in Indiana, even though I’m not required to turn records into the state, I keep my children’s projects, encourage their goals, and document their learning. I want to capture our time together. I want my children to see and remember their progress. And when doubt sets in as to whether or not I’m doing enough with them, my records remind me that yes! Yes, I am.

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  • Don’t give up the ease of laid out lesson plans which a boxed homeschool curriculum provides because you have active boys. Here are four ways that a boxed curriculum turns out to be a very boy-friendly option.

    1. Hands-On Activities

    There is no one size fits all solution for boys. However, one thing most young boys have in common is the need to wiggle. Because a boxed curriculum eased my teacher prep time, I had leisure to look plan and add activities for wiggly learners.

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  • Raise your hand if you want to be more present in your homeschool. Perhaps you crafted a New Year’s resolution around this idea. You may even have a sense of what this will look like, but you’re not quite sure how to get from the image in your mind to the reality of being present. I’m right there with you!

    The idea of being more present brings a sense of peace and contentment to our hearts. Still, we may not know how to get to the calm and connection that we crave.

    What if we reframe the idea of being more present to being more mindful?

    According to the Oxford dictionary, mindful is defined as focusing one’s awareness on the present moment. So, by being mindful, we are being present. Sounds simple. But we all know that this is a perfect example of easier said than done.

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  • One thing many homeschool moms want to do is land a work at home job. Relying on one income in today’s economy can be tough, and working from home seems like the perfect way to supplement a spouse’s income or provide a full time income if necessary while continuing to homeschool. Once you have decided what type of work at home job is perfect for you, you will need to apply and then land the job. In the virtual world this is easier said than done. Often times you are competing against many other moms who want the job same as you. In order to land a work at home job, you must stand out. How can you nab the best work at home jobs as a homeschool mom?

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  • When your children are younger, of course you read aloud to them! But most people stop once a child is reading well independently. I want to share with you why I still read aloud to my teenage daughter. I did it for my now-adult son, and I will continue to read for my 8 year old as he matures. Quality Time As our children head rapidly towards adulthood, our time with them tends to be more about offering an ear for their thoughts, offering rides to their numerous activities, and offering sometimes unasked for and unappreciated advice. Draping ourselves on the couch and spending time enjoying a book together is a way to slow down and reconnect. We laugh, offer commentary, and enjoy building a new level of our relationship, one that I hope will last into adult years as parenting turns to friendship.Read More

  • Ah, the winter homeschool rut. You come down from the merriment and flurry of December and find everything waiting for you back on solid ground. Everything. The math books, the phonics lessons, the list of activities that were pushed to the side in mid-November, and the half-finished Read-Aloud anxiously perched atop the pile.

    Sometimes we embrace the familiar rhythm and purpose that waits in that pile. Many times though, we find ourselves dragging along by the end of January, completely uninspired and in need of something fresh. This can be a dangerous time for our bank account, as we begin researching shiny, new curricula in a desperate attempt to pivot mid-year.

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  • A large part of the reason we choose to homeschool our kids is our desire to travel. We want our children to see the world with us! The flexibility of homeschooling means we can travel during off-peak times while everyone else is in school. That timing brings perks like fewer crowds and cheaper hotel accommodations. And instead of learning only from books, we get the benefit of learning firsthand through our travel experiences!

    Whenever we go on an adventure, we make an effort to fit in as much education as we can while maintaining the core reason for our excursion—the family fun and memories. Here are three ways that travel enhances our homeschool experience. These benefits happen for any trip we take, but I'll use a recent beach trip as my example.

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  • Hands-on activities are a great way to add variety to your homeschool, reinforce learning, and incorporate creativity. When your children are coloring, cutting, and building, there is opportunity to both review and organize what they’ve learned or even explore rabbit trails of curiosity. One great type of hands-on learning I've recently rediscovered is lap books. These fun papercrafts offer an alternative to boring worksheets while offering a fun opportunity to talk about what your child has learned! To be honest though, sometimes lap books can be a bit of a chore for moms. There is a ton of printing, organizing the projects, and gathering supplies. Thus, I was at first a bit skeptical about lap books and hadn't even given them a fair try.Read More

  • Public School vs. Homeschooling: The Apples and Oranges of ChildhoodA psychological assessment I recently filled out for one of my children showed a clear bias towards public schooling with these kinds of queries:

    “Do they stay seated when asked to remain in their seat?”

    “Are assignments turned in on time and complete?”

    “Do they follow directions without additional prompting?”

    As both the parent and teacher, I had a lot of questions to answer. Some were almost impossible because I had no knowledge of my child in a traditional school environment. We’ve always homeschooled, so I was making a guess. Would they remain seated if told not to get up? Doubtful. Do I see that as a problem? No, not really.

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