Homeschool Posts

Monday, January 15, 2018

How Our Academic Co-op Completes Our Eclectic Homeschool

Our homeschool journey has had many twists and turns. As the children have grown, not only has our reason for homeschooling been refined, but our ways of accomplishing our educational goals have evolved. What works for a bunch of littles just doesn’t work for teens and tweens. And what worked for the whole picture creative thinker may not be as effective for the sequential learner. Our children have grown and so has our world.

Welcome to week 2 of the Virtual Homeschool Fair: Our Homeschool Methods!

We have 23 bloggers sharing today how they get it all done and what methods they uses to do it. Be sure to check out their articles---they are near the bottom of this post.

Also, be sure to get Our Family’s Dream Homeschool, an easy to use workbook that will take you through the process of developing your own philosophy of education, creating your goals, and deciding on the methods to use to achieve those goals. The free printable packet is available to all Homeschooling Hearts & Minds subscribers, along with the Year to Sparkle Planner. Find out how to get both at the end of this post!

Today I want to talk about how I went from being a completely independent homeschooler to a member of an academic tutorial.

Why we use an academic co-op in our homeschoolYes. I went from creating our studies from scratch, mingling classical homeschooling with Charlotte Mason’s methods, unit studies, and delight-directed learning (all things I’ve talked about extensively on this blog)…

and joined an academic tutorial that teaches the core courses (plus some extras, but our family is doing math on our own)…two days a week, with the other 3 days each week being taken up mostly by homework.

I do not create my children’s courses. Nor do I teach them. Nor do I select the books. For the most part, anyway. I’ll talk about our curriculum next week.

Sounds like a complete about face from all that freedom that comes with homeschooling I was talking about last week, doesn’t it.

In a way, it is.

And in a way it isn’t.

There are several reasons our family decided to join the Tutorial:

Easier on Mom (creating courses from scratch and teaching 4 kids of widely different levels is hard work). Instead, I teach one course (Logic), teach my youngest her core courses, help out with the young elementary kids in the afternoon, and help my other kids where needed.

The tutorial is classical and uses high quality literature and materials. Not crazy about their science texts, but you can’t have everything.

It’s a strong Catholic community and we feel accepted by the other families.

It would give the children practice at being answerable to teachers other than mom and would help them learn to better manage their time, materials, and expectations.

So here’s the weird reason: a big factor in our decision was that the academic tutorial was where the other kids were and my kids needed to be with them.

They needed more peer relationships and relationships with other intelligent adults (beyond people related to them and friends of people related to them).

They needed more people to talk about their studies with.

They needed more friends.

They needed recess.

Not that we didn’t play outside before…but having a pick up stick ball game with the everyone at lunch is not the same as playing with just your sibs.

It seems absurd to say that I put my kids into what is essentially a two-day a week school so they could have recess, but it’s true.

Friendships happen fortuitously. They happen when you’re doing nothing special. Being together creates those opportunities in a way that planned activities do not. Simply by virtue of the fact that kids are in the same building together at the tutorial means that there are more opportunities for those relationships to blossom.

This was meant to be a one year experiment.

We knew that every homeschool has its good and bad years. We’ve been doing this long enough that we figured the worst that could happen would be that the co-op would be a poor fit for us and we just wouldn’t do it again next year.

Why we use an academic co-op in our homeschoolHere we are halfway through the year. What did we find out?

Academically, we were doing great before the co-op. My kids have not struggled at all with their tutors’ expectations.

They do have to be more organized and meet more deadlines, which is good for them.

And things like science experiments are easier with a class, no doubt about that.

But it hasn’t been a struggle for them. They are all A students.

My 14-year-old learned that she’s smart. I’m not altogether sure that this is a good thing. Yes, she is smart. But I think it’s probably more important that she has the drive to meet and overcome challenges and is a hard worker. I hope that she will stop comparing herself to her brothers.

My 17-year-old learned that he actually likes people. He used to think he was anti-social. But playing games at recess is fun and the people he is hanging out with are his kind of people. He seems to be enjoying his senior year overall.

The 8-year-old has always been a social butterfly. Nothing has changed there.

The 12-year-old is doing very well meeting classroom expectations, which is something I worried about.

All of them continue to grow in their independence.

There have been some negatives. We feel the lack of freedom.

And, intellectually, the tutorial is not as challenging as we expected it to be.  I’m learning, slowly, that my children are not really average. I keep thinking of us as all being completely average.

We’re not. We’re weirdos. Every one of us.

Perhaps the best thing about the tutorial is that the folks there have accepted our weirdness and befriended us (not sure if it’s because or in spite of the weirdness, but does it matter?).

It is more school-y than we like. But not as school-y as an actual school. Parents are still in charge of their kids’ educations.

We plan to continue with the tutorial next year.

There are some minuses. Yes. We, as a family, have decided that the pluses outweigh those.

Once upon a time I was an idealist. I wanted to do all the good things.

But as time has worn creases in my forehead and colored the hairs on my head more silver, I’ve learned that sometimes you need to let go of some good things in order to have the very best things.

This year, we took the tutorial as it came to us. Next year, we will have a better sense of what aspects are most important to us so we can capitalize on those.

I’ve come to realize that relationships are the most important thing.

One reason we chose to homeschool in the first place was to have strong relationships with our kids. Now we use the tutorial so they can build strong relationships with others.

virtual homeschool fair-003

What do my fellow homeschool bloggers have to say about their Homeschool Method? Go visit them to find out!

Note: all posts will be live after 8 am EST on Monday, Jan. 15th.

How Our Academic Co-op Completes Our Eclectic Homeschool by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

A Method to Our Madness by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays

Finding Our Homeschool Method by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

How We Homeschool by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool

Give Us.... by Annette @ A Net in Time

A day in our Home by Sarah@DeliveringGrace

Lit-Based Education: How We Homeschool by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter

Overhauling Our Homeschool - Adjusting our "How" to fit our "Why" by Sabrina Scheerer @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ

A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler: Expectation Vs. Reality by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road

How Charlotte Mason Transformed Our Homeschool by Brittney @ Mom's Heart

Captain's Log, Supplemental - Our Homeschool Days by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

How we get it done. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

How to Organize Daily Curriculum with the School Cart by Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine

Learning For LIfe by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

Eclectic Homeschooling: When It All Comes Together by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool

A Typical Day? by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home

This is the Way We Do Our School, So Early in the Morning by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

A Little of This and a Little of That: Eclectic Homeschooling by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World

Still Classically Educating After All These Years by True North Homeschool Academy

So what exactly is Life Led Homeschooling? by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool

Our Homeschool Routine by Joelle @Homeschooling For His Glory

Homeschool Methods – 8 Tips for the Journey by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

Don’t forget: Subscribe to download the printable Our Family’s Dream Homeschool and the Year to Sparkle Planner for FREE!

Get the new year on track from the very beginning. Smile

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Monday, January 8, 2018

5 Reasons to Homeschool High School

As I finish up my last year of educating my oldest child at home and look forward to soon beginning the high school years with my 2nd second, sometimes I need to remind myself of “why” we are doing this thing called homeschooling. Ten years is a long time to keep at a job. Children grow and their needs change. Parents grow and their needs change.

In the day to day minutiae of teaching this child to read, that child proper mechanics, and this other one how to prepare a meal, it’s very easy to get lost in the wilderness of the everyday doing. We can forget where we are going and why; it’s easy to get off track. 

Sometimes the road gets a little muddy and we lose sight of our path.

Sometimes we come to a place where the road is washed out, forcing an unexpected detour.

And sometimes we find that we were headed in the wrong direction all along and need to calculate a new path altogether.

This week, the topic for the Virtual Homeschool Fair is: The Reasons We Homeschool.

5 Reasons to Homeschool High SchoolEach homeschool family’s quest is different. Our own family’s reasons for first taking the plunge are not even the reasons we keep doing it year after year. I hope you’ll visit my fellow bloggers as they also share their Homeschool Why. You will find their posts linked at the end of this article. We have 23 participants this week!

I’ve written about our family’s decision to homeschool and how our reasons have evolved many times over the years.

I’ve also talked about how important it is to know your why. Today I want to talk about why homeschooling through the high school years is so rewarding. I highly recommend it.

So, if you are approaching those years and are dreading it or wondering if you should do it…read on!

5 Reasons to Homeschool through High School

1. Your teens need your care and guidance more than ever.

david cropWhen my  kids were wee ones, I worried if they would learn to read, to use the potty without missing, to tie their shoes, to multiply, to chew with their mouths closed…these skills came to them with time and with practice, just as they do for most kids.

As they grow up and mature, it seems they need us less and less, doesn’t it?

To be sure, they don’t need us to wipe their noses or to read a bedtime story to them. But they still need us. They are still learning how to make their own way in the world and they have lots of questions.

The hard questions.

Parenting little ones is hard. Because sleep deprivation.

But it never stops being hard to see your child struggle; it never stops being heartbreaking to see your child make a serious mistake or lose something precious to them. For our family, homeschooling has given us a special closeness that I don’t think we would otherwise have. We share so much of our lives with each other that it seems obvious for the kids to also share their doubts and anxieties with us, their parents. 

Teens need to know that we are there for them. They need our emotional and psychological support. When we are in-tune with are kids, we can see when something is wrong and get them help if they need it or have the tough the conversations with fewer inhibitions.

2. Your teens need the freedom to be themselves.

Home is one of the few places you can really let your hair down. It should be a safe place where we don’t have to pretend or fill some particular role.

Now, this is not to say that kids (of all ages) don’t need opportunities to be with their peers. They do (I’m going to talk about that in another post). But having the freedom to retreat to neutral or safe ground is something that most kids don’t have these days. It can be hard to constantly stand up to different influences.

Everyone needs time to just be. It’s good for the heart and the soul.


Homeschooling also allows your child the freedom to learn at his own pace, whether he is gifted, facing learning challenges, or somewhere in between. None of my children are “average,” and all of them would struggle to fit into a middle ground. By learning at home, they have been able to continue to progress at a pace uniquely appropriate to them.

3.  Your teens need to follow their passions.

homeschooling supports my kids passionsNo matter what academic path your child takes through high school, there will be gaps. In a brick and mortar school, the class options are whatever the school offers. As a homeschooler, your child can pursue a unique path while using a wide variety of resources.

The options are nearly limitless, between online classes, local apprenticeship opportunities, mentoring, home brewed studies, etc. If you child is an aspiring artist, he can pursue further instruction locally or online and find a mentor to help him further his art. If your child is into programming, you can find a program to nurture her interests.

Don’t allow yourself to become mired in what high school should look like. Yes, there some core subjects you will want to cover---but you can still deliver a one-of-a-kind high school experience.


4. Your teens need the time to pursue things outside of academics and planned activities.

There’s more to growing up and becoming an adult than academics.  As homeschoolers, we have a more flexible schedule than we would have if our children were in school and this opens up possibilities for other opportunities, whether it be spending time with younger siblings, taking an impromptu road trip with Grandma and Grandpa, or even taking a job during “school” hours.

Not needing to be in a particular building during certain hours Monday-Friday simply opens up possibilities that otherwise might not be available.

5. You teens need a learning partner.

3 reasons to read to your teenRead to your teens. Read them a newspaper. Or read them a novel.

Yes, they could read it themselves.

But when we share a book together, we share an experience. When we talk about the ideas in that book together, we open new worlds together. When we read an article, we share our collective wisdom and critical thinking skills.

The learning never stops. My husband still reads to me, and I to him.

You can do this whether you homeschool or not, of course (and I recommend that you do it whether you homeschool or not), but my point is that when we read together, we are learning together.

When my oldest child struggled to understand his biology textbook, I read it to him. And we discussed it. And he understood. Learning is not a passive activity or something that happens in a vacuum. When you homeschool your child, you are partnering with him in his future.

Now, my teens do have other learning partners. Peers and other adults who teach them things at co-op. Those partnerships are very valuable and I wouldn’t want to give them up. But when you are able to partner with your child and learn together, you are adding another layer of richness to your shared experience and your relationship. Those are memories you will both have for the rest of your life---don’t give them all away to someone else.

The #1 Reason to Homeschool High School: Your Teens Need You.

Spend time with them. Listen to them. Read to them. Homeschool them, if you can. You will cherish the relationships you build and the memories you create.

Yes, homeschooling high school can be hard. But it is so worth it.

Can you accomplish many of these things without homeschooling? Probably. It takes work (all things worth doing do, right?). It can probably be done though---where there’s a will there’s a way. Winking smile 

For our family, a lifestyle of home learning has made these things easier and has given us gifts that we never could have anticipated when we first started this journey. I know that homeschooling is not for everyone and every situation, I just want to let you know that if you are walking this road (or considering it), the obstacles are worth overcoming.

2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair

Now, let’s see what my fellow homeschool bloggers have to say about The Reasons We Homeschool.

Note: all posts will be live after 8 am EST on Monday, Jan. 8th.

5 Reasons to Homeschool High School by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Weird Homeschoolers by Kim R. @ Good Sweet Love

How We Make Homeschooling a Lifestyle by Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine

Our Ever Evolving Homeschool Story by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

5 Reasons You Will Want to Homeschool by Michele@ Family, Faith and Fridays

How Our Homeschool Came To Be (and why we continue) by Sabrina @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ

Home Education - 10 Reasons we keep going...even when it's hard by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home

So... Tell Me Again Why You Homeschool? by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road

Virtual Homeschool Fair 2018 - Week 1 - Why do I Homeschool  by Joelle@Homeschooling For His Glory

Homeschool Reasons: Bullies, Faith and More by Annette @ A Net In Time

In Pursuit of Purpose by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

A Long Time Ago . . . Why We Decided To Homeschool by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

The Why Behind Hopkins Homeschool by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool

5 Reasons We Love Homeschooling by Brittney @ Mom's Heart

Why We Homeschool - It's What We Do by Kristen H @ Sunrise to Sunset

Why we Home Educate and Extra Benefits by Sarah@Delivering Grace

Homeschooling: The Big WHY? by Lisa @ True North Homeschool Academy at Golden Grasses

Regaining Your Homeschool Focus by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool

Why do we homeschool? by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool

Our “Homeschool” Why by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning

Because Life is Precious by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

1998 vs. 2018: Why We Homeschool by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter

Monday, January 1, 2018

Setting Goals for the New Year

Happy New Year, Lovelies! As 2018 begins, I’m taking some time to think about and write down my goals. As difficult as it can be to write down what I want to accomplish over the next year (or even the next week!), when I don’t do it, I regret it. The time flies by, filled by the everyday busyness of the things that have to be done and at year’s end I regret the “could’ve”s.

Making goals? Plan to sparkle with this free planner at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsI had some personal goals in 2017, but many of them I didn’t write down. 

Not sure why, but I suspect that it was fear.

Do you ever resist declaring your intentions because you’re afraid of letting yourself and your loved ones down?

Do we really let ourselves down any less when we lose track of our goals because we haven’t clearly identified them?

It’s a little like giving up on ourselves before we’ve even started.

I don’t seem to have too much trouble making homeschool plans or making sure my kids get everything I need. But somehow I come up short when it comes to making sure that I am being all I can be.

So, here I am on New Year’s Day, investing some time in myself.

Too many people I know have lost a spouse or have been faced with unexpected health crises. We don’t know how much time we have here on Earth, do we? Let’s make those moments count.

Plan to sparkle, make goals

I’ve printed out the first month of my Year to Sparkle Planner, hole-punched it and popped it into a poly-folder.

Making goals? Get the Year to Sparkle printable planner!

Making goals? Get the Year to Sparkle printable planner!It fits perfectly. I’ll be filling in my January calendar, my personal inventory, and my goals for the month. Want to join me?

This printable, full-color planner is a free gift to all my subscribers.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair is Coming!

In just a little over a week, the Virtual Homeschool Fair will begin! Whether you are brand new to home education, have been homeschooling for several years, or are just considering it as a possibility, the VHF is for you. Throughout January, bloggers from all over the world will be sharing the whys and hows of how they educate their children.

virtual homeschool fair-003The 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair Schedule:

Week 1 (Jan. 8th): The Reasons We Homeschool

Why do we homeschool?

Week 2 (Jan. 15th): Our Method of Homeschooling

How do we homeschool?

Week 3 (Jan. 22nd): Our Homeschool Curriculum

How do we cover it all?

Week 4 (Jan. 29th): Enriching Our Learning

What do we do for enrichment?

Watch my quick Virtual Homeschool Fair trailer to see what it’s all about:

Are you a homeschool blogger? Would you like to join us?

Fill out this form:

and join my private FB group of VHF bloggers: 

Not on FB? There’s a place for you to indicate that on the form.