This Homeschool Mom is Checking Out

This Homeschool Mom is Checking Out

Yep! I’m done. Time for this mom to take a respite.

If you are anything like me, homeschooling is always somewhere in your mind. Even when I’m not doing curriculum, I am often thinking about how I can turn something into a learning opportunity.  It can be, at times, quite consuming. With all the work of running a household and being the primary facilitator of my children’s education, I am happy to take off my homeschool mom hat starting today for a couple of weeks to enjoy the holidays.

Taking a break is sometimes just what the doctor ordered to help us refocus on the privilege of homeschooling and why we are doing it.

For all of you homeschool parents who are so devoted and hard-working, I hope each of you takes this time to fully unplug and soak in the season. This is so important to avoid the burnout trap! Immerse yourselves in the children, family, and friends who you love so dearly. Look around at how beautiful Christmastime is with all the decorations, songs, and smiling people.

I applaud you for your discipline, perseverance, innovation and love. You have earned a break, Mom and Dad! Take it!

In January, I hope you will put back on your homeschool parent hat feeling recharged, inspired and excited to continue your family’s amazing homeschool journey! What a privilege and gift we have with our freedom in homeschooling. Taking a break is sometimes just what the doctor ordered to help us refocus on this privilege and why we are doing it.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Seasons Greetings!

You may also enjoy:

Top Read-Aloud Picks

How to Build Your Homeschool Tribe

Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?

Open Letter to U.S. Education Secretary King Who Says Homeschoolers Would Be Better Off in Public Schools

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Top Read-Aloud Picks for Your Family

Top Read-Aloud Picks for Your Family

Are you looking for some great read-aloud books? Below is a list of my family’s best-loved books. One of my favorite things about homeschooling is having ample time to read aloud to my kids. Please note I update this post whenever we read a book we absolutely love.

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” — C.S. Lewis

“If it’s a good book, anyone will read it. I’m totally unashamed about still reading things I loved in my childhood.”–J.K. Rowling

There are several indicators that reveal to me if my kids love a book:

  • They ask me to stop reading or to read loudly when they have to go to the bathroom.
  • They put the book they love on top of the stack of books I am planning to read aloud or clamor for me to read that book above all others.
  • They talk about it as we go about our day.


My kids are ages 10, 9 and 6. I have been reading these type of books for the past 2 1/2 – 3 years. So, my youngest began listening to them when she was about 3 1/2 years old. I read during snack and  meal times so they are somewhat of a captive audience. I do not read to them when Dad or guests are at the table with us.

If I don’t find the book interesting myself as I read it aloud a time or two, then I will just ditch it. If the kid don’t ask for it all, then it is confirmed for me that we should move on. After all, there are so many great books to waste time on ones we don’t love!

Here are our absolute favorite read-alouds. While we love some of the classics, we have also found some gems published more recently. Additionally, we do most of our history and geography studies through living books.You will find some of those living history books in the list below.whangdoodle

  1. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards is my family’s ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOK!!! We adored Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. This story is of the same caliber. Her imagination is genius!
  2. Little Lord Fauntleroy, A Little Princess, and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodges Burnett are some of the finest children’s books ever written. They are excellent for character training because they show children who are pure, good and kind. These books created much discussion in our family as we grappled with the choices the protagonists in the stories would make. People of all ages will find wisdom and delight reading Burnett’s masterpieces.  Both my son and daughters loved all three of these books!cabin-on-trouble-creek
  3. Cabin on Trouble Creek by Jean Van Leeuwen is a based on the true story of two brothers, ages 11 and 9, who head out to the Ohio wilderness with their pa to clear some land to build a cabin and farm for their family. Pa heads back to retrieve Ma and their younger siblings but is delayed months. This is a survival tale of these two boys in the wilderness and is masterfully told. My kids chanted each day “Trouble Creek, Trouble Creek” to read this book before any others.
  4. Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater will keep your family in stitches. If you are new to reading aloud or your kids are just old enough to begin enjoying novels, this is an excellent one to start with. Be prepared to laugh a lot! wiz-of-oz
  5. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz  by L. Frank Baum chronicles the adventures of Dorothy through the Land of Oz. The classic children’s movie, The Wizard of Oz, was based on this fantastical novel. You will find many differences between the movie and Baum’s book. It is fun to compare and contrast the two.
  6. Sophia’s War: A Tale of Revolution by Avi is a fast-paced and gripping tale set during the American Revolution. In the opening scene, Sophia watches as Nathan Hale is hanged as a spy. Later, she is recruited as a spy and serves as a maid in the home of General Clinton, the supreme commander of British forces in America. Sophia’s War is a great example of why I prefer to learn history with living books instead of dry textbooks. This is an excellent read and is especially perfect when studying the American
  7. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier is another fantastic book to read when studying the American Revolution. It will give you a lot to discuss with your kids. We loved it!
  8. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by  Betty Macdonald is the first in a series about a wise woman who lives in a neighborhood inhabited by children with bad habits. When the parents are at a loss how to break these bad habits, they turn to Mrs. Piggle- Wiggle. This light-hearted read will add plenty of laughter to your day.the-city-of-ember-image-book-cover
  9. The City of Ember series by Jeanne Duprau is electrifying and  fast-paced. I consider these books modern-day classics.  My kids always put these books on the top of my read-aloud pile. These are the kind of books that really cause you to think deeply. After reading the first one, you will see why The City of Ember has received many awards and honors.
  10. Gentle Ben by Walt Morey is a beautifully written tale about a large bear named Ben and a boy named Mark. It is set in the Alaskan wilderness and illustrates the special bond between humans and animals.
  11. Mr. Tucket by Gary Paulsen is the first in the Tucket Adventure series and is a perfect complement to American westward expansion studies. It starts off with Francis Tucket, a 14-year-old boy, who strays from his family’s wagon train headed to Oregon and is captured by Pawnee Indians. This book is fast-pace and adventure at its finest while learning history at the same time!tale-of-desper
  12. The Tale of Despereaux is by far our favorite book from popular children’s author, Kate DiCamillo. This Newbery Award winner is centered around a mouse named Despereaux who does not fit in with the other mice. He is in love with music, stories and a princess named Pea. A wonderful adventure awaits you, reader!
  13. Poppy  was the first novel published in the Tales from Dimwood Forest series by gifted children’s writer, Avi. These books chronicle the adventures of Poppy, a mouse, and the other animals of Dimwood Forest. Our absolute favorite character was the cantankerous but lovable porcupine, Ereth. blood-on-the-river
  14. Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone is a stellar way to learn more about the colony of Jamestown in 1607. Through the eyes of 12-year-old Samuel Collier, this engrossing book brings to life what it must have been like to live in Jamestown at that time. This book is a must!
  15. Matilda by the incomparable British writer, Roald Dahl, is another must read! It is about a brilliant 6-year old girl who is poorly treated and neglected by her idiotic and self-centered parents. Her sweet teacher, Miss Honey, quickly realizes Matilda is a child prodigy. However, the headmistress and villain, Mrs. Trunchbull, pays no heed to this. Oodles of laughter will exude from your kids as you read this book together.journey-to-river-sea
  16. Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson is about a young orphan, Maia, in 1910 sent off to live with distant family who own a rubber plantation on the Amazon River. She is excited to explore the banks of the Amazon and view exotic wildlife. However, upon arrival she discovers her relatives are rotten people and they also hate nature. A wonderful story and mystery await you in this enchanting book.
  17. Streams to the River, River to the Sea is a book by celebrated author, Scott O’Dell, (who also wrote Island of the Blue Dolphin) about Sacagawea, interpreter and guide for Lewis and Clark. This is unique from other accounts of Lewis and Clark because it is told from Sacagawea’s point of view.  This absorbing and suspenseful book will shed new light on the true-life adventure.
  18. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1972. We loved this tale of courage, morality,and heroism. Some people think it starts off slowly, but we did not find that to be the case.georges-secret-key
  19. George’s Secret Key to the Universe  by  famed physicist Stephen Hawking and his daughter, Lucy, is a fast-paced and funny adventure that explains our universe in quite an intriguing yet simple way. The book is fairly long, but my kids enjoyed every minute. Furthermore, we all learned a lot. Three additional books follow this one.
  20. Pinnochio  by Carlo Collodi is a wonderful book about making good choices and the consequences of making poor ones. This particular book I have linked to is especially beautiful because it shows different illustrations from around the world throughout the book. Collodi’s tale is quite different from the Disney version. I think all parents should read this aloud to their kids and discuss its many lessons. It is fun to read the dialogue with an Italian accent.
  21. The Twits by Roald Dahl is a hilarious, light-hearted and quick read. If you are new to reading aloud, The Twits is a nice way to kick it off!
  22. The Hungry Clothes by Penninah Schram is a great example of folk and fairy tales from around the world we have read.  These are an entertaining way to learn and discuss moral lessons. Furthermore, these tales teach us more about culture and history from around the globe. Many libraries have an excellent selection of international folk and fairy tales.
  23. Caddie Woodlawn, recipient of the Newbery Medal in 1936, by Carol Ryrie Brink is a tale of tomboy Caddie and her family’s adventures in the woods of Wisconsin in the mid-1800s.  The stories are based on the real life of the author’s grandmother. All three of my kids, including my 10-year old son, adored Caddie and this book. For those studying American frontier life and the Civil War era, this is a great addition. However, it is a great story to read at any time!
  24. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, a Newbery Honor book, by beloved  children’s author, Avi, is a fast-paced, suspenseful novel that you don’t want to put down.  This exciting seafaring adventure takes place in the summer of 1832 when thirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle is excited to return home from her school in England to her family in Rhode Island. “Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial and found guilty.”
  25. Pippi Longstocking, originally written in Swedish by Astrid Lindgren and later translated into more than 70 languages, has also been turned into several movies and TV series. The tales of Pippi, the girl with upside-down braids and no parents to tell her what to do, and her friends, Annika and Tommy, will bring a smile to your family’s faces. If you are new to reading aloud, this is a great book to get started. Even your youngest children should delight in Pippi’s adventures.
  26. The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson is a suspenseful story set in Austria and Germany in the early 20th century about a child, Annika, who was left as a baby just days old in a church.  At 12-years old, Annika inherits a trunk of costume jewelry. A woman claiming to be her aristocratic mother arrives and takes her to live in a run-down mansion in Germany. Once you get into the meat of this story, your kids will not want you to put this book down.
  27. Death on the River of Doubt by Samantha Sieple is great for history lovers and those fascinated with the Amazon rainforest. Did you know that in 1913 former president Teddy Roosevelt led a perilous expedition deep into the Amazon rainforest to chart an unmapped river?  This book, which is an account of their adventure, was thrilling and exhilarating for our family to read together. Furthermore, I have learned more about the character and leadership of Roosevelt and have even greater admiration for him now. The wilderness doesn’t care if you are a former president or king. All are at risk of injury and death on such a harrowing journey with danger lurking almost everywhere.
  28. Secrets of Dripping Fang series by Dan Greenburg is another one of those series that015205457X my kids love so much that they chant for me to read it to them. It is fast-paced and hilarious. Many days I intend to read only one chapter but end up reading 3 or 4 because we all want to find out what happens next. While it is not as sophisticated as some other books we read, it is extremely entertaining and enjoyable. This is also a good series to hook your reluctant readers. I read the first 3 in the series aloud, and the kids polished off the remainder of the series reading alone.
  29. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls is one of those great classics that is a fulfilling read. This story about a boy and his two hunting hounds will probably have you in tears but in a good way. The values and lessons conveyed in this story are so rich.
  30. Number the Stars by Lowis Lowry is a historical fiction novel set in Nazi-occupied B00HS8O7B0Denmark as the German soldiers began their campaign to “relocate” Jews.  The story centers around Anne Marie and her family as they hide her best friend, Ellen, and work to save others Jews. The story is an excellent tribute to the the brave people of Denmark who smuggled out most of the Jewish people to Sweden during this terrorizing time.
  31. The classic novel, The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley is an exciting tale about a young boy and his wild stallion. 0439669960
  32. Survivors: True Stories of Children in the Holocaust from Scholastic is one of the most important books I have read with my kids. Gripping stories from 9 Jewish boys and girls are described in this book. While there is so much evil, I felt it an appropriate ready for my 7, 10 and 11-year-old children. They hung on intently to every word.
  33. The Giver, by Lois Lowry, earned the 1994 Newbery Medal.  Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a dystopian world of no crime, hunger, sickness, unemployment or choice. He is chosen to be the community’s Receiver of Memories. This exciting and fast-paced novel gives you much to ponder about free will, freedom and society. All my kids loved this book–even my 7-year-old.
  34. The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & The Fall of Imperial Russia 0375867821by Candace Fleming is an absolutely gripping narrative of Russia’s last royal family.  My kids especially enjoyed learning about the Romanov children and Rasputin. Insightfully, my son pondered if Nicholas had selected another wife than Alexandra if the 20th-century Russian history and, ultimately, world history would have been altered due to her bad judgment and influence on her inept husband. This non-fiction work is anything but dull. We plan to dive into the study of Communism and wanted to better understand the events that led to the Communist Revolution.
  35. The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall is the first delightful book in a 4-part series about the Penderwick girls who go on vacation at a beautiful estate in Massachusetts.  They make fast friend with the estate owner’s son. However, his mother is less than thrilled with the Penderwick girls. We found this book a delightful read aloud for both boys and girls. 0142400580
  36. The Great Brain series by John Fitzgerald is one of our favorite of all times. Set in Adenville, Utah at the turn of the 19th century, these enjoyable books focus on the narrator’s brother who has a great brain and uses it for all kinds of mischief and money-making schemes. My kids liked it so much that they read the entire series themselves and then clamored for me to read the whole thing aloud. This is also a nice complement to your history studies of this same time period. I’d say this a delightful and engaging read for all ages!
  37. Angel on the Square by Gloria Whelan is the first in a quartet series of  0064408795Communist Russia. It shows both sides of the Russian Revolution opening in 1913 when this aristocratic girl goes to live with the Romanov family because her widowed mother is lady-in-waiting to Empress Alexandra. We get to know the Romanovs in a warm and personal way and see what a doting father Nicholas II is to his children. However, she also witnesses the exploitation of workers in the cities and the terrible living conditions of peasants. Meanwhile, war is spreading throughout Europe and Russia is crumbling. We give this fast-paced and absorbing book our highest review possible.
  38. The Impossible Journey by Gloria Whelan is the second in a quartet series of Communist 0066238110Russia. This book, which opens in 1934 in Leningrad a generation after the Communist Revolution,  is every bit as engaging as the first. The children of the heroine and hero of Angel on the Square are alone and desperate after their father is arrested and mother is exiled to Siberia. They are determined to find their mother and embark on a 1,000-mile journey in hopes of reunification. Filled with adventure and suspense, the children encounter many obstacles and confrontations and even a beautiful experience with the Samoyed tribe in the Siberian wilderness.
  39. A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen is an engaging, fast-paced book about the Berlin Wall from the perspective of twelve-year-old, Gerta. When the Wall was erected, her father and brother were on the other side looking for work in West Berlin. This left the family divided. We encounter Gerta’s struggles along with her other brother, mother and others surviving in East Berlin as well as their persecution in this Communist city controlled by the Soviets.  One day she spots her father on a viewing platform giving her clues to tunnel beneath the wall. This is risky because, if they are caught, the consequences are death. We loved this book. It is highly recommended at any time but especially if you are studying the 1960s and Communism.
  40. Red Scarf Girl, a memoir by Ji Li Liang, takes the reader to the destructive turmoil of the Cultural Revolution in 1966 0064462080 led by Chairman Mao in Communist China.  Twelve-year-old Ji Li is an accomplished student and athlete and joins her classmates in frenetically denouncing The Four Olds:  Old ideas, old culture, old customs, old habits.  She witnesses relatives, teachers, neighbors and friends publicly humiliated and tortured but still remains fervent in her Communist ideology. Her family eventually becomes reviled due to their wealthy family background. Friends and neighbors turn on them, and they are constantly afraid of being arrested. After her father’s imprisonment, Ji Li is forced with a big decision. This autobiography received multiple awards including Publishers Weekly Best Book. ALA Best Book for Young Adults and ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice.
  41. Mao’s Last Dancer (Young Reader’s Edition) by Li Cunxin is the riveting 0802797792autobiography of a peasant boy born into extreme poverty in 1961 just before the Cultural Revolution. Despite his poverty and witnessing the brutality of the Mao regime, he revered Chairman Mao and Communism. He details life in school that is focused more on Communist indoctrination than the basic educational tenets of reading, writing and arithmetic. At the age of 11, Li was selected from his village by delegates of Madame Mao’s art program to study ballet at the Beijing Dance Academy. The opportunity opens many unimaginable doors including a cultural exchange in Houston with the Houston Ballet in 1979. While in Texas, he begins to realize much of what he was told about the USA was a lie. He loves his taste of freedom in America and is in awe of such abundance and modernity.  The story is of his defection and climax of the book is nail-biting!
  42. The Cay by Theodore Taylor is a beautiful book that opens with 11-year old Phillip in Curacao during World B017WQDIBWWar II after the Germans invaded his tiny Caribbean island. When a freighter he and his mother are taking back to the United States is torpedoed, he finds himself on a lifeboat floating in the sea with an elderly West Indian man, Timothy.  He recalls what his mom says about black people: “They are different, and they live differently.” Phillip displays racial prejudice toward Timothy.  Eventually, the head injury he sustained from the torpedoing causes blindness and causes him to be dependent on Timothy. They develop a strong friendship. While this book takes you on an exciting adventure of survival on a deserted island, the message about love, loyalty and color-blindness is valuable for people of all ages to read. The novel was published in 1969 and dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr.–the year following his death.
  43. The classic tale by Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting, has the reader consider whether eternal life on earth is a blessing or curse. After Winnie Foster discovers a spring that grants immortality, she must decide if she will tell the secret and of the family she has come to know and love who accidentally drank from that spring.
  44. Set amidst a backdrop of World War II and Hitler’s bombings of 0147510481England, The War that Saved my Live by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, is about a 10-year-old girl who never left her one-room apartment because her cruel mother is embarrassed about her clubfoot. When children are sent to another part of England to escape the war including her younger brother, Ada sneaks out to join him.  We really love this story and are ecstatic to find out there is a sequel. The War that Saved My Life has been lauded with many awards and honors and was a#1 New York Times bestseller.
  45. As a lethal plague sweeps through the lands, Ani Mells is shocked when she is unexpectedly captured by the governor’s wardens and forced to submit to a test for the deadly Scourge. She is even more surprised when the test results come back positive and she is sent to Attic Island–a quarantine colony for ill. I give The Scourge by Jennifer Nielsen the highest recommendation. This book is super fast-paced and exciting!!!!
  46. I am Malala is the story of a bold and courageous family living in a remote valley in Northern Pakistan firmly committed to girls’ education. Malala was shot in the head at just 15-years-old because she refused to be silenced on the matter. In addition to learning about Malala and her family’s story, you will receive an education on global terrorism and U.S. foreign policy in the Islamic world from a  Pakistani viewpoint. Malala and her father are inspiration to us all. A young reader’s edition is also available.

What are some of your favorite read-alouds? Please share in the comments below.

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You may also be interested in:

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Where Do Your Homeschooled Kids Learn?

Where Do Your Homeschooled Kids Learn?

After a beautiful day looking for marine fossils led by our favorite naturalist, I came home to these words in a book I am reading:

“To keep students in school and engaged as productive learners through to graduation, schools must provide many experiences in which all students do some of their learning outside school.”

“Most young people find school hard to use. Indeed, many young people find school a negative learning environment. Not only do schools fail to help students become competent in important life skills, they provide a warped image of learning as something that takes place only in schools, segregated from the real world, organized by disciplines and school bells, and assessed by multiple-choice, paper-and-pencil tests. Schools have scores of written and unwritten rules that stifle young people’s innate drive for learning and restrict their choices about at what they want to excel, when to practice, from whom to learn, and how to learn. It is no wonder that so many creative and entrepreneurial youth disengage from productive learning.”–Charles Mojkowski in Living to Learn: How Out-of-School Learning Increases Engagement and Reduces Dropout Rates


I am thrilled, as homeschoolers, we have so many different opportunities to learn in such a wide variety of environments. My favorite learning takes place in the great outdoors! Additionally,  as educational facilitators, we can pick the best teachers for our kids. They are not confined to one teacher in the same classroom for an entire year. With our naturalist, for instance, we have one of the premier teachers available to learn about nature and ecological responsibility.  I love the tremendous diversity in learning opportunities we engage in together with our friends.

Homeschoolers, let’s make sure we are not squandering our wonderful freedoms and benefits in homeschooling to simply stay at home all day recreating school. Yes, do your math, reading, writing or whatever academic subjects you feel are critical.

Ditch what “school work” does not seem to add value in exchange for real edification out in the world. Learn from people who are passionate and want to share that with your kids! By giving your children such tremendous exposure, they will have a greater ability to understand what they are passionate about in addition to a fine education. In my experience, we are a much more joyful family when we are out learning together and not sitting at home all day doing school work.

Enjoy your journey and carpe diem!

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How to Build Your Homeschool Tribe

How to Build Your Homeschool Tribe

My biggest piece of advice for new homeschoolers is to find your tribe. Homeschooling can be one of the most joyful and rewarding experiences for a family. It can also come with frustrations and challenges. A group of friends to do this beautiful life with, as well as encourage and guide you, can make a world of difference for your family. 


When I first began my homeschool journey, we scattered our days with different groups and programs. While I strongly believed the academic opportunities were superior for homeschoolers than in conventional schools, I did not feel satisfied I was building a true homeschool community for my family. It was also important to me that my kids developed the deep relationships that I experienced growing up.  As a result, I became extremely intentional about building a tribe. Now, I could not be happier than I am with our magnificent group of families with whom we do life. I love our joyful journey together, and I know they do, too!

”You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”–Jim Rohn



Homeschoolers are a passionate, generous and energetic bunch. They are more than happy to help you with curriculum or any other frustrations or struggles you may encounter. There are many wonderful groups you may want to plug into.  If you don’t have a group in your area that is a good fit,  I suggest you build your own.

Establish friendships with JOYFUL families. Choose your friends wisely!

 Here are some tips based on my experience to find and build your homeschool community:

  1. Seek out a group of friends who share your priorities. Whether it be faith-based, activity-based such as a nature group, service-based or anything else that is important to you, I strongly recommend you find a group where the parents share your priorities and values. You will help each other out as you bounce ideas off of each other.   Also, having a group of like-minded ladies is a great support to lift each other up during those rough days. Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Office of Facebook, said, “In the deepest sense of the word, a friend is someone who sees more potential in you than you see in yourself, someone who helps you become the best version of yourself.” Your friends will help you to be the best parent and educational facilitator you can be for your kids.
  2. Set up events for families you want to develop deeper relationships with. Plan field trips, park days, Super Bowl parties, Easter egg hunts and more with families with whom you would like to spend more time. Field trips are a great way to find families who have similar interests and kids of similar ages as yours. As some of these same families come to the different events, they will connect with one another developing your homeschool community.
  3. Establish friendships with joyful families. Choose your friends wisely.  I suggest you hang out with families whose children are a positive influence on your kids. The kids in my homeschool circle are kind, get along well with their siblings, enjoy learning and are respectful to adults.  I love Jim Rohn’s famous quote: ”You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  As a mom, you will be encouraged and gain wisdom from the right choice in friends.

    From the beginning, we’ve been homeschooling together.
  4. Create or join a co-op in which different parents use their passions and gifts to teach the kids. We were fortunate to have an amazing co-op in place, and I met some of my best friends there. Co-op is a day that is as much fun for the moms as it is for the kids. While the kids are learning, the moms have the opportunity to connect and chat.  I could have chosen a drop-off program on that same day on a different campus. While it would be nice to have time to run errands alone and some me time, I would miss out on the bonding with my fellow homeschool mamas. I learn so much from other homeschool moms each week as I listen to them and ask questions. We have a great time! I leave each co-op feeling reinvigorated.
  5. Look for friends with similar lifestyles and educational philosophies. I don’t know any two homeschool families that educate in the same way. One of the benefits of homeschooling is the ability to customize your children’s education. However, your questions about curriculum, scheduling,  etc. can best be helped with someone from a similar educational viewpoint.  On the flip side, I see value in having friends with a variety of homeschool styles and philosophies. I learn so much from each one.
  6. Find families with kids near your kids’ ages. Our best friends have kids around the same ages as our own. We still get the benefit of mixed ages interacting because most of our activities are done with family units. However, my kids connect the most with their friends who are close in age and the same gender.
  7. Mom’s Night Out–Get out with your friends! One of the best ways to recharge is to share an evening out, afternoon at the beach, morning hike, a couple of hours over coffee or whatever works for you and your gals. It doesn’t have to cost a dime. The time away from kids is a great time to get to know moms on a different and more intimate level.

    Mom’s Night Out overlooking the ocean!

I can honestly and enthusiastically say that I love homeschooling, and I love our family’s homeschooling friends. I feel so blissful about our lifestyle of learning with them.  I hope to have shared ideas that are helpful to some of you.

Do you love your homeschool community? What are some of your tips? Please share!

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Why I’m Thankful for My Messy Homeschool House

Open Letter to U.S. Education Secretary King Who Says Homeschoolers Would Be Better Off in Public Schools

Business Insider Says Homeschooling is the Smartest Way to Teach Kids in the 21st Century

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning: Part One

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning: Part Two


Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?

Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?

“I could never homeschool. I don’t have the temper for it.” We’ve all heard this many times before. As I contemplate this recurring comment, it makes me wonder if it is actually the opposite of what many people think. Perhaps it takes more patience to have a child in conventional school than to homeschool?

Image result for public domain image elementary school

  • Morning Rush–In homeschool, you don’t have that morning rush to get out the door and be on time to school. When we were in public school, I remember hollering at my kids almost daily to hurry up and get moving so we were not counted tardy. Now, we have a nice breakfast together with lots of read-aloud and discussion time. I love it!
  • Afternoon Homework–Many kids come home from conventional school wiped out but are then required to complete homework on top of their extra-curricular activities. My friend, who recently made the switch to homeschool, told me how she battled with her son nightly to complete his homework, but he was just fried from the long day at school. Now that he homeschools, he chooses to wake up and start his school work at 6:45 each morning so he can get it done early and enjoy free time. She and her husband are shocked at how eager he is to complete his work without any battles.
  • Sibling Relationships–Most of our homeschool family friends have siblings who really enjoy each other and get along well. My hypothesis is because they do so much life together. They have so many meaningful experiences together out in the world. They know one another’s friends well because we are experiencing the world with them, too. We read aloud books as a family and discuss them. Parents also invest a lot of time in character training. I don’t know the precise reasons homeschool kids typically get along so nicely with their siblings, but it is very obvious and impressive. I hear parents of conventionally-schooled parents talk about how their kids fight a lot, and it really comes to a head over the summer. While my kids get into a spat every now and then, it is usually harmonious and playful.
  • Kids with Different School Schedules–Last year, my friend had 4 kids with 4 different school schedules: Kindergarten, 3rd grade, 7th grade and 9th grade. This was a lot of work on her part to drop off and pick up at different times and coordinate carpooling. I don’t have to worry about this as a homeschool parent. My kids do their work in the comfort of our home, and then we are out the door experiencing the world together as a family and with friends!
  • Busywork–Since I select the materials for our homeschool, we are not bogged down with busywork and other assignments that I do not feel add value to my children’s education. When my son was in public school, the homework was so easy, but it was excruciating to get  him to complete it because it was so boring and redundant. I’m also glad we don’t have to spend time on diorama boxes and other such projects.
  • Curriculum–I don’t have to get frustrated because a curriculum does not fit my child’s learning style. As a homeschool parent, I have the flexibility to change it up. I don’t need approval from a teacher, principal or anyone else to make this change.
  • Attitude–Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” My children’s homeschool friends are some of the best kids you could expect to meet. They are kind, smart and excited to learn. They are full of smiles and laughter. I don’t see any type of bullying or attitudes that I hear about with conventionally-schooled kids. I’m thankful my children are growing up with these kids.

“I love being with my children. They’re fascinating people.”–Amy Grant

  • Time with Kids–Some people can’t wait to get their kids back in school. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy some down time. However, I like being with my kids.  I am  thankful to have them for the freshest and best part of their days. Their most alert and cheerful time is from around breakfast until after lunch time. I have not shipped them off for these special hours. I am not met with a tired and overstimulated kid when they return to me in the afternoon. I am not fighting with my exhausted kid to complete homework. Rather, we are usually done with all our school and are already out exploring the world together with friends when the end-of-day school bell rings for most kids.

Are you considering homeschooling your kids? If you are in public school, there usually isn’t a wait list to return if you try it out and it is not a good fit. I say it is worth the gamble because making the decision to homeschool could be one of the best and most important choices you will make in your lifetime.

In his book, The School Revolution, Dr. Ron Paul lays out the case for homeschooling and why now is the best time to get started. This book has been the most influential on my thinking and homeschooling journey.


The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise is another excellent book to read while considering homeschooling. It was the first book about homeschooling I ever read as I contemplated the change from public school. While I do not follow a classical model of education, it gives you many great ideas as well as curriculum suggestions based on grade level.


Continue reading “Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?”

This Presidential Election Reinforces How Glad I Am to Homeschool

This Presidential Election Reinforces How Glad I Am to Homeschool

In an election season where we  have seen numerous examples of corruption, narcissism, poor ethics, and megalomania, it reinforces for me that I am so glad I have taken control of my children’s education back from the government.  I trust that my husband and I know what is better for our children’s education than people with power, money, and agendas at stake.

Dr. Ken Robinson states in Creative Schools: “One of my deepest concerns is that while education systems around the world are being reformed, many of these reforms are being driven by political and commercial interests that misunderstand how real people learn and how great schools actually work. As a result, they are damaging the prospects of countless young people.” Dr. Robinson also  delivered the most watched  talk in history of TED called “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”


I am excited and grateful to be part of the contemporary homeschooling movement. We are a grassroots  movement of families creating innovative, entrepreneurial, and customized educational programs for our children. In addition to solid academics, our kids are learning in such a wide variety of environments that just can’t be replicated with brick-and-mortar schools. The joy and creativity bursting from them is powerful and gives me such hope for the contributions they will make in the future for our world! Innovators and creators are in great demand in this 21st-century economy!

“If parents understood that they are responsible for their children’s education in the same way that they are responsible for their feeding, housing, and clothing, we would see far more attention given to the content and structure of educational programs.”–Ron Paul in The School Revolution

Continue reading “This Presidential Election Reinforces How Glad I Am to Homeschool”

Why I’m Thankful for My Messy Homeschool House

Why I’m Thankful for My Messy Homeschool House

This messy homeschool house is what I came home to this afternoon.  Just off an all-day field trip yesterday and a full day at co-op today, my house will not win any Good Housekeeping awards. Honestly, this is more the norm for my house than an anomaly.

To be frank, a neat house is not my strength or priority. We love to spend our time out experiencing the world and exploring with friends! I cherish the time I read aloud to my kids. I’d much rather be doing those things than fussing over a meticulous house.

This is my trade-off for a neat house. Here are priceless memories from yesterday at an apple farm in the mountains where we learned about life in the late 1800’s as well as pressed apples and made cider with some of our dearest friends.

Continue reading “Why I’m Thankful for My Messy Homeschool House”

Homeschoolers Choose Free Market Over One-Size-Fits All Classroom Education

Homeschoolers Choose Free Market Over One-Size-Fits All Classroom Education

Many homeschoolers have rejected the one-size-fits-all system in public and private school classrooms and have embraced a free market education for their children. As educational facilitators for our kids, homeschool parents are able to choose from vast quantities of curriculum and educational opportunities. With the ability for such customization, I don’t know two homeschooling families who do it the same way. Every plan is unique to each child and family. Homeschooling is educational entrepreneurialism at its finest!

recent Business Insider article titled “Homeschooling is the Smartest Way to Teach Kids in the 21st-Century” squarely stated: “While traditional schools try their best to tailor lesson plans to individual students, teachers often still end up teaching to the middle. There are simply too many kids learning at different speeds for teachers to give each of them exactly what they need. Homeschooling, meanwhile, is personal by design.”

Homeschoolers are free to customize every element of their child’s education and have so many excellent options from which to choose. Here are a few:

  • Curriculum–In most classroom-based public and private schools, a one-size-fits-all curriculum is used. This is not the case for homeschoolers. There is a massive selection of curriculum. Go to a homeschool convention or visit a site like Rainbow Resource to get a taste for all that is out there.  This allows families to select something that is a good fit for each of their children. If after trying a curriculum they realize it is not optimal, they are free to try something else. Their hands are not tied as they would be in a public or private school where a parent must accept their entire program.

Continue reading “Homeschoolers Choose Free Market Over One-Size-Fits All Classroom Education”

Thoughts about Schools on Trial

“On most mornings, millions of young people depart from their homes and travel by cars and yellow buses to drab-looking, claustrophobic buildings. Here, they will be warehoused for the next 6-7 hours. Every forty minutes, they are shepherded from room to room at the sound of a bell. They sit in desks in rows with 20-30 people of similar age, social class, and often race. They are drilled in facts and inculcated with specific attitudes and behaviors. If they get out of their seat, talk out of turn, or misbehave, they risk being drugged to induce passivity. Their day is preplanned for them. To succeed, orders and rules must be followed.”

This is a perfect day of learning to me!

“At the end of the day, they return home bone tired. There, they are forced to complete a few more hours of…homework. They follow the almost exact same routine for five days a week, 180 days a year, for thirteen years, until they are set free or begin another game called college.”

This is a passage from the new book by Nikhil Goyal, a crusader championing experiential and democratic education, called School on Trial: How Freedom and Creativity Can Fix Our Educational Malpractice. I sure am thankful for our freedom in homeschool to learn in such a wide variety of environments and ways! He goes on to discuss everything from mindlessly copying down notes from a lecture with little or no engagement, recall-based exams of which he has forgotten it all and totally scripted labs. Near and dear to my heart, he talks about how his joy of reading was robbed by the school system. Continue reading “Thoughts about Schools on Trial”

Homeschoolers: Originals and Non-Conformists

As a homeschooler, you are an original and non-conformist ready to move the world! Instead of your kids attending conventional schools like 96% of the K-12 population in the USA, you have demonstrated the mettle to provide your children a different experience and opportunity. 


We immersed ourselves in the  genius of  the Walt Disney Company last year at a weekly class inside Disneyland.


“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”–George Bernard Shaw

I love to read a wide array of books, synthesize the information, and apply the lessons to education and homeschooling. I will share many of these synapses with you on my blog with hopes you will have take-aways for your homeschool. Today, I will discuss the #1 New York Times bestseller, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant.


Foreword by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg


According to the book: “Conformity means following the crowd down conventional paths and maintaining the status quo. Originality is taking the road less traveled, championing a set of novel ideas that go against the grain but ultimately make things better.”

“Originals are people who take the initiative to make their visions a reality….When we become curious about the dissatisfying defaults in our world, we begin to recognize that most of them have social origins. Rules and systems were created by people.”

As homeschoolers, we have not followed the conventional path but have taken the road less traveled and created a better education and lifestyle for our children than the status quo. By demonstrating this vision and initiative, we have modeled for our children not to conform and to think critically.

I hope my kids will move the world  with their passion and ideas. As we have embraced a lifestyle with plenty of time for learning out in the world in a variety of ways as well as a home rich in literature and discussion, they are learning to be original and not follow the crowd or a set of codified rules in a classroom.


Continue reading “Homeschoolers: Originals and Non-Conformists”