Eclectic Style: Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series

You may have heard about Charlotte Mason and Classical homeschooling.

You might know people who utilize co-ops or outschool-type classes, where kids go once or twice a week for instruction and tests from a specialized teacher, but do the bulk of their work at home.

You may be familiar with textbook style, traditional homeschooling, where you purchase curriculum, plan your lessons for the semester or year, and handle the instruction yourself.

Each of these options can be fantastic, and we’ve used most of them over the years. But sometimes it can be a challenge to find one style or method that fits your schedule, or your teaching style, or your kids’ learning style. Or, what worked for older ones, isn’t cutting it for younger siblings. Because, as we all learn, kids are all different, with unique needs and aptitudes.

Well my friend, allow me to introduce you to the wonder that is Eclectic homeschooling!

Sometimes, One Size Doesn’t Fit All

It’s a pretty obvious concept, when you really stop and think about it. I mean, we don’t only enjoy one kind of food, or wear one color exclusively. The same is true for learning.

Each of us learn different things in different ways. I think we’ve been conditioned to believe that standardization is the best way to educate, but on an individual level, kids do better with variety.

That’s what homeschooling gives us the freedom to do! And this method allows for the most freedom and flexibility within that framework.

Education Specialized To The Individual

The eclectic method is probably the most popular and easiest to do because it’s not one particular approach. It’s called eclectic because it’s a combination of the others. The parent may pick from several methods combining favorites parts from each.

This is another excellent technique to use when you are just starting out homeschooling, especially if you aren’t sure of the style you’d like to use. Try out some different materials and see which one resonates with your family or specific children.

You may love unit nature studies for science, a classical approach for history, an online program for math (maybe because you’d rather have someone else teach this subject), traditional textbooks for reading, and letting your child lead and explore on his own for arts and creative activities. That’s what eclectic is all about.

It’s Up To You

I have been homeschooling for over several years now, and we are definitely the eclectic homeschooling style in my household.  I have one VERY visual learner who has to see it to understand it, and one with a kinesthetic learning style who needs hands-on practice to drive home new concepts. One homeschooling style would not have worked with both of them.

It became very obvious early on that I needed to individualize the materials for each of them. This does not mean the curriculum needs thrown out. It may simply need some tweaking. If you bought a traditional textbook for a child one year and want to use it with another child who does better with a Charlotte Mason style, one example of a change would be to have the child narrate answers back to you instead writing everything down. There are tons of ways to change up materials. It’s okay to do that!

Freedom And Flexibility

There are a-lot of homeschoolers who utilize this method with great success. Ask around! Get some advice from people you know, or join a group to ask questions and get feedback. There are SO many different ways to make this free-style homeschooling work wonders for your family!

Unsure where to start? Take our Homeschool Philosophy Quiz to get an idea what style suits you best.

Check out the other methods in our Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series.

Traditional (textbook) Method

Charlotte Mason Method

Online Method

Unschooling Method

Classical Method

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement in your homeschooling journey!***

Online Schooling: Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series

Online Homeschooling Is Easier Than Ever

As a home educated kid myself, I know how much easier I have it than my mom! She read articles, joined groups, scoured expos and conventions for deals on curriculum; she was a trooper in the homeschooling world, pre-Pinterest. Today, most of that information is available at the click of a button. There are support groups I can join to get insight and great advice without ever leaving my house, and I can read reviews and get opinions from people all over the world with only a few mouse clicks.

It’s no surprise that this medium has lent itself so seamlessly to homeschooling. A wealth of information on anything has been condensed and made available in safe, reliable formats to help you educate your kids in exciting ways, all while maintaining a level of involvement that you’re most comfortable with. We’ve used this method on and off over the years and loved the flexibility it has afforded us, while keeping a high standard of education!

Some Of Our Favorite Options

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a fantastic homeschool resource. It can be used as a homeschool supplement or as a complete course. This secular is most famous for its quality math lessons, but there is actually quite a wide variety of classes available! Students can study science, history, economics, fine arts, coding, and more.

Oh, and it’s completely free!

Easy Peasy All In One Homeschool

Another fantastic free option is Easy Peasy All In One Homeschool. Easy Peasy offers Christian, online homeschool classes for free to support your home education adventure. Classes are available for preschool – 12 Students access the lessons through a student portal (EP Assignments) and just follow the directions. The courses are organized well laid out. The detailed syllabus is available online so you know exactly what to expect with each class.

Time 4 Learning

Time 4 Learning offers math, language arts, science, and social studies online homeschool classes for students in kindergarten – 12th grade. This program is self-paced so kids can work at their own speed. Time 4 Learning will teach and grade the assignments, but parents can monitor their child’s progress online.

The membership cost is $19.95 per month for the first child and $14.95 for each siblings.

Schoolhouse Teachers

Schoolhouse Teachers offers a wide variety of Christian homeschool options for the entire family. Courses are available for preschool – 12th grade. Class offerings include core subjects like language arts, math, science, and history as well as a ton of elective options. Each class is a little formatted a little differently. Some courses are taught online through videos and others require parental involvement. The courses that require parental support include the lesson plans to make it as easy as possible.

They charge $18.97 for a monthly family membership. Quarterly and annual memberships are also available.

Enjoy The Journey

These are just a few of the many online schooling options out there! There are several  methods or styles of homeschooling and figuring out which one works for your family can take some trial and error, but the journey is so worth it! And the time with your kids is priceless!

Unsure where to start? Take our Homeschool Philosophy Quiz to get an idea what style suits you best.

Check out the other methods in our Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series.

Traditional (textbook) Method

Charlotte Mason Method

Unschooling Method

Classical Method

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement in your homeschooling journey!***

Traditional Method: Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series

 

Traditional (textbook) Or School At Home Method

When we began our homeschool journey, I felt clueless and overwhelmed. I wanted to make sure the education I provided was comprehensive and conducive to my kids’ needs, so we could be as efficient and cover as much ground as possible. I’ve since adopted a much more eclectic homeschool method, but this traditional, textbook style felt like it was well tested and that even I could implement it, despite my lack of experience. If this rings any bells then keep reading!

The traditional or school-at-home homeschooler teaches much like a teacher in the school system would. Parents teach from traditional textbooks similar to what they use in a regular classroom. Some parents borrow the actual books from the school. This method is very appealing to new homeschoolers in that it helps build confidence as they become more comfortable. Because it lays all the lessons out and there is a scope and sequence to follow, they don’t worry about missing skills. Many traditional homeschoolers opt for a complete curriculum package, which can be pricey, but it’s a trade off when everything is thought out and planned for you.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, using the school system’s books is cheaper, however, you risk them not having enough leftover for your child, not getting the books to you until after the school year begins, or having to turn them in before you are finished. This is something to take into consideration. If you plan to put your child back into the school system at some point, this may be the best route. He will be on the same track as his peers and be able to jump right back in.

A Gentler Transition From Public Schooling

Traditional home education is (compared to other home education methods) the closest parents get to replicating the school environment in their home. Many parents who use this method try to create a school-at-home environment with desks and chairs in which homeschoolers sit until their homework is completed. Most homeschoolers take an average of two to three hours to complete their homework, but a traditional curriculum may take a little longer due to in-built busywork.

A drawback to this method is it binds students to a set curriculum and they may not have time to explore other interests. They can also get bored quickly. While textbook style learning can ease the transition from school to home when you’re just starting out, as you gain more experience, you might consider branching out to other approaches if your child isn’t thriving. As we see from our spotlight series, there are SO many options for you to choose from!

Switch It Up With Block Scheduling

One variation to this is block scheduling: working on one subject each day rather than switching between several subjects every day. This has works well for kids who may have trouble transitioning. When my youngest was just starting we implemented this kind of schedule and went from 7-8 hours a day to 3-4 hours a day. She still got as much done each week, but in half the time. It made our days much smoother!

There are tons of options available for traditional/textbook curriculum. We’ve used and loved Apologia, BJU, Abeka, Alpha Omega Press, just to name a few!

Lots Of Options

These are just a few of the many traditional schooling options out there! There are several  methods or styles of homeschooling and figuring out which one works for your family can take some trial and error, but the journey is so worth it! And the time with your kids is priceless!

Unsure where to start? Take our Homeschool Philosophy Quiz to get an idea what style suits you best.

Check out the other methods in our Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series.

Unschooling Method

Online Method

Charlotte Mason Method

Classical Method

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

Charlotte Mason Method: Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series

If you’re a new homeschooler, you might be surprised to know that there are several different methods or styles of schooling at home. Or maybe you’ve heard of Charlotte Mason or Classical methods and like me, wondered what in the world they were! I was completely clueless when we began homeschooling years ago. It can be a bit (or a-lot) overwhelming at first!

So what is the Charlotte Mason Method?

Charlotte Mason was a highly respected British educator of the nineteenth century. She believed in teaching to the whole child and that all learning should be delightful, which was quite progressive for her time. She stressed that lessons should be done in short periods of time, preferably 15-20 minutes for elementary aged students and 45 minutes for high school.

The Charlotte Mason method is based on Charlotte’s firm belief that the child is a person and we must educate that whole person, not just his mind. So a Charlotte Mason education is three-pronged: in her words, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.”

A 3 Pronged Approach

By “Atmosphere,” she meant the surroundings in which the child grows up. A child absorbs a lot from his home environment. Charlotte believed that the ideas that rule your life as the parent make up one-third of your child’s education. By “Discipline,” she meant the discipline of good habits—and specifically habits of character. Cultivating good habits in your child’s life make up another third of his education. The other third of education, “Life,” applies to academics. Charlotte believed that we should give children living thoughts and ideas, not just dry facts. So all of her methods for teaching the various school subjects are built around that concept.

For example, Charlotte’s students used living books rather than dry textbooks. Living books are usually written in narrative or story form by one author who has a passion for his topic. A living book makes the subject “come alive.” This methodology was designed to be childled and includes observation with nature, picture studies, narration, memorization, art and music appreciation, poetry, and handicrafts. There is an emphasis put on reading literature from classics, living books, and biographies.

Making It Work For You

This method is easy to implement. Many parents who feel they aren’t qualified to teach a comprehensive curriculum find this approach more manageable. It allows for a lot of flexibility with the child’s interests and ability. It’s inexpensive and children can move along at their own pace. Because this was developed in the nineteenth century for children who were taught by tutors or their nannies, it was primarily geared towards the elementary level. Parents may find as children reach high school age is it more difficult to attain the same level of education for today’s standards. Supplementing with other materials that are not Charlotte Mason influenced can be a solution. Science and math are also areas that are not focused on as heavily and parents may desire to add some supplemental materials for these as well.

This is a gentler homeschooling style that is more laid back and allows interest-led learning. The smaller time periods for learning are quite effective and keep students motivated. You’ll be surprised what your child can learn in short spurts.

Ambleside and An Old Fashioned Education are FREE, online, Charlotte Mason method curriculum.  You can also find the Charlotte Mason book series on amazon. There are also several resources to buy Charlotte Mason or Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum at Queen Homeschool, Alveary, and My Father’s World.

As with all things, there are pros and cons, but this method is beloved by homeschoolers the world over! Now that you have some foundational information, I definitely encourage you to dig a bit deeper to see if this style is right for your family! Happy homeschooling!

Not sure what your homeschooling style is?

Take the Homeschool Philosophy Quiz and see which method is right for your family!

Check out the other methods in our Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series.

Unschooling Method

Traditional (textbook) Method

Online Method

Classical Method

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

Unschooling Method: Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series


When I first heard this term, I thought it was a joke.  My knee-jerk reaction was that it sounded like non-schooling; a kid’s dream, right? Well, it turns out, there’s quite a bit more to it.

So, what is unschooling?

In basic terms, unschooling is a method of learning that does not follow a curriculum, but instead allows a child’s natural interests to guide the parent in what to study. Marla Taviano puts it this way in her ebook; An Unschooling Manifesto: Unschooling: student-led, interest-driven, mostly-fun, super-meaningful education  that happens at home (and/or any other place along the way). Parents and other adults are valuable facilitators, but instead of lecturing, they’re sharing from experience and often learning right alongside the kiddos. There’s no set curriculum, no list of things the kids need to know, no replication of school at la casa. Creativity and innovation and community (and all the important stuff in life) are encouraged and nurtured. Kids are celebrated for who God created them to be and inspired to become the very best grown-up version of that unique and amazing person. Unschooling families think school cramps their style; childhood’s too short to spend cooped up in a classroom; and learning happens best in the context of real life. And real life starts right this very minute.

What do you do when you want to learn about something?

You look it up, right? That’s what I do. I use Google, YouTube, and Pinterest and instantly I have access to information. Or, I find a book that explains the topic or question and run to my local library or Half Priced Books. The same concept is the basis of unchooling. It’s talking with your kids in detail about their interests, asking questions, and pursuing the answers together using whatever is at your disposal.

Unschooling is about creating a lifestyle of learning.

It’s about learning to learn. It’s about following what sparks your child’s curiosity most and diving deep. When you unschool, “school” and life begin to blend seamlessly together and, before you know it, you’re seeing learning opportunities in everything around you.  Sometimes, you have to leave the confines of curriculum and lesson plans to find out just how fun learning can really be. And in this new unschooling lifestyle of learning, you’re free to explore all the nuances of the things your child is really interested in. This leads to learning from even the most ordinary things: Why does toothpaste foam? What role does gravity play in the health and function of my body? How do bridges work? When was my city founded? Who first discovered cement?

Following your child’s interests may sound like a way to just play video games all day but if you really dive deeper into what their interests are, you can find a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be absorbed. And because they’re interested in it, your child will internalize it like no other.

So how do you actually do it?

1.Encourage questions and be ready to research the answers.

If you can’t research them right away, write them down to look up later. These questions are the jumping-off point for engaging conversation and further research.

2. Figure out what your child is really interested in and dig deep.

Dissect these interests. Think about them through the lens of what they have to teach and make a list of those topics. You may be surprised how quickly the list grows. Check out this Unschooling With A Purpose binder if you want to be intentional with your interest-led unschool.

3. Practical skills count as learning, too

Unschooling is about teaching your kids to be citizens of society now instead of being students now and citizens later. That means teaching them practical skills that they will use in the future, like how to cook, do laundry, keep house, do yard work, maintenance appliances and cars, pay bills and budget money, the list is endless!

4. Make resources available.

Once you’ve figured out what really ignites your child’s curiosity, make as many related resources as you can available on that subject. Always provide access to plenty of books, videos, podcasts, classes, games, field trips, and anything else that you need to learn more about that topic.

Look for classes on Outschool. Join a local homeschool group. Visit the library often, not just for books, but also everything else they have to offer.

5. Let exploration and discovery happen naturally.

Don’t force things. Forcing the process can instantly turn something fun into an unpleasant chore.

6. Never stop looking for new things to investigate.

Dive deep but don’t pigeonhole. This helps keep things fresh and prevents boredom. You can always return to previous topics later. You may even find that the new themes you have investigated bring renewed perspectives and ideas to those older topics.

7. Don’t forget the importance of play and imagination.

We adults sometimes think that play is only recreation, but play is a major way kids learn about and process the world around them. We must build in time for play and allow play to “count”. Even if your children are older, they will still use imagination and daydreaming to learn and process information. So don’t think this step is just for the little ones!

8. Stop thinking of yourself as a teacher and start thinking of yourself as a facilitator or guide.

Instead of putting the emphasis on what you teach them, emphasize what (and how) they are learning. Follow their interests like bread crumb trails, providing supplemental resources, experiences, and discussions wherever possible. You’re there to guide them on their learning journey, facilitating the process, and supplementing wherever you can.

9. HAVE FUN!

This is the most important tip I can give you. Make room for fun in your learning. Plan field trips. Do hands-on activities. Go for a nature walk. Read. Play. Explore. You will be surprised to find that you will learn as much (if not more) than your kids as you make this journey together.

Lots Of Options

There are several  methods or styles of homeschooling and figuring out which one works for your family can take some trial and error, but the journey is so worth it! And the time with your kids is priceless!

Unsure where to start? Take our Homeschool Philosophy Quiz to get an idea what style suits you best.

Check out the other methods in our Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series.

Traditional (textbook) Method

Online Schooling Method

Charlotte Mason Method

Classical Method

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement in your homeschooling journey!***

 

Classical Method: Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series


The classical approach is a very popular method that parallels a teaching style dating back to the Greeks and Romans. A classical education is language-based, rather than hands-on or video-based like many of the other homeschooling styles. Subjects are taught in chronological order so they can overlap historically making events in history much easier to follow. In place of traditional workbooks, there is a lot of debate and discussion used.

Children go through three stages of development called the Trivium. There are also three stages in each subject: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric, which correlate with the Trivium.

Grammar Stage

This first stage aligns nicely with the elementary years. Children in this stage love memorizing and cheerfully agree with you about everything. They parrot jingles from commercials and quote parents. Young children love memorizing facts, even if they don’t truly understand the facts. The little grammar students are busy laying the foundation for future education.

A lot of emphasis is placed on “great books” throughout each level. In modern classical education, elementary kids memorize history lists, parts of speech, and multiplication tables. These years are also the perfect time to have kids memorizing beautiful poetry and Bible verses. Even if they don’t memorize every fact, the object is to expose them to incredible stories. Stories of great men and women from fairy tales and mythology. Stories of good versus evil that will help shape them into men and women of good character.

As you’re teaching your youngest students, remember that you’re laying a foundation. Young kids should love their studies and be eager to learn more.

Dialect or Logic State

If the grammar stage aligns with the elementary years, the dialectic stage aligns with the middle school years. However, there is quite a bit of discussion about when kids move from the grammar stage to the dialectic stage, simply because kids mature at different rates. If the grammar stage is about memorization, the dialectic stage is about argumentation, which corresponds nicely to the tween and early teen years, doesn’t it? Since children in this stage love to argue, it’s the perfect time to teach them critical thinking, logic, and argumentation.

Middle school kids need to learn critical thinking skills and how to argue well. And not only by using a critical thinking text, but also through discussion in all the subjects they are studying. This is a great time to ask kids about cause and effect, about why things happened the way they did. And also to let them squirm just a bit as they think critically about the world. Uncomfortable questions and gray areas can be fodder for some incredible conversations!

Rhetoric Stage

Gradually, when your child stops arguing with you at every turn and you find yourself having deep philosophical discussions about the state of the world or why people are not logical, then your child is entering the rhetoric stage. And the rhetoric stage aligns well with high school.

Once the student reaches this stage, they usually have a good grasp of various subjects such as history and science. They’ve learned the basics and learned to think critically about the world. It’s now time to learn to express themselves well. So encourage your teenagers to ponder and discuss the world around them. Ask questions and encourage your teens to elaborate on their thoughts about everything. You’ll be surprised at the depth of their thinking!

What It Looks Like

For many homeschoolers using the classical model, history is at the center of the education. History provides a systematic framework to develop young minds over 12 years. And literature, writing, geography, fine arts, philosophy, and government can all be taught in and around history. A 4-year rotation through history is popular as it allows you to cover all of world history at each stage.
The four-year rotation is usually:

  1. Ancient History
  2. Fall of Rome – 1650
  3. 1650-1850
  4. 1850-present

The first time through the rotation happens during the grammar stage. So concentrate on teaching kids the essence of what happened and stories of the men and women who shaped history. The second time through history occurs during the dialectic stage so you concentrate on teaching kids to think critically. Why did Napoleon need to sell Louisiana to President Jefferson? Your kids will be in high school during the third time rotation. So now expect your kids to not only think critically but also analyze their studies. What were the long-term consequences of selling Louisiana for both France and the United States? And how can you apply the lesson to your life?

Systematic Studies

This systematic study doesn’t just apply to history, but also to all other disciplines. For instance, many classical educators rotate through the scientific disciplines in a similar manner.

  1. Biology
  2. Earth Science and Astronomy
  3. Chemistry
  4. Physics

And the same happens for literature. Grammar stage kids begin by reading children’s books, Bible Stories, fairy tales, and mythology. In the dialectic stage, they move to classic literature or abridged editions of the Great Books. During the rhetoric years, teenagers read through the Great Books of Western Civilization.

Where to Find It

Because this is such a prevalent way of teaching, there are many pre-packaged curricula choices available to homeschoolers giving you many options to choose from.

Classical Conversations is probably the most popular classical curriculum today. It is is usually done in a co-op so homeschooled students can learn in groups for a few hours each week, and it’s more reasonably priced than most classical curriculum.

Veritas Press is another great option. They offer different plans from K-12th grade, with younger grades being cheaper, while older grades are more expensive. The  plans range from book work alone, all the way to live classes with a teacher and students from all over the world!

Memoria Press has a wide variety of curricula, including pre-school and junior kindergarten and offers offline, book ordering so students can work at their own pace.

There is also a great Classical curriculum available for FREE here.

Pros and Cons

This method can be very time consuming for the student, requiring a lot of reading and taking away from other potential activities. This is more thorough than an education from the school system but will also require more time and dedication. If you’d prefer a more laid back approach, this might not be the best fit.

Ultimately classical education isn’t about just giving your kids an excellent education to get them into college. It’s about teaching your children about what is good, beautiful, and true, about giving them the gift of clear thinking and good expression.

Lots Of Options

These are just a few of the many classical schooling options out there! There are several  methods or styles of homeschooling and figuring out which one works for your family can take some trial and error, but the journey is so worth it! And the time with your kids is priceless!

Unsure where to start? Take our Homeschool Philosophy Quiz to get an idea what style suits you best.

Check out the other methods in our Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series.

Traditional (textbook) Method

Online Method

Unschooling Method

Charlotte Mason Method

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

How to Discover Your Homeschooling Philosophy

What is a Classical Education. Who is this Charlotte Mason person? There’s a Thomas Jefferson style of education? Questions like these plagued me when we first started homeschooling. Most of us have absolutely no idea where to start.How you present information to your students can have a big effect on their love of learning. It can also wreak havoc on your day (trust me!)  The most wonderful characteristic of homeschooling for our family is the ability to do different things with each child, and even different things with each subject! We don’t have to learn math the same way we learn reading. And my youngest doesn’t have to learn the same way my oldest did.

Think about yourself. Are there certain ways you prefer to learn?

  • Would you rather have an eyebrow wax than sit and read a textbook?
  • Does the thought of having to sit in front of a computer for hours make you want to beat your head against a wall?
  • Does the thought of reading stories give you a thrill and make you want to curl up in a comfy chair and get lost in a good book?
  • Do things seem to make more sense when you use your hands?
  • Can you recall facts better after hearing them? Or do you need to write them down?

Being home with my kids allowed me to figure out their individual learning needs, and tailor our education to them.

Thankfully these days, there is more information available than ever before to help you and your family get off on the right foot!

You can also take this Homeschool Philosophy Quiz to find out which style best fits you and your kids!

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

The BEST Advice For First-Time Homeschoolers!

Homeschooling is all about constant learning: for the children, of course, but, perhaps most importantly, for their parents! And if I’ve learned anything from the last few months of this year, it’s that parents are uniquely qualified to teach their own children, but most of them don’t realize it. I’m not sure why that is, though I do have some suspicions. We teach our babies to walk, talk, do a flip, ride a bike, hold a crayon, and brush their teeth. And yet when the subject of education comes up, we feel inadequate or unqualified. As if the first few years of their lives, those years we spent intimately understanding the distinctive way they interact with the world suddenly don’t count.

If this is you, let me assure you: you are absolutely qualified and equipped to educate your children! Learning is about so much more than study guides and work sheets. And the resources available today are endless! You can “do school” in whatever way works best for your individual child: even if that means different things for different kids!  Support groups and co-ops and online resources are more plentiful than ever. Homeschooling is a big job, but there are amazing tools that are super accessible to make it easier on all of us.

If you’re just starting out, this is a great place to begin your homeschool journey! You can check out the homeschool requirements for your state to see how to get started.

Also, give your kids (and yourself)  lots of grace! Take it slow and allow plenty of time to adjust. Enjoy this precious time with your children.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, read these incredible nuggets of wisdom from some of the pros. And remember, you CAN do this!

If it isn’t working, you can change it. Just because it’s the way it’s always been done doesn’t mean it always has to be done that way. -Jessica B.

Deep breaths and stay positive. You are NOT going to screw up your kids. -Erin L

Don’t do it alone! There are so many co-ops full of supportive, experienced moms who can’t wait to welcome you. -Serenity A

When something isn’t working for your family, it is OK to change it. If something is a battle every day, give yourself permission to find something that doesn’t make you crazy-even if it isn’t what you think it is “supposed” to look like. -Allison M.

Homeschool is NOT public or private school at home. It gets to look like whatever you want or need it to for your family. -Nicole D.

You taught these kids to walk, talk, go potty, and eat with a fork, you can teach them grammar and math. Google and the library will be your best learning tools. You don’t have to have a set schedule, desk/classroom space or curriculum and your child will still learn. -Stacey C.

Don’t quit. There will be good days and bad days but keep pressing. It’s so worth it. Living is learning. Grocery shopping is a great teachable moment. Look into unschooling as well. If it gets to be too much on a given day, take a break… go on a field trip. Find a homeschooling group that is like-minded and get in. Your children’s homeschooling relationships are important… Don’t stress. -Cindy P.

Go with the flow. Do not try to replicate school at home. If something doesnt seem to be working try a different approach. If math isn’t going well for the day, make cookies. There is plenty of math involved in baking and cooking. Science not going well? Easy, do some gardening and talk about the plants and soil.
Homeschooling gave us so much freedom. Enjoy it. -Rachael D.

Join a community or co-op! Great relationships, helpful advice and encouragement, socialization for all! -Angel P.

Get organized, find a mentor to help you choose the best curriculum for your family. Check out your local homeschooling community and state laws. You can do it! -Cindy S.

Have fun. Its not a chore. -Alida C.

Don’t be afraid to let them do MORE of what they love and not max out every single subject all the time. Core homeschool can be done much more quickly. Check the boxes on the stuff they need to get done and then let your kids dive into things they just didn’t have as much time to do before. Let them read a lot, dance a lot, build, cook, hike, program, play piano, write music, dissect stuff, garden… whatever makes them light up! Let them do more of THAT STUFF. Pretty soon learning becomes more and more joy and they see the power of learning in reaching places they might want to go in life. -Angel W.

Lower your expectations for all involved!!! And leave plenty of time for the de-schooling process for parents + kids. And ENJOY the heck out of it! -Christi C.

Don’t try to public school at home. -Christi L.

Be patient…. each child learns differently. Gear curriculum to them. Remember you don’t have to spend 8 hours or 5 days on school. 3 to 4 hours for older students is adequate and can have it for a 3 to 4 day schedule. Whatever you do, set a schedule and known its Ok to change things up. -Myriam L.

Don’t feel like you have to do it all. It’s okay if you don’t teach art, music, Latin, …. You don’t have to finish every problem or every lesson or test or curriculum. -Laura H.

Ask advice but trust your gut on what is best for your child. Don’t feel pressured that you have to do a specific program or classes or do anything like anyone else. If your child has educational challenges, here’s your chance to really learn about and understand them in order to adapt things to their specific needs. It’s challenging to you as a parent to really pay attention to those special needs and seek out help for them, but your child will feel heard, understood, and become a more successful learner by your efforts. I don’t know what you know about God, but I have come to know Him pretty well and He has been my greatest helper all these years homeschooling. He’ll be your greatest asset. Just ask Him, He’ll be there. -Jill A.

You don’t have to do it all, or in order. Pick and chose what works and feel free to sip things! They will always learn something. -Amanda H.

Grace…routine…grace…routine…grace….routine – basically routine with a lot of grace for everyone to learn how to learn -Lucy P.

Don’t feel like you have to join a co-op. Some people love them, and that’s great! Others want/need to be able to follow a more relaxed and flexible schedule, and that’s great too. You can still get together for play days and activities even if you don’t do classes together. -Wendy H.

My absolute #1 top piece of advice after homeschooling for many years is that homeschooling doesn’t have to look like public school. I also don’t necessarily like calling it “school”, I like to call it “living life”. Kids (and adults) don’t have to sit at a desk or table to learn. Learning happens all over. If my kids are doing “book work” then they are usually either on the couch, in a bed, on the trampoline, in the back seat while we’re driving somewhere, out in nature, etc. I find that they learn easier and retain more when it doesn’t feel so rigid. Also, there’s nothing saying that if anyone is having a hard day with “school” that you can’t just close the books and go out on an adventure. I feel like SO many newbies want to make it resemble public school and be rigid. You do what’s best for your family. There never needs to be tears. Kids learn best through play and/or learning with their interests in mind. For example, my youngest was obsessed with polar bears for over 3 years (he even insisted his name was Polar). While he knows just about everything there is to know about polar bears, he never realized that he was also working on reading, writing, handwriting, math, geography, science, and art in the process. He just dove in because he was focusing on learning all he could about polar bears. -Leesa D.

You can do a whole lot of school just by reading great books and talking about them! -Mandi E.

Relax. Cover Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. Read Aloud. Play Games. Go on Field Trips. Don’t expect perfection. Get to know your kids. Talk to them. Go off schedule often! Pray -Heather B.

Don’t try to make school at home just like school at school. It will be different– it should be different. You don’t need to “do school” for 8 hours a day, have the exact same routine every day (unless you want to!), or in general try to replicate public or private school at home. Every single homeschool family does things a little differently. Figure out what works for YOU and embrace that. -Jaimie R.

If it feels like a battle, stop. Reassess. Take some time to find a different approach. Ask your child what they want to learn. And look into gameschooling if you have a kid who fights you on any kind of school that they think is school. -Heidi P.

As a parent with five kids, one of whom was homeschooled for high school, and one of whom was an elementary home schooler- keep your child as the center of your plan. If your kid likes to be outside- take them to the beach. Needs structure? Have a schedule. -Nicole L.

Do the stuff that you always thought would have been fun to do in school. Go on day trips, have arts and crafts, bake, go to zoos and museums, learn a new skill, have a read aloud day, literature and movie day, write a story, ect…learning doesn’t always take place in front of a computer or at a desk with textbooks. -Grace B.

Don’t judge the experience by the first year. Give yourself and your kids time to adjust and figure things out. The first year is full of mistakes and learning what works best for your family. It gets better. -Noelle H.

You can do this. There’s never been more resources to help you. -Luke G.

Also, do not try to mimic any other family. Embrace your family style. You can glean ideas from other families, but don’t try to fully imitate another homeschool family. – Annie H.

Play a lot of games and read aloud good literature, follow up on anything in a story that interests them. – Lynn N.

Seek wisdom from those who have done this for awhile and can humbly share their struggles and things they enjoy.

Don’t compare yourself or what you are doing with other moms and what they are doing. All of us are gifted differently and that’s ok. You can do this.. this is your child .. find community that can encourage you on the rough days. – Angela W.

Do not try to duplicate public school at home. Do not be afraid to call it a day and try again tomorrow. Don’t stick to a plan or curriculum that isn’t working. DO include your children in the decisions and process. A child led education is a child interested in learning. There are a lot of ways to learn and teach that don’t involve workbooks, textbooks or even sitting down. Do think long term. None of us get it right at first. There will be challenges when you start. Don’t give up in the first 6 months or even the entire first year. You CAN do this!! – Ronnie J.

Relax and enjoy this time together. Not everyday will be successful and that’s ok. When you , or your child start to get frustrated, take a break and come back to it later. Have fun. Be flexible. Listen to your child and let them have some input in their learning. – Kimberlee R.

Just enjoy! I am so thankful to have spent the last 10 years at home learning with my child, for my child vs letting my child walk out the door every day for hours to be with anyone but us. – Danielle S.

Study your child to know their learning style, needs, strengths, weaknesses etc. Know your self as well. Take breaks when you need to, and don’t compare. Find people that will encourage you as well as guide you. Finally, it’s normal to have good and bad days. Don’t make life changing decisions on the bad days. – Tawanna C.

Homeschooling doesn’t have to look anything like public school. Curriculum materials are your tools, not your boss.  – Paula B.

Make sure your printer works, you have a library card, your internet is a go, you have at least one tv package subscription like Netflix or curiosity stream, and remember to get outside. – Theresa P.

Be patient with yourself. The 3 must-haves are: 1) prayer, 2) good curriculum, 3) coffee. Keep moving forward and know your kids are learning in many different ways when homeschooled. Life skills are important too. – Angela S.

It takes time to create a new relationship with your child. You are now partners in a new journey. Be kind to both of you. It can be scary, lonely, and boring. You can do it. – Courtney D.

Teach to their interests and skills. If high school, be sure your program is accredited. – Carmen C.

Don’t expect to school your child the same hour amount they would in a classroom. It goes at their pace. – Skye G.

Don’t give up. The first year is the hardest. Stick with it and you will figure it out. – Amie L.

Take all the advice given here about relaxing and enjoying to heart. Then also make sure you know your states laws inside out and backwards just to be sure especially for high school. – Jennifer Y.

Oh! And relationship before academics. Don’t sacrifice your bond for the multiplication table. They can reference a chart for that if it comes down to it, but there is no substitute for a good parent-child relationship. – Magi C.

Don’t try to make it look just like public school. Relax and know it will be trial and error for you and the kids. Most of all enjoy your extra time with your kids! – Jessica M.

Breathe. You don’t have to do it all. Now or ever. – Lisa S.

Many subjects can be covered by simply doing life and finding the answers to the questions they will inevitably ask. Often people ask me “what are you using for. . .” And my answer is “nothing”, which isn’t exactly true, it’s just that we don’t need a curriculum, because that topic is a natural part of our lives. – Magi C.

It is not easy. But it is worth it. Choose happiness. Not stress. Not deadlines. Not grades. Happiness. – Melissa D.

There is LOTS of awesome advice in the original post here, on our How To Homeschool For Free page, and in our How To Homeschool For Free – Support Group that you can join here!

What advice would you give to first-time homeschoolers? What do you wish someone had told you before you started? Feel free to add to the list by leaving a comment below with your best advice!

The Best Games for Homeschoolers

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I love games for homeschooling! Our fun time can also be learning time if we pick the right one. Sure, there are plenty of educational websites and apps for kids, and we’ve found them super helpful over the years. We’ve found some fantastic digital back-up for geography and math.

But sometimes it’s nice to turn off the screens and just sit around a board or card game. Some of my favorite childhood memories are playing card games with my family. I play some of those same card games to build memories with my children.  And if a game also happens to reinforce a learning skill or concept, then that’s a double win!

Besides the obvious benefits, playing games together also helps develop and hone social skills, like verbal communication, taking turns, and sharing. Games also help with cognitive and memory development.

This is what you might call a master list of educational games. All ages and skill levels are represented so there’s a little something for everyone.

SHOULD I INCLUDE A BLURB ABOUT AFFILIATE LINKS?

History and Geography Games

                                           

Professor Noggin,s Ancient Civilizations

Timeline 6: American History

Timeline: Inventions

Brainbox: Cities

USA Edition Borderline

10 Days in the USA 

Sequence States and Capitals

Mindware Destination USA

Brainbox: World History

Professor Noggin’s Countries of the World

Brainbox: All Around the World

Geo Puzzle: The World

10 Days in the Americas

Out of the Box 10 days in Asia

Out of the Box 10 Days in Europe

Game Zone Great States Geography 

USA Bingo

Professor Noggin’s Geography of Canada

Geo Bee Challenge Game

Professor Noggins Geography of the United States

Science Games

                                           

Professor Noggin’s W0nders of Science

Hit the Habitat Trail

Wildcraft: An Herbal Adventure Game

Dr. Microbe Game

Dr. Beaker Game

Chemistry Fluxx

Food Chain Card Game

Oceans Bingo

Xtronaut Solar System Exploration Game

Ion: A Compound Building Game

Brainbox: Science and Nature

Bird Bingo

Dr. Eureka Game

Professor Noggin’s Outer Space Game

Science Ninja Chemistry

Totally Gross: The Game of Science

Rock On Geology Game

Fossil On Game of Fossils

Melissa and Doug Suspend It Game

Bug Bingo

Math Games

                                           

Blokus

Yahtzee

Mastermind for Kids

Chess

Balance Beans

Circuit Maze

No Stress Chess

Cat Stacks

Laser Maze

Pentago Triple Strategy Board Game

Labyrinth Board Game

Gravity Maze

Qwixx

Prime Club

Sum Swamp

Little Treasures Code Breaker Game

I Sea 10 Addition and Subtraction Game

Quirkle

Money Bags Coin Value Game

Smath

Word Games

                                           

Pictionary

Scattergories

Wordical

Rhyme Out

Blurt

Pathwords

Word Around

Word on the Street

Taboo

Super Sleuth

Tabletopics: Topics to Start Great Conversations

Boggle

Apples to Apples

Snake Oil Game

Codenames

Story Cubes

Dixit

Bananagrams

Pairs in Pears

Quiddler

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

How to Add Life Skills to Your Homeschool Curriculum Lineup!

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I know, I know, that title seems a bit obvious! If you’ve been homeschooling for even a semester you know that teaching your children at home definitely includes teaching some life skills! Getting them involved with cooking and cleaning the kitchen afterward, or daily chores like sweeping the kitchen after lunch or folding their own laundry are pretty much Home Ec 101. In addition to these basics, there are so many more great skills we can teach them!

Full disclosure: I struggle with this in my home. I’ve always been the “just do it myself” kind. One of my biggest weaknesses is requiring (more like allowing) my kids to do something that I can do more effectively and efficiently. But, if I don’t let them do it, they really won’t learn! I also struggle with implementation. Asking them to clean up a mess for me as I notice it, is really different than assigning them tasks that they are responsible for every day. The former doesn’t teach responsibility or time management, or any of the other vital life skills they should have a firm mastery of when they grow up. Adding some life skills training to our day-to-day curriculum is the best way for them to learn effectively.

A Practical Approach

Get organized.  Having a program to follow with specific skills planned out in advance will make it easier to stay accountable. Knowing what skills to look forward to throughout the year might also help motivate your child.

Recordkeeping. It’s hard to keep track of life skills learned. So much instruction happens naturally in homeschooling, but when you really think about it, we don’t give our kids enough credit for the jobs they do. Print out certificates of completion and add them to your child’s portfolio.

Learn new skills along with your child.  Confession: I don’t know the first thing about gardening. I’m sure there’s plenty of other things I’d learn along with my children’s life skills study.

Cover skills outside of your own comfort zone. I don’t want my kids limited to the skills I have or the skills I feel comfortable teaching (see above). We all have different gifts! I’m sure we’d come across lots of topics I wouldn’t naturally cover on my own and that is a good thing.

It can be counted as high school credit. There are so many courses available to high schoolers. Look for courses outside the title “Life skills” or “Home Economics”. Although those would obviously be perfect, there are also more specific life skills courses available such as Personal Finance or Leadership Management Skills.

Where To Begin

Luckily, lots of other homeschooling mamas have already covered this ground and have provided us with some pretty amazing ideas.

10 Areas of Essential Life Skills for Teenage Boys by Michelle Caskey of Homeschool Your Boys has a great list of things to teach teens. And it’s definitely not just for boys! Every task is essential for anyone who will have to live on their own someday. She even includes a handy, printable checklist!

The Awe Filled Homemaker also has a free checklist for life skills, as well as some great insights and tips for homeschooling

Don’t Fail Your Kids by Dachelle of Hide the Chocolate. Don’t be afraid of that title! This site is anything but judgmental! And between giggles, you’ll find some really great info about how to teach them the basics.

Practical Life Skills for the Gifted Teen, a post series by Renee at Great Peace Academy, is filled with information worth bookmarking. Although gifted education is Renee’s niche, this series would be perfect for all teens. She covers topics like cooking, finance, and home management.

Check out this Life Skills Bingo printable pack from Ginny at Not So Formulaic! Even if you’re not in the mood for bingo, she has a fantastic life skills post series worth reading.

Books About Life Skills

1001 Things Every Teen Should Know Before They Leave Home: (Or Else They’ll Come Back) by Harry H. Harrison Jr.
This is a great chapter book and a must for parents who want to make sure their kid can make it out there! 

7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey.
Effective teens? Um, yes, please! This book is adapted from the New York Times Best-Seller, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, and author Sean Covey has updated it for the children of the digital age. Adding this one to my cart right now!

A Young Woman After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George, and A Young Man After God’s Own Heart by Jim George.
These books are sure to challenge and bless your young people!

             

The Leader in Me by Franklin Covey.
This is a series for elementary-aged students based on the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In the guide levels 1 – 6, lessons feature 10-minute activities that help students reflect on their lives, develop leadership skills, and set goals. This is a flexible program that can be assigned daily or weekly. A teacher’s guide is also available.

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***