Posts Tagged ‘homeschool’

A new school year has started for many, including us, and you might have created a list of all the things you will need for the new year. But, do you have a list of things you don’t need to homeschool your kids? I have created a list of items that are not required when it comes to homeschooling your child.

Homeschooling has become very popular, and you have many options when it comes to homeschooling. Whether you teach your children at home or join in a co-op, there are items you don’t need for a successful school year.

A Designated School Room

Nature hike with kids Austin.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have a room that is designated just for teaching your kids. It might be nice to have a little space you can use just for teaching that you can decorate, but it isn’t a must. You can teach your kids at the kitchen table, on the living room floor! It doesn’t have to be fancy. We will sometimes have lessons outside, in my bed, or even at the pool. Usually we start in the living room, move to the kitchen then to the playroom for our final lessons.

A Teaching Degree

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

When you take on homeschooling some may people think you have to have a teaching degree. It can be intimidating starting out, but you don’t have to be a certified teacher to teach your kids. You will be working one on one with your child, and you will have many resources at your disposal that will help give you the tools to teach them properly! As your kids get older there are many online programs to help them learn on their own, or with online instructors as well.

A Specific School Calendar

Homeschooling is a lot different than public school. You might decide to teach year round or only do four days a week. It is up to you, and you choose when you do school and when you don’t. You don’t have to mimic school breaks that your  public schools follow.We had school on Labor Day but we’ll take off a day when I’m out of town in a couple weeks. We went a little further into the summer and sometimes we have Saturday classes instead of Monday. You choose how long you take off at Christmas or Thanksgiving, or you might decide you won’t take a vacation. One of the beauties of homeschooling is having it fit to your life and schedule.

Child Working on One Grade Level

Some homeschooled kids work at different grade levels. They might do one grade for language arts, another grade for history, another for science, and so on. With my daughter we started second grade history, science and language arts last year. We also finished math early and moved on to the next series. She’s struggled a bit with reading so we’re working on that on her own pace as well. A lot of homeschoolers don’t really focus on grade level but tailor it to fit the child’s needs and abilities.

Involved in Lots of Activities

Some families love to do a variety of different activities. But you don’t have to be on the go all the time. You might do just 1-2 activities, and that is okay. Last year we did a homeschool co-op, a Wild Explorers Club, tumbling, piano and art. This year she’s just doing competitive cheer, piano and art (and Wild Explorers when we remember). Don’t feel you have to go-go-go all the time, you can keep a more relaxed pace if you prefer!

Approval from Others

When you tell someone you are homeschooling your children, you’ll could get a variety of reactions. There is still a bit of a stigma to homeschooling. Just last week my daughter asked me what “awkward” meant because she overheard someone saying homeschooled kids are awkward.

You don’t need the approval from others to take the leap to homeschool. Don’t worry what others will say, do what is best for your family and your child, and ignore the comments!

Buying New Curriculum

homeschool curriculum

You don’t have to buy new curriculum each year. There are free online resources, or you can buy used curriculum through a homeschool conference or bookstore! This can help cut down cost, and make homeschooling a bit more budget friendly. You can also make up your own curriculum based on your child’s interest, a bit of Pinterest and trips to the library. I personally buy my curriculum because I like having a schedule to go by, or at least pick from but it’s not required. I also like to bounce around using different workbooks and programs, games and activities.

The great thing about homeschooling is that YOU are in control. You’re not in a race, you get to work at your own pace and go through the school day when and how you wish. Embrace that, have fun, and you’ll be off to a great start.

7 things you don't need to homeschool your kids.

When it comes to schooling decisions we are taking it year by year and kid by kid. I’ve finally settled on the approach we’re taking with our son this year. Today’s post is sponsored by LeapFrog, but the story, and opinions I’m about to share are all my own.

I went back and forth trying to decide if my son would go to preschool this year. He is a completely different kind of learner than my daughter. He can sit and work with his hands, build, and play for hours. But he’s not one to sit down and color a piece of paper, work on crafts or anything like that. But I have a serious problem with underestimating him. He’s my youngest and in my eyes I still seem him as a 2-year-old. Not the 4-year-old he is. I often assume he can’t understand me, or he’s not ready for chores, this or that, but I’m totally selling him short in the process.

He is finally starting to sit and listen to a lot of books, he’ll make requests for what he’d like us to read to him, and he’s communicating a lot better, so I figured we’d give some preschool a try at home. Last year I didn’t do much with him since I was just getting my footing with homeschooling Lil’ J, but this year I’m going to put some of the focus on him as well. He will still be in his gymnastics mothers’ morning out program four hours a day twice a week, but the other three days I’m going to try to have a little schedule planned for him as well. I’m still working out the kinks but here are a few things I’m wanting to experiment with.

Montessori Activities and puzzles

I’m not a pro at putting together Montessori lessons but I did try a couple last year. The first one involved me taking a muffin tin and putting a different colored piece of construction paper at the bottom of each circle. Then I gave him tweezers and had him move different-colored puff balls from a Tupperware container to the matching color paper. I showed him how to do it once then he took over. I was thrilled when he completed the task with a proud look on his face then proceeded to do the activity two more times.

The second one involved a bowl of hot and cold water and tongs. He moved his color-changing card between them. He loved this too!

Cars lightning mcqueen montessori activity

The next day I researched a dozen other Montessori activities and hit up the dollar store to make a handful more to try later that week. He liked one with bowls of hot and cold water that he could change the colors but he decided he’d rather play with his toy trains and dinosaurs and I gave up, considered it a bust. I think that he would be interested in more of these activities but probably not back to back, and in short increments of time.

Leap Frog Academy

This is an online interactive learning tool for kids 3-6. I thought LeapFrog would be a great brand to partner with because we love their educational videos on Netflix. They recently launched a new online/app based learning program and we just started it last month. As I was getting it going I thought it may be more for my daughter. She is struggling a bit with reading but excelling at math and really savvy on computers. I set up profiles for both of them and my daughter was chomping at the bit to try first. I set her level to intro to 1st grade–The highest option right now, and she sat down and as I expected, started flying through it.

She did get hung up on some of the reading words but what I loved about the game is that it has a very good mix of fun and education. We’ve tried a couple similar programs and usually either she gets bored with education games that are all flash cards or trying to get correct answers, or I cap limits on games that offer no educational value. So far this seems to have a really good mix of both. My Learning Lab gives extra practice in subjects she needs help mastering and gives more difficult activities to challenged.

Next up I gave my son a try. There is an app I can install on our iPad, and I knew since that’s what he’s familiar with he’d probably be able to play it better, but I figured since we were already on the computer I’d give him a shot.

Watch his first try

I set up a profile for him, choosing the pre-k level. Mind you he’s never sat at a computer before, besides to bang on my keyboard and drive me nuts when I’m trying to work. This was my first time showing him how to use a track pad and computer.

Once again, I realized I have seriously been underestimating his capabilities. It took a little bit of coaching but within a couple minutes he was getting it on his own and laughing at making the game work. He was really excited to be using the computer on his own, and did really well identifying the numbers on the screen and completing the game. But his attention span was much shorter than my daughter’s. He was ready to go back to playing with his cars and bridges after three or four games where my daughter probably could have played for an hour. But you know what? That’s totally ok! I’m putting this down as a free-time activity for her, and a lesson activity for him during this school year. I’m excited to see how it goes and watch his skills progress.

Reading Practice

I’m taking this approach with a bit of trepidation because I don’t want to go overboard and stress either of us out. But I feel pulled to play with this a little with my son and see where it leads. See, he has an incredible memory. He knew all of his letters at 2 just from watching YouTube videos of letters on a train. I’ve told him the numbers of his Cars toys and he remembers… “Lightning McQueen is ninety five”, “Cal Weathers is forty two” and so on.

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

When I present information in a way that’s interesting to him, he will remember a lot. So I’m wanting to play with sight word flash cards, and letter sounds. Nothing too intense and only for 5-10 minutes a day. But I think if I stick with it, he will really pick up on it. And if he doesn’t? No pressure, we can try other strategies.

I think the main thing with this guy will be remembering his short attention span. And not forcing him to do any activity for too long. Going for 5-10 minutes then letting him take a break while I work some more with his sister. Most importantly I want to incorporate things that make learning fun for him. That will likely mean incorporating his dinosaurs and toy cars. I really don’t want to stress out about this, but keep it simple and enjoyable. We’ll still plan a lot of time outside and time for me to read aloud to both of them. I may even get Lil’ J to do some kind of learning activity with him daily. Maybe even just selecting his profile on Leapfrog Academy, or doing a puzzle with him. Something that gets her helping and keeps both of them learning and learning how to work together.

Do you have preschoolers? What are your strategies for encouraging learning?


Homeschooling a preschooler.

I’m passionate about getting my children excited about learning. That’s why I’ve partnered with LeapFrog for 2017, to share our journey to making learning fun and inspiring my kids to be the best they can be. LeapFrog Academy takes kids on Learning Adventures that guide children around the islands in My World to explore eBooks, games, puzzles, videos, music, and art activities. Adventures focus on specific subjects and have titles like Get Ready for Preschool; Letters, Sounds, and Rhymes; Math and Science; and Critical Thinking and Problem Solving. You can learn more about the program and sign up for a free trial here.

As a little girl I always looked forward to the first day of school. I loved all the hype and excitement around back to school shopping for supplies and new clothes. Heck, I still get excited for this with my own kids, but the dynamic is different now that we homeschool. With public school there can be first day of school pictures, a new outfit, backpack, and so on. It’s not exactly the same with a class of one. But just because you homeschool, doesn’t mean you can’t create your own first day of school traditions.

If you homeschool you might already have some first day of homeschool traditions that you do in your home. The idea of making the first day of school more exciting and creating fun traditions for you and your kids, can be so special. If you are about to begin your first year of homeschooling, or have been homeschooling a while and haven’t even thought about this, that’s ok too!

I have pulled together 10 fun first day of homeschool traditions you might want to do to start the year off on a positive note. Have fun and make a big deal of the first day (or first “official” day if you’re like me and school year round). Your kids will love it, and I think you will too.

 

10 Ways to Make the First Day of Homeschool Special

1. First Day Pictures

Find a shaded spot in the yard or somewhere in the house and take first day pictures. Grab a chalkboard and write first day or something clever along with the child’s grade. If you plan ahead you can order these milestone cards and have your kids decorate them before the first day. Or have a custom Etsy printable designed first day sign like we did last year. This is a fun way to do something special, and you will be able to look back over the years. I love doing the first day and last day of school. You will be amazed at how much your child will change during a school year!

2. Decorate

If you have a designated area where you do school work, maybe get a banner or add some fun decorations for back to school. You can shop online at like Amazon, or find decorations at your local stores. This can be a fun way to make them feel extra special!

3. A Special Breakfast

Do you have a special breakfast you like to make? If so create a fun breakfast for your kids, as a way to celebrate the new year. Some fun breakfast at home are sprinkle pancakes, a breakfast casserole, french toast, or anything else your family loves. We love making heart-shaped or Mickey Mouse waffles with fruit but we also enjoy our local donut shop. So heading out to pick up your favorite muffins or donuts is totally another fun option.

4. New School Supplies

Have some fun school supplies waiting for your child. This could be a pretty and fun binder, neat pencils, anything to make a big deal about the start of the new year. If you present them in gift wrap or a gift bag it can make opening them even more fun for the occasion.

5. A Poetry Tea Party

10 first day of homeschool traditions

We kicked off the official school year last year with a poetry tea party. Gather up your favorite poetry books, or check some out from the library, set out muffins, fruit and other snacks and don’t forget the tea (or in our case, apple cider)! Take turns choosing poems to read aloud while enjoying the warm drink and snacks. We even kicked ours off last year with a candle and “happy first day of school” song. We continued to have poetry tea parties about once a week through the rest of the year.

6. Goals for the School Year

You know I love setting goals. On the first day of school sit down with your child/children and let them create a few goals for the year. Maybe they want to read 20 books, or learn Spanish, or learn the capitals of all 50 states. Do some short term goals and even long term. It is a fun way for your child to feel inspired and reach to meet those goals throughout the year.

7. Begin a New Read-Aloud

Starting a new book is a fun way to kick off the year. If you aren’t reading aloud to your kids yet you totally should. Not only is it a great for their development but it’s a great bonding experience. You can choose a book together before the year starts, or pick one to surprise them with that you know you’ll all love.

8. First Day Gift

Find something small to give to each child. Then when school begins they will have a small gift to open! This could be something fun like a book, pencil box, a journal, new calculator, new shirt, a fun toy they can play with after school, or something else. It is a way to make them feel extra special.

9. Get Out of the House

Surprise your child with a first day of school field trip. Whether it be to go to a local museum, library for a learning activity, a park, or somewhere else. It can be a fun way to kick the year off. Just find a field trip that can tie into a subject you will start teaching on!

10. Time Capsule

homeschool traditions make a time capsule

On the first day, create a time capsule with your child. You can have them write down fun things on what they like at the moment. Toss it in a shoe box and if you’re ambitious–bury it in the backyard, and try to forget about it. Then when the next school year comes around, you can go out and dig it up. If you’re like me you’ll hide it at the back of a closet and remember it when you finally clean it out a year or so later. Either way, you’ll get to see what has changed from the previous year.

Some ideas: Favorite color, favorite subject in school, favorite food, favorite book, favorite movie, etc. Have them sign it and then fold up the paper and toss it in a box and bury it or even hide somewhere in the house!

Hopefully these give you a starting point. And if you have your own first day of school traditions (homeschool or not) I’d love to hear them!

10 first day of homeschool traditions

 

I have been wanting to do a “day in the life” post for a long time. I’ve done a couple vlogs that show part of our homeschool day, but never a blog post. … Until now! First, off, let me thank Nothing But The Fruit NBTF for sponsoring this fun project! I decided to spend a day photographing our homeschool routine so I could share it here on my blog.

I say “day” but really homeschool for us, when we stay on track (and I don’t stop to reply to emails/Facebook comments/ answer phone calls), only takes about two and a half hours. On a day where we only get slightly offtrack we’re usually still able to finish before lunch. But we have piano and art at lunchtime each once a week so we’re usually trying to beat the clock so we can eat before heading to those activities.

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

Ok enough rambling. Here’s how it goes…

7am-8am: Wake up

My son is my alarm. He’s usually up around 7 but I live for the days he lets us sleep until almost 8.

8am: Breakfast

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

My daughter usually makes something simple in the toaster for the both of them. If her chores are done (her room and the playroom is clean are the main ones) she can listen to an audiobook or podcast while she eats. I’m usually trying to straighten up a little and pull out our binder for the day.

The kids get dressed and ready for the day after breakfast.

8:30-9am: “Morning time”

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

We will sometimes do this at the table, we did this day, but 90% of the time we actually usually do this in the living room snuggled on the couch (like we do here in this vlog). We sit and I’ll read history while she colors a page about the time period we’re reading about and then we’ll discuss it, and practice a scripture verse that’s either one from the week in our curriculum or one she’s suppose to say in Primary at church.

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

What is my son doing during this time? During the school year twice a week my son goes to a gymnastics preschool but on days like today he’s usually playing independently in the playroom. Building bridges and train tracks.

9-9:20: Math

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

We use Math-U See and we usually spend about 20-30 minutes either learning something new, or reviewing. We’re about to take a break from doing new lessons and spend the rest of the summer reviewing and nailing down a lot of mental math. If my son is home and interested I’ll invite him to play with the unit blocks. This is a subject he does seem to enjoy.

9:20-9:45: Language Arts, spelling and handwriting

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

It doesn’t take too long. We practice 10 words a week and every few weeks we’ll review. On Fridays we usually have a grammar lesson. We study a poem each week and she will copy a few lines for copywriting or “handwriting” practice. She’s improved a TON this last year working on it daily.

9:45-10:10: Phonics

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

My most difficult subject to teach, but my daughter says it’s her favorite. I think because I try extra hard to make it fun. I really try to be careful as much as I want to, not to push it too far or we both get frustrated. Sometimes we just spend the time reviewing sight words and making a fun game out of it where she tries to read a word before I do (I close my eyes and count before reading it, giving her a head start). If she gets it right first she gets a treat, if not, I (or her brother) does. A fun little snack to break up the day.

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

Sometimes we’ll use mini candies but I prefer something like the Nothing But The Fruit snacks. Both my kids like it and they’re made with 100% fruit just picked, pureed and pressed into little cubes.

At this point my son is usually craving some attention too so I’ll work on word puzzles and I’ll give him a NBTF cube once he finishes one too. Yea, ok, kinda like puppies but it works!

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

Sometimes she’ll practice her tumbling while we do word review. She’ll do some flips on the mat and I’ll set up a sentence for her to read.

Once we’re done with word review we’ll practice new phonics skills and/ or she’ll read a story to me. All of this we still try to keep within that 25 minute timeframe.

10:10-10:30: Science Experiment or Geography

We have several world and USA maps, sometimes we’ll review states but our Heart of Dakota curriculum usually has some kind of activity for the day to teach about equators, weather, or something of the sort. This summer we’re about to take a break from our HOD curriculum though and dive into unit studies (study based on interest/particular topics) and go through a lot of our Magic School Bus science experiment kits. I’m really excited for that!

10:30-11am: Read aloud

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

I spend 30 minutes a day during homeschool reading aloud from either the book we’re reading as a part of our curriculum.– Which could be a biography, a fantasy book, adventure, or something else. I read, then she narrates back what was happening in the story. We’ll discuss characters, plots, protagonists and antagonists etc. Our curriculum guide book gives me a good idea of what prompts to ask but as we’ve gone along we’ve come up with some of our own.

DONE! – Maybe.

In a nutshell that’s it. Of course if we add in breaks or go long with some things, or take breaks from a subject one day, the time may get stretched or cut a bit. This isn’t a steadfast rule. Sometimes we say “screw it all” and take a field trip or even just lounge in our PJs and read books all day. Reality is we have that freedom and we take full advantage.

Usually we are done by lunch then we head to our early afternoon activities afterwards, or we grab a quick snack to take with us, and have lunch after. When her brother is at preschool we can have an hour or so of free time before picking him up.

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

After school, the rest of their chores, and extra reading time we allow them to have some screen time. But on our busy days a lot of the time the iPads stay packed away.

I’m hoping in the next month or so to show more of our new summer homeschool routine using unit studies… Maybe even go through the rest of the day including piano lessons/practice, cheer practice and hair routines at the end of the night.

If you have any other questions about our routine or how we homeschool, let me know and I’ll address it in an upcoming post.

What’s your schedule like? More or less laid back than ours?

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

This is a sponsored conversation written in partnership with Nothing But The Fruit. Available at Starbucks, Target, Meijer, Winn Dixie, BI-LO and online at amazon.com

Well we’ve survived our first year of homeschooling. Though we’re continuing through the summer we’re taking a different approach (one I probably should relax and use more during the year) and just reviewing every day, and diving into subjects that excite them.

I wanted to jot down how the year went so I can remember and maybe set some reminders for myself as we start this new year. Here are some things I want to keep doing and change up a bit.

HAVE FUN

This year was a lot of fun. When I look back at all the things we did: the books we read, the trips we took, the people we met. We did A LOT. I just asked my daughter what she enjoyed about homeschool this year and she said: “I liked listening to Hamilton and learning about the election where he helped decide who should be president.” ha!

getting ready for the first day of homeschool

She also learned a lot about Frederick Douglass, Hellen Keller, New Amsterdam and early colonial pioneers. Needless to say we hopped around history a bit. It’s so rewarding when she recalls a lesson we had on Holland or King James III and brings it up in random conversation. But even still there’s something I wish we had done more of and that’s…

LET GO OF TRADITIONAL SCHOOL IDEALS

Learning outdoors with kids, deschooling and re-learning how to have fun while learning. Homeschooling adventures.

For me this was (and still is) so hard for me to grasp. Last summer I was all about getting outside, counting, doing math with rocks, listening to audiobooks and learning casually. Once August hit I sorta panicked myself back into a “typical school” schedule, trying to cram eight subjects in, and rarely diverting from that unless we were on a trip or planning for a trip.

It was really fun when we went to D.C. in October and did a unit study about Washington, D.C. and again in February when we spent a month studying Black History. But other than that we mostly stayed to our curriculum. Which is ok, but I want to give myself permission to be more flexible and go off and study space, or Egypt or oceans, or whatever they find fascinating.

The main thing that’s important is that I…

MONITOR GROWTH

Deciding home school

It’s easy to forget how far we’ve come when I’m constantly looking at where we are. Reading is easily my most difficult subject to teach. I don’t have the patience I do for other subjects and it frustrates me watching her stumble over words she knows. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lamented to other parents, friends and homeschool groups trying to get reassurance and remember that THIS IS NORMAL!

A huge relief has come just flipping back to where we started. Seeing the books she was learning to read at the beginning of the year compared to what she’s reading now is a HUGE improvement. Seeing her handwriting at the end of the year versus the beginning is a HUGE improvement. The math she’s working on, the history she’s learned, all of the books we’ve plowed through together… She’s grown so much, and that’s what I need to keep track of not…

COMPARISONS

I know it’s my problem and I have to let go of comparisons… Comparing her to where I was, where other kids are, and just let her be herself. Same with my son who is just an entirely different ballgame. I need to remember they are who they are and that my job is to do what I can to help them be their best selves… Which is the main why I got into this whole homeschooling thing anyway.

It has truly been a fun year and I’m excited for the fun and growth ahead.

Highlights this school year:

Visiting Washington DC
Losing her first tooth
Completing All About Reading Level 1
Completing Math You See Alpha
Finished a Hellen Keller biography
Completing Half of Heart of Dakota Beyond
Enjoying poetry tea parties
Participating in an Martin Luther King Jr. Day Walk
Making friends at our Compass Co-op and studying art, poetry and Shakespeare
Taking video-editing lessons from mommy
Taking sewing lessons from mommy
Learning her back walkover and making an All-Stars cheerleading squad
Getting her first camera and learning about photography
Visiting Walt Disney World 2Xs and doing the Wilderness Explorers Challenge

And so much more that I’ll need to come back to and update with more posts and links.

last day of homeschool first grade what I learned

“Are you going to homeschool your son too?” It’s a question I am getting a lot lately. And to be honest, I’m not sure.

Since my son was only 3 when we started this homeschool endeavor I didn’t give it much thought. But now it’s something I feel like I should start considering.

He’s completely different than my daughter who welcomes the challenge of homeschool, and, well.. Actually listens to me. He learns differently. My son isn’t one to sit down and color, or practice writing letters, or even craft for very long. I still have to find a method that works best for him. But so far I know what it’s not, and that’s sitting still and following my instructions.

Deciding whether or not to homeschool a sibling. Homeschooling and unschooling methods that work for different students.
Deciding whether or not to homeschool a sibling. Homeschooling and unschooling methods that work for different students.

He behaves well for others. In his little mother’s morning out program he participates and follows instruction. He’s still his silly self, but he seems a bit more contained. Around me he lets loose and feels free to be as silly (and sometimes disobedient) as he wants.

This fall he’ll be entering Pre-K. My husband and I have been debating the local half-day program, keeping him in his twice a week gymnastics/casual school program (which I’m opting for), or homeschooling him “full-time” alongside his sister. I’m debating the last option because, well… I like my sanity.

He’s most in his element in two situations: Building (specifically his wooden train tracks and unit blocks). And when we leave the table, desks and books behind and head outside to run, jump and climb.

Deciding whether or not to homeschool a sibling. Homeschooling and unschooling methods that work for different students.

“What are we gonna do?” he asks me when I tell him we’re going to do something fun. When I grab his Stride Rite sandals and his helmet, he knows we’re in for an adventure.

“Are we going to see water?” He’ll ask me as I strap his sandals to his feet. A sunny day and no socks usually leads him to this assumption.

It was my goal to ditch the indoors and do more outside, even if just in our backyard or our neighborhood playground. From catching toads (ok, well I catch them, they run and scream from me), to identifying caterpillars and butterflies, they are natural explorers. We did quite a bit of that, but not as much as I had hoped. More on my first year of homeschool summary and thoughts soon, but for now I’ll say that we’re planning to continue our lessons through the summer, and definitely involve more play and discovery.

Deciding whether or not to homeschool a sibling. Homeschooling and unschooling methods that work for different students.

This is when my son gets in his own little zone. He picks up a rock and tries to see how far he can throw it into the pond. He asks about bugs and other creatures we discover. He’ll play nice with his sister, follow directions and stretch his wings while also staying close enough to be safe.

In so many ways these are reasons homeschooling him would be a perfect environment. We’d have the freedom to learn in unconventional ways.

I’m just beginning to understand how he loves to learn, but I’m hoping to tap into that so that no matter where he is, I can give him what he needs to not only learn, but thrive.


Deciding whether or not to homeschool a sibling. Homeschooling and unschooling methods that work for different students.

I’m teaming up with Stride Rite over the next few months to share our family adventures and style. These are the Phibian Sneaker Sandals. From the parks to the pool, my kids can keep them on all day. They’re machine washable, quick to try and made for the land, sea and everywhere in between. Check out the full line with an array of colors. All opinions are my own. 

Sponsored by Connections Academy. All opinions are my own.

When you tell someone you’re homeschooling or virtual schooling (where the student attends school from home and instruction and curriculum are delivered via an online platform) there’s a good chance you’ll get hit up with a barrage of follow-up questions. These can vary depending on who you are, how long your students have been attending school from home, and, of course, who’s asking.

I’ve been homeschooling just under a year and while the trend is growing in popularity, there’s still a lot of curiosity around it, and why anyone would decide to go this route. Sometimes these questions include a few that make me want to roll my eyes. So, let’s get it all out today. Here are 10 annoying questions those who virtual or homeschool their kids hear and answers that should help clarify why parents choose to have their child educated at home.

1. Are you worried they won’t have a “normal” childhood?

I’m not sure if people ask this because they think I’m depriving my kids of something better. What is really normal these days? Education is changing, and around the world, students learn differently. I don’t think a normal childhood has to be defined by kids sitting in a traditional classroom for hours every day.

2. Is this a religious thing? Why did you decide to homeschool?

This typically comes from people who think I’m doing this in an attempt to shelter my kids. No, I’m not an ultra-conservative religious person who is homeschooling for religious reasons. I’m actually pretty moderate to left-leaning. There’s no one mold for all students who learn at home. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s really flexible, and that’s one reason I love it.

3. Are you going to homeschool forever?

Man, that’s a lot of pressure! I’m not even sure what we’re having for dinner tonight. I can’t commit to a forever plan for school. Let’s just take this one year and one kid at a time. What I do know is that families have the opportunity to choose the education model that works best for their kids—for mine right now, it’s homeschool, for others it’s virtual school or the traditional brick-and-mortar school that is the best fit.

4. So they’re not socialized? Do they have any friends?

This is easily the most common question people ask me. A long time ago before the internet and Facebook groups, I can see how it would have been hard for children who learn via virtual or homeschool to connect with one another. But now that’s just not the case. My kids meet weekly for hiking trips, art classes, gymnastics, and to discuss poetry and Shakespeare.

And if kids are enrolled in an online school program like Connections Academy, there are a variety of extracurricular activities, field trips and even service projects through National Honor Society they can participate in—keeping students connected both online and in-person. Students also attend LiveLesson® sessions where the teacher leads students through lessons online in a virtual classroom. The children can discuss lesson content via chat pods and through microphones, keeping them socially active and engaged with other students and their teachers.

5. What does your daughter think?

I’ll ask her when I release her from her sentence of solitary confinement. I kid! The homeschooling decision isn’t 100% up to her right now but I do value her opinion. She loves it. She loves spending time with me and her brother, and all of the fun things we’ve been learning about. And learning on the road as we travel. Connections Academy supports learning outside school walls, too, and encourages students to soak up knowledge from all kinds of experiences like a local park, historical site or museum.

6. Do you ever get out of the house?

Nope, never. I mean really, this hardly warrants a response. Of course we get out of the house! It’s a big part of why we love learning from home – the flexible schedule means we have more time to go outside, explore and learn through real-world experiences without missing out on education.

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with kids.

7. How will they play sports?

Just like any other child. I sign them up and they can play. My daughter just made a competitive cheer squad. When they reach high school we may look into participating in sports at the schools we’re zoned if we’re still homeschooling. Clubs sports are also an option to keep kids active and following their passion.

Tiny gymnast 6-years-old. It's crazy watching your child become a person. Tiny gymnast 6-years-old. It's crazy watching your child become a person.

8. Are you worried she’ll get behind?

No. I’m not worried about her being behind or ahead, I am concerned about pushing her to reach toward her full potential and moving at a pace that works for her, as well as about subjects that interest her. Not trying to keep pace with an entire class. And, with an option like Connections Academy online schools in particular, their curriculum meets state standards – there is even required state testing.

9. Are you qualified for that?

Dude, what are you trying to say? Just because I don’t have a teaching degree doesn’t mean I’m not qualified to teach my kids. In fact, I know my kids better than anyone, I can see how they learn best and adapt to that. I don’t know everything, but I have the tools I need to teach them not only what they learn in books, but life skills and morals.

When it gets to the point where I can’t keep up with math (my least-favorite subject growing up), I’ll be able to turn to other solutions for help. Connections Academy, for example, is an online tuition-free public school for students in grades K-12. Teachers instruct and interact one-on-one with students. All Connections Academy teachers are certified in their grade levels and subject areas and have at least a bachelor’s degree, and many have a master’s or other advanced degree. So, if we hit a point where we want the structure of a traditional school but want to keep the at-home learning environment, online school will be a great option for us.

10. You must be so patient!

Not exactly. Some days are harder than others but for us, the good far outweighs the bad. Sort of like parenthood.

Hopefully this list helps dispel some myths about virtual schooling and homeschooling. I look forward to completing our first year of this adventure this month. Then I’ll be sharing a list of things I learned (besides the random questions people ask).

Have questions about virtual schooling or homeschooling? Shoot! Do you homeschool? What are some of the questions you get asked?

What you need to know about homeschooling. 10 things you don't need to ask a homeschool parent. #kidseducation


I’m loving maneuvering our way through the homeschooling world and helping dispel some myths about learning at home, that’s why I’ve partnered with Connections Academy on this post.

Connections Academy’s goal aligns with “what parents want”: to ensure students become productive, successful and confident adults. The online school experience helps students develop pathways to success by building on their individual strengths and interests in an online setting that is both safe and connected to a larger community. 

“Sit over here!” My daughter directed me. “Now turn this way, no no, like this!”

I tried my best to do as she told me, then watched as she lifted her camera up to her eye.

It was an old film camera I bought years ago at a thrift store, either as a photo prop or a toy, I can’t remember. But it’s one of those toys that we’ve kept around through the years.

Child Photographer Child photographer

After this pretend photoshoot of hers she made a request.

“Mom, think maybe I could get a real camera? One that takes pictures I could see?”

It was hard not to consider her request.

With homeschool just starting I thought it could be a nice gift to kick off the school year and this new adventure of ours.

I asked Canon for recommendations on the best point and shoot camera for kids and narrowed it down to the Powershot ELPH 360 HS and the Powershot D30.

Best camera for kids: Teaching your child photographer.

(My photo and her photo snapped at the same time)

I love the fun colors and wifi capabilities of the other, but ultimately she and I both agreed that the waterproof and shockproof features of the PowerShot D30 outweighed the other options, and withstand any of her little mishaps. Now my little girl is the proud owner of her first very own camera.

So what happens when you give a child a camera?

Lil’ J has brought it with her on our hikes and to each our co-op meetings since then.

Nature hike with kids Austin.

Nature hike with kids Austin

“I brought my camera!” She announced at our first Wild Explorers Club meeting.

The kids were tasked to pack their own adventure packs and inside hers, Lil’ J packed her nature journal, water, a snack, a compass and her camera.

“And it’s waterproof!” she added with pride.

She’s been using it to take photos while we are on our hikes, and then uses those photos later to go by when she’s drawing in her nature journal. Her journal helps her practice handwriting and art and overall observe and pay attention to details.

Best camera for kids: Teaching your child photographer.

(Her photo)

She’s working to improve and she loves showing off her images. When you give your child a camera, you may notice a new sense of excitement and pride in her budding hobby.

Best camera for kids- Canon option

Best camera for kids: Teaching your child photographer.

Best camera for kids: Teaching your child photographer.

It’s been fun showing her how to use it—She’s already learned how to zoom, and turn the flash off and on, and review what she’s shot.

A few beginner tips I’ve given her already:

  • It’s better to zoom with your feet than your fingers to keep your picture steady and not blurry.
  • Try to keep your back to the light so that the light is falling on your subject.
  • When possible, avoid the camera flash, it makes more unnatural-looking shadows. Try to open the blinds to let in more light from the sub for prettier pictures.

Best camera for kids: Teaching your child photographer.

Best camera for kids: Teaching your child photographer.

I love watching what she does with it on her own. There have been a few times she’s come to me asking to borrow my tripod, then gone to record a video of herself and her brother playing with some toys.

My little girl has gone from always being in front of my camera, to pretending to direct her photoshoots, and now taking her own photographs for learning and fun.

When you give your child a camera, new hobbies and dreams may be born and I can’t wait to see what she dreams up next.


And for more photography tips from yours truly, check out my new course: Child’s Play: Simple Tips for Photographing Children.

From birthdays to family vacations, to holidays and more, I’m teaming up with Canon every month to share how we capture our special milestones. I’ll also dish out tips to help you better capture your special moments with your family. Shout out to my favorite camera brand for sponsoring this series.

Best cameras for kids. Canon Powershot D30 Review.

Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget



I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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