Posts Tagged ‘homeschooling’

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.

Today was suppose to be the day we dove back into all our homeschool curriculum–Start the morning with a walk around our block (it was an idea we wrote down in our plans, to start the day with some fresh air and getting our blood pumping). The weather had other plans.

At almost the same time Harvey hit the Texas coast I came down with aches and chills. I’m always telling people I never get sick, but this weekend I swallowed my pride and sat in bed. I was totally worn down. Which was frustrating because I often like to use the weekend to try get ahead a little bit, but I spent two whole days in bed.

In Austin we’ve been getting a lot of rain. It’s finally started to let up a bit this morning. Our police force was put on emergency status to help with all the flooding and downed trees. Here at home we lot a piece of our fence and discovered water is seeping through one of our walls. Frustrating, yes, but nothing compared to what’s going on in Houston.

I sat my kids down to watch some videos explaining a hurricane, and hurricane vs tornado. The science part of the devastation of what was happening was one thing, but last night, as we when my daughter caught a glimpse of the news and the people literally under water she didn’t know how to respond. It’s different when you see actual faces of people hit by the disaster.

If you’re like me you may have been avoiding the news for awhile… You know, I haven’t been able to take much of it myself for the last several months. But sometimes it take seeing to believing, and to get people inspired to help.

kids watching the rain

Prayers for Texas are great. If you have the ability to extend a little more those displaced or under water, please try. Here are some suggestions if you don’t know where to start:

How you can help

My kids and I will be spending our first day back at school talking a little more about the cost of disasters and deciding how we can best help.

Stay safe, stay dry!

With love,

Jennifer

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

“Let’s read 365 books!” We said “It’ll be great!” We said!

Well it hasn’t been a cake walk, but it has been fun.

Earlier this year I mentioned my goal to read 365 books with my kids. One month down and our determination to meet this goal, plus desperately needing a break from the craziness of our world has kept us on track so far.

I was inspired by my friend Sili who blogs over at My Mamihood. She mentioned she and her daughter are reading 200 books this year. I asked my daughter if she wanted to commit to the challenge and she said yes! At first she said 400 but we settled at 365. With homeschool we read A LOT together and we finished 6 chapter books in one week this month.

From classics to Shakespeare, to history, adventure and fantasy, I’m excited to see where this year of books takes us.

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

Here are our rules:

1. Picture books are A-ok. Those will be quicker and my go-to especially with my son who doesn’t have as big of an attention span.
2. We are only counting each book once. So even though we may read some of our favorites more than once, we are only counting completed books one time each. Obviously our chapter books (like Harry Potter) will take much longer to complete. I’ll have a list of books in-progress books too.
3. Books I read to her or her brother count. And books daddy reads too (though he usually defaults to our favorites). It’s a family effort. We’re counting books read aloud together. Not books she reads (or I read) on our own.
4. A book counts from cover to cover so multiple stories in one book will count as just one book.
5. Audio books we listen and discuss together count too! They’re perfect for quiet time, car rides, and extending our reading time

At the end of the month I’ll list what we’ve read, what’s in progress and our favorites.

The most beautiful part of this experience so far has been feeling the closeness between us. My daughter has been trying to finish her dinner, brush her teeth and get ready for bet a little earlier so we can read together longer. My son brings me books to read (he rarely did this before). When they randomly ask me to read a book I will almost always drop anything to do it.

I also love the variety of books we are exploring together: Shakespeare, historical fiction, adventure, fantasy, Greek mythology, and non-fiction. It’ll be fun to see what else we explore this year.

This month we are on track and completed 31 books including 9 chapter books together. Another four novels are in progress. If you want to keep up throughout the month you can friend us on Goodreads.

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

Here’s what we completed this month:

365 Books – January

1. What Do You Do With an Idea?*

2. Martin’s Big Words

3. Cars

4. Look Out for Mater

5. Goodnight Lightning

6. Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope

7. The Giving Tree

8. Green Eggs and Ham

9. Ghost Island (choose your own adventure-3 endings)

10. Tractor Trouble

11. The Talking Eggs*

12. Emma and Julia Love Ballet

13. The Rose Fairy Princess

14. American Girl: Meet Addy (book 1)*

15. Cars 2 (little golden book)

16. Addy Learns a Lesson: American Girl Story (book 2)*

17. King of the Wind

18. Addy’s Surprise: A Christmas Story (American Girl Story book 3)

19. I Have a Dream (illustrated book of MLK’s infamous speech- Similar not this exact book)

20. Happy Birthday Addy! American Girl Story (book 4)

21. Addy Saves the Day: A Summer Story (book 5)

22. With Grace

23. What do You Do with a Problem*

24. How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?

25. Changes for Addy: A Winter Story (book 6)

26. James and the Giant Peach

27. On the Train

28. How do Dinosaurs Go to School?

29. Read for Me, Mama

30. Usborne Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare**

31. Stop That Pickle!

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

In progress:
Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
Little House in the Big Woods
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls
Fairy Tales Stories
The Prairie Thief
Anne of Green Gables

For Mom:
Year of Yes
Big Magic
10 Years Later (in progress)

*= Notes our favorites. I’ll highlight a few of them below.

**= Our favorite book of the month.

The Talking Eggs

Lil’ J was enthralled by The Talking Eggs, a story of a little girl who encounters a mysterious woman in the woods after running away from her harsh family. A colorful folktale that captures the unique flavor of the American South. It’s a classic I remember hearing for the first time in my school library as a child. I was so excited when I saw it at a thrift store and brought it home for my kids. It’s a favorite we hadn’t read from our pile in a while but we happy to revive to kick off our year of books.

American Girl Addy Series

We discovered this by chance as I was leaving the library and glanced at the CD section. I grabbed Addy–The story of a girl and her family in slavery and their plan to escape. The story is so exciting, and the narrator is wonderful.  My daughter couldn’t get enough and she asks me to play it often. She says her favorite book was book 2 because it’s about friendship but she also enjoys the later books. The first book was my favorite, but my daughter didn’t like hearing about the harsh realities of slavery. The book doesn’t have many violent descriptions but coupled with her knowledge of slavery after our visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture–She (understandably) doesn’t enjoy those stories.

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

Usborne Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare

This was surprisingly our favorite book this month. We’d sit and read it for an hour each night and discuss six of Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies. The stories were well abridged to include the main parts of the play and make it understandable for children. There were also lines from the actual play within the illustrations. Her favorite is Twelfth Night, though she loved Romeo and Juliet until the end. Her second favorite is a Midsummer Night’s Dream. During Hamlet she gasped at the end and covered her ears worried about everyone dying. It was hilarious and SO fun to enjoy together. I had no idea she’s be a Shakespeare fan.  We have a similar Greek Mythology book by Usborne I’m wanting to read together this month and hoping we enjoy it as much.

Martin’s Big Words

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

Another great book and one I’d recommend you read with your kids this Black History Month. It’s been one of our favorites for years and a book we read often. My daughter will often talk to be about “love not hate” and how Martin Luther King Jr. was such an example for us.

This month I plan to add a lot of Black History books to the mix. We will hopefully finish the Melody American Girl series based during the civil rights era and in co-op we are studying the artist Horace Pippin. No doubt I’ll also be at the library digging up a fresh batch of books.

What good books have you and your kids read lately?

Let me know! I’d love to add more to our queue.

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m overthinking this whole parenting thing. Either that or my parents didn’t give a crap. No… I don’t mean that. Not really. But seriously, am I overthinking this?

Since I took a left turn down onto homeschool lane I’m constantly second-guessing myself, or wondering how I can do a better job.

Making learning fun and instilling a love of learning in our children

Part of me is all “Come on, if I’m in charge we’ve gotta knock this stuff out of the park!”

Then the other side of me is saying “No no, a big reason we’re doing this our way is to have more freedom and flexibility, slow your roll lady!”

I want to make learning fun, and help nourish a love of learning in my kids, but that’s also a lot of pressure to put on myself. So I’m just trying my best and coming to grips with the fact that some days, it might just not be as fun; but whenever possible, I want to make it enjoyable.

It’s great when we hit a breakthrough and I find a new way to teach something that’s otherwise boring. Whether it’s reading practice or counting to 100 I’ve found sometimes it’s all about the approach. Instead of just practicing reading sight words off a card, if I turn it into a “capture the card” game, all of a sudden it’s exciting for my daughter. When counting, if I have her shout out the number every time she finishes writing a row of 10, writing to 100 isn’t tedious, it’s fun. Throw in some stickers and she’s in heaven.

I guess the creators of the Code-a-pillar had that in mind when they developed a toy about coding.

My kids have adopted this thing as a new pet. It’s a toy but they’ve named her Calli. She’s a Code-a-pillar from Fisher-Price. It didn’t take long for my kids to figure out how she moves according to the order of her pieces. Well, it didn’t take my daughter long. My son throws a fit every time she takes it apart and hurries to reassemble her.

Making learning fun and instilling a love of learning in our children

Making learning fun and instilling a love of learning in our children

We have a fair share of toys, some of them educational because of tools like letter recognition, others are helpful for learning life skills, and this is a fun in between.

“Let’s get Snoop!” Lil’ J plotted yesterday evening.

Getting on the floor and playing with my kids, designating Snoop as the target then watching my daughter program the code-a-pillar to circle around the carpet and up to our unsuspecting pup–That’s fun learning.

Making learning fun and instilling a love of learning in our children

Fisher-Price sent us the toy to try, but we were having so much fun with it went online and ordered extension pieces on our own so we could have her take longer courses and make full 360 turns.

I watch as my daughter uses her hands to outline a path she’s pictured in her mind. I’m amazed at her little mind hard at work. I’m impressed at the beginning stages of coding she’s learning. I mean who knows… Maybe some day she will create the next virtual reality app craze that brings back a fad from the 90s.

Making learning fun and instilling a love of learning in our children

Three decades into life I still absolutely love learning. I love history, learning languages, studying cultures, religions, and plotting to learn piano. I’m forever curious. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember so I don’t know if that’s just my makeup or if it can be taught.–But I want that for my kids. I want them to feast on knowledge and enjoy studying new things and I’m thankful for tools and techniques that help make developing the love of learning easier.

I may be overthinking some parenting decisions but this is one effort I think is worth it.


Learning about the world around us is so important and making it enjoyable for my kids is something I’m passionate about, which is why I partnered with Fisher-Price on this post. All opinions are my own.

Teach programming and coding to young kids using the Fisher-Price code-a-pillar

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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