Posts Tagged ‘homeschool’

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.


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…


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…


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…


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.

People have been asking me here and there how homeschooling is going. So I figured I should just write it all out it in a candid post.

A lot of my shares here lately have been showing bits and pieces of our journey thus far. Learning outside, learning at the mall, and finding our community, but I wanted to take a moment to just, well… Blab.

first-day-of-school-printable-sign (Super cute printable from Fly on the Wall Ink)

We started over the summer and had been at it for a couple months, but we called August 22nd the “first day of school” when everyone else in our district started.

We technically began the day after the school year ended because I felt like I wanted to homeschool and I thought that if I didn’t jump on it RIGHT AWAY it wouldn’t happen. I’d wind up moving onto something else, and ignore that urge I’ve been having for a long time.

We didn’t start with any specific curriculum. I literally just googled first grade math worksheets and started from there.

Then I stumbled upon more and more free resources and friends told me about some (like Ambleside Online) and I planned a very loose curriculum around library books and whatnot. Meanwhile I was printing free samples of different box set curriculums because I knew ultimately I’d want a pre-planned package I could go by day to day to help myself feel more confident in what I’m doing.

I landed on Heart of Dakota for the main curriculum then I bought All About Reading for reading/phonics supplementing and Math-U-See for math studies. I’m LOVING them all so far. Heat of Dakota has each day planned out by subject, and each subject takes between 10-25 minutes to complete and when it comes time to do the math and reading I just switch to my other curriculums for that time.

homeschool curriculum
Starting this week Mondays are co-op days where we meet for literature/poetry, science and art. Every other week we’ll take field trips. In the co-op we each have jobs. My assigned job is… Try to guess…

Any guesses?

I’m Yearbook Photographer/ Editor!

You know I’m not the least bit excited about that duty *wink*.

I also helped with the art lesson plans for the kinder-aged kiddos and I’ll be a fill-in guide.

Then, we also joined a Wild Explorers club where every other Thursday we’ll meet for a nature hike and activity where the kids earn badges for completing assignments. Kinda like Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts but we’ll do it all together.

It seems like every week I’m finding another club or activity going on for homeschoolers and I’m wanting to take advantage of it, but I’m also trying to pace myself because while I LOVE all of the friends we’re making, my favorite part of this whole experience are the sweet moments in the time we spend together as a family.

It may be easier to explain how it’s been my breaking it down brutally with the good, the bad and the crazy.

The good

I absolutely love the time aspect. This seems counter-intuitive because the kids are home with me all day, but I feel more productive in a short amount of time. Yes, I’m doing all the teaching, but it’s done in 2.5-3 hours. Instead of rushing out the door to be at school before it starts at 7:25, we are leisurely waking up around then, or later. Most mornings my kids clamor into my room after my husband has left for work and we snuggle and sleep in until about 8.

It’s glorious.

Then we spend the day together. And I actually love it.

I appreciate seeing exactly where my daughter is struggling, and watching her improve. I adore her “ah ha” moments and witnessing the lightbulb go off in her head.

I enjoy taking our lessons further, and learning about what she’s interested in, and discovering new interests as we follow our lesson plans.

I can’t get enough of the freedom to learn anywhere and explore.

I delight in the fact that we are done before lunch, and I love our weekly poetry tea parties (with apple cider).


I love making this path as we go. At least right now, I mean, she’s only 6.

I love that we are getting WAY more quality time together. The whole experience has given me a mental shift and my focus on family has heightened tremendously. But that also brings me to the bad…

The bad

It’s not all roses and buttercups. There are a couple challenges so far.

For one, I’m still adjusting the rest of my life around homeschool. This has moved to the top of my priority list so finding time to get all of my work done hasn’t been easy.

I’m behind on emails, blogging less, and I kind of feel like doing the bare minimum to keep going professionally. But obviously that’s not good either.

I’m spending a lot on supplies. Of course this isn’t a requirement but I WANT to laminate things and buy new art supplies and math manipulatives. It’s my new craft supply addiction.

It’s not always easy with little brother at home. He’s gotten better at knowing when it’s homeschool time and I try to give him little activities to do, but it’s definitely more distracting and slow moving on the mornings he’s home. I give her more breaks to play with her brother. Now he’s going to a gymnastics preschool for four hours twice a week and we really knock out a lot on those mornings.

Then there’s the alone time thing. I’m most inspired to write and create content when I’m alone with my own thoughts. My alone time necessity tank is at a critically low leveling right now.

I used to work at night but now I’m too exhausted not long after the kids’ bedtimes.

Thankfully my husband has come to the rescue. Last weekend he spent two afternoons taking them out of the house so I could be alone and… Well, actually catch up on some deadlines. He’ll also keep the kids off me so I can take a midday nap and then work a little longer after bedtime.

Hopefully I’ll get into my stride and come up with a work/homeschool balance that works for me.

The crazy

Homeschool is on the brain all the time. It’s like a new obsession.

Instead of editing photos, I’m researching homeschool math tools.

While catching up on a show I love I’m laminating Bible memory verses and making sight word flash cards.

In the car my kids listen to podcasts.

I’ve deleted un-educational apps from the iPad they use and installed Starfall and educational games in its place.

Even on weekends and holidays I find we are continuing our lessons and practices.

It’s not easy to turn off. It’s more of a lifestyle switch we’re making.

Before I felt like she was at school all day and deserved a bit of a break when she got home. Now we’re done with school so early, but I still feel responsible for her learning 24/7. So I want to seize every moment for her to be able to absorb quality information.

From audiobooks, to story podcasts to playing games together, and going outside to observe and talk about and draw what we see in nature… I can’t really turn my “teacher brain” off.

This is crazy to me. I mean… Who is this person I’ve become?

She’s kind of scaring me. But I think I like it.

I know spending time outdoors is so important. Especially for children. Yet despite that awareness, it’s still sometimes hard for me to make it happen.

I’m either bored standing out side while they play, too hot, or find myself with “better” or “more important” things to do.

But then I slow down and think about my youth–Drinking from the hose, hunting bugs and capturing caterpillars, watching ants pick up huge chunks of my apple crumbs. I learned so much just from observing and being free to play outside.

I want their childhood to be full of this.

Nature hike with kids-Getting outdoors and enjoying the world we live in.

I know this is an important part of growing up and I want my kids to experience that too. I’m making little changes here and there to make these goals a reality.

We’ve started taking our dog for daily walks again, joined a local Wild Explorers Club, we’re doing more nature walks around our neighborhood trail while discussing what we see–Leaves changing colors, or the difference between toads and frogs.

I’m pushing my comfort zone a little but it’s worth it to give my kids a childhood I know will be so enriching.

Nature hike with kids-Getting outdoors and enjoying the world we live in.

Nature hike with kids-Getting outdoors and enjoying the world we live in.

Nature hike with kids-Getting outdoors and enjoying the world we live in.

Nature hike with kids-Getting outdoors and enjoying the world we live in.

Check out more of our fall exploring on my Tampico is Color photo blog. More on this topic coming soon!

“We have $100 to spend,” I told my daughter as we walked around Sears.

“ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS?” She nearly shouted. Her eyes widened and she rubbed her hands together behind a big grin. “That’s A LOT of money, isn’t it?”

Well, let’s see. I told her. I pointed to the dress she was holding and asked her to read me the price tag.

“Twenty dollars,” she read.

Ok, so that means we have 80 more to spend.


We came in with a gift card to pick up some clothes for the new school year but I didn’t realize we’d also be leaving with another math lesson under our belt.

We browsed together and she picked a few more items off the rack for herself while I shopped for her brother. After a little while we set all our items down and I opened my calculator app and had her help me add them up.


First she read me the prices of her items then she added the price of her brother’s items.

“Ninety dollars!” She showed me the total. “So we have one dollar left!”

Technically with tax she’s exactly right but I reminded her about place value and asked her to think about how many dollars we’d have left.


“Ten more!” She said after using my hands as a tool.

I pointed to a hat that she had grabbed for her little brother.

“That’s about ten dollars,” I said.

“Then we’ll be at one hundred!”

She typed the last 10 into the calculator and saw it reach the number we’d been aiming for. Not more, not less.

She beamed as we gathered our things and marched to the register.

“We wasted all of our money!” She told the cashier as she rang up our items.

The cashier laughed and I saw this as an opportunity for a quick vocabulary lesson.

“I think you mean spent,” I suggested. “Wasted is when you throw away something for a bad reason. Spending money is when you are using it to buy something. We are spending the money on school clothes you will use for this whole year, so that’s not wasting.”

“Ahh, ok, spending all our money!” She amended.


The total rang up to $108 thanks to tax. I decided not to go into that lesson today. That’s what we get for missing tax-free weekend.

Luckily we had just won a slew of shop your way points by playing a Secret Life of Pets game in the store, so we redeemed those for cash and it covered the tax over our gift card money.


We walked out of the store, well, Lil’ J was skipping and heading straight for the food court. We finished our little mommy/daughter date with a Chick-fil-a lunch and a Bluebell ice cream dessert. I sat across from her and admired her little spirit. So joyful, so full of life and willing to learn. I love her.

I didn’t know going into that mall that we’d be turning the trip into a math lesson. I’m not even sure if a year ago I would have seen it as an opportunity to do so. I probably would have just rushed through the trip and not thought to stop and explain. Knowing we are on our own now, no other teachers this school year, just us with our many books and life experiences to lead the way. It’s a little scary, but mostly exhilarating, and I can already see it bringing us closer together.

Want $100 to spend with your kiddos at Sears? You don’t have to turn it into a math lesson but I promise you it can be fun! Just leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win a Sears gift card. Also while you’re there check out the new kids jeans and back-to-school gear or look online at Sears.com/backtoschool.

My daughter basically refuses to wear anything but dresses but Sears has expanded their popular Roebuck &; Co. denim line from just mens to boys and girls as well. The boys line has a classic collegiate feel, with tints of color and dry processing to give it a vintage look. Sizes are 7-16 for girls and 8-12 for boys and between $24-36 a pair. Next year she’ll be a little bigger and I’m guessing ready to expand on her choices.

Giveaway ends August 24th at 11:59pm. Good luck!

Update: Winner alert- Commenter #59 Tara Schreeve

*I’m passionate about spending quality time with my family and I love it when stores make that easier for me by making shopping easier and more affordable. That’s why I’ve partnered with Sears for this post.

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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