Posts Tagged ‘homeschooling’

The last two years we’ve been homeschooling and it has been an incredible experience. It’s something initially I never thought I’d do, but we fell into and in love with.

Now, this year my two big kids are going back to public school. If you’ve been following my Instagram stories you’ve most likely already seen me whining and crying about this change for weeks. But what I haven’t really gone into is why.

When we found out about Sneaky (Lee Lee these days) our world kinda turned upside down. Her pregnancy was confirmed the same day I had Lil’ J screened for dyslexia and got results I wasn’t expecting.

While that was good to confirm, it was a lot to process. We continued with her tutoring and I switched up the way we handled our lessons at home.

wrinkle in time homeschool unit study

A few months later we began to consider moving to a larger home. One thing led to the next and before we knew it we were under contract building a new home to be done sometime in the middle of the school year. Not only that, but I have a lofty goal to put 50% down on this dream home of ours. Which means I’m putting my all into my business and savings.

Though I’m one of those women who feels like I can do it all: Work full-time from home, while taking care of an infant and homeschooling my two other children, and driving my daughter to her tutoring lessons, while packing up our home and preparing for a move. My husband put the kibosh on all that. Saying it’s too much. And he doesn’t want me putting so much on myself. His argument is also that we’ve tried homeschooling for a couple years and now it would be good to give public school a try since our son is starting kinder.

It’s hard to argue with his logic, but I still do. School starts SO early, and they’re gone about eight hours a day to accomplish what we can do in three. And so much is focused on teaching for the sake of standardized testing. At home we can go at our own pace, getting ahead in subjects she excels at like math, science and history, and take our time with reading. We can focus on Greek Mythology or Shakespeare and other classics. We can study based on their interests and deep dive when necessary. Public school is totally fine, but not as flexible as the learning style I’ve grown to appreciate.

Obviously I lost the battle. And about a week ago I finally registered my kids for public school. Yesterday I opened three browser windows and shopped for all of their school supplies and last night we met their new teachers.

I did my research on the best teachers for their grades, totally prepared to email the school with requests but everyone seemed great. So I decided to pray that they’d be placed where they need to be.

I got the Class Dojo requests from their teachers and was excited to see the kinder teacher my son was assigned was one I thought I really liked at the kinder registration night. When we arrived I realized I totally had the names mixed up. But his teacher still seems super sweet.

Next we went to meet Lil’ J’s 3rd grade teacher who also seemed so nice and I’ve heard great things about. Lil’ J thumbed through the classroom books with me and was excited to see some we’d already read together: Charlotte’s Web, Wrinkle in Time, The Lightning Thief and Son of Neptune were some we noticed. I could tell she was a little uncomfortable as we looked them over. When her teacher asked her what kinds of books she liked, Lil’ J hesitated for a few moments before saying the Percy Jackson series. Later when I asked why she was shy about telling her teacher she said it was because she listened to the series, but didn’t read it herself. I told her that didn’t matter, I listen to audiobooks too and it still counts as finishing a book, same as when we read it together.

I asked her teacher about getting an IEP/504 plan set up for her and she said I’d do that through the assistant principal. She was right down the hall so I was able to talk with her about our situation and get some information about first steps for getting her the assistance she needs. At the moment this is where the brunt of my anxiety lies. All I want is for my kids to be their best selves, and I want to make sure they have the tools and resources to do so.

Even though I’m sad and stressed about Lil’ J going back, I’m actually excited to see how this school year pans out for Big T. He’s been home with me all of his life and hasn’t had a ton of interaction with other kids his age. A lot of my homeschool experience was tailored to my daughter, and I think watching him learn from afar may give me more ideas about his learning style. This will be helpful for when we’re ready to jump back in.

Yea, you read right. My kids haven’t even had their first day of public school yet and I’m already looking forward to homeschooling again. I’m not exactly sure when that will be. Our move will take the kids to a new school so if the house is ready mid-year we could switch middle of the year, or commute them back the second half, or maybe we’ll begin homeschool again. The school we’ll be zoned for has excellent ratings and a lot of people rave about it. Does that impress me? Not really, but I’d be willing to give it a chance if it felt right.

This whole post seems like a bunch of whining and I promise I’m not always like this. I’m really going to give it my all because it’s the decision we made. Since it’s the one we’re going with I’m going to make the most of it, and be an example to my kids. I think it’s important for them to know how to be flexible and roll with the punches. And while they’re in school I’m going to make the most of my time (almost) alone and really try to make some headway on my business goals.

We’re rounding out this season of homeschool with another poetry tea party and talks about the year ahead. More coming on that soon. And more coming about the homeschool curriculum we’ve used and loved for all of those who are looking at diving in for the first time.

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new. Change quote

Lots and lots of prayers are going on over here. I’m praying we made the right decision, that our children don’t just survive but thrive in their new environment, and that I can continue to be the supportive mother I want to be through all these transitions. A lot can happen in a year. We’ll see how this goes.

Exactly two years ago our family began our homeschooling adventure. My daughter just finished kindergarten and the nagging feeling I’d been having about homeschooling for years finally won. I un-enrolled her from pubic school and began homeschooling her over the summer.

Beginning when school was out gave me time to get comfortable with the process so that come fall I wasn’t panicking about “doing it right.” Though the thing is, I soon realized there isn’t really a right or wrong way to homeschool. There are dozens of curriculums and methods of teaching. From Classical to Unschooling to STEM-based learning… Options are endless.

I’ve shared a bit about our homeschool experience already:

Working out the kinks of our homeschooling strategy

What I learned after our first year

a day in our homeschool life

What you Don’t need to homeschool your kids

The truth about homeschooling

and First Day of Homeschool Tradition Ideas

homeschool curriculum

Getting started with homeschooling and choosing a  curriculum (if you decide you want to follow one) can be overwhelming. These last two years we’ve tried out several different homeschool curriculums and methods and there are pros and cons to each. A lot of people have asked what we use for homeschooling so I thought it would be fun to share some of what we’ve tried.

Over the next several weeks I’ll break down what we’ve tried and review different homeschool curriculums to hopefully help those of you who are considering some of these.

Requirements vary by state. Luckily getting started homeschooling  in Texas is pretty much a piece of cake.

Here’s a quick rundown of the homeschool curriculums we’re tried. I’ll come back and add links to this master post as I publish each review.:

All-in-one Curriculum

Ambleside Online (free)

Heart of Dakota

Power Homeschool (formerly known as Acellus)


Acellus Math

Math U See

Math Mammoth

Reading and Writing

All About Reading

Handwriting Without Tears

Explode the Code

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.


Magic School Bus Science Kits


Unit Studies – Greek Mythology, Black History, A Wrinkle in Time

Adapted Mind


Kahn Academy (free)

Charlotte Mason Co-Op

Wild and Free Conference

Wild Explorers Club

I’ve bounced around a lot because our needs have changed over time. But that’s the great thing about homeschooling–How flexible and perfectly tailored it can be for your child.

We’ve truly enjoyed our time homeschooling so far and I hope there are many more years ahead for us. With a new baby coming in a month we’re still deciding our plan for this fall. It breaks my heart to think we may need to take a break, but I know it’s always something we can come back to. Hopefully this list will be helpful for those of you looking for some more homeschooling curriculum resources and reviews.

If you have other budding questions about homeschooling let me know, I’ll keep coming back adding to this post!

When I think back to my summers at home, goodness gracious I watched A LOT of TV. I’m pretty sure my parents never even considered putting a limit on the amount of time I spent watching TV, just so long as it kept us entertained and occupied. That’s much of the reason I have so many Disney movies memorized. The VCR and a shelf full of Disney VHS tapes were my source of joy for much of my childhood.

Nowadays, especially since starting to homeschool, I’m guilt ridden when my kids eat their lunch with the iPad at the table. Or if they have a movie marathon during the week. Sometimes my guilt erupts and I’ll hide iPads and remote controls and pretend like I have no idea where they are.

Ya’ll when did screen time become such a bad thing? I’ve fallen trap to some kind of belief that more screen time means I’m a terrible, horrible, no good very bad mom. When I’m out of town or even gone for just a few hours, things at home run completely different. As much as I try to lay out homeschool plans and leave organized piles labeled with sticky notes and rules about screen time, I realize that I’m not in control when I’m away. And my husband has his own way of doing things. As he should. But it still irks me a bit when I come back and the kids are on iPads.

It’s not like my kids are digital maniacs who can’t stand to be without their screens. They do just fine without them, and most of the time it’s out of sight out of mind. But instead of losing my mind every time I see them sitting in front of a glowing screen, I’m finding ways to make these screens something I approve of more often. Win-win right?

On our Netflix account I created a homeschool profile and created a list of approved shows. From LeapFrog Learning Factory videos to nursery rhyme shows like Mother Goose Club and lots and LOTS of documentaries. I had no idea my 4-year-old son would be sitting down and watching full-length documentaries on sharks and whales. But you’d be surprised how interested they can get in something when you make it available to them.

My daughter also has been into the shark documentaries and spouting random facts about sharks’ brains. My son even schooled me when he told me I was wrong, Destiny from Finding Dory is NOT a whale, but a shark. I had to Google it but realized he’s correct. Why she speaks whale in the movie I’m not so sure.

Over on their iPads I’ve deleted most games that don’t have much educational value. I’ve still left a couple thinking maybe they’ll improve hand eye coordination or something. But I’ve left LeapFrog Academy on the front page and encourage them to play it. They’re getting the hang of it now to where they don’t need me helping them navigate the system and they can open the app, choose their name and go. My daughter loves browsing around the “My World” page where she collects her prizes for winning games and styles her avatar. My son likes to watch the learning factory videos, especially the counting one with… You guessed it! Sharks!

I thought LeapFrog Academy would be a tool mostly for my son but parts of it are really challenging for my daughter too, and I actually am planning to use it more as one of my homeschool tools, especially on our more laid back days, or for easy fun learning when we’re on the go or in the car.

Despite trying to delete a kids’ YouTube app it keeps finding its way back onto my son’s iPad (thanks daddy!) but we discovered the timer on it, and I am not afraid to use it. So after a set amount of time (usually 30-45 minutes) that app has to “take a nap” and he needs to move on to another app or go play with his toys or with his sister.

And finally, we don’t have a video gaming system but we do have an Apple TV that you can download games for. I downloaded some arcade-style games for a birthday party but after a frantic banning of most of them on my part over the summer, they’re left with one they aren’t afraid to go on without me asking if all of their chores are done and that’s a dancing game. They’ll get up and dance around together and sometimes my husband and I will even join in.

All that to say, screen time isn’t always terrible. Duh. But I felt like I needed to get that all out. Maybe I just needed to get that all off my chest, or maybe you needed to hear that too. Screen time can be educational, fun, and sometimes, just give a much-needed break for mommy.

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.

Over the last year I’ve spent a lot of time schooling my daughter, taking her to her activities and staying and watching her do each one. My husband usually stays home with our son while I chauffeur her around. I’ve noticed she’s started lacking some of the independence I used to see her exhibit. And it hasn’t exactly been fair to my son.

We just changed things up a bit. Instead of taking my daughter to cheer practice and watching her for an hour and a half, my husband is dropping her off. I’m using some of that time to have some much needed one-on-one time with my son to play, and do a little learning.

He’s so smart when it comes to remembering things like the names and numbers of various types of trains, and characters from Cars. He also knows almost all of his letters and numbers. However, he doesn’t write and he’s only cut with scissors once (just last week, I thought he’d cut strips of paper but only managed to cut pieces off the paper and was pretty thrilled with himself).

He’s so smart when it comes to remembering things like the names and numbers of various types of trains, and characters from Cars. He also knows almost all of his letters and numbers. However, he doesn’t write and he’s only cut with scissors once (just last week, I thought he’d cut strips of paper but only managed to cut pieces off the paper and was pretty thrilled with himself).

Getting my son ready for kindergarten. Making kindergarten readiness goals and checklists.

Our kindergarten readiness plan

I set goals with my daughter for what she’d like to accomplish this school year but I didn’t initially with my son. I’m working on that now. The main things I’d like to accomplish with him are to get him ready for kindergarten in case we go that route. These are the main things I’d like to accomplish:

  • -Help him to recognize his name
  • -…And at least attempting to write or trace it
  • -Matching numbers with the amount of objects
  • -Understanding the concept of addition and subtraction
  • -Can arrange numbers 1-10
  • -Gets dressed by himself
  • -Can cut strips of paper with scissors
  • -Learns 5-10 sight words
  • -Learns most of his letter sounds
  • -Can draw a circle, line, X and +

LeapFrog Academy

We are practicing and learning a lot of these things using LeapFrog Academy. Though he just learned how to play using my computer, it’s easier for him to navigate on his own using the iPad. So far I’m loving the variety of games and activities. There are more than 1000 eBooks, games, puzzles, videos and music across the interactive learning adventure. Each of my kids has a separate profile and he’s learning how to recognize his name and get going on his own.

As I’ve mentioned, Big T doesn’t like to color, or hold writing tools for that matter. I got an idea and dug up some of my old stylus pens to see if he’d like using them on the iPad.

Getting my son ready for kindergarten. Making kindergarten readiness goals and checklists.

Getting my son ready for kindergarten. Making kindergarten readiness goals and checklists.

I called it his “special pen” and it’s been a hit! He’s still not holding it quite right but with practice I know he’ll get there. There are some tracing letter games and a lot of clicking and dragging that he’s using the stylus for. So he’s getting some fine motor in with his mental learning through the activities. It isn’t necessary to use the app. He loves tapping along and playing with his fingers too. His favorite games seem to involve space ships and fast-moving objects that get him choosing an answer quickly. He also really likes the memory matching games though right now he’s terrible at them.

It’s ok though because not all kids learn in the same way. There are extra activities in his “My Learning Lab” section of LeapFrog Academy to give him extra practice in subjects he needs help getting down, or more difficult activities designed to keep him challenged.

Toys and games

Getting my son ready for kindergarten. Making kindergarten readiness goals and checklists.

Getting my son ready for kindergarten. Making kindergarten readiness goals and checklists.

We’e also started working on some of these things just goofing off with his toys. I used his cars to teach addition concepts. One game we play is when I put five cars out, ask him to close his eyes then hide some behind my back and ask him how many were missing. This game went surprisingly well. I’m also going to start having him match piles of cars with the corresponding number that matches how many are in the pile. I’ve started teaching letter sounds using words he likes such as “L is for Lllllightning McQueen” “M is for MmmmAter.”

Getting dressed and stuff

I blame a lot of his lack of life skills on myself. He’s my baby, and I’ve treated him like one for a long time. I assume he can’t dress himself, or do other simple tasks and just do them for him. He’s become really reliant on me for things like getting him dressed. We finally put our foot down and taught him how to get his shoes on. He can at least put his sandals on. When winder comes we’ll see how he does with his sneakers. These tasks may take the most patience of all as he learns to do these skills himself and we give him time to get it.

With this clear list of goals and a lot of practice I know we’ll get there. And who knows, maybe in the process we’ll decide we make a good homeschool pair after all.

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.

Getting my son ready for kindergarten. Making kindergarten readiness goals and checklists.

When I look back at all of the posts I’ve written about homeschool so far, I think I’ve sugarcoated it a bit. I think it’s important to share some of the bad with a good because goodness, I wouldn’t want someone looking in at my experience and thinking I have it all under control. Let me break it down for you as best as I can from a personal perspective, as to not put all my kids’ business out there.

At the moment. I’m struggling.

I’ve left the rat race of “being on track/ahead” of grade level, yet I’m constantly trying to determine how we measure up. And I’m stressed about getting “behind.”

I’ve mapped out our lesson plans for most of the school year (in pencil because plans change). We’re doing a month on Greek Mythology, a month of science experiments, and a month of black history. I’m trying to take it easy but simultaneously going into crazy mode. As in, we still do homeschool on Saturdays, holidays and some Sundays. When I’m out of town for business I leave a plan for my husband with post it notes, pre-dated worksheets and FaceTime checkins.

Instead of moving forward with math right now I’ve decided it would be better to go back a little with a different curriculum and reinforce what we learned last year. No biggie, but I the nagging voice inside tells me I need to hurry it up. In an attempt to “get all the things done” I’ve cut out co-ops, regular play dates, and things that turned me on to the idea of homeschool in the first place. 

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

Last year I planned history lessons around trips to Washington D.C. and geography around our sailing to the Bahamas. This year I’m swamped with work and I don’t have a single trip planned with the kids. But that’s not even a huge deal. There’s one thing in particular that’s driving me absolutely crazy. Reading.

Of all the subjects reading has been my biggest struggle. We’ve been working on it and made huge strides but I’m still waiting for that big lightbulb moment when words become easier and more clear for her and less of a torture hour for myself. I even hired a tutor this year to help. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I’ve been going round and round with this for over a year now. I’m constantly telling myself not to stress about it. She’ll get it. Just keep reading to her! But the demons in my mind tell me I’m the problem. She’s never going to get it, and it’s all my fault.

My son can’t grasp scissors. I mean we are working on that but until a few weeks ago I didn’t even realize that was something he couldn’t do. He doesn’t like to color, write, paint or anything of that sort, but he wrote the letter ‘T’ the other day and I about lost my mind.

My husband and I are seriously considering having both of the kids go to public school next year. I never wrote it off completely. My son will be in kindergarten. And seeing how he listens to everyone better than he listens to me, it may be for the best. Lil’ J will be in third grade and though she’s incredibly bright I wonder how she’d measure up. My worst fear is putting her back in school after two years at home and have teachers tell me she’s behind all of her classmates. I hate admitting that but it’s true.

She can name half a dozen Olympian Greek gods and tell you what they do. Give you a wealth of knowledge about great white sharks, black history and former presidents. She can do math without using her fingers. And she can comprehend and recount in detail what you just read aloud from a novel way above her reading level. However, the idea of reading The Cat and the Hat stresses her out.

I’m trying to power through. We’re still trying to read 365 books together this year, though we’ve been swallowed up in dozens of chapter books lately so I’m not sure we’ll make it before we ring in 2018. A chapter from Percy Jackson and the Olympians at bedtime is my biggest piece of leverage all day. She LOVES reading together. She loathes reading. And if I’m being honest it’s not that fun for me either.

I do have one tiny glimmer of hope. A couple nights ago things started to change. Instead of picking a random book I thought looked “easy enough” for her. I picked a book she knew and loved. The combination of knowing the story and loving it motivated her to not only give it an honest try, but keep at it. She didn’t quit when she normally would and she was actually having fun.

I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but I am crossing my fingers that we are about to have a breakthrough. I checked out some graphic novels and am looking for other books she’ll find interesting. Even and almost especially if, they’re above her current level.

When it comes to having time to think, my kids are often interrupting my thoughts. I’m rarely alone, yet it can still feel so lonely. I absolutely love the extra time I get with them. The AH HA moments and instilling the qualities we find important. But it’s not all easy. It can be stressful, and hard and scary. I’m just a mom over here trying to make the best of it.

I just wanted you to know.

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,


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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