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Lindsey Stomberg

Relaxed Homeschooling Method

Homeschool Planning 101: Relaxed Homeschooling

By | Homeschool Planning, Free Printables

Relaxed vs. Eclectic and Unschooling

Defining terms is important and the word relaxed here is going to need to be clearly defined. The relaxed method of homeschooling is not the same as eclectic homeschooling, and neither relaxed nor eclectic homeschooling is the same as unschooling. You may utilize one or more of these educational philosophies or methods at one time, but each are very different at their core.

Eclectic homeschooling means that you use a variety of curricula or educational approaches within your homeschool. You can be very rigid or flexible in how you adhere to a schedule, and you may use a variety of different methods and curricula in order to fit your child’s individual needs.

On the other hand, unschooling can be relaxed in the sense that it is flexible schedule-wise, but there is one key element that sets unschooling apart from all other homeschooling methods: the child directs his own education. This doesn’t mean that the unschooling teacher never teaches. In fact, unschoolers often have a very full schedule because they are exploring their child’s many curiosities and questions. Unschooling just means that in an unschooler’s homeschool, the child determines what is going to be taught. Relaxed homeschooling and unschooling may have some initial similarities at face value due to their flexible schedules, but they are not one and the same. In relaxed homeschooling, the parent is still directing the child’s academics.

Relaxed Homeschooling Method

Defining the Relaxed Homeschooling Method

Relaxed homeschooling is a method all its own, really a philosophy of sorts, but it isn’t talked about nearly as often as other styles. You may have also heard it called flexible or rhythm homeschooling.

In a relaxed homeschool, the parent is still the educator, but there is a different tone in the relaxed homeschool that you might not find elsewhere in large doses. A relaxed homeschool method places a premium on flexibility of schedule and creating independent learners. There is a lot of room for every family to develop their own style of relaxed homeschooling. As you can tell this is a pretty broad definition, but ultimately it comes down to preparing a child properly for doing life and career, instilling a love of learning, but not putting a lot of stock into pre-determined standards of academic measurement, timelines, or often even modes of learning like formal curricula. (This Simple Balance has a great definition as well.)

The philosophy behind home education for the relaxed homeschooler is that homeschooling is part of the life of the family, or the natural rhythm of the family’s life. The life of the family is not determined by the homeschool schedule, but instead the family’s schedule determines the nature of the homeschool. A high priority is place on a child’s education by the relaxed homeschooler, but it is just one important priority among a myriad of other important priorities occupying family life. The relaxed homeschooler also recognizes that education takes place in a variety of important ways outside of the formal homeschool setting and utilizes these opportunities well.

“Life should always be balanced. Academics are very important, but so are other things.” – Mary Hood, author of The Relaxed Homeschool, quote taken from Successful-Homeschooling.com

Relaxed Homeschooling Works!

I consider myself to be a relaxed homeschooler. I homeschool seven children from toddler to high school and have had quite the success with this method of relaxed homeschooling. I am going to start by saying that I may not qualify as a purist relaxed homeschooler, because I do use formal curricula as a guide. In fact, I consider myself now to be a year-round, eclectic, relaxed homeschooler. I had no clue what any of those words meant until many years into my homeschool journey. Once I discovered that what naturally fit our family had clearly defined terms within educational philosophy and homeschool methodology, I felt a type of validation and freedom I had been longing for. I found these terms fit our way of life and learning best, and maybe they will fit your homeschool too.

I call myself year-round because we do not follow the standard school year and take breaks when we need to, not on a set schedule. I am eclectic because at different points along our homeschool journey we have utilized a great variety of homeschool curricula in order to meet the various needs of our children. I approach curriculum in much the same way that I follow dinner recipes while cooking, I never follow the script as set forth by the author. I do a little dash of this and a little pinch of that to meet our individual preferences, budget, and schedule.

When I started homeschooling, I just assumed I was supposed to have a pre-determined schedule and set of lesson plans. Every time I tried to lesson plan or follow a set schedule, it never worked. I figured I was somewhere between lazy and crazy for not being able to make a simple schedule work, but my children were still learning and in some areas doing better than their peers, so that made me start to wonder what was up. With no rigid plan in place, we were still getting things done, but on our own time and in our own way and it was surprisingly WORKING.

Reverse Lesson Planning

One day I ran across a blog post entitled, How to Reverse Menu Plan. This piqued my interest. The idea behind the blog was that you don’t set your menu plan up before you go to the store because you don’t know what is going to be on sale. You shop sales and then you write your menu plan down based on your grocery haul. It occurred to me that I was using this same idea, but as it applied to planning my homeschool.

I finally admitted that I wasn’t lazy or crazy for not being able to meet the expectations a schedule demanded of me. Our normal life is chaotic, busy, and constantly interrupted. I didn’t have time to shift the homeschool schedule forward for every little interruption. I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t the problem, the homeschool schedule was. It didn’t fit our family’s needs. It didn’t fit my personality. It didn’t fit our family’s rhythm of life. This realization was freeing in ways I can’t even express – that burden of homeschool planning was lifted when I threw my paper planner away, and began reverse lesson planning using Homeschool Planet’s Online Planner.

Prioritizing Stages of Maturity Over Grade Levels

Because our days are constantly interrupted by other important things besides academics, it just never made sense for me to lay out a set schedule that we were required to adhere to every day. Of course, we still buy all our academic curricula at the beginning of the year like everyone else. Sometimes due to delays we are still finishing up last year’s curriculum. Other times, if my kids are particularly gifted in a certain subject they will be ahead a year. This is the joy of adopting a year-round homeschool schedule.

So you are probably asking, “How do you know what to do, and how do you get it all done without a written plan?”

That is a good question!

I let go of strict grade levels a long time ago. We loosely stick to them simply because our state requires us to inform the local public school of what grades our children are in, and then our children are required to take annual standardized tests. What’s great about homeschool curricula is that it is usually aligned to higher standards than its public school counterparts, so even if my children are say a year behind in a subject like math, they still pass their standardized tests with flying colors – even my dyslexic child who is a “year behind in math” and struggles to no end with the subject.

We may not stick to rigid grade levels, but I do know which season of academics my children are occupying. The classical model of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric stages has been a fantastic guide to helping me understand the needs of my students. This isn’t based so much on age as it is maturity. I have found maturity in processing thoughts, asking of questions, and ability to logically interpret and express information to be a much better marker of my child’s academic success.

This less black and white approach to my children’s leveling of grades has allowed us much more flexibility in meeting our children where they are at instead of dragging them along kicking and screaming just to “get the grade.” When education is less forced and more enjoyed, it can foster a love of learning and build confidence in the child and encourage less stress for the educator.

Tips for Relaxed Homeschoolers

Here are a few tips from a relaxed homeschooler to aid you on your journey:

  1. Know your state’s homeschooling laws, as you will need to align your homeschool standards with your state’s standards for homeschooling to meet legal requirements. See HSLDA.org for more information.
  2. Consider not starting school with your young child until he or she asks or the child reaches the age of six or seven. Check out this article on how to know when your child is ready.
  3. Do not push your child to new stages of learning if your child is obviously not ready for it. This will only cause discouragement and a distaste for education.
  4. Do challenge your child to reach for the level of academics he is obviously ready for, even if he is hesitant or resistant. We are not creating lazy students.
  5. Prioritize conversation with your children in your daily life. This will help you get to know your child and gauge where your child is at academically.
  6. Regularly create and assess goals for your homeschool and students. Change course when necessary to meet the needs of your students. Download the FREE Homeschool Goals and Assessment Worksheets below.
  7. If your family’s schedule demands a large break from homeschooling, then take it because doing life together can be an education in and of itself (for example: bringing home a new baby).
  8. It is okay that your homeschool ebbs and flows according to your family’s schedule. Some months will be very productive in homeschooling, and others may look meager. The end goal is to accomplish your work and meet your goals on a timeline that fits your family’s needs and not conventional schedules.
  9. When your child reaches high school, you will need to align your child’s studies for your child’s chosen career path and university standards. Use this FREE 4-Year High School Planner.

How to Reverse Lesson Plan with Homeschool Planet

I have used Homeschool Planet for over six years now for our homeschool and I love how flexible it is. It is possible to utilize any kind of homeschool planning method when using Homeschool Planet’s Online Planner. Check out these step-by-step tutorials for block scheduling and loop scheduling. I most often use it over the year’s for my reverse lesson planning.

As I mentioned before, reverse lesson planning is not your standard lesson planning where you input your lesson plan before you accomplish your set goals. In reverse lesson planning, it is good to have your own idea of what your goals are in homeschooling, but you meet those goals on a different time table than most.

The way that I reverse lesson plan, is I add what we have accomplished in our homeschool after we have done it. I often don’t input it into Homeschool Planet but once every month or two. I do this for the purpose of having records in case social workers were to ever come knocking and want to know what we have been doing and when. I am always truthful on my reverse lesson plans. The only thing that may not be *exactly* correct would be the day that I place the work on that my child accomplished.

For instance, I utilize Homeschool Planet’s Assignment Generator ALL. THE. TIME. I love how I can input the amount of pages I needed my child to read, the dates it needed to be “done by”, and *poof* Homeschool Planet generates an even amount of reading across days. Most would do this before assignments are due, but with reverse lesson planning, I do this after my child has finished his required reading. The dates aren’t exactly correct to the day he read said pages, but I like the way it evenly spaces them over the time I select. He did the work, but that’s how I record the work.

How do I know what his required work is and when it is “due”? Good question!

Because we do use standard, formal curricula in our homeschool even if it is a variety of publishers, this curricula often come with a schedule of readings and assignments. My children know where to go to find these assignments. I equip them to do this and they just go in order. I check in regularly to make sure they are actually progressing to my liking. We rarely do it on the timeline the curriculum suggests, but it does get done on our personal timeline. This is how I know that we are completing assignments and meeting “standards”.

Other relaxed homeschoolers that choose not to use formal curricula would need to keep track of their resources and reverse lesson plan according to their own record system. The fun and flexibility of relaxed homeschooling is the fact that it is so malleable according to your personal teaching style, your child’s learning style, and your family’s daily rhythms. The sky’s the limit with relaxed homeschooling!

Download Your FREE Homeschool Goal Setting and Assessment Worksheets to help guide you in your relaxed homeschool journey:

 

 

Veteran Advice for Homeschooling a Child with ADHD

Veteran Advice for Homeschooling a Child with ADHD

By | Homeschool 101

Homeschooling is a challenge all by itself, but homeschooling a neuro-divergent child adds a different layer of challenges altogether. Keep reading for a wealth of practical guidance from a veteran homeschool mom of twenty years and eight children sharing her experience and tips for homeschooling a child with ADHD.

Veteran Advice for Homeschooling a Child with ADHD

A couple of weeks ago I sat down with my good friend Heidi who agreed to be interviewed for this article. Heidi has ADHD herself, and has homeschooled two children with ADHD. One of those children she successfully graduated, and the other is in high school now. Including her twenty years of homeschooling eight children, her veteran homeschooling mom credentials are solid!

After our conversation was over, I told her that I wish I had taken a recording of what she said. I took a solid four pages of notes and having a child with dyslexia only, I still felt like so much of what she said resonated with my experience. So take it from me, whatever learning challenge you are going through, there is something in this article for you.

All content to follow came from this conversation with Heidi.

To Be Diagnosed or Not to be Diagnosed, That Is the Question

Formal diagnosis of neuro-divergence is often frowned upon, especially in homeschool community. No one wants to medicate their child, but there comes a point where the parent has to decide if medication will be worth it if it makes that child’s quality of life better, gives him or her the ability to be independent, and overall helps to build that child’s confidence level.

In Heidi’s experience, one of her children with ADHD didn’t start showing signs of ADHD until about third or fourth grade. She tried everything from diet change to herbal remedies to address the symptoms, but diagnosis and medication was key in addressing the issues they were dealing with in their home and homeschool. She acknowledges that this might not be the case for every family, but it is something that those families who do not find an easy foothold must consider at some point. Just try not to let a fear of modern medicine keep you from doing what is best for your child’s wellbeing.

Getting a Diagnosis for a Child with ADHD

There are a couple of ways to get a diagnosis for your child. You can check with your local public school system, as public schools often offer these services. Heidi chose to go through a private Psychologist for one child and a Neuropsychologist for the other. This might be covered by your insurance, so it is worth checking into.

Heidi shared with me that many children who are diagnosed with ADHD also have some level of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). These issues often overlap. Many people do not like getting SPD therapy for their children because it just looks like “play time.” A parent might think that they can replicate the same environment at home. However, it is a misnomer that what a therapist does in these types of specialized therapies are just play. From her personal experience, consistent work through these therapy sessions did her children a world of good and she highly recommends that others do them too.

The best thing you can do for your child is to educate yourself in every way you can concerning ADHD and any other challenges your child might be dealing with. Heidi highly recommends Russell Barkley and Dr. Daniel Amen for self-education as you aim to help your child.

It Is All About Executive Function Processing Skills

One of the most interesting parts of my conversation with Heidi was when she started talking like the expert she is about training children in executive function processing skills. In her words, “All moms of children with ADHD function as their child’s frontal lobe. We remind them they need to shower or eat lunch, basic life skills. Moms of children with ADHD must train their children in executive function processing, because we cannot be their frontal lobe forever.”

How did Heidi teach her kids better executive function skills? She figured out what method worked for her kids by trying all the methods she could think of. She shared that children with ADHD learn best by focusing on sequential steps for accomplishing tasks. As a parent, you will need to build strategies that work for them. Consider putting sticky notes up on the mirror [or using your Homeschool Planet Online Planner to guide your child through his daily tasks].

Giving your child strategies to accomplish life skills on his own will train your child into independence from you being his “frontal lobe.” This may take trying multiple strategies over his lifetime to find which one your child takes to the best, but it will be worth it. Training your child in executive function processing skills will help your child succeed later in life when he needs to take care of himself and his family.

Sage Advice for Moms Homeschooling a Child with ADHD

Our vision as homeschooling parents is often shaped by public school. Heidi said she heard someone once say that public school is designed to keep thirty kids busy in a chair for eight hours every day. Homeschooling on the other hand is very different.

We have all the flexibility in the world as homeschoolers, and for a parent of a a child that is not neuro-typical, you will need to be utterly flexible in your approach to homeschooling. More than likely, you will need to switch your curriculum many times to find the right fit for your child. You may need to allow your child to talk to text for writing his papers, take sensory breaks to get his mind working again, or offer cheat sheets to help your child succeed in core subjects.

One of the most difficult hurdles for parents of children with ADHD, is the mental exercise it takes to embrace your child for exactly who he or she is. Look for how your child shines, and stop focusing on how he doesn’t measure up. It is OKAY if your child does not learn at the same rate as other children his age or develops emotionally later than his peers. Many children with ADHD are brilliant and creative in their own way and excel in those things in which they take interest. They may not succeed according to typical school standards, but they thrive and shine in other very important areas.

Heidi expressed multiple times during our conversation that parents of children with ADHD need to find more things to praise in their child. Your child is more than likely harder on himself than anyone else. There is no reason to pile onto the guilt and frustration that already exists. It is perfectly OKAY if your child “grabs it” later than what is typical. Learn to celebrate the small steps and you will see your child’s confidence blossom.

Conclusion

Your child may not be neurotypical, but that doesn’t make him or her any less special. Consider the possibility that a diagnosis and medication may help your child in the long run. Give therapies a real consistent shot. Be flexible and relaxed in how you educate your child with ADHD at home, and most of all embrace your child for who he or she is. Learn to celebrate all the small wins as you equip your child in executive functioning skills for lifelong success.

I hope you have enjoyed the sage wisdom that Heidi had to share from her experience as someone with ADHD and a homeschool mom to two children of her eight diagnosed with ADHD.

Let us know in the comments what piece of advice you found most helpful! 

Loop Scheduling

Homeschool Planning 101: The Loop Scheduling Method

By | Homeschool Planning

When I first started homeschooling, I realized that my homeschool didn’t look very “standard.” In our homeschool, we didn’t adhere to rigid schedules. We enjoyed the flexibility that homeschooling offered, so when I came across the loop scheduling method of planning a homeschool day I was very intrigued!

There are so many ways to schedule a homeschool day, but most require you to take the time to rework your entire schedule if you deviate from the plan. Loop scheduling is much more flexible and great for those whom planning is not their forte.

Loop Scheduling

Differences Between Loop Scheduling and Block Scheduling

I want to clarify that loop scheduling is different from block scheduling. Because there are so many types of scheduling methods, many get the two confused. Think of daily block scheduling as setting aside various blocks of your time to devote to specific tasks. During those tasks you purpose not to be distracted by other things. That block of time is for that specified task only and when that block’s time is finished, you move to the next block of time and its specific tasks. If you deviate from your block’s schedule, rescheduling is a must or the material missed will not be completed.

Loop scheduling on the other hand has so much more flexibility than block scheduling. Think of loop scheduling as planning your homeschool according to your family’s rhythm and routine. The loop isn’t magical, but it does remove the unnecessary guilt that comes with a change in plans.

Creating a Loop Schedule

To create a loop schedule for your homeschool, you will need to first write down a list of all the subjects you want to cover. This is not about tying your loop to a particular time or day. Creating a loop is basically rotating through a list. If you don’t finish your list, the next time you come to work you just pick up where you left off.

Normally when we think of following a standard schedule, we have A, B, and C to complete each day. We always start with A and end with C. Maybe you have an appointment come up so you only complete A and B in one day. With a standard schedule you will begin again the next day at “A” on the list and the previous day’s “C’ must be rescheduled in order to not get behind.

Loop scheduling takes the stress out of rescheduling and allows you to just pick up where you left off in your loop. You will follow your loop through over and over again until your work is completed. Even if your days get interrupted, at least the items are getting checked off on your list at some point even if it is not daily as you had hoped. This may allow you to get extra work completed on days you have more freedom. It also cuts the stress out of days you don’t have the time to finish your loop. With a loop, everything will come back around sooner than later.

Example Loop for a Normal Day:

  • Math
  • Language Arts
  • Science
  • History

Interrupted Day:

  • Math
  • Language Arts
  • Science
  • A friend calls you out of the blue for a playdate and you oblige

Next Day Pick Up Where You Left Off:

  • History
  • Math
  • Language Arts
  • Science

Check out the video tutorial below to see an example of a loop schedule in action and how to add it to your Homeschool Planet Online Planner.

New to Homeschool Planet and want to try a 30 day FREE Trial? Click here.

Applying Your Loop Schedule to Your Homeschool Planet Online Planner

Written Tutorial for Loop Scheduling

The following are step-by-step instructions for how to create a loop schedule with multiple sub-topics covered in one overall subject in your Homeschool Planet Online Planner.

New to Homeschool Planet and want to learn more about the world’s number one online homeschool planner? Click here.

1. From the Calendar view of your planner, navigate to your Lesson Plan Library at the top left of your planner by hovering over the Calendar drop-down menu and selecting “Lesson Plans”

2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the button that says “+ Create My Own Lesson Plan”

3. Enter a Title and the frequency you choose for your loop schedule.
Example: a 5 day frequency may be preferred for a core subject, such as Language Arts, and a name for the lesson plan could be something such as “L.A. Grade 2 Loop”

4. In the “Assignments” tab, to the right of the entry space for the “To every class day, add this:” field you will see the “More options…” text link. Select this link to open the “Assignment Generator.”

5. In the “Assignment Generator” window you will see several options to choose from to auto-create your assignments. Select the best option to fit your needs then click the “Next” button.
For this loop schedule, select the third option, “My assignments follow a recurring pattern (eg., Math-U-See, or 1-a, 1-b….)

6. In the next window, fill in the week numbers you want the assignment pattern to begin and end, and which days you wish to include in the scheduling. Then click the “Next” button.
Example: Starting week 1, ending week 36, with all 5 days of the week checked off (as selected earlier in step 3)

7. In the next window, you will enter the information for your assignments in the “Do this:” section. There are specific instructions for this at the top of the window, or you can create your own unique pattern!). In this section, we’ll be entering our loop schedule as we want it to occur throughout our school year, and this may look different for each loop schedule you create.

Example Loop Scheduling

Here is another example loop (do not enter page or other numbers at this step, but you can enter the “, pp. ” text if you wish to add page numbers later):

    • Day 1 – “Handwriting: Curriculum Name, pp.”
    • Day 2 – “Spelling: Curriculum Name, List”
    • Day 3 – “Grammar: Curriculum Name, Lesson “
    • Day 4 – “Vocabulary: Curriculum Name, List”
    • Day 5 – “Handwriting: Curriculum Name, pp.”
      Click “Add another day to the pattern” to enter more looped sub-topics as needed
    • Day 6 – “Spelling: Curriculum Name, List”
    • Day 7 – “Grammar: Curriculum Name”
    • Day 8 – “Creative Writing: “

As you can see, this is a sample 8 day pattern with each sub-topic occurring every 4 days of work, with the exception of Vocabulary and Creative Writing which alternate every 8 days of work.

8. Once you are happy with how everything looks in the preview section, click the “OK” button in the lower right-hand of the window.

After following the steps for one of the options above, the reoccurring assignments will now be in the assignments tab. At this point, you should select the “Save” button in the lower right-hand corner of the window to ensure your work will not be lost. If you were wanting to enter page numbers, or give further details about assignments (such as are needed above in our example loop, right below assignments is where you can use the “Show:” section to filter out any assignments containing the text you enter.

Example: type in “Handwriting” and select weeks 1 through 36 to show only the Handwriting assignments in your loop first. Here is where you can pull out your handwriting curriculum workbook and enter the applicable page numbers in each field after the “pp.” text in each assignment field below, working from the top result to the bottom result to work in order. You can also click the “Edit” link to the right of the filter options to open up the Find and Replace/Delete/Change Categories options which also enable the checkboxes beside the assignments shown, to further tweak your plan.

After you are done with the Handwriting assignments, you can then move to the Spelling, then Grammar, and so on, entering lesson/list/page numbers, etc. to each component of your loop as needed. We recommend periodically clicking “Save” at the bottom right of this window to save your progress as you move through each sub-topic.

You can fine-tune your assignments further either while using the Assignment Generator or afterward in the Assignments tab of the lesson plan using the “More…” drop-down menu in the by adding resources, additional reminders, and more, by using the “More…” drop-down menu in the “Options:” column. to the right of your assignments. You can also add notes to your schedule on the “Notes” tab in a similar manner as creating assignments.

When you are completely satisfied with your assignment set-up, click the “Save and Close” option in the lower right-hand corner of the window.

When you are ready to apply your new loop schedule to a class on your calendar, you can do that following the instructions here: Applying Lesson Plans.

We hope this tutorial was helpful. What type of Homeschool Planning Method works best for your family?

A Unique Approach to Homeschool History

A Unique Approach to Homeschool History

By | Curriculum Helps

The Problem of Biased Homeschool History Textbooks

The title of a history book often gives away its point of view. Here’s a brief sampling of some popular titles of the last few decades:

  • A Patriot’s History (American history from the point of view of a devoted and loyal citizen?)
  • A People’s History (American history from the point of view of the non-elite, the oppressed, those in the minority?)
  • An Indigenous People’s History (American history from the point of view of the Native Americans…not much mystery there 🙂
  • The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History (American history from the point of view of those unafraid to challenge prevailing orthodoxies and sacred cows?)
  • Lies My Teacher Told Me (American history from the point of view of those skeptical of the selective and bland narratives pushed by high school textbooks?)

This list could go on and on. To the extent that any of these books are guilty of pushing selective, partisan, or agenda-driven stories, readers grow wary of history textbooks. What political agenda lurks beneath the surface? What worldview informs its outlook, story selection, and claims to knowledge?

A Unique Approach to Homeschool History

These are fair concerns, especially when they’re for adolescents. When a student is still developing cognitively, or doesn’t have the experience to understand that they’re being given one interpretation of the story (much less to judge between different interpretations of the story), we are right to want to meet them where they are. So we should be doing everything we can to help students develop a broad knowledge base—to help them become the kinds of kids that can tell us who wrote The Federalist and what it was about; that can tell us who fought in the Civil War, and in what context; that can tell us what foreign policy means, and how the 20th-century United States got involved in Europe, the Soviet Union, Vietnam, the Middle East, and so on. Even professors are still students in this regard, since even professors are still mastering new details and adding new layers to their understanding.

But somewhere in all of this information mastery young students will start to get their first inklings that certainty in history is very hard to come by, and that their youthful understanding of history as the subject that tells us “what happened” is only partially true. In fact, there are nearly as many versions of “what happened” as there are people interpreting the evidence.

Sigh.”

That seems to be the reaction of many of my students when this finally clicks. They thought they could learn the authoritative and objective version of the story, only to learn a bunch of discouragingly wishy-washy vocabulary words like bias, point of view, evidence, argument, interpretation, school of thought, lens, agenda, partisanship, debate, source, context, corroboration, contradiction, counterargument, research, and so on.

What Does a Good Homeschool History Class Look Like?

But the good news—at least for the teachers and parents in charge :)—is that when students are old enough to recognize this, they’re old enough to learn how to deal with it. That is, we don’t always have to be worried about which history books they’re reading, because eventually they’ll be old enough, mature enough, and sophisticated enough to learn how to make judgments on their own. We can teach them all the tools we use to discern between the types of competing narratives on display in the list above—we can teach them how to identify detrimental biases, how to uncover unstated context, how to check fact claims for accuracy, how to make judgments about convincing and unconvincing evidence, how to comprehend and spot partisanship, how to evaluate chains of reasoning, how to strip claims down to their parts, how to spot and make sense of value judgments, how to think about point of view and story selection, how to get behind the surface of tone and emphasis, where to go for discussion and feedback, what tools and sources to rely on, and so on.

This is finally when students are really studying history: when they’re going back and forth between the facts and their interpretation, the facts and their interpretation, and on and on ad infinitum. This is how professionals do history; these are the two parts of the best history courses: (1) They help students develop a broad knowledge base, and (2) they help students develop sound judgment.

In this way a good history class (quite apart from all of its other values, like personal enjoyment, the humanization of past peoples and groups, our own confrontation with alien contexts, etc.) can empower students to read with the same caution, skepticism, and discernment as the adults who care about them. In the best history classes students learn to appreciate the past in all of its complexity, learn to understand the contexts that inform the present, and learn to use the methods of the historian to resist and even see right through the people who try to use a particular spin on the past to get something out of you today.

What kind of history does the Nomadic Professor do?

Perhaps one problem with some of the titles listed above is that they go too far toward simplifying a narrative that can’t easily be simplified, or they go too far toward making a cohesive narrative out of a disparate set of facts and contexts that don’t easily cohere. Further, this strong-arm kind of history does little to help students understand or appreciate how history is done, and what to think when interpretations diverge. Is everyone right because there is no “objective” interpretation of the past? Is no one right because there is no “objective” version of the past? Are all interpretations equally valid? There’s a short answer to all of these questions: No.

So what kind of history does The Nomadic Professor do? We hope we do the good kind of history described throughout this post, but we’ll leave you and yours to make that judgment.
___

This is some of the big-picture logic that informs the history we do at The Nomadic Professor. If this approach resonates with you, or sounds like an approach you want to learn more about, we encourage you to check out our offerings. In addition to the two American History courses available today, the third part of our American History course is coming soon, as well as courses in media literacy and the history of free speech. Feel free to reach out to us directly at support@nomadicprofessor.com and we’ll do our best to answer your questions.

All history courses are written by the Professor, Dr. William Kesler Jackson, with all scaffolding and literacy elements created by high school teacher Nate Noorlander.

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Nomadic Professor Authors This article was written by guest author Nate Noorlander.

How To Know If Your Child Is Ready To Begin Homeschooling

How To Know If Your Child Is Ready To Begin Homeschooling

By | Homeschool 101

I have a decade of homeschooling under my belt with children in every grade level. I have been asked the question often by future homeschooling moms, “How do I start homeschooling?” My response is always the same. The key to understanding how to begin homeschooling, is to know if your child is ready to begin homeschooling.

There are three primary components to timing both when you begin homeschooling a child and how you choose to have them progress to the next grade level.

  1. Know your state’s homeschooling laws.
  2. Know your child.
  3. Know yourself.

I will expand on these three key principles for beginning and continuing homeschooling your child below.

How To Know If Your Child Is Ready To Begin Homeschooling

Know Your State’s Homeschool Laws

The very first thing you need to know as a parent before beginning your homeschooling journey is your state laws on homeschooling. These must determine when you begin homeschooling your child and often will include which subjects you teach, when you teach them, as well as how many hours you are required to teach per day. I love to share the Homeschool Legal Defense Association’s website with friends because they have an easy to navigate guide on state laws pertaining to homeschooling.

Know Your Child Before Starting Homeschooling

In addition to understanding your state’s laws, you need to strongly consider the age and maturity of your child. Is it is truly the right time to formally begin your homeschool journey? I will grant that there are some children who mature early and are reading and writing by five years old, but this is by no means the majority of children. There is a lot to be said for letting little children be little for longer.

My argument is not that preschool is harmful, but that preschool isn’t ultimately as effective as we think it is. Just take a look at this study from Cambridge and this one from Stanford. There is overwhelming evidence that play time for young children is the best teacher.

These articles are from the world’s most notable institutions and, therefore, are largely based on public education, but you won’t have to go far within the homeschool realm to find this same approach being encouraged in home education. Charlotte Mason, a British educator from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, has this to say about the early years.

“The educational error of our day is that we believe too much in mediators. Now, Nature is her own mediator, undertakes, herself, to find work for eyes and ears, taste and touch; she will prick the brain with problems and the heart with feelings; and the part of mother or teacher in the early years (indeed, all through life) is to sow opportunities, and then to keep in the background, ready with a guiding or restraining hand only when these are badly wanted” (Vol. 1, pp. 192, 193).

Charlotte Mason advocated waiting until the age of six to begin formal education of the child. The early years were meant to be ones of exploration and imagination, a time when fine motor skills could be developed through play. This is also a good time to focus on character training and habit building.

In my own experience, I found that delaying formal reading and math lessons with my own children until the ages of six or even seven saved us a lot of heartache. It meant that my children picked up the information I presented immediately, rather than laboriously drilling math facts and sight words for months on end during the younger years.

Learning through play and life experience is an education unto itself. Teach beginning math skills while cooking together. Learn colors while taking a walk through the woods during the Fall season. Develop a morning time routine and read good books together as a family to inspire your child’s imagination and love of reading. Get messy with finger paints and build with blocks to develop fine motor skills and coordination.

The younger years are not “wasted” if formal lessons are not being taught. Each day is a new opportunity to follow your child on their natural path to learning about the world around them. You are there to answer questions and sow opportunities for them to glean a rich harvest of knowledge at their own pace and in their own time. Facilitate their natural desire to learn, but consider stalling formal lessons until they are developmentally ready to begin.

Know Your Child Before Continuing Homeschooling

In the same way that a homeschool parent needs to consider when their child is developmentally ready to begin homeschooling, it is important to consider your child’s age, maturity, skill sets, and challenges before progressing your child to the next level of learning once you have begun formally educating your child.

As homeschoolers we often think we must stick to the same schedule as the public schools. Most states do not require the homeschool parent to structure their child’s education in this way, and it may not be particularly helpful to your child to progress to the next grade level before he or she is ready to do so.

For instance, I have a dyslexic child who should be formally in seventh grade, but she is working at a sixth grade level due to natural learning challenges she has. We have not run into a single problem with completing her end of year testing required by our state even though she is working an entire year behind her formal grade level. In fact, she always tests above average on these standardized state tests. This is due to the fact that homeschool curricula on average operates at a grade level higher than its public school counterparts.

It is more important that you progress to the next grade level when your child is ready, than it is to keep up with what you perceive to be the standard. It is more important that your child really understand the material, than it is to continue presenting more and more challenging material that will only confuse and frustrate. Laying a foundation for your child that is strong will inspire confidence especially in those who learn differently. Taking this route will also give you as a parent room to breathe if you don’t fully complete a textbook by the end of the year.

Know Yourself

I took this little online quiz years ago from Eclectic Homeschool called “What Kind of Homeschooler Are You?” It isn’t scientific by any means, but much like a personality test, it was helpful in giving me a view inside my personal pedagogical philosophy. My answers to the questions on this quiz have changed over the years as I have developed more clear cut methods.

It is important to know a few things about yourself before you begin homeschooling your children.

  • What is your reason for homeschooling?
  • Do you have a philosophy of education?
  • What is your preferred method of teaching?
  • How do you personally learn best?

The answers to these questions will first keep you homeschooling when the going gets tough, and they will also guide you on your homeschool journey. You may not be able to answer some of these questions until you have some experience under your belt, and your answers probably will change a little over the years. However, being more self-aware can be helpful when homeschooling your child.

What happens if your method of teaching or learning clashes with one of your student’s learning styles? This happened to me. I have one child who is very Type A, and I am not. It was important for me to learn to meet her where she was at. On the other hand, she has had to learn a lot of patience with me. It has been a process of compromise and growing in our relationship together. She had to be come more flexible, and I had to learn how to offer her the structure she craved.

Assessing your child’s abilities and challenges, as well as your own preferences and expectations is extremely important before beginning or continuing your child’s home education. Definitely align your homeschool schedule with your state’s homeschool laws, but consider your child as a whole person and meet him where he is at. Don’t pressure your child to begin or move on just because you fear not keeping up with a perceived cultural standard. Allow your child to move at the pace for which he is developmentally ready. You both will be happier for it and more confident in the outcome.

Homeschool Planning 101: Block Scheduling

Homeschool Planning 101: The Block Scheduling Method

By | Homeschool Planning

The block scheduling method is very popular among homeschoolers for a reason. It is practical, efficient, and flexible. What more could a homeschool mom want?

I personally think this method of homeschool scheduling is a great method for anyone – both the Type A homeschooler who loves organization and lists, as well as the Type B homeschooler who values freedom in her days. It is sort of the best of both worlds!
Homeschool Planning 101: Block Scheduling

There are two ways to utilize a block schedule in your homeschool and really you could use both these ways at once or separately, whatever fits your family’s needs best.

Block Scheduling of Time

Think of daily block scheduling as setting aside various blocks of your time to devote to specific tasks. During those tasks you purpose not to be distracted by other things. That block of time is for that specified task only and when that block’s time is finished, you move to the next block of time and its specific tasks.

How is block scheduling different from traditional scheduling?

Traditional scheduling is much more rigid. It would look something like this:

  • 8:00-8:30am Breakfast
  • 8:30-9:00am Cleanup
  • 9:00-10:00am Morning Time Routine
  • 10:00-10:30am Math
  • 10:30-11:00am Grammar
  • 11:00-11:30am Science
  • 11:30-12:00pm Lunch

Traditional schedules leave very little wiggle room for the realities of life to interrupt like an illness or last minute appointments. Block scheduling on the other hand gives flexibility to move your blocks of time around at will and not lose your time. Block scheduling will feel more efficient to some.

What does block scheduling of time look like?

A more generalized block schedule would look something like this:

  • Early morning: Breakfast, Clean Up, and Morning Time Routine
  • Late morning: Homeschool Subjects
  • Early Afternoon: Lunch, Clean Up, Homeschool Subjects
  • Late Afternoon: Chores

For the more Type A homeschooling mom who likes the more precise nature of a traditional schedule but needs the fluidity of block scheduling, a schedule like this might work:

  • 8-9am Breakfast and Clean Up
  • 9-10am Morning Time Routine
  • 10am-Noon Homeschool Subjects
  • Noon-1pm Lunch and Clean up
  • 1pm-3pm Homeschool Subjects
  • 3pm-4pm Chores

As you can see, there are many ways to breakdown a daily block schedule. There is no one right way, just the method and style that fits your family’s needs. Block scheduling in this way can apply to so much more than homeschooling. Many people have found it very effective at helping them complete their work tasks and household chores as well.

Block Scheduling of Subjects

Block scheduling of time has more to do with how you block your time for tasks, as the name suggests. Block scheduling of subjects, as you may guess, has more to do with how you organize your student’s subjects.

Many students find it easier and many homeschool moms find it to be more practical to teach certain subjects in condensed blocks of time rather than spread out over two semesters. Even though I use a mix of planning methods in our homeschool, I specifically use block scheduling for science. We do not do science during the calendar school year as one of our subjects. We reserve science for the summer when we can do experiments outside and get messy without mama having to worry about clean up. We finish a year’s worth of science curriculum over the summer. This lightens our subject load during the school year. It’s a win-win.

So much flexibility!

Some homeschooling moms who use block scheduling for subjects, do this on a week to week basis, month to month basis, semester to semester basis, or even season to season basis.

You could select only certain subjects to teach during certain quarters of the year, or do history on Monday through Wednesday, and science on Thursday and Friday. You could plan more difficult classes earlier in the year and easier classes for the end of the year.

What is the benefit to students?

Less transitions during the day can really benefit some kids who do better focusing on one subject for longer periods of time. Constant transition can decrease retention of information and focus for some children.

Also, if you are a family who enjoys lingering on subjects like history or chasing rabbit trails in science, block scheduling might be right for you because it affords you more time to soak in the information and explore more.

An important note when block scheduling subjects for your high school student, be sure to account for the number of hours and extra workload needed to complete certain high school credits. This may be more difficult using the block scheduling method for some subjects during the high school years.

As you can see, there are so many ways to block schedule for subjects. This gives you full control over your schedule, and gives you full flexibility if changes need to be made. You are not restricted by the standard, traditional calendar school year, but free to use any block of time as you will to complete your homeschool subjects.

Homeschool Planet Users Can Block Schedule in their Online Planner!

Managing Time with Block Scheduling

Block scheduling is an easy method of planning that can be taught to children to help them manage their time and tasks. In addition to homeschool planning, block scheduling is great for chores. I recommend beginning your block schedule experiment with your family’s chores. Devote a certain time of day to chores without distraction and devote certain portions of the week to particular sections of the house or specific tasks. It might look something like this:

Daily: 3-4pm chores

Weekly:

  • Monday: Clean Bathrooms
  • Tuesday: Vacuum and Mop Floors
  • Wednesday: Laundry and Yard Work
  • Thursday: Dusting
  • Friday: Clean Bedrooms

Teaching your children to manage their time early can save them a world of hurt later. Disciplining yourself to manage your own time and plan your homeschool day or your homeschool year can be tough especially if planning doesn’t come easy for you. Block scheduling is very practical, efficient, and flexible method of homeschool planning. Whether you like a more rigid schedule or fluid schedule there is a way to make block scheduling fit both your personality and your family’s needs.

How to Navigate Homeschooling a Large Family

How to Navigate Homeschooling a Large Family

By | Homeschool 101

The number one question that I get asked as a mom homeschooling a large family is “How do you do it all?” With my gaggle of seven kids in tow, ranging from ages two to fourteen years, my response is always, “I don’t!”

Large family moms don’t have to “do it all” because there are methods to our madness. Whether it is home life or homeschool, large families learn to treasure the benefits and blessings that come with having so many children (often so close together), and these families also learn to navigate the challenges that are guaranteed to crop up.

One of my all time favorite memes is the one that says, “I don’t have ducks or a row. I have squirrels and they’re everywhere!” That meme is funny because it’s true. The reality is that large families come in all styles. Some large families run a tight ship and others, like mine, have organized chaos. Both of these methods work, but sometimes those in the latter category need a little dose of structure, and those in the former category need a little dose of flexibility to make things work.

How to Navigate Homeschooling a Large Family

The Benefits of Large Family Homeschooling

If you have been a large family mom for long, I probably don’t need to convince you of the many benefits that come with large family learning. Socialization, which has somehow become the cornerstone of education in our society, is not a problem for large families. Socialization in a large family homeschool setting happens organically, without force. Older kids learn how to care for and share with those younger than them. Younger children learn to pivot from the older siblings so that mom is not “spread too thin” when teaching so many students. Tasks like household chores and cooking can be shared among those of the appropriate age.

The old adage “many hands make light work” comes to mind. Mom can appear like she is getting it “all” done, but really she becomes very skilled in training and delegating while managing her own list of responsibilities.

The reality is that we know this is what large family living could look like, but we often don’t know where to start or restart if we have cultivated bad habits over the years. I would like to share with you below some of the tips I have garnered over the years through my own experience in this arena.

Let Them Be Little

Whenever a young homeschooling mom asks me for one piece of advice, I tell them to skip preschool and wait until their child is six or seven to begin formal lessons altogether.

My first child I did preschool with and she turned out great, so my argument is not that it is harmful. My argument is that it isn’t ultimately effective in the ways we think it will be, and in addition to that, it drains a mom of the vital energy she needs for the children who do need formal lessons.

Before you check out over such a preposterous notion, take a look at this study from Cambridge and this one from Stanford. There is overwhelming evidence that play time for young children is the best teacher.

I have shared studies from some of the world’s most notable institutions which are largely based on public education, but you won’t have to go far within the homeschool realm to find this same approach being encouraged in home education. Charlotte Mason, a British educator from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, has this to say about the early years.

“To form in his child right habits of thinking and behaving is a parent’s chief duty… To nourish a child daily with loving, right, and noble ideas we believe to be the parent’s next duty.” Charlotte Mason, Vol. 2, p. 228

“In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air.” Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1, p. 4

Let your little children be little for longer. Their education will not be delayed because you delayed formal lessons. Instead, when you do start formal lessons at the age of six or seven, your child will be able to soak up the information quickly, as opposed to what would have taken weeks when he was younger. Your child may also develop a stronger confidence in his abilities because he will have immediate success in remembering basic addition and letters at a later age, instead of drilling facts and laboring over letters at an age before he has developed even fine motor skills.

Taking on this approach to homeschooling my large family, has removed so many years of unnecessary burden. My littles play together during the time that my older children are receiving formal lessons from me.

Develop a Morning Time Routine

Morning time, also referred to as circle time or morning basket, is a part of the family’s routine that brings everyone together in the morning. This is not a time for lecturing, but a time for the entire family to start their day off right together. When my children were little, I would do morning time around the table while they were busy eating and sitting in their seats. As my children have grown older, we have migrated to the living room where we lounge and do our daily read-alouds. It is also a great time for poetry, song, and memorization work.

Morning time is the perfect time to delegate the day’s tasks. School work, chores, meals, appointments, etc. can be covered so that everyone is on the same page about that day’s priorities before breaking to their own corners of the home.

Developing a morning time routine in our home has been vital to keeping our large family synced together. We stopped doing it for a while due to life getting busy, and my children begged me to begin again. In the same way that eating dinner around the family dinner table gives a sense of tradition and togetherness, a morning time routine brings the family together for a moment of sweet togetherness before the chaos of the day’s schedule ensues.

Integrated Learning for Family Learning

There are so many types of homeschooling curriculum on the market. Some families choose to do all their school online and others choose to do all workbook based schooling. Neither of these were for my family. I wanted to read with my kids, learn with them, but I did not want the stress of doing it all myself. Then there is the question of how do you do that with so many kids at different grade levels?

Integrated learning using the classical method with a dash of Charlotte Mason was the eclectic solution for my family. Integrated learning is another term for “unit studies.” The unit study method immerses the student in a particular topic by using several subjects taught together. The child then approaches that topic from a number of different perspectives and really gets to know it in a far more intimate way that other methods just don’t provide. Of course, some topics will not interest a child, so he will fly through those more quickly, but there will be those that capture his imagination and really spark a passion to learn more.

A curriculum that provides an integrated learning style and follows a classical method of teaching at the grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric levels allows the homeschool mom to read much of the material to the family as a whole. The younger kids can learn alongside their older siblings, and they can do many of the activities and projects together. This kind of curriculum will break down age-appropriate literature for each of the grade levels for more in-depth, independent reading or teaching. In my experience this idea of learning together has once again lightened my burden over the years so that I am not teaching each child individually, but all my children as a whole. It spurs many a conversation around the dinner table because my children all know what their siblings are learning.

There are a few integrated learning style curricula on the market, but our family’s choice is Tapestry of Grace. You can find Tapestry of Grace Lesson Plans in Homeschool Planet’s Marketplace to make your homeschool planning a breeze!

Large Family Schedules

I was the type of homeschool mom who rebelled for years against planning anything including my homeschool. I like to be one of those spontaneous parents. We purposefully do year-round homeschooling for this reason. I realized, however, as we added more students to our homeschool roster and one of those students moved up to high school that my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach to homeschooling would not continue working for us.

The reality is that when there are more people involved, even those who do not like structure need to adopt a little structure into their lives. In my case, Homeschool Planet is the perfect planner for my “Type B” personality. It is easy to fill in with assignments and chores using my favorite feature – the assignment generator. My children have their own login where they can see what I expect of them and can check off when they have completed the required tasks. For all those days that I forget to lesson plan or just don’t feel like it, I go in and back date it with what was accomplished.

Homeschool Planet offers this large family mom the perfect guilt free solution to her rebellion against structure. Homeschool Planet also assists this large family mom in structuring her planner with all the pre-made lesson plans offered for popular curricula publishers in the Homeschool Planet Marketplace.

If you haven’t already, you should try Homeschool Planet’s 30-day free trial with a free lesson plan!

Find Your Own Groove

Navigating homeschooling a large family comes with its own challenges, but the benefits far outweigh any negatives. In the end, each large family has to find its own groove. What works for our family, may not work for your family, but I do recommend that if you are feeling like something needs to change for you to find some sanity, consider adopting one or a few of these methods to bring the family together. Whenever I am struggling with feeling overwhelmed or the kids just don’t seem to be getting along, bringing the family together for conversation, food, games, or even learning always seems to help us reset, refresh, and begin again.

Why Integrate an Education Square Image

Why Integrate An Education?

By | Homeschool 101

What Is Integrated Learning?

You may have heard the term “integrated studies,” sometime used interchangeably with “unit studies,” and wondered for what that was all about. Interestingly, the Latin root of “integrated” is “integer,” a word for that might ring faint mathematical bells in your brain. The word means
unity, wholeness, and completeness—traits that many of us long to see in our country right now. “To integrate” is to make up a unity out of different parts, perhaps especially in the sense of bringing outsiders to the inside and making them part of the whole.

Why Integrate an Education

In the world of homeschooling, “integrated” or “unit” studies refers to the use of several subjects to achieve a whole immersion into learning. I once asked my mother, who enthusiastically immersed six children in integrated studies, “What made you do it?”

“I did it because it made the most sense to me,” she explained. “I think that is how people learn, and how they fix information in their minds: by integration.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, take Egypt. You could simply read about it in a history book, couldn’t you?”

I admitted that I could.

“And you could fly over it, which would give you some idea of its geography.”

This, also, I could do.

“But those things would only give you a certain amount of understanding, right? That’s why it isn’t enough for us to read about our favorite places: we want to travel to see them before we die.”

“That’s true…”

“Now, imagine visiting Egypt. Think of standing at Giza in front of the Great Pyramid, the only remaining Great Wonder of the Ancient World. Suppose you are eating Egyptian food, listening to Egyptian music, and reading Egyptian poetry. Imagine feeling the wind across the desert and speaking with people whose ancestors have lived back for thousands of years in that land.”

“Wow,” I breathed.

“There you are,” said my mother. “We were given five senses for a reason. When we approach a thing from many different angles, we deepen our knowledge. We reason better—make better opinions and decisions—because we understand better. For Christians, this also means that we can share the Gospel better.”

Immersion by Integrated Learning

Thus, growing up, my studies were integrated. When we approached a new unit, my mother would pick a historical topic and explore it from every angle. I learned to make Egyptian palace bread—which I recommend only for the sweetest tooth!—and many-colored beaded collars. My little brother and I reenacted “The Tale of the Wicked Hemti” (more elegantly titled The Eloquent Peasant in some Egyptian literature anthologies). I learned the meaning of Ankh (“life”) and Ma’at (“truth”). I tried to listen to Egyptian music, and I pretended to be a corpse so that my little sisters might mummify me in layers of toilet paper. I covered sheets of butcher block paper with imitation tomb paintings. I was astonished by a poem called, “I think I’ll go home and lie very still,” which showed me the playful side of people who have been dead for thousands of years. Out of many parts, a whole experience came together in my fourteen-year-old mind. Even now, twenty four-years later, I remember it so vividly. I was immersed.

Now, like my mother and many another educator before her, I have found that integrated studies “make the most sense to me” as a teacher. “Integration helps to fix knowledge firmly in the mind,” said my mother. I have found it so, and I now draw on that knowledge to help my
students experience other points of view and arrive at a deeper, more complex understanding. Together, we walk an extra mile in the shoes of ghosts, or stand on Boo Radley’s front porch, or carefully handle the fine wires of fear and hope that bind together all this human family.

By immersion, we learn to weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice. We learn not to despise those who came before us, but rather to try the wisdom of the ages, keeping that which is good. We learn to see one another—more often than not, the seeing leads to knowing and to loving.

Integrated Education Made More Approachable

Integration often involves extra work, or at least an extra degree of ingenuity. My mother is a little unusual in that she wrote down her plan of integration for her children. It took her twenty years and several thousand pages to show how twelve grades of education in history, literature, geography, writing, worldview, politics, fine arts, and philosophy, might all be integrated together as unit studies. Because of her efforts, I can immerse my own students more easily, and I am grateful! Now, I work to continue her project, hoping to add mathematics, sciences, and economics to the integrated tapestry made up of many threads that she and my father handed to me. When it is finished, I hope it will make up an “integrity”: a wholeness that helps my students to see other humans, to love them, and to share the love of God with them.

Integrated studies offer us a potential wealth of understanding, but they require a little extra work, extra ingenuity, and extra planning. Fortunately, Homeschool Planet’s software can now lighten that load in ways my mother never dreamed of when she first began to write her Tapestry of Grace. I hope the new planners for our curriculum will make it easier than ever to offer your students this precious gift that my mother gave me: an integrated education.

Add Tapestry of Grace Lesson Plans to Your Homeschool Planet Planner

If you are interested in learning more about the Tapestry of Grace curriculum or adding the Tapestry of Grace Lesson Plans to your Homeschool Planet Online Planner, click here to visit the Homeschool Planet Marketplace. There you will find Tapestry of Grace lesson plans are available for all learning levels bundled for your choice of Integrated, Full Racks, or Spools. Integrate your child’s education today with Tapestry of Grace!

Tapestry of Grace Lesson Plans

Meet Special Guest Author: Christina Somerville

Christina SomervilleHome-educated through high school by Scott and Marcia Somerville, Christina earned a BA in Literature from Patrick Henry College in 2007. Upon graduation, Christina returned to Lampstand as an author, writing a Great Books Literature program for high school students, the beginning of a Literature program for junior high students, and two textbooks. During this time, Christina also edited Marcia’s Love the Journey, contributed to Writing Aids and Evaluations, taught for Tapestry University and Lampstand Learning Center (now Lucerna Academy), and helped to design the Advisor program as the first Advisor Liaison. In 2016, having completed a “first career” as a curriculum designer, Christina left Lampstand Press to embark on a “second career” as a teacher. The next four years broadened her knowledge of education beyond homeschooling as she taught secular international, public school, SAT prep school, AP, and private school students, while also continuing to teach at various times for Christian homeschool co-ops, Christian private students, and The Potter’s School. As 2019 ended, Michael Somerville decided to move on from his role as Lampstand’s President, so Christina transitioned part-time to a “third career” as the owner of Lampstand Press. (She also continues to teach because she can’t help herself.)

How to Create A Morning Time Routine that Works!

How to Create a Morning Time Routine that Works

By | Homeschool Planning

Morning time routines have become all the rage in homeschooling in the last few years. Homeschool bloggers, podcasters, publishers, and more have promoted this practice that goes by many different names: morning time, morning basket, circle time, etc. Whatever you call it in your homeschool, the purpose is the same. It is  a time intended to set the tone and atmosphere for your homeschool day.

What is a Morning Time Routine?

Morning time, as the name suggests, usually takes place in the morning. The homeschool family meets together and learns together following a pre-determined schedule of subjects. Unlike most other school subjects though, morning time encourages a more relaxed and intimate atmosphere. This time is purposeful. It is not a lecture, but a time purposed to engage the child in listening and responding as he discusses the content with his family.

You may be wondering how to begin a morning time routine that actually works for your family. Many homeschooling parents have tried and failed, only to wonder what they are doing wrong. The concept sounds so lovely, but in reality it can be difficult to make your children sit still or know which subjects to include in your morning time. Keep reading to discover how you can create a morning time routine that works!

How to Create A Morning Time Routine that Works!

Wakey Wakey Eggs and Bakey

The most difficult part of finding a morning time routine for most families is getting up at the same time every day. We are homeschoolers, and homeschoolers like to sleep in, right?

Morning time is going to look different for every family, but one thing that is similar is that it happens in the morning. This ritual, at this time every day, has the potential to set the tone and atmosphere for a successful day of homeschooling.

Your family time doesn’t have to happen at 6am. If your family does like to sleep in, find a reasonable time that works for you. Consider ways to make getting breakfast for the kids easier, like overnight oatmeal or smoothies and toast.

The point is to set yourself up for success and not doom yourself to failure because you are setting expectations upon your family that you’re never going to meet.

Don’t Dive in Head First

Do not – I repeat – do not expect that your family is going to do morning time perfectly now or ever.  You will wake up one day and not feel like gathering the kids around for morning time. You may take a few weeks off. This is not failure. You can pick up morning time where you left off and begin again. There are a few things you may want to consider though before jumping into a morning time routine head first.

Please do not begin your morning time routine for the first time with a lengthy schedule thinking you are going to fit in all of the good and lovely things. You may find that your children do not tolerate a long schedule of reading, art history, classical music listening, and poetry recitation the way that you imagined they would. Start slow and move slow, slowly adding to your time and subjects as you progress. You will find this building block approach to morning time helps to develop a long lasting habit of morning time, rather than a disastrous sprint.

Practice Makes Perfect

It is important to remember that morning time is not only a new routine for you, but for your children too. Developing the habit of morning time will benefit you all, but there will be some growing pains, and that’s to be expected.

You will have days, many days, that your children will not behave perfectly during morning time. This is to be expected. This is not failure. Use this time to develop character. There are multiple ways to handle children who struggle to sit still or behave appropriately during morning time:

  • Dismiss and reconvene the next day after attitudes have been adjusted
  • Provide busy time boxes or sensory toys to occupy hands
  • Host morning time around the breakfast table while children are busy sitting and eating
  • Give each child a seat of their own to avoid bothering another child

However, you choose to occupy your children during morning time, the point is to keep gathering and developing a love for being together and learning together.

If you are homeshcooling a child that has ADHD you might enjoy this article >> 4 Tips for Homeschooling Students With ADHD

Now that we have talked about what a morning time routine is and how to approach it, you may be wondering what subjects you should include in your morning routine.

Include All the Lovely Subjects

I like to include all of the subjects I enjoy in my morning time routine, and often those subjects that I am most likely to ditch because they aren’t considered “core subjects” according to state standards.

Those activities that we love to do as a family like reading aloud are first to go on our schedule. You can read a single chapter a day or multiple chapters, depending on what your family can handle. If you have small children, read a picture book.

Many morning time routines include art and music appreciation, poetry recitation, and even nature study. These subjects are often the first ones we drop when our school day goes long, so it works better to put these at the beginning of the day, since I know we won’t skip subjects like math and phonics.

Determine which subjects work best for you to study as a family. Decide how much time you need to allot for all those subjects to be covered. Remember not to attempt everything at once. Consider just doing a read aloud your first week attempting a new morning time routine to get the kids used to something new. The second week add on listening to classical music. The third week have one of the children read some poetry aloud. Build your way up to what your ideal morning time routine looks like.

Getting up early to greet the day and your children with a smile is not an easy feat. It won’t always look perfect. It may never look perfect, but it is a very good and beautiful thing that you are presenting all these good and beautiful things to your children.

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Ready Made School Will Simplify Your Homeschool Year

By | Homeschool Planning

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Sit back and relax … Ready Made School relieves the stress and pressure from planning the next school year.

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