Holiday Traditions

Holiday Traditions

Holiday Traditions

For our family, holiday traditions include our three-story farmhouse swathed from top to bottom in Christmas lights. The holiday season is filled with special books, music, and movies. Trees, along with windows and door frames are trimmed with garlands, twinkle lights, and ornaments. Most importantly it means gathering gifts and special moments with those we love. Over the years we celebrate with time tested traditions as well as new activities as our family grows and changes.

Here are 15 ideas for special activities you may want to add to your family’s holiday season!

Advent Calendars

Advent Calendars are a lovely way to mark the coming of Christmas. You can purchase literal calendars, with tiny gifts or candies behind numbered doors, or use a pre-made toy calendar like Playmobile sells, or craft your own. There are a plethora of simple and beautiful Advent Calendar ideas on Pinterest.

Advent Calendar Baskets

My daughter, son-in-law and two grandbabies live miles away and one son is away at college. We’re sending them Advent gift baskets to celebrate the season.  We’ve collected 25 little gifts, from playmobile and Legos, to lip balm and hand creams, earbuds, car chargers, little books, and gift cards. We’ll wrap and number each little gift, enclose a simple card with a scripture verse and celebrate the anticipation of Christmas, even though we are far away.

Board Games

We love board games and holidays allow the time it takes to play a few of our favorites; Bananas, Code Words, Eclipse, Settlers of Catan, Rails and Trails, Ticket to Ride and Risk top our list. Of course, for younger kids, simpler games are in order; card games are always fun and provide a way to visit and chat.

Caroling

We used to do this often when I was growing up and it is a lovely tradition. Gather together and go knock on the door of friends. When they open the door, sing them a Christmas carol. This would be easy and fun to organize with a church youth group or homeschool co-op.

Chopped “Holiday” Edition

Gather together a few teams, give each team the same set of cooking supplies and a specific food category- hors d’oeuveres, salad, main, side or dessert -set a timer for an agreed-upon amount of time and let the teams get cooking. When the timer goes off, score each team’s offering based on creativity, taste, and plating then choose a winner! Celebrate by eating a simple meal together! For more cooking ideas, take a look at this article with healthy low carb cooking ideas for holiday meals!

Christmas Crafts Party

Invite 10-15 friends and ask them each to bring a craft and supplies for 20-40 (because often it’s fun to make more than one!), along with snacks. Set a date for several weeks before Christmas and gather for a fun afternoon of crafting, snacking and making merry! Everyone leaves with fun crafts to decorate with and give as gifts! Pinterest is a perfect resource for the non-crafty momma.

Christmas Stockings

We use the Christmas stockings my mom made for our kids and family years ago before she passed away. We often put magazine subscriptions, balls, ornaments, and other fun and simple gifts that make for a fun surprise during the holiday season. Also, look HERE for more great ideas for fun (and -shhhh- educational) stocking stuffers.

Decorate a Gingerbread House

We love the pre-baked gingerbread houses to decorate but you could certainly bake the gingerbread yourself, or make simple houses with graham crackers. Gather icing and loads of candy and get decorating. With a large enough family or group of friends, you could do a couple of houses. Some of ours have gotten fairly elaborate with decorated front lawns. Build them on a tin foiled cookie sheet for easy display and don’t be surprised if parts go missing!

Gifts

We choose gifts each year through a combination of “want, need, wear and read”. Often a family board game, movie or favorite cartoon will make its way under the tree.  Travel and experience related gifts, like museum and theater tickets or memberships, have shown up with greater regularity as kids grow and gain independence.

Hot Chocolate or Coffee Bar

Creating a place to gather some packages of flavored hot chocolate and peppermints, special flavored coffees, an assortment of teas, and treats such as biscotti, chocolate-covered spoons, along with special holiday mugs makes gathering together for a warm mug of holiday cheer something that will happen with regular, happy frequency.

Nativities

Over the years we’ve gathered and been gifted several Nativities, some of which we leave out all year long. It is a good reminder that the story of Christianity began with simplicity.

The Nativity Story

Each year we read the Nativity Story on Christmas morning, while we enjoy a simple buffet. We also watch the movie The Nativity and The Star each holiday season. Perfect reminders of both the humanity and the majesty of the season.

Melk on the Shelf

A fun alternative to Elf on the Shelf, that will lead your kids and grandchildren to a greater understanding of the characteristics of God. Created by a homeschooling family that serves as missionaries in Mexico, Melk on the shelf incorporates the fun of Elf on the Shelf, but with the purpose of understanding God more deeply.

Parade of Lights and City Light Displays

Many cities have yearly light displays. Our mid-sized town in the far north has a wonderful Parade of Lights each year, which thousands brave the cold to view. We also have a wonderful city display of lights by our renowned falls, which seem to grow brighter with each passing year! Car tours are synced with holiday music, but plenty of souls brave the cold to watch the falls, colored by holiday lights up close.

White Elephant Party

Find the craziest unwanted item in your home, gather friends or family and have a white elephant gift exchange. Our personal favorites have been The Planet of the Apes complete video collection and an unidentified glass decorative item.

What are your favorite Holiday Traditions? We’d love to hear about them – you can drop us a line with your ideas here, or join us for the fun at our TRIBE on Facebook! 

2019 Christmas Blessings Giveaway

Can you believe that this is the last Christmas in this decade?! Where has the time gone?

I have teamed up with some pretty generous bloggers for the 6th annual Christmas Blessings Giveaway with the hopes of making this a Christmas to remember for TWO families as we close out this decade!  While we wish we could bless many more families, we were able to come up with a big prize for TWO families – $500 each (delivered via Paypal) – that we pray will make a big difference in their lives this Christmas season – whether it’s to fulfill their kids’ Christmas wishes, pay off some bills, or to help build some savings, our prayer is that it helps to lessen any financial burden and/or fills a specific need.

There are lots of entry options in the Rafflecopter form below – the more you enter, the better your chance of winning! I know it can seem tedious and time-consuming to go through all the entries, but isn’t a chance at $500 worth it? I think it is! Plus, all of these amazing bloggers donated their own money toward the cash prizes, so this giveaway wouldn’t be possible without them.

I hope you’ll take the time to check out each one. Who knows, maybe you will find some new blogs to follow.

The Christmas Blessings Giveaway will run from Monday, November 18th through Wednesday, November 27th (ends at 11:59 pm EST). Winner will be notified by email shortly after the giveaway ends and will have 48 hours to respond to claim the prize or another winner will be drawn. You must have a Paypal account to win. By entering this giveaway, you agree to be added to the email lists of the participating bloggers. Please be sure to read the Rafflecopter terms and conditions upon entering.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Best Homeschool Stocking Stuffers

The Best Homeschool Stocking Stuffers

Stocking Stuffers

The Best Homeschool Stocking Stuffers

The holidays mean music, presents, good food and stocking stuffers!  As homeschoolers, we are intentional about creating a life-style of learning and that often translates into educational toys and gifts! I love gifts that keep on giving long past the holiday, especially those that encourage skill building and future opportunities. That’s why I’m so excited about to bring you this Stocking Stuffer Gift Guide! Including is something for all the kids on your list- from pre-school to high school. Check out the fun Spanish Ocean Animals Guide, perfect for the grands who recently moved to Florida, music and art!  Not limited to homeschoolers, think about tipping the kids in your life who pet-sit, or deliver the paper.  What teen-ager wouldn’t be ahead of the curve by learning how to program a game or start a podcast?

And don’t forget your favorite Homeschooling Mom!  Also including is a quote journal, and an inspiring getting started with homeschooling eBook and our own Survive Homeschool High School. Recently updated, this eBook includes all that you need to know about credits, transcripts, extra-curriculars and more! If you or someone you know is about to embark on the journey of homeschooling high school gift them this roadmap to homeschooling high school success!

Give a gift that keeps on giving this year with stocking stuffers that are sure to wow! Twelve bloggers have come together to share their best products with you. Each of these was crafted with love to bless your homeschool! All virtual products will supply a beautiful gift certificate for you to gift or stuff into a stocking. Happy Shopping!

The Best Homeschool Stocking Stuffers for Tweens and Teens!

game programming course stocking stuffer

Get them engaged in learning with Fundafunda Academy’s Introduction to Game Programming. This is a self-paced class for grades 5 – 12 that introduces students to game programming. They will learn about game design, how to create game graphics and some basic computer logic. They will also program an interactive greeting card. Have a teen who lives to play video games? This stocking stuffer is sure to be a hit!

 

 

 

 

podcast for teensSome teens love to talk, maybe your teen needs her own podcast!

Does your homeschool teen need an elective credit on their transcript but feels uninspired by the options? Would your techie high schooler like to pursue their passions while completing coursework? Then the Podcast Launch for Teens Stocking Stuffer by Abby Banks is for YOU!

 

 

The Best Homeschool Stocking Stuffers for Littles!

Keep the Christmas spirit going with playful fun! These practical activity plans are perfect to embrace the holiday season with your kids! They’re simple enough to make a perfect stocking stuffing and fit easily into your already hectic schedule.

Celebrate Christmas Stocking Stuffer

There are four weeks of activities already planned out for you, so there’s no need to go looking for something to do with the kids, it’s all right there. And there’s details and photos if you need it. Make this Christmas season your child’s very best ever with Celebrate from The Activity Room!

 

 

cooking science for kidsCook up some fun with Cooking By Level by Raising Human Beans! A Level Based Cookbook, that teaches your kids how to cook simple meals! From helping out- to cooking full meals by themselves!! Volume 1- Easy Food Volume 2- Tea Time Volume 3- Pancakes Volume 4- Christmas (coming soon!). Seven lessons, six projects, tons of fun!!! This mini-course is perfect Stocking Stuffer to ensure a fun Christmas break or weekly lessons this winter.

 

 

 

 

Art CampUnlike most art programs, Beyond the Stick Figure courses are not just a collection of projects, but a course in art techniques. These core techniques will give your child the confidence and ability to independently create masterpieces. Have an Art Camp with your family! Just click open, and go.

 

 

 

 

 

Spanish Animals Younger kids will have fun exploring the ocean and learning Spanish as they go. The Spanish Ocean Animals Printables Workbook by Spanish4Kiddos includes four worksheets for children to practice Spanish terms of ocean life. Children practice handwriting, fine-motor skills, and reading. Common core and NGSS aligned.

 

 

 

Teen Girl Fun Bundle PERFECT FOR THE CRAFTY TEEN OR PRE-TEEN GIRL IN YOUR LIFE, AND JUST IN TIME for Christmas! Bookmarks and cards make awesome gifts for Christmas and other occasions. And since they are designed to be printed, cut out and decorated: The Super Bundle of Bookmarks and Cute Cards would be a perfect gift for a girl in your life who loves to create do-it-yourself crafts! This stocking stuffer is sure to provide hours of fun long after holiday decorations are put away!

 

 

 

 

Charlotte Mason Music

Fill your year with music! “A Year of Charlotte Mason Music Lessons” by Music in Our Homeschool is an online course that provides you with a gentle way to do music in your homeschool. Each month you’ll focus on two things: Composer Study and either a Folk Song or a Hymn. Use coupon code STOCKINGSTUFFER to get $10 off! (Coupon code expires 1/15/20.)

piano lessons at home Stocking StufferYour child will enjoy making his own music with Joyfulnotes Piano for Beginners. Engaging piano lessons delivered right to you for an amazingly affordable price. Now, your child can learn the joy of playing the piano anytime and anywhere. Designed for children age 5-8

The Best Homeschool Stocking Stuffers for Mom!

Homeschool Moms Want You to Know

Get an inside look into homeschooling with Sound Foundations Homeschool’s Homeschool Moms Want You to Know! This Amazon bestseller is written by real homeschool moms for moms just like you. See what homeschooling looks like, get the information you need, and walk away renewed with inspiration. A must-read for every prospective and new homeschool mom!

 

 

 

 

Homeschool High SchoolDo you wonder how you will Survive Homeschool High School? This informative guide will take the worry and stress out of homeschooling high school. Lisa Nehring, veteran homeschooler (27 years and counting) has also worked as an Admissions Counselor for a private graduate school and as an Academic Adviser for homeschooling students from around the world. She understands the world of homeschooling as well as the world of higher academics, what it takes to get into competitive colleges and programs, as well as how to manage students who are uniquely gifted or disabled. Lisa has written hundreds of homeschool Transcripts and counseled many homeschool high-schoolers and their parents to success!

 

 

 

Take Courage Stocking Stuffer

Take Courage, Moms! Be encouraged and inspired by our 30-day quote journal just for you. This 64-page journal will take your quiet prayer time to a whole new level. Go deeper with Take Courage by Homeschool in Florida journal prompts and beautiful writing space.

 

 

 

 

Stocking Stuffers

Celebrate Thanksgiving!

Celebrate Thanksgiving!

Celebrate Thanksgiving

We love to celebrate Thanksgiving. At our house it means dedicated days to enjoy each other’s company, visiting, cooking and eating. While there are certain recipes that we always make and certain things we often do, we are always on the look-out for new ways to celebrate together! Traditions are important because they give us a sense of belonging and community. Holidays help us remember our values as well as personal and collected history. Here we’ve gathered 25 things to do to ensure that your Thanksgiving Holiday is a delightful day of gathering with friends and family!

25 Ideas for Celebrating Together

  1. Breakfast: Set out a simple continental breakfast, a lovely quiche or pumpkin muffins, orange juice, and coffee to fuel the troops till the feasting begins.
  2. Board Games: Are de rigor when we get some time together- especially when we get together to celebrate Thanksgiving and other holidays! Some of our favorites are; Bananagrams, Codenames, Trails and Rails, Eclipse, Risk, Agricola and, of course, Settlers of Catan!
  3. Books: When our kids were younger, we’d set out a Thanksgiving Day basket full of books, including; Eating Plates, Sarah Morton’s Day, Samuel Eaton’s Day, On Plymouth Plantation, Tapenum’s Day, The Pilgrim’s First Thanksgiving, Squanto’s Journey and If you Sailed on the Mayflower – to name a few!
  4. Charlie Brown Thanksgiving: You’re never too old for Charlie Brown and friends! You’ll get a brief overview of the first Thanksgiving in 1621. Snoopy then serves up a holiday feast which includes buttered toast, pretzel sticks, popcorn, jelly beans, and ice cream sundae.
  5. Comedy:  We are always on the look-out for good comedy and love to share with others! One of our favorites is John Branyon’s 3 Little Pigs
  6. Corn Kernels: Put five kernels of corn (candy corn, works too if you don’t have access to real kernels!) by each place setting, in honor of the first Thanksgiving, and have everyone go around the table and name five blessings they experienced this year.
  7. Create a Cornucopia: Create a cornucopia for your Thanksgiving centerpiece or buffet table. My mom used to have a simple cornucopia basket that we’d decorate each year with leaves, pinecones, and flowers!  The meaning of cornucopia comes from the Latin words “cornu” meaning horn and “copia” meaning plenty. The cornucopia is a common harvest symbol associated with plenty. If you can’t find a basket one, bake an edible one out of bread! A quick internet search will help you find a plethora of ways to create a beautiful and edible centerpiece!
  8. Cyber Monday: Along with other on-line companies, True North Homeschool Academy has some amazing specials coming up that you are not going to want to miss!
  9. Food:  We love good food, are all busy and have some dietary restrictions to work around.  Sometimes our Thanksgiving table looks traditional and sometimes not so much! Each year we tweak, plan and prep for a few days before the big day so that there are plenty of left-overs to feed the masses over the weekend and we can spend more time visiting.
  10. Give a Toast: Before the meal begins, raise your glasses and honor the occasion. Giving a toast lends a festive air and is a lovely way to celebrate Thanksgiving and all that you are thankful for!
  11. Gratitude Garland: Have a basket of pre-cut, fall-colored construction paper chains and pens near-by so people can write down what they are thankful for. Start linking up and create your décor as you go- add to the chain over the holidays!
  12. Hostess Gift: Take along some Tupperware if you find yourself a guest during the Thanksgiving weekend and help your hostess out with storing and sharing yummy left-overs! Leftovers are just a natural extension as we celebrate Thanksgiving, so we always make plenty so we will have enough to nosh on the rest of the weekend. Of course, a delicious side dish, flowers or homemade preserves would also be a lovely hostess gift.
  13. Maker Space: Set up a simple craft table with a tried and true holiday craft like the Thanksgiving apple or Handprint turkeys. These crafts are simple and fun to create!
  14. Placecards: Create beautiful place cards for the table so everyone knows where they belong. Write an encouraging note, scripture verse or a blessing on the back as a keepsake.
  15. Ping-pong or Air -Hockey: These are fun diversions and a great way to get multiple ages and stages interacting together. Both beginners and your super talented people can visit while they play.
  16. Pray Together: Join hands and pray – your prayer can be a simple one, a collective one, or a traditional one. You can find traditional prayers online, or pray through a Psalm together. You could even print these out for each place setting ahead of time.
  17. Take a Hike: If the weather is nice enough, get outside after the traditional turkey and take a hike. Encourage the littles to find as many colors in nature as possible, or to identify various sounds. If you have enough of a group, play a round of flag football or ultimate Frisbee.
  18. Tell Family Stories and Sing Songs: Every family has its share of fun, wild and wonderful stories! Tell about the time you had the canoe misadventure, or your latest vacation, or about when Grandma was little. Stories are a wonderful way to bond together and re-visit shared history. And don’t forget the joy of the sing-along. When I was little, no visit to my Grandparents was complete without a trip to Aunt Dolly’s house, where we would all gather around the piano and sing together. Church hymns are wonderful, but simple rounds and camp songs are delightful as well.
  19. Thankful Tree: Create a thankful tree with branches, spray painted if you like, and “planted” in a decorative pot. Set out construction paper leaves and markers and have friends and family write down what they’re grateful for on a leaf, then attach to the branches.
  20. Set the Table: Put a leaf in the table, pull out the tablecloth and set out your best dishes. Don’t forget a centerpiece, napkins, and lovely place setting cards. Put on some soft background music and light candles, then gather together to talk, laugh and enjoy a beautiful meal together.
  21. Show Gratitude: Set up a letter-writing station complete with beautiful stationery, colorful pens, and stamps for easy mailing to truly celebrate Thanksgiving by honoring those who have enriched your life in the past year! Give everyone time to write a letter of gratitude to a special friend who has blessed them this past year. A wonderful activity and sweet takeaway of the day.
  22. Serve: Donate coats to kids in need, serve in a soup kitchen and donate to your favorite charity, such as Blessing Bethlehem!
  23. Turkey’s Away: WKRP’s Turkey’s Away episode is still funny, after all these years! “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!”
  24. TV: Of course the Macy’s Day Parade is a Thanksgiving Day staple, along with afternoon football. If neither of those of your cup of tea, check out the National Dog Show!
  25. Video Chat: Visit with Far-away Family and Friends! You can use Zoom free for 40 minutes at a go! Of course, it’s not the same, but when your married kids live half a country away, it is the next best thing!

More Celebration Ideas

How do you celebrate Thanksgiving? We’d love to hear about what you do to make the holiday memorable! If you would like more fun ideas for creating family traditions and celebrating the season, download our free Fall Bucket List Printable to help you plan now!

Pinterest image depicts an outdoor thanksgiving table with lanterns and burlap table runner.

The Gift of Education

The Gift of Education

The Horse Barn

My daughter cleans stables on the weekends, and since her brother has gone off to college, I have been going along with her. It’s peaceful work. The stables are beautiful, the horses are award-winning and the work straightforward. We clean stalls, sweep the barn, and feed the creatures. The tack room smells of warm leather, the stables of fresh alfalfa, of horse and life.

I look at the barrows full of manure, raked from freshly cleaned stalls, re-supplied with fresh alfalfa, and think, this is life. Cleaning, feeding, sweeping up the debris from the living. We talk to whatever horses are still stalled, and some time to each other, but generally we work.

My daughter, the gardener that she is, gathers tubs of manure to take home to feed her compost beds. Content in the hard work she’s done and the money well earned, we both get in the car, sweaty and tired, smelling of horse and work and life. Her work ethic has been hard-earned, both in her education and life.

My grandparents had a fourth-grade education, yet they valued the gift of education.

Out of my four grandparents, none of them went past fourth grade in any formal type of school. They were, however, always learning. They were hungry for learning.  My Gram died a few years ago, 1-month shy of her one-hundredth birthday, still living in her own home near Medway Airport in Chicago. She died in a home that she’d literally lined with books and music and animals and life. She had magnifying glasses at all her sitting places so she could see to read: books, magazines, and papers. She taught my Momma-less, illiterate Mom to read at age eight, by reading Shakespeare out loud to her and rewarded her with Mother West Wind books from the Five & Dime.

My grandfather watched the stock market daily and took careful notes.  He studied the Bible with the same careful tenaciousness that he gave to everything else. He wasn’t’ “educated” by today’s standards, but he could talk to anyone about anything and made friends wherever he went. He was passionately curious about people and how they lived and was a good neighbor to all.

My grandparents relished the gift of education. They believed that learning was a beautiful privilege and one they were hungry for.

Crown & the Growth Mindset

Queen Elizabeth, as portrayed in the mini-series Crown, seeks a tutor at one point. She has all the privileges of royalty and wealth, is the most respected woman in the world, which she travels extensively, and yet she sees a need in her own life. A need filled only by education. She hires a personal tutor to fill the void that money and prestige can’t fill. She is dissatisfied with what she doesn’t know and finds a way to fill the gap that lack of education has left.

Her sister, wealthy dissatisfied jet setter, is portrayed as bored and jealous and goes after a man that won’t “work” for her circumstances. We see a person who believes that the only satisfaction they can expect in life is physical and so she drinks and smokes and philanders to excess. The demands of her life don’t lead her to seek the fulfillment of learning and knowing. Because she hasn’t developed the intellectual discipline that character and education require, she settles.

So what does this have to do with the gift of education?

So often, in the homeschooling world, I hear this idea: character is more important than the book. “Put the book down and focus on character training.” I find this odd because it assumes that character training and education are at odds with each other. Au contrair! There is so much character training to be found by educating one’s self or another!

Let’s face it, the cycle of learning can be difficult. When we first encounter something, especially something challenging, it feels overwhelming. I remember the first time I tried to teach First Form Latin. I didn’t understand the teacher’s manual. I didn’t understand the grammar vocabulary; terms like Declension, Imperfect, Pluperfect, Mood, Conjugation. It felt awkward and tough. Now, years later, I love The Forms. It takes difficult material and lays it out in all its parts- vocabulary, grammar, sayings, culture.

Learning often requires an overview and familiarity before we ever get to mastery. It takes perseverance, hard work, vision and character to grow past overview. Getting to mastery requires all sorts of soft skills, character, and strength! Education IS character building!

Education is not a given

For many people around the world, education is not a given. My grandparents received very little formal education. Kids in the third world often don’t’ have the gift of education. Even royals don’t get the education that they need. Education requires infrastructure, stable government, money, and the character and vision to pursue it. It’s a gift. Educational choice is an even bigger gift.

In my weekly Latin classes, I pray. I pray that we all appreciate the gift of Latin and Education and that we steward that gift well. Latin isn’t going to save the world, but students who learn to appreciate words and the Word that became flesh, are great instruments to lead people to the One who can!

Gratitude for a life full of education – 

Homeschooling is such a unique and beautiful gift in this day and age of fast food everything. We have the time and opportunity to train our kid’s character as we school them. It’s a both-and, not an either-or proposition. You can teach math AND character at the same time. In fact, I would say they often go hand in hand. And to have the time and opportunity to train our kids well-their minds as well as their character is a gift.

I often hear that homeschooling should be fun, and I wonder where that idea got started. I’m not saying it should feel like slavery or a grind, but often hard work requires just that- work. Not that you can’t have fun while you work, but often work doesn’t feel necessarily like fun. And even if our kids don’t feel like they are having fun, they should still be educated, and we should not cheat them of the opportunity to have that deep sense of satisfaction that comes from learning and academic accomplishment. We should teach our kids to be grateful for the gift of education, for the opportunity to homeschool. It’s not a right. It is a privilege.

And what’s all this have to do with a horse barn anyway?

That simple gift of work that causes one to sweat a little and feel the good tired that comes from working hard; that’s what education often consists of. Real education – the kind that takes us beyond ourselves and transforms us, requires hard work, like the horse barn; vision, like my grandparents had; and a growth mindset like the Queen.

Gratitude reminds us of the above – that we are being given a great gift by being educated, and we are giving our children a great gift by handing them a personalized education, in the form of homeschooling.

 

Are you grateful for the gift of education? Do you understand the privilege that comes with the ability to homeschool? See why we love homeschooling and while we will forever be grateful for the ability to pass on the gift of education. #truenorthhomeschoolacademy #homeschooling #education #homeschool

Getting Started – Homeschooling Preschool and Kindergarten

Getting Started – Homeschooling Preschool and Kindergarten

I’ve had several young Mommas (so young I could be their Momma!) ask me about homeschooling preschool and kindergarten recently. The biggest challenge of littles is keeping them engaged. Most still have a relatively short attention span, are quickly tired, and need to be fed and watered at regular intervals. Habit is key- routine is your safest bet.  

(Still considering homeschooling? Check out our post on three reasons we love homeschooling.)

So what are my tips for homeschooling preschoolers and kindergartners?

Tip #1 – Morning Baskets

I would recommend developing a morning basket for littles. This method means they get your attention first thing, right after breakfast.  This basket is a great way to think about what you want your littles to learn and how to organize it. Morning Baskets for littles can include card matching games, Kumon workbooks, Memory CD’s, Poetry, Simple Bible Stories, Phonics, and math games if they are ready for them.

After years of doing this, I recommend over-planning before you get started and then going with the flow once you start. With littles, like with anything else, you don’t get what you want, you get what you plan for. With littles, you often get lots of surprises, too, right?!

Tip #2 – Add in age-appropriate chores.

Kids do what you inspect, not what you expect, BUT, they do need to know what you expect, too! One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from Andrew Pudewa is that if your child keeps asking for help, they need help. This seems simple- well, it is, really, but it might not come naturally! Life skills are a big part of homeschooling preschoolers and kindergartners.

Tip #3 – Add in Some Books

If you live with books and magazines, your kids will think having them around is normal. My kids love books on tape. We use Sonlight, Bethlehem Books, Memoria Press, and Veritas Press catalogs as reading lists. Ranger Rick, National Geographic for Kids, Ladybug, Boys Life have all been favorite magazines around here.

Pre- Reading: Read aloud 15 min a day. There are so many adorable books on everything under the sun; don’t limit your read-alouds to baby books.

Curriculum Suggestions for Homeschooling Preschoolers and Kindergartners

I think some table time is good at this age because it helps kids get acclimated to regular study. Art or History Cards are great to look at, even for pre-readers. Usborne, Memoria Press, and Veritas Press all have beautiful ones.

Christian Studies- Arch books are a fabulous way for your littles to get a great introduction to basic Bible stories with pictures that they’ll remember for a lifetime. We also have loved and read out loud to our kids a couple of different Children’s Bibles, including the Golden Children’s Bible.
We had tons of felts, and teaching Bible stories through felts is always an attention grabber.

IEW Language Acquisition through poetry memorization– this is a fantastic program and easily accessible for littles, especially with the CD. There are four sections of 20 poems each, starting with simple, short poems and ending with epic dramatic re-tellings. Andrew Pudewa (who put the program together and recites the poems) has incredible diction, so your kids will hear fantastic vocabulary and superb story-telling.

Letter and Number recognition– we used Kumon and Usborne workbooks, colorful, easily accessible, and fun. There are tons of complete programs available.

Phonics- We always used Alpha-Phonics in conjunction with Explode the Code. There are other great products out there. We took the low cost, no bells, and whistles, a practical approach.

Bible Study– Arch books, Bible Memory, reading a good quality Children’s Bible, Veggie Tales, Veritas Press, or Bible Study for All Ages Bible cards.

Memory Work – When our youngest was four, she learned 160 VP history cards that year (even though she was a pre-reader), along with 24 history sentences, several others hundred facts related to grammar, geography, Latin, poems and more because we regularly and diligently used CDs and table time to review. She also learned the letter sounds and started on a notebook-sized time-line. I say all of this so that you realize your littles are capable of learning a LOT.

This is NOT to say that you should set them at the table and force information down their throats. Kids this age, however, can learn a ton through CD’s, good DVD’s, books and great visual aids such as flashcards. Also, if you have older kids, why not include your younger kids? They are sponges. If you start early “training their brains to retain,” you’ll be amazed at how much they really can and do retain as they grow older.

More Fun Ways to Learn while Homeschooling Preschool and Kindergarten

Outside play, exploration, and nature walks – Nature journaling and nature tables are an excellent way for kids to display the cool things they’ve found as they explore the great outdoors! Homeschooling your preschooler and kindergartener should always be fun!

Read-alouds – At least 15 minutes a day; more is better ; )

Crafts and Art – There are so many fun art books, but in any case, an easel, paper, and paint is always appropriate. Colored shaving cream is excellent for bath/shower painting. And hey, how about a shower tile wall- works great as a whiteboard and for painting- easily wipes off- all for $15 bucks.

Gardening – This can be in the yard, with containers, or how about a Fairy Garden?

Open-Ended toys – Brio Trains, Playmobile, Duplos/Legos, Stuffed Animals. Pinterest has some adorable pins of old entertainment centers rehabbed as play kitchens. Add some felt food; and old pots, pans, and measuring cups.

Art Supplies – Easels, paint, glitter, glue, pipe cleaners, colored paper, stickers, colored rice bins, colored shaving cream to “Paint” in the bathtub, Whiteboards around the house (make a whiteboard wall with shower tile or several smaller lapboards), chalkboards and magnet boards (easily made with some chalkboard or magnet paint).

Unstructured Outside Play – Trampoline, playhouses, daily walks, parks, swimming, Gardening, Sandboxes, Swings,

“Sound exploration” – Musical makers. Kids loving making sounds.

Cooking- My kids have all loved to help cook in the kitchen. Usborne’s First Cookbook is full of fun and simple recipes.

Gross motor skill development–  For years, we had a “Step 2” playscape, complete with ladder and slide, IN our house.

Sandbox or table– a friend built a sandbox in their basement for their kids, and we had a sand table on our front porch for years.

Fine motor skill development – Have plenty of pens, pencils, markers around for the kids to play with, sewing cards, small toys (once they are past the “everything in their mouth” stage- legos, of course.

Travel/ field trips –  What better way to learn about the mail than actually visiting the Post Office? These types of learning experiences make learning fun AND educational.

Singing – the Wee Sing series, with books and CD’s are full of old favorites.

Daily Prayer – Family evening prayers, with everyone snuggled in a bed together, is a gentle way to teach your littles about what’s important to you. We have each child pray, youngest to oldest, ending with Daddy blessing each child. If your kiddo doesn’t know what to pray for, just help them along following ACTS (Adoration, Confessions, Thanksgiving, Supplication). We would have them repeat a simple sentence or two, such as, “Thank you, God, for this day.” This year, we made an Easter garden.

Finally, as a word of caution…..Limit screen time.

There are so many apps, computer games, DVD’s, etc., and they are all fascinating. We use some but in limited quantity. You want your pre-Ker neurology to be hard-wired to people and words, not electronics. Studies have shown that kids learn language skills by interacting with people-NOT screens.

For littles, almost everything they encounter is new and amazing. It’s so fun to explore the world together and to see it through fresh eyes. You don’t have to be super planned, but some planning does help and kids, again, thrive on routines. So what are you waiting for, take the leap to homeschooling preschool and kindergarten today!

Like what you see here but need more? Check out our post on Homeschooling Basics.

Are you considering making the homeschooling leap with your preschool or kindergarten child? Do you feel overwhelmed and under prepared? Let's us help you! At True North Homeschool Academy we strive to make your homeschool journey a success while fighting your overwhelm. Check out these great tips on homeschooling preschoolers and kindergartners. #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #homeschoolingpreschool #homeschoolingkindergarten #newhomeschooler

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