Online Learning Balance

Online Learning Balance

By Tammie Polk

I see what’s happening here. With everything that’s going on, you want to maintain that sense of normalcy that you know and love.

You know what your strong points are and what you need help with. The Internet is a wealth of knowledge, and although it seems like an endless resource, you know that your home education plan needs balance!

Is there such a thing as balance?

Yes. Yes, there is!

When it comes to online learning, the main thing is monitoring how long your child is ON the computer.

Signs to monitor:

  • Do they get up?
  • Do they move around?
  • Do they eat?
  • Do you see them during the day?
  • Does their mood change?

Believe it or not, ALL of those things impact how they learn.

Balance means that there are limits!

Don’t Forget About Real-Life Lessons

Child having fun learning onlineOnline learning balance also means that you take time to show them how what they are learning online applies in their daily lives. Remember how we used to wonder if we were EVER going to use some of the things we learned? Your child has that same sentiment!

They need to know that what they’re learning has meaning.

Let me share with you an example. A friend’s son was having issues with fractions. He came and asked for help as she was cleaning windows. Their windows were divided into sections of eight. Armed with window paint, they worked through the fractions, and he went away somewhat happy – his mom made him clean the windows once they were done. 

When we show our children how a concept applies to their daily lives, it increases their desire to learn. Help them find opportunities to use what they are learning.

Keeping Our Sanity

Having balance keeps YOU sane!

Some balk at the notion of using online tools as ways for parents to take a breather, but when used correctly, online learning can allow a homeschool parent to take a vital sanity break.  

If you have reached the point where you wonder why you had children in the first place, give them time online. That gives you a moment to calm and center yourself. 

Have a list of websites you know, like, and trust that your children can go to. This can keep the flow of your day on track. Allow them to choose one of your approved sites and be sure to let them know their time limit in advance. 

Tips for Offline Learning

In addition to those life lessons, it could be time for your child to take the reins. Child-led learning often yields more retention of skills than any other resource. It is also essential to have offline resources at the ready for such a time as this.

Exploring outside, playing board games, making board games, making and trading lessons with their siblings, scavenger hunts, and the like can help strengthen their learning acumen. I’ll never forget the day my daughter found mushrooms in our yard – that turned into a whole project!

Take a drive…a walk…a hike….something!

With schools closing nationwide, there are more people online using more of the sites that you know and love, and new resources are being created all the time to help meet those demands.  Use an effective combination of online and offline educational activities to make learning fun and exciting!

Change Things Up

Even if you’re using a set program or curriculum, find other ways to do what’s on the menu for the day- sign them up for an online class that is interactive or help them check out a new computer game that can help them learn what’s on the lesson plan. 

At the end of the day, the goal is to ensure that your child learns and gleans as much as possible. It can be done without stressing yourself (and your child) out. 

Reinvent the wheel. Learn something new. Find your passions. Cultivate theirs.

Online learning, such as classes, clubs, educational games, and videos, can be part of a balanced education plan.

You’ve got this!

Homeschool mom celebrates finding resources for homeschooling online

Homeschoolers Giving Back

Homeschoolers Giving Back

A Season of Giving

Wondering how we homeschoolers can give back to our communities? Recently, one of my Facebook friends asked those on her timeline for ideas on what homeschoolers could do to give back. She got the usual answers—shelters, Salvation Army, nursing homes, etc. My response? Help a homeschooling teacher!

Homeschooling mom and son spending time outdoorsThree Ways You Can Help Fellow Home Educators:

  • Be there: families are joining the ranks of homeschooling by leaps and bounds and many have no clue how to get started. Simply having access to someone to talk to can help so much!
  • Konmari your classroom: people may be looking for curricula that you have sitting in a box or closet. Instead of collecting dust and spider webs it could be helping a homeschool family. It may not be the latest edition, but I guarantee you that it will help SOMEBODY!
  • Create a “kick-off” box: people use the same supplies as you – that extra stuff can be turned into supply boxes for new homeschool families. The kids will love helping with this!

Let’s talk about that last one for a moment. Have you ever given thought to making a homeschool kick-off box for a new homeschooling family? Think about that new homeschool parent who is going through all of those things you went through when you first started homeschooling. Often a search for help can lead to information overload- and you could be there to enable them to get a good start instead!

Stuff You Already Have

Think about what you have on hand that might be an encouragement to that new homeschool family. A tote bag or cute box of basic school supplies, coffee or tea and a cute mug for Mom, age/grade appropriate activity packets, books, and things of that sort go a LOOOOOOOOOONG way! Pay attention to those “If you could have anything for your homeschool, what would it be” posts—you might have that stuff right in your house and it could be used to inspire, encourage, uplift, and equip another family to resist the urge to put their kids back on the bus that they JUST pulled them off of…SIGH!

Make a Target Run

If your closet search doesn’t yield enough items for your homeschool kick-off box, a quick trip to your local Target dollar section or the dollar store can round out your list with cute erasers and inexpensive office supplies.

Other Ways to Give Back

Our kids need a reality check at times, so take them to those soup kitchens, shelters, orphanages, and even hospitals. That reminds me of something…

Homeschoolers give back by volunteer work at a hospitalLast year, our youngest daughter was admitted to the hospital days after her birthday. Because she was in medical isolation, she couldn’t leave the room to engage in any of the amenities the hospital had to offer. As I opened the door briefly to see what was going on around the floor, I saw a family with a cart of dinner plates for the parents of children in the hospital. It was obvious that their youngest child did NOT want to be there at ALL! When they got to our daughter’s room, he noticed that they were the same age and had the same birthday. His mood INSTANTLY changed. He was up, walking around, serving others, and ran across a little girl just like him.

A local homeschool co-op came around the hospital with Christmas stockings and a cart full of toys. It was so hard for me to choose because our daughter likes pretty much anything! When I mentioned that she’d just had her birthday, they told me to take whatever I wanted! The cool thing was that one of the things she wanted MOST for her birthday was on that cart – how this small act blessed us!

A church group brought a full taco bar out for parents and children who could eat it. They prayed for each parent that came down to make a plate for themselves or their children. Little things like that make a big difference.

Many times, our children think that nothing will ever befall them and they need to see that it can and that there are people out there who genuinely need that smile or helping hand! They may be the only person that day who shows that person any kindness at all…I’ve seen it happen too many times.

Another thing you can do is write to a soldier who may not have a family or simply needs a pick me up from someone they have sworn their lives to protect. The loneliness they feel may not be something your child experiences, but it will teach them to appreciate others!

Four Quick Ways to Pay it Forward

  • Volunteer at those shelters, soup kitchens, and orphanages
  • Visit hospital patients during the holidays
  • Write to a soldier
  • Smile and look for little ways to lend a hand every day

Whatever you choose to do…give back!

Tammie Polk is a Mompreneur on a Mission! She is a married, homeschooling mother of three girls ages 15, 10, and 5 from Memphis, Tennessee. When she’s not pouring into her girls, you can find her writing, doing crossword puzzles, or playing games! Her major claim to fame is being the author of over 30 books on life, faith, family, and business- all of which were written in the last three years. Tammie is also a business coach, homeschool consultant, motivational and inspirational speaker, and international radio show host!

 

 

Surviving the Middle School Years

Surviving the Middle School Years

(The following is a guest post from Tammie Polk, True North Homeschool Academy contributor.)

“OMG!!! I HAVE A JUNIOR HIGH/MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT!!!” says every parent at one point in their homeschool journey!

Don’t let this drive you mad, Mama! There is a way to coexist with the ebbing tide of this crucial part of life. Here are some things you can do to make this time bearable.

First, don’t shy away from interest-based/interest-led learning.

Yes, they will still have to learn the stuff that they complain about; however, finding out what they are interested in will help you to plan the middle school –and the high school years—without a lot of hassle.

Next, pay attention to what they’re NOT saying!

Your kids will amaze and surprise you. You’ll think they’re not getting it and then it happens—they show you exactly what you need to do next! What you see could be the key to the nagging question of “How do I motivate my kid to do more or better?” Using what they are showing you could very well be the silver lining.

Then, don’t be afraid to share your talents and hobbies with them.

Many times, when our kids get to this age, they think we don’t know about or haven’t experienced certain things, so it’s time to surprise THEM! Although they may act as though they are disgusted by the fact that they like something that their mom does, it’s still special to them and it opens up key discussions that need to happen at this stage of their lives. I credit my tech savviness to my Dad because he taught me his trade of being a computer technician! Let your kids know what’s in YOUR arsenal.

Last, BE FLEXIBLE!

Goals are important; however, things DO happen. That light bulb may come on long before you think it will and you have to move quickly. Sickness is always a possibility, so it’s important to have backup or rainy day plans on DECK!

It’s important to make the best of these times because they do go FAST! How does that affect you as a working homeschool mom?

  • You may have to change the way you do business! Your kids’ schedule is going to change, be it because they need more help with their schoolwork or their activity schedule takes over a little more. You may have to change your hours and work on the go.
  • You may have to make them a part OF your business! I tell people all the time that we often miss out on the best help in the world because we don’t take advantage of the skills our kids show that WE consider annoying!
  • You may need to help them start THEIR OWN business! Entrepreneurship, whether they intend to go to college or not, is always the order of the day! If they can make money from what they want to do, train them up and help them out!

These years don’t have to drive you to a permanent coffee IV….just saying!

(Concerned about those pesky middle school years?  Check out True North Homeschool Academy’s Junior High Courses.)

Tammie Polk is a Mompreneur on a Mission! She is a married, homeschooling mother of three girls ages 15, 10, and 5 from Memphis, Tennessee. When she’s not pouring into her girls, you can find her writing, doing crossword puzzles, or playing games! Her major claim to fame is being the author of over 30 books on life, faith, family, and business- all of which were written in the last three years. Tammie is also a business coach, homeschool consultant, motivational and inspirational speaker, and international radio show host!

Using Teamwork in Your Homeschool

Using Teamwork in Your Homeschool

Teamwork makes the dream work…Even in homeschool! 

I have a somewhat funny story that I want to tell in this article. It’s about my pastor’s four daughters. 

He had us over for dinner one Sunday and I noticed that each one of his daughters prepared a different part of dinner, so I asked my pastor’s wife why that was and she said, “Well, they are all good at different things.” 

Their youngest daughter seemed to butter bread perfectly. There was never too much butter. There was never too little butter. 

The next daughter to up from her made a mean salad and, since they pretty much had a salad with every dinner meal, she always had something to do.  

The one up next from her had mastered the family favorite side dishes, so she knew that when it was time for a certain meal that she needed to get on her game with the side dishes. They were always cooked and seasoned perfectly.  

The oldest daughter was the meat master. This was the one who would stand outside with my pastor, watching him season and grill meat and she often watched her mom do the same, so she knew that, with certain meats, the flavor came from the spices!  

Each one of them had their own space in the kitchen to craft their part of dinner. When it was done, they each took an item that was needed to set the table and, one right after the other, they would set the table in preparation for their mom bringing out the heavy foods and then they would happily go get their creations.  

They were a homeschool family and even today they have that same work ethic. So, how can you get this to work for you? It may seem like I’m repeating myself a little bit from previous articles. However, there are a few points that I really want to drive home. 

First, know what your family’s strengths are and allow them to display them.

One part of teamwork is putting the best person for the position into the position, stepping back and letting them do what they do. It’s not gonna cause a mutiny. It’s not going to bring a sense of anarchy in your home, but Mama, that’s one less thing you are going to have to do that day.  

Second, make sure that they have what they need in order to get the job done. 

Every sports team has these things in common: 

  • an arena (a place to work),  
  • equipment (something to work with),  
  • electricity (which fuels what needs to be done)  
  • an opponent (a problem to fix), and  
  • practice (to learn the strategies to be the most successful) 

Which one of those do you need to implement?  

Lastly, in order to make teamwork make the dream work in your homeschool, show your appreciation for the effort given, even if the results aren’t that great. If you’re letting your kids help you make dinner and they burned something, instead of yelling about it, thank them for trying and you try to find a way to eat it. If that’s not possible, then stand with them side by side and help them to make it.

Your homeschool will not be as successful as you want it to be without teamwork and, if you are a working warrior like I am, you’re going to see that you can’t afford to run your home without your team. You have a team, so use it.  

(Love this post?  You might also enjoy Hey Homeschool Mom – Keep it Simple!!)

Contributor

Blog Contributor Tammie Polk

 

 

Tammie Polk is a Mompreneur on a Mission! She is a married, homeschooling mother of three girls ages 15, 10, and 5 from Memphis, Tennessee. When she’s not pouring into her girls, you can find her writing, doing crossword puzzles, or playing games! Her major claim to fame is being the author of over 30 books on life, faith, family, and business- all of which were written in the last three years. Tammie is also a business coach, homeschool consultant, motivational and inspirational speaker, and international radio show host!

 

 

How important is teamwork in your homeschool? Teamwork is the glue that holds a successful homeschool together, especially for us busy working moms! Come see our tips for using teamwork in your homeschool! #homeschool #homeschooling #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #teamwork

Hey Homeschool Mom – Keep It Simple!

Hey Homeschool Mom – Keep It Simple!

Keep It Simple, Sister! 

If your family needs three degrees to understand what they need to do while you’re gone, that’s a problem. 

If the person helping you out feels like the instructions you left them are written in Mandarin Chinese with a splash of Greek, Arabic, and Hebrew, that’s a problem. 

If you’re frustrated because your best-laid plan was laid waste by that one kid who comes to you and says, “Mom, all you had to do was…”, then you need to simplify things, my dear. 

While we want everything to run like a well-oiled machine when we leave home (or even while we’re there), we must remember that we are dealing with human beings who all have differing needs. Instead of giving our families a Ph.D. dissertation on how we want things to go, eliminate the stress you’re going to put on yourself by using the KISS principle—Keep It Simple, Sister. 

But…why should I keep it simple? 

When things are simple, it is more likely to be done! 

How many times have you given up on something because it simply did not make sense that there were so many steps to follow? Trust and believe that your family feels the same way! When you make things hard—which we don’t always realize—it is not going to be done. I’ll give you an example.  

When we first started homeschooling while I worked, I expected my daughter to follow the same schedule she had been following in school. I made elaborate lesson plans for my husband to follow and made sure every moment of the day was accounted for, which made me feel good.

Then I noticed that school wasn’t getting done until after I got home. What I had left for my family took all day to do, and every night, my husband was telling me about something that needed to change, which was offensive to me. It wasn’t until I sat down with my daughter and asked her what she needed that things began to work better! Have you asked your family? 

When things are simple, creativity and spontaneity run wild! 

You will have much more time in the day to get things done when you keep things simple at home. You won’t always feel so rushed to do this and that once you come in for the day! If you’ve ever gotten home and was surprised to find that your family had already taken care of those things you’re usually rushing into the house to get done, then you know exactly what I mean. When your daily routine and tasks are simple, you won’t be bothered by the fact that your family wants breakfast for dinner. 

So, what are the things that I need to simplify? 

I can’t speak for everyone’s household; however, what I can do is offer a few suggestions: 

  • Your expectation of perfection—understand that it’s going to take time to get anything going. Baby steps will get you further than you think! Allow yourself time to refocus, revise, revamp, and change what is needed. 
  • The amount of stuff you use—there will be times when you can do more with less! You don’t need to buy a 1,000 piece kit to do something that can be done with a box, a flashlight, some glow sticks, and a little imagination. 
  • Your schedule—every moment of the day does NOT need to have something in it! When you don’t allow for flexibility, any little change will throw you off your game, and then nothing gets done! 
  • Your curriculum—consider using something that is online or self-paced! Building independence in your children will not breed anarchy but will give you the time that you need to get other things done. I know that’s difficult in this tech-crazed world; however, having something that they can do anywhere and at any time will make things simpler than you think. 

These are just a few of my thoughts as I continue in my year. For those of you who are just starting, I wish you the BEST in your school year! 

Contributor

Blog Contributor Tammie Polk

 

Tammie Polk is a Mompreneur on a Mission! She is a married, homeschooling mother of three girls ages 15, 10, and 5 from Memphis, Tennessee. When she’s not pouring into her girls, you can find her writing, doing crossword puzzles, or playing games! Her major claim to fame is being the author of over 30 books on life, faith, family, and business- all of which were written in the last three years. Tammie is also a business coach, homeschool consultant, motivational and inspirational speaker, and international radio show host!

 

 

 

Do you struggle to keep things simple as a busy homeschool mom? Check out these tips for simplifying your homeschool life! #homeschool #simplicity #homeschoolplanning