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Homeschooling: There has Never Been a Better Time!

Homeschooling: There has Never Been a Better Time!

Homeschooling has been an educational alternative since the late ’80s, eventually becoming legal in every state. It wasn’t really until 2020 that homeschooling was normalized as the entire world stayed home and muddled through homeschooling, homeworking, home sanity keeping. (#pandemic) Everyone quickly understood that homeschooling took planning, intentionality, and investment.

We began homeschooling in the early ’90s- the second year that Sonlight was in business- a big breakthrough in the market. It meant we had options beyond the traditional textbook approach of Abeka, Bob Jones whatever curricula the public schools were throwing away.

Mentoring Our Children

That was thirty years ago, and in that time, homeschooling has burgeoned into a billion-dollar industry. What does that mean for the homeschooler? It means choices, opportunity, and freedom. And, honestly, it can mean overwhelm as we all manage decision fatigue- not just with homeschooling, but with managing life during a unique time in history. Homeschooling was growing before 2020, and it has expanded exponentially with curriculum, online learning opportunities, and more. And while areas co-ops and class days may not be meeting as of yet, there are plenty of opportunities still around! And, because of the pandemic, you now have the entire world experimenting with online teaching. That means world-class teachers are at your fingertips!

Homeschooling means you own your children’s education- you are not outsourcing to a government or private system. But because of the plethora of choices now available to you and with so many people working part or full time, while they homeschool, it often means that we are coaching or mentoring our students through their academic life.

How do we make the best decisions and navigate the millions of choices?

  1. Understand what a typical course of study is – possibly within an educational pedagogy.
  2. Set priorities and a budget – include money for books, supplies, resources, online classes/ experiences, travel, equipment, co-ops, opportunities. Does it have to cost a fortune? No, but like many things, it may come down to time or money- which do you have more of?
  3. Craft and implement a workable plan.

 

What is a typical course of study?

    1. It starts with the Core 4 – Math, English, Science, and History, and for Christians, the Bible
    2. Often includes electives such as a foreign language
    3. Add in extra-curricular activities and other electives. For example, in the high school years, you’ll want to consider adding health, art, music, geography, etc.

Keep things simple and doable. Start with the basics such as math and English for all grades, then add in science and history. I am not advocating a class or a curriculum for each subject. I am simply saying, consider how you’ll teach these areas.

When planning, you’ll want to consider your approach. Does your family prefer a traditional textbook approach, a classical approach, Charlotte Mason, unschooling, or a unit study approach? Various pedagogies come with pros and cons. Your chosen homeschool style will inform your focus, curriculum, and time expenditures.

For an overview on pedagogies, please take a quick look at our informative article on Homeschool Pedagogy.

 

Set priorities and a budget.

I recommend that you create a word document to help you plan your subjects, curriculum, and the skills you want them to learn. Once you plan these, you can more easily budget.

What are your non-negotiables – the must-learn skills and subjects for your family?

Our approach was heavily influenced by the great books and the classics, with a heavy dose of science and the arts. Your focus may be more STEM-oriented. This is important to think through. Why? Because the shiny object syndrome exists in the homeschooling world, like everywhere else! And look, we all want the best for our kids, so we think this curriculum, or those books, or this parenting information will help us get to their best. But less is often more, particularly when it comes to our kids and education.

They don’t need everything. They need the basics – math and literacy, a thirst for knowledge, and the skills necessary to learn.there has never been a better time to homeschool! We have so many choices and opportunities that we can involve our kids in each year. We can avoid decision fatigue when creating a simple plan that focuses on curricula and activities that fit within our educational philosophy. Child waters plants outdoors.

Other things to consider:

  1. How much money do you have to spend? Prioritize your non-negotiables and find quality materials.
  2. Freebies -quality materials are literally everywhere for free. Here I have listed a few:

But there are also exceptional courses or experiences available that are an investment. For example, learning Biology, Chemistry, or Anatomy & Physiology from Dr. Kristin Moon at True North Homeschool Academy will set your future nurse or doctor up for success in a way that goes through a textbook haphazardly won’t. Learning Politics or Strategy from Adam Pruzan at True North will set your future analyst or politician up in a way that little else will.

Opportunites for “extras” such as camps, class days, lessons, hands-on activities, readers, travel- all of the things that go into creating and crafting an exceptional life should not be overlooked. Do you need a microscope or pottery lessons, or a horse or dog to train? Will your kids compete in sports or academic opportunities, Boy Scouts, AHG, or TeenPact? These opportunities often cost money and time. Can you budget or barter for it?

 

Create a plan.

Your plan can be a simple table or grid on a word doc with subjects listed down the side and the school planning year across the top.

For each student, fill in the current levels of math, language arts, science, history, foreign language, electives, physical education, music, extracurriculars, church events like youth group or Bible study, and community service projects that they will be involved in during the year.

Plan Example:

SubjectCurriculumWhere/ WhoSkills
MathSaxon 6/7

Kahn Academy

With Mom
EnglishU.S. Lit. & CompOn-line True North with Mrs. Hemmings
Novel in a yearWho Dun It

NaNoWriMo

Online with Mrs. Curtis; Nov challenge
ScienceScience of MarvelOnline with TNHA Mrs. Grande
HistoryU.S HistoryOnline with TNHA Mrs. Hemmings
BibleBible/ MPWith Mom
For LanguageNiHaoOnline Chinese with Mrs. Cao
PEWork-out with Dad
Music/ Art/ TheaterOne Act Play/ Jan.
Co-ops/ClubsMath Games/ Art/

AHG

Community Center Tues
Community ServiceAGHWeekly Meeting
CampsTeenPact 1-day Camp

TNHA Family Camp

State Capital,

Black Hills SD

YouTubeComedy- dry bar, Trey Kennedy

 

There Has Never Been a Better Time to Homeschool

In conclusion, you can take it from veteran homeschool moms like me – there has never been a better time to homeschool! We have so many choices and opportunities that we can involve our kids in each year. We can avoid decision fatigue when creating a simple plan that focuses on curricula and activities that fit within our educational philosophy. Your plan should organize the basics and allow them to pursue their interests. Remember to keep it simple, create a budget based on your priorities, take advantage of free stuff, and set them up for success in their chosen fields with classes from in-real-life or online experts when needed.

Homeschooling is Figureoutable!

Homeschooling is Figureoutable!

I read a book in parts and pieces at a book store and liked it so much that I later purchased it. The main premise of the book is that Everything is Figureoutable; the ultimate growth mindset. It is a perfect phrase to be continually testifying to yourself. I say it to myself all the time. Cause, true confessions, life makes it easy to get stuck.

We get stuck with people and circumstances. All.the.time.

And Homeschooling, by its very nature, gives us many, many opportunities to get stuck. Stuck, but good.

Homeschooling is Figureoutable!

Most of us have little-to-no training about child-rearing, education, or even the basics of homemaking or bill paying. Many of us can’t cook in early adulthood, don’t like to clean, and avoid paying bills. But adulthood requires that we figure stuff out. That, or we stay stuck and feel frustrated. Sometimes we stay stuck for a very long time. We think we aren’t good with money. Or we missed the grammar gene. Or we are not creative. We keep ourselves stuck because we don’t believe we have what it takes. Can I get a witness?

The good news about homeschooling and home management is that it is figureoutable. And honestly, once we’ve figured it out, it can be gratifying work: soul-filling and world-changing work.

Don’t Get Stuck

However, if you’ve been thrust into homeschooling, or are trying to do it while working, or brought your kids with an undiagnosed learning difficulty home, getting things figured out can be overwhelming. So, let me help with some basic lists of things you might want to figure out. It’s not exhaustive or personalized; it’s just a starting place. A place to take a stand and feel successful once you’ve figured out a few things so that you can continue gaining skills and so that the next success seems even more attainable.

Things you will need to figure out to homeschool well:

  • What is your teaching style?
  • How much time do you have to teach, given your other responsibilities?
  • What are your kids’ learning styles (to shore up your students’ areas of challenge and to utilize their areas of nature ability)
  • What educational pedagogies produce the results you are looking for?
  • Is your student gifted, 2E, LD, or at a traditional grade level? The greater the disparity between your student’s ability and areas of challenge, the more easily frustrated they might feel –and that goes back to the figureoutability –  but that’s a whole different conversation.
  • What is your minimum and maximum budget for books and curriculum?
  • What resources do you have for travel and experience-based learning?
  • What will you give up to homeschool? Time, money, resources, a career, advancement, etc.?
  • Where in your house (or out of it) will you homeschool?
  • What storage areas do you have available to house homeschooling supplies such as books, curriculum, writing utensils, computers, printers, etc.?
  • What will be your basic schedule?
  • What is your goal for homeschooling?
  • What is your strategy for accomplishing your homeschooling goal?
  • Which parent will be primarily responsible for homeschooling?
  • Who will you homeschool with? A co-op, in-person classes, online programs, a hybrid, or UMS?
  • What unique resources do you bring to the table as you homeschool? Are you an RV family? Do you own your own business, travel extensively, or is Grandma available to take one or more of the kids regularly?
  • What will free time look like for your kids?
  • What will your morning and evening routines consist of?
  • How will the homeschooling day begin?
  • How will the homeschooling day end?
  • How will you manage electronics in your home?
  • How will you know if homeschooling is a success?
  • Will you homeschool all of your kids?
  • Will you homeschool them using the same pedagogy and curriculum?

Related things to figure out:

  • How will meal planning, shopping, prep, and clean-up be managed?
  • How will clothes and laundry be managed- gathering, sorting, washing, drying, folding, and putting clothes away?
  • How will schedules be managed? This becomes more important to figure out as the parent(s) have more outside responsibilities like jobs or caring for an elderly relative?
  • Who will pay the bills and set the budget for homeschooling expenses, activities, experiences, and travel?
  • Who will transport kids to activities, programs, therapies, and the like?

Figuring it All Out

Homeschooling does not have to be complicated. But homeschooling is work. We dedicate time and resources towards it, and like all work, the more we can adequately do the prep work and plan the execution, the more successful we’ll be at meeting our goals and launching our kids.

But don’t worry. What you don’t know currently is figureoutable. And every success you have will lead to another success. Every obstacle overcome is one step closer to your goal. You’ve got this, Momma!

More Resources

If you’re looking for a community of like-minded homeschoolers headed True North, we’d love to have you join our community! Let us help each other “figure it ALL out”  with encouragement and support – plus free training, advice, and resources to help you figure out the challenges you face!

And if you want to read more about homeschool organization and planning, take a look at our resources for Homeschooling 101- Where to Begin and tips for how to Manage My Home & Time or encouragement and resources for families of children with special needs.

Homeschooling and working mom

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

5 Tips from a Working Homeschool Mom

5 Tips from a Working Homeschool Mom

How do you do it all?  I think it’s one of the top questions I get asked when people figure out that I am a working homeschool mom.  I guess looking at it from the outside it does look like quite a juggling act.  I mean I have two kiddos I homeschool, one who is reasonably independent and one with dyslexia.  Then I recently decided to add in my own business, which takes up between 25 to 30 hours of my already busy week.  Not to mention my girls are active (okay, EXTREMELY active) kids.

Add in the house, the laundry, the meals, and I guess it probably seems like madness. (And I won’t lie, on some days it is!)  However, I have come across some tricks that save my sanity on those busy days.  So here are my five tips for keeping your sanity as a working homeschool mom.

Working Homeschool Mom Tip #1 – Outsource

This first one is a biggie because I sometimes think as homeschool moms we feel like we have to do it ALL.  This isn’t the case though!  Is math causing you undue stress?  Outsource it.  Struggling to keep up with your house?  Outsource it.  Find your weak spot and let someone else handle it.

So what do I outsource?  Quite a bit actually.  Both of my girls use Teaching Textbooks for elementary math, mainly because it was one subject I couldn’t wrap my head around.  We also take advantage of the many fantastic courses available from True North Homeschool Academy.  My oldest is in LOVE with her writing club and has even made some really good friends from across the country.  (See what I just did there?  I even outsourced socialization, lol.)

My youngest sees a tutor for her dyslexia and a speech therapist.  They are both involved in Scouts, an activity that my mom volunteered to handle for me, so guess what, I let her!  So even if it’s hiring someone to walk the dog, outsource what you need to.  You don’t have to do it all!

(Related Reading:  You don’t have to DIY it all!)

Working Homeschool Mom Tip #2 – Self Care

This one has always been a biggie for me.  To stay running at top speed, I have to take care of myself.  Yes, there are days when it would be easier to eat a frozen pizza for lunch or skip the workout.  I KNOW you are busy, but trust me, make time for it.  In the end, it makes me more productive, and I get more accomplished in the day.  If I’m dragging it shows in every area of my life.

So set that alarm 20 minutes early, meal prep on the weekends, freezer cook, whatever it takes for you to take care of yourself!  While you’re at it, you have my permission for twenty minutes of free time every evening.  Take it; the world will survive without you while you regain your sanity.

(Related Reading: Self-Care for the Homeschool Mom)

Working Homeschool Mom Tip #3 – Planning

One of my best secrets to success is planning.  Since I’m a work a home mom it’s VERY easy for my productivity to be zapped by refereeing fights, cleaning the kitchen, or deciding that the spices need rearranging instead of working.  As I write this, I’m wrestling with the urge to clean out the pantry, but I digress.  The best tool in my entire arsenal is my planner, no lie.

At some point every Sunday I plan my weekly to-dos.  I check our schedule and mark off times for sports, appointments, church and any other thing we have for the upcoming week.  It doesn’t matter how big or small, it all goes in the schedule.  From there I add in my work schedule and any other things I need to address during the week, as well as my meal plan.

Do I always accomplish everything on the list?  Nope.  There are days when we don’t finish math and nights when we eat take out for dinner, but I’m a lot more likely to succeed with a plan in place.

Working Homeschool Mom Tip #4 – Know When To Ask For Help

I have been sooooo guilty of overlooking this one in the past, but I’m getting better as time goes on.  The truth is, I can’t do it all (refer back to number 1) and I will kill myself if I try.  So I’ve learned to ask for help.  My kids and husband help with the house (hey, they live here too) and my daughters both have a pretty good chore schedule.  I mean, they have to learn anyway right? Might as well make it work to my advantage now.  My hubs is also great to jump in and help.  Now before you say yours won’t help, have you nicely asked?  They aren’t mind readers ya know 😉 

Working Homeschool Mom Tip #5 – Time Management & Saying No

This one is probably the HARDEST for me.  As a busy working homeschool mom, you have to know when to say no.  There are thousands of opportunities out there, and a lot of them are great things.  Volunteering at church….a great idea, working at an animal shelter….awesome, the Robotics Club that meets twice a week…..that sounds amazing.  Guess what though; they are also all things that I don’t have time for right now.

I’ve spent YEARS feeling guilty over those things.  Trust me, let it go.  Maybe someday the time will open for those activities, and I will tackle them with all the tenacity I have the other things in my life, but not today.  Today I am a working homeschool mom.  This is the season of life that I am.  I am embracing it, and I would rather be good at a few things than mediocre at many.

(Related Reading:  Keep it Simple Homeschool Mom)

So there you go, my top tips for working homeschool moms.  Are you a working homeschool mom?  What would you add?

Are you a homeschool mom looking for the best tips on scheduling and time management? Then you need tips from a working homeschool mom! No one knows how to get more done in a day than she does. Check out our top five tips now. #homeschool #homeschooling #workinghomeschoolmom #homeschoolmom #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #workingmom

 

A Thankful Working Homeschool Mama

A Thankful Working Homeschool Mama

A Thankful Working Homeschool Mama

A Thankful Working Homeschool Mama. Is it even possible? We’ve all had that day when we get off from work or walk out of our home office and realize that there was so much that could’ve happened that day, but didn’t. Even though the house may be a wreck and you’re at your wit’s end, you smile at your family, take a deep breath, and get to put the house back in order. I know that things are rough for you, Mama, but you have much to be thankful for—let me share a few with you. 

Are you a working homeschool mom? Learn how to be a thankful working homeschool mom today! #Thankful #WorkingMom #Homeschool #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy

Be thankful that you’re a working HOMESCHOOL mom… 

There are many women out there who cling to the hope that this will be them one day. The ones who are looking at you and wondering how you do it? Yep! Those are the ones who have that hope.

While many have thrown in the towel for their own reasons, celebrate the fact that you stayed the course. More importantly, be there for those who are no longer on that journey and find a way to be a help and blessing to them. With the way things are going in the world today, the decision to homeschool is becoming more and more prevalent! 

Be thankful that you’re a WORKING homeschool mom… 

Didn’t you just say that? Yes, I did, but with a different spin. There are millions of women out there who are wondering what they can do from home so that they CAN homeschool. Would you believe me if I told you that’s how my business started? I was involved in a thread with some fellow homeschool moms who were wondering what everyone did for extra money. When I told them about my homeschool consulting business, I got messages for DAYS! You’ve figured out what you can do to help sustain your household while lovingly teaching and leading your children. 

Be thankful that you’re a working homeschool MOM 

I am certain many of you know someone who has lost a child or has struggled with having children—the emptiness they feel is unimaginable and some are quick to remind you of how wonderful it is to have a family. You may laugh and start telling war stories, yet the look in these eyes of these women seem to burn through your soul at times. Never take being a mom for granted. You have a rare and precious opportunity to shape young minds to be awesome adults one day! 

Be thankful that you make it work every day… 

It won’t always be pretty, either! You’ll have days when absolutely nothing gets done except for the work what you do. You might even have days where you look at the school bus driving through your neighborhood and start contemplating whether or not you’re going to put your kids on it. Then, there are the days when you simply want a quiet house, but remember: 

  • No one knows your babies better than you! 
  • They may fight now, but they will thank you one day! 
  • Each day you wake up is a new day! 
  • You may not meet every goal, yet you are meeting some! 

At the end of the day, it’s all about looking around our homes and seeing the positive, no matter how fleeting it might be. As you say goodnight to them tonight, tell them you love them and that you’re thankful for them! It will do much for your heart and theirs! 

Contributor

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!

Blog Contributor Tammie Polk