Back to School Blues
We are embarking on our 3rd homeschool year. If I'm being honest with myself, the idea of starting this year has filled me with dread. When I think back to before my oldest officially started school, I would spend hours on Pinterest looking at teaching ideas and activities. When we started kindergarten, I was thrilled to watch him excel. Last year, we introduced a new baby and lots of new curricula and homeschooling changed from exciting to a burden.
I thought I'd send my older two to public school this year, put my smaller two in day care and get a "real job"- you know, one that actually pays you for what you do, but I had a last minute change of heart after my kids repeatedly asked to be homeschooled and Jesus promised He'd fill me with His supernatural grace.
99% of my homeschooling struggle has been from contradiction within myself. I want to be a flexible un-schooler who goes with the flow, but I need the structure of a curriculum. Once I get the curriculum, I go overboard and can't add in any of that flexi-unschooler that I envy. The result is a stressed mom who feels like she's not doing it "right."
The second contradiction I face comes from trying to juggle too many things at once. I feel the need to constantly do more- work from home, write books, go back to school, build my publishing business. I'm not content just wearing the title of "mom." Call it a response to societal pressure or financial pressure, but I want my kids to see me working hard and pushing towards my goals. I just have to find a way to walk it out without losing my peace and getting frustrated.
Much of my decision to continue on this journey of homeschooling stems from the idea of imprinting. Remember the movie "Fly Away Home"? I loved that when I was a kid! The little girl finds baby geese and they see her and think that she's their mother. Even though she's not, the girl eventually teaches the geese to fly. I feel firmly that for my children to fly successfully in the world, I want them to have a solid foundation that's not impacted by pressure of peers or the influence of a teacher which may or may not be great.
When I was in second grade, I had my favorite teacher and my reading and spelling began to improve- it was one of my fondest grade school memories. But, that's not always the case and these years are too precious to leave up to the chance of having a teacher that you click with and meeting good friends. And, not a day goes by that I don't think of how our neighbors put their children on a bus and never saw them again. Too much chance.
We're jumping into our books and programs, and it has gone much more smoothly than I thought. But, I hope that this year my kids learn the importance of starting their day in worship, the joy of getting lost in a good story, the power of words and the Word who became flesh, lessons from the past and how it relates to His story, and the wonder of creation.
... if we cover that, then I guess we'll be doing alright.
How has your year started out? What motivates you to continue onward when you're exhausted? I'd love to hear about it in the comment section!
Homeschool STEM IDeas
STEM has become a huge catchphrase in the education and toy market during the last few years. Abounding resources have been created to help children grow in STEM fields, but just what does that mean and why is it so important to include products and curricula rich in STEM education in our homes?
STEM is an abbreviation for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Science is happening all around us at every moment, technology has become a binding thread in western society, engineering is the backbone of all the latest innovations, and mathematics is how we quantify and comprehend order in the world around us. With incredible steps in modern innovation occurring every day, STEM fields are booming with opportunities. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, college graduates who have a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field have a higher medium income than graduates of other degree programs.
Additionally, jobs in the STEM field are growing 5% faster than other fields and a whopping 2.4 million STEM jobs are projected to go unfulfilled because of a lack of qualified workers. Home educating families have the unique ability to choose products which allow students to develop a deep understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and equip learners to walk through the open the doors into lucrative, higher-paying career fields.
Adding STEM activities and curricula into home education is surprisingly simple and fun. For the smallest learners, learning is spelled P-L-A-Y. Toys that promote “doing” rather than “watching” are key to developing motor dexterity, and sparking a curiosity which is the gateway to STEM learning. Building bricks, turning gears, stacking cups, and sloped car ramps all help build a sense of cause and effect in young children. Through play, they see that when they move one thing, another action occurs: Newton’s third law at its very basic.
As children grow and are ready for more structured learning, finding the right type of curricula that compliments your child’s learning style can help them blossom in STEM fields. Back when I was homeschooled, I found math to be incredibly challenging because my curriculum consisted of reading a textbook about how to perform complex equations. Flash forward to today’s market place and resources are hands-on, featuring multimedia instructions, and appeal to a multitude of different learning styles.
Complex and in-demand skills like coding can be taught to children as young as seven, giving them incredibly valuable tools in their tool belts. Diodeck will send kits to your door and provide unlimited instruction online, making it a perfect fit for homeschooling families. Circuit and Coding Kits offer 12 complete projects. In the very first activity, children will learn how to build a basic circuit and gain an understanding of voltages, currents, and resistances. These concepts are personally above my paygrade and I would have no idea how to teach my kids about them. Thankfully, Diodeck can bring a whole new world of learning to your doorstep! For a limited time, readers can receive 15% off a Circuit and Coding Kits which normally retail for $40. That means students will be able to complete 12 projects for less than $3 a project!
Have you tried Diodeck? What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate STEM learning in your homeschool routine? Tell me about it in the comment section below!
 National Center for Education Statistics, 2019. (https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=899)
 Smithsonian Science Education Center, 2019. ( https://ssec.si.edu/stem-imperative)
Easy DIY Hand soap
Hand soap is a wonderful, wonderful, thing. Really, where would we be without it?
Short answer: Dead
Long answer: well, let’s just be happy we have soap!
I’ve always loved shopping for soaps. I feel like a kid in a candy shop when I smell the different bottles and admire the beautiful packaging, but when I look at the ingredients, the joy quickly fades. And, if I find a bottle that wows me with the ingredients- the price tag doesn’t.
I decided hand soap really is a simple product with a straight forward purpose, and I could easily and cheaply make it myself with the help of a few household friends.
Now, we purposefully don't use antibacterial hand soap, but I wanted the soap to have some aggression against bacteria so I chose to use a blend of oils well known for their germ-killing power. We use Nature’s Shield, also known as Thieves oil from other companies. This blend has been used since the black plague to keep people healthy, so I figured it’s good enough for my bathroom. (If you have questions about the safety of the ingredients in Thieves for little ones, check out this great article here )
If I'm feeling ambitious, I'll add some vitamin E or a teaspoon of fractionated coconut oil to the mixture to make the soap a bit more luxurious, but it’s not a necessity.
I find that foaming hand soap dispensers are the best with this mixture because the solution is watery. If you don’t have a foaming soap dispenser, you can use a regular one and just pump a few extra squirts on your hands and lather well! My husband thinks the soap smells like Christmas time, and I’m just glad we have something that’s cheap, easy, and healthier!
What’s your go-to for hand soap? Have you made your own before?
Homeschool Meme Round-Up
Memes are fun, and I think we all can agree that they make social media bearable during election seasons. I've always wondered where the name "meme" came from though?
So, I asked and google answered: The word “meme” is derived from the Greek word mimēma, meaning that which was imitated.
Makes sense, right?
We're imitating silly movies with our own interpretations.
So, without further ado, let’s meme away with some homeschool humor for your midweek boost!
A special thanks to How Do I Homeschool, Intentional Homeschooling, and Homeschool in Memphis for sharing some great ones!
What is your favorite one? Did I miss any good ones? Leave them in the comments for next month!
...and keep smiling, mama!
There's no substitution for quality literature in a child's education, a simple book can build vocabulary, enhance character, and teach a lesson that will stick with children for the rest of their lives. It's been important for me to share classic literature as a part of our homeschooling curriculum, so I was thrilled to review the Second Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press and dive into these tried-and-true literature guides.
Memoria Press is a favorite publisher in our house! I love that they offer Christian, accessible, high-quality products at affordable prices. We received the entire second grade literature set, which includes the Tales from Beatrix Potter Literature Guide Set, Prairie School Literature Guide Set, Little House in the Big Woods Literature Guide Set, Animal Folk Tales of America Literature Guide Set, and The Courage of Sarah Noble Literature Guide Set. Because my son had enjoyed learning about Beatrix Potter in previous studies, we decided to start our journey with the Tales from Beatrix Potter Literature Guide Set. Tales from Beatrix Potter brings students through four of Potter’s beautiful classic works: Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, The Tale of Tom Kitten and the Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse.
The Tales from Beatrix Potter Literature Guide broke Peter Rabbit into two separate lessons, one that covered the content on page 7-35 and another lesson that covered 36-69. We broke this down even further into four lessons to allow for reading at a slower pace. Each lesson is composed of pre-reading, post- reading, language lesson, life lesson and enrichment activities. The post-reading aspect focused on defining new vocabulary and asking comprehension questions like, “What did Mr. McGregor do with Peter’s jacket and shoes?” The enrichment activities for the Tales from Beatrix Potter Literature Guide vary from discussion questions to drawing activities, each which add a fun element to the lesson and affirm the concepts learned.
For second grade, Memoria Press recommends reading Beatrix Potter, Prairie School, Little House in the Big Woods, Animal Folk Tales of America, and The Courage of Sarah Noble throughout the year. Each literature guide set is expected to take 6-7 weeks to complete, so the entire Second Grade Literature Guide Set is a year's worth of studies. Each set can also be purchased individually.
I’ve been very encouraged by our time working on the Second Grade Literature Guide Set. When we began, I was nervous that the content might be too difficult for my reluctant reader, but he’s grown in reading fluency and I’m most elated to see that he is demonstrating clear comprehension of what he reads! The Second Grade Literature Guide Set is a beautiful guide through rich literary treasures, enhancing the meaning and bringing deep understanding in a way that Memoria Press consistently does! This curriculum is a great addition for homeschooling families who want to dive into classic literature and soak up all that the stories have to offer!
The Review Crew checked out different products for Memoria Press, so be sure to read the Crew Reviews and hear about other awesome products offered!
I have a question for you all this week, a question God posed to me recently: how long do you think Daniel was afraid in the lion’s den?
We all know the story from picture books, or maybe a Sunday sermon, but Daniel, the righteous aid to the King Darius and servant of God, refused to stop praying three times a day and ended up entangled in a trap set for him by wicked people. Daniel decided to keep praying despite the king’s edict and ended up on the floor of a dark lion’s den.
So walk with me for a moment and picture yourself as Daniel, and you've just been flung into a deep dark pit. You hit the ground with a thud, probably bruise a few ribs, if not worse, and then you wait. The lions haven't yet started tearing your flesh apart, so maybe you have a few more minutes to live. What do you do?
If I'm Daniel, I would probably not move, try not to even take a breath, and pray that the lions can't smell the fear dripping off of me. Maybe as your eyes adjust to the darkness, you look for a place to hide, but any movement might trigger the beasts to dive on their prey.
At what point during that very long night do you stop anticipating being mauled to death at any moment, and start realizing that God's shut the mouth of the lions? Do you wait until the morning light is breaking through and you hear the king’s voice, or do you start to realize God's given you victory long before you’re even flung into the pit?
That's been my battle these last few months. Though I feel healthy, every time I visit the doctor's I hear negative news that lands me on the floor of the lion's den, anticipating the worst instead of anticipating hearing the kings voice in the morning.
The funny thing about this place is that you can only anticipate one thing at one time. It's impossible to envision your rescue and your death during that same long night, you can have faith or fear. One will bring you peace, one might just do you in from a heart attack of the lions don't get you first.
But Jesus asked, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”
When the negative thoughts start to spiral and I begin to worry, I’m so thankful to have wonderful friends and family who are praying for me, letting me borrow their faith, and pulling me up out of the lion’s den, and most thankful to have the King of all Kings on this journey with me!
Have an amazing week, friends! And, don’t let your faith be darkened by things you see, trust in the unseen.
is a writer & tired homeschooling mom of five.