I'm a mom of four special needs children, even though three aren't kids anymore: they've moved out, gotten married, off the payroll. But three of those children have ADHD, and the youngest, who is 13 now, is blessed (insert sigh) with a good dose of ADHD, too. Suffice it to say that I know my way around ADHD. Here are 13 tips from a seasoned mom of kids with ADHD on how to homeschool a child with attention deficit disorders.
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When homeschooling, the temptation is to sit at the dining room table or in your homeschool room and make the kids sit for all subjects (insert laugh track here). Children with ADHD have to fidget, squirm, move--it's how they process information. If they don't, or aren't allowed to fidget, that's when problems occur and they act out.
There are many ways you can allow fidgeting. Bouncing legs, playing with fidget spinners and other fidgeting toys, wiggle seats, tapping fingers on the table...all are tools kids with ADHD use to help them process information and deal with the myriad of thoughts parading through their minds.
In a similar vein, movement helps kids with ADHD to absorb information. It goes against everything we know as parents, but allowing your child to do jumping jacks or bounce on a trampoline while saying his spelling words really does help. Don't have an outdoor trampoline? This small indoor one will help your child get that sensory movement they crave, while doing schoolwork. I've even told my child to run around the house between subjects to get some gross motor skills in with the movement. If you have a swingset outside, allow "recess" to happen between subjects to get out those wiggles. You could also walk with your child around the neighborhood between subjects to get in some movement--and maybe have a conversation about what he or she just studied as added reinforcement.
Ear Plugs or Headphones
Kids with ADHD often have sensory issues, too, and are heavily distracted by the world around them. You can minimize these distractions through playing soft instrumental music during your homeschool time, silencing your phone or turning it off altogether, hanging a sign on your door that says "Homeschooling in Progress; Please Don't Interrupt," and using noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs. Make a peaceful environment in your home during school hours.
Use a Timer
Using a timer was a game changer with my kids. When I'd give them a set time, using either a manual timer or the timer on the stove, it was a huge incentive for them to beat that time. The kicker is, if I used the timer as a motivating force for them to do math or any other subject, the answers to the questions had to be right. They just couldn't fly through it; questions had to be answered correctly. Using a timer wasn't just for schoolwork, though; I used it in chores, such as cleaning the kitchen, or anything that they would typically dawdle in.
Make a To-Do List
Making a to-do list for each child is imperative. Whether it's for homeschool, chores, or anything else, a to-do list helps the child keep track of what they need to be doing. My daughter will be using this amazing planner from Not Consumed for middle school homeschoolers. They have planners for elementary and high school students, too (and moms!).
Be Very Specific in Instructions
With my kids, I found that I needed to be very specific in giving instructions and in what I expected of them. For example, "clean the kitchen" was too broad and overwhelming, but "unload the dishwasher" and "sweep the floor" were more concrete requests. I don't know about you, but I just find it less of a hassle to load the dishwasher myself, or stand there and direct how to do it. In schoolwork, with my daughter who has ADHD, I tell her (then she writes it in her planner) what she is to accomplish the next day, including the page number range she is to read in certain subjects like history and science, questions she needs to answer, and words she needs to define. Just saying "do your math," leads to a lot of frustration to child and parent alike. When she is cleaning her room, I get her to write down what she needs to do: "pick up trash, put laundry in hamper, make bed." Then she can cross off the items as she does them.
One thing I did when my kids were younger was write down a chore on a craft stick using a thin permanent marker, such as "unload dishwasher," "sweep living room," "scoop the cat boxes," "wipe dining table," etc. Then each morning they'd choose a chore stick or three to do that day. This doesn't work so much when you have just one child at home, poor girl, but when I had all four at home, it worked well.
One thing that has helped is to label things, especially when you small children such as preschoolers or early elementary. Label toy bins for specific toys so your kids won't get overwhelmed putting things away (we'll talk about bedtime routines below). Label homeschooling bins with the appropriate supplies so people can find things and put things away.
Help Your Child Study
Sit beside your child as he's doing his schoolwork. If you work from home, work beside him with your laptop. Often just your presence there will help minimize distractions and keep him on track. Plus you can easily help him if he gets stuck. Often, reading the text to your child will help her absorb the material better than reading it on her own.
Utilize Flash Cards
Utilize flash cards for review, such as math facts or states. Have your child use index cards and make their own flash cards for facts they need to know, such as their spelling words or history facts.
Instead of flying off the handle and giving attention to the naughty things your child does, reward compliance when they do something good. Often, my children would misbehave because they'd get more attention when they misbehaved. When I figured this out, I changed the way I was doing things and spent a lot of quality one-on-one time with each of them. I'd take one out for ice cream or something and spend time talking with him or her (with the child, not at the child). I found that when I did this, behaviors that ran contrary to what we wanted diminished. For little kids, stickers on chore charts go a long way.
Set a Bedtime Routine
Have a set bedtime routine and time for each child. Turn the television off and wind the whole family down. Have a fifteen minute pickup where children put toys and books away, you get ready for the next day's homeschool day, even to the point of laying clothes out. Showers or baths, storytime, reading the Bible--whatever helps your family wind down and prepare for a good night's sleep. The key is routine. Kids with ADHD thrive on routine and structure. Give them that, and negative behaviors will slowly disappear.
Outdoor Free Play
It is crucial to give your kids with ADHD outside free play, where they can run and shout and explore. If you have a fenced-in yard, that is ideal; if not, plant yourself on a chair with shade and a cold drink, and watch them play. Engage yourself in their play and build those relationships apart from textbooks and worksheets.
Kids grow up so fast -- even kids with ADHD. Those moments are fleeting. As I type this, I look up at a picture I took of my two boys when the oldest was five and the youngest was two. Now, they're 28 and 25 -- and the 25-year-old is married. It seems like just yesterday I snapped that picture on a playground, the oldest holding a stick and the youngest holding his brother's hand. Even though you have a child with ADHD, don't allow ADHD to take away from the joy that is rearing children.
(C) 2023 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Here it is: summer time, and the kids are ancy, not to mention the parents. Even if you homeschool year-round, summer is a perfect time to do some things a little different. Incorporating summer activities on a budget is a great way to add in some great learning opportunities that don't seem like they're educational -- even on a budget. Just a word of encouragement though--not every single activity needs to be educational--sometimes, fun is the word of the day.
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Visiting farm stands, especially those on farms that allow pick-your-own, is a fun way to get some really good, fresh fruits and veggies. You're going to buy them at the store anyway, so why not visit a farmer or even a farmer's market and get some good, fresh foods (and support a local farmer in the process)?
Speaking of food, growing your own vegetables and fruits in whatever way you can (pots on a balcony, in the yard, in raised beds) teaches kids where their food comes from and enables them to help grow it (maybe then they'd be more willing to try different vegetables). A bag of potting soil, a large pot, and a tomato plant and boom! You have home-grown tomatoes for your salad.
If you're blessed enough to own a pool, that's amazing. Add in some fun floats like this fun sea turtle ride-on, or these water squirters for epic pool battles, and you have a staycation in the making. If you don't have a pool, I'm right there with you. But we can still have amazing water play with this 60" inflatable unicorn sprinkler.
For little kids, buckets of water, measuring cups, and a little inflatable kiddie pool will get them cooled off in no time -- and help parents stay cool by dipping their feet in the pool, too (or joining them in the pool if it's big enough!).
Nature walks in the woods (be careful of snakes!) can be relaxing and fun, and they don't cost anything. Find leaves that are interesting or explore creeks and look for turtles. There's a lot to be said about getting kids in nature and letting them explore.
Often we will visit different touristy sites on vacations, but we don't visit similar places in our own city or county. Take a week or a couple days off work, grab the family, and explore touristy sites in your hometown. Museums, attractions, theaters--even bowling alleys or theme parks at our own back door can be a fun and inexpensive way to vacation at home. Plus, you're sleeping in your same bed!
To up the ante on staycations, why not check into a hotel in a nearby city for a weekend? When I was growing up, we didn't have a pool or the money to go on full-fledged vacations, so my parents would pack overnight bags and we'd go to a city about 20 miles away for a change of scenery, and to utilize the hotel pool.
Subscription boxes are a great way to fight the boredoms of summer and get the kids interested in what comes in the mail. Kiwico has tinker crates for ages 9-16 that gives a new, surprising theme each month. It's a good way for kids to use those STEM skills and fight off boredom.
This website, Homeschooling One Child, also has subscription boxes. Each box is curated just for your child with fun things to get their minds engaged but also have fun at the same time. Check out our sub boxes here.
Have each member of the family choose a movie once a week to watch as a family, complete with popcorn. Bring in mattresses off a bed, and pile on the floor to watch the movie. Little changes like that can make it so much more interesting and enjoyable as a family.
Check out local churches' Vacation Bible Schools for your kids--there's usually one going on every week in the summertime. It's a good way to get your children engaged and around other kids while learning about Jesus (win-win!).
There are a lot of summer activities you can do (making your own popscicles, for one!), like grilling out with family or friends, just relaxing outdoors, or going to a local park for a picnic and playtime. You don't have to spend a lot of money to have good, wholesome family activities. The most important thing is to be together.
(C) 2023 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Five biblically-based Christian women will be speaking on who women are in Christ, Whose they are, and how they can make a difference in the culture in which we live at the "For Such a Time as This Christian Womens Retreat."
The retreat, to be held September 15-17, 2023 at Dogwood on Lake Norman in Sherrills Ford, NC (outside of Charlotte, NC), will feature nationally-known Christian author, speaker, and podcaster Heidi St. John, podcaster Julie Holmquist, author and speaker Terrie McKee, and Bible teachers Julie Denham and Stephanie Vroege. Worship will be led by Annamarie Smith.
"The 'For Such a Time as This Christian Womens Retreat' is a time of worship, learning about who we are in Christ, and what our role is in the world in which we live. We will discuss how we can biblically fight for our families, and know we are not alone: there are an incredible number of women in the Bible who fought for themselves, their husbands, children, and their country. This retreat is a time away from the busyness and grind of life, to get back into the Bible, have fellowship with other Christ-believing women, and walk away rejuvenated in Christ and armed for the spiritual battle we face. The sessions will support these themes biblically and with practical application--and a lot of prayer," said McKee.
The retreat is developed and implemented by IAJ Ministries, LLC, a conference and retreat planning company owned by McKee. "This retreat is born out of asking Jesus one night in prayer what He wanted me to do," said McKee. "That same night, I had a dream about 100 women standing on the banks of a lake, being poured into biblically by a total of five women. The morning after, I immediately did an Internet search for retreat venues near Charlotte, and Dogwood on Lake Norman popped up. When I visited there, it was the venue I had seen in my dream. It was then I know -- God was in this."
The retreat is open to 100 Christian women. Accommodations, meals, snacks, and all program materials are included in the cost of the retreat. The early-bird pricing is $375 per person until May 31; on June 1 the price goes to $415. Accommodations are hotel-like with two women per room with a private bath. Accommodations are assigned; however, participants have the option of choosing their roommate on the registration form.
IAJ Ministries is also looking for sponsors for this event. Gold level sponsors are $3,000 and receive recognition at the event, in news releases, the event website, on social media, logo placement at meals, material placement in the swag bag, sponsorship of a prayer parlor, and a table for material placement at the event. Silver sponsors receive recognition at the event, in news releases, social media, website, as well as material placement in the swag bag and sponsorship of a prayer parlor. Silver sponsorships are $1,000. Bronze sponsors, at $500, receive recognition in news releases, at the event, and on the website. Friend sponsors are $200 each and receive recognition.
One Gold sponsor has already been obtained. Bella Home Services, out of Fayetteville, NC is a locally/woman-owned cabinet and home-renovation design source dedicated to high-quality yet affordable products and custom interior design services throughout North Carolina.
Each participant will receive a hefty swag bag, involvement in a more intimate "prayer parlor," led by an assigned speaker, and, harking back to Christian camp days, a Vespers devotional and worship with s'mores will be featured on the last night of the retreat.
For more information, see IAJ Ministries' website here. To register for the event, click here. The closest airport is Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT).
IAJ Ministries is a Christian conference and retreat planning company which plans and implements events for Christian women and homeschoolers. Visit their website at IAJMinistries.org.
Some say homeschooling is only for the younger kids in the elementary or middle school, but high school homeschooling is also a very popular educational choice. Only this time, the decisions lie in great part with the students themselves.
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Most that homeschool in high school are teenagers who cannot take the pressures at school, especially those of peer pressure and bullying. Others cannot catch up with the lessons and curriculum programs of regular schools or would like to start early in life through training, internship and community volunteering jobs that would help them be knowledgeable and prepared for the struggle outside the four walls of their school. Still others have been homeschooled their whole lives; why stop now?
Choosing the suitable curriculum for teenagers for high school is very important. There are a lot of materials or support they can get especially on the Internet. They can talk to other homeschoolers in established groups through message boards, forums and chats to build a network. Homeschooling sites are also all over the net; they can browse through these sites, find an established support group in their area, get some catalogs and enroll in a curriculum or they can create their own study program. Co-ops are equally as important.
This is good for those students who have very supportive and open-minded parents. But in case there are none and the student is left to carry out his curriculum by himself, homeschooling helps students to stand up and depend on themselves because one thing that is developed within is good independent study skills and more as they engage in continuous studying on their own.
In choosing the homeschool curricula, it is best if teenagers are present and take an active part in deciding which curricula to choose that would best apply to their learning styles and abilities. It's good for teenagers to create their own course of study. In this way, students will have good choices of activities which develop every aspect of their personality instead of just choosing a fixed program. There are different approaches to choose from and combine that would help in the holistic development of the student.
For high school, homeschooling can help them start in life and make a step forward through practical trainings and internship programs depending on the specialization they like to pursue. They can actually be successful in what they want and might do best in the future.
For more information on homeschooling in high school, please visit these sites below:
Electives to Teach
Why You MUST Teach Entrepreneurship in High School
Teach Your Teens to File Their Taxes
Life Skills to Teach Your Teen: Event Planning 101
Student Blogs: Why Your Teen Should have Their Own Blog
Homeschool High School Speech and Debate - 4 Frugal Resources
Preparing for College
Preparing Your Homeschooled Teen for College
Assigning Grades for Homeschool High School Transcripts
Assigning High School Credit and Planning High School at Home
101 Things for Teens to do in Summer
Balancing Academics and Fun in Homeschool High School
Thinking about After High School
Steps to Choosing the Right Degree After High School
Life After High School: Navigating Your Next Steps After High School
General / Planning High School
Homeschooling High School--Relax, You CAN Do It!
Homeschooling High School/5 Tips to Get Ready for the New Year/Special Needs High School
High School Archives by Year Round Homeschooling
An Authoritative Guide on How to Homeschool High School
Should I Homeschool My High Schooler?
Our Frugal High School Curriculum Choices
Homeschool High School English - Make Your Course YOUR Own
7 Sisters Homeschool (many, many high school curriculum resources)
Hundreds of high school courses at Schoolhouse Teachers
In the spring and summer, homeschooling content creators call this "convention season" and it's for good reason. There are so many homeschool conventions, conferences, expos, and days scheduled all over the country during the spring and summer that it warrants its own season.
This post may have affiliate links to homeschool conventions that help fund this website (and give you a good deal, as a coupon is included). We appreciate your support.
What does this mean for you, a homeschooler? It means that if you have any question about homeschooling, there will be someone at a homeschool convention that can answer that for you. If you're thinking about changing curriculum, you can browse, look through curriculums--even talk to the curriculum creator in a lot of instances.
Here are nine reasons why homeschooling families should attend homeschool conventions:
The first reason is the large variety of homeschooling speakers who pour out their expertise in sessions that are designed to help you and your children. There are keynote speakers that have been homeschooling for years (sometimes decades) and are fighting for you and your children on the national level. They have more encouraging knowledge in their little fingers that most have in their whole hand.
Last year's Teach Them Diligently in Pigeon Forge saw Kirk Cameron on stage, then Heidi St. John, and other powerhouse proponents of homeschooling. In smaller sessions you have homeschool content creators, curriculum writers, bloggers, and other homeschoolers who know what they're talking about, and give you that knowledge--and are often free right after the session for a few minutes or available in their booths to talk one-on-one with you. I know that after my session on special needs children last year at Teach Them Diligently-Pigeon Forge, I had a number of parents come to my booth to ask me specific questions about autism, ADHD, and other learning difficulties. They walked away with not only helpful information but also my card for further assistance. Many speakers are like that--or have resources that will help you in your homeschooling journey.
Tip: Bring a notebook to write notes, ideas as they come to you in sessions, questions to ask, booths to visit, etc. When you meet another homeschooling family and your families click, use your notebook to write their contact information down.
3. Phenomenal Sessions
Every homeschool convention company works tirelessly to bring in speakers who know what they're doing, and have something to say about it, and because of that, participants enjoy phenomenal sessions about a wide range of topics--from Homeschooling 101 to homeschooling special needs kids, to discussing government interference, and everything in between. You literally can gain a wealth of knowledge about homeschooling, and so can your kids. There are many sessions that relate to teenagers, such as choosing a college, or developing your high school transcript (your teens should go to these!). Every convention is different and offers a different slate of topics from which to choose.
3. Exhibit Hall
Here's where it gets fun -- and sometimes, overwhelming. There are so many booths exhibiting curriculum, curriculum helps, books, toys, opportunities--that it can get to be a bit much. Take your time, go through each aisle, making note of booths you want to come back and visit later (preferably, by yourself, while your husband or wife watches the kids out in the reception area).
I encourage you, if you and your spouse go to homeschool conventions together with the children, to give each spouse an opportunity to wander the exhibit hall alone. Last year, while I worked my booth at Teach Them Diligently-Pigeon Forge, my husband wandered the hall. He came back with a newfound love of homeschooling (yay!) and a lot of resources for our homeschooling daughter.
Also, go through the aisles with the children, too. They may see something that encourages them. Plus, it's great to see other homeschooling children and know they're not alone.
TIP: Wear very comfortable shoes. Leave the cute heels and flip-flops at home or hotel, and wear your sneakers. You will walk more than you think you will.
4. Children's Programs
Many homeschooling conventions will offer childrens' programs for little ones, elementary age, even middle school. When your kids get to be in high school, they can offer volunteer at these childrens' events (especially for Teach Them Diligently events). At some conventions, homeschooling high school graduations are held. Don't be afraid to let your kids be a part of the childrens' programs -- it gives them something to do, new friends to make, and gives you the opportunity to go to the sessions and exhibit hall in peace.
Tip: If allergies are a concern, simply pack your child's lunch and snacks, and make sure the staff knows about them. If your child has special needs, make sure the staff knows that, too.
5. Meeting Other Homeschoolers
Meeting other homeschooling families is a huge plus when attending homeschooling conventions. You realize you're not alone, and you can bounce ideas off one another. It's a great time of fellowship and meeting new friends.
6. Meeting Homeschooling Content Creators
Where else but a homeschooling convention can you actually meet Linda Lacour Hobar, the author of The Mystery of History, and talk with her one-on-one about history and what you liked about the curriculum? You can meet the very people that create your Bible devotions at the Not Consumed booth! You can meet me! I'd love to meet you and show you all the new things that are in my booth this year (you can preview them here).
TIP: Homeschooling creators work long hours to create and curate the things you see in their booths. The booths are not cheap, and they're certainly not free. Please do homeschooling content creators a solid and bring either cash or credit cards (most accept both or either) and buy something. It's a kindness--and keeps us going.
7. Buying Next Year's Curriculum
Often, you can find incredible deals on your favorite, or a new-to-you curriculum at conventions. Come armed with the credit card and go ahead and purchase it, taking advantage of any sales thay may be going on. Often (but not always), homeschool curriculum creators can ship the materials to your home so you're not lugging around 72 pounds of books throughout the exhibit hall.
TIP: Sometimes you'll buy a book and it'll weigh a good bit. Some conventions give swag bags but they're not hefty enough to carry a bunch of books. Bring a hefty totebag, an extra stroller, or something to carry your loot. Last year a family brought a wagon -- had their kids on each end and their haul in the middle. It was fantastic!
8. Traveling [according to my daughter who was scientifically polled for this article (meaning she walked in while I was writing and I asked her what the biggest benefit to going to homeschool conventions was to her)], is a side benefit of going to homeschool conventions. When you travel to a distant place for a convention, make it a fun time. Pigeon Forge (where Teach Them Diligently will be at this year) offers a huge amount of things to do besides going to the convention. Where else can you visit a Titanic exhibit, see a building with King Kong on it, and visit an upside-down house? We've stopped at educational and fun places on the way to a convention in Texas -- it breaks up the trip and adds a fun element to homeschool conventions (and makes that more educational).
9. Rededicating Your Family to the Homeschool Ideal
One of the most important aspects of going to a homeschool convention is the energy and confirmation of the "why" we homeschool. If you're teetering on the brink of giving up--by all means, go to a homeschool convention. Between the speakers, the keynotes, the sessions, meeting other homeschoolers, and exploring the booths in the exhibit halls, you will gain a new perspective on homeschooling and maybe recommit to it. It's important, especially in the culture in which we live as Christians, to see the importance of homeschooling. Attending homeschooling conventions can do that.
TIP: The food in convention venues is often pretty expensive. If you can (according to venue policies), pack your family's lunch. If you can't (because of policies), find a hotel near by in which to stay, and leave for an hour for lunch in your hotel, and come back. Or, keep the cooler in your car and go out to your car for lunch. Here's another tip: after a long day of conventioning, most of the time you just want to go back to the hotel. Bring a slow cooker with you from home, start it in the morning, and by the late afternoon and evening, dinner is ready for you when you get back to the hotel. Throw the kids in the pool, then shower everyone--it'll be an easy bedtime for everyone, just to get up the next day and either convention some more, or get on the road back home.
Here's a list of where I will be speaking and exhibiting, with a list of my session topics:
Tri-State Homeschool Conference
April 22, Shenandoah Junction, WV
Sessions: Homeschooling a Teen with Autism; Hope for the Overwhelmed Homeschool Parent; Homeschooling One Child; Life Skills, Chickens, and More
Teach Them Diligently-Pigeon Forge (affiliate link)
May 4-6, Pigeon Forge, TN
Coupon code ($20 off): McKee23
Session: Strategies on Homeschooling Kids with Special Needs
Gastonia Homeschool Day
May 8, Gastonia, NC
Thrive! The NCHE Homeschool Conference
May 25-27, Winston-Salem, NC
Sessions: Hope for the Overwhelmed Homeschool Parent; Homeschooling a Teen with Autism
Upstate Homeschool Expo
June 1 (4-8 pm); Greenville, SC
(C) 2023 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
This post may have affiliate or sponsored links, which provide a small stipend to fund this website. We appreciate your understanding and support.
Toward the end of last year, homeschool became a burden. My daughter wasn't enjoying it, and I certainly wasn't enjoying the constant fighting, nagging, and begging her to get on schoolwork.
The thought seriously crossed my mind to enroll her in public or private school.
The thought also crossed my mind, late one night, that nothing --not even homeschool-- was worth compromising the relationship I have with her.
Right before Thanksgiving, with holiday travel staring us in the face, then a myriad of doctor, dentist, and orthodontist appointments looming in the coming weeks--not to mention Christmas--we made the intentional decision to go on an extended, month-long break from regular homeschooling. Some may call what we did unschooling; the name doesn't matter. But it helped us both gain perspective, chill out, figure out what was important to both of us to study, and what we wanted our homeschool to look like.
That month-long break saved our homeschool. That month-long break saved us.
Mind me, please: learning still happened. Laura (who has dyslexia and struggles with reading) discovered books read on YouTube. She deep-cleaned her room, organized it the way she wanted it, while listening to books being read on YouTube. She helped with meal-prep, and we talked. We talked about things: silly and serious, facts and fantasy. We took care of relatives that needed an extra hand.
Neither of us wanted her to go to public or private school. We talked, at length, about goals for homeschool and what we wanted it to look like: she wants to do more hands-on science experiments, more field trips, more baking...
I told her, though, that we're not just doing the "fun" part of learning -- hands-on science experiments, field trips -- but we're also going to do the academic part of learning too. The bookwork. The reading. Since she has trouble with reading, when it comes to history, I read the history assignments to her. I have to admit: I enjoy this as much as she does. We cuddle up on the couch, crack open the history book (we're currently going through The Mystery of History Volume II).
This is what she learned most about our month-long break: our mental health is as important as academics. Our relationship is more important than academics. While homeschooling can be hard, we don't have to make it harder by forcing it. Learning does not have to be done bright and early at 8 a.m. My daughter is not an early bird (and frankly, I can be if I need to be). Sleeping in and getting a good night's sleep, having a peaceful morning, and easing into the academic part of homeschool works for us. We just need to remember that.
Also, what we talked about the past month was our "why." Why do we homeschool? This always grounds us and offers some perspective on why we do what we do as homeschoolers.
I encourage you: look at homeschooling not as a chore or a checkmark on a to-do list, but as a lifestyle. As with anything, when you have anxiety about something or if it's not bringing joy, stop and analyze what's going on, and what can be done to fix it. Sometimes all it takes is a break.
Happy New Year!
(C) 2023 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Hurricanes, economy, wars and rumors of wars, inflation, moral decline...it does seem like the whole world has gone off its rails. Meanwhile, here we are as homeschoolers with our morning baskets and curriculum, co-ops and piano lessons...and parents lie awake at night wondering if there will be a world in which to teach our homeschoolers.
Just being authentic here: I've been laying awake at night, just worry-praying (do you do that?) and fretting about what the world will look like in a year, two, ten -- or if we'll even have a world. I just want to encourage you, one Christian homeschooler to another -- if our focus is on worry-praying about this world, we need to refocus and get in the Word.
I admit, I'm guilty of watching various news outlets and social media channels and absolutely freaking out....now, I think it's wise for stock up on canned goods, rice, beans, powdered milk. It's also wise if you can to garden and can your harvests. It's just smart, especially with the ever-increasing food prices and food shortages these days. However, as far as worrying about whether or not the world's going to explode in war and humanity will destroy this planet through either climate change or nuclear strikes, we need to go to the Bible for our guidance.
If we look in the Book of Revelation and read about the Seven Plagues and Seven Bowls of God's wrath, we know in faith that humanity will not destroy this Earth. God, through His judgement, will lay waste to this Earth and its unsaved inhabitants. No earthly king, president, or ruler has the sovereign power to do what God says He will do.
Now, the Bible is also clear that in the end times we will face troubles and hardships, even to the point of persecuting Christians and generally making life hard for everyone. While I believe American Christians have yet to see true persecution, there's no doubt that life is a lot more difficult now than a few years ago. But, worrying (or worry-praying) about it will only steal the joy we have, and just cause stress that leads to health issues.
How do we handle this as homeschoolers? Teach the Bible. Teach history. Include the children in gardening and putting food up. Turn the news off and open the Bible as a family. Know, in faith, that at the end, it's not about finishing unit five in math or knowing about adjectives that will make a difference in our children's lives but a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Now, I'm not saying that we stop teaching academics, for we don't know when Jesus will return (and frankly, my daughter needs the structure of homeschool on a daily basis), but Christian homeschoolers need to be teaching the Bible, praying with and for their children, and modeling going to Christ in prayer when you're worried or scared.
The Bible is clear about discipling our children in the faith. Honestly, teaching and modeling the Christian faith to our children in times of woe and in times of good are the only things that will help increase their faith--and that will help them in their relationship with Jesus a lot more than algebra.
In Christ's Peace,
(C) 2022 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
I am in a number of social media homeschool groups, and one question I see over and over from new homeschoolers is this: what is the best curriculum to use for my child? Here's the quick answer: there isn't any, and they all are. Here's the long answer: The best curriculum is one that you choose for your child, based on your child's developmental needs and abilities. With that being said, let's explore how to choose the best homeschool curriculum.
This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn a small commission from purchases made using these links. In addition, all curriculum suggestions are personally vetted by me and my daughter.
This may be a "duh" point but you want your curriculum to not be boring. If you get bored reading it (and I encourage you to read a couple pages, and skim through an entire book before purchasing any textbook), then your child will be bored--and you don't want that. You want the curriculum you choose to encourage your child to want to learn about the subject matter, whether that's math or history.
Children have an innate curiosity about them, and the curriculum you choose should present insightful text, questions that make your child think, and the potential for additional projects, papers, or problems to solve. Any curriculum you choose for any subject should spur in your child a love for learning.
The Charlotte Mason homeschool method utilizes the addition of living books, which are engaging books that bring the subject alive. Any time you supplement any curriculum you purchase using living books, you add a deeper level of understanding into the subject matter.
SUGGESTIONS: I really like the history curriculum from Notgrass History, due to the amount of possible projects and other assignments. I also really like Rabbit Trails Homeschool's history curriculum, because it's literature based using living books (take 10% off with our coupon code H1C). Rabbit Trails' science curriculum is top-notch, as well. For Bible studies, I love Not Consumed's studies, which combine biblical truth with practical teachings (I also love their student planner!). Everyday Graces Homeschool has beautiful Charlotte Mason-inspired studies.
Not only should the curriculum encourage a love of learning for your child, but it should also be fun to teach. When you learn as the teacher along with your child, you're more invested into the curriculum and in your homeschool. If the curriculum is too hard to teach, you're not going to enjoy it.
I have used curriculum that had great information, decent workbooks, but were tedious to teach. On the other hand, I've used old-school textbooks that had the text in smaller chunks with questions to reinforce retention. If you use textbooks that have a large amount of text, I suggest you break it up into chunks for your child, and if the workbook doesn't have questions for retention for that section, make up your own questions. I've done this many times.
Realistically, you are the teacher. so you can create questions, you can download worksheets, whatever you want to do. There are many resources that you can use to supplement your curriculum and help in teaching, such as the following:
SUGGESTIONS: Schoolhouse Teachers makes it easy to teach due to the scopes and sequences are laid out for each course. Many courses are taught via video, and others lay out the courses for you. Plus, if you join as a Silver member, you gain many benefits, such as the AppleCore program. This online program gives you the ability to track attendance, grades, report cards, and transcripts. I have also used old school textbooks that I purchased at a significant savings from Ebay..
Before the start of a new school year, before we buy curriculum, my husband and I always ask our daughter what she wants to learn in history and science. This ability to choose provides a sense of ownership and buy-in with your child.
If your child wants to have a say in his or her education, by all means, let your child have that freedom, but within reason. Often, especially for science, all it takes for buy-in is to involve your child in science labs. A good source for labs (and homeschool curriculum) is Home Science Tools. For both science and history, field trips are often incredible ways to make the subjects come alive for your child. Allow your student have some say in field trips, but always follow up with the field trips by asking what your child learned or have them complete this field trip report.
Developmental Needs and Abilities
In choosing your homeschool curriculum, one thing you must do is take into account your child's developmental needs and abilities. You can use the math placement tests from Teaching Textbooks to discover what exact level your child is on, and adjust accordingly. Sonlight also has placement tests, not only for math but for reading and language arts, as well.
If your child has special needs, you will want to teach him or her based on their developmental level -- not based on age or technical grade. You can teach subjects on different levels, for example, if your child is 12 years old and technically in the seventh grade, but because of her ADHD or his autism is developmentally in the fourth grade in language arts and tenth grade in math, teach the child on the developmental level.
If your child is in the ninth grade by his age but developmentally in the third grade, teach him in the third grade. In this case, I would also strongly consider adding life skills to his curriculum and not force the academics too much. Meet his needs where they're at, but don't frustrate him--or yourself.
While you're on Sonlight's website, go ahead and order their catalog. Do an Internet search for "homeschool curriculum provider" and order all the catalogs you can. Using these, you can get an idea of scope and sequence, what they offer, what you can offer in your homeschool, and what electives exist. Apologia has free homeschool resources on their resources page, such as a homeschool curriculum planning guide, podcasts, and videos to help you in the homeschooling journey.
Homeschooling is a very individual thing, and you can't have a one-size fits all approach to it. What works for my homeschool (and therefore is my "best" homeschool curriculum) may not be a good fit for your homeschool, and therefore would not be your "best homeschool curriculum." The best thing to do is to examine first why you're homeschooling, what your goals are as a homeschool and for each individual child, and choose curriculum based on your family's lifestyle and goals.
For my family, we travel a good bit for my husband's wheelchair basketball team (you can see why he's in a wheelchair in this book) so we do a good bit of roadschooling, or homeschool on the road, so an online curriculum wouldn't work for us.. You may have a very strict homeschool budget, and need to find online resources that would be easy to teach, encompass all the subjects, yet be affordable (you can totally do that, too!) and can't buy a total big-box curriculum. There's nothing wrong with buying workbooks that you find at discount stores or at teacher supply shops and using those. Be sure to read my blog post on homeschooling on a budget!
No matter the homeschool curriculum you choose, remember than you are homeschooling-- the emphasis should be on the relationships you have with your children and building them up while learning. Learning doesn't just happen with books; it happens while you're cooking or cleaning the house, while your husband engages with your child and teaches her how to change the oil in the car, or how to make doctor appointments. It's about doing life together.
All my best,
(C) 2022 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
There are a myriad of different reasons why people choose to homeschool their children: there is the economic benefit of avoiding high private school fees; there is the convenience of scheduling schooling around other family activities; if a child has special needs that aren't being met in public school; or you don't agree with public schools' curriculum choices.
One of the most important benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility with which you can tailor your child’s education. It is a well known fact that every individual has individual needs, and homeschooling allows you to create a learning environment that suits your child particularly. When you involve your child in that process, you create buy-in and ownership of your homeschool within your child.
When you undergo homeschooling, it is important that you have a clear curriculum, mindset, and a plan to execute it. But within that plan, you should understand that you have a tremendous amount of flexibility: there are many different ways that a child can learn something, and many different things to learn in a given subject.
One of the best ways that you can ensure a high level of learning retention is to encourage your child to take a personal interest in his or her education. Although this may seem obvious, many people growing up who went though a traditional school system will probably agree that their education was received in an authoritative way: schooling and your education was something that was done to you, not with you.
When homeschooling, however, you can take advantage of the almost unlimited flexibility at your disposal and let your child take a more active role. While you can’t, obviously, let your child do whatever he or she wants education-wise, you should always explain to him or her a given education plan, and see what he thinks. Each year in the spring, my husband and I ask our daughter what she would like to learn about in history and science the next school year. While she doesn't have the flexibility to choose what she learns in math or language arts, she enjoys choosing what she learns in history and science, and therefore has more buy-in.
For example, when you start your school day, outline the plan for the day with your child. Depending on his or her age you can also explain the reasoning behind the plan. If there are any things the child seems averse to doing, try and take them seriously. You should not, of course, avoid certain subjects or activities simply because your child doesn’t like them. You should, however, ask your child why he or she doesn’t like something in the day’s plan, and to suggest alternatives. In many cases you will be pleasantly surprised by what your child comes up with, and be able to incorporate it into the day’s work.
As much as possible, you should have a list of alternatives in mind for assigned activities. The idea is to try and think of alternative activities that accomplish the same task. If your child protests against a certain exercise, then, you can offer them an alternative. This can be extremely effective in getting your children to learn material that they dislike.
Oftentimes the child simply has to feel that he or she is more in control of the situation to enjoy it. Even though you are ultimately controlling your child’s education, by granting them small allowances and choices, while still sticking with the larger picture, everybody wins: your child feels he is doing what he wants to do, and you are still teaching your child what you want him to learn.
Buying homeschool curriculum can get expensive in a hurry. There are ways that you can purchase curriculum on a budget, however. Here are some tips and resources to show you how.
Affiliate links are used on this site. As an Amazon Associate, and affiliate of other companies as well, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read more in our disclosure.
Deciding what our child needs in curriculum is the first step. Accessing scope and sequences of grades and curriculum can be done through curriculum company websites or their catalogs. Many companies, like Teaching Textbooks, offers free math placement tests so you can determine exactly what is your child's level. Apologia offers this free curriculum planning guide.
The second step is determining a per-child curriculum budget. Don't be afraid to splurge on hardback, reusable books if they will be used by younger siblings. If you decide to use spiral curriculum or workbooks that are generally written in, either copy the pages or have the student write out the problems on notebook paper, leaving the workbooks free from marks. This way, younger siblings can use them (or you can sell them at either curriculum fairs or consignment shops).
Curriculum Fairs / consignment shops
This is where a simple search on the Internet with your town or city name comes in very handy. Search your town, with adding "homeschool curriculum fairs" or "homeschool curriculum consignment shops" in the search bar. You can gain some really good curriculum at fairs and consignment stores, but make sure you look through the books. I once paid for a science workbook that looked good for the first few pages, but then as my daughter worked through the workbook, the name "Ryland" was on every single page, and crossword puzzles were already completed. Buyer beware: just look through every page in workbooks , especially.
You may need to go often, but you can find some bargains in thrift stores' book sections, especially if you're willing to keep an eye out for curriculum to be used later. I once found a high school economics books at a thrift store and snatched it up. Sure, my daughter's going into the seventh grade, but it's certainly something she can study as a senior in high school, and it was less than $2! Thrift stores are also good places to buy literature or living books. If you happen to find a set of encyclopedias, buy them; even though we have the Internet at our fingertips, there's something to be said about reading and using an encyclopedia for resources.
You know the type: they're not exactly big-box stores, and they have seconds of products most of the time, but if they have a good book section, you can find some great workbooks, literature, and sometimes curriculum there. Homeschool supplies like crayons, paper, scissors, are often good deals, too.
We often think of Ebay as being a source for when we need a weird part for something (I'm currently in the market for a missing lid to my husband's favorite rice cooking pot). However, I have purchased many older school books for my daughter. As a homeschooler who refuses to teach Common Core, math textbooks from the early 2000s are perfect. Instead of a hundred dollars, last year I spent a little over $5 for Laura's math textbook. Be sure, in the Ebay search bar, you specify what you're searching for, such as "grade 6 math textbooks," or "grade 4 spelling textbooks." Use the link in bold above to access Ebay's math books, and you can search for other things, too.
Since the summer is curriculum buying-time, you can often find some good deals on curriculum and/or shipping. Apologia is offering free shipping on orders over $150 right now. Notgrass History offers first-rate history textbooks for all grade levels plus a great deal of general homeschooling resources.
One curriculum creator, Rabbit Trails Homeschool, is launching new curriculum on July 1. She is having a party inside of her Facebook group, Relaxed Homeschoolers, The Rabbit Trails Way. During this party, she will be sharing all of the new releases, there will be giveaways, sharing new freebies, and there will even have an exciting flash sale opportunity. Don't miss this -- make sure you join the group today so you won't miss it.
In my own store, you can buy my newest study, Gospel Grammar, at 22% off with the coupon code Summer22 (along with everything else in my store, as the sale is storewide). Gospel Grammar is a Bible study about grammar, and a grammar study about the Bible.
You can find curriculum creators on Facebook (just do a search for one you're looking for) to access deals they have going on.
Amazon is not who we usually think of when it comes to homeschool curriculum, but they have a ton of curriculum available, in addition to supplies, computers, printers, and laminators.. Right now they have a lot of brand-name curriculum on sale for upwards of 20% off. Be sure to access this direct link for homeschool curriculum.
Once you have a list of subjects you want to do with your child, make a list of curriculum providers. Some providers provide all-in-one curriculum packages that include everything. A lot of that depends on your child. If your child is at grade 4 in math but grade 6 on everything else, ask the curriculum provider if you can switch out grade 6 math for grade 4, for example. Or, you can tailor-make an eclectic curriculum for your child using many different sources.
Once you have a list of curriculum and/or subjects, you can use this handy homeschool curriculum budgeting tool to help you keep track of costs. Don't forget to count music lessons, sports, and other extracurricular activities in that, as they also can count for homeschool (handy info to have for attendance records!).
I have a number of free or low-cost websites I use a great deal in homeschooling my daughter. These websites either supplement her curriculum by way of worksheets or online games, or I use them as curriculum.
I pay to use Education.com so I can utilize their word search and crossword generators for spelling. This website's annual plan is under $10 a month; paid monthly, it's $15.99 a month. I don't know about you, but $119.88 is a lot better than $191.88. I use this website every single day--and Laura loves the educational games that I can assign to her to complete. Disclosure: I am not an affiliate of Education.com.
Another website I use often, that I am also not an affiliate of, is Teacherspayteachers.com. You can search for free worksheets, and have a wealth of worksheets at your disposal, or you can pay per download for more expensive worksheets, lessons, projects, and other resources.
One website of which I am proud to say I am an affiliate, is SchoolhouseTeachers.com. Right now, through June 22, they are having a membership sale of less than $16 a month. Members receive a great deal of benefits, including a printed magazine, free access to hundreds of full courses and unit studies, record keeping resources, lesson plans, scope and sequence information, and a full curriculum for every grade. My daughter wants to do unit studies for science when we start back up September 1, and we're going to do that using SchoolhouseTeachers.com's incredible science unit studies. Plus, all members become automatic affiliates, so if you really like it, and share your affiliate link with your homeschooling friends and on social media, you can make some money, too.
Homeschooling can be an expensive endeavor--but it doesn't have to be. With a little creativity, asking the right questions, and looking for deals, you can find curriculum to teach your child without spending a ton of money. Don't forget to search for "homeschooling" on Facebook Marketplace--you will be amazed at the deals you can find there.
(C) 2022 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Terrie Bentley McKee is an author and speaker who homeschools her youngest daughter. Married to her husband Greg, they have four children, all of whom have special needs of varying degrees. Terrie is a follower of Jesus Christ and tries to glorify God in all she does. To read more about her testimony, click here.
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