How to Keep the Happy Planning Going

How to Keep the Happy Planning Going

I hope I’ve convinced you that planning makes homeschool moms happy. If you haven’t yet read the reasons planning rocks for homeschool moms, do that first. Today we are talking about how to keep happy planning going. If you’re like me and you have begun using numerous planners only to leave them languishing on the shelf, you’re going to love this post.

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How to Keep Using Your Planner

My guest on the Homeschool Sanity Show, Diona Navarro, had these tips for continuing to use your planners.

Buy a planner that works the way you do.

“Don’t just buy a planner because it’s cheap, pretty, or other people are buying it,” Diona says. She explains that the right planner for you should allow you to record your thoughts. Her preference is for a planner that allows checklists and is something she can make pretty with her supplies.

Keep it simple.

Diona sets up her planners so others could take them and use them to direct her family’s day. That means it has to be easy to understand and not overloaded with tasks.

Keep it accessible.

Diona advises leaving your planner out where it’s visible. Leave it on the table in the kitchen, for example. The more you see it, the more you’ll rely on it.

Plan to plan.

Diona takes time every Saturday and Sunday to use her various planners. Without set times for planning, it wouldn’t happen. Diona advises that you plan more than one week at a time in case you can’t do your regular planning time.

 I love the tips that Diona gave us. I have a few of my own to add.

Use your planner as a guide, not a boss.

You’re the boss. And no matter what you said you wanted to do in your planner, you get to change your mind. Like a tour guide who has ideas at the ready for you, your planner is happy to take you on any side trips you want to take. A tour guide is not evaluating you and neither is your planner. Planners don’t grade our performance.

If we view our planner as our boss, we will resist opening our planners and having a performance review. Here is how I solved this very pervasive problem for myself. After I have made my plan for the day, I close my planner and walk away from it. I take a picture of my planner, so I can refer to it later in the day when I feel a little lost. But closing my planner gives me permission to take the route I feel led to take through my day. Like a map, my daily plan is there to refer to if I need it. This perspective and approach have made me more likely to follow my plan for the day.

Make planning the best part of your day and week.

My planning always begins with time with God. I am in prayer and in the Word and I have peace. I recognize small matters for what they are. I am reminded of the power I have in Christ for the big matters that are facing me.

I love beginning my planning time with gratitude. That attitude is proven to improve mood even in those who do not recognize a sovereign God. My monthly plan gives me a picture of all my family’s activities and how much I have to be grateful for. I love that I have the opportunity to assess areas where I have missed the mark as well. I can leave any guilt or fear that I have right there on the page.

Once I have spent time with the Lord, I feel ready to consider my priorities for the day. I make this part of planning so rewarding that I don’t want to miss it. I sit in a comfortable chair with excellent light. I have blankets at the ready and often a cute little dog to cozy up to at the same time.

I allow myself to use stickers and colorful pens and motivational quotes as I feel led. I end with a realistic view of how my day will go that gives me peace.


Using these tips, I believe that you can continue as a happy planning homeschool mom. To get even more from your planner, make sure you subscribe to learn the habits of the organized homeschool mom and how to make adopting them easy.

Which of these tips will best help you keep up the planning habit? Comment and let me know.

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Why Happy Homeschool Moms Are Planners

Why Happy Homeschool Moms Are Planners

Planning has made me so much happier in my homeschool. I want every homeschool mom to have the same happiness. I hope to convince you to start planning for the first time or to resume your planning habit.

I asked Diona Navarro, homeschool mom and planner extraordinaire from, why happy homeschool moms are planners. I’m going to share her reasons as well as my own in the post below. But you’ll love listening to this podcast episode even if you read. Diona is so inspiring.

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We are happy planners because we experience freedom.

We homeschool moms enjoy tremendous freedom with our schedules. What a blessing! We enjoy even more freedom when we plan. We can make sure the must-do’s are accomplished in the most efficient way possible, so we can enjoy teaching and learning with our kids in the way that makes our heart sing.

We are happy planners because we make time for the best things.

When we plan, we are intentional about making sure the seasonal activities, the great books, and the fantastic field trips happen. When we don’t plan, we often find ourselves disappointed in our homeschool.

We are happy planners because we don’t forget.

Planning makes it less likely we forget appointments and invitations and to-do’s. No one likes the embarrassment of forgetting these things. But even better, because we plan memory-making activities, we are more likely to remember them. We can even keep our planners to remember the good times we’ve had.

We are happy planners as we anticipate activities.

We envision our planned activities and we get a hit of dopamine that makes us feel great. We imagine how excited our kids will be when we go on that field trip, do the cool science experiments, or read a fantastic book together. In fact, anticipating is often better than reality!

We are happy planners because we reduce anxiety.

When we feel that we have so much to do (and isn’t that ALL the time?), but when we get it on paper, it feels manageable. We can control it. We can make decisions about which tasks to delete and which to defer so we can have a reasonable achievable day.

We are happy planners because we’re actually doing something.

That sense of peace we have in planning can lead to another source of happiness: doing. Research is clear that we are more likely to do something when we have planned when we will do it. Furthermore, we are happier actually doing things. We may enjoy talking about our homeschooling or life plans, but nothing boosts our mood like being productive. When I follow my plan for the day, I feel fantastic. I want you to experience that same happiness.

But what if you’re not actually using your planner?

Make sure you subscribe so you’ll be notified of my next post / podcast episode that will share how we can keep the happy planning going!

What makes you happy about planning? Comment and let me know.

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100 Free Christmas Games

100 Free Christmas Games

Christmas is my favorite time of year to play games. You’ll find a list of 100 Christmas games for families to play, for kids to play, or for Christmas parties. Be sure to pin this post so you can refer back to it every year.

Family Christmas Games

  1. Christmas Family Feud is a fun game based on the popular TV show. This link includes directions and common holiday questions.
  2. Christmas Lights scavenger hunt is a fun scavenger hunt for the whole family.
  3. The Christmas Story Scavenger Hunt is perfect if you’re looking for a Christian based scavenger hunt.
  4. Christmas Decoration Scavenger Hunt is a way to focus on the beautiful decorations of the season while playing a fun game.
  5. These Christmas Reindeer Minute to Win It games will delight adults and children of all ages.
  6. Super fun Christmas Drawing Game where all you’ll need are sturdy paper plates, pens, and your family and friends.
  7. Fun Christmas Tree Trimming Game Decorate your best friend or youngest child and turn them into a Christmas tree with crepe paper.
  8. This Christmas Smell Game is so much fun and will challenge everyone at your party. Place your favorite Christmas smells in jars, blindfold your family or friends and see if they can identify what they’re smelling.
  9. Christmas Rollick is a Reverse Charades game.
  10. Bible Christmas Trivia is the perfect family game. This free printable is just the perfect resource.
  11. You’ve Been Jingled! Is a fun way to celebrate the holidays with your neighbors.
  12. Christmas Word Scramble can be turned into a game where the first one to complete it wins the game!
  13. Christmas Party Improv Game This game is hilarious and is perfect to play as a family or include it for your party.
  14. The Candy Cane Card Game is played like Spoons but you use candy canes!
  15. Cut the Candy Bar Game The object of the game is to eat as much of the candy bar before someone rolls a double.
  16. DIY Christmas Jenga All you need for this game is a Jenga game and the free printable.
  17. Homemade Bananagrams Customize this game to your Christmas theme. It’s an anagram game that drives you bananas!
  18. Truth and Lies About Christmas Games This is the Christmas version of Two Truths and a Lie. Players guess which statement is a lie.
  19. Stick it Fun Christmas Game Players have a designated time to throw as many mini-marshmallows as the can into Santa’s shaving cream beard.
  20. Do You Hear What I Hear Players will rearrange the gift boxes based on the number of bells they hear in each box.

Christmas Games for Children

  1. Don’t Ring the Christmas Bells is a fun sensory game for small children. This game will allow even the youngest children of the party to join in the fun.
  2. Christmas means snow in many areas but if you don’t get snow your kids can still have fun with this Snowball Toss Game!
  3. The Poke-A-Tree Game is perfect for the kids at your party. Included are video instructions and free printables for this game.
  4. Christmas I Spy Game is a fun Christmas game that will keep your kids busy as they search through the colorful free printable.
  5. Candy Cane Catch is a fun game where your little ones will fish for candy canes. This simple game only requires a few supplies.
  6. Naughty or Nice Christmas is a children’s version of the game which involves throwing coal into Santa’s buckets.
  7. Candy Cane Hunt. Hide a bunch of candy canes and the child that finds the most candy canes wins.
  8. Ornament Number Matching Game This is a fun game involving cutting, numbers, and matching.
  9. Santa’s Beard Roll & Count Game This is a sweet game involving Santa and marshmallows. It works on fine motor skills and math.
  10. Rudolf Balloon Race – combine fun with physics with this balloon race.
  11. Grow a Christmas Tree Farm Math Game uses the book The Christmas Tree Farm and teaches literature and math while playing!
  12. Away in a Manger Minute to Win it Game is a team game for kids. Each team has a minute to use as many props as they can.
  13. Jingle on the Trunk Minute to Win it Game uses jingle bells and tissues boxes. Be the first one to bounce the bells out of the box.
  14. Build a Snowman Game. Take one minute to blow three ping-pong balls across the table and try to line them up to build a snowman.
  15. Launching Snowmen Game is a two for one! A fun game and a Science lesson.
  16. North Pole Game is a ring toss game made to look like the North Pole.
  17. Snowball Transfer Game. This a timed game will delight little ones as they use a straw to transfer their “snowballs” into a bowl.
  18. Bow Run. With a bucket on each side o the room, each child will take turns transferring bows from one bucket to the other.
  19. Lucky Line Gift Exchange Game. Here is a unique game that gives a surprise gift to the winning player.
  20. Pass the Present Wheel Game uses a DIY printable wheel that guides you as you pass the present.
  21. Put the Baby in the Manger. Rather than pinning a tale on a donkey, young players have to Put the Baby in the Manger.
  22. Roll a Reindeer Game is a game your preschoolers will love! Use the free printable and have fun learning.
  23. Roll a Snowman Dice Game With each roll of a die your preschooler will build a snowman.
  24. Christmas file folder games are fun learning games that can be played at home or taken to a party.
  25. Do You See What I See? One player will hold a Christmas object and the other player will have to draw it by listening to a verbal description.
  26. Christmas Rhythm Game Cards This musical game is customizable according to the age of the children playing.
  27. Snowman Family Tally uses printables for these math and phonics games
  28. Christmas Pom Pom Drop will be a fun way to help your kids celebrate while developing their fine motor skills.
  29. Christmas Picture Puzzle Game for elementary age children only requires this free printable.
  30. Try December Would You Rather Prompts for a fun Christmas game for older kids.
  31. DIY Holiday Reindeer Ring Toss is a game for children and adults. This game is easy to make and fun to play.
  32. Santa Says is a game that is a playoff of the classic game, Simon Says. Use the free prompts to make this the highlight of your party.
  33. This Pin the Heart on the Grinch game is perfect for your party especially if you a Grinch or two attending.
  34. The Nativity Game and Craft is perfect for your littles.
  35. Printable Holiday Lights Scavenger Hunt is the children’s version of the Holidays Lights Scavenger Hunt.
  36. Christmas Roll a Story Game. Children take turns building a story with each roll of the dice.
  37. Christmas Mad Libs will be a fun game for kids all the way to adults. You can print out Mad Libs according to Christmas Themes. There’s even a Mad Libs for preschoolers.
  38. Snow Shovel Race is a simple game to plan and a fun game to play and will also help with fine motor skills.
  39. The Snowman Slam Game is a fun game made with Styrofoam cups. Simple to make and hours of fun.
  40. Pin the Nose of the Reindeer takes the popular birthday game and turns it into a Christmas party must!
  41. Toilet Paper Snowman Game can be played by kids of any age!

Christmas Games for a Party

  1. Download your favorite What’s In Your Phone game and use it as the perfect icebreaker for your party!
  2. Print off these free Christmas Photo Booth Props and have loads of fun at your party.
  3. Build anticipation with your young guests by offering each an envelope. The one Who’s Got the Santa wins the game! Simple, exciting and fun!
  4. Name that Christmas Tune and How Do You Dooo are two Christmas music games that are sure to please everyone at the party.
  5. The Christmas Word Scramble Game is an engaging game that doesn’t require a lot of physical energy.
  6. Christmas Cans Bowling is so much fun for kids. You can use a Cricut to produce similar labels or purchase Christmas vinyl cling or stickers.
  7. Snowman Toss requires a little bit of prep work but the result will be worth it! Create a snowman with 3 boxes, tape, and homemade beanbags.
  8. Punch a Present Gift Game is a game and gift giving all in one!
  9. Candy Cane Snag is a holiday twist on the classic game Tag.
  10. Sing Song Ping Pong The room is the “table” and the song is the ping pong. Make this a fun game with Christmas songs.
  11. This Christmas Trivia Powerpoint is a great game for teens but can be played by everyone at the party.
  12. Christmas Carol Pictionary Relay. Race to draw Christmas Carols and try to get their team members to guess them.
  13. Candy Canes is like the classic game Spoons but exchanges those spoons with candy canes. You might want to keep this game for older kids and adults, it could get a bit rambunctious.
  14. Christmas Who Am I?  Each guest will have the name of a fun Christmas character taped to their back. They will try to guess who they are based on the clues the other guests give them.
  15. Christmas Charades is a must for your Christmas party! Charades is a classic game enjoyed by families and party goers everywhere.
  16. Pass the Presents White Elephant Gift Exchange Game puts a new spin on the traditional White Elephant exchange.
  17. Ready or Christmas is a fun Christmas icebreaker for your party!.
  18. Ring a Bell Christmas game is super easy to plan for and super easy to play. All you need are friends, family, and a bell.
  19. Christmas Oven Mitt Game will bring laughter as your guests try to open wrapped boxes using oven mitts.
  20. 20 Questions Christmas Game challenges players to guess an object with twenty questions.
  21. Christmas Carol Catch Phrase using free printables and non-Santa themed songs.
  22. The Saran Wrap Ball Game is a game that doesn’t need to be played in the kitchen. This free game idea is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
  23. Fat Santa is a hilarious game involving the largest sweat suits you can find and balloons.
  24. The winner of this Right-Left Game- Uses for Fruitcake gets to take the fruitcake home.
  25. Let’s Make a Deal is a fun party game that can be easily adapted to your Christmas theme.
  26. Gift Wrap Twins Game This game is for teams of two and is fun for all ages.
  27. Lapland Limbo – Try doing the limbo under a string of Christmas cards with a Santa sized belly.
  28. Reindeer Antler Game This game is sure to have everyone at the party laughing hysterically!
  29. Face the Gingerbread man only uses your face muscles (no hands) to get the cookie into your mouth.
  30. Who Am I Game plays with cards placed on the player’s forehead and then they have to guess who they are.
  31. Christmas Balloon Antlers Game is the perfect game for large groups of people.
  32. Gingerbread Cookie Relay Exactly what it sounds like, a relay using gingerbread cookies.
  33. Olaf Knockdown Game Create these easy Olaf cups, stack them and have the kids at the party try to knock them down.
  34. Indoor snowball soccer game. Snow & soccer balls are not required but you will need some space for this game.
  35. Musical Chairs Gift Exchange This fun musical chairs game involves Christmas music and a gift exchange.
  36. Christmas Card Balderdash. Play this traditional game using Christmas cards.

Christmas Game Apps

99.        The Impossible Test Christmas is a free app that can be played with family and friends. It features Christmas trivia, holiday jingles and unique games. Available on iPhone and iPad.
100.     Christmas Bingo Santa’s Gift is a Christmas Bingo game you can play on your devices. Available on Windows, iTunes, Android, and  Google.

Here’s a bonus if you love Karaoke. Try the karaoke app called Smule. There’s a large collection of Christmas songs to keep your party lively! Download on Apple products, Android, and Windows.

[Read 60 of the Best Christmas Gifts for Kids]

Find more 100 Things posts for homeschooling families right here.






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Why You Should Study Movies as Literature with Your Teens

Why You Should Study Movies as Literature with Your Teens

I believe you should study movies as literature with your teens! Here are six reasons why and then I share my review of Cinema Studies, the best way to study movies as literature with your kids.

#1 Movies really are literature.

At one time, novels weren’t considered worthwhile for instruction. Imagine! Now we know that reading novels improves vocabulary, comprehension, spelling, and writing.

Today there is a continuing stigma that movies can’t add to our children’s education. Movies are what our children should watch in their free time, right? Wrong! Movies, like plays, are based on written scripts or books. Because they are literary, movies can be used to teach concepts like character development, plot, setting, and much more.

#2 Movies are taught as literature in the public schools.

Many homeschool parents I talk with are afraid that watching movies isn’t worthy of high school credit. I assure you: The study of movies is credit-worthy. My son took this course as a public high school junior. Because he was taking a number of AP (read time-consuming) courses, his guidance counselor recommended that he take an easier class like a movies as literature course to complete his schedule.

Movies as literature courses count as English elective credits and are an excellent addition to a college-prep transcript.

#3 Movies create great opportunities for discussion.

Kids are used to talking about the movies they see. If you have a teen who isn’t a talker, discussing a movie is a great way to understand your teen’s views on life. Movies can expand your teen’s understanding of others’ motivation and can be used to teach social skills. Teens are more likely to talk about movies than other topics because there are few wrong answers–just opinions.

#4 Movies provide excellent writing prompts.

A movies as literature study provides interesting and personal writing subjects. Writing prompts are rarely dry and students with multiple learning styles can recall and respond to the movies they’ve seen in writing.

#5 Movies are fun for kids to watch.

Even though your kids are learning, they think of watching movies as inherently fun. You’ll get less procrastination and pushback on watching a movie for homework than nearly any other assignment you might give.

Movies mimic the more entertaining lessons of childhood and can be enhanced with great snacks!

#6 Movies are a fun family and friend activity.

Parents of teens rarely do math with them just for the fun of it. But a movies as literature course can get parents involved in the learning process. Some movies have mature themes and aren’t appropriate for younger kids (or you may want to save the films for when they’re older). But the teens and adults in your house can enjoy time together while still putting in homeschool hours.

A study of movies as literature is also a lot of fun in a group setting. It’s the perfect class for co-ops and learning centers. Your teen will enjoy discussing the movies watched with their homeschool friends.

Why Cinema Studies is the Perfect Way to Study Movies as Literature with Your Teen

I used another movies as literature course in the past and highly recommend Cinema Studies instead. Here’s why:

  • It includes some more recent films teens enjoy. Studying movies as literature doesn’t mean that the films have to be painful to watch because they’ve become culturally irrelevant. While Cinema Studies includes classics like Casablanca, it also features Rudy — a personal favorite! The movies are easy to find, unlike the previous curriculum I used.
  • It doesn’t require you to stop the film over and over again to answer trivial questions. If your teen watches the movie (especially with the questions at hand), answering questions correctly should be no problem. Your student may need to watch the movie a second time (as recommended) to write the paper. In our co-op, we discuss the movie one week and review papers the next, so students may forget specific examples to use in their writing.
  • Writing assignments are short and engaging. Writing a long paper on every movie is way more work than students in traditional schools are required to do. Tedious writing assignments can kill interest students have in studying movies. Students always have a personal response option for their papers, which they love.
  • Cinema Studies is digital and economical for more than one student. I am able to make copies of the materials for all three of my kids using Cinema Studies.
  • The answers are in the teacher’s guide. I have been loving watching the movies with my kids and my husband has joined in too. BUT if I wasn’t able to watch the movie for some reason, the discussion question answers are right there for me.

Be sure to check out Cinema Studies and get ready to teach movies as literature in your homeschool! What is a favorite movie you would love to study with your teens?

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How Legalism Nearly Destroyed Our Homeschool

How Legalism Nearly Destroyed Our Homeschool

I didn’t intend to homeschool. I had a Ph.D. in psychology and I planned to practice part-time and be home with my young children the rest of the time. But then I started homeschooling. I found a way out of the CHAOS through FLYLady and routines, and eventually found that I loved it. Surprised, I found it was a fulfilling career. But as I came to love homeschooling, legalism threatened to destroy it. Here’s how.

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Why doesn’t everyone homeschool?

Even though I hadn’t wanted to homeschool and only did it at what I believed was the Lord’s urging, I found myself wondering why everyone wasn’t doing it. Scratch that. I found myself judging other Christians for not homeschooling.

[Read Why I Wasted My Education to Homeschool]

It was clearly what God meant in Deuteronomy 6:7, wasn’t it? That’s what so many speakers at Christian homeschool conferences said. It was like the 11th commandment. So why wouldn’t loving Christian parents stay home to make sure their children were raised in the faith? Yes, I knew people who sent their kids to Christian schools. But you couldn’t be too sure what teachers would teach, and you certainly couldn’t be sure of the influence the other kids in the school would have.

My husband and I had a community of like-minded homeschooling friends. When we heard stories of Christian kids gone bad, we trusted in the admonitions of Christian homeschool speakers and authors who served as mentors. If we would keep our children out of Sunday school, youth groups, and the dating scene; if we would keep them from summer camps with public school kids; if we would keep them from reading the books, listening to the music, and watching the movies that other kids did, our kids wouldn’t be like those other kids. They would be better.

If we followed the Christian homeschool plan for our families, we could rest easy that our kids would be Christians (many of them pastors and missionaries) who wouldn’t have premarital sex, wouldn’t have a substance abuse problem, wouldn’t end up living in our basements at 30, and wouldn’t reject us. That was the plan, and we felt great about it.

My husband and I frequently talked about families who weren’t following the Christian homeschool plan like we were. Many of them already had problematic children. We shook our heads with a tsk-tsk. They should have homeschooled or homeschooled the right way.

The homeschool plan failed

Our homeschool went smoothly for years. The kids were agreeable to our plans for them. They would complete a college degree while in high school. They would graduate early without debt or the negative influence of college. They would begin dating when they were ready to marry. Our kids would homeschool their kids.

And then my oldest, a smart, strong-willed child, entered puberty.

I don’t have to tell you what happened next, because you won’t be surprised. Yes, he rebelled against everything. Everything. He wanted to go to college far from home and visit us once or twice a year. He wasn’t sure about the Bible and he didn’t agree with our politics. He wanted a girlfriend in junior high. He became defiant and disobeyed us frequently.

Another homeschooling mom we had just become acquainted with talked to me about his behavior. Underlying every word she said was her judgment:

“You’re not homeschooling the right way.”

I was devastated. I didn’t see the irony at the time, nor did I recognize the truth: I wasn’t homeschooling the right way.

Through many tears, we and our son realized that we were terrified and were acting out of those fears. We were afraid our son would reject the faith, our family, and everything we believed in. He was afraid that if he didn’t see things our way that we would stop loving him.

By the time our oldest asked to go to school, he had become less oppositional. We knew that this was God’s calling for him, and we agreed to it.

[Read Lessons Learned When I Sent My Son to Public School]

But the damage had been done. Here’s what I mean: our oldest son had made our legalism clear. We cared more about our homeschool plan and looking good as parents than we did about him, than we did about our other children, than we did about Jesus. Our son’s period of acting out (which he later related to hormones) tore down our idol of homeschooling. We are so grateful.

What homeschooling without legalism looks like

The first change I noticed when we left homeschool legalism was far less judgment of others. We stopped talking about how this or that family was allowing a teenager to date. We prayed more compassionately for those whose children were struggling. We gave advice less and listened more.

The second change I noticed was far less judgment of ourselves. A legalistic homeschool is very tough to maintain. Everyone has to do good and look good because when they don’t, the parents (as the homeschool leaders) are to blame. Bad behavior led to fear which led to anger. We started taking ourselves less seriously.

The third change I noticed was a shift in responsibility. We had felt entirely responsible for how our kids “turned out.” We came to recognize that we took ownership of responsibilities that were rightly God’s and our children’s. Ultimately, we realized that we couldn’t homeschool our kids into the faith and godly living.

Is Leaving Legalism for you?

What’s funny is that at one time I would have believed it was my responsibility to help you leave legalism. I now know that if God is calling you out of legalism, He is far more effective at that than I could ever be. If the Lord brought you to this page, I do want to suggest that you read the book Leaving Legalism by Kendra Fletcher.

Like me, Kendra is a homeschooling mom who fell for the trap of legalism. She calls legalism “hope shifting.” I love that. When we shift our hope from the finished work of Jesus in our lives and our children’s lives, we are destined to wander in the homeschool desert.

It’s so disappointing, but there aren’t six steps for leaving legalism. 🙂 Instead, like the Underground Railroad, there is a Conductor Who will lead us out of it. I pray you will follow Him.


If our son hadn’t made our homeschool legalism clear, I hate to think what the results would have been for our family. We still love homeschooling but not more than we love our kids and our Lord. Have you ever fallen prey to homeschool legalism? Tell me in the comments.


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How to Homeschool the Gift in Your Child

How to Homeschool the Gift in Your Child

I didn’t think I needed strategies for homeschooling giftedness. I thought I should just be celebrating that my child loved to read and was so quick to learn. But my lack of understanding of my children’s gifts did them a disservice. I learned where I went wrong when I was asked to present on homeschooling gifted kids for my local homeschool conference. I’ve learned three things about homeschooling a child’s gift that can allow our children to flourish.

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Learn what giftedness really is.

From watching movies and television, my idea of a gifted kid was a six-year-old college student or a Doogie Howser doctor. I knew for sure I didn’t have one of those, and furthermore, I had no idea how to teach a kid like that.

In reading about giftedness, however, I learned that what is typically portrayed in the media is profound giftedness. Spelling bee winners and childhood Rhodes scholars are not the epitome of giftedness. Instead, kids who are advanced in a subject or activity, kids who are fascinated by and have a voracious appetite for a subject, and kids for whom some endeavor comes easily and joyfully are likely gifted. Gifted kids may not meet the IQ criteria (which varies by source, by the way), but have a gift or talent nonetheless.

And speaking of giftedness, you may not want to give your kids the label. When I mentioned my son’s giftedness to a relative, I was immediately chastised as though it had to be kept hush-hush. I shouldn’t upset people by bragging or causing them to compare. I should pretend like he was no different than any other child.

But the truth is I see giftedness in every child. My adult autistic nephew can outbowl me any day of the week. He has bowled 300 games, something I’ve never achieved and likely never will. My brother has several learning disabilities but has always been able to put things together just by looking at the parts. I have to read the directions over and over again and still get it wrong.

I once thought I had just one gifted child but now see gifts for writing, foreign language, music, leadership, faith, interpersonal skills, humor, sports, and more. I also began to see the giftedness in the kids in my co-op. A student who struggled with writing was an inspiring speaker. A student whose grammar wasn’t perfect possessed creativity in writing that was astounding. A student who slowly and methodically approached an engineering problem solved it well before the other students.

I also began to embrace my own giftedness. Because of painful school experiences, I insisted I was no different than anyone else. I wanted friends more than I wanted to be smart. But in preparing for that talk on giftedness, I recognized myself in the description of gifted people. God has given me a gift for writing and speaking–gifts to be used for His glory. When we deny our gifts, we can’t develop them or share them. Accepting our gifts makes us better teachers for our own and others’ gifted kids.

Emphasize strengths while working on weaknesses.

I heard Joyce Herzog say that our kids will not be employed in their area of weakness, yet we tend to focus our efforts in that area. The greatest geniuses and leaders in history had weaknesses. Had the lion’s share of their time been spent on improving their weaknesses, the world likely would have been deprived of these gifted people’s inventions, knowledge, or leadership.

We do not have to have a balanced curriculum for a gifted child. If your child loves to read, let her read. Don’t insist that she be as masterful with math as with language arts. If you have an introverted child with a coding gift, don’t schedule all his time in social activities or sports. Do we want to help our children become competent in areas of weakness? Most certainly! But we can accept average in areas we know are unlikely to be an important part of our kids’ future.

[Read Not Qualified to Homeschool?]

A graduate student in English told me that her English and reading scores on the ACT had put her in the top 1% of all test takers, but her math score was well below average, even though she had done well in class. The university created a custom scholarship for her. She will not be taking math tests to succeed in her language arts career.

My husband is one of the most skilled salesmen and social people I know. His college GPA wasn’t stellar, but during his college years he sold gym memberships. His parents could have insisted he quit his job and focus on getting better grades. They didn’t and his first employer was most impressed with his sales experience. He has had the same lucrative career selling library books since college.

[Read How to Teach to Your Child’s Talent]

Spend your homeschool time maximizing your child’s gift. That is one of the greatest blessings of homeschooling. We can provide a tailor-made curriculum to grow our child’s gift instead of going with a one-size-fits-all curriculum. My friend’s son took a EMT course while in high school because he wants to be a doctor. My son worked 20 hours a week in management during high school because leadership is his gift. Jonathan Harris’s son developed his own drone photoraphy business.

Challenge your child.

When I spoke to parents of gifed kids, the most common question I received was “How can I challenge my child?” These parents understand that just giving a child the next grade level of curriculum isn’t the best practice.

In researching for my talk, I discovered Cindy West’s book, Homeschooling Gifted Kids. I was so impressed by the thorough explanation of:

  • homeschooling approaches for gifted kids
  • homeschooling curriculum for gifted kids
  • resources for kids who are weak in an area or twice-exceptional

Sometimes we need a new approach to homeschooling our gifted child. Perhaps we are using textbooks or an online learning platform when we have a child who needs to do, to research, and even to teach in order to learn best. There are incredible options available to us now that can save us time. Sometimes we just need to tweak the curriculum we already have. We may be teaching kids together with various gifts and we need to find a way to save time and our sanity. Homeschooling Gifted Kids has you covered.

[Read Teach Kids with Digital Projects]

When we have a twice-exceptional child or just a child who is weaker in a subject, we need to know which options are best. That’s another reason I love Homeschooling Gifted Kids. It’s a fantastic resource for getting the challenging subjects in as well as for finding ways to stretch your child in her area of strength.

If you have a child who is profoundly gifted, there is even a section of the book on college. Cindy doesn’t tell you what to do but gives you important questions to consider in that case.


When you rethink what giftedness is, allow your child to focus on an area of strength, and challenge your child, your child will flourish as a homeschooler. Homeschooling is a fantastic option for teaching a gifted student. With these tips and a copy of Homeschooling Gifted Kids, you can feel confident as your gifted child’s teacher.


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