Curriculum Paralysis: Deciding Which Curriculum to Use This Year

Curriculum Paralysis: Deciding Which Curriculum to Use This Year

Do you have so many curriculum options that you don’t know what to use? That was the problem one of my readers had. I could relate. After all, the longer you homeschool, the more books you purchase, and the tougher the decisions can be. Here is how I’ve overcome this decision paralysis.

Curriculum paralysis

Listen to the podcast

If your main struggle is curriculum addiction, you’ll want to listen to the podcast I did on the topic. Sometimes we have a problem saying no to buying one more option. The more options we have, the more difficult it will be to decide what to do this year. I also did an episode on the questions you should ask when choosing curriculum. However, when you’ve already spent the money and your bookshelves are full, how do you decide? That’s what I want to address today.

Homeschoolers Who Love Options

As I considered this problem, I realized I have confronted it in many areas of my life. I am someone who wants to do it all. I want to write books in multiple genres. Truth be told, I’d love to be a Christian podcaster and speaker and not just a homeschool one. I’d love to write and speak about a variety of topics. I’d also like to teach in a co-op and maybe at the university again. I’d like to get more involved in homeschool activities and leadership.

There is a term for people like me. We have so many interests and we get depressed when we are told we have to choose one to focus on. We are called scanners, multipotentialites, Renaissance women, and polymaths. I think of myself as a Holly Hobby. In the past I felt bad about my habit of trying to do it all. It felt immature. It’s true that in trying to do it all, you rarely finish anything. That was discouraging and hurt my self-esteem. Then I read the book Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher. She has dealt with many people like me and has some solutions for us. I am going to pull from one of her solutions to address the problem of curriculum paralysis. You can use it to deal with paralysis in other areas of your life as well.

What I am not going to say to my reader with curriculum paralysis is just as important as what I am going to say. I am not going to tell her she has to decide on one option and get rid of the rest. This is terribly depressing and discouraging to a Holly Hobby. It’s like telling her that she can choose one ride to go on at Disney World. No, she won’t be able to go on every ride and see every show, but she has to believe that she can when she enters the park in order to be happy. We know there’s no way she can do My Father’s World, Classical Conversations, and Tapesty of Grace at the same time. But telling her to choose just one for all time isn’t the right response.

Decide Which Curriculum to Use This Year

So here is the right response: schedule your curriculum. To begin, that means to decide which curricula you absolutely want to use this year. If you can tell yourself that you will use some of them next year, you’ll reduce some of the options for this school year.
How can you put something great off an entire year? By choosing curricula that really can wait without your children becoming too old for it. If it’s a history curriculum or something that isn’t strictly age-dependent, wait on it. For each, ask what’s the worst that can happen if you wait a year to use it.
Another way to decide which curriculum to use this year is to consider what’s most exciting to you. Take a look at your bookshelves and move the options you are most eager to use to the front. If you do this every year and there are books that are always at the back of the shelf, you’ve made a decision about what not to use, but in a less painful way. I have books that I have never used because of this process. While I regret that I haven’t used them, I know I made the right choice. I’ve been able to pass them along to homeschoolers who will want to use them.
Another way to limit your options for this year is to decide how many different curricula you think is reasonable to use for one subject (that includes all-in-one curricula that also covers the subject at hand). If your friend was using three math curricula this year for the same student, does that seem like too much? If it does, settle on a number that makes sense to you.
Next, ask yourself if using multiple curricula at once will make any of them less effective. For example, if you are doing poetry tea time with Brave Writer and poetry memorization with IEW and the Grammar of Poetry, your kids may not enjoy the relaxing and fun aspect of poetry tea time. They may end up hating poetry! This is the same issue with using a curriculum that is great because of short lessons. Stacking many curricula for the same subject will erase its advantage in motivating your children.
If you still can’t decide how many curriculum options to use for the same subject, ask your veteran homeschool friends — and not the ones who are always trying to impress. If you presented using My Father’s World, Classical Conversations, and Tapestry of Grace this year to your experienced homeschool friends, they would laugh. You can also ask your kids. Show them how much work they would be expected to complete each week for each subject and if they seem alarmed and not just reluctant, you’ll know you’re trying to teach too much at once.
Once you have decided on a number for each subject or for an all-in-one curriculum, go to your shelf that you’ve arranged according to excitement. For example, if you think using two Bible curricula this year is reasonable for you, go to your shelf and choose the two you’ve moved to the front as the most exciting options. Then, and this is very important, move the books you will not be using this year out of sight. I have a storage area in my basement for books I’m not using. It helps me to feel confident and to be less distracted when I don’t see those other options tempting me.

Schedule Curriculum for This Year

Once you know the materials you will teach this school year, decide how you’re going to schedule those options. I see three good choices.
First, choose the day or days of the week that you will use each. For example, some of my customers use a different language arts curriculum Monday through Thursday and then do Grammar Galaxy on Fridays. For some curriculum options, this means you will not finish it this year. Is that acceptable to you? It may be if it is a supplement, a fun curriculum, or something you plan to continue the following year. Create a schedule for which curriculum you will use on which days that your whole family can see. A schedule will help hold you accountable so you aren’t dragging something else out of storage.

Video web course with 5 lessons and worksheets, loop schedule templates, and exclusive FB group access!

A second option is to use a loop schedule for your curriculum. When I have explained loop scheduling at conferences, some people are confused. I’m going to try to make it clear, but if it isn’t, Proverbial Homemaker has a Loop Scheduling workshop. So maybe you have Fix It Grammar and Grammar Galaxy in the loop for 11:00 in your homeschool day. If you used Fit It Grammar the last time you did language arts at 11:00, you’d use Grammar Galaxy today at 11. Or, if last Friday you used Fix It Grammar, you’d use Grammar Galaxy this Friday. A loop schedule works well when your schedule is unpredictable and it allows you to fit in a number of options. You can loop more than one option, too. So maybe you want to loop your Kids Cook Real Food course, an art course, and a music appreciation course for a block on Fridays. You can use a schedule that hangs on the wall with pockets for activities. You would move the card for each activity back as you use it when looping. Alternatively, you can write your loop options on an index card and move a paper clip to mark which option is up next.

A final schedule option is to use one curriculum for part of the year — a quarter or semester. We tend to do this when we think a curriculum isn’t working, but this would be a planned change. The advantage of this is you keep things simple by just using one option at a time and you change about the time you and the kids are getting bored. The thing to keep in mind with this option is the need for continuity of subject matter. If you’re going to change math curriculum at the semester, you wouldn’t want to start at the beginning of the new book if the material has already been covered. On the other hand, the kids may not understand how to do the problems in the middle of the book if they haven’t seen how the material is handled at the beginning. For this reason, I don’t recommend changing certain curricula mid-year. If your kids are struggling with the material, changing mid-year is fine. It’s no problem to change Bible or history curriculum mid-year, for example. Even language arts can be changed mid-year, depending on the scope and sequence.
If you’re still feeling paralyzed, ask a verteran homeschooling friend to come over and go through this process with you. Verbalize why you want to use each curricula, and most likely you’ll know what to do, even if your friend says nothing.
One final thought. You are the teacher. People were homeschooling successfully before there was curriculum written specifically for homeschoolers. Your decision is not going to make or ruin your kids. If you are a reasonably consistent teacher and pour love into your homeschooling, your kids will do well.
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How to Save on an All-in-One Curriculum

How to Save on an All-in-One Curriculum

I was compensated for my time in sharing these resources. All opinions are my own.

I have shopped Homeschool Buyers Co-op for a long time and I love knowing that I’m getting the best possible price on curriculum. The co-op helps homeschoolers harness group buying power to keep prices low. Getting an excellent price is especially important if you plan to invest in an all-in-one curriculum. An all-in-one or multi-subject curriculum can save your sanity by reducing decision fatigue and planning time. These are just some of the options available through the co-op for you to consider.

How to save on all-in-one curriculum

Monarch Online Curriculum from Alpha Omega

I have used some Monarch courses with my students and find that they’re an excellent option for parents looking for cumputer-based curriculum. Co-op buyers save 10%, which is the best deal you will find!

Monarch is an interactive, Internet-based Christian homeschool curriculum for grades 3-12 that’s compatible with most web browsers on a Windows® or Macintosh® operating system.

With Monarch, you get:

  • Dynamic, Media-rich Lessons: Bring learning to life with over 50,000 multimedia elements! Immerse your child in an enriching, multi-dimensional educational experience that includes video clips, audio files, challenging games, interactive exercises, and more.
  • Core Subjects & More: Monarch offers Bible-based online lessons in the five core subjects of BibleHistory and GeographyLanguage ArtsMath, and Science, as well as a wide variety of enriching electives.
  • Automatic Grading: Enjoy freedom from paperwork! Automatic grading and recordkeeping conveniently record lesson assignments, test scores, and upcoming assignments for more hands-on teaching time.
  • Anytime access, no installation: Perfect for your on-the-go schedule, Monarch’s Christian homeschool curriculum is accessible around the clock with a browser and Internet connection. With just a username and password, you’re curriculum-ready in seconds.

The best part is you can try it free for 30 days with no risk!

Check out Monarch on Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

Horizons Christian Workbook Curriculum

I have also enjoyed using Horizons curriculum with my students. At the co-op, you can be sure you’re getting the best price.

Horizons is a brightly illustrated, engaging workbook curriculum filled with consumable lessons and hands-on activities for grades PreK-12.

Horizons offers:

    • Christian Worldview: Horizons courses support a Christian worldview that complements parents in their biblical teaching.

  • Spiral Learning: Horizons Language Arts and Math use a spiral learning method that helps students master concepts through a natural process of introduction, review, and reinforcement.
  • Colorful Curriculum: Eye-catching graphics and illustrations make the student material visually appealing and help keep students excited to learn.
  • Hands-On Lessons: Students using Horizons curriculum often find the hands-on lessons to be interesting and exciting. Much of the student material is filled with colorful illustrations that complement the activities to help students understand concepts.

Check out Horizons curriculum on Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

Lifepac Christian Workbook Curriculum

I had a homeschooling family member who relied on Lifepac for all her curriculum. It made homeschooling simple! Save big on it at the co-op.

LIFEPAC is a Christian homeschool curriculum for grades K-12.

Designed by a team of accomplished educators with years of classroom experience, LIFEPAC is based on the principle of mastery learning. Students master content in each unit worktext before progressing to the next.

LIFEPAC is:

  • Bible-based: With Bible verses from the King James Version and biblical content that promotes a Christian worldview, LIFEPAC encourages critical thinking skills that promote and strengthen a student’s faith in Christ.
  • Flexible: Affordably priced, LIFEPAC lets students receive a Christian homeschool curriculum at a fraction of the price of regular textbooks and workbooks.
  • Economical: Affordably priced, LIFEPAC lets students receive a Christian homeschool curriculum at a fraction of the price of regular textbooks and workbooks.
  • Portable: Unlike heavy textbooks, LIFEPAC’s compact design is popular with busy homeschooling families on the go.

Check out Lifepac curriculum on Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

New Leaf Publishing Curriculum

I have used and loved so many resources available through New Leaf Publishing. The group buy offers up to a 40% discount on them!

Master Books is the world’s largest publisher of creation-based material for all ages; including apologetics, homeschool resources, reference titles, and quality children’s literature. You may already be familiar with some of their wares like:

Over 550 Titles to Choose!Literature, Science, History, Apologetics, Parenting, Creation & MORE — Members choose from OVER 550 TITLES! If you like Creation-Based Science materials, have a desire to build your home’s Apologetics library, or you just love Christian literature; then this is the GroupBuy for you!

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Discovery Education Streaming Plus

I enjoyed using this streaming service I accessed through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op several years ago and it’s improved immensely since then. Co-op buyers save 60%!

Bring Your Homeschool Lessons to Life! It’s easy to see why homeschoolers rave about Discovery Education Streaming Plus. It’s probably the most extensive and feature-rich educational video streaming service in the world.

It’s much like having the entire DVD selection of your local public library available to you from the convenience of your home, 24/7/365.

But it’s not just a collection of videos that you can watch from beginning to end. This library has been organized into useable video clips, organized and categorized, close-captioned, and supplemented with lesson plans, teaching guides, interactive simulations, images, audio resources, and other resources and materials that you can incorporate into virtually every aspect of your homeschool curriculum.

Discovery Education Streaming Plus features:

  • Thousands of full-length videos from scores of producers, segmented into tens of thousands of content-specific clips tied directly to state and national standards.
  • Supplemental resources such as Assignment Builder, Quiz Center, Writing Prompt Generator, lesson plans, and more
  • Fast and accurate search functionality and dynamic navigation menus
  • The ability to customize and personalize lessons to different subjects, grades, and learning styles
  • Comprehensive K-12 curriculum coverage in six core subject areas.
  • Thousands of images
  • Membership in the Discovery Educator Network (DEN)
  • Interactive self-paced training
  • Exclusive Discovery programming such as Frozen PlanetHuman PlanetLIFEInto the UniverseMythbusters, and Curiosity
  • Video series from trusted content providers such as BBC Worldwide, CBS News, Channel 4, Discovery Studios, Scholastic, TV Ontario, and Westin Woods
  • Hundreds of games, skill builders, and body atlas interactives
  • Thousands of self-paced math tutorials spanning concepts from basic addition to calculus
  • Thousands of audio files including podcasts, classic literature audiobooks, children’s literature audiobooks from Scholastic, and numerous supplemental study aids for auditory learners

Check out Discovery Education Streaming Plus on the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. 

While you’re visiting the co-op, check out the other curriculum options for enhancing your homeschooling at big savings!

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Goals and Devotions: Homeschooling, the First Year

Goals and Devotions: Homeschooling, the First Year

New homeschoolers often struggle to articulate their goals. They’re in there somewhere, but if they aren’t made clear, these new home educators are likely to be disappointed and discouraged.

Goals First Year HomeschoolingListen to the podcast

When I started homeschooling, I honestly wanted to feel like a superior mom. Isn’t that awful? I wanted to have obedient, eager-to-learn kids who would make me look good. My kids took care of that goal rather quickly. Instead, I learned I was an impatient, ineffective, disorganized mom who wasn’t cut out for homeschooling.

The good news about my failure is that I learned I needed God to homeschool. Growing closer to God also changed my goals. At first, one of my goals was to raise children who loved the Lord. I have since learned that I don’t have control over my children’s faith. My new goal is to share my faith with my children and pray for God to grow the seeds I’ve planted. Other goals for our homeschooling include developing close family relationships, inspiring a love of learning, and helping to prepare my children to do their best on college entrance exams. It’s a wonderful feeling that I feel I have met those goals at this point in my homeschooling.

Had I chosen goals of finishing a curriculum, having my kids love a certain curriculum or activity, or achieving a certain ACT score, I know I would have been disappointed.

Goals guide our homeschooling

My goals help me to make decisions when I anticipate obstacles. For example, I have been able to decide against certain curricula that includes busywork I know my children would hate. My goals help me decide to replace our regular Bible curriculum with discussion and prayer over sibling conflict. And my goals help me prioritize my kids’ study time for the ACT.

I review these goals with my kids. I want them to know what the priorities are, so God willing, they will share them. I would like to make the goals more visible this year by creating a sign for our school room. Having a copy in my planner will also help me keep them top of mind.

God helps us achieve our homeschool goals

My favorite false god has been my own strength. If I can succeed in my homeschooling goals myself, then I will get all the credit. The problem with this, of course, is that I carry all the responsibility for achieving the goals too. I have felt like my children’s faith, education, and relationship skills are all up to me. No wonder I’ve had periods of stress and burnout!

The good news is that it isn’t all up to me and it isn’t all up to you, either. Having time with the Lord when I can pray, read the Bible, and write out my thoughts has been critical to my ability to persevere in homeschooling. That time has never been 365 days a year consistent. It has varied in duration, time of day, and focus. But it has been a habit, nonetheless.

If I could change one thing about my homeschooling, it would be that I would have trusted the Lord more. I would have laid every burden, worry, and concern at the Lord’s feet, knowing that He heard me and would work everything together for our good. Because He has! Part of that trust for me would have been believing that God wanted to answer my prayers through the help of others. I often refused help or didn’t ask for it. I suffered frustration and defeat too often because of my self-determination.

New homeschoolers on the podcast

On the podcast this week, I got to catch up with Mai Lynn, Courtney, Erica, and Jolene about chores and meal planning. Jeannette caught up with me via email.

Chores went pretty well. Instead of going ahead and doing it because it was bothering me, I assigned jobs and they accomplished a lot most days. lol I didnt really get a hold of laundry yet. Meal planning did get a little better. knowing what I was going to make made dinner less stressful. I started cutting things and freezing it to prepare for meals.

We also chatted about their goals and faith life. Jeannette shared:

Some goals are to relax more and remember they are still young. We will focus on reading and character.

My faith goes up and down daily. One day I’m sure God will provide and I remind myself of all He’s done so far. Then other days I see no way and I wonder how it will all happen. But this journey so far definitely has given me more faith-filled days.

If you’d like to follow along with the homework I gave our new homeschoolers, grab your copy of The Organized Homeschool Life and do the devotions and goal challenges. Set achievable goals and schedule a time for you to spend with God, even if it doesn’t happen every day.

What are your goals for this homeschool year?

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How to Be a Consistent Homeschooler

How to Be a Consistent Homeschooler

My biggest homeschool struggle has been consistency. As I begin my 19th year of homeschooling, I want to take steps to grow in this area. I know I’m not alone in the struggle, so I am sharing my tips with you.how to be a consistent homeschool mom

Listen to the podcast

In thinking about consistency, I realized that it is highly related to personality. Those of you who have heard me speak about personality know that my typology of choice is that developed by Florence Littauer, author of Personality Plus. There are four basic personalities which can create combinations. But today I’m only going to review the four main personalities, so  I can share tailor-made tips for helping you to become more consistent.

Homeschool Consistency for Popular Sanguine Personalities

The first personality type we will discuss today is the Popular Sanguine. I want to begin with this personality because this type has the most difficulty remaining consistent. This is not to say that the other personalities don’t also have challenges remaining consistent in their homeschooling, but this personality’s quest for fun can cause problems.  The day-to-day, rather boring realities of homeschooling conflict with the Popular Sanguine’s life-should-be-a-party style. The Popular Sanguine personality bolts out of the gate for back to school and is on fire. They tell themselves that this is the year they’re going to be consistent because they are so excited about their new planner, their new curriculum, and routines. But the fun and excitement of the beginning of the school year quickly fades without proper attention. This personality will begin to drop the routines and behaviors and activities they were so excited about in the beginning. So how can we as popular Sanguines become consistent when our desire is to have fun?

The solution to inconsistency for the popular sanguine personality lies in planning for a variety of fun activities throughout the school year. One school year our co-op did only field trips for our co-op day. This sounded like a marvelous idea at the beginning of our homeschooling year. After all, what could be more fun than a field trip? As the year wore on, though, the field trips actually became tiring. The Popular Sanguine craves variety. This is why the popular sanguine becomes so energized and excited about the new school year. She has chosen new curriculum, new activities, and new routines. Don’t plan the same activities, even if they are fun activities. We have fun Fridays in our homeschool. If I am not careful, I can plan to do the same thing every Friday. That is because I haven’t actually planned out my activities. So rather than having a game day, or going on a field trip, or watching movies every single Friday, I need to schedule a variety of homeschooling activities. Put something on the calendar, every week if possible, that you look forward to. Popular Sanguines get depressed if there isn’t something fun to look forward to soon.

To keep things exciting, you could even create a jar of fun ideas for your homeschool and choose one randomly. I created one for my family and you can steal it when you subscribe. Add your own ideas, too! Click the image below to download your copy.

Homeschool Fun Jar printables

Alternatively, you could ask your children to take turns planning fun days. Just do something to keep the homeschooling process exciting.

Homeschool Consistency for Powerful Choleric Personalities

The second personality type I want to discuss in terms of being a consistent homeschooler is the Powerful Choleric personality. This is my secondary personality, so I need these tips as well as those for the Popular Sanguine. The Powerful Choleric more than anything wants control. If this is you, you become perturbed and impatient if you don’t feel like you have control over your children and your homeschooling.

One of the best solutions for remaining consistent as a homeschooling mom who needs to have some control is to get regular feedback on what you’re accomplishing. Powerful Cholerics are ambitious people who strive to be successful. If you don’t feel that you are achieving anything with your efforts, you’re going to become inconsistent.I did an interview with Deborah Bell about her Ultimate Homeschool Planner and how to plan your homeschool year that you will appreciate. What I was most excited about from our discussion is the idea that I would meet with each of my children at the beginning of the week to plan their objectives and also at the end of the week to see what we accomplished. More than just what we accomplished academically, however, the Ultimate Homeschool Planner also gives Powerful Cholerics like us the opportunity to record how we saw God at work in our homeschools. This also meets our need for getting a good return on our time investment.

Another way to feel that you are more in control is to take a leadership position. That could be a leadership position in your homeschooling support group, co-op, or learning center. When Powerful Cholerics are in charge, they are more likely to be consistent. Teaching classes in my home-based co-op has been the best thing for my Powerful Choleric side. I have a schedule made up at the beginning of the year that invariably gets followed because it is a group activity. I feel not only more in control of my homeschool, but I also get to see the results.

Homeschool Consistency for Perfect Melancholy Personalities

The next personality type I want to discuss in terms of becoming a more consistent homeschooler is the Perfect Melancholy personality. This is the personality that wants things to be perfect. Melancholies are the most consistent homeschoolers naturally. These are people who like to do things in the same way and typically resist change or inconsistency. However, this personality can become discouraged and depressed when their consistency isn’t perfect. Perfect consistency doesn’t exist, especially when you are dealing with children!

The Perfect Melancholy personality needs to adopt a new definition of consistency. When someone or something throws a wrench into your plans, accept the interruption as from the Lord. Relax, give yourself grace, and believe that if you are achieving your objectives and following your plan about 80% of the time, you are being consistent. Remember, too, that your children may not share your personality. This is the case for homeschoolers, regardless of their personality. We not only have to take our own personality into account, but our children’s as well. If you as a Perfect Melancholy homeschooler are consistent with your homeschooling 80% of the time, you are likely giving your children with other personality types the freedom and the variety they crave.

The other thing you can do as a Perfect Melancholy homeschooler is to communicate your needs to your family. Again, this is a recommendation that I can give to every homeschooler, regardless of personality. But for the Perfect Melancholy it is particularly important to be honest and forthright about your needs and feelings. Saying something like, “I have been feeling out of sorts and even frustrated because we haven’t been able to stay home and get through our homeschooling routine. I’ll feel so much better about things if we can stick to the plan today” can help your family be sensitive to your needs.  Maybe your family should just know what you need, but they likely don’t. They need you to tell them.

Homeschool Consistency for Peaceful Phlegmatic Personalities

The final personality type is the Peaceful Phlegmatic. This personality type can also struggle with consistency because this personality wants to keep things simple and conflict free. If the homeschooling plan you have created for your family at the beginning of the homeschooling year is just unrealistic or too demanding for your particular family and lifestyle, you’re likely to want to drop it all. Of course, there are other options besides all or nothing.

The Peaceful Phlegmatic homeschooler can be consistent this homeschool year by keeping the homeschooling routine and curriculum easy. What are some ways to make homeschooling easy? Listen to the podcast episode I did on how to homeschool in less time for ideas. The Peaceful Phlegmatic homeschooler will be delighted to spend less time doing direct teaching in their homeschool, giving them more time for relaxation. Block off plenty of time in your schedule for unscheduled time. Drop out of activities you know will leave you exhausted by the end of the year. Make sure that curriculum that is confusing to you or frustrating for your kids is replaced. We have so many options available to us as homeschoolers now, there’s really no reason to continue with a curriculum that isn’t easy to understand and easy to use. If you need some recommendations for curriculum that is an alternative to what you have been using, please join our homeschooling support group– HomeschoolScopes.tv on Facebook. In that group you can ask any questions you have about curriculum and  get an array of very helpful answers.

How to Achieve Homeschool Consistency Regardless of Personality

Now that I covered some basic tips for the various personality types, I have one major recommendation for you, regardless of your personality. That is to make your homeschooling a habit. If you try to fit homeschooling in around your other activities and priorities, your homeschooling won’t happen. Do what you have to do to make sure that you have time most days to complete the homeschooling tasks that you know you need to complete. We build the homeschooling habit by doing the same activities day after day, whether we feel like it or not. I am not suggesting that if you are exhausted from being up with sick children or a newborn all night that you absolutely have to do the same routine or use the same schedule. Of course, I’m not suggesting that. That is the blessing of homeschooling that we have the flexibility we need to accommodate those special circumstances. However, if you just don’t feel like doing homeschooling with your kids and you consistently put it off, you will be disappointed with your homeschool consistency this year. In fact, you may feel like a failure, your kids may complain, or your spouse may suggest it’s time to put the kids in school. This is all because you have not developed the habit of homeschooling even when you don’t feel like it.

I know habit building may sound discouraging, but understand this. The amount of willpower it requires to build the homeschooling habit is only intense at the very beginning. In a matter of weeks you will find yourself automatically going through your routines without even thinking about it. Not doing your homeschooling routine won’t even be something you consider. That is the good news about being a consistent homeschooler. Being a consistent homeschooler does not mean you are a legalist. In fact, thinking about having to do the same thing day after day after day, regardless of what else is happening in your life is likely to make you less consistent, rather than more. Know that you can definitely be Spirit-led in your day-to-day homeschooling, but I believe the Lord would have us be consistent the majority of the time. Develop a morning routine, an afternoon routine, and an evening routine. I tell you how here and in The Organized Homeschool Life.

By following these steps, you can be a consistent homeschooler this year. I am very hopeful as I look forward to this upcoming homeschool year with these tips in mind.

 

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How to Motivate Your Teen to Learn Art

How to Motivate Your Teen to Learn Art

I received free access to an art course and was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own.

Whether you want art to be a part of your teen’s homeschooling or you want art to be a part of your child’s free time, you may need to motivate your child to pursue artistic studies. Or if you’re like me, you have to motivate yourself to include art in your teen’s studies. There are three ways that have worked for me to motivate my teens to learn art.

How to Motivate Teens to Learn ARt

#1 Enroll your teen in a short-term class

My kids have enjoyed creating a project as part of one class or even a week-long camp. They have all been reluctant to participate in a full semester or one-year course — even those who enjoy art. Perhaps this is because art becomes a must-do, instead of a want-to-do activity. They also have a lot of other coursework and commitments. I can’t say that I’m any different when it comes to learning something new. I much prefer a smaller commitment.

I have taught art class to my teens after learning from a book. My kids have been much more motivated to learn from an artist. Although I can teach art, I’m not the best teacher for that subject. My students have been motivated to please the art teacher by following instruction. As a result they’ve learned more.

#2 Make art social

I purchased a book-based art curriculum for my son, who is talented in art. I thought he would love it. Instead, I couldn’t pay him to do it. When I had all of my kids do art together, he loved it. Part of the fun of art lessons is seeing what other people create. It’s inspiring. I’ve learned this in scrapbooking and Bible journaling classes.

If you aren’t homeschooling other kids, your child would likely enjoy having you do the lessons with him. You may surprise yourself and enjoy it too.

#3 Give your child choices

I hated piano lessons as a kid because I had to play the boring songs that were preselected. Art is very similar. If the lessons ask your child to create art that doesn’t appeal to her, your teen won’t be motivated. Provide many options from drawing to painting to mixed media. As our kids get older, choices become ever more important for motivation.

How Sparketh Online Art Courses Can Motivate Your Teen to Learn Art

Sparketh Online Art Courses

Sparketh is an online art course platform that provides beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses. The courses motivate my teen to learn art because they are short courses. The first course she chose is just 15 minutes of videos.

Sparketh hair bun course

I love that the courses are taught by younger instructors. They serve as great role models for my daughter, where I can’t as much. However, the online platform allows me to participate too. We can choose a course, assemble the supplies according to the recommended setup, and have a fun finished project in no time.

The number of choices is amazing. My daughter loves doing her hair, so this hair-bun course was perfect for her. I am amazed by her nearly-finished drawing. It looks just like the example!

hair bun drawing

You can join Sparketh free for a month. That’s a great way to see if these online courses will motivate your teen to learn art like they did for my daughter.

 

 

 

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How to Maintain Math Skills in the Summer

How to Maintain Math Skills in the Summer

Reading skills can deteriorate quickly in the summer without attention and so can math skills. While summer is the time when many homeschooling families take a break, making time to maintain the math skills students have gained during the school year is crucial. Here are three easy ways to do it.

How to maintain math skills in the summer

I received access to a math program and was compensated for my time in reviewing it. All opinions are my own.

#1 Focus on living math

You may not want to get the workbooks out in the summer, but you can easily incorporate math into your everyday life. Have your child calculate how many cans of water will be needed to make lemonade. Double a recipe. Measure a sports court for badminton. Determine the diameter of a beach ball by measuring its circumference with a tape measure. Have your child keep a running total as you grocery shop or determine the best deals based on size of products. Make a graph of the most common plants, bugs, or creatures seen on a nature walk. Determine the volume of a jar of sand or work math problems in the sand with a stick. Calculate gas mileage from a road trip. The possibilities are endless!

Be sure to review math facts as you travel. Listen to math fact songs or skip count together as you do chores. (Unfortunately, summer doesn’t mean a break from chores!)

#2 Play math games

Play games to maintain your child’s memory of math facts. Children who struggle with higher-level math usually haven’t mastered their math facts. CTC Math includes a speed skills game and a times tables video game interface that are perfect for maintaining math fact memory.

CTC Math GAmes CTC Math Games

 

On rainy days, break out the math board games. On sunny days, do some active math games outside.  Do math hopscotch. Or have a broad jumping contest. Have the kids calculate their percentage improvement for successive jumps. Maintaining math skills doesn’t have to be boring!

#3 Use a new curriculum to keep skills sharp

Kids usually have no interest in using the same math curriculum in the summer that they’ve used all school year. And who can blame them? Summer is a great time to change things up. The benefits of trying a new approach are:

  • filling in gaps in your child’s math education
  • help explaining concepts that weren’t mastered
  • more motivated students

If you’ve been using a computer-based curriculum, consider using a workbook or print worksheets as needed. If your child enjoys online math, look for a different program for summer.

If you’ve been using printed curriculum, consider using a video or computer-based approach.

Why I’m Using CTC Math to Maintain My Kids’ Math Skills This Summer

CTC Math is a computer-based math curriculum, which is new for my younger students. They use workbooks during the school year. Because it’s online, there are videos that explain math concepts in depth.

CTC Math review

I love that I can select just the topics my kids need to review. Each video and set of questions take just minutes to complete, meaning that I can keep summer lessons short. My kids aren’t bored reviewing concepts they have already mastered.

I tend to lose track of my kids’ activities in the summer, so I love that I can view exactly what my kids have completed (or not).

CTC Math report

Finally, during the summer I don’t have time to do a lot of lesson planning. CTC Math makes it easy for me to assign lessons to keep my kids’ math skills strong. Giving the kids lessons requires just a few mouse clicks!

Of course, CTC Math isn’t just a curriculum for summer. Its benefits make this complete curriculum the perfect choice for the school year, too.

What are you waiting for? Do some living math, play a math game, and consider an alternate curriculum for the summer. CTC Math is an excellent choice.
CTC Math

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