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

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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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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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Trust But Verify: My Homeschool Mom Guilt

Trust But Verify: My Homeschool Mom Guilt

If you have homeschool mom guilt, you’re in good company. We all do. Today I want to help you feel better by sharing just one example of my guilt. And it’s a good one.

Trust But Verify: My Homeschool Mom Guilt

You may have heard about my Quarterly Planner printable. I developed it at the end of one school year to motivate my kids to finish the year well. It worked so brilliantly that I decided to use it every quarter of every year. To provide extra motivation, I promised my kids that we would go out to eat when everyone had finished their work for the quarter.

The kids finished all their work right on schedule. I silently cheered for myself. This little motivational tool was all my idea, after all. Their planners had every box checked off. We had a wonderful time celebrating their achievement at a favorite restaurant.

There was just one little problem:

I hadn’t verified that they had done their work.

I think encouraging my kids to work independently is really important. I allow them to do their math and check their own answers, for example. They are also responsible for some of their own language arts, some Bible, and science. Science, literature/writing have built-in accountability because we do these subjects in our home-based co-op. I have honestly not had to remind them to do their work on these subjects. It’s always done.


So imagine my shock when I discovered that not one, but two of my kids hadn’t been doing their math. I was very, very unhappy with them. They had lied to me. They were disciplined for that. They had to complete the extra work in addition to their current workload and, of course, were not allowed to celebrate with us after the following quarter. We also had many Bible-based discussions about lying.

I was so unhappy about my kids’ behavior, but I was also very, very unhappy with me. I felt incredibly guilty that I had trusted their self-report and hadn’t verified it. I learned that I needed to always oversee their work and check it. I also learned in discussion with my kids why they hadn’t completed their math. Neither of them were understanding their curriculum. If I had talked to them about it sooner, I would have discovered the problem and addressed it. I changed curriculum for both of them and they have been on track ever since. I’ve verified that. 🙂

The moral of this story isn’t just trust, but verify. It’s also that every homeschool mom like every homeschooled child makes mistakes. Our mistakes are never the end of the world. In fact, they’re a good way of experiencing God’s grace anew. They keep us humble. They can draw us closer to others who can relate to our failings. They can even make us laugh.

If you’re feeling guilty, talk to God about it. Talk to your family about it. Talk to your friends about it. My friends at iHomeschool Network are admitting their homeschool mom guilt. My guess is you’ll feel a lot better after reading. Read their stories by clicking here or on the image below. If you’re really feeling brave, tell me your homeschool mom guilt story on Facebook.

Homeschool Mom guilt

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A Sane Approach to Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

A Sane Approach to Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

I am not new to homeschooling. I’ve heard of Charlotte Mason (of course) and I’ve done some reading about her educational philosophy. I’ve thoroughly checked out the Ambleside website, dedicated to providing resources for Charlotte Mason homeschooling. But can I be real with you? I thought it seemed like too much for this homeschooling-in-less-time mama. I don’t have my kids read stacks of dusty, old books. I use traditional science curriculum. I’d like the kids to be outside more, but I’ve had a hard time spending even 15 minutes outside much of the time.

A Sane Approach to Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

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Now I’m going to be really, really honest. I didn’t know that much about Charlotte Mason homeschooling and how it parallels my own sane homeschooling approach until AFTER my interview with Cindy West of Our Journey Westward. Cindy told me about her book Charlotte Mason Homeschooling in 18 Easy Lessons during the interview and I was intrigued. I am game for just about anything in a series of easy lessons! Then I downloaded the book and, girlfriends, was I ever excited!

Why I’m a New Fan of Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

I love, love LOVE this book. I did not know how much Charlotte, Cindy, and I have in common. I actually HAVE been a Charlotte Mason homeschooler in so many respects. For example, I have introduced living literature into all subjects from the beginning. I am not a typical textbook fan, preferring history spines like Mystery of History and historical fiction and biographies instead. I believe in the power of story for teaching and created Grammar Galaxy language arts curriculum out of that philosophy.

I believe, like Charlotte and Cindy, in short lessons. Kids aren’t the only ones with short attention spans. Don’t worry, this won’t be a long article. 🙂 Short lessons are demonstrated to improve learning and they keep moms interested, too.

I also believe in the power of God’s Word for teaching children the faith. I love the curriculum I’ve used to teach my children during our Bible time, but until I read Cindy’s book (including Charlotte’s words), I had forgotten that I need to JUST READ SCRIPTURE to them. I’ll be doing the homework for that easy lesson.

Our Journey Westward

I’m a traditional science person. I have loved having my good friend manage my kids’ labs in our Apologia curriculum on our co-op day. I was thinking that there was no way that I can tromp through the woods every day with my kids drawing in journals (something they do NOT enjoy!). So I dismissed a Charlotte Mason approach to nature study. But Cindy changed my mind. I already have Fridays as a fun day in our homeschool. There is no reason we can’t do one of Cindy’s excellent Creative Nature Walks on Friday. I know my kids would LOVE it! It’s spring as I write and I have a serious case of spring fever. I can’t wait to get out of the house! I know my children feel the same way.

Cindy isn’t a Charlotte Mason purist. I reject legalism. It’s one of the reasons I’m a homeschooler. I want to find a way to incorporate others’ ideas in a way that works for my unique family. Cindy’s book on Charlotte Mason in 18 Easy Lessons helps me do that. She makes it clear that she isn’t studying Shakespeare every week. What a relief! That would be a no-go in my house. Everything that Cindy shares from Charlotte’s philosophy is made accessible for real moms like me. I’ve been homeschooling a long time, but I feel like I’m ready to start fresh! I’m going to do the homework for 18 weeks and I know my children will be cheering.

Giveaway, Goodies & More

Cindy has generously offered my readers a free download on doing nature study Charlotte Mason style. She has also included notebooking pages (on trees, seeds, Easter and more) for a total of 29 pages! That is HUGE! The book is brimming with resources for doing nature study in a practical and fun way. When you download, you’ll also receive updates from me and Cindy, including more ideas on incorporating the Charlotte Mason approach into your saner homeschooling. Click the button below to claim yours.

But that’s not all! Cindy has generously donated FIVE books as a giveaway. They include:

Charlotte Mason Homeschooling in 18 Easy Lessons
Loving Living Math
100+ Creative Nature Walks
Easter Nature Study Through the Holidays
NaturExplorers Incredible Creeks

I gave Facebook Live viewers an inside peek into three of Cindy’s books (CM in 18 Easy Lessons, Loving Living Math, and Creative Nature Walks) on the Psychowith6 Facebook page. Earn entries in the giveaway all week long by commenting on the video and sharing it. Click the page to enter.

I’m still not done! Cindy has gone a little crazy and is offering you 20% everything in her shop with code SANITY until March 28th. You can pick up any of the books in the giveaway, her specific nature studies (like the book on clouds), or her seasonal studies. You’ll be ready to do nature study all year, even when you aren’t formally doing school.

Shop now

Are you ready to make Charlotte Mason homeschooling work for you?

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Supplemental Homeschooling: How to Enrich a Traditional Education

Supplemental Homeschooling: How to Enrich a Traditional Education

A good education is something we all want for our children. I believe that full-time homeschooling has been the best choice for my children. But I know many people for whom that is not an option. However, supplemental homeschooling is always an option for parents whose child is in public or private school. I want to explain what supplemental homeschooling is; why it matters; when you should do it; and finally, how to supplement a traditional education with homeschooling.

Supplemental Homeschooling: How to Enrich a Traditional Education

Want to listen to this article on a podcast? LISTEN HERE or SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES or ON STITCHER

What is Supplemental Homeschooling?

I’ve been hearing more and more lately about hybrid homeschooling and that’s not supplemental homeschooling. I consider hybrid homeschooling any combination of homeschooling and traditional school during regular school hours. For example, I know people who send their child to a public school on certain days of the week or only in the afternoons. I know homeschoolers who are very happy with this arrangement. But I consider these types of schooling situations to be homeschooling and not traditional school. Supplemental homeschooling means you have your child in a traditional school, public or private, but you want to add to their education when they are not in school.

Why Should You Supplement Your Child’s Education with Homeschooling?

The advantages of homeschooling are clear. Not only can homeschooling produce a superior education with its focus on one-on-one tutoring, but it also builds strong relationships between parent and child. It can strengthen a child’s faith when parents provide an enriching spiritual education. It can strengthen sibling relationships, too. If you are new to the possibility of homeschooling, you’ll want to listen to the episode of The Homeschool Sanity Show called Homeschool Motivation on Demand. In it, I remind homeschoolers of the why of homeschooling. 

You may wonder why I’m recommending supplemental homeschooling on a homeschool blog. There are two reasons. First, we all have friends who do not homeschool. Perhaps they can’t afford to give up one income in order to homeschool full-time. Perhaps one or more parents isn’t in favor of full-time homeschooling. Or perhaps one of your friends is just afraid to take the plunge into full-time homeschooling. Whatever the situation, we can suggest supplemental homeschooling and bless both our friends and their children with this amazing lifestyle. However, there is a second reason why supplemental homeschooling is an important topic to address. There may come a time when we send our children to a traditional school. That was the case for me. I did not expect to be sending my oldest son school, but we did. I was thankful that I had these ideas for adding to his traditional education. Even if you homeschool full-time, I think what I have to share will give you ideas for supplementing your child’s education in powerful ways.

When to Supplement a Child’s Education with Homeschooling

The most obvious time for supplemental homeschooling is during school breaks. There are substantial breaks over the Christmas holidays, spring, and summer. Another opportunity for supplemental homeschooling for some students is in the morning before school. Some traditional students have to be at school so early that this may not be an option, but for other families, it would be. Students have time in the afternoon and evenings as well. I was so surprised by how early my son came home from school. In fact, on Wednesdays, he was home very soon after lunch. Those afternoons and evenings are time available for supplemental homeschooling. The next obvious time available for supplemental homeschooling is on weekends. But I know what you’re thinking. Students in traditional school are busy. They tend to have homework and are involved in a number of activities. However, the suggestions that I have should not be overwhelming for a child in traditional school.

How to Supplement with Homeschooling

First, let’s talk about opportunities that would be perfect for longer breaks from school. The most obvious option, which many traditionally schooled kids also take advantage of, is field trips. Homeschoolers love field trips. We tend to take advantage of many of them including those that are a bit off the beaten path. We don’t just go to all the standard institutions of learning like the zoo and the science center, but we find interesting places to take our children to. If you are interested in supplemental homeschooling over a break, I recommend that you look up homeschool field trips in your area. No doubt homeschoolers near you have already put together a list of great field trip opportunities. A second aspect that makes a homeschooling field trip different than one your child might take in a traditional school is the preparation. There are wonderful materials available at some locations’ websites that you can download and work through before you take a trip. But more importantly, you can read a number of books before taking a field trip. In addition to the nonfiction books you would expect, read related fiction. Homeschoolers call such works “living books.” They teach in a more enjoyable and effective way. You can find a list of living books online for just about every topic. If you’re having trouble, request to join a homeschool group on Facebook and ask for tips. I have a safe group that you are welcome to join at Homeschoolers also have amazing free field trip forms for your child to keep track of what they’ve learned on a field trip. Here’s a link to a free field trip form as well as to the Apologia field trip journal that you might be interested in purchasing.

During breaks from traditional school, you may also want to enroll your child in classes. Now, this is nothing new for traditionally schooled children to do. I’m not talking about the typical camps and after-school classes that kids tend to enroll in. Instead, I suggest using the opportunity to have friends or family members who have a skill in a particular area to teach that skill to your child. This is something that homeschoolers often take advantage of. We asked my father-in-law who was a businessman to share with our homeschool co-op how he got started in business. It was one of my favorite memories of teaching my children. He did such a great job. He passed out fake money to the kids that they had to use to pay their wholesalers for products and materials.

Another option for break time would be to enroll your child in a class that is really of interest to him or her. So instead of a traditional art camp, perhaps there is a class that teaches a particular technique. Homeschool support groups in your area are an excellent place to find information about teachers and classes that aren’t widely advertised.

A final way to supplement traditional schooling during break times is to have your child do a clerkship or internship. This means you would talk to someone who has a skill that your child wants to learn in depth. For example, if you have a child who loves photography and you happen to know a photographer, ask the photographer to spend some time teaching your child on the job. Again, this is something that traditionally schooling parents could do, but may not think of it the way that homeschoolers do. Read about how to teach to your child’s talent.

Aside from large breaks from school, what kind of supplemental homeschooling could you do in the mornings before school? This time of day is perfect for some Bible or character study. Reading a short family devotional, memorizing Scripture, or simply reading the Bible out loud together can enrich your child’s spiritual education. If you’re really short on time, you could have your child listen to an audio Bible or to a sermon online. Character Building for Families, Bible Gateway Audio, and Sermon Audio are some of my favorite resources.

But you’re more likely to have time to supplement your child’s education in the afternoon and evening. Of course, the problem with this time of day is that your child is likely to be tired and to have homework to do. However, this is a great time to supplement your child’s history and language arts education. To enrich your child’s history education, watch historical movies together in the evening. YouTube has an amazing number of short historical videos that you can watch as a family. I created a YouTube playlist of videos that go along with volume I of Mystery of History, a superb evening read aloud in its own right. (Note that some of the videos have been deleted since I created the playlists). That’s a great place to start.  If you are interested in full-length movies that teach history, the book Learning with the Movies by Beth Holland is a great resource. You may be able to find these movies for free at the library or on Netflix.

Grammar Galaxy Books

The evenings are also the perfect time to read aloud. Whether you are reading historical biographies or Christian missionary stories like those from YWAM that my family has adored, or you simply choose to read a favorite book aloud, your children will be getting an excellent language arts, history, and even spiritual education in the evening. I created Grammar Galaxy to be a short story-based curriculum that takes just 10 minutes to read. The fun assignments can also be completed in about 10 minutes. If you have an elementary student who does not like to read or who struggles with language arts in school, Grammar Galaxy is a great solution that is perfectly suited to use in the evenings. Download a free lesson to try tonight.

The weekends are the perfect time to supplement your child’s education with science. Kids in traditional school want to spend time with their parents, even if they act like they don’t. Working on a chemistry experiment or robotics project together will be one of your child’s favorite memories. Homeschoolers have amazing resources for doing quick and easy science experiments that use materials you most likely have at home. You can also easily turn a weekend walk into an opportunity for science education. I did a podcast with Cindy West of Nature Explorers, talking about how to do that. 

The weekends are also a perfect time to enrich your child’s cultural education. If there are plays or symphonies that are appropriate for children in your area, take them to see them. If you want to supplement your child’s experience of these plays or musical performances, you might watch related videos on YouTube or do some reading about the composer or play. If your child wants to see a movie that is based on the book, read the book first. As you’re driving during the weekend, take advantage of excellent audio materials. I reviewed some historical audio dramas on CD that I think your kids would love. You can learn a foreign language, memorize facts a la Classical Conversations, and much more. 

Finally, weekends make an excellent time for service activities. Participate in activities through your church, community organization, or create your own. Have your children help you take care of an elderly neighbor’s lawn or stock shelves at a food pantry. These experiences not only build character but can be added to an older student’s resume leading to a potential scholarship. 

What are you waiting for?

Supplemental homeschooling can make a huge difference in a child’s life and can strengthen family bonds as well. Please share this post on supplemental homeschooling with your traditionally schooling friends and keep this information available in the event that you send your child to school. Add some of these ideas to what you’re already doing if you homeschool full-time and you’ll be blessed.

Which of these ideas will you use first? Let’s chat about it on Facebook.

Supplemental Homeschooling

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Not Qualified: What Can’t You Just Be?

Not Qualified: What Can’t You Just Be?

I had just met a woman in ministry when I told her that after I finished my Ph.D. in clinical psychology, I wanted to be a Christian psychologist.

“You can’t just be a Christian psychologist,” she said.


I tried to listen to what she said after that about qualifications and training, but I was stuck on that sentence. I was annoyed. How did she know? Why couldn’t I be a Christian psychologist if that’s what I wanted to do? What I felt called to do? At the same time, I was scared. When I entered graduate school, my classmates and I were stunned to learn all the requirements we had to fulfill in order to be practicing psychologists. Maybe this woman was right. I would have another whole list of requirements to meet to be a faith-based counselor.

When I finished my internship and graduated, I applied for a job with a Christian practice. I had to complete a questionnaire about my faith as part of my application. When I was interviewed, I worried that it would become apparent that I didn’t have the qualifications. I had earned my degree in a secular university. My father wasn’t a pastor. My family hadn’t even gone to church most of my life. Maybe he would say, “You can’t just be a Christian psychologist.”

To my surprise, he said nothing of the sort. I was hired and given my own office. Then I was scared again. I had never brought my faith into the counseling room. How would I do that? Fortunately, there were books on Christian counseling that I bought and read. I also had a Christian psychologist supervising me for my first year. But many times I found myself at a loss as to what to say or do with a client. I would say, “Let’s pray!” To my surprise, my clients were pleased with that idea.

Not Qualified to Be a Teacher

I was, in fact, able to just be a Christian psychologist. But that lesson didn’t stick with me. I struggled with it when I was hired to teach developmental psychology at the university. I had a Ph.D., but I had never taught students of any age before, let alone college students. I ordered the recommended textbook, did some of the things my professors had done to teach me, and came up with some of my own ideas. I had a good response from the students, ended up loving it, and my supervisor said he would be glad to hire me again. I quit teaching to have a baby, though, and faced a whole new round of qualification issues. I really didn’t think it was wise for the hospital to let me take the baby home. I hadn’t even done much babysitting!

I muddled my way through parenting the same way I had counseling and teaching. But when God called me to homeschool, I worried that I didn’t have the qualifications for that either. I had taught college students, but I had never taught anyone to read. What if I couldn’t do it? I had never taken an elementary education course. Once again, I managed to do it with reading and wisdom from others. I even began to feel qualified to teach my own children. In more than one discussion with people who asked about homeschooling, I was told that it was fine for me with a Ph.D. Other people, though, weren’t qualified to teach their children. I did what I could to educate them. “There are books, curricula, and support groups to help anyone homeschool,” I would say. And I believed it.

But when it came to me, I still believed that woman who said I couldn’t just be something. I had to be qualified. I had to be trained.

Fast, Easy, Fun Language Arts

Not Qualified to Be a Homeschool Publisher

When I had the idea for writing my own language arts curriculum, I started off in the true spirit of homeschooling. I just jumped in and learned as I went along. I started writing the curriculum I’d always wanted to have for my kids. But as I came closer to finishing it, I got stuck. I made excuses. I quit working on it. I didn’t feel qualified.

I then had the opportunity to meet with a small group of homeschool publishers. I figured I could at least say that I was a blogger if I chickened out in admitting that I was writing curriculum. I met Charlene Notgrass, whose history curriculum I had used with my children. She was so warm that I decided to tell her what I was working on. I told her the concept behind it — that I would use story to teach language arts concepts and make them funny and memorable.

I expected her to ask me about my experience in writing fiction and curriculum. I expected her to ask me about my experience in homeschool publishing. I expected her to tell me what I needed to do before I ever thought of trying to publish. I expected her to say, “You can’t just be a homeschool publisher.”

How foolish of me. I recently read the story of Orville and Wilbur Wright in another history curriculum my kids have enjoyed, Mystery of History. The Wright brothers were high school dropouts. Apparently, no one told them that they couldn’t just be engineers, or they couldn’t just be inventors. Because that’s exactly what they were.

The heart of homeschooling is that we can just be our children’s teacher. Not only that, but our children can just be whatever God calls them to be. As the saying goes, “God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.”

I shouldn’t have been surprised when Charlene’s face lit up when I told her about my curriculum. She got her husband’s and others’ attention and told them about it, too. That encouragement gave me the extra confidence I needed to finish Grammar Galaxy. Charlene found me at the homeschool conference where I exhibited it for the first time and hugged me.

Taken the day the books arrived

Taken the day the books arrived

That was just nine months ago. Since that time, many moms who have used Grammar Galaxy with their kids have told me their kids beg to use it every day. They’ve told me it’s changed their homeschools because now their kids love to read. They tell me they are using it to learn grammar themselves because it was not their strong suit.

I will be launching Volume 2 of Grammar Galaxy, specifically designed for 3rd graders or students who have completed Nebula (for beginning readers), on February 6th. I will offer special pricing on it and on bundles of volumes 1 and 2. Sign up to be reminded of the sale date.

I now believe I can just be a homeschool publisher. I also believe you can just be a home educator. I believe you can raise excellent readers and writers, even if you don’t think you can.

What don’t you believe you can just be? Let’s chat about it on Facebook.

NOT QUALIFIED: What can't you "Just be"?

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