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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Howie Mandel Unit Study

Howie Mandel Unit Study

The iHomeschool Network bloggers have been sharing unit studies on famous people whose birthdays are that month. I wanted to get in on the fun! But I’m unconventional. I chose to create a unit study on a contemporary comedian who is also unconventional: Howie Mandel.


In the process of creating a unit study on Howie Mandel, I learned a lot. I hope our kids will, too. I love the idea of taking a day to study something completely different. Don’t you?

A unit study of Howie Mandel gives us the opportunity to learn about topics we don’t spend a lot of time on in a traditional school day:

  • Selling
  • Voice overs
  • ADD
  • OCD
  • Comedy writing, and more!

Howie’s life also serves as a reminder that individual differences can be the source of our success!

Because I love learning new things, I decided to use this unit study as an opportunity to learn a new platform: Teachable. This online learning site allowed me to put this unit study into a series of lessons, including videos and websites. I’ve even opened the comments on the last section so kids can share their funny material. I’ve made the unit study free since I’m working the bugs out.


I hope you and your kids enjoy it. Let me know what you think of the platform or if you have any questions.

If your kids like funny writing, be sure to download my funny writing prompts for fall. Better yet, purchase Grammar Galaxy — a curriculum that makes reading and writing fun every day.

If you enjoy unit studies, be sure to check out the other November birthday unit studies from iHN.



Image credit: By Matt Ottosen, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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10 Crazy Easy Homeschool Lunch Ideas

10 Crazy Easy Homeschool Lunch Ideas

10 Crazy Easy HS Lunch IdeasWhen you’re the teacher, the last thing you want is a long lunch duty shift. These crazy easy homeschool lunch ideas can buy you some relaxation time–especially if you have the kids make lunch!

I need easy and filling ideas because I have three teen boys still at home and a work-from-husband to feed. This is what we have for lunch on a regular basis. We typically add cold veggies (baby carrots, peppers, sugar snap peas, cucumbers) or salad to these entries. Each meal serves 6-8, so modify serving sizes as needed:

#1 French Bread Pizza

We love pizza as you will see from our lunch ideas, but we like a little variety like we get from this meal.


2 loaves of wide French bread, cut in half lengthwise

1 jar of pizza sauce

3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 package pepperoni, 1 package of sausage crumbles, or both


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put French bread cut side up on cookie sheet. Spread each loaf with pizza sauce. Sprinkle each loaf generously with mozzarella cheese. Cover each loaf with desired amount of pepperoni and sausage. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and beginning to brown around the edges. Slice and serve.

#2 Buffalo Chicken French Bread Pizza

This is just as good with canned chicken!

#3 Pizza Roll-ups

We serve these with marinara and they are absolutely fabulous!

#4 Pizza Burgers

This is my Aunt Sharon’s recipe. You can make up a bunch of these to freeze. Wrap them in aluminum foil and bake them frozen at 350 for 45 – 50 min. Save time by browning ground beef ahead of time and freezing in bags. Pop the frozen beef into the microwave and in just a few minutes, your lunch will be ready.

Pizza Burger Recipe


2 pounds lean ground beef

12 hamburger buns

2 cans tomato soup

2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1.5 cups low fat shredded mozzarella cheese


Brown ground beef. Drain ground beef. Add soup, season, cheese and heat through. Serve on buns immediately or bake for 15 minutes at 350 for crusty sandwiches.

#5 Homemade Hot Sub Sandwiches

Again, we often eat regular cold sandwiches on sliced bread, but there’s something about hot sandwiches on French bread that makes lunch more exciting. The bonus is that they’re cheaper than restaurant fare!


3 sandwich-size loaves of French bread, sliced midway lengthwise

Your favorite deli meats (we use smoked turkey, hard salami, and sandwich-style pepperoni)

Your favorite deli sliced cheese (we use cheddar cheese slices from Sams Club)

Your favorite condiments (we love Miracle Whip and at least one of us adds mustard)


Assemble sandwiches. We like to add our condiments before baking, but you may like to add them later. Bake at 350 F for 5-6 minutes or until cheese is melted and the bread is beginning to get crusty.

#6 Chicken Quesadillas

These are so easy and yet they are so good, especially when served with sour cream and salsa.


2 cans white chicken meat, drained

6 large flour tortillas

2 T chili powder

2 cups shredded Mexican-style cheese (I use the 2% fat kind)

Salsa & sour cream as condiments


Preheat oven to 450 F. Mix chicken and chili powder in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook for two minutes on high * Meanwhile, spray a large flat cookie sheet (no raised edges) with olive oil cooking spray. Arrange 3 tortillas on sheet. Spread warmed chicken mixture evenly on tortillas. Cover with shredded cheese. Top with remaining tortillas. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until tortilla begins to brown and curl. Cut each tortilla into four pieces with a pizza cutter. Serve with desired condiments.

#7 Burritos

We serve these with con queso and sour cream and they’re as good as restaurant fare and so easy!

#8 Nachos

So it isn’t the healthiest lunch, but it’s probably the quickest. When I’m in a hurry, there’s nothing like nachos to get lunch to the table fast.


1 bag tortilla chips 1 jar con queso dip 3 cups shredded Mexican cheese 1 can chili with beans S our cream


Put a layer of tortilla chips on a microwave-safe plate. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and/or con queso. Repeat layer. Spoon chili on top and heat in microwave until cheese is melted and chili is hot. Dot with sour cream and serve.

#9 BBQ Crockpot Chicken Sandwiches

Start this  easy recipe early in the morning and it will be ready at lunch time. Ingredients 1 bag rinsed, frozen chicken breasts or tenderloins 1 bottle barbecue sauce 12 hamburger buns Directions Add a liner to your crockpot, followed by the chicken and the barbecue sauce. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Shred with two forks or even better, use your hand mixer while the meat is still in the crockpot. Serve on hamburger buns.

#10 Leftovers

My favorite lunch by far. I intentionally make extra at dinner, usually in my crockpot. Be sure to check out my 6 Crazy Easy Crockpot Recipes. Make leftovers more appealing by writing what you have on a dry erase board on your fridge. My daughter loves this job! It’s a great way to work on handwriting. Leftovers on a dry erase board If you need help with meal planning, be sure to pick up a copy of my free ebook. If you want more lunch ideas, follow my Pinterest board and be sure to read the other iHomeschool Network bloggers’ ideas. I know I will be! Follow Dr. Melanie Wilson @psychowith6’s board Lunch Recipes to Try on Pinterest.



top ten homeschool lunch ideas, recipes

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How to Teach to Your Child’s Talent

How to Teach to Your Child’s Talent

How to Teach to Your Child's Talent. Make the most of your child's strengths!Early in my homeschooling, I was blessed to hear Joyce Herzog say:

Our children are unlikely to be employed in their areas of weakness. Most likely they will be employed in their area of strength.

Yet we tend to focus an inordinate amount of teaching time on fixing weaknesses–not maximizing strengths.

But exactly how can we make a connection between our child’s strengths and future employment?

I had no idea until I met Jonathan Harris and read his book How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent. I loved the idea of putting all the pieces of my child’s life together (his strengths, his interests, our family’s interests, and the resources available) and seeing what picture appeared. I did work through the exercises in the book and had some vague ideas of what skills my two oldest boys still at home should be focusing on. I even wrote about it here. But frankly, I put it on the back burner. More pressing matters took precedence until Jonathan contacted me and offered to do a consultation. I’m so glad he did.

I suspect that most homeschoolers are like I am–not overly concerned about our children’s future until it’s time to think about college or employment after graduation. And that’s a shame. We have so much more time to devote to developing our children’s talents than parents whose children are in traditional schools. I wasn’t taking advantage of the time and Jonathan motivated me.

Our Consultation

Jonathan and I spoke about both my sons–their strengths and their interests. Then I shared with him that our family has a passion for selling books. One of my sons had already helped my husband at a librarians’ conference and the next oldest would be doing so at the upcoming conference. I explained that my current passion was to write a language arts curriculum and start a homeschool publishing company that my kids could be a part of. Even as I spoke, I was starting to make some connections. And can I say what a joy it was to talk about my sons? What a rare opportunity it was to share with someone else the gifts I see in them and the hopes and dreams my husband and I have for their future. Jonathan gave me the assignment of completing the questions in his book again and determining what talent we might work on developing in the coming months.

Family Discussion

After finishing my homework, I talked with my husband and the boys. I originally thought that my younger son would love to help my husband in his business, but my husband didn’t feel he would have enough meaningful work to keep him busy. We decided that we wanted him to have a business education so we planned to have him work through Micro Business for Teens. I felt my older son, with a gift for grammar, would be well suited to helping me complete the curriculum I’m writing. We agreed to pay him a training wage while I was teaching him and then more as he was working independently.

I reported our plans to Jonathan, who thought we were on the right track. I thanked him profusely, because I hadn’t really thought how my son’s talent could be developed in a way that fit with our family goals, too.


Jonathan asked me how things were going and I told him, but things have changed since my report.

I trained my older son to format the text I had written. Everything went well and he was meticulous, so I was pleased. But a problem came up. He began studying in earnest for the ACT and taking outside classes and doing more at church. I couldn’t get him to devote time to it, pay or no.

My younger son had a similar issue with new curriculum coming to my attention that I wanted him to use. The Micro Business books kept getting put on the back burner.

I still needed help formatting my books, so I started looking into hiring a foreign editor. The experience I’ve had hiring non-English speaking people for other work had me cringing at the thought of explaining what I wanted done. Then I realized that my younger son was completely capable of formatting text. I just hadn’t thought of him, because I was so focused on my older son’s English gift.

I sat down to train my younger son how to format the workbook material and he took to it immediately. Not only that, but he is much more motivated by money than his older brother (thus, we wanted him to learn about business). What I found is that my younger son’s enthusiasm motivated my older son. He is having to spend less ACT prep time, so will return to formatting the text for me. Meanwhile I am beyond thrilled with all the help. I will be able to publish the first volume sooner than I had expected. Meanwhile, I will be able to include my younger son in the business side of what I’m doing–invaluable hands-on learning. Our original plan is still intact (my younger son will work through Micro Business for Teens), but his experience helping me is the primary focus.

How You Can Teach to Your Child’s Talent

This experience isn’t just helpful if you have a family business. Jonathan’s personal story of how his son began selling drone photography services to businesses is fascinating! You can determine how to steer your child toward his strengths, too.

First, get your copy of How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent. I am an affiliate because I believe in the process.

Second, contact Jonathan for a consultation. Yes, it’s a paid service, but it’s so worth it to get direction in helping to shape your child’s future. I appreciate so much that Jonathan shares my Christian values and recognizes the power of prayer in the process.

Third, engage your child and spouse in prayerful discussion. It’s exciting to grow beyond math and science and literature to life application. In this ever-changing economy, we have to do all we can to help our kids develop their talents in a way that makes them valuable employees or producers.

Fourth, begin training. You may not be the one who will teach your child the skills he needs to develop his talent, but you can arrange the teaching–whether that means purchasing materials or getting a tutor. If you are the primary teacher as I am, be sure to schedule time for training so it doesn’t get put on the back burner. (I’m speaking to myself here, too!)

Finally, keep evaluating how it’s going. My experience shows you that your first plan may not be the best one, but you will succeed with perseverance and prayer.

Be sure to follow my high school reviews board on Pinterest. High school reviews are hard to find! And if you want more ideas for teaching to your child’s strengths, Growing a Successread the “How to Grow Your Child” posts from iHomeschool Network.

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Top 10 Psychowith6 Posts of 2014: Did You Miss Any?

Top 10 Psychowith6 Posts of 2014: Did You Miss Any?

Top 10 Psychowith6 Posts of 2014. Did you miss any?I love to write, but I really love to write about the topics that matter most to you. The top 10 most popular posts help me determine that. Did you miss any of these? If so, click the title to read them.

Here’s to a great new year of discovery and sanity-savers. Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and sharing. You are a blessing!

#1 Ultimate Guide to Classical Conversations Resources

Classical Conversations has become extremely popular with homeschoolers and this huge list of resources organized by cycle and subject area seems to be helpful for those enrolled in the program and those who are curious about it.

#2 Why College Students & CEOs Manage Time the Same Way

This guest post by Francis Wade really resonated with readers and with me personally. In fact, it made me change how I manage my busy life. Don’t miss this one!

#3 Review of Hoffman Academy Piano Lessons for Kids

I was really blown away by the quality of the free piano instruction Joseph Hoffman supplies and I couldn’t wait to recommend it to readers. Apparently I’m not alone in my opinion! I enjoyed a great conversation with Joseph on my podcast that I link to as well.

#4 52-Week Get Organized Homeschool Challenge

I started this challenge at the beginning of 2014 and it has grown in popularity as we begin a new year. I am going to be removing the dated calendars, so you can choose to do the challenges in order or when it works for you. Get your homeschool organized in just an hour a week!

#5 A Better Daily Weekly Monthly To-Do List

My experimentation with a daily, weekly, monthly to-do list was very popular in 2013, so I wasn’t surprised when my recommendation of another list of this type turned out to be very popular. Would it work for you?

#6 The Daily Devotions Challenge

I will say that I was a little surprised by the popularity of this challenge, but happily so. I shared my approach to personal, couple, and family devotions and how to make them habits. I was surprised that so many haven’t found the right approach to make devotions a part of their lives, but I am thrilled by the heartfelt desire to make it happen.

#7 The To-Do List Challenge

Anything to do with to-do lists is popular on Psychowith6 and this post where I give suggestions for how to manage one is no exception. What’s most important is not the type of list you use, but your commitment to using one consistently. Get the inspiration you need here.

#8 The Fall Bucket List Challenge

I knew bucket lists were popular, but I didn’t know what a happening time fall is on Pinterest. I you love fall bucket lists, pin this post so you’re ready way ahead of time.

#9 How to Set Goals That Work

Tom Dixon wrote this post and since no longer has his Monday is Good blog, but I think you’ll be inspired by his excellent goal-setting advice.

#10 The Daily Routine Challenge

Routines have changed my life. It’s hard for me to believe that I once had a willy-nilly-not-so-happy lifestyle, but I did. Complete this challenge for a routine that could change your life, too.

Top 10 ihomeschool Network posts

You’ll enjoy reading the other iHomeschool Network bloggers’ top ten posts of 2014.

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5 Days of Christmas Fun

5 Days of Christmas Fun

5 Days of Christmas Fun. Easy fun Christmas games, writing activities, crafts, books, and movies for your kids with supply list.Are you in need of a break from your regular homeschool schedule? Me too! But when it comes to deciding how to inject a little Christmas fun into our days, I can become overwhelmed. Yes, there are TOO MANY ideas to sift through!

But sift through them I did and I created a plan for five days of Christmas fun for elementary school kids that doesn’t require lots of prep time or expense. You can do a whole school week of fun or have a fun day once a week. You may not want to do everything I’ve chosen, but at least you have a good starting point for your own plans. Here we go!

5 Days of Christmas fun plan and supply list. Enter the cash giveaway, too!

The Plan

Download the PDF and you’ll have all the links you need when you need them AND a supply list for each activity. Don’t want to purchase the books? Check your church library or substitute books you already own. I got all four of the Hallmark videos listed for under $8. But you may be able to find them on Netflix. You could easily substitute movies you own, get movies from the library, or check your TV listings and record movies you’d like to see.

Check out my Christmas Inspiration board on Pinterest where you’ll find photos of these crafts, snacks, and games.
Follow Dr. Melanie Wilson @psychowith6’s board Christmas Inspiration on Pinterest.

5 Days of Christmas from iHomeschool Network

More Fun

Be sure to check out iHomeschool Network’s other 5 Days of posts for even more great ideas this month. And what would be more fun than winning over $400 to spend this Christmas? Enter to win the giveaway below!

Stocking Stuffer Giveaway


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