Author Archives: yannimama

A Homeschooling Primer


So, you’re thinking about homeschooling. Maybe you have a tiny one, not yet in preschool, and you just know that this is what God is calling you to do. Maybe your friends homeschool. Maybe your child is registered to start Kindergarten at the local public school, but you have a niggling feeling that that isn’t what is right for him or her. Maybe you have a teenager, and something is going really wrong at school. You have to pull her NOW, and you just don’t know what to do.

Regardless of the reason, if you are just thinking about homeschooling, here is the nitty-gritty basics of what you need to know NOW to get started.

What to Do First

So, you have decided to homeschool. What do you need to do first? Unfortunately, the legal aspect needs to be taken care of immediately. Each state has its own idea of what this looks like, and it varies from low to high regulation, depending on where you live. Before you let that discourage you, let me assure that many, many people do this each year, so it is completely possible. But, unless you live in a state like Idaho, you will likely have to jump through some hoops in order to homeschool. In our state, we need to file several papers, including a proposed monthly hour count and a list of curriculum. If you aren’t sure what the requirements are for your state, you can check them out at HEDUA.

Be sure that you follow the letter of the law concerning your homeschooling paperwork. Do not pull a child out of school until you have completed whatever procedures are required, or you may be subject to truancy laws.

Find a Friend, Homeschooling Group, or Co-op

If you can find a veteran homeschooler in your community, it will help you immensely. For one thing, if you haven’t been at home full time before you may find it very lonely. Having another adult to talk to can be a real blessing. For another, she will understand the laws for your state and can help you navigate them (and if you live in a high regulation state you will especially appreciate this!). Most veterans are happy to lend a helping hand to a newbie, since they were there once themselves. If you don’t know any homeschoolers, try your local library. They often know families in the area that homeschool and can help you get in touch. If your area has a homeschooling group or co-op, get in contact with the leader. If you can’t find a local group, try searching for a state-wide group online. They will probably be aware of any smaller groups in your area.

After You File the Paperwork

Now that you have your paperwork filed, what should you do next? It’s time to decide what you are going to teach. If you are homeschooling a Kindergartener, this is pretty simple. Most of your child’s day should be spent exploring and learning in a very organic, natural way. Play dough, nature study, cooking lessons, listening to audio books, singing, listening to music, coloring, drawing, playing pretend. Lessons for a Kindergartener that require sitting and concentration should be short and include breaks in between. There are literally hundreds of homeschool sites online for early learning with free ideas and printables. If you want some regular curriculum as well, a basic language and math curriculum are really all you need.

If you are pulling an older child, your situation will probably be quite different. It depends on what caused you to pull your child, among other things. Leaving school, for whatever reason, will likely be emotional for your child. And, if you are pulling a child out of a bad situation, even more so. Allow both you and your child some grace in the early days. While you do need to teach-you have made a commitment to do so-you can still allow your child some time to ‘deschool.’ Others with more experience have written about this, but in short, take some time to read aloud, go on field trips, spend time outdoors, go on long walks, and TALK. Then, gradually add in school subjects. If you are pulling mid-year, you might consider continuing whichever courses your child was completing in school. But this is not absolutely necessary, so do what is easiest and best for your family.

Your state may have curriculum requirements as well. Ours requires language, math, social studies, science, and health. Start with those and Bible, if you intend to teach it, first. If your state doesn’t have subject requirements, start with Bible, then “reading, writing, and arithmetic,” and then move on to social studies and science. The extras can be filled in later. You can choose ready-made curriculum for the core subjects. We’ll discuss that in a minute. But, you can also use free resources online. There is a ready-made course of study for each grade at World Book Encyclopedia that is helpful for creating your own curriculum.

Finding Resources

There is so much homeschool curriculum out there that it can be overwhelming. As a beginner, know that no curriculum is perfect. If you find yourself emergency homeschooling in the middle of the year, keep it simple. One tendency of beginning homeschoolers is to think that they have to do it all, teach it all, and not miss anything. As a former classroom teacher, let me assure you that even the best public school teachers skip things, miss things, or run out of time to finish a book before the end of the year.

Ask homeschooling friends (or online groups) what curriculum they use. Get their input, but don’t choose it just because it is what your friend uses. Choose what you think will be best for you and your child. Also, know that most homeschoolers make choices in curriculum at some time-often more than once-in their homeschooling career that they are not happy with. It is perfectly acceptable to realize that something isn’t working for you, ditch it, and find something else.

Here are some of my favorite resources for purchasing curriculum:

Getting Ready to Teach

Now that you have your paperwork taken care of, decided what you are going to teach, and purchased curriculum, it’s time to prepare to teach. Spend some time looking through your curriculum. Then, set up a basic weekly schedule. Be flexible. It may take awhile to figure out what works best for you.

Set up a teaching area. For some families, that means a schoolroom. For others, it means a cupboard. For our family, we have a closet and a dresser that contain the majority of our “active” school supplies (we have bookshelves and boxes in the basement, and tubs in the attic for supplies we are not currently using). We mostly school at our kitchen table and in our living room, with the kids doing independent work in their bedrooms. If you are just beginning, start simple and allow yourself room to grow. You do not need a full-fledged classroom with a chalkboard and school desks. I repeat, you do not need a chalkboard and school desks. Start simple. A table or regular room desk will work just fine. If your child is like mine, you will spend most of your time sitting on the couch or floor anyway!

Once You’ve Gotten Started

After you have your homeschooling under way, it is helpful to learn more about homeschooling. There are many resources on this blog to help you, including my list of top homeschool how-to books.

A Final Note

If you are thinking of homeschooling, especially if you are considering pulling an older child, I’m guessing that you might feel overwhelmed right now. Take a deep breath. I want to encourage you that YOU CAN DO THIS! Just take it one step at a time and don’t worry about trying to make it look like what you think everyone else is doing. You will soon be the homeschooling veteran offering help to those who come after you.




Educating the Wholehearted Child


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I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson was my number one Homeschool How-to resource. I read it every summer, and have upgraded my copy each time a new edition has come out. I am currently on the third edition. If you have either of the first two editions and enjoy them, the third edition is a hefty upgrade and I ‘wholeheartedly’ endorse it. Smile

I’ve read several helpful homeschool books, so why is Educating the Wholehearted Child my favorite? Two reasons pop into my mind immediately. First of all, it is so practical. And, secondly, the advice within brings a sense of peace and calm. Many a homeschooling book has brought a sense of pressure, condemnation, and not doing enough, however unintentional. But Educating the Wholehearted Child makes me feel like homeschooling is a doable venture. And I appreciate that.


Educating the Wholehearted Child is written from a Christian perspective. One of my favorite parts of the book is their model for learning, called the wholehearted learning model. Shown as a picture of a house, the base is biblical, discipleship studies, upon which the rest of learning is built. Disciplined, Discussion, and Discovery studies make up the bulk of the house and include basic skills, literature, fine arts, history, and science. Discretionary studies form the roof, and include electives.

The first part of Educating the Wholehearted Child gives an introduction to homeschooling, including Scripture supporting it and comparisons with regular education models. In the sections on learning and methods, schools of homeschooling are explained, such as the Charlotte Mason and unit study methods. The wholehearted learning model is presented in detail, including learning objectives, suggestion methods, and materials for each type of study. Helpful sidebars and “in our home” sections offer practical advice and show that the authors are not just giving the reader theory, but has actually practiced the principles in their own home.

The final section provides resources on making homeschooling work for your family. It includes several articles written from one homeschooling dad to another. The rest discusses planning, keeping the home under control while homeschooling, and keeping mom from getting burnt out. The appendix lists helpful books and includes forms that can be used for planning purposes and for managing the home.

If you are just beginning your homeschooling journey, this is the one book I would recommend you read before you start. And if you have been homeschooling awhile, you can still glean excellent advice from Educating the Wholehearted Child. I am just about ready to read it again-for the 8th time-as I head into another year of homeschooling. I know by the time I am done that I will be pepped up, recommitted to our education choice, and ready to go!

7 Bad Reasons to Homeschool


While I am very much a homeschooling advocate, and I think that many more people should consider it than do—though homeschool is growing at a rapid rate—I also do not believe that it is for everyone. And, if certain reasons are your primary motivation for homeschooling, it is probably not for you. So, here you go, my top seven bad reasons for homeschooling:

7. Because it’s too much work to (get your kids up in the morning, make them do their homework, be on time, etc.) If any of your reasons begin with “because it is too much work” they are probably not a good reason to homeschool. Homeschooling IS work. If you are going to do it effectively, it will likely take just about every spare moment you have. It will not save you work. Now, if you are just intending to keep your kids home and not teach them, that MIGHT save you work—but you wouldn’t really be homeschooling, either.

6. Because your friend Alice does it. Did your mother ever ask you, “If Charles jumped off a bridge would you do it, too?” The same principle applies here. If God is calling you AND Alice to homeschool, that’s great. But don’t just do it because Alice is. Alice may have a completely different calling on her life. On the flip side, many a person has been inspired to consider homeschooling by seeing her friend doing it—and that’s okay! Just be sure to count the cost before you jump in headlong.

5. Because you want to keep your kids away from other kids. Kids still need friendships with other kids their age—as well as a variety of ages. One of the great things about homeschooling is that you are more aware of who your child is spending time with and can help them choose good friends. But not NO friends.

4. Because you want your children to be smarter than everyone else’s. Homeschooling can provide an outstanding, tailor-made education for your child. But it does NOT guarantee that your child will be a genius.

3. Because homeschooled kids are perfect and always obey and get along with their siblings and mind their manners and say “yes, Ma’am and no, Sir.” Excuse me while I wipe my drink off the computer screen. Smile Homeschooling parents deal with discipline problems just like any parent, and spending so much time with our kids—and our kids with their siblings—obedience problems can actually be compounded. Homeschooling does, however, give you more time to work on these issues. And carefully choosing companions can help, as well.

2. Because your child is your whole world and you can’t stand to be away from him. No child should be put in this position. If this is true, you are going to have a hard time on the day your last child leaves the nest. Homeschooling is not the answer to any of your own personal problems.

1. Because you are afraid. Homeschooling needs to be done in faith. We can’t possibly completely protect our child from everything. If you feel God is calling you to homeschool to have a positive influence on your child, that is one thing. But if you are AFRAID of what might happen if your child goes to school, you are homeschooling for the wrong reason.

Why We Homeschool


While we get many different questions about homeschooling, probably one of the hardest to answer is the “why” question, because there are so many different answers. There isn’t just one pat, easy answer. So, I sometimes tailor my answer to the audience. And sometimes I give a fuller explanation. But sometimes, it’s easier to just begin with:

Why Did We Start?

When it came time for Boo to go to school, she would have attended the school that I went to as a child—the school I taught in for six years. I had colleagues there that I loved. Our decision to homeschool had nothing to do with concerns about the education she would receive. But they had begun all day kindergarten the last year that I had taught, and Boo had some issues with separation anxiety when she was young. And I was running a home daycare, so she would have had to ride the bus. So, I would have put my baby on the bus at 7:00 and gotten her home at 4:30. I just didn’t think that would be good for her.

So, we decided to homeschool. I figured that she was only five. If it turned out that homeschooling wasn’t for us, she could go to public school as an older, more mature Kindergartener the next year. But it turned out that we were hooked, and homeschooling gradually became more of a way of life and less of an educational choice.


Other Reasons We Homeschool

While all day Kindergarten was the reason we really began homeschooling, we continue on for a varied number of reasons. The most important one being that we feel it is what God has called  us to do, but there are many other reasons as well:

  • I enjoy the extra time that it gives us to be with our children. When they were younger, my husband worked a rotating shift that would have made spending time with our daughter very difficult if she had been in school. Even now, with a much more regular schedule, homeschooling means we can work around his holidays and days off so the kids spend more time with their dad. And being home with them all day means that I spend a lot more time with them, too!
  • We believe it is important for our children to have friends of various ages. Homeschooling has allowed us to be proactive in helping our kids find good friendships that will edify them.
  • I love learning right along with our children, and knowing what they are learning. Children with parents who are active in their education tend to do better in school. How much more active can you be than providing the education yourself?
  • My son’s learning style and activity level probably would not have lent itself to being successful in the classroom. He learned to read bouncing around on an exercise ball, and movement is an important part of our day. Having taught primary kids, I saw many boys who just didn’t do well with needing to sit.
  • We can intertwine biblical studies throughout their education. While we do have “Bible” class, history, literature, reading, science—even math are presented from a biblical perspective.
  • Homeschooling has given us more time. While we haven’t managed to completely avoid the modern-day rat race, we have been able to give our children the gift of more time—more time for play, more time for family—and more time for sleep.

These are just some of the reasons that we continue to homeschool. There are many more benefits as well. While we have sacrificed time, energy, and money in order to do so, it has been a sacrifice well worth it, in my opinion.

So, what about you. If your family homeschools, are these some of the reasons or do you have others? If you are thinking about homeschooling, have these ideas given you some food for thought?


Our 2014-2015 Homeschool Schedule


Our ballgame days are heading to the finish line, so I have been turning my attention to getting everything in order for the start of our new school year. I am planning to start the last week of August. While I actually have been doing some planning for months now, particularly for Boo’s high school classes, the next month is the time I focus a concentrated effort on it.  So far I have most of Buddy’s assignment’s scheduled and about half of Boo’s. Because I decided to write my own literature and geography curriculum for Boo (WHAT WAS I THINKING! Smile ), I am still working on writing up questions.

This year looks very different from other years. Between Boo being in high school, my working part time, and both kids becoming more independent, the kids will be doing more work independently of me and each other. This makes me a bit nostalgic for the days of working together on various projects and reading aloud, but I am also very excited about the different possibilities.

Our Schedule

Although this is our pen-and-paper (or in this case, word processor) schedule, one day rarely looks like another around here. I am also giving Boo the freedom to rearrange her independent classes to whatever suits her best. But this gives us a general guideline:

2014-2015 Schedule


Pink is Boo’s independent color, blue is Buddy’s. Boo with me is orange, Buddy with me is purple. All of us together is green. You can see that after 1 PM consists of independent work for the kids, which will allow me to get my own work done.

So, how about you? Do you make up a schedule? Is it very different this year or pretty much the same?

A Teenager’s Perspective on Homeschooling: Boo


I thought it would be fun to interview my 14-year-old daughter today and get her perspective on homeschooling. While I was pretty sure what many of her answers would be, a few surprised me. Here you have a homeschooled teenager’s thoughts about homeschooling.


1. Do you like being homeschooled? Why?

Yes, I do. I can work at my own pace without worrying about what others are doing.


2. Is there anything you think you miss out on by not attending school outside your home?

No, I don’t think so.


3. What do you like the most about homeschooling? The least?

I like getting to stay at home the most, and I like being with my brother all day the least.


4. What are your favorite and least favorite subjects?

My favorite subject is history. I like math the least.



5. What activities do you do? Which is your favorite?

I play softball and piano, and I was an AWANA LIT. My favorite is softball.


6. What do you want to do when you graduate?

I think I might like to be a doctor or a nurse.


7. What was one of your favorite homeschooling experiences?

When we dissected a pig’s heart and a fetal pig in Anatomy.


8. What is your favorite part of the homeschool day?

After lunch when we are almost done and are doing history. I also like spelling.


9. How do you make friends while homeschooling?

I make friends when I participate in activities, go to church and AWANA, play sports, or at Co-op.


10. Why do you think your parents chose to homeschool you?

Because that’s what God told them to do.


And there you have it: what Boo had to say about homeschooling. Smile

10 Must-Have Homeschool How-Tos


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This time of year I am deep in the planning stages for our next school year. I enjoy planning, but I also know that summer is advancing rapidly, and I need to get it done! Even so, I always take some time every summer to read at least one “homeschool how-to”—a book that pumps me up and reminds me of all of the reasons we are doing this.

Are you looking for some encouragement this summer? Here are my top ten favorite homeschool how-to books:


10. So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling: Second Edition: Fifteen Families Show How You Can Do It (Focus on the Family)



9. Help for the Harried Homeschooler: A Practical Guide to Balancing Your Child’s Education with the Rest of Your Life



8. Homeschooling for the Rest of Us: How Your One-of-a-Kind Family Can Make Homeschooling and Real Life Work



7. Things We Wish We’d Known: A Guide to Abundant-Life Homeschooling



6. Reaping the Harvest: The Bounty of Abundant-Life Homeschooling



5. Beyond Survival: A Guide to Abundant-Life Homeschooling



4. For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School



3. A Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To Manual




2.  A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning(TM)


And my all-time favorite:


1. Educating the WholeHearted Child — Third Edition

What We’ve Learned from Using Competitive Sports in Our Homeschooling




We are heading into the final stretch of ball season. We only have about two more weeks, with state softball for my daughter, and district and state Little League baseball for my son the only two big events left on our radar. I was chatting with another mom at Buddy’s USSSA state game this weekend, and it got me to thinking. You see, we were discussing the fact that these are a bunch of ten- and eleven-year-old boys, and that winning state-or even placing-is not really what this is all about. She told me about her previous team, where the coach of nine-year-olds was fired for coming in third at state. Yes, you read that correctly. Third!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like winning as much as the next person. Of course it is more fun. But winning games is NOT why my children play. As much as we love homeschooling, there are some lessons that are better learned “out there” and so we carefully chose teams that we felt would match our goals for our children. And while there certainly are times that we parents could show a little more sportsmanship, I love our teams and am happy to back up my children’s coaches, who work hard for no monetary reward. 


This is a Game

One of my favorite photos that has come across Facebook is a little sign that says something along the lines of this:

These are little boys.

This is a game.

The coaches are volunteers.

The umpires are human.

You do not play for the Yankees.

Doesn’t that put it into perspective? Of the kids on my children’s teams only a few will go on to play in college, and probably none will be a professional ball players. So winning games is not the objective. What is then? Here is my list:

1. Teamwork! Learning to work as a team, even if you don’t like all your teammates or have spent too much time with them. Doesn’t this translate into real life? For example, working at the workplace?


2. Obeying authority. Coaches expect obedience, and disobeying brings unhappy consequences. Sometimes it is running extra laps or sitting out of a game. For one little boy this weekend, ignoring the third base coach’s signals to stop turned a beautiful double into a tag out at third. The chat the boy had with his head coach after that play is one that he isn’t likely to forget.

3. Ignoring criticism. Unfortunately, criticism is going to come, both from inside the field and out. Learning to do your best and understanding that you can only give it your all, is another life lesson my children have had to learn. Early on we spent a lot of time discussing with Boo that just because one of her teammates gets frustrated and lets loose on her, doesn’t mean that what Boo is doing is wrong. And learning to do what your coach says, even when it earns  you an out and causes chatter in the stands, is another lesson that took awhile to swallow. Sometimes we need to obey a boss, even if no one else understands why.

4. Health and hand-eye coordination. Learning to stretch, to exercise, to eat properly. And to practice hand-eye coordination.

5. Working hard persistently to meet a goal, even when it takes a long time. Both of my kids have worked hard at learning to hit and field well. They start indoor practice in January and don’t see the rewards of that hard work until the games start in May.


6. Overcoming adversity. Like it or not, bad games come. When we lose, we need to be good losers. When another team treats us poorly, we need to take the higher road. If we get hit with a ball, we need to work through it.

7. Being a good winner. On the other hand, we also need to learn to win well. Saying “good game,” not rubbing it in another’s face, being compassionate when another team has an injury-all of these are skills my kids have learned.

and, finally,

8. Letting go. A game is a game. We need to get back up on our horse again if we lose one.


Do your kids play competitive sports? What are some life lessons they have learned from doing so? 






8 Common Questions I Am Asked About Homeschooling




If you have been homeschooling for awhile, you are likely the go-to person for new and possible homeschoolers when they have questions. I wrote a blog post for Home Educating Family awhile back with eight questions I am often asked about homeschooling, both by those who are truly interested and those who just can’t believe we do it. Smile 

As soon as people find out that we homeschool, the questions begin. While I occasionally get thoughtless questions from people who are critical, often the questions come from sincere curiosity. And more than one question session has resulted in a new homeschooling family!

Here are the questions I am most frequently asked about homeschooling and my answers:

1. How do you stand being with your children all day long?

I enjoy being with my children. I know that all too soon they will be off on their own, and I cherish the time we have. That said, some days they fight, some days I’m crabby, some days we have been locked in the house due to weather or illness. Some days I lose my temper. At least once a year I seriously contemplate putting at least one of them in school. But then God reminds me that he has called me to do this, and just like anything else he has called me to do, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. So, we soldier through it, and a few days or weeks down the line it is enjoyable again.

2. What about sports?

Our goals are to prepare our children spiritually and academically, rather than making sports a priority. We do make use of softball and baseball, which don’t require school attendance, and classes at our local YMCA. Depending on which state and school district you live in, your child may be allowed to participate in school sports without being enrolled. In our state, a student needs to attend at least part time in order to participate in any activity that goes to districts or state. Several of my friends enroll their children in school half days so they can participate in sports. Larger communities often have homeschool sports teams, as well.

You can read the other six questions and find out how I answered them at the Home Educating Family blog.


Celebrating Independence Day



We are gearing up to celebrate Independence Day around here.  We are smack dab in the middle of softball and baseball season, so it will need to be an early night for us. Buddy plays at state at 10:00 AM an hour and a half away on the 5th. But what could be more American than baseball anyway, right?


We have lots of traditions in our family, but Independence Day tends to change a bit each year. This year we are attending a BBQ with some of our church family. They have a parade in town, but I haven’t heard that either of our kids need to participate. It’s nice and cool this year, so we may go watch it. And we may make some of these again, too. Yum!


Some years we are still schooling the week of Independence Day. This year we are so busy with ball that I switched things around. But when we do school, it has been a great opportunity to talk about American history and the freedoms we enjoy. It’s also a great time to make some red, white, and blue crafts!

If you need some Independence Day inspiration, check out my Pinterest board for some fun ideas! Have a great 4th!