Unexpected Things About Homeschooled Teens

I was a great mom of teens before I had teens.

I read all of the homeschooling literature. I was sure that my teens and I would discuss interesting literature and history. We’d do science experiments together. They would work in their math books, reading lesson after lesson, and somehow, the intricacies of algebra, geometry, and trig would be grasped. They would help their siblings with school work and perform much of the housework for me.

That was before I had teens.

I’ve been surprised by many things in my life, but many of the biggest surprises have been the way real life goes down with homeschooled teens. I’m sure parents with their kids in conventional schools have many surprises, but because I’d read all the “right” books and because I was homeschooling, I was sure that my kids’ experiences as teens would be different.

Here are several of the biggest surprises that I encountered in homeschooling my teens.

  1. They often develop just like typical teens.

I was certain that teenagerhood was just something created by society to excuse bad behavior and poor parenting. All of the conservative Christian homeschooling literature talked about how helpful and cheerful their kids were. How motivated the young people were to do chores and help with siblings. I was shocked when my kids displayed moodiness and bad attitudes because “they’re homeschooled!”

The teen years are not an excuse to let your kids get by with bad attitudes, but don’t be surprised when these things crop up. Teens are trying to figure out their place in the world. They’re learning about love and friendship. They’re dealing with strange feelings toward the opposite sex and figuring out how to make their own way in the world. Some days they can’t wait to grow up and other days they wish parents had never been invented.  Teens are dealing with all of this conflict using very immature, inexperienced brains along with huge rushes of hormones.

Homeschooled teens have just as many bad days as traditionally schooled teens, so there’s nothing wrong with your family. Deal with the attitudes in a compassionate loving way and don’t smother your kids under the expectations that they will never have those rotten times.

2. Homeschooled teens teach themselves all their lessons.

I can’t believe I fell for this homeschooling myth. There are many smart homeschooled kids who do teach themselves chemistry, algebra, and calculus. However, there are just as many who need a little–or a LOT–of hand holding and direction in their lessons.

This concept scares many homeschooling parents (myself included) because their math skills may be a little shaky. I’ve seen these nervous parents dump the responsibility for learning these lessons into the laps of teens, saying that “People can teach themselves anything if they really want to.”

Of course, this is true. But most homeschooled teens don’t really WANT to learn these difficult subjects. If left to themselves, they’d rather do anything else than struggle alone through lesson after lesson of upper level math. These kids are aching for a teacher to come alongside them to teach them what they need to know.

I’ve dropped the ball far too many times in this department. It isn’t fair to my kids to just glibly tell them to figure it out. On my better days, my kid and I spend time together looking up website after website, lesson after lesson until the two of us figure out how it is done.

It IS hard. But it’s the right thing to do. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with my kids when they ask me to do what I signed up to do when I decided to homeschool them. They’re asking for a teacher. I can either do it myself, or find one for them.

If I want them to have an excellent education. I am going to have to make that happen.

3. Homeschooled teens need friends.

I read all the books that said that homeschooled teens love hanging out with their families and siblings more than anyone else. Don’t get me wrong, my family enjoys spending time together, but around the age of 12 or 13, my kids really longed to step away from the family a bit and make friends with their peers.

This was tricky for me because I read the books that said that my kids should be best friends with their siblings.

But, it’s developmentally normal. I had to step it up socially for my teens. And, yes, as an introvert, it was very, very challenging. But it was SO important.

My kids have the best group of friends. I love these teens so much, and I am so glad that my kids have this peer group. In fact, their concept of friendship is so much healthier than mine was as a teen.

I figured out that I saw teen friendships through the lens that I had developed as a teenager–teens that encouraged one another to develop poor attitudes and to do wrong things. In reality, teens can have healthy friendships that spur one another toward growth, spiritually and emotionally.  I’ve seen it happen in my kitchen every time their group gets together.

The energy that I expended making these relationships happen has been so worth it.

Teens do need friendships. I’ve learned to encourage the healthy ones, making them a priority, and talk, talk, talk to my kids so they know what healthy friendships look like. This helps them spot unhealthy relationships and manage the challenges relating to needy or unhealthy people.

4. Homeschooled teens need just as much prodding to get things done.

There are many tales of homeschooled teens who happily do their chores, their schoolwork, and start home businesses.

In my 15 years of homeschooling, I’ve never met one of these homeschooled kids. I am sure they exist somewhere, but most of the kids that I know…are just like mine. They’ll leave their shoes laying around, have to be told to do the chores that they do every single stupid day, and need external motivation to get their schoolwork done every day.

That’s normal teen behavior. They do grow out of it. At least, I’m told that they do. The jury is still out on my kids.

The teen years are hard but they’re not impossible. Just remember that kids are kids everywhere and don’t hold yours to an impossible standard just because they are homeschooled.

Getting It Done

Over the past few years, my part time work has gradually ratcheted up. I’ve also taken on some duties at our church and began a drama class that consumes at least six hours a week. Despite my other interests, we still have to tackle schoolwork and take care of our farm animals. All that to say, we’re pretty busy people and I have to be quite intentional about getting important stuff done.

So how do I do it? Well, here are a few tips that I’ve used through the years to stay on top of things. Of course, I frequently get behind, but when things are working well, these are the things that I do.

Make a list. I usually make a couple lists. I make a weekly list and a daily list. Sometimes, if I don’t have a pile of stuff on my weekly list, I just check things off of it and don’t do a daily list. But, if there’s a ton going on, I tend to get overwhelmed with a huge list of my whole week’s chores, so I need it broken down into daily tasks. Furthermore, I will break down my daily list into morning, afternoon, and evening tasks to keep myself on track. Everyone know that “If mom doesn’t write it down, it doesn’t happen!” so, my family makes sure that things get jotted down on mom’s notepad. These lists aren’t complicated, but I usually make them on a steno pad or other notebook that lives on my counter. Otherwise, the lists get misplaced.

Delegate. First thing in the morning, I decide which chores will go to which kid. If I don’t consciously make these decisions when I am planning my day, I tend to try to do too much while the kids sit around and do nothing.

Use Pre-Planned curricula. As much as I love the idea of curricula that combine library books, art projects, printouts, and lots of informal learning, I’ve figure out that they are not for me. I need things that are open and go. If things get crazy, those planning-intensive programs will not happen. So, I’ve chosen things that don’t require lots of prep work from me.

Simplify where at all possible. My meals are tasty and nutritious for the most part. But they are not extravagant. Most of our meals are 30 minutes or less of prep. On days that I have to leave the house in the afternoon and won’t get back until late, I plan a quick and simple or crock pot meal. Also, my kids eat (gasp) cereal for most breakfasts. I like to cook, but I don’t have time for extravagant at this time in our life. At least not on school days.

Use little chunks of time. Many tasks can be broken down into 10-15 minute increments. Don’t have a huge block of time to clean the living room? Tackle it ten minutes at a time. You can clean out the couch, dust, or wipe the baseboards in ten minutes at a time. If you do this a couple times per day, your living room will be clean by evening. Don’t waste those tiny fragments of time that come your way. If I pay attention, I can use them to get things knocked out quickly. I timed myself once. It takes me less than 5 minutes to unload the dishwasher!

Don’t get behind on dishes or laundry. If I do nothing else with housekeeping during the day, I always do dishes before bed and a full load of laundry, including folding and putting it away.

Don’t get more than a week behind on grading papers. I hate grading papers, but it’s worse when it’s a huge mound that takes an hour and a half to plow through.

Just one more thing. I know, at the end of the day, you’re tired and so am I. But sometimes, I need to push through and finish that one more thing before I quit for the night. Clear that counter. Fold that laundry. Straighten up the living room. Just do that one more thing before you quit and that’s one less that will be staring at you in the morning.

I still get woefully behind on certain tasks. However, by using the above tips, I generally can avoid my work becoming overwhelming. Remember, if everyone has clean socks and undies, and a full belly, you can live to fight another day.





Challenging Kids and Schoolwork Meltdowns Part 2

Learning to accept mistakes and failure has been a LONG process for my daughter . I mean YEARS of work. There’s nothing that I’ve done that was an automatic home run. It’s taken many many years to come as far as we have.

One thing I’ve had to model was my acceptance of my own mistakes. “Rats. I burnt our supper. That is so annoying. Ugh. (sigh) Okay. I guess we will have grilled cheese tonight. It’s okay!”

You see, my kid was constantly comparing herself to an adult who (in her eyes) always does everything right. However, she can’t see the years of practice it takes to get good at stuff. So verbalizing my own mistakes, and failures and modeling how to gracefully accept mistakes helps.

With regard to school, I had to change from the mindset of “doing it over and over” to “We’re a team. Let’s (me and you) work through this together and find the problem” I had to come alongside her and help her. Markerboards are great because if you mess up, the mistake is wiped away. However, I have to approach helping this daughter differently. Any expression of frustration, any irritability on my part, and emotion other than cheerful helpfulness (and it has to be genuine! She can spot my faking it!) just multiplies her emotional response to failure.

So, when we work together, I stop and check my mindset. Am I stressed? Am I annoyed that she’s whining or frustrated yet again? I’ve got to get that under control before I can be an effective teacher. It’s okay to say, “Sweetie, I am having a hard time today. I would love to help you but you deserve a teacher who can be patient with you and I’m just not there right now. Is there any way we can come back to this in an hour?”

Next, I try to reassure her. “Hey, this is hard. It’ll be okay. We can get through it.” Gentle hug on the shoulders. Help her take deep breaths. Remember it’s just ONE lesson on ONE day. “If we don’t get it today, we’ll try again tomorrow. No big deal.”

I often hand her a few chocolate chips or a peppermint to suck on as I look it over. Sometimes, especially if I am working with my other kids I say gently, “Hey, I know you don’t want to be interrupted, and I want to give you my full attention. Is there any way that you can move on to something else for a bit and we will tackle this with fresh eyes in an hour?”

So we sat down with a marker board. I tried to explain as best I could. I definitely tried to avoid “talking down” to her. Things went best when I could keep it on a peer-to-peer type tone to the explanation.(I know I am still the mom, I’m just explaining how things work best.)

For us, things went best when I could break stuff down into microbits and make sure she got one step down pat before we moved on to the next.

Also, in math, for very tricky concepts (especially word problems with fractions!) I tried to demonstrate it with small manageable whole numbers and then once the understanding was there, we tried to apply that to the complexity of fractions.

Remember, I’m a mess too. So often, I forgot to do all of the above and we had a huge breakdown that was partially caused by my being in a hurry or my own frustration.

Another thing that I wish I had done when my dd was younger was to be more in tune to age appropriate materials. See, she’s really really smart and just zipped through material in the first and second grade. By the time she was 8-9 years old she had the assumption that school was supposed to be easy. Then when the materials ramped up in complexity, she didn’t know how to handle it. Also, she probably sensed my own foolish pride at having a child who was working so far ahead of grade level.

I also didn’t take into account that materials written for the average 5-6 grader assume that the child has the maturity to sit down for  a longer, more strenuous lesson. The lessons had more problems with more complexity. When my 8 yo was given these same materials, she was frustrated because she didn’t have the EMOTIONAL maturity to sit down and concentrate that long on the subject. So I should have been more conscious of the fact that while she could understand the complexity of the topic, she was still very much 8 years old and she probably needed more than one day to tackle a typical lesson for an older kid.

Also, I’ve learned to very wisely choose my battles. As long as handwriting is legible and reasonably neat, I don’t say too much about it. As long as she’s doing her work well, she can work with classical music blaring. As long as she’s doing well, I don’t care if she’s slouched on the couch or sitting at the table.

These kids really need autonomy and respect. Giving her the freedom to choose how to learn certain things shows her that I respect that. And I try to phrase it in a way that says, “Hey, as long as it’s working, we’ll do it your way. If it stops working you and I will figure out a better way.” The key is to make sure that she’s in on the solution to finding that better way, rather than me dictating stuff to her.

Homeschooling an intense kid is not easy at all. However, it is possible. There are many ways to figure out how to make it work. These are just some suggestions that worked for us. If you’re a parent of an intense, easily frustrated child and you want to homeschool, it is possible.

Challenging Kids and Schoolwork Meltdowns!

One of the most difficult parts of homeschooling my intense child has been working around meltdowns related to schoolwork. It’s practically impossible to teach a child who is crying, screaming, or throwing things.

Intense kids have very low tolerances for frustration, and this means that the instant something is difficult, they may fall apart. Some kids may lash out in anger, while others melt into a puddle of tears. Either way, you can’t make progress on your lessons when the second that something is challenging, your child melts down.

For many years, I was unsure how to handle these events. I tried punishing her. I tried making her redo shredded or wadded up papers. I tried being slow, calm, and patient, which only seemed to infuriate her more.

Eventually, I had to start considering things from my daughter’s point of view and I began to understand some things about her.

I had to realize that my daughter has insane expectations of herself.  She is totally a perfectionist and totally can’t accept failures and faults. She believes that she should instantly know everything that she doesn’t. She bristles at the idea that parents might know more than her.

You can call it arrogance or whatever, I think it’s mostly immaturity. Remember when as a teen you thought that your parents were ignorant? You didn’t understand about life and the real world. You didn’t respect that they had experiences that you didn’t.

All that to say this: I took the mouthy argumentativeness way too personally. Most of her problems with school stemmed from her immature inability to accept help and her own limitations. Of course, she WAS being rude, but by thinking about her mindset, her terrible expectations, I could see that she was expecting WAY more of herself academically than I EVER could. That’s why “being right” or being unable to gracefully accept correction became such an issue. She took those red Xs on the page completely  personally. She saw them as a personal attack on her intelligence.

My fussing and fuming over her rudeness and arrogance was missing the point. I had to find a way to help her see that failure isn’t the end of the world. That asking for help wasn’t a failure. That she was valuable and loved even with flaws.

Now stay with me here. I’m not into that parenting paradigm that says, “Nothing is a child’s fault. If they feel loved and accepted they will not behave badly. Bad parenting is the only reason that kids struggle.” I promise that is not what I am saying.

But the point that I am trying to make is that unless I could look deeper and get to the root of why she was so hard on herself and why she had such dreadful expectations, I could expect the melt-downs to continue. If I could help her understand more about the learning process, the struggle to get things right, and that naturally some things are going to be hard, she might eventually be able to not take failure and struggle so personally.

I can gripe at my daughter for being rude and arrogant, but until she grows into the realization that her value is not related to her academic success, I’m fighting a losing battle. She will still react badly to failure until she gains the maturity and insight and the confidence that she’s going to be okay even if she screws up.

I’ve had to try to stop punishing and isolating her for poor reactions due to this. Instead, I try to be proactive and change the way that we do school to help her gently accept correction. I’ve learned that traditional school methods (marking things wrong and expecting the child to correct them or redo them until it’s right) will just lead to her feeling more down on herself. She interprets them as a personal attack. I’ve had better success changing the way that I approach schoolwork and corrections and asking for help.

Even when an intense kids seems old enough to be able to tackle lessons on their own, I learned that things went better when I sat with my daughter as she worked on difficult lessons. I could keep an eye on her progress and her mental state. If she seemed to be getting worked up, we could tackle the problem together before the meltdown hit.

I also had to be super careful not to get frustrated or act bothered by her requests for assistance. If I could keep it together, we stood a better chance of getting through the snag without falling apart.

I’ll go on to part 2 with some concrete examples and more practical advice on school work meltdowns in a day or two.

Well Trained Mind Seminar—Slideshow Link

Today, I presented my seminar “Teaching ‘Ramona Quimby:’ Homeschooling the Intense Child.” I presented a slideshow along with my lecture. If you are interested, here is the link to it. I hope that the seminar went well. It’s hard to judge when you are presenting online whether or not you are boring people to death. I hope that it was somewhat helpful to those who are in the trenches with their intense, challenging, argumentative kids.

Music Appreciation

I am not a great musician. I banged my way through four or five years of piano lessons and then dropped them in favor of basketball and softball in junior high. However, I do love good music and I want my children to be able to appreciate many forms of music. So many people never listen to music that isn’t on the Top 40 charts.

In the past couple of years, the kids and I have learned so much more about classical music of all kinds. We also have learned to appreciate music made by different instruments.

One key for us was starting to listen to music during our school lessons. A huge source of irritation in our house are the sounds that others make when we are trying to do lessons. Sniffles, coughs, tapping pencils, humming, whistling, and even the breathing of siblings can cause huge fights when I just want the kids to concentrate. I tried playing soft hymns, but then the kids would sing along, sometimes on key, sometimes off-key just to annoy each other. So I started trying instrumental songs.

We learned of some interesting music groups and some very talented musicians. Names like William Joseph, Han Zimmer, Two Cellos, Lindsey Stirling, and the Piano Guys are starting to roll off the tongues of my children. These musicians often play traditional instruments, but in a style that is never boring.

Here’s one of my favorite Piano Guys videos. I’ve never heard the One Direction song that it was originally based upon, but the tune is catchy. What’s more, I love how this video shows kids the different ways to make a piano sing.

What kind of music do you and your kids like? Do you try to branch out in the name of education?

The Conflict–Taking a Break Without Dropping the Ball

“It’s a season.”

I’ve heard these words spoken to many homeschooling moms to encourage them when they are dealing with a difficult time period. I understand the heart behind them. Moms who have been there are trying to encourage a very discouraged sister by telling her to let some things go for a time. You don’t have to put the kids in school every time there is a disaster in your life.

I get that. And for many homeschooling moms, they need to hear it. They need to know that they can back away from formal academics for a few weeks without hurting their kids.

However, some homeschoolers use the “season” mentality as an excuse to not do school for months.

I get it.

That baby just won’t sleep. Mamas get sick, and finances get tight. However, your crazy season should not be a justification for not doing school for long periods of time. Your children deserve a good education. It doesn’t always have to be an amazing education, because sometimes good enough needs to be good enough.

But for heaven’s sake. Just. Do. Something!

It may look different in different seasons. And that’s okay.

You may take a break from textbooks and instead focus on library books, field trips, and educational video games and DVDs.

That’s fine.

However, if in your season of craziness, your children fill their time with nothing but MarioKart, Facebook, and Looney Tunes for weeks, you probably need to figure out a new plan.

There’s nothing wrong with taking time off. But be intentional with your time off. You have to make it up at some point. You can’t take off two months in your normal school year and still be able to take a summer break. If you take off a month at Christmas, you may not need to take a spring break. Look at your schedule and plan your time off so that it is most effective for learning and for resting.

Another thing, when you do take time off, try to fill your children’s time with things of value. Outdoor play, gardening, crafts, puzzles, cooking, writing letters, visiting family. Then hit the books hard (whatever style of homeschooling you do) when you get back from your time off. By keeping the electronic beast at bay when you take a break and by giving your children with brain-boosting activities to fill their time, getting back to a normal routine will be much simpler.

Remember that as Christian homeschooling moms we are stewards of our children’s future. I don’t want my children handicapped by my own lack of discipline. (this is why I tend toward textbooks. I don’t have the discipline to sit down and work out individual lesson plans for my kids. If you’re great at that: WONDERFUL! I wish I could do the same) I know how hard it is to continue working when you’re exhausted, distracted by difficult circumstances, or dealing with some kind of life upheaval. But you can’t just stop for weeks and months. Your kids need the routine of learning and your household needs the rhythm of normal educational opportunities. Additionally, getting too far behind in the middle school and high school years can be quite difficult to make up.

When I am dealing with a chaotic time period in my life, I remind myself that I need to prioritize. Sometimes, the priority is dealing with the chaotic situation. However, when the situation goes on for more than a week or two, I have to figure out how to meet my kids educational needs in the chaos. Sometimes this looks like us doing math, English, and spelling in the car while driving to appointments. Sometimes, this means that my family shifts responsibilities around to make time for schooling at unconventional times of day. Whatever I need to do, I do it.

God has called me into homeschooling. I am not bringing glory to Him when I use life’s circumstances as an excuse to avoid my responsibilities. I won’t bring glory to him by failing to prepare my kids for the future. If God chose to call me to heaven tomorrow and my children had to enter a traditional classroom, would they be prepared? If I haven’t done my job with diligence and faithfulness, I will not be bringing God glory. I will be hurting the cause of Christ because others will judge me by my laziness and the hurt that it would cause my children. Not to mention the hurt that my poor teaching brings to the reputation of those in the homeschooling community.

Are you facing a time of struggle in your life? It will be okay. However, don’t let the circumstances permanently derail you from your normal school routines in the long term. Take stock of what will work with your given situation and figure out a way to learn through the chaos. Don’t beat yourself up over what your children don’t accomplish. But, be sure that you figure out a way for them to learn SOMETHING in this time period.

Matthew 24:44

“Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

I Just Can’t Do It…And My Husband Agrees!

What do you do if your husband is…less than supportive in homeschooling the kids? I’ve heard this before. Now, if your husband is vehemently anti-homeschooling, then you have a major conflict that you will have to work through. However, if your husband is sort of on the fence about homeschooling, you can demonstrate that this might be a good thing for the family.

First, you should talk with your husband to determine exactly why he is reluctant to have the kids homeschooled. Perhaps his reasons are relatively easy to address, like he worries that the kids will not have playmates or may struggle with certain subjects. He may just not want to be the family who does things out of the ordinary or just can’t fathom stepping out of the “regular” way of schooling.

You should not minimize his concerns, but take them seriously. Write down a list of concerns and how you can plan on addressing them. If you are an introvert and he worries that you won’t make the effort to find friends for the kids, you may want to show him the homeschool groups you plan on joining and commit to a weekly or bi-weekly play date. You can show him guided curricula that will help you prepare the kids for the future. Don’t pick fights with him, but start conversations with, “Would you be more open to the idea if…”

Second, my dh needs to see a concrete demonstration of my commitment to our children’s education and he needs to know that I VALUE it. For our family, he sees me agonizing over curriculum choices, reading books about homeschooling, and meeting with other homeschoolers to pick their brains. He can see that I take it seriously. I tell him when one of our children is performing below their capabilities, and he can see that it bothers me. He sees that I turn down field trips that will put us behind where we should be academically. He sees that I pay attention to things like our halfway point and I have goals so we are tackling what should be done. He knows that each morning, we will do school. If your husband is concerned that your kids won’t get what they need academically, try to demonstrate that you are as committed to educational excellence as he is. You just want to go about it in a different way.

I use open and go, scripted curriculums for our core lessons. Math, English and Spelling pretty much are done every day no matter what. (exceptions made for illness. But we don’t skip that for things like snow, field trips, etc.) My dh sees the stacks of books cluttering the house and he knows that they are there for a reason. He hears the kids talk about the schoolwork that they’ve done. I don’t buy curricula that depend on me to maintain (like making copies, compiling book lists from the library, or writing lessons) because I know that when life gets hectic, I won’t stick to it.

Third, I am very careful with my “time sinks.” These are things that suck me in and waste my time. I try to pay attention to these things. Things like Internet, Facebook, a good novel or an interesting DVD series can distract me from giving my all to my kids. My husband needs to know that I have the discipline to do this.

Fourth, ask for some time.  If your husband is hesitant, ask him if you can take a year and try homeschooling. Usually, by the end of the first year, you will know whether this is right for you. By the end of the second year, you should have hit a pretty good groove if it’s going to work out for you.

Fifth, I don’t take days off very often, especially now that I have middle schoolers and high schoolers. You see, I consider homeschooling my job. For a paid job, you have a certain number of sick and vacation days you can take. Sometimes, you go in when you have  a slight headache or your nose is stopped up, because you don’t want to waste a sick day. I consider homeschooling the same. I take days off when I am legitimately ill, but don’t drop it all if I or one of the kids is just a little sub-par.  We don’t miss school for very much.

There are many families who started out homeschooling with a reluctant spouse who now are firmly committed to homeschooling their kids. Talk to your husband; don’t nag; don’t press too much. Be patient and realize that it may take time for him to come around. Try to address his concerns and see if you can come to an agreement.

Am I Doing Enough?

At my homeschool support group meeting last week, a mom to a younger child confided her worries about homeschooling. “I want him well-prepared to go wherever he wants to go. I worry that I will mess him up for life. How do you know if you are doing enough?”

This worry is a familiar one. While I can’t say that I have completely lost all of my insecurity about this issue, I am a long way from where I started out. I don’t worry about this nearly as much as I used to.

Homeschooling is scary. When you think about the mass of knowledge that a child must master in just 13 years, it’s little wonder that so many parents are too frightened of messing up their kids to even try.

d-221 books

If you check out very many blogs, you can get the idea that everyone else has this homeschooling thing mastered. After all, this mom has her 12 year old doing college level math, that mom creates gorgeous notebooks detailing her daughter’s history lessons from 1st to 12th grade, and those other moms are teaching their kids 3 different languages, 5 different instruments, and writing their own curriculum “in their spare time!”

There are amazingly creative mothers doing incredible crafty projects with their kids.

There are moms whose science experiments always work correctly. (Mine NEVER do)

There are moms who love learning languages, Shakespeare, and other nifty stuff right along with their kids.

Let me tell you this right now. Those moms are few and far between. There are some amazing mothers homeschooling their kids, but there are just as many average mamas teaching their third graders (gasp!) third grade math!

Yes, your kids and mine have a huge pile of knowledge that they have to consume in 13 years.  But it doesn’t have to be scary getting that stuff in their heads.

Want me to tell you the secret to getting it out of the books and into their brains?




Diligence in the key. You can be the least creative mom on the planet, have very little patience, and be just an average teacher. You can be terribly disorganized and rather messy. However, if you have diligence, you will not fail at homeschooling.

Diligence doesn’t mean sitting the kids in front of the Magic School Bus for science for years on end. Diligence doesn’t mean “Let’s clean the house and call it home ec for the day’s schoolwork!” Diligence doesn’t count mom’s pocket change and say we did math for the week.

Diligence gives a whole-hearted effort day after day, even when things are boring and difficult. That doesn’t mean that you always have wonderful school days where you do every lesson in every subject, but a diligent teacher can look at the week’s work and feel pretty good about what was accomplished.

Find a solid curriculum.

Plug away at school with diligence and a good attitude.

And you will have done enough



Photo Credit:d-221 Books by Az via Flikr

Teaching Math

For the homeschooling parent, math is often one of the scariests subjects to try to teach. Even if the teaching parent is a math whiz, they still have to find ways of breaking down complex concepts so that the student can understand it.

In fact, I have heard it said that the math teacher who is naturally skilled at math often is not the best math teacher. These kinds of people often have little sympathy for the poor sot to whom numbers and mathematical logic makes little sense.

In honor of all of us parents (and those precious teachers) who have to teach math, I want to share this video.




I’ve been there.

The blank stare.

The nonsensical answers.


Someone was watching me teach math when they created this video.

Previous Older Entries

My Fitness Pal Tracker

%d bloggers like this: