Author Archives: Sallie

From Chaos to Computer Science

From Chaos to Computer Science – Homeschooling a Very ADHD Son

From Chaos to Computer Science - Homeschooling a Very ADHD Son

Today’s guest post by Brenda Nuland of Coffee, Tea, Books and Me is the first in the 31 Days of Learning Differently series.

My children were born twelve years apart.  My daughter’s first day at the University was the same day my son began Kindergarten.  Same husband.  Same marriage.  Definitely God’s sense of timing and not mine.

But we were thrilled to have a son and looked forward to raising another child, even if we were older and a little more tired by this time.  From the beginning we realized this child was different than his sister.  For one thing, he did not walk if there was room to run.  We never used a playpen with his sister (except when staying at my mother’s small house).  He destroyed a few playpens before the age of two.

I had hoped for a normal child, the kind I saw at church all the time.  For my daughter was unique in her own way.  She was what is called precocious.  She had (and still has) a brilliant mind.  She could often out think me and I’m no slouch. She would graduate a year early from an academic high school. (I am very pleased to say that her fifth child is a girl just like she was… but I digress).

During this time, two things happened that would change the course of our life.  Our son was having a terrible time in first grade and we were deeply concerned that he was being labeled by a teacher who preferred a quiet classroom to rowdy little boys.  Her class had a large percentage of students on Ritalin… including my son.  I knew he was not slow or stupid.  I did admit he had a very difficult time sitting still.

A homeschool Dad from the church we attended at the time warned us that we needed to take our son out of the public schools NOW and consider teaching him at home.  He knew our son and was concerned he would believe the labels being put on him and act them out.

Around this time, I also read the book by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay called For the Children’s Sake:  Foundations of Excellence for Home and School.  To make a very long story short… we began our homeschool journey at the kitchen table on the first day of the second grade.

Was it easy?  Oh, my… it was the most challenging thing I had ever done.  Even more challenging than being an acting department head at the corporation where I once worked. My son cried and I cried.  My son stomped his feet and I hit my head against the wall.  He threatened to run away from home and I sincerely hoped he did (for just a few minutes).

I had imagined long periods of reading aloud and visits to museums and field trips to the fire department and noticing the lifespan of a caterpillar and perusing books at the library and putting together nature journals and all those lovely things talked about in the books.

I was wrong… forgetting for awhile that I was attempting to teach a very ADHD boy.

When I would take the whole homeschooling thing to prayer, I always felt the Lord was telling me to become an expert in my son and not methods of homeschooling.  Watch him, look at how he learns, notice what he is doing during those rare quiet times, find out his God-given “bent”, become like Sherlock Holmes and look for the hints he is dropping as to his interests and perhaps even… the young man he is to become.

For you see, part of bringing him home to school meant for me to forget my idea of what school meant.  Did I really need or even desire to do the same things at home that frustrated him in the school building?  For we had the time and the desire for the one-on-one attention he needed.

That’s what I did.  I became a student of my student, a detective finding out what makes him tick, how he learns.  Homeschooling, while still a challenge at times, became a journey.  For I learned that if God makes a child a certain way, He will also provide a way for him to become what He intended the child to be… to fulfill his destiny.

So we did read a lot of books, many while he was sitting on the living room floor at our former home playing with Legos.  We went to the mid-week Farmer’s Market during the seasons it was open and then walked to the library to look for books with wonderful pictures of things he was interested in at the time.

We took a picnic lunch to the park where there were wonderful trails and walked along the trees to find rocks and arrowheads and colored leaves and small animals and learned to look… to observe as if we were scientists.

As he grew older, we used more books along with the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, PBS Specials, videos, DVDs, and all kinds of ways to open the wonders to be learned.  We developed a combination of reading and seeing and hearing and doing.

Around age nine or so, he asked to use our computer… a wonderful sturdy Gateway model.  He took to it like I take to coffee each morning.  It was love at first byte (sorry, couldn’t resist).  By age ten or eleven, he was learning from friends on gaming chat rooms how to create simple computer games.

Now, I know this was risky but the computer was out in the open and I could see what was being said.  I even came to know these other people by their gaming names.  This was all monitored as carefully as possible… and the Internet was not as dangerous then as it can be today.

I can’t say the high school years were easy.  He still hated math.  It took two years to get through Saxon ½.  I admit to having doubts if he would ever make it in college.  For while he was no longer hyperactive, he definitely was (and still is) extremely distracted from an audio perspective.

There came a year we decided it was time to add a community college class or two, in addition to what we did at home and in our homeschool co-op.  This would be a test to see how he would handle large classrooms.

It was a challenge at first but then he began to get better… and better… and eventually quite successful.  He took his senior year of homeschooling with classes at the community college.  He began to get better grades in math.

He eventually transferred to the University.  He began to get A’s in Calculus and Advanced Algebra and the same Physics class his father had to take twice when he was at the University.

The same kid who took two years to get through Saxon ½ was now getting A’s in the advanced math courses?  Amazing!  But I remembered the specialist I took him to in the first grade had told me that ADHD children were often extremely intelligent but their brain needed time to mature.

That is what homeschooling had done for us… it opened the way to teach the way he needed to learn… and for that brain to catch up with his natural intelligence.  Time to go from being called slow and stupid by a teacher… to graduating in Computer Science and working as a Software Engineer today.

I must also admit that the homeschool journey was one I came to love very much.  I know teaching one child is different than teaching many at home.  My daughter homeschools her five children and I am amazed at how she does it.  But God knew in His wisdom I could handle the one… quite challenging… student.

What is my message to you?  Be patient, educating your child is a journey of years and not semesters.  It is accomplished one day at a time.  Each child is unique but God will give you wisdom.  Neither you, nor your child, are perfect people.  However, you are the perfect parent (and parents) to raise that child.  God does not make mistakes.  Even if I thought so when my son was a toddler.

And most importantly… they are a work in process.  You will be astonished at how everything you are doing one day at a time will come together and that young man or young woman will become the person they were intended to be all along.

Photo credit

This post is part of my 31 Days of Learning Differently series.

31 Days of Learning Differently


Big Book Blog Tour Calendar

The Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas Blog Tour

During the month of October, the bloggers of the iHomeschool Network who contributed to The Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas are doing a fun blog tour. Along with the tour will be numerous giveaways as well as a special bundle price on The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas (of which I contributed three chapters).

There are lots of details below so keep reading!

iHomeschool Studio and The Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas Bundle

So what is The Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas? And what is this special bundle? The bundle is a collection of 23 MP3s from the iHomeschool Studio and an electronic version of The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas. Click here to view more details.

Studio and Big Book Bundle

Participating iHN Bloggers and Giveaway Dates

Here is the full rundown of the blogger who will be featured each day, the chapter(s) she contributed to the book, and the giveaway she is hosting (if applicable).

  • October 1 – Heather Woodie from Blog, She Wrote. Author of the chapters Teaching Geography with Geography Quests, Teaching Sewing in Homeschool, and Being a Homeschooling Mentor Rather Than an Instructor.
  • October 2 – Stephanie Harrington from Harrington Harmonies. Author of the chapters Everything You Need to Know About Gardening and You CAN Teach Art. Stephanie will be giving away a Teaching Art Basketful of Goodies.
  • October 3 – Joan Otto from Unschool Rules. Author of the chapter Learning from Video Games. Joan will be giving away a $20 GameStop gift card.
  • October 4 – Mary Prather from Homegrown Learners. Author of the chapter How to Teach with LEGO. Mary will be giving away free LEGO scripture copywork.
  • October 5 – Amy Stults from Milk and Cookies. Author of the chapters Learning with Maps and Genealogy for Kids. Amy will be giving away a copy of WonderMaps from Bright Ideas Press.
  • October 6 – Eva Varga from Author of the chapters How to Use Postage Stamps for Learning and Inquiry Science with Middle School Students. Eva will be giving away Getting Started with Inquiry Science.
  • October 7 – Colleen Kessler from Raising Lifelong Learners . Author of the chapter Hands-on Science. Colleen will be giving away Science for Smart Kids: Electricity.
  • October 8 – Sallie Borrink from Author of the chapters Allowing Play to be Your Child’s Preschool, Parenting a Spirited or Highly-Sensitive Child, and Parenting an Only Child. Sallie will be giving away a $25 shopping spree at Sallie Borrink Learning.
  • October 9 – Karyn Tripp from Teach Beside Me. Author of the chapter Homeschooling with Games. Karyn will be giving away a printable Build a House – Math Bingo Game.
  • October 10 – Selena Robinson from Look, We’re Learning. Author of the chapters Teaching Foreign Language, Active Learning Ideas for Kinesthetic Learners, Using Movies for Learning, How to Add PE to Your Homeschool Day, and Homeschooling Through the Summer. Selena will be giving away We Got Jazz.
  • October 11 – Janine LaTulippe from True Aim Education. Author of the chapters How to Encourage Math Haters, How to Answer the Critics of Homeschooling, and Character Development. Janine will be giving away a Character eBook Set and a Free Character Building Activities printable.
  • October 12 – Marci Goodwin from The Homeschool Scientist. Author of the chapter Nature Study. Marci will be giving away a field guide.
  • October 13 – Jennifer Dunlap from Forever, For Always, No Matter What. Author of the chapters Homeschooling in a Large Family and Homeschooling through a Move. Jennifer will be giving away a couple of Florida learning resources.
  • October 14 – Ticia Messing from Adventures in Mommydom. Author of the chapters Tools to Teach the Bible to Your Kids and Hands-on Learning. Ticia will be giving away an Old Testament Bible study.
  • October 15 – Alicia Hutchinson from Investing Love. Author of the chapters Children’s Literature, Homeschool Conferences, and Unit Studies. Alicia will be giving away Mrs. Hutchinson’s Classroom Guide: Homeschool Basics.

Big Book Blog Tour Calendar

  • October 16 – Michelle Cannon from Heart of Michelle. Author of the chapters Transitioning from Elementary to Middle School, Homeschooling the Child with Bipolar Disorder, and Navigating from High School to College with a Dyslexic Child. Michelle will be giving away a one-hour homeschool consultation.
  • October 17 – Jennifer Janes from Jennifer A. Janes. Author of the chapters Special Needs Homeschooling and 25 Ideas for Ministry and Volunteering in the Community with Kids.
  • October 18 – Renee Brown from Great Peace Academy. Author of the chapters How to Find Resources for Gifted Child Homeschooling, How to Homeschool During Job Loss, and Prioritizing your Marriage While Homeschooling. Renee will be giving away a $25 Amazon card.
  • October 19 – Adelien Tandian from Blessed Learners. Author of the chapters How to Start Research With Your Logic Stage Kids. Adelien will be giving away Basic Science Notebooking Pages and Graphic Organizers.
  • October 20 – Heidi Ciravola from Starts at Eight. Author of the chapters Making Tweens and Teens More Independent Learners and High School Literature. Heidi will be giving away The Ultimate Homeschool Planner and The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens from Apologia.
  • October 21 – Dianna Kennedy from The Kennedy Adventures. Author of the chapters Keeping Babies and Toddlers Occupied While Homeschooling, Managing Extra Curricular Activities and Homeschooling, and Homeschooling While Pregnant. Dianna will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card.
  • October 22 – LaToya Edwards from Learning to Let Him Lead. Author of the chapters Homeschooling Elementary Aged Boys, and Single Parent Homeschooling.
  • October 23 – Carisa Hinson from 1+1+1=1. Author of the chapter Homeschooling Tots. Carisa will be giving away Animal ABCs Bundle.
  • October 24 – Shannen Espelien from Middle Way Mom. Author of the chapters Getting Started with Credit-by-exam, Where to Buy and Sell Used Curriculum, and Transitioning to a Virtual School from Public School.
  • October 25 – Marianne Sunderland from Adundant Life. Author of the chapters Homeschooling Teen Girls, The Power of Interest-led Learning, and Raising Kids With Vision. Marianne will be giving away a DVD/study guide bundle of Intrepid: The Zac Sunderland Story – Part 1, Part 2 and Wild Eyes: The Abby Sunderland Story.
  • October 26 – Kyle Suzanne McVay from Aspired Living. Author of the chapter Classical Homeschooling. Kyle will be giving away A Home Educators Guide to Living Math.
  • October 27 – Mama Jenn from Mama Jenn. Author of the chapter Homeschooling Twins. Jenn will be giving away an Education Cubes Set (membership AND cubes/photo blocks).
  • October 28 – Amy Matkovich from A Journey of Purpose. Author of the chapters Making the First Day of Homeschool Special, and How to Make a Homeschool Budget and Stick to it. Amy will be giving away Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover book and The Graduate’s Survival Guide (book and DVD).
  • October 29 – Amy Maze from Living and Learning at Home. Author of the chapter Free eBooks and Audiobooks.

iHN Network Giveaway of 10 Bundles!

iHomeschool Network is also giving away 10 copies of the bundle! If you purchase the bundle now and later win one in the giveaway, iHN will refund you the full purchase price! So if you want the bundle now, feel free to purchase it now and also enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

keeping it real as we enter october

Keeping it real as we enter October!

keeping it real as we enter october

How is it really September 30th? The past three weeks have been a total blur of Caroline getting sick, being sick, and recovering from sickness. Then we had her eighth (eighth!) birthday prep and celebration.

And during this time our babysitter was out of the country, touring Greece with her family.  (Insert crying emoticon here.)

I’m over two weeks behind in my work at a bare minimum. I look at my to do list and don’t even know where to start.

It makes me want to escape by reading a book. LOL!

But we’re going to soldier on. We don’t really have a choice in the matter!

Tomorrow is October 1 and that means a couple of things coming up!

First, we’ll be starting 31 Days of Learning Differently. I’ve received most of the guest posts and there is some really good stuff coming up. I’ll be adding lots of my own content as well. I hope everyone finds encouragement and practical ideas with this month-long series.


Second, as part of the iHomeschool Network, we’ll be kicking off The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas Blog Tour. This will last all month and will include lots of giveaways at the various blogs as well as a special promotion of The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas. I’ll have a post about that coming up later today.

Big Book Blog Tour CalendarSo buckle up! It should be a great month!

TpT Homeschool Blog Hop Image

Homeschoolers and Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT)

TpT Homeschool Blog Hop Image

Today I’m participating in a blog hop and great giveaway with a number of fellow homeschoolers who are also sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT). (You can see everyone at the very end of this post!) The purpose of the blog hop we’ve put together is to make homeschoolers more aware of TPT in general and (more specifically) introduce people to the homeschool parents who are selling there. I’ve met some fantastic homeschoolers through TPT and hope you will find a few new people to follow and read through this blog hop!

What is Teachers Pay Teachers?

Many of you are probably at least a little familiar with TPT since I mention it from time to time. TPT is simply an open marketplace where educators can sell the educational products they create. It covers every grade level and subject area. Sellers are current teachers, retired teachers, teachers on maternity leave, disabled teachers, former teachers, and homeschoolers. There is a huge variety of sellers from literally all over the world.

Although TPT has teachers in the name, there is a lot over there for homeschoolers as well. Today I’m going to share some information with you that I hope will help you in your homeschooling endeavors! Here are some tips so you can make the most of the opportunities available at TPT.

Follow TPT Sellers You Like

When you click on someone’s store, you will see a small green star under her store name. If you click on the star you will be following her. What this means is that you can receive updates for whenever she adds new products to her store, offers a freebie, or participates in a sale. You can set up your notifications to receive notices of new products via email, but you will have to check your TPT notifications to receive updates and sale news from the seller. Honestly, it’s not the best set-up and hopefully TPT will change it eventually. But, at the very least, you can find sellers you like to follow.

It’s also important to follow sellers you like on their Facebook page. A number of sellers offer products for 50% off the first few hours or first day they launch a new product. If you follow them on FB, you have a better chance of catching it.

Follow TPT on Facebook

TPT also has their own FB page. Every time a seller hits a significant financial milestone (selling a certain dollar amount all time), they either offer a sale or a free product for a short time. Some of the free products offered for these milestone celebrations are really nice. If you are following TPT, you can keep an eye out for these free products.

Find Free Downloads for Homeschoolers on TPT

If you haven’t explored the world of free downloads on TPT, you have been missing a gold mine. Every seller is required to provide at least one free product and, as a result, the site if full of quality free products. Trying out these free products is a great way to discover people who create products you like that are worth purchasing.

(Truthfully, there is a fair amount of junk there as well. You have to sort through it. The site has many abandoned stores set up by people who thought they were going to get rich by throwing up a few badly created products and then left when they realized they actually have to work to make money!)

Sign Up for the TPT Newsletter

TPT also sends out a newsletter every Sunday morning that features different sellers and products. Each newsletter includes links to ten free products that span the grade levels. The newsletters also include links to free clip art and digital papers each week for those of you who are digital scrapbookers!

Sell Your Own Products on TPT

If you create educational materials to use with your children or if you were a teacher and have files full of things you created, you should really consider whether selling on TPT might be a good fit for you. It is NOT a get rich quick scheme. It truly takes a lot of time and there is a significant learning curve to see any kind of success. It is also not a totally passive income. Most sellers spend time promoting their products on Pinterest at the very least. It isn’t required, but most sellers will tell you they sell more when they are pinning regularly.

I’ve been selling on TPT for just over two years now. I’m not even close to being a top seller, but I do make a steady check there every month in the hundreds of dollars (in addition to what I sell here on my own site). It has gotten to the point where my hard work has paid off and I’m seeing good results. If I had more time to devote to it, I’m sure I would see even greater results. I continue to add new products and promote my store as I’m able. My income year over year continues to grow and I’m very thankful for the opportunities there.

If you think you would like to try selling on TPT, you can click here (referral link) and learn more.

If you would like to enter our giveaway, please do! And then scroll down to meet other fantastic TPT Homeschoolers!

Blog Hop Prize

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you will find lots of great sellers and resources as you explore TPT!


Thanksgiving, November and Veterans Day BUNDLE – Literacy and Math Activities, Fun Fact Cards and KWL


I’ve bundled together three fun and practical products for November! Save time and money by purchasing them together.

This bundle includes the following. Click on any link below to see more details and thumbnails of each product.

November Literacy and Math Pack – 30+ Centers and Activities including Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Fun Fact Cards

Veterans Day KWL

Thanksgiving, November and Veterans Day BUNDLE
Thanksgiving, November and Veterans Day BUNDLE
Thanksgiving, November and Veterans Day BUNDLE - 30+ Literacy and Math Activities, Fun Fact Cards, KWL
Price: $7.00


Veterans Day KWL for November or Patriotic Unit Study


Explore Veterans Day with your students! Use a KWL chart to assess your students’ prior knowledge. Discover what they already know, what they are curious about, and what they need to learn. Then use that information to effectively plan your lesson or unit!

This file includes both vertical and horizontal versions of the Veterans Day KWL chart.

Don’t miss my other America and patriotic teaching ideas!

America Literacy and Math Pack

U.S. Presidents Fun Fact Cards

Independence Day Mini-Pack 

I Love America! Notebooking Pages

Veterans Day KWL for November or Patriotic Unit Study
Veterans Day KWL for November or Patriotic Unit Study
Veterans Day KWL for November or Patriotic Unit Study - Vertical and Horizontal Versions
Price: $1.00

Discovering Your Child is Gifted Does it matter

Discovering Your Child is Gifted – Does it matter?

Discovering Your Child is Gifted Does it matter

Venturing into writing about having a gifted child is a whole new area for me. I wrote recently about discovering Caroline’s giftedness. In part, I wrote:

As evidenced by the topics in my header, I’ve always known that Caroline had unique traits. But I never really researched the gifted angle seriously because… I don’t know. I just didn’t. Even though I’m gifted and qualify for Mensa so it would make sense she would be gifted, I just didn’t zero in on this with her. Maybe God’s restraining hand? However, after digging into the reading I have zero doubts. Some of the characteristics made me laugh out loud because it’s just SO OUR LIFE! There was one list in particular that zeroed in on some very. specific. things. that just astonished me how accurately they described Caroline.

I’m not going to say much about this here since I try to protect Caroline’s privacy online. But a gifted child is not the same thing as having a smart child. Gifted is different and it brings with it a whole set of challenges and opportunities. Like most gifted kids, Caroline’s development is asynchronous in some significant ways and so I’m struggling to determine the best ways to meet her needs and address areas that need focus. And have all of us stay sane in the process.

So what made me decide to write about giftedness? Well, I’m writing about it today because it is time for the Gifted Homeschool Bloggers monthly blog hop and I’m using this event to force me out of my comfort zone and write about it.

Giftedness: Why does it matter?

The theme this month is Giftedness: Why does it matter? I put off writing this post day after day because I feel so inadequate to the task. I feel like I’m just starting to figure out what this means for us and, frankly, it’s overwhelming. I feel ill-equipped to give any kind of insight on this topic. It’s hard to even draw on my own experiences because Caroline and I are different in some significant ways. I was also a K-12 public school child so my frame of reference for what it means to be gifted in an educational setting is completely different from our homeschooling situation. (As in, we had professional specialists working with us. In Caroline’s situation, I’m the specialist.)

But I do know one reason why it matters. Identifying Caroline’s giftedness (and, in the process, revisiting my own) matters because it shows me I am not alone on this journey. Discovering other parents who wrestle with the same issues and questions is important both for Caroline and for me as her mother and teacher.

Those of you who have followed my blog for many years know that I wrote very little about life with Caroline after I had her. I had a very public long-awaited pregnancy, but then it just changed. I didn’t write because I didn’t know what to write. I didn’t want to write something I would regret later on. Our early years were not blissful days of a perfectly photographed baby. The first four years were HARD. And so I just kept my blogging mouth shut for the most part.

Caroline will be eight in a few weeks and I just now feel like I have enough experience under my belt and distance from the early days that I can write with some sense of clarity. David and I can see the fruits of our labors to this point. Discovering Caroline was gifted brought all of it together somehow.

Why Identifying a Child’s Giftedness Matters for the Parents

So is it important to know your child is gifted? Yes, I think it is. Obviously it is important for the child. Gifted children often feel that they don’t fit in and understanding you are wired differently can make a big difference in knowing who you are and the unique ways you are blessed.

But it’s also really important for the parents. It’s important to know that your child is different in a good way. She does demand more out of you. Her asynchronous development is normal. And there are plenty of families like yours out there.

The first four years I felt very alone. I felt like almost no one could relate to our struggles. It was very lonely. I learned to keep my mouth shut in real life because to discuss our challenges almost always brought judgement and condemnation, even from people who probably meant well. Our confidence as parents took a terrible hit during those years. I don’t want other people to experience that and if my writing can help just a few families through those tough times, then it was all worth it.

Do you know which six words bring a smile to my face quicker than almost anything? “I’m so glad I found you.” Of all the comments I receive on here, that is the one that makes me smile and glow inside every. single. time. Because I know someone else doesn’t feel alone any longer. And it makes my heart sing to know that is true.

Identifying giftedness matters. Identifying spiritedness matters. Identifying high sensitivity matters. Identifying right-brainedness matters.

It matters because it gives us hope and confidence as parents to move forward and love our kids in the way they uniquely need.

This post is part of the Gifted Homeschool Forum Blog Hop.

GIftedness why does it matter blog hop

5 Reasons Why We Love Our Homeschool Coop

5 Reasons Why We Love Our Homeschool Co-op

5 Reasons Why We Love Our Homeschool Coop

I confess I had heard so many negative stories about homeschool co-ops that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to join one. But I also knew that co-ops can vary widely based on the make-up of the group so we should probably give it a try. Most importantly we wanted Caroline to have lots of experiences with other children because she is an only child. Overall, giving co-op a try made sense.

I am very thankful to say that our co-op has been a huge blessing!

We moved to our present home just before Caroline started kindergarten and were fortunate to discover that there was a large, well-established Christian co-op in our new town with a variety of classes from preschool through twelfth grade.  It is a drop-off co-op meaning that we are not required to teach to be a part of the co-op. It is also more expensive because of that, but the cost is worth it compared to everything that all three of us get out of it.

Here are 5 reasons why we love our homeschool co-op.

Experienced and Knowledgeable Instructors

The classes are taught by very well-qualified tutors. (They call them tutors, not teachers, as a recognition that the parents are the teachers. The tutors are there to assist the parents.) All of the tutors have degrees in the subjects they teach and many of them have advanced degrees.

The younger students have enrichment classes, but as they move into later elementary school and into junior high and high school, the classes are academic. I’m very thankful to know that Caroline can take classes in areas that aren’t necessarily my strength as she gets older and that she will be able to take them with well-qualified instructors just a few miles from our home!

Positive Mix of Families

The co-op is Christian and has a basic doctrinal statement. Beyond that, there is a lot of diversity in the families. For the most part it’s just a very regular group of people committed to home educating their children with a Christian world-view.

The co-op atmosphere feels like a safe place. By that I mean that it’s a safe place for Caroline to interact with lots of families from different denominations without feeling pressure to conform to certain extra-biblical requirements. I’ve never felt from any of the parents that there are unwritten rules to be a good parent or a good homeschooler. It’s pretty much live and let live as far as I can tell. I truly appreciate that.

Classroom and School-ish Experience

Because Caroline is an only child and has never been to school, we like that co-op gives her a taste of the classroom and school-ish experience. She has the opportunity to interact in a group with other children, learn how to negotiate peer relationships, and have experience in group learning. Because she’s only there for a couple of hours a week, the classroom time doesn’t become boring as it probably would for her in a traditional classroom.

It has been good for Caroline to learn to wait her turn in a group setting and understand that the world doesn’t revolve around her. It’s tricky being the parent of an only child. There are some life and relationship lessons that are just more challenging to teach when you only have one child. Co-op has given her situations that push her to grow in ways she might not get otherwise.

Break for Mom and Dad

We appreciate our drop-off co-op because it gives David and me a break! As a homeschooling, work-at-home family we spend a LOT of time together at home. A few hours each week when we get a break from parenting is really nice! And, in all honesty, it is a good break for Caroline from us as well.

Less Planning

Caroline has enrolled in two classes each year. It’s nice that I don’t have to plan for those subjects. This year Caroline is taking art and gym. I don’t have to think about those subjects all year if I don’t want to. It is nice to outsource some of our learning, freeing me up to do other things.

Overall, our homeschool co-op experience has been fantastic. If you don’t have a co-op like this where you live, it would truly be worth your time to try to get a group of parents together with a similar vision and see if you could accomplish something similar.


This post is part of iHN’s Dueling Blog Posts series. La ToyaTo read the opposite opinion, please visit the lovely LaToya and read her take in Why Co-ops Don’t Work for Us. Then click on the graphic below to discover more dueling blog posts!





Apples Unit BUNDLE with Literacy and Math Activities, Fun Fact Cards and KWL


This bundled packet includes three of my most popular products! When bundled together, you save money over buying them separately.

It includes:

Apples Galore! Literacy and Math Pack

Apples Fun Fact Cards

Apples KWL

I also have a Fall and Pumpkins Bundle!

Apples Unit BUNDLE with Literacy and Math Activities, Fun Fact Cards and KWL
Apples Unit BUNDLE with Literacy and Math Activities, Fun Fact Cards and KWL
Apples Unit BUNDLE with Literacy and Math Activities, Fun Fact Cards and KWL
Price: $6.50

Preparing Your Homeschool Substitute Teacher Plans and Bin

Preparing Your Homeschool Substitute Teacher Plans and Bin

Preparing Your Homeschool Substitute Teacher Plans and Bin

At the beginning of the school year, every classroom teacher prepares for a sub. Since she often doesn’t know in advance she will need a sub, the teacher has a folder ready to go from the first day. It usually includes a wide variety of easy-to-implement and ready-to-go activities.

Have you ever thought about preparing your own substitute homeschool teacher plans?

Of course as homeschooling parents we don’t have an actual sub come in and work with our children if we’re sick and can’t teach for a particular day. But we can put together a plan ahead of time so when the eventual illness does catch up to us, we have something to save the day.

Self-directed, Highly Engaging Activities

I think the key to making a successful bin is to avoid meaningless busywork that can be completed in a couple of minutes (like coloring pictures – unless your child really loves them). The bin needs to be filled with engaging, self-directed activities or else it really defeats the purpose. If your kids have to come ask for your assistance every five minutes, you might as well be doing schoolwork with them and counting it as a day!

It’s also wise to not give the kids the entire bin at one time or they will go through everything in an hour and come back saying they are bored with the rest of the day before you. Let them choose one activity and require them to use it for a decent amount of time before they can trade it in for something else.

Preparing a Homeschool Substitute Teacher Bin

A medium storage bin works really well for this. The bin should be full of new-to-them, self-directed activities that will keep your children engaged. Naturally the contents will vary a lot based on the ages of your children. Things to include could be:

DVDs for kids

New board games

New card games

New puzzles

Puzzle books

Craft kits

New LEGO sets

New children’s books

Amazon Gift Card w/balance to download new apps, books, etc.

Links to learning websites that are new to your children

Again, select items that work for your particular children and your particular needs. You can decide if you want them to keep the items out at the end of the day or if everything gets packed away to be brought out again when another substitute teacher day arrives.

What other things would you add to your bin?

Pearson Homeschool Science Curriculum

Pearson Homeschool Science Curriculum Review

Pearson Homeschool Science CurriculumI received this product for free. I am being compensated for my time to use the product and write this review. All opinions are my own and I was not required to provide a positive review.

Science is one of those subjects that we’ve been pretty relaxed with so far. I haven’t done any formal science curriculum with Caroline to this point. She’s very interested in science (as long as it’s not gross or messy!), but we’ve been pretty laid back. We’ve read a lot of books and watched a lot of science DVDs and programming on the Kindle. When I had the opportunity to review the Pearson Homeschool Science Curriculum, I was curious as to how Caroline would respond to a science workbook type approach. Although Caroline is a third grader age-wise, we agreed to review the first grade curriculum.

(And, yes, I am aware of the connection between Pearson and Common Core.)

Consumable and Colorful Science Homeschool Textbook

The first thing I noticed when I flipped open the First Grade Interactive Science Book is that it is colorful! It is full of nice layouts such as the following:

Pearson life cycleand

Pearson night skyand

Pearson soil typesChildren who like something colorful and full of pictures will like this book. Caroline was very interested in flipping through the book when she saw it and stopped several times to check out the pictures and information.

Becoming a Scientist

The first two chapters introduce children to the topic of becoming a scientist. The first chapter includes topics about how scientists work, their tools, and how they find and share data. The second chapter focuses on design and problem solving. So from the very beginning of the book, children are learning how to be scientists and think like scientists.

The book also introduces scientific language, using terms such as record, predict, investigate, observe, conclude, procedure, infer, etc. So for moms wanting something that includes more “formal” science language in their science program, there is that feature as well.

For moms who are looking for simple science experiments and don’t want to look all over Pinterest to cobble together their own curriculum, this book offers quite a few. They are basic and in keeping in line with the first grade level.

Minimal Writing

With a right-brained child who doesn’t enjoy writing, minimal writing is always a plus in our home. Students do record answers, but the writing is not extensive. They also learn to record data with some of the experiments so they will be completing charts and such. Oftentimes students are asked to underline or circle something which is a great option for reluctant writers. I think students who are not enthusiastic writers would be able to do well with this book.

Low Prep Homeschool Curriculum

Many homeschool parents desire a low-prep option for their homeschool curriculum choices and I think this fits that description for science. The materials are pretty basic for a science program. It is not a no prep curriculum. The experiments will require rounding up some items, but overall the workbook is pretty inclusive. For a mom who was really pressed for time, you could probably do only the written work and still get a lot out of it. But obviously doing the experiments and observations is what brings it to life for the child.

Secular versus Christ-centered Curriculum

Pearson is a secular publisher so it is a secular workbook. I personally prefer science and history texts in particular that approach the topic from a Christian point of view. There are topics in science especially that leave me in awe of the Creator and it’s impossible for me to think about them or discuss them without also bringing my faith into the discussion!

That said, I didn’t find anything in this book that was blatantly anti-Christian. The topics covered in this particular book don’t delve into the more controversial topics so that was not a concern. When discussing relevant topics, I simply add additional information to what is presented on the page or asked a question that would lead to additional discussion based on other learning we’ve done.

Advanced Reading Level

One thing I wondered about was the actual reading level of the book. I didn’t run it through a check online, but I can’t imagine the average first grader could read this independently at the beginning of the year. Moms should expect to do a fair amount of reading, if not all of it. If you have a child who reads well above grade level, you’ll probably be fine. If you have a struggling reader, you’ll be doing all the reading for your child.

Inclusion of Spanish Translations

If there was one thing I disliked about the book it was the inclusion of Spanish translations in certain parts of the book. There are flashcards the students can cut out for each chapter that help them learn important terminology. The front label and the back definition of each card is in both English and Spanish. For someone like Caroline, it’s distracting. There is also a Glossary in the back of the book that includes all the definitions in both English and Spanish. I’m not sure what purpose it serves to include both when the rest of the book is entirely in English. It just clutters up the page and I really don’t think it adds value to the book.

Overall Recommendation

My overall recommendation is that Pearson’s First Grade Interactive Science Book could be a very good choice for homeschool families. I think for moms who want something that is all organized and laid out, it will fit the bill. It offers enough hands-on ideas to keep it interesting, but not so much you are going to feel like you are constantly prepping.

For moms who lack confidence in pulling together a complicated, hands-on intensive science curriculum, this would be a good choice. it gives your child a real science curriculum and mom the peace of mind that you are doing something structured together.

For visual learners and children who don’t like to write, I think this would be a good fit. If you add in the hands-on experiments, they will probably get a great deal out of it.

Special Discounts Through September 15, 2014

Pearson is offering a number of specials and discounts through September 15, 2014. You can get 25% off with code BLG25 on:

  • enVisionMath Bundle Grades K6
  • myWorld Social Studies Bundle Grades K6
  • MCP Plaid Phonics Bundle Grades K6
  • Interactive Science Bundle Grades K5

The first grade science curriculum pictured on my review is also a part of that discount.

Pearson science cover

Why perfect and homeschool shouldn't be used in the same sentence

Why “perfect” and “homeschool” shouldn’t be used in the same sentence

Why perfect and homeschool shouldn't be used in the same sentence

I was recently looking for something online and I saw a link for a post about creating the perfect homeschool schedule. May I quote Miss Alice from the television show Christy?

Perfection belongs to God.

The last thing a homeschool mom needs is anyone telling her she can create the perfect ANYTHING related to homeschooling.

Can we just strike the idea of perfect from our collective homeschool mindset?

There is no perfect curriculum.

There is no perfect schedule.

There is no perfect planner.

There is no perfect anything.

There are quality products. There are effective planners. There are workable schedules. But none of these things can ever be perfect.

Perfection belongs to God.

Even if we have a really good day, can we please not say it was the perfect day?

Or the perfect weather?

Or that we’ve found the perfect anything?

Do you know why?

Because it reinforces in our mind that perfection is attainable.

That we should be on the lookout for perfect days and perfect weather and the perfect homeschool schedule that is going to solve all of our problems.

And it makes anything less than perfect seem, well, less than perfect. And that is super bad, don’t you know?

Homeschooling is challenging enough without adding a layer of expected perfection.

Today can we all just rejoice in the great? Or even the really good? Honestly, some days I’m really happy with just the adequate.

And let’s make a point of no longer using the words “perfect” and “homeschool” in the same sentence.


Measure with a Ruler Math Center Activity with Task Cards


Your children will enjoy practicing their measuring skills with this hands-on math center activity. They will cut out the ruler and measure ten different back to school themed items on the various task cards. They will then record their answers on their sheet.

The student sheet is provided in both color and black/white.

This item ties in with my Back to School Literacy and Math Pack. It features 10 fun centers and activities that students will find engaging.

I also have a Measure with Apples Math Center Activity with Task Cards.

Measure with a Ruler Math Center Activity with Task Cards
Measure with a Ruler Math Center Activity with Task Cards
Cut out a ruler and measure various items on cards
Price: $1.00