Category Archives: Home Education/Homeschooling

All of Life is a Learning Experience



This evening I have a new header tagline on my website. Why? I’m integrating and simplifying.

If you followed me on my long-time blog (A Quiet Simple Life), I’m closing down that blog and redirecting it to Sallie Borrink Learning.

The way our family lives life is so integrated that it really doesn’t make sense for me to try to maintain two websites. Every part of our day is a learning experience. Whether we’re working or reading or praying or watching a DVD or taking a drive in the country or studying math or doing yard work… It’s all a part of our family’s approach to life. To try to keep the learning part on one site and the rest of our life on another site… It’s just not working for me. We don’t live life that way and so it feels artificial and wrong. So this website will start including other topics that are more broadly life related.

I’m going to also be talking about parenting, home, simple living, faith, etc. All things I’ve always written about since I started blogging in 2005. But it will still include plenty of posts about education, learning, my product development, etc.

I’m very excited about this and I hope you will enjoy the changes. :-)

Posted in Home Education/Homeschooling, Learning and Homeschooling | Leave a comment

Bake a Cake from Scratch to Teach about Work and Rewards

Three Girls Making Cupcakes In Kitchen

Teaching your children to work hard for their rewards

One of the great opportunities we have as homeschooling parents is showing our children how to balance work and play as well as teaching them to be responsible and industrious. As children grow older, we can begin to help our children understand how they are responsible for their choices in a variety of areas. And part of that is learning how to remain diligent and work for the things they want.

Opportunities abound for learning these lessons and it’s important we are on the lookout for them. We can sneak these activities into anything — even baking a cake. Rather than baking a cake and serving it to our children, we can take the time to include them in the process so they understand the work and time it takes for something as simple as a cake.  Have them see all of the steps that are involved – reading the recipe, assembling the ingredients, measuring carefully, and following the instructions. By going through the process with us, they discover that it takes time to get what we want. There are trade-offs. Instead of playing, they are baking a cake. Cakes don’t magically appear. Someone has to take the time to make them.

If you don’t consider yourself a great baker, the Parenting Edition of has a starter’s guide to teaching your children to bake. An important key is starting with a simple, healthy recipe. Angie Browning, winner of the M&S Everyday Chefs baking challenge, came up with a delicious recipe for Lemon and Poppyseed Drizzle loaf cake — a quick and easy cake that you and your kids can work on together, even on busy days.

While baking a cake, you can also incorporate mini-lessons about proper portion control, fractions, and the many health benefits that different ingredients can have. It’s an excellent way to teach them to be mindful of the things they eat, plus they also get a tasty treat once the cake is finished!

Teaching our children to bake is a great way to do school and have fun at the same time. As we go along, our kids might want to start experimenting with recipes, adding their favorite ingredients into well-known dishes, and even searching out new things they’d like to try to make! Imagine all the reading that takes place and opportunities to discuss math while looking through cookbooks or cooking websites! The BBC also suggests that deciding what to cook and shopping for ingredients together can be a great opportunity to talk to your kids about being responsible in their food choices. As you pick out ingredients, you could also tell your child what other dishes can be made with the ingredients, giving them ideas of what food to cook with you next. Learning how to both follow recipes and adapt them to make them their own are great learning opportunities for homeschoolers.

Posted in Home Education/Homeschooling, Math, Science and Nature Study | Leave a comment

Working and Homeschooling – An iHN Google+ Hangout


Work and homeschool hangoutThis Thursday I’ll be participating in a Google+ Hangout entitled How Do You Work and Homeschool? The panel will be made up of five moms who all homeschool and work in various ways both outside the home and at home. It includes big families and little families and different kinds of homeschool approaches so it should be an interesting panel discussion!

The panel members include:

If you aren’t familiar with my professional background, I’m a former teacher who decided to leave teaching to write. When my graphic designer husband was downsized out of his job in 2001, we struck out on our own full-time. Our business is Arts & Letters, Inc. We’ve been business owners since then and now also balance homeschooling with it.  It makes for fun times!

I’m really looking forward to participating in this panel and hope you will stop by to watch and participate in the discussion room!

Posted in Home Education/Homeschooling, Working from Home | Leave a comment

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling a Right-Brained Child

The Ultimate Guiide to Homeschooling a Right Brained Child

Congratulations! You have a right-brained child! You have one of those wonderfully creative children who learns differently and looks at the world differently. If you are a right-brained person, then you already have some idea of what life is like for your child. If you are left-brained, you may feel completely bewildered about what to do with this little person who doesn’t want to do anything the way you think it should be done!

My own Caroline is right-brained. After making it through the high-need baby stage and realizing she is a spirited child when she was a toddler, the right-brained discovery was rather anti-climatic. We’ve become accustomed to having to think outside the box with her. Homeschooling a right-brained child is just the next step!

I’ve compiled below what I hope you will find to be The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling a Right-brained Child. I’ve spent hours doing research to put all of this information in one place. I hope you will find it helpful and you will find many resources that will assist you in your homeschooling and parenting journey. If you know of any good resources I’ve missed, please feel free to let me know about them in the comments!

Please note that the inclusion of a link below is not an endorsement of all of its content or the content of the site on which it is located.

Right-Brain Books


Right-Brain Characteristics

Your Child Might Be Right-Brained If …  from The Right Side of Normal

Is Your Child Right-Brain Oriented? from The Homeschool Mom

An Introduction to the Creative, Right-Brained Learner from Apple Stars

Honestly… what do we really mean when we say a product or person is right-brained? from Child 1st

Is My Child a Visual-Spacial Learner? from Child 1st

Why We Need to Value Students’ Spatial Creativity from KQED

The Gender Factor from The Right Side of Normal


General Teaching and Curriculum for the Right-Brained Child

Teaching Your Right Brain Child from Child Diagnostics

Right-Brain Learners from The Homeschool Mom

Left Brain vs Right Brain in the Classroom from Scholastic

Your Puzzling Gifted Child from Child Diagnostics

Right Brain Learning from Funderstanding

Tips for Teaching the Right-Brained Child from Child 1st


Reading, Writing and Spelling for the Right-Brained Child

Right Brain Writing from Child Diagnostics

Typical Right-Brained Reading Traits from Apple Stars

Reading for Right-Brained Learners from Home EDucators Resource Directory

Right-Brained Reading from The Homeschool Mom

Teaching Your Right Brained Child by Dianne Craft at HSLDA


Math for the Right-Brained Child

Right Brain Math from Child Diagnostics

Right Brain Math Strategies from Child Diagnostics

The Making of a Wizard and the Crafty Side of Math from Blog, She Wrote

Right-Brained Math from The Homeschool Mom

More Right-Brained Math Ideas from The Homeschool Mom


My Posts Related to How I Homeschool My Right-Brained Daughter

Must Have Items for Homeschooling a Creative Girl

Should elementary students formally study mathematics?

Our Homeschool Learning Room 2013-2014

Homeschool curriculum for a right-brained, spirited child – 2013-2014

Why I homeschool in the afternoon and not the morning

Teaching Our Spirited, Active Child to Read

Why I Don’t Plan Crafts for My Child

A Dozen and a Half Learning and Educational Websites for Children

Are You Choosing the Wrong Learning Materials for Your Child? 

How We Ended Up Relaxed Homeschoolers and What It Looks Like

Stocking Art Supplies and Craft Items in the Homeschool Art Cabinet

Relaxed Homeschooling in the Early Elementary Years – A How To Series

How I Teach History – Relaxed Homeschooling in the Early Elementary Years

How I Teach Science – Relaxed Homeschooling in the Early Elementary Years

How I Teach Math – Relaxed Homeschooling in the Early Elementary Years

How I Teach Language Arts – Relaxed Homeschooling in the Early Elementary Years Series

Our First Year of Homeschooling – A Look Back at the Ups and Downs of Kindergarten

A Sample Kindergarten Homeschool Schedule for a Creative, Dreamer Child


Other Bloggers with Right-Brained Children

Marianne at Abundant Life

Ticia at Adventures in Mommydom

Heather at Blog, She Wrote

Michelle at The Holistic Homeschooler

Tricia at Hodgepodge

Chellie at The Planted Trees


This post is part of the Ultimate Guides event hosted by iHomeschool Network. Check out many other wonderful Ultimate Guides!


Posted in Caroline, Home Education/Homeschooling, Learning and Homeschooling, Right Brained Learners | 1 Comment

Why I Don’t Plan Crafts For My Child

Why I Don't Plan Crafts For My Child

On a recent visit to my parents’ home, my mom asked me to go through some of my childhood things she still had. Among them were crafts from elementary school. I wish I had thought to take pictures of them, but I’ll have to do that when they bring them here the next time they visit.

We’re talking humble crafts. In the age of Pinterest, these are rinky dink.

Pink wax with pink glitter poured into a school milk carton to make a square candle.

A dipped beeswax candle and a candle holder made of clay and then glazed.

And so on.

And yet I remember making every single one of them. Crafts weren’t something we did that often in school. The only other place I did crafts was Girl Scouts if it was related to a badge we were working on.

Like the mom in I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical, my parents didn’t plan craft projects for us. We had construction paper, crayons and glue around the house. Tape was rationed. I remember some paper doilies. We had coloring books. (I liked to color.) That was about it. In the early 70′s, parents were not obsessed with maximizing their child’s every moment. I read a lot of books and my brother spent most of his time running around the neighborhood with his friends (unsupervised, as was the norm).

Which gets me to my point.

I don’t do crafts with Caroline. I don’t plan them. I don’t scour the internet for fascinating, intricate crafts to do with her. I just don’t see the point.

I do supply Caroline with oodles of craft materials. We have a cabinet full of art and craft supplies and she’s free to use them whenever she wants. Like most right-brained children, she LOVES creating with her hands. She will sit for hours creating things out of cardboard, patterned duck tape, regular tape, construction paper, foam, etc. But I don’t plan any of it. I don’t look for things for her to make. (My gift to her is that I’ve learned to cope with the neverending mess and projects that end up

I think this is one area where homeschool moms put unnecessary pressure on themselves which can, in turn, lead to burnout. Do you know how much time it takes to look for amazing crafts, track down (and pay for) all the special supplies, and then do the actual craft? In my opinion, the return on investment isn’t worth it. I would rather take Caroline to Hobby Lobby or Michaels once or twice a year and give her fifty dollars to spend on craft supplies that interest her. We go armed with coupons and a budget. Not only does she get what she wants, she also learns about tradeoffs because she has to stay within her budget. If I’m constantly supplying her with fancy craft projects, then she doesn’t really learn to appreciate what it takes both in terms of time and money to do them.

So if you are feeling depressed by all of the amazing things moms are posting on Pinterest… Don’t be.  You aren’t the only homeschooling mom out there who isn’t doing spectacular crafts each week. In my opinion, if you provide a variety of interesting materials for your child to use, you are doing a good job.

And sometimes good is enough. :-)

Do you struggle with craft guilt? How do you provide crafty opportunities for your child?


Posted in Art, Crafts and Creative, Caroline, Home Education/Homeschooling, Learning and Homeschooling | 11 Comments

The worries every homeschool mom has (and why you can stop worrying)

The Worries Every homeschool mom has and why you can stop worrying

There are some worries that seem to be common to most (if not all) homeschooling moms. We probably worry about them to varying degrees, but I think there are concerns that cross all of our minds whether it is once a semester or once a week. (Or, during THOSE days, once an hour!)

I am tempted to worry about the fact that Caroline is an only child. I am tempted to worry about the fact that while she’s miles ahead in some subjects, she struggles in others. I am tempted to worry that without an environment of competition, she’ll never learn to push herself to achieve. I am tempted to worry that she’s too content to be home with us and that she’ll never leave when she grows up!  I am tempted to worry that she’s so creative and dreamy that she’ll never be able to find a way to make a living in the real world. LOL!

Karen Edmisten has put together her thoughts regarding Nine Worries About Unschoolish Ways I Shouldn’t Have Worried About. I always appreciate posts like this written by moms who are further down the path than I am. It reminds me that even though Caroline’s education look so completely different from my own or that of her peers who attend a traditional school, that she is doing fine thankyouverymuch.

Relaxed homeschooling is WONDERFUL. I believe so strongly in it (especially in the early years) and I’m so thankful to have this opportunity to share it with my daughter. Is it bliss every day? Of course not!  Nothing is bliss every day. But it’s so much fun to see her flourish and learn and grow according to her own needs and passions and abilities. :D

So I choose to remind myself regularly that God put this child in our home at this time after many years of prayer. I don’t need to worry. He’s been looking out for her from the very beginning and He will continue to do so in the days ahead. I can take my concerns to Him and trust that He will work through her imperfect parents to get her right where she needs to be. :-)

Do you have any specific homeschool or parenting worries that seem to crop up regularly? What do you find encouraging from Karen’s list?

Posted in Caroline, Home Education/Homeschooling, Learning and Homeschooling | 5 Comments

Five Vendors I’d Like to Meet in Person at a Homeschool Convention

Five Vendors I'd Like to Meet in Person at a Homeschool ConventionHomeschool convention season is upon us. I’ve already mentioned I won’t be able to attend one of the Great Homeschool Conventions due to distance limitations. I also shared my thoughts on 5 ways an introvert like me can survive a homeschooling convention.  But if I did attend a homeschool convention, here are five vendors I would really like to meet.  The reason I would like to meet them? They are all people David and I have worked with from a distance and have not had the pleasure of meeting in person. Here they are in ABC order…

Dianna Wiebe at GrapeVine Studies – David has been doing design work for Dianna for a number of years now. I’ve become acquainted with Dianna since starting to use their Bible materials with Caroline. I’ve written about how much we love them and we continue to love them.  (Watch for a giveaway coming up!) It would be great to meet the woman behind the lessons.

Dianne Craft at Child Diagnostics – We’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with Dianne and her husband, Ron, on a number of projects. And as the mother of a right-brained child, I find the information on her website and in her materials fascinating.  The information on blocked learning gates is amazing! I would so enjoy talking with her and sitting in on some of her sessions. :-)

Kim Kautzer at WriteShop – We’ve been working with Kim for years on her awesome writing curriculum. I do editing for her and David does the layout of the materials. Kim is just a fun person to work with! After spending so much time working with her, I would love to meet her in person.

Maggie, Bob and Tyler Hogan at Bright Ideas Press – David has been working with BIP for a number of years and they are delightful people with great products. Judging from my interactions with Tyler on Facebook, I think he’s be a lot of fun to meet in person.

The Gang at The Old Schoolhouse – Technically we’ve already met some of them. We had the pleasure of meeting Paul and Gena Suarez a few years ago when they were coming through Michigan. But there are so many other people we interact with on a daily basis because David does the magazine layout each month. It would be fun to spend some time in their booth and put real faces with names.

If you are fortunate enough to live near a Great Homeschool Conventions location, then head over to their website and check out who will be there! They have some great speakers lined up and lots of terrific vendors to interact with in the vendor hall. There is also a blogger meet-up in the works so make sure you are following GHC on Facebook and Twitter so you can get the up-to-date information on where to connect with bloggers you would like to meet in person!

Image credit

Posted in Home Education/Homeschooling, Homeschool Conventions, Learning and Homeschooling, Working from Home | 2 Comments