• To The Mom Who Isn’t Looking Forward To Summer Break…

    I see you and It’s okay. I see the moms who are frantically posting on Facebook, “How do I feed all of my kids during the break” or “Anyone not looking forward to break?”  For many families, summer break is stressful.

     -For working families, your kids have to be sent to a program which can be expensive and not all kids adapt to change well.

     -For lower class families, many kids relied on the school to feed them during the day and break can cause food insecurity. 

    -For families with special needs, many programs end during the summer. I know where I live once a child reaches school age, services do not typically continue during the summer and it will resume in the fall. It leaves families with a tough choice of paying out of pocket or going without for a few months. Many children struggle with going from a big support system to a smaller support system.

    There are many different type of families than the ones above and summer break impacts each one differently. I want everyone to remember that when they see a mom who is not looking forward to break, instead of judging them find a way to help. Everyone needs a support system and it takes one person to make a difference.

    If you and your family is facing food insecurity or need any recourses, please call: 211

  • Do You Have Leftover Curriculum? Here’s What You Do…

    It’s the end of the year and do you have a pile of unneeded curriculum? I know I usually do. I have three piles, keep for records, did not use, or could not finish. The reason I keep a pile for records is incase I ever need to refer back to progress. My “did not use” pile I either pass it on or I keep it for the next year. For items we could not finish due to not enjoying it or it did not work for us, I pass on as well. I know for the 2021-2022 school year, I have a few read aloud books to pass on as well as some curriculum we could not complete. What do I do with items that need to be passed on? Here are three ways you can pass on curriculum:

    1. Sell it online

    Many curriculum companies have Facebook pages for buy, sell, or trade (b/s/t) their items. I have bought much of my curriculum through pages like this and usually have good experiences. Selling is straight forward and this is an easy way to make some money back on purchases.

    2.  Donate it to a family

    Many towns have homeschool groups. See if it possible to create an event where everyone can trade used curriculum or see if there is a family who is starting out and would love some recourses. This is a great way to make new friends with homeschooling families as well.

    3.  See if there is a local free curriculum store.

    An hour away from me we have a store called the ‘curriculum cache’ and it’s where you can donate old curriculum and pick up new curriculum for free. We personally love this store and used to use it once a year before we moved. I would research if there if anything similar in your area.

    I hope this gave you some ideas on what to do with your unneeded curriculum. What do you do with your extra curriculum that doesn’t have a use anymore? When is your last day of school? Can you believe summer is approaching? Happy end of the school year!

  • Homeschooling Special Need’s Children

    One of the reasons we started homeschooling is because my oldest is special needs. I now have four children and two of my kids are special needs. My oldest has Autism and my other son is non verbal. Even though we homeschool, special needs children can still receive an IEP and services. Both of my children receive services through our local district. With our current district they haven’t had any issues with us being homeschoolers. If you are trying to get your children services and the district is giving you push back due to homeschooling; I highly recommend contacting https://hslda.org, They will be able to help you navigate your specific state and can help you find the information you are looking for. 

    Another benefit for homeschooling children with special needs is being able to adjust the curriculum for them. Grades are a superficial marking for homeschoolers. Your child may be in “first grade”, but doing work that is either above that grade level or below that grade level. The work is at the right pace for them and keeps them motivated to learn. 

    Also, with homeschooling you will be able to take breaks when needed and there will be no repercussions. Some of my kids need to run off all their energy before sitting down to learn which isn’t possible in another setting. If one of my children gets frustrated with a certain topic or skill, we will take a break for the day. If it is a reoccurring issue, it is okay to find someone else to teach your children in that area. There are many co-ops, forest schools, tutors, etc. Homeschooling does not need to be taught 100% by you. For our family personally, their dad teaches them life skills and our safety unit. We also have specialized teachers who help my kids with certain skills. I teach everything else unless I request otherwise. This makes everything easier for me since I don’t have to worry about the difficulties my kids would face in public school. Overall there are many benefits for homeschooling special needs children and I am thankful I have the ability to do so.

    If you could ask any question to a parent who homeschools, what would it be?

  • Unpopular Opinion: Toddler’s Don’t Need Formal Education

    This opinion is most likely not a popular one. I do not give my infants or toddlers a formal education until they reach upper preschool age. For our family, we classify upper preschool age between three and four. Even at preschool age their education is laid back and loose. Our days are filled with coloring and read aloud books with very few workbooks. 

    I know when you log onto Instagram or Facebook, you will see the sensory bins, manipulative objects sorted in colors, etc. You will see the posts about how your neighbors two year old can count to twenty and can write their name. Then you will look at your child who is convinced her middle name is, “French Fry.” As hard as it is to not compare, don’t. Let your child be a kid. Let them play outside, get muddy and explore. Formal education will come later in life and they will be spending many days wishing they could be outside instead.

    Why don’t we believe in early formal education? Infants and toddlers naturally learn and are always picking up information. My two year old who has never had one minute of formal education, can tell me her colors and count. She also picks up her brothers letter flash cards and tries to sound the letters out on her own. While I think my daughter is off playing with her younger brother while we homeschool, she is still listening to everything. It is amazing what infants and toddlers learn without the stress of work sheets.

    To see my post about formal education, click here.

    When do you start formal education? Do you think formal education should start earlier or later in life?

  • Alternatives To Busy Work

    As many people are wrapping up the 2021-2022 school year, you might finish subjects earlier than planned. What if you don’t want to start a new curriculum, but want to keep your kids busy for the last six weeks? If your child has any state testing approaching, I would review for the last six weeks including doing a practice test. I would look at your local district and state regulations and see what is required for your child’s grade. If there are no testing or any last minute loose ends that need to be completed; I would finish the work that you have left and end the school year early. I personally say no to unneeded busy work unless it has intention to better the child academically. Busy work is a tough topic since many people have different opinions. Some families love busy work since it imitates public school and other families don’t use it all. Is busy work needed? No! There is no reason to do extra work that is mundane and repetitive. For some children it can create boredom or frustration in a subject since it doesn’t strengthen their knowledge. What are the alternatives to keep a child busy if it isn’t busy work? 

    1. Create an end of the year project.

    Have your child pick their favorite topic they learned this year and have them create a project? For human body, they could create a life size body and label all the parts. Another example is if their favorite topic was the Periodic table, they could create cupcakes with each element labeled. They would be baking 118 cupcakes and labeling each one.

    2. Plan a field trip

    Field trips are a great way to get out of the house and still actively learn. Since public or private school is still in session, places will be emptier than if it was the middle of the summer. This is a perfect time to explore a museum and see what peaks your Childs interest.

    3. Ask your child what they want to learn.

    Every child has a passion about a subject and wants to learn more. If your child wants to learn more about a specific topic, you can create a miniature unit study. Many unit studies take less than a month. Bookshark has a FREE unit study on “Government” and “Weather.” Gather Round has tons of unit studies that take less than six weeks including “Birds”, “Africa”, “Transportation”, and other topics. The Good and The Beautiful also have unit studies and some are free which change periodically. I would check their website for which subjects and units are free and which are not. I have used all these companies and they create fantastic curriculum. You can also create unit studies from Teachers Pay Teachers and many of the recourses are free. I do have a post on how I create my unit studies. Click here for more information.

    Did you end the school year early? What is your opinion on busy work? I hope everyone is having a great week. 

  • Warm Weather and Finishing Up The School Year

    Summer is approaching which means school will be finished for many children. As we approach the last month of school, parents and kids motivation will start to dwindle. Personally for us, we homeschool all year round. Does that mean we don’t have the same feelings as many families as the weather warms up? Nope! We see the nice weather and also want to put our work away. Here is how we finish our work while battling the summer jitters: 

    1. Spend time outside in the morning and complete our work at night. Many days we will spend hours outside or go to the beach and complete our work before dinner. We will do this when our workload is light and not many subjects need to be covered.
    2. Complete all work in the morning before going outside. I know for some kids, getting themselves tired and then doing work isn’t feasible. When we have a lot of work that needs to be completed, we will homeschool first and then spend all day outside. 
    3. Read a book outside. While my kids are playing outside, many days I will bring our current read aloud book and read it. This keeps my younger kids busy and my older kids can listen.
    4. Turn math into an outside game. When practicing math, addition and subtraction can be turned into an outdoor game. Taking water balloons and laying them out on the ground can be turned into a game that helps you cool down. Lay out six balloons and add three balloons is nine balloons. Jump on two balloons and it leaves seven balloons. Keep doing this over and over again with different math problems. 
    5. Reduce your expectations. Remember in public school only 80% of the work is completed. For our family if we complete four Bookshark lessons and one Gather Round lesson for the week, I am content during this season. All our other work will be completed overtime. There’s no rush to finish everything and lets us enjoy other activities. 

    What do you do as the weather gets warmer? When is your school year finished? Enjoy the sun everyone!

  • The Good and The Beautiful FREE Summer Program

    The Good and The Beautiful Level K/1st Summer Reading Book

    The Good and The Beautiful are offering their FREE summer reading program again. There are four levels to choose from. The first level is for Kindergarten and First Grade and the second level is for Second and Third Grade. The third level book is for Fourth through Sixth Grade. The last level book is for Seventh Grade and up. These books will release on May 17, 2022 and you can sign up for text alerts. To get information for text alerts and where to buy the books go to: https://www.goodandbeautiful.com/summer2022/

    What comes with the summer reading program? 

    Each pack contains an age appropriate wholesome book, reading chart, sticker sheet, and 2 bookmarks. 

    Is the program really free? 

    Yes, the books and items are free; all you need to pay for is shipping. I paid $2.98 in shipping for two copies of the Kindergarten and First Grade level. This would be a great time to add other subjects to your cart as well since you would only be paying shipping once. 

    What makes The Good and The Beautiful Program great? 

    The Good and The Beautiful really is beautiful. They put so much thought in their artwork and what message they portray. The company really wants to portray language and life in a simple positive way. They teach about respect, being honest, growth, and so much more. Their books are colorful and capture kids attention. See the photo below to see a page of how beautiful the artwork is. My children were so excited when their box came in the mail.

    If you are looking for a reading program that is free, easy to understand, engaging to kids, and wholesome; I highly suggest checking out The Good and The Beautiful. What reading program are you doing this summer? Are you going to try out The Good and The Beautiful reading program?

    *Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored and all opinions are my own.*

    Mystery of the Missing Peas by Tessa Greene

  • Three MORE Ways To Save Money

    Homeschool supplies can add up fast if you want extra items like games, speciality themed toys for a unit, etc. To help reduce the cost of homeschooling, I am always on the lookout for a good deal. Here are my top three places I go to find discounted or cheaper items to fill my homeschool. 

    1. Target Bullseye Playground: My family are huge target fans and we love their Bullseye Playground. I find puzzles, speciality platters, books, toys, etc in there for less than five dollars. Many of the items are only one or three dollars. Recently I found building manipulative pieces for one dollar and a United States platter for five dollars. The selection changes frequently. On occasion Bullseye Playground items can be found at target.com and bought in larger quantities. 
    2. Thriftbooks.com: School books, read aloud books, and reference books can add up fast. It’s why I like to go to thriftbooks.com first before buying any books and see if I can order the books secondhand for a discounted price. Thriftbooks has a loyalty program and has coupons frequently. Their loyalty program is also fantastic and gives you the ability to earn a free book. 
    3. Amazon Warehouse: When shopping on Amazon, I always check to see if they have the item used for a discounted price. I have been able to score books for less than five dollars, games for a discount, play dough sets for a cheaper price, etc. Amazon will also let you know the condition of the item and you will know if it is a good fit for your family. 

    What places do you shop at to help reduce your homeschool costs? Have you used any of the places above to help reduce the cost?

  • Mother’s Day: It’s Okay to Not Love It

    Happy Mother’s Day! Mother’s day can be a tough holiday for some families and it’s not talked about frequently. I recently read a post from leaf-and-steel.com that said, “I Hate Mother’s Day” and I think everyone should go read it. I highly recommend reading the post since she talks about what it’s like to be over touched and how much sacrifice motherhood is. Olivia’s post inspired me to write about how hard Mother’s Day can be.

     For me, I feel guilty on Mother’s Day because I am a mom of four, have angel babies, and suffer from secondary infertility. I am so thankful for my children and thankful that I have the luxury and ability to homeschool, stay home, and build my home with them. I enjoy seeing my children grow from tiny infants to elementary school kids learning about science. My kids are independent, hard working, and kind hearted because of all the work I pour into them day in and day out. 

    But, I also feel guilty due to how much money I have poured into my infertility journey and how many years we have gone through testing. Nobody can give me clear answers and it’s heartbreaking. I feel like I am cheating on Mother’s Day because I dream of having a large family and we are struggling to get there and it’s my fault. I know I should not feel guilty, but infertility is one of the hardest things I have had to go through with very few answers. I also feel guilty because there are so many people who wish they could have one child and I have four children on earth. It’s an internal battle I have dealt with the past few Mother’s Day. I also know I am not the only one who suffers from the same feelings.

    How do I personally deal with all these feelings? I am lucky enough to be able to go spend the day by myself to recharge. I have the ability to leave my children with their dad, I will be going out to brunch with some other mom’s, and will be going retail therapy shopping. I am thankful that this Mother’s Day will be relaxing.

    I hope everyone on Mother’s Day who is a mom, soon to be mom, angel mom, trying to conceive, etc is able to get the day they wish for. 

  • Toxic Positivity In Motherhood

    How many mothers have heard the term “super mom?” Usually being a super mom classifies as someone who can handle everything with grace and ease. As a mother of four, I get told that term frequently and I want to change the narrative. I homeschool three out of four of my kids, run a blog at homeschoolingonahomestead.com, manage our homestead, and currently a student myself. That might seem like a lot, especially since two of my kids are special needs and some days it can be overwhelming. Many of you might be thinking, “Wow she can do so much and I can barely survive raising one child.” I don’t want a portion of my story to come across as someone who has every single thing figured out in life. I do not have everything figured out and for years I struggled to find balance on how to manage it all. Here are ways I have found that helped me.

    1. Meal plan and shop for groceries once a month

    Around the last week of the current month, I will grab my planner and meal plan every single meal for the next month. I plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner with specific meals and my kids have two snacks a day. For our three main meals, I will write a list of all the ingredients we need and buy them once a month. For our snacks I will buy 400 snacks to last us all month. I let my kids grab which snack they want during snack time. Going grocery shopping once a month has saved our grocery bill cost since I don’t impulse buy as much if I went weekly. To see an in depth post about how we meal plan, click this link: https://homeschoolingonahomestead.com/2022/04/07/keeping-life-simple-amongst-the-chaos-meal-planning/

    2. Clean multiple times a day to avoid it becoming overwhelming 

    I clean three times a day instead of waiting last minute. I clean in the morning, early afternoon, and either before or after dinner. I know I have the luxury to do this since I am home more frequently than if I worked out of the home. This can also be used for working parents as well because it can be adjusted to two times a day instead. Loading the dish washer and putting away laundry counts as cleaning. Loading the dishwasher before you leave for work can help relieve some stress since you will come home to clean dishes instead of a filled sink. 

    3. Reverse plan everything

    Personally for me having a giant to do list can be overwhelming and make me feel like I am failing as a mother. If I see that I have thirty tasks to complete before dinner, I feel instant anxiety. I now reverse plan everything including our homeschool day. I write every single task that I accomplished that day in my planner after it is done. I will write when bills are paid, what we did during homeschooling, what cleaning I did, or any appointments we had. I can now visually see everything I did accomplish instead of seeing tasks I did not finish.

    4. Embrace minimalism 

    I am not saying, “go throw away or donate every single object that does not bring you joy.” I know for a fact sponges do not bring me joy, but I have to keep sponges in my house. I am saying really think about what you keep in your house. I started my minimalism journey after I got diagnosed with secondary infertility. After I got diagnosed, I felt like my life was collapsing within. Once we started fertility treatments, my body changed and none of my clothes fit me. This is when I looked into ‘capsule wardrobes’ and started there. Overtime I went through everything in my house because the simpler my house was, the less chaos I felt. I really believe less can be more. My kids each have one week worth of clothes, majority of their toys fit in their toy box except the barbie house and Nugget couch, and every single object in my house has a home. Once I have items that do not have a home, I go through that area again and see what doesn’t fit my lifestyle anymore. I only buy items with intention which helps me save money and my sanity. 

    5. Understand the term “super mom” is toxic positivity and doesn’t actually exist

    This took me a long time to understand and for the longest time, I always thought I was never enough. It didn’t matter how much I had on my plate because my brain would tell me to do more. A lot of that is driven by my PTSD from when I first became a mom and it took me years to work through the trauma that occurred. It’s why I strongly believe that being super mom does not exist since every single mother deals with internal struggles regardless of how much we do. 

    I hope these five tips help you balance everything in your life and I hope you know you are a fantastic mother. You are a great mom if you work outside the house, work from home, go to all the PTA meetings, are a stay at home mom, etc. You are keeping your children alive and watching them thrive and grow into amazing humans. If you got dinner on the table even if it is fast food, I am proud of you. If you got no laundry done, but washed all the dishes. I am proud of you. If you did nothing all day besides breastfeed or snuggle your baby all day while binge watching Netflix, I am proud of you. Every single one of you accomplished at least one thing and you are all enough.