One of the best months of my life was the month I spent in the High Unitas Wilderness Area in Utah the summer before I started college. With nothing but what we packed on our back, 40 of my college pals and I set off for the adventure of a life time! In fact, I turned 18 out in the wilds, after a harrowing day of hiking with a friend who was struggling with Montezuma’s revenge! Listen in HERE as I share the harrowing day before my 18th birthday and the importance of teamwork!
Wilderness adventures – be they tame or wild- are such a great way to build team-work! They provide situations that are free of normal distractions and can include out of the ordinary like backpacking, canoeing, and cooking over an open fire.
Camping often takes us to places of breathtaking natural beauty, re-orienting us to the fact that God is an amazing Creator, who delights in simple beauty.
Camping Printables & Tips
Maybe you can’t get out in the wilderness right now but would still love some camping fun. These camping printables are just what you need! These can even be printed and used on your way to the adventure!
Camping and outdoor adventure is such a great way to build teamwork- one of most important interpersonal skills your students will develop as they prepare to strike out on the adventure of young adulthood!
Getting Started – Homeschooling Preschool and Kindergarten
Getting Started – Homeschooling Preschool and Kindergarten: I've had several young Mommas (so young I could be their Momma!) ask me about homeschooling preschool and kindergarten recently. The biggest challenge for littles is keeping them engaged. Most still have a relatively short attention span, are quickly tired, and need to be fed and watered at regular intervals. Habit is key- routine is your safest bet.
So what are my tips for getting started – homeschooling preschool and kindergartners?
Tip #1 – Morning Baskets
I would recommend developing a morning basket for littles. This method means they get your attention first thing, right after breakfast. This basket is a great way to think about what you want your littles to learn and how to organize it. Morning Baskets for littles can include card matching games, Kumon workbooks, Memory CDs, Poetry, Simple Bible Stories, Phonics, and math games if they are ready for them.
After years of doing this, I recommend over-planning before you get started and then going with the flow once you start. With littles, like with anything else, you don't get what you want; you get what you plan for. With littles, you often get lots of surprises, too, right?!
Tip #2 – Add in age-appropriate chores.
Kids do what you inspect, not what you expect, BUT they do need to know what you expect, too! One of the greatest lessons I've learned from Andrew Pudewa is that if your child keeps asking for help, they need help. This seems simple- well, it is, really, but it might not come naturally! Life skills are a big part of homeschooling preschoolers and kindergartners.
Tip #3 – Add in Some Books
If you live with books and magazines, your kids will think having them around is normal. My kids love books on tape. We use Sonlight, Bethlehem Books, Memoria Press, and Veritas Press catalogs as reading lists. Ranger Rick, National Geographic for Kids, Ladybug, and Boys Life have all been favorite magazines around here.
Pre-Reading: Read aloud 15 min a day. There are so many adorable books on everything under the sun; don't limit your read-aloud to baby books.
Curriculum Suggestions for Homeschooling Preschool and Kindergartner
I think some table time is good at this age because it helps kids get acclimated to regular study. Art or History Cards are great to look at, even for pre-readers. Usborne, Memoria Press, and Veritas Press all have beautiful ones.
Christian Studies-Arch books are a fabulous way for your littles to get a great introduction to basic Bible stories with pictures that they'll remember for a lifetime. We also loved and read out loud to our kids a couple of different Children's Bibles, including the Golden Children's Bible. We had tons of felts, and teaching Bible stories through felts is always an attention grabber.
IEW Language Acquisition through poetry memorization– this is a fantastic program and easily accessible for littles, especially with the CD. There are four sections of 20 poems each, starting with simple, short poems and ending with epic dramatic re-tellings. Andrew Pudewa (who put the program together and recites the poems) has incredible diction, so your kids will hear fantastic vocabulary and superb storytelling.
Letter and Number recognition– we used Kumon and Usborne workbooks, colorful, easily accessible, and fun. There are tons of complete programs available.
Phonics- We always used Alpha Phonics in conjunction with Explode the Code. There are other great products out there. We took the low-cost, no bells, and whistles, practical approach.
Bible Study– Arch books, Bible Memory, reading a good quality Children's Bible, Veggie Tales, Veritas Press, or Bible Study for All Ages Bible cards.
Memory Work – When our youngest was four, she learned 160 VP history cards that year (even though she was a pre-reader), along with 24 history sentences, several hundred facts related to grammar, geography, Latin, poems, and more because we regularly and diligently used CDs and table time to review. She also learned the letter sounds and started on a notebook-sized timeline. I say all of this so that you realize your littles are capable of learning a LOT.
This is NOT to say that you should set them at the table and force information down their throats. Kids this age, however, can learn a ton through CDs, good DVDs, books, and great visual aids such as flashcards. Also, if you have older kids, why not include your younger kids? They are sponges. If you start early “training their brains to retain,” you'll be amazed at how much they really can and do retain as they grow older.
More Fun Ways of Getting Started Homeschooling Preschool and Kindergarten
Outside play, exploration, and nature walk – Nature journaling and nature tables are an excellent way for kids to display the cool things they've found as they explore the great outdoors! Homeschooling your preschooler and kindergartener should always be fun!
Read-aloud – At least 15 minutes a day; more is better ; )
Crafts and Art – There are so many fun art books, but in any case, an easel, paper, and paint is always appropriate. Colored shaving cream is excellent for bath/shower painting. And hey, how about a shower tile wall- works great as a whiteboard and for painting- easily wipes off- all for $15 bucks.
Gardening – This can be in the yard, with containers, or how about a Fairy Garden?
Open-Ended toys – Brio Trains, Playmobile, Duplos/Legos, Stuffed Animals. Pinterest has some adorable pins of old entertainment centers rehabbed as play kitchens. Add some felt food; and old pots, pans, and measuring cups.
Art Supplies – Easels, paint, glitter, glue, pipe cleaners, colored paper, stickers, colored rice bins, colored shaving cream to “Paint” in the bathtub, Whiteboards around the house (make a whiteboard wall with shower tile or several smaller lapboards), chalkboards and magnet boards (easily made with some chalkboard or magnet paint).
“Sound exploration” – Musical makers. Kids love making sounds.
Cooking- My kids have all loved to help cook in the kitchen. Usborne's First Cookbook is full of fun and simple recipes.
Gross motor skill development– For years, we had a “Step 2” playscape, complete with a ladder and slide, IN our house.
Sandbox or table– a friend built a sandbox in their basement for their kids, and we had a sand table on our front porch for years.
Fine motor skill development – Have plenty of pens, pencils, and markers around for the kids to play with, sewing cards, and small toys (once they are past the “everything in their mouth” stage- legos, of course.
Travel/ field trips – What better way to learn about the mail than actually visiting the Post Office? These types of learning experiences make learning fun AND educational.
Singing – the Wee Sing series, with books and CDs are full of old favorites.
Daily Prayer – Family evening prayers, with everyone snuggled in a bed together, is a gentle way to teach your littles about what's important to you. We have each child pray, youngest to oldest, ending with Daddy blessing each child. If your kiddo doesn't know what to pray for, just help them along following ACTS (Adoration, Confessions, Thanksgiving, Supplication). We would have them repeat a simple sentence or two, such as, “Thank you, God, for this day.” This year, we made an Easter garden.
Finally, as a word of caution…..Limit screen time for Preschool and Kindergarten!
There are so many apps, computer games, DVDs, etc., and they are all fascinating. We use some but in limited quantity. You want your pre-Ker neurology to be hard-wired to people and words, not electronics. Studies have shown that kids learn language skills by interacting with people-NOT screens.
For littles, almost everything they encounter is new and amazing. It’s so fun to explore the world together and to see it through fresh eyes. You don’t have to be super planned, but some planning does help, and kids, again, thrive on routines. So what are you waiting for? Take the leap to homeschooling preschool and kindergarten today!
As summer rapidly approaches, the likelihood of hearing that ominous word—boredom—grows increasingly probable. I learned to carefully avoid this word around my parents in my youth, as it typically meant being given a long list of chores. Our summers involved mostly outdoor activities: riding bikes, woodland exploration, and swimming—with a bit of reading thrown in on rainy days. Our family often had one vacation in the summer, with destinations chosen by my parents based on their interests and tastes, not mine. This was the norm, and it worked.
Modern Parents and the Boredom Principle
It’s safe to say that modern parents appear more obliged to provide the bored child with incessant vacations, camps, and activities to assuage their boredom than previous generations, which begs the question: is boredom a bad thing?
When I was pregnant with my first child, I read a book on childhood brain development for a continuing education credit for my social work licensure. I wish I could recall the text now, but I do remember that the author was emphatic that denying children of downtime—time to be bored—affects them in two significant ways. The first is less creativity, which was no surprise, but the second point was a bit of an epiphany for me. They also struggle to develop clear values and a subsequent moral structure.
Recently I was reminded of that book while listening to a TED Talk on boredom. Experts agree that free time and daydreaming are essential parts of childhood brain development. Over-scheduled children denied the time to reflect and be creative are not only starving their brains but wrestle with issues of moral ambiguity and difficulty solving problems. Sound familiar? Not to mention that modern children now possess devices that continually entertain and occupy their thoughts—regardless of what the calendar says. Modern science concurs on the subject of boredom with that 20-year-old textbook.
Building Quiet Time Into Your Day
Consequently, as soon as my children were old enough, I built mandatory quiet time into our daily schedule. Each day, my children were required to spend one hour alone in their rooms, where they did not talk, watch TV, or engage with any technology. Total silence. They were allowed to exercise, read, do crafts, build Legos, or anything creative, but they were not to do schoolwork. This was their time to pray, ponder, meditate, be mindful, daydream, analyze, stargaze, imagine, and think deeply.
We had a few more fun things on the schedule when summer approached than when I was a kid. We had a pool, so we had friends over quite a bit. The kids were allowed to pick one day-camp activity, such as horse or robotics camp, and sometimes we would go camping. Otherwise, we expected our kids to ride their bikes, explore the woods, and swim—with reading thrown in on rainy days. If they made the mistake of telling me they were bored, I always had a list of chores or projects handy, and I resisted the urge to fill in the blank spaces on our family calendar.
The Biggest Benefit of Boredom
What happened most was they built tree forts and mud pies and dammed our creek. They went berry picking. They colored pictures at the picnic table. They played with the dog and cat. They played kickball. They pitched a tent in the backyard. They helped me dig weeds in the garden or lay on blankets watching clouds, trying to find cartoon characters in the shapes.
They deliberated internally on their actions, observations, and experiences. They had an epiphany or two, which we would sometimes discuss over their bedtime prayers, and which helped solidify their values. They also had some of the most creative ideas! Through the power of boredom, they nurtured their brain development and pondered what was essential and what kind of people they hoped to be.
Parents, don't waste the boredom! Instead, recognize it for the opportunity that it is and watch the great things your children will accomplish.
If you would like to watch that TED Talk on boredom, here is a link:
Mrs. Ferrell lives in southwestern Ohio with her husband of 23 years, her youngest child, and several pets. Mrs. Ferrell has many hobbies, including gardening, bicycling, quilting, photography, writing, and curriculum development. She is an avid reader and in constant pursuit of new challenges.
Homeschooling takes work. If you're wondering if you could possibly work and homeschool, yes- you can be a working homeschool mom!
Know Your Working Homeschool Mom Limits
Limits are a good thing. They work as boundaries to keep you from overwhelm. To understand your limits and set your boundaries, ask yourself the following questions:
Am I practicing good self-care?
Do I choose foods that nourish my body?
Would meal-prepping work for me or add extra stress?
Do I have any “tells” that help me know when I'm approaching overwhelm?
Am I losing my temper with my friends, family, or work associates?
Do I need a certain amount of time in the morning to myself before I'm on for the day?
Do I need a regular bedtime to support what I need to do each day?
Am I allowing for enough off-time or playtime?
Can I set boundaries for myself that I can provide to others and easily enforce?
What are my employer's expectations?
Allowing yourself the grace to say “yes” when you mean yes, and “no” when you mean no will provide you with a filter for creating limits.
Set Your Work Goals
With work comes expectations. What does your employer expect from you? If you work from home, what do your clients expect of you? What do you expect of yourself? What are your goals?
Adding to your own limits, note the following:
What are my work hours?
Do I have any nights or evenings I'm expected to work?
Can I leave my work at work or will I be expected to work from home?
Do I have help with my kids while I'm at work?
Does the person who helps understand my homeschool plan?
Make Your Homeschool Plan
If you're not sure where to start, I just want to say from the get-go, do not overwhelm yourself with this. Keep it simple.
If you can come up with 5 key things per student you'd like to cover for the year, you've got a solid big picture. You can add to the big picture in a way that doesn't overwhelm you or your helper if you have one.
Things to consider:
Where are we starting? How did we end the school year last year?
What are the ages and grade levels of my students?
What are the courses I would be comfortable teaching or delegated?
What is my worldview? How does that weight my homeschooling choices?
How many children am I homeschooling?
Do we have to have traditional homeschool hours or do we have some flexibility with that?
Do I have a homeschool method I'm committed to?
Just Get Started Homeschooling
The hardest thing to do is to just get started. Pick one subject, one goal, and just go for it.
We can help.
Need a like-minded tribe to journey with? Our Parent Equipping Membership is a great place to start and our Getting Started Homeschool Printable Planning packet was created to help you create a plan, write out your goals, and your vision while keeping your home and students on track. Download it free.
When we think of a leader, we tend to think of someone charismatic, smart, and a “take charge” – that go-to person in any situation. We look at a leader as someone with know-how (hard skills), but I can tell you – it's also someone with soft skills. Leadership and soft skills go hand-in-hand.
What are Soft Skills?
Soft Skills are those personal attributes that allow us to interact well with others and have peaceful and healthy relationships.
They are also known as power skills or personality traits. Soft skills are those skills that everyone seems to understand implicitly. They are related to manners and social moves. For kids with learning disabilities, however, soft skills can be elusive and confusing.
4 C’s of a Soft Skills Education.
These would include:
Collaboration- Collaboration is better known as teamwork. Can you lead, follow, and interact maturely with other team members? Do you problem-solve and handle your own emotions well, or are you causing problems for others on your team? Do you understand the team hierarchy well? Are you willing to lead, follow, and get out of the way? All of these skills go into being a good team player, at different times and in various seasons. A good team player,
Communication- Employers are currently stressing the need for students to have excellent communication skills, including the ability to persuade by written and spoken communication. In particular, they want to hire those who can “sell” (i.e., persuade) both orally and using the written word.
Critical Thinking- Employers are currently stressing the need for students to have excellent communication skills, including the ability to persuade by written and spoken communication. In particular, they want to hire those who can “sell” (i.e., persuade) both orally and using the written word.
Creativity- Creativity is all about thinking outside the box, generating new ideas or tweaking old ones to fit new situations, and interacting with materials, people, and resources in unique ways.
These soft skills are essential tools in the leadership toolbag.
One skill that current employers find is finding lacking in new hires is the ability to sell. With the constant shorthand of texting and 9-second tik-toks and reels, the fine art of Persuasion is being lost. Why is the ability to sell so important? What are some ways that parents can help their kids develop this skill?
Grab your free ticket! Join some of your favorite homeschool speakers and leaders as we strive to raise leaders in this generation.
*This post contains affiliate links. If you click through the link and make a purchase, Lisa Nehring / True North Homeschool Academy makes a small commission. Thank you.
Homeschool families tend to be DIYers. We take on the incredible responsibility of educating our families, often on one income. There is even a growing segment of homeschoolers who home church! It might be said the entire DIY movement started with education and homeschooling back in the early 1980s. We didn't know anything back then of a homeschool tribe.
So, what's a tribe anyway?
According to the Internet, a tribe is “a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.”
Homeschool Tribe Community
The homeschool tribe community consists mainly of families. Many of our families don't look that different from the world's family units. We have many of the same problems. The difference for most homeschooling families within the community is that we have a common recognized leader- Jesus.
He is our religious, social, and even economic tie. He creates our shared culture.
Homeschool Tribe Culture
The homeschool tribe culture itself is unique. It's different than the world's culture because it rests on a person and not a time, place, or bloodline. While we see God's Principle of Individuality within the culture, there is a tie that binds.
Finding Your Homeschool Tribe
With all of this in common, you'd think it would be easy to find a homeschool BFF. But, that's not always the case. With all of the DIYing we do, we can become so independent we neglect our need for our tribe.
Our tribe can often be found within our church family. What a blessing that is!
If your church isn't supportive of homeschooling, you may find yourself on the outside looking in. And that's a lonely place to be. What's a homeschool parent to do when they feel that isolation and loneliness set in? Try these five tips:
Five Tips for Identifying Your Homeschool People
To know who you need in your tribe, you have to know a few things. Things like, what you offer as a friend, what you want in a friendship, and what your friendship boundaries are. Try these tips to help you in your search.
Know what's important. Do you need a supportive group? A fun group? A serious theological group?
Identify your boundaries. Are you the come-over anytime kind of mom? Do you put limits on your children's electronics and TV exposure? Do you prioritize a specific time of the day for your family only?
Get your fundamental geography right. Do you want in-person support and friendship? Is an online setting okay? What about live interactive opportunities online? Maybe a combination?
Give and receive grace. Okay, this is an important one– there are no perfect people, so there are no perfect homeschool Tribes. Love your people as they are, where they are, and when they need it. And learn to accept that for yourself. Grace is key.
Embracing the Homeschool Tribe
Having a homeschool tribe can provide you with many things; support, accountability, spontaneity, friendship for your kids, and a respite from the demands of homeschooling and caring for your family.
If you've been a DIYer for any time, it might take you some time to learn to embrace the benefits. Don't be afraid to try.