Encouraging kids to learn how to cook is an invaluable life skill that extends far beyond the kitchen. It’s a journey that introduces them to the basics of nutrition, math through measurements, science in understanding how ingredients interact, and creativity in crafting their culinary creations. Tune in to learn more!
Encouraging kids to learn how to cook is an invaluable life skill that extends far beyond the kitchen. It’s a journey that introduces them to the basics of nutrition, math through measurements, science in understanding how ingredients interact, and creativity in crafting their culinary creations. Cooking also helps kids gain confidence and the importance of following instructions.
Beyond the practical skills, it can be an opportunity for bonding. Families can spend quality time together in the kitchen sharing stories and creating lasting memories. You know we always talk about cultivating curiosity and exploration and a lot of homeschoolers find this happening in the kitchen as children experiment with recipes and flavors. This kind of exploration can spark a passion that can last a lifetime. Learning to cook empowers kids and giving them the tools and opportunities to present their creations really gives them a sense of pride. In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about the many skills your kids can learn in the kitchen, we’re going to talk about some basic foods everyone should know how to make (especially when your kids go off to college or move into their own home), and we have some really great resources and cookbooks that will help guide you as you teach them these skills.
Teaching kitchen skills to our kids is a hands-on and practical approach to education that extends well beyond just making meals. It teaches a sense of responsibility and fosters independence as they learn skills and cook more and more on their own. It’s also an opportunity to blend various subjects seamlessly; from math during measurement and fractions to science through understanding chemical reactions in baking, and even cultural studies by exploring diverse cuisines.
Beyond the academics, your kids will gain so many life skills like following instructions, time management, and organization. If you think about it, there’s a lot that goes into cooking and this may be second nature for you because you’ve been doing it so long, but these skills are not intuitive. But thankfully homeschooling gives you so much extra time with your kids to teach these skills. And it’s really a perfect way to bond as a family, encouraging teamwork as everyone works together. Speaking of family, it’s also a great way to share traditions and stories. I love when my parents tell me stories of Cuba and foods they grew up with as we sit down to enjoy that traditional Cuban recipe. Or learn the way that our family has done things through generations. Now it’s our turn now to pass on these traditions to our children.
Essential Kitchen Skills Kids Should Know (9:29)
Mastering fundamental kitchen skills can set a strong foundation for kids to become confident and capable in the kitchen. Here are five essential skills:
Understanding measurements and basic math skills are fundamental in cooking. Kids should learn how to measure ingredients using measuring cups and spoons, understand fractions, and work with recipes that involve different measurements.
When you know a culinary ratio, it’s not like knowing a single recipe, it’s instantly knowing a thousand!
Why spend time sorting through the millions of cookie recipes available in books, magazines, and on the Internet? Isn’t it easier just to remember 1-2-3? That’s the ratio of ingredients that always make a basic, delicious cookie dough: 1 part sugar, 2 parts fat, and 3 parts flour. From there, add anything you want—chocolate, lemon and orange zest, nuts, poppy seeds, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, almond extract, or peanut butter, to name a few favorite additions. Replace white sugar with brown for a darker, chewier cookie. Add baking powder and/or eggs for a lighter, airier texture. Ratios are the starting point from which a thousand variations begin.
Teaching kids how to safely use the stovetop is essential. They should learn how to adjust heat levels, use kid-sized pot holders, and understand basic stovetop safety to prevent burns and accidents.
Reading and following a recipe is a valuable skill. Kids should learn how to read and comprehend recipes, follow step-by-step instructions, and understand the importance of accurate measurements and timing.
Food Safety and Hygiene:
Teaching kids about food safety, including washing hands, proper food handling, and understanding basic hygiene in the kitchen, is crucial. They should learn about cross-contamination, proper storage of food, and the importance of clean cooking surfaces and tools.
On our Finding Balance in Your Home and Homeschool episode, we talked about teaching your kids to help with chores. We discussed how to make a grocery list, budget, and shop for ingredients – we even created a detailed menu planner you can download for free! Mastering all of these basic essential kitchen skills will not only equip your kids with practical skills but it will also instill a sense of pride and a love for cooking.
Knowing how to cook some fundamental dishes can be incredibly useful. As I mentioned earlier, especially when your kids are heading off to college!
Essentials Everyone Should Know How to Cook (12:43)
Here are ten essential dishes that can serve as a foundation for various cooking skills:
Pasta: Being able to cook pasta opens the door to countless dishes. It’s a versatile and simple staple.
Eggs: Mastering the art of cooking eggs (scrambled, fried, boiled) offers a quick, nutritious meal for any time of day. Adventure kids omelets
Rice: Learning to cook rice is a fundamental skill for many cuisines. I have graduated from the stove top to this super fancy Japanese rice cooker that I love, but knowing how to make rice on the stove is a skill everyone should have,
Soup: Making a basic soup teaches the principles of building flavors and can be easily adapted with various ingredients.
Stir-Fry: Stir frys are an easy and quick way to throw a meal together with tons of variations. Understanding stir-frying techniques opens the door to quick and healthy meals.
Salad Dressing: Creating your own salad dressing introduces the basics of emulsification and flavor balancing.
Homemade Pizza: Making pizza from scratch teaches the basics of baking and flavor combinations, a homemade crust is really such a simple recipe with just a couple of ingredients
Roast Chicken: Roasting a whole chicken is a skill that can lead to various meals and is a classic comfort food.
Grilled Cheese Sandwich: It’s a simple yet satisfying dish that you can make in a pinch on a low budget. When kids learn how to make this it helps them understand heat control. And you can get really creative and make gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.
Baked Goods (like muffins or cookies): Understanding the basics of baking allows for sweet treats or breakfast options and teaches precise measurements and oven skills.
All these dishes cover a range of cooking techniques and ingredients and teaching them can provide a solid foundation for both beginners and those looking to expand their culinary skills. We didn’t talk about grilling but that’s a great skill too!
Over the years, we have used a lot of resources to help teach our children how to cook and some of them were fantastic and some of them were not so great. We wanted to share some of our favorites with you.
Favorite Cookbooks for Kids (20:02)
Several of our recommendations are cookbooks that cater specifically to kids and they can make cooking both educational and fun. Here are some of our favorites for their engaging recipes and kid-friendly approach:
“The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs” by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
“Kid Chef Bakes” by Lisa Huff
“Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!)” by Deanna F. Cook
“The Disney Princess Cookbook” by Disney Book Group
“The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook” by Dinah Bucholz
MasterChef Junior Cookbook: Bold Recipes and Essential Techniques to Inspire Young Cooks” by MasterChef Junior
“Good Eats!” by Alton Brown
“The Pioneer Woman Cooks” by Ree Drummand
These cookbooks not only offer delicious recipes but also incorporate educational elements, teaching kids about nutrition, kitchen safety, and the joy of cooking. They often feature colorful illustrations and easy-to-follow steps, making the cooking experience enjoyable and accessible for children.
Now I am hungry! This was a lot of fun! I hope we’ve inspired you to get in the kitchen with your kids and empower them with these essential skills that will last a lifetime. Even young toddlers can help by ripping lettuce leaves for a family salad. Kids are always more likely to eat dishes when they’ve had a hand in preparing them. So get cooking!
Unit studies are a great option for homeschoolers. They foster a deeper understanding of a subject by exploring it in detail and encouraging critical thinking. We love all the hands-on, experiential learning opportunities they provide. They also offer a unique way to combine multiple subjects around a central theme, allowing for a more immersive and interconnected learning experience. Learn all about unit studies and how to create your own!
To help kick start your journey, we’ve put together an extensive list of Unit Study Ideas.
If you’ve chosen to follow a curriculum, sometimes the monotony of it can feel stifling, leaving you and your children disinterested and longing for a more engaging approach to learning. Oftentimes, people will start curriculum hopping, but exploring a unit study might be the refreshing change you’re looking for. Its integrative approach can breathe life into your homeschool as it weaves together various subjects around a central theme.
Unit studies can really be an opportunity to infuse excitement into your day. We love the hands-on engagement that comes with unit studies and how it can really get kids excited about the theme.
Some people even choose to do unit studies as the central core in their homeschool instead of traditional curriculum. There are tons of options. In today’s episode, we are going to talk about unit studies and how to create one for your homeschool.
We have always really enjoyed unit studies and we especially enjoyed them when our kids were younger and they were hyper focused on a certain topic and we would dive in deep and learn everything we could about our chosen theme. We did unit studies on penguins, the light spectrum, music, and so many other themes. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the curriculum and jump into a unit study. It always seems to reignite our kids and brings a new and refreshing joy of learning into our home.
One of our favorite ways to incorporate unit studies is during the holiday season. We’ve always found that embracing a unit study during the holidays offers a sense of flexibility, allowing for exploration while still delving into meaningful learning experiences. Everybody is always so busy during the holidays and it’s a great time to abandon the typical curriculum. It also helps to avoid burnout. Susan Wise Bauer once said “Everyone wants to quit in November and February” and seasoned homeschoolers know this is true! Learn more about Homeschooling During the Holidays.
Homeschoolers often gravitate towards unit studies due to their holistic and integrative approach to education. They offer a unique way to combine multiple subjects around a central theme, allowing for a more immersive and interconnected learning experience. This method of learning aligns with the personalized nature of homeschooling, enabling parents to tailor education to their child’s pace, interests, and learning style. It fosters a deeper understanding of a subject by exploring it from various angles. It also encourages critical thinking, and provides hands-on, experiential learning opportunities.
You can generally make unit studies multi-age, which promotes family involvement. This is one of my favorite things about unit studies, everybody’s learning the same thing – maybe just at different levels or depth. This approach tends to nurture a rich and engaging learning environment that goes beyond traditional textbooks and classroom settings.
What is a unit study? (7:33)
A homeschool unit study is an interdisciplinary approach to learning that revolves around a specific theme or topic. It encourages students to explore and understand a subject deeply by incorporating multiple subjects and various activities into a comprehensive study plan.
Let’s break down the key features of a homeschool unit study:
Unit studies focus on a central theme or topic, it could be as simple as an animal like penguins or a broader topic like birds. It could be a historical event or historical period, it could be a scientific concept, a piece of literature, or even a specific country, or geographic location. There’s really endless options for these!
Emphasis on Student Interests:
Homeschool unit studies can be tailored to a student’s interests which helps to foster a love for learning. Is your kid obsessed with dinosaurs, or cars, or a time period or country? Try a unit study!
Integration of Subjects:
They integrate multiple subjects like math, science, history, language arts, and art around the chosen theme. This fosters a holistic understanding of the topic. This also can be a huge time saver if you have multi-age kids, or are trying to fit a lot of subjects into your day. You can meet with all the kids to read aloud, and then break off for age appropriate activities.
They incorporate various learning methods, such as reading, writing, experiments, field trips, art projects, and discussions, to cater to different learning styles. Unit studies often emphasize real-life applications and hands-on activities to make learning more engaging and practical.
Flexible and Customizable:
Homeschoolers can customize unit studies to suit their child’s interests and learning style, which allows for flexibility in curriculum design. They encourage students to explore a subject in depth. This promotes critical thinking and a deeper understanding of the topic. Many find that choosing a main book or resource as a “spine” is helpful where they reference back to throughout the unit. You can incorporate field trips, projects, documentaries and movies, and fun games all around your central theme.
Here are some examples of our favorite “spine” books:
Unit studies are a popular approach in homeschooling because they provide a flexible and immersive way to learn, allowing students to delve deeply into topics of personal interest while covering core academic subjects.
What are some ideas for great unit studies? (11:11)
The topics for unit studies are really endless. You can make one about anything you want. Here are a few examples of unit study ideas that can be adapted and expanded upon:
Ancient Egypt: Cover history by exploring pharaohs, pyramids, and daily life. Integrate art by creating hieroglyphics or Egyptian art pieces, study geography by examining the Nile River, delve into mythology and religion, and even incorporate science by studying the mummification processes. Ancient Egypt Projects
Weather: Explore meteorology, covering science through understanding weather patterns, math through data analysis, geography by studying climates around the world, and language arts through weather-related literature or writing weather reports. We used a Williamson kids book as our base for this. Weather Projects
Animals and Habitats: Dive into biology by studying specific animals and their habitats, incorporate geography by mapping out where these animals live, explore environmental science by discussing conservation efforts, and integrate art by creating representations of various habitats. This Visual Animal Encyclopedia is perfect for a unit study!
Cultural Diversity: Integrate social studies by exploring different cultures and their traditions, geography by studying various countries and their customs, language arts through reading multicultural literature, and art by creating crafts or artworks inspired by different cultures. Learn more about Cultural Study in your Homeschool. This is basically what our Geography club did for years!
Civil Rights Movement: Connect history by studying key events and figures. You can incorporate social studies by discussing equality and social justice. Language arts can be covered through reading or listening to speeches or reading memoirs of influential leaders, Art can be taught by learning about powerful art created during that time or creating projects that represent the movement. “Timelines from Black History: Leaders, Legends, Legacies” introduces children to prominent Black people in history such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, and Dr. Martin Luther King. “The Civil Rights Movement for Kids: A History with 21 Activities” is a great place to find resources for a unit study. Also, check out the PBS collection of Civil Rights Videos, Lesson Plans, and more.
These are just starting points; each unit study can be adapted, expanded, or combined with other subjects to suit the interests and educational needs of the child. The flexibility of homeschooling allows for endless possibilities in designing unit studies. See the Complete List of Unit Study Ideas
How do I create my own unit study? (22:09)
Creating a homeschool unit study can be a fantastic way to integrate various subjects around a central theme or topic. Our free resource for the week is a template to help you develop your own unit study. So to get you started, here are 7 steps to help you develop one:
1. Choose a Theme or Topic
Select a broad theme or specific topic that can encompass multiple subjects.
2. Identify Learning Objectives
Determine what you want your child to learn or achieve through this unit study. Define specific learning objectives for each subject area you’ll cover.
3. Gather Resources
Collect books, online resources, documentaries, experiments, worksheets, and other materials related to your chosen theme. Libraries, educational websites, and museums can be excellent sources. For me this often means going through my house to see what stuff I already have!
Your spine book will be your main go-to when you start working through your unit study. Within it, you’ll be able to find topics or rabbit holes to meander down. Here are some examples of spine books:
Develop a schedule or outline for your unit study. Plan activities, readings, experiments, and projects for each day or week. Be flexible and adapt as needed.
5. Integrate Subjects
Find ways to connect different subjects within the theme. For instance, if you’re studying the medieval time period, a math lesson could involve the Sir Cumference books, a language arts lesson might involve reading about King Arthur, and watching the show “Merlin.”
6. Hands-On Activities
Include hands-on experiences. This is my favorite part! Put some thought into this. Are there science experiments, art projects, field trips, or interviews with experts related to the theme that can make learning about your theme more engaging? I remember when we did our entire school year unit study of American music. We had tons of activities during this unit I put together and every four weeks, I had a major project. We built a transistor radio, we made a mixtape, we wrote a song and performed it. And this was in addition to all the other fun, hands-on activities. I made him build a guitar for the final school year-end project.
7. Adapt to Your Child’s Pace
Be flexible and adapt to your child’s learning pace and style. If they show interest in a particular aspect, delve deeper into it. Foster a spirit of curiosity and exploration. Encourage your child to ask questions, seek answers, and explore beyond the boundaries of the set curriculum.
Periodically assess the effectiveness of your unit study. Consider what worked well and what could be improved. Adjust the plan accordingly for future studies. Remember, the beauty of homeschooling is the flexibility it offers. Don’t hesitate to modify the plan as needed based on your child’s interests, strengths, and areas that might need more attention.
What if I don’t want to do it on my own? Where can I find homeschool unit studies?
There are several resources available for secular homeschool unit studies. Here are five that provide a variety of subjects and approaches:
Build Your Library: This is a literature-based curriculum that offers secular unit studies covering various subjects. It often integrates history, science, language arts, and more around engaging literature. We’ve done their Evolution and Darwin unit study and she had a great one on Government and Elections.
Blossom and Root:This curriculum is designed with a secular, nature-based approach. It offers unit studies across different subjects, focusing on nature, literature, and art.
Teachers Pay Teachers: provides eclectic, literature-rich unit studies for a range of ages and subjects, with an emphasis on making learning engaging and multi-dimensional.
Torchlight Curriculum: Torchlight offers unit studies based on engaging literature, history, and science for multiple grade levels, incorporating a secular approach.
Curiosity Chronicles: This resource offers unit studies that combine history, literature, and geography, providing secular materials suitable for homeschoolers.
These sources often provide comprehensive unit study packages or guides that cover multiple subjects, allowing for an integrated approach to learning while catering to secular preferences. It’s always a good idea to review samples or trial periods to ensure the resources align with your homeschooling goals and your child’s learning style. This is also often a good way to try out a particular curriculum.
If you’ve never thought about unit studies, you may want to consider buying or building your own. This might be just the thing you’re looking for to engage your child or if you’re feeling a little burned out and looking for a refreshing change from your regular curriculum.
Unit studies can truly light up your homeschooling journey, offering a wonderful alternative or addition to your regular curriculum. They can open up a world of possibilities allowing you to follow your child’s interests and curiosities wherever they may lead – and it’s often in these explorations that the most magical learning moments happen.
Feel free to shape your unit study as broadly or as narrowly as your heart desires. My suggestion? Let it flow organically; don’t stress about fitting subjects into a unit just to tick off a checklist. The beauty of learning unfolds best when your unit study feels like a natural adventure into a new topic.
To help kickstart your journey, we’ve put together a list of inspiring ideas. Plus, we’ve crafted a handy-dandy, absolutely Free Unit Study Template tailor-made just for you (bottom of this page).
Plants (in general) Trees Flowers Edible plants Gardening/Landscaping Pumpkins Apples Leaves Anatomy of plant cells Fungi
General Life Science Topics Human anatomy and physiology Evolution Bacteria and viruses The five senses
People/Groups of Historical Significance Explorers Pioneers Indigenous People Suffragettes Civil rights leaders LGBTQ+ History Egyptians Aztecs Mayans Romans Greeks
The Work People Do Composers/Musicians Artists Inventors Writers Presidents/Prime minister Community helpers Healthcare workers Archaeologists Scientists Inventors/Engineers Architects
Specific People Albert Einstein Amelia Earhart Clara Barton Harriet Tubman Helen Keller Leonardo Da Vinci Mahatma Gandhi Marie Curie Martin Luther King Jr Maya Angelou Mother Teresa Mozart Shakespeare Marco Polo Joan of Arc Hatshepsut Nelson Mandela Pablo Picasso
The continents Africa Antarctica Asia Oceania/Australia Europe North America South America The Arctic
Countries Australia Brazil Canada China Egypt England France Germany India Israel Indonesia Japan Mexico Nigeria Pakistan Ukraine Spain United States
Landforms, Biomes, and Bodies of Water
Seas and Oceans Ponds, Lakes, and Rivers Coasts and Beaches Mountains Forests/Rainforests Deserts Volcanoes Glaciers Tundra Volcanoes Rocks and Minerals
Space (in general) Earth Solar system The moon The sun/stars Aliens Black Holes Space Travel
Meteorology and Weather
Seasons (general) Winter Spring Summer Fall Ecosystems Weather (in general) Hurricanes Earthquakes The water cycle Snow/Sleet Clouds
Physics (in general) Force and motion Simple machines States of matter Light spectrum
Chemistry (in general) Periodic table Chemical reactions Crystals
Transportation (in general) Transportation Infrastructure Automobiles Contruction Vehicles Trains Aircraft Motorcycles Boats Rockets Auto design
The Internet Computers History/Evolution of Phones Energy production and harvesting Photography Artificial intelligence Robots Game Design Website Design History of Animation Music Composition/Recording Graphic Design
Time Periods/Significant Historical Events
Ancient Egypt Ancient China Indus-Valley Civilization Mesopotamia Middle Ages/Medieval Period Viking Age The Renaissance Age of Discovery Elizabethan Period Industrial Revolution World War I The Great Depression Pearl Harbor World War II Decades 50s/60s/70s/80s The American Civil War The Gold Rush The Fur Trade The Silk Road
Indigenous Peoples’ Day Christmas Hanukah Kwanzaa Diwali Bodhi Day Feast Day of Our Lady Guadalupe St. Patrick’s Day Halloween Day of the Dead Easter Yule Elections Olympics
Gardening Baking Scrapbooking Finances (Budgeting, Investment) Recycling Sports Starting a Business Interior Design Fashion Cooking/Baking Interior Design Fitness/Nutrition Artistry (painting/scultping/Jewelry/etc.) Performing Arts (dance/theater/band/etc.)
In today’s interconnected world, technology, social media, and gaming have become integral aspects of our kids’ lives. Learn how to navigate the challenges and embrace the opportunities that technology brings to your child’s education.
We’re uncovering the ever-evolving intersection of homeschooling and the tech-savvy generation, shedding light on how these young learners harness the power of the digital realm for growth, connection, and self-discovery.
Our digital landscape is rapidly evolving and whether we like it or not, technology, social media, and gaming have become huge parts of the lives of our kids – especially teenagers. With the rise of smartphones, social networking platforms, and increasingly sophisticated video games, teens find themselves navigating a complex and dynamic intersection of virtual and real-world experiences. If your kids are like ours, they probably know and understand way more than you do about modern-day tech!
The use of technology, the influence of social media, and the allure of gaming significantly shape the lives of our children. Especially during the teen years! These social, educational, and recreational dimensions of their life offer both opportunities and challenges. This age of modern connectivity is reshaping the way they communicate, learn, and unwind, and can even blur the boundaries between the physical and digital realms. Every family is going to have different rules of how all of this technology is introduced, but many kids get their start online with various apps and games and that only grows as they get older.
Teenagers often find connection in online gaming. We all know that homeschooling is a big timesaver over a more traditional school with more flexibility in their schedule, allowing them more time to explore their favorite virtual realms. When our kids were younger, Game Ed Academy was Homeschooling with Minecraft.
We talk all the time about hands-on learning, being present, and how many opportunities our kids get to socialize in person because they literally have more hours in their day. But online gaming can also foster social interactions, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. Through digital adventures, homeschooled teens can find a sense of camaraderie and shared experiences, cultivating a diverse group of friends who share their passion for gaming.
Striking a balance and intersecting homeschooling and online gaming showcases how technology can enhance the social and educational experiences of today’s teens. It can supplement what you’re already providing for them and create additional avenues for personal growth and connection.
How To Approach Using Technology in Your Homeschool (9:35)
Find a healthy balance between screen time and other activities to ensure that technology doesn’t consume the entire day. Remember, this episode is for our highschoolers and in a couple years, they’re going to be off on their own. It’s our job to teach them effective time management skills to find balance in their academic work, social life, and online activities. Hopefully this is something you’ve been working on all along, but if not, start teaching them balance and good habits now.
Be mindful of sharing personal information online, and use strong, unique passwords to protect your accounts.
Privacy Settings: Familiarize yourself with the privacy settings on social media platforms and gaming accounts to control who can access your information. Some apps have location sharing, so be sure you stay on top of that and don’t blindly approve platforms you’re unfamiliar with.
Digital Footprint: It’s important that teens recognize that their online actions leave a digital footprint that can impact their future, such as college admissions or job opportunities.
Content Evaluation: Be critical of the content you consume online and in games to ensure it aligns with your values and doesn’t promote harmful behavior.
Media Literacy: teach them the ability to discern credible information from fake news and be aware of the potential for manipulation on the internet.
Healthy Relationships: Use technology and social media to foster positive, real-world relationships, rather than just substituting them with virtual connections.
Cyberbullying: Understand the potential risks of cyberbullying and how to respond if you or someone you know experiences it. And at this age, it may seem like they aren’t listening, but I promise that they are so don’t stop guiding them because you don’t think they’re listening. They are!
By considering all of these factors, homeschooled teenagers can make informed and responsible choices regarding their use of technology, social media, and gaming.
How To Use Technology in Your Homeschool (16:55)
Integrating technology into a homeschool high school is almost a must in today’s world. It can really enrich your academic experience. Utilizing digital resources can enhance the learning process by offering access to a vast array of educational materials, from virtual laboratories for science experiments to multimedia resources for history and language arts. Technology also facilitates personalized learning, allowing homeschooled high school students to have tailored curriculum according to their individual needs, interests, and accommodating their learning style and pace. It can also foster self-discipline and responsibility as teens manage their assignments, schedules, and research independently, which are essential skills for success in college and the workforce.
Exactly, also our highschoolers taking dual enrollment courses in person and our college students taking classes in person at their universities requires them to also be online for exams, discussion boards, and other assignments. It’s essential that they learn to navigate these things. So, if you’re one of those hold-outs on technology, you may want to reconsider all the skills that they are not learning that they will need.
So let’s talk about how our homeschool highschoolers can effectively use technology as a valuable tool in their homeschooling:
Online Resources: Access educational websites, digital textbooks, and online courses to supplement their learning.
Virtual Classes: Participate in virtual classes and webinars to learn from expert instructors or connect with other homeschooled students. Khan Academy.
Outschool: Outschool offers variety of classes and over 100,000 Interactive Online Classes for every age group from 3 to 18 years.
Outschool is an education platform that connects teachers of any subject with students around the world for a variety of engaging small-group classes online. It gives kids the opportunity to explore their interests via interactive, live video by experienced, independent educators. Outschool offers variety of classes and over 100,000 Interactive Online Classes for every age group from 3 to 18 years. Find one for you:
Arts – Drawing, photography, dance, Theatre, Film, Sewing
Coding & Tech – Coding, Video Game Design, Robotics, Engineering, Internet Safety, Animation
English – Creative Writing, Grammar, Spelling, Book Club, Essay Writing, Poetry, Literature
Social Studies – Geography, World History, American History, Anthropology, Economics, Politics
World Languages – Spanish, American Sign Language, French, Japanese, Latin, German, Chinese, Greek, Italian, Mandarin
E-Libraries: Utilize digital libraries and e-books to access a wide range of reading materials and resources. Libby, Hoopla, Overdrive are all great sites for getting library books. If you are in a rural area with limited selections or struggling with access to banned books you can get access by using other libraries- New York City, Broward County.
Educational Apps: Explore educational apps that cover a wide range of subjects, making learning engaging and interactive.
Research: Your teenagers can use the internet for research. Long gone is the card catalog, this is where the research now happens. Although I did teach my kids how to use a card catalog. The Internet has vast amounts of information for research papers, projects, and assignments. One of my favorite resources is the Internet Archive. It’s completely free and available to everyone and has so many resources. It literally has everything and it’s a great place for your kids to access things you thought were long gone. You can also check out the Virtural Card Catalog or Britannica Online.
Collaboration: Collaborate with peers on group projects using online collaboration tools and video conferencing platforms. We are all experts in zoom now, thanks to covid. Google docs is something I used with my Future City and GEMUN groups for writing a collaborative essay.
Digital Note-Taking: Use note-taking apps and tools to organize and store class notes and assignments. My kids also use shared google docs for notetaking with classmates.
Learning Management Systems: Some homeschooling programs use learning management systems (LMS) to deliver and manage coursework. Google Classroom, Blackboard, Bright space, canvas are all examples.
STEM Resources: Access online resources and simulations for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects. Here are some Online Dissection Resources.
Language Learning: Use language-learning apps and websites to study foreign languages. Having pronunciation built in is brilliant! Duolingo and Mango are favorites.
Coding and Programming: Learn coding and programming skills through online courses and coding platforms. Khan Academy has a lot of resources for free including Hour of Code. MIT has their free software to help teach kids how to program called Scratch. You can also get a lot of these directly from your local library. A lot of them have subscriptions that you just need your library card to login and your account is paid for.
Virtual Field Trips: Take virtual field trips to museums, historical sites, and other locations around the world. Another great thing that came out of covid was access to museum sites. I also always recommend sites, like the Dallas Human Rights museum, for educational resources. Museums and other educational sites always have tons of resources listed for educators, often these include lesson plans or are categorized by age or grade level. I mentioned in a recent episode that I was hanging out online at the Louvre in Paris. I also love wildlife cams. Visit Museums Virtually Online.
Online Tutors: Seek help from online tutors or educators when needed for specific subjects or topics.
Presentations: After high schoolers finish a unit study, we typically think of a research paper to wrap it up. But you can get really creative with this. They can create a digital presentation with PowerPoint or another presentation software or they could even create a blog, a website, or a podcast in lieu of a traditional research paper.
Time Management Tools: Utilize time management apps and tools to help balance their academic schedule. We both love checklists and things like Trello and Time Finder. The key is to find something that works for your teenager that they are happy to use. They may not use what works best for you. If it’s an app, you may want to also login with the same ID or use a shared app so you can communicate assignment completion that way. Many highschoolers are doing more and more of their own time management. We’re starting to hand off the torch with guidance, of course.
Those are just some of the cool things tech can offer your homeschool. Obviously, homeschooled teens should work with their parents to ensure they are using technology in a balanced and responsible manner so keep communicating with them and make sure expectations are clear to everyone. But don’t be afraid of using technology! Take advantage of the educational opportunities it offers while managing screen time and online safety.
Do teenagers need social media? (29:06)
Social media can have both positive and negative impacts on homeschooled teens. On the positive side, social media platforms provide them with opportunities for social interaction and community building. Many teens use social media to connect with peers. It may be friendships, shared hobbies, or even study groups. This can help combat feelings of isolation and ensure that they have a support system in place, even outside of traditional school. Additionally, social media offers a vast repository of educational resources, like some that we addressed and even educational communities where homeschooled teens can exchange knowledge and seek guidance. These platforms can help teens explore their interests, discover new subjects or hobbies, and even connect with mentors or experts in various fields.
However, the negative aspects of social media really need to be considered. We all know now that excessive use of social media can lead to distractions from responsibilities and impact their academic performance. Cyberbullying and exposure to inappropriate content are other significant concerns. And we all know that social media can create unrealistic comparisons and peer pressure. That can contribute to mental health issues like anxiety and depression. It’s important for parents and teenagers to strike a balance between the benefits and drawbacks of social media, ensuring it is used as a tool for learning, connection, and personal growth while being mindful of its potential pitfalls.
With all of that in consideration,homeschooled teenagers, like their peers in traditional school settings, are going to use social media for a variety of purposes. For one, social media platforms help them stay in touch with friends and make new connections, combating potential isolation. We’ve moved a lot, but this has allowed us to stay friends. We also regularly use SM in the sport my kids do.
Homeschoolers can also participate in virtual clubs and interest-based groups through social media. You can also use it as a platform for showcasing talents, whether in music, art, or other creative pursuits. My 16yo son, Cameron, is a musician and teaches guitar lessons. We built a website for him, but he also has a Facebook and YouTube page where he promotes his music. He also wrote the BTDT Homeschool jingle!
Some homeschool teens use platforms like Pinterest, TikTok, or Instagram to learn new skills, such as cooking, art, or coding. They may use social media to access educational content, connect with online tutors, or join study groups. We also have a good friend’s teenage daughter those crochets little stuffed animals and has a successful Etsy shop.
They may use social media to stay updated on current events, news, and trends. Some use social media to advocate for causes they’re passionate about or to raise awareness of issues they care about. You just might want to stay away from the comment section.
Homeschooled teens often seek advice, resources, and support from online communities of homeschooling families and educators just like parents do. We are on Facebook- but a lot of them aren’t! But they use other sites just like we do.
Social media can provide an outlet for self-expression through posts, photos, and videos. Some find that negative- talk to your kids about how social media is often showcasing the highlight real and to be realistic about what they see. If you think social media is causing issues with self-esteem or jealousy, by all means restrict it. Sometimes we have to tell this to ourselves too. Especially as homeschoolers because these highlight reels can be really intimidating when everybody else’s kids are doing things that maybe our kids aren’t doing yet. It’s crucial for homeschooling parents and teens to approach technology use with care, finding a balance between the valuable connections and Learning opportunities it offers, while being mindful of the challenges of time management and online safety.
Discover a world of wonders without leaving your home! Explore the 20 most captivating online museums and elevate your homeschooling experience to new heights. With just an internet connection, your children can immerse themselves in art, history, and culture, gaining valuable insights and expanding their knowledge in the most engaging way possible.
Transport your kids to the heart of artistic brilliance. Explore the masterpieces of Michelangelo and the fascinating world of Egyptian Antiquities. The 360-degree tour allows them to absorb every detail, sparking their curiosity. Virtual Tour
This famous American art museum features online exhibits of American fashion from 1740 to 1895, including many renderings of clothes from the colonial and Revolutionary eras and a collection of works from Dutch baroque painter Johannes Vermeer. Virtual tours and audio guides offer children a personalized exploration of galleries, enhancing their appreciation for diverse art forms. Online Exhibits
BTDT Homeschool was created with a heartfelt mission: to empower and give back to the secular homeschool community.
Uncover the mysteries of ancient civilizations. This iconic museum located in the heart of London allows virtual visitors to tour the Great Court and discover the ancient Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies. Children can marvel at the intricate details of artifacts like the Phoenician panel of a sphinx in ivory, gaining a deeper understanding of the cultural tapestry that spans centuries. Virtual Tour
Journey through classical sculptures curated by the Popes. A virtual tour of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel provides a unique opportunity for children to appreciate the grandeur of art and architecture. Virtual Tour
Encounter a spectrum of creative treasures. The virtual tour offers children a glimpse into art history, from Van Gogh’s Irises to neolithic clay figures, fostering a love for diverse artistic expressions. Online Exhibits
This museum is a center for the history and science of aviation, spaceflight, planetary science, terrestrial geology, and geophysics. It contains the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia, the Friendship 7 capsule, the Wright brothers’ Wright Flyer airplane, and Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis. Virtual Tour
Step into the realm of Italian artistry. This less well-known gallery houses the art collection of one of Florence’s most famous families, the de’ Medicis. High-quality images of works by Cimabue and Botticelli allow children to witness the evolution of artistic styles and discover the stories behind each masterpiece. Virtual Tour
Unleash creativity in the surreal world of Salvador Dalì. Children can navigate through rooms dedicated to different phases of Dalì’s career, understanding the artist’s unique perspective and even discovering his final resting place. Virtual Tour
Unearth the untold stories of remarkable women. Through well-curated exhibits and oral histories, children can gain a profound appreciation for women’s contributions throughout history. Online Exhibits
Explore a treasure trove of world culture. With over three million works available online, children can appreciate the historical significance of The Winter Palace and other iconic exhibits. Virtual Tours
Fuel curiosity with the “Iceman Database.” Whether a budding archaeologist or a curious kid, children can delve into every detail about the Iceman, connecting with the mysteries of the past. Virtual Tour
Connect with Egyptian history through video tours. Executive Director Christian Greco’s insightful explanations bring the majestic collection to life, making ancient history accessible to young minds. Virtual Tour
Wander through 80 galleries showcasing Dutch masters. Children can discover the beauty of works by Vermeer and Rembrandt, fostering an appreciation for the rich artistic heritage of the Netherlands. Virtual Tour
Explore French Impressionism in this popular gallery that houses dozens of famous works from French artists who worked and lived between 1848 and 1914. Children can explore artworks from Monet, Cézanne, and Gauguin, among others, gaining insights into the artistic movements that defined an era. Virtual Tour
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a world-class museum of modern and contemporary art designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. Experience the fusion of art and architecture. Children can take a virtual tour, exploring postwar European and American painting and sculpture in a uniquely designed museum. Virtual Tour
Don’t miss the incredible opportunity to transport your children to the best online museums globally. Let them learn, discover, and stay endlessly curious, all from the comfort of your home!
The Pergamon Museum is one of Berlin’s “must see” museums. Impressive exhibits await visitors of the Pergamon Museum, who can prepare themselves for a veritable journey into the past. The Great Altar of Pergamon, the magnificent Babylonian Processional Way, the façade of the Caliph’s Palace of Mshatta and the Market Gate of Miletus are just a few of the highlights on display that have helped the Pergamon Museum achieve international recognition. Virtual tours
Anyone who’s a fan of this tragic, ingenious painter can see his works up close by virtually visiting this museum, home to the largest collection of artworks by Vincent van Gogh, including more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and 750 personal letters. Virtual tours
The Museu de Arte de São Paulo is a nonprofit and Brazil’s first modern museum. Artworks placed on clear, raised frames make it seem like they’re hovering in midair. The Museu de Arte de São Paulo is a nonprofit and Brazil’s first modern museum. Artworks placed on clear, raised frames make it seem like they’re hovering in midair. Virtual Tour
Built in 1964, this museum is dedicated to the archaeology and history of Mexico’s pre-Hispanic heritage. There are22 exhibit roomsfilled with ancient artifacts, including some from the Maya civilization. It is the largest and most visited museum in Mexico and collections include the Stone of the Sun, giant stone heads of the Olmec civilization that were found in the jungles of Tabasco and Veracruz, treasures recovered from the Maya civilization, at the Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza, a replica of the sarcophagal lid from Pacal’s tomb at Palenque and ethnological displays of contemporary rural Mexican life.
Get your fill of modern art, realism, impressionism and more with Detroit Institute of Arts’ online exhibits. There’s also an exhibit that features Frida Kahlo. The DIA has one of the largest and most significant art collections in the United States. With over 100 galleries, it covers 658,000 square feet.
Explore the diverse stories and complex events of the American Revolution in historic Philadelphia. Through the Museum’s unmatched collection, immersive galleries, powerful theater experiences, and interactive elements, visitors gain a deeper appreciation for how this nation came to be and feel inspired to consider their role in ensuring that the promise of the American Revolution endures. Virtual Tour
Benaki Museum houses Greek works of art from prehistoric to modern times and an extensive collection of Asian art. It also hosts periodic exhibitions and maintains a state-of-the-art restoration and conservation workshop. The entire museum can be viewed virtually in great detail. Virtual Tour
Learn more about Field Trips in your homeschool and download your FREE Field Trip Bundle HERE >>
How Do Homeschoolers Transition from Elementary to Middle School?
Middle school marks a time of intellectual and personal growth, where kids explore a broader range of subjects and develop critical thinking skills. In today’s episode, we’re talking about transitioning from elementary to middle school and how homeschooling offers a unique opportunity to tailor their learning experiences to their individual needs and interests. We’ll be exploring the advantages, strategies, and resources that will empower you in providing a rich and engaging education while nurturing your child’s love for learning and growing independence.
We spend a lot of time here talking about our beginners and younger homeschoolers and then even more time focused on our high schoolers and getting them ready for college and beyond, but one group often gets left to the wayside in homeschool discussions, and that’s our middle schoolers! They are the Jan of this Brady Bunch!
But meanwhile, homeschooling middle schoolers represents a dynamic phase in a child’s educational journey. Many parents realize at this age that traditional school does not fit their child and choose to withdraw and homeschool their child. If this is you, please take some time to check out our Deschooling page. Deschooling is an essential step to successfully homeschool after withdrawing your child and it will help reengage them and reignite their love for learning. And this step is not just for the kids, it’s an important step for the parents too. You’ll spend time reconnecting with your child and figuring out what kind of education you want to provide so if your kids are in an unhealthy environment, pull them out now and start this process. You don’t have to have it all figured out to begin.
Transitioning from elementary to middle school for homeschoolers is a significant step in a child’s educational journey. It marks a shift from more flexible, parent-led learning approaches to a more structured and diverse curriculum.
How to transition from elementary school to middle school? (4:36)
Here are some key considerations and tips for a smooth transition:
Now is a good time to evaluate your homeschooling curriculum and materials. Middle school typically introduces more or gets more in depth with subjects, such as science, history, and literature. And be sure to consider resources that align with your state’s educational standards. Look up your State’s Homeschool Law.
You’ll want to choose age-appropriate materials. You may find that your student who thrived with read-alouds, may want to do more on their own, or that you need additional hands-on activities. We always caution our younger families not to get too excited about curriculum early and buy ahead several years- what was great in elementary may not suit your family later.
Planning and Scheduling
Create a clear plan and schedule. Establish daily routines and set realistic goals for academic progress. And this doesn’t have to be super rigid, but a little more structure in your schedule is going to help them develop time management skills.
This doesn’t mean suddenly you need a 7-3 schedule. Remember that homeschooling is still way more efficient, and you can get more done in a day, but you may want to just add in some more structure or increase your time. An average time a homeschool middle schooler spends on formal academics is 1-3 hrs. a day. If we have a big project we are working on, we tend to spend a little more towards 3 hrs., but can usually wrap up school in 1.5 hrs.
Encourage your child to take more ownership of their learning. Provide opportunities for them to plan and organize their assignments and study times. This is the age that I introduce the concept of notetaking, and if my kids are taking an outside class, I start to have them show me their notes and teach them how to review notes after class. Middle school is an ideal time for them to develop greater independence in their studies but gently guide them on forming good habits.
Explore extracurricular options, such as sports, clubs, and community involvement. These activities can help your child develop social skills, find their interests, and make friends. I had a couple kids that still really liked park days at this age but also a couple that were ready for being dropped at a coffee shop while I took others to the park. Extracurricular Idea Guide.
Field Trips and Real-World Learning
Continue incorporating field trips and hands-on learning experiences. I love this age for field trips! Some of those field trips that your younger kids were too little for are perfect for this age. And these kids benefit from real-world applications of what they’re learning. 100 Homeschool Field Trip Ideas. Also, check out our favorite subscriptions to keep learning engaging.
Introduce educational technology and digital resources. Middle schoolers may need to become proficient in using computers for research, online classes, and projects. Teach them to use Google docs, PowerPoint. and spreadsheets. A typing program may be handy too and a lot of middle schoolers like to get into gaming and programming, too. Scratch is an awesome free program from MIT.
Individual Learning Styles
Recognize that every child learns differently. Tailor your approach to accommodate their unique learning style and strengths, whether they are visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners. This goes along with re-evaluating your curriculum that we mentioned above- make sure your choices grow with your child. What is Your Child’s Learning Style?
Communication and Support
Maintain open communication with them. They may have sought a lot of independence, but this is all new and sometimes that can create stress. Address any concerns or anxieties they may have about transitioning to middle school and more independence. Be available to provide guidance and support.
Seeking Help When Needed
If you find certain subjects challenging to teach or if your child has specific educational needs, consider enlisting the help of tutors or specialized educational programs or outsourcing classes. We both have outsourced classes-math and science, writing classes on Outschool.
Middle school is a time when children often crave more social interaction. Help them connect with friends with similar interests, values, and beliefs by arranging playdates, group activities, and co-op classes with other homeschoolers to build friendships. This is a time of great transition socially and all of these changes can either be nurtured or hindered by peers. Peer Pressure can even happen to homeschoolers, and it can be either positive or negative. In an effort to best handle social pressure, teach them to be assertive by speaking up and telling friends what they like/don’t like. Most homeschoolers don’t have a problem with this. Keep an open dialogue so they feel safe coming to you about situations that they don’t understand and/or that make them feel uncomfortable.
Our FREE download this week (bottom of this page) is a Guide for your tween to help encourage them to make friends and nurture those relationships. We usually make a resource for the homeschool parent but this one is to print out and hand it to your child to help encourage them. This age can be hard and awkward and lonely. Hopefully this resource will help them to reach out and be proactive in finding connections.
If your child is apprehensive about the transition, consider a gradual approach, introducing the new middle school curriculum incrementally to ease the adjustment.
This transition from elementary to middle school can be a positive and exciting step in a homeschooler’s education. By being proactive in your approach, providing structure, and maintaining open communication, you can help them navigate this transition with confidence and success.
What academic skills are crucial for middle schoolers? (14:56)
Middle school is a critical stage in a student’s development, where they acquire a wide range of academic, social, and life skills. Below you will find some crucial skills for middle schoolers.
Reading Comprehension: The ability to understand and analyze written text critically.
Math Proficiency: A solid foundation in math concepts, including arithmetic, algebra, and geometry.
Research Skills: The capacity to conduct research, evaluate sources, and cite information accurately.
Problem-Solving: The capability to identify and resolve complex problems effectively.
Organization and Time Management
Time Management: The skill of managing time efficiently to balance academic work, extracurricular activities, and their personal life.
Teaching and reinforcing these skills during the middle school years can significantly enhance a student’s academic success and overall development, preparing them for the challenges of high school and beyond.
How to care for tweens? (21:43)
Caring for tweens, who are typically children aged 9 to 12, involves a combination of emotional support, guidance, and age-appropriate boundaries. Tread carefully! Some parents really find these years hard while some think it’s a breeze. Remember that our mantra is always “all kids are different!” And you get all that extra time to really know your kids. Maintain open and non-judgmental communication with your tween. Encourage them to express their thoughts, feelings, and concerns. Listen actively and provide a safe space for them to talk.
1. Recognize their growing need for independence and autonomy
Encourage them to take on responsibilities, make decisions, and learn from their experiences. You want to respect their independence. While respecting their autonomy, establish clear rules and expectations. Discuss consequences for breaking rules and consistently enforce them. But also reevaluate them when something is not working. Not everybody would agree with this, but I like to collaborate with my kids when establishing these rules and expectations. And they are more likely to follow them when they’ve had a hand in creating them.
2. Guide them in developing problem-solving skills.
Help them analyze situations, weigh pros and cons, and make informed decisions.
3. Discuss the importance of healthy friendships and how to navigate peer pressure
Offer guidance on resolving conflicts and making good friend choices. Discuss healthy communication with peers, including listening, expressing themselves clearly, and resolving conflicts constructively. Emphasize the values of respect, responsibility, and integrity in their interactions with others. Get your FREE Teen Healthy Relationship E-guide.
4. Pay attention to their emotional well-being
Help them manage stress, anxiety, and emotions by teaching coping strategies and offering emotional support.
5. Support and nurture their interests and hobbies
Provide opportunities for them to explore various activities and find their passions.
6. Foster a love for reading
Provide access to a variety of books. Discuss what they read and encourage them to explore different genres.
7. Educate them about personal safety, both online and offline
Discuss topics like stranger danger, internet safety, and emergency procedures. Set reasonable limits on screen time and ensure that they engage in a balance of activities, both online and offline.
One service that I’ve used for years is called QUSTODIO. When my kids first got devices around middle school age, I really struggled with online safety and protection, and I eventually found this great tool that allows me to monitor apps and websites from my phone. I can even see what websites they visit and block sites from my phone! As they’ve gotten older, I’ve dialed back the monitoring as they have learned online safety but if you’re struggling with this, I would highly recommend this.
8. Make time for family activities and bonding
This strengthens the family unit and provides a sense of security and belonging. Caring for tweens involves striking a balance between fostering their independence and providing the necessary guidance and support to help them navigate the challenges of adolescence. Adapt your parenting approach to meet the unique needs and personality of your tween, recognizing that each child is different and may require different types of care and support.
Teen Independence and Life Skills including Driving
Fostering independence in homeschool teens is a pivotal aspect of their educational journey. As they navigate their academic pursuits outside the conventional classroom setting, they have the many opportunities to develop self-reliance and a strong sense of responsibility. Today we are talking about helping your teenager gain independence and life skills including steps to becoming a driver making safe decisions on and off the road.
Scroll down for this week’s FREEBIE: Teen Auto Maintenance & Repair Lesson Guide (pdf)
Homeschooling not only offers a unique and personalized education, but also fosters a strong sense of independence in our teenagers. As homeschooled teens navigate their academic pursuits outside the conventional classroom setting, they have the opportunity to develop self-reliance and a strong sense of responsibility. Homeschooling takes a fraction of time compared to a traditional school day and combined with newfound independence, teens are able to explore their interests and shape their own learning experiences, preparing them for the challenges of life in an empowering way. In today’s episode, we’re talking about teen independence and how to make sure your teenager learns all those essential life skills including driving before leaving home.
Fostering independence in homeschool teens is a pivotal aspect of their educational journey. The unique nature of homeschooling provides a safe space for teens to develop essential life skills, self-motivation, and autonomy. Parents can empower homeschool teens by allowing them to take ownership of their learning, encouraging them to set goals and manage their time, and providing a diverse array of learning opportunities. Also, engaging in open and constructive communication with your teen, as well as offering guidance and support rather than rigid control, can nurture their self-reliance. This emphasis on independence not only equips them with the tools they need to succeed academically but also prepares them for the challenges and opportunities they will encounter in life.
How do you foster independence in your teenagers? (5:25)
The teen years are a time of personal growth. Teenagers typically feel an intense desire to establish an identity for themselves apart from their family. This often begins in middle school. While this sometimes manifests itself in expressions of teenage “rebellion”, it doesn’t have to be like that. Children should be encouraged to learn about themselves, practice introspection, and grow with intention. Guiding them towards independence is crucial for their personal growth and preparing them for adulthood.
As high school draws to a close, it is a time to let your children spread their wings. Let them dip their toes into the water of the adult world. Your active homeschooling might be winding down, but you are always going to be mentoring your child, especially as they start dabbling into adulthood. The more supported your child feels in this regard, the more successful they will be—intellectually, professionally, and emotionally.
How do we do that? For one, allow your teenager to make age-appropriate decisions. This might include choices about clothing, hair, extracurricular activities, or their own schedules. You want to provide guidance, but let them have the final say in non-critical matters. Choose your battles!
Assign age-appropriate household chores and self-care tasks. This teaches them to take care of their living environment and personal needs. Hygiene is super important- taking care of your hair and skin and teeth is something you’ve been working on all along, but as they get older there may be puberty related challenges- body odor, greasy hair from increased oil production, acne. Make sure you are sharing products and information about these things in a supportive way.
When your teenager faces challenges or dilemmas, guide them through the problem-solving process. You can ask open-ended questions to help them analyze the situation and encourage them to make the decision. Establish clear but reasonable rules and guidelines in your home. This helps them understand the importance of rules and boundaries in society. Teach them to speak up for themselves and communicate their needs and concerns effectively, whether it’s with teachers, peers, or adults. Be sure to foster open and honest communication. Make sure they know they can discuss their thoughts, feelings, and concerns with you without judgment.
It’s also really important to teach them how to manage their time effectively. Encourage them to create their own schedules, set goals, and prioritize tasks. Allow them to take ownership of their education by completing assignments, studying for tests, and managing their own academic responsibilities. And remember, they are still learning, so be sure to offer support when needed. Don’t just assume that you need to tell them one time and you’ll never have to tell them again.
Support their interests and hobbies, whether it’s playing a musical instrument, pursuing a sport, or engaging in creative activities. This helps them develop passions and skills on their own. Encourage them to explore their interests independently, even if it means self-directed learning outside of formal education. Provide access to resources and encourage reading, research, and curiosity. Encourage volunteer work or even a part-time job to help them gain real-world experience, build their resume, and understand the responsibilities that come with employment. Download your FREE Extracurricular and Volunteer Workbook.
Be a role model by demonstrating independence and responsible decision-making in your own life. Teens often learn by example. Fostering independence will be a gradual process, and it’s essential to strike a balance between providing guidance and allowing them to learn from their experiences, including making mistakes. Encourage them to take responsibility for their actions and to learn from both successes and failures. Remember Einstein’s quote, “If you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried anything new.”
How do I teach my teenager to drive? (11:20)
This is when things start getting real! Learning to drive is a huge milestone in a teenager’s journey towards independence. It marks the transition from relying on parents for transportation to having the freedom to explore the world on their own terms. The ability to get behind the wheel not only opens up new opportunities but also comes with profound responsibilities. For many teens, it’s a rite of passage that symbolizes their burgeoning adulthood, offering a taste of self-reliance.So, Let’s talk about the significance of learning to drive in the context of teen independence, as well as the essential skills and steps required to help them become safe and responsible drivers.
BTW, Some kids don’t feel the need to learn to drive right away- I was itching to get my license the minute I turned 16. But with uber and social media, a lot of kids today choose to wait. My wise friend once told me though that she’d rather her kids make big mistakes with her car and on her insurance. She didn’t want their beginning driving experience to be at 18 while they are also navigating adult life and maybe a new city, college, etc. Some kids, on the other hand, are eager to drive and start Drivers Ed at 14 to complete the course right when they turn 15. That can give you a little comfort to know that they would have an entire year with a learners permit to practice under your watch.
Preparing your teen for driving involves a combination of educational, practical, and safety steps to ensure they are well-equipped to handle the responsibilities of being a safe and responsible driver. First, you need enroll your teen in a state-approved driver’s education course. There are often several options for this. Here, we can use an independent driving school, or you can do a parent self-taught course, like Aceable. These courses cover essential traffic laws, road safety, and often include hands-on driving practice.
Whichever you choose, your teenager should thoroughly read and understand their state’s driver’s manual. It covers the specific rules and regulations they need to know to pass their written test. And these tests are not very hard and everything they will need to know will be taught in the course. A lot of it is common sense. Don’t forget to get your New Driver Magnets! Also, help your teen study and pass their test with these Road Sign Flash Cards.
Ensure your teen meets the age and educational requirements to obtain a learner’s permit and a driver’s license in your state. A trip to the DMV is always an adventure. Have them help you gather up all the identification and information you will need. This will be a great lesson in patience and bureaucracy. If you have to wait for a really long time, also make sure your teenager notes how awful this is so that it encourages them to never lose their ID.
Once they get their learner’s permit, it’s time to start practicing. Start with parking lots and quiet residential streets. Then gradually progress to busier roads. You also want to be sure to provide opportunities for them to practice various driving scenarios and conditions. Spend time discussing and demonstrating defensive driving techniques, including how to anticipate and react to potential hazards. Spend a significant amount of time supervising their driving to help them gain experience and confidence behind the wheel. Teach them how to drive at night and in adverse weather conditions, like rain, snow, and fog. Emphasize the importance of obeying traffic laws, using seat belts, avoiding distractions, and never driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol – or even riding passenger with someone under the influence. Uber gift cards are a great gift for new graduates!
Teach your kids basic auto maintenance like checking tire pressure and oil, and performing routine safety checks.
Many states have a graduated licensing program that includes restrictions for new drivers, such as limits on nighttime driving and the number of passengers. Ensure your teen complies with these restrictions. Here there are rules about how many unrelated people are allowed in the car, too. You may have some personal family rules regarding new drivers.
You can include your teen on your auto insurance policy and explain the importance of safe driving habits in keeping insurance rates manageable. This varies from state to state- you don’t have to do that here until they are licensed so you usually have a free pass during the learner permit time. This can be so expensive!
If they need to, have them take practice written and driving tests to help them prepare for the actual exams. We did the driving test through a local independent school- they have a youtube video of the driving test so we went and practiced it. And lots of parallel parking!
It’s important that they know what to do in case of an accident, breakdown, or other emergency situation so be sure to go over all of that with them. Test out how empty your tank of gas really is when it’s on E. Show them how to call roadside assistance if you have it.E doesn’t mean enough!
Some families may consider creating a written agreement that outlines your expectations and rules for your teen’s driving, including curfews, passenger restrictions, and consequences for breaking the rules.
They’ve been driving around with you their entire life and learning from you.Be sure that you’re a positive role model by practicing safe and responsible driving habits yourself. Your actions can significantly influence your teen’s behavior behind the wheel. Do you text and drive? There’s a good chance that they will too. Kids are always watching. You can help your teenager become a competent, responsible, and safe driver, ensuring they are well-prepared for the challenges of the road.
Even after taking driver’s ed and passing that dreaded road test, there are so many things new drivers need to learn about the practical aspects of driving that will only come from experience. Handing over the keys is a traumatic rite of passage for parents, and they will sleep better knowing that The Driving Book is in their teens’ glove compartments. Covering virtually every scenario a new driver may face, from changing a tire to negotiating privileges with parents to handling a car in bad weather, Karen Gravelle helps teen drivers navigate through tricky new territory.
How do we teach essential life skills? (22:34)
Have you ever seen people online complaining about “adulting”? The term adulting has become a catch-all phrase describing the tasks and responsibilities characteristic of adulthood. The latter years of high school are a great time to introduce your child to some of the skills a person needs to be a competent, functional adult.
And really, you’ve been teaching them life skills all along. But now it’s time to step it up. Now it’s time to teach life skills like opening a bank account, home and auto maintenance, the basics of tax preparation, filling out a FAFSA form for college, how to fill out a job application and talk to prospective employers. These sorts of skills are the things a child should learn as they transition into adulthood. They aren’t all about job skills or higher education, but just about navigating the adult world in general. This is one of those things where Homeschool teens really have an advantage. People often complain that these skills are not taught in school – well, they are taught in my school! And you can teach them in your school, too.
Teaching important life skills to homeschooled teenagers is a critical part of their education. These skills equip them for independence, self-reliance, and success in various aspects of life. Here are some essential life skills to teach homeschooled teenagers:
Teach them the basics of personal finance, budgeting, saving, investing, and managing money. You can cover topics like understanding credit, taxes, how to make informed financial decisions, and how to improve and maintain your credit score!
Time Management and Organization
We’ve talked about this a lot in other episodes, study skills fall in this category, too. Help them develop effective time management skills, including setting goals, prioritizing tasks, and creating schedules. This skill is crucial for academic success and managing responsibilities. We want them to know how to learn new skills and how to research information critically. Also, having confidence in their ability to learn new things. Taking notes and independent learning is so important.
Teach effective verbal and written communication, including active listening, public speaking, and how to write emails and formal documents. Using technology – we live in a tech world. I get it you want to restrict but learn how to use the tech around us, typing, making presentations, how things work, etc.
Encourage them to think critically, analyze information, solve problems, and make decisions based on evidence and logic. Problem solving, recognizing fallacies, debating properly, how to recognize propaganda.
Life skills form the foundation of the future you’ve always dreamed of and admired. While learning and developing these skills is a continuous process that never ends, the bulk of it occurs during your teen years. Essential Life Skills For Teens: 13 Different Ways To Use Your Critical Thinking, Manage Your Time Better, Set Your Smart Goals, And Navigate Social Media Safely is a guide designed to help equip teenagers with the tools they need to maximize their potential and enjoy a fulfilling life.
Self-Care and Well-Being
Instill the importance of physical and mental health. Teach them about nutrition, exercise, stress management, and the ability to seek help when needed. Teach them about basic first aid, how to learn where to find information, survival skills-such as identifying plants, how to tell time and direction from the sun, how to survive, avoid an animal attack, etc. Take a CPR course. And really, some of these basic skills are things you’ve been teaching them all along.
Help them learn how insurance works and how to navigate the healthcare system. Filling out medical forms and calling and making a doctor’s appointment. Teach them stress relief and meditation.
Cooking and Nutrition
This is another topic we have talked about a lot. Teach cooking skills, meal planning, and the importance of a balanced diet. Understanding food labels and dietary needs is also essential. Meal planning and grocery shopping, gardening, and preserving, too. In a previous episode, we created a free meal planner for the homeschool mom. Download it and have your teenager start doing some of this meal planning. Start by doing it with them until they can independently make a meal plan for the family. This is one of my favorite things about having teens! Get your FREE Meal Planner.
I made my kids cookbooks with family recipes and had a very basic list of all things they should know how to cook- things like an omelet, rice, boiled eggs, a simple cream sauce, gravy, etc. If you know a few basics, you will never go hungry. My youngest watches a lot of tiktok cooking videos and you should see and smell her ramen!
CREATE YOUR OWN RECIPE ORGANIZER with this Recipe Binder: This recipe books are super user-friendly and convenient for teens, making them easy to customize by organizing pages into categories. Just open to write in 3 ring binder and reorganize the pages to suit your needs. Leather 3 ring binder is designed with 12 blank dividers that are conveniently labeled for you according to recipes’ type, meaning they’re easy to find based on what kind of meal you want!
Ensure they know how to perform basic household chores like laundry/ironing, cleaning, and minor repairs. They should also be familiar with home safety measures. Basic home repair- like using an anchor to hang a picture, how to unclog a toilet, change the fire alarm battery, switch out the AC filters. Lawn care, gardening, and snow shoveling/winterizing the home would fall under this category, too, if these are things that apply to you.
Networking and Social Skills
Teach them how to build and maintain relationships, navigate social situations both in-person and online. Teaching them the difference between growth/ fixed mindset, staying true to their word, social media etiquette and how their reputation will precede them. Being considerate of others’ feelings, doing the right thing even when it’s not the popular choice. Again, these are things that you’ve been teaching them all their life. We have an entire E guide that helps guide you and teach your teenager about healthy relationships, consent, and spotting red flags among other things.
How to act when pulled over by the police or questioned by them. These are things we hope don’t come up, but they might and your teenager needs to be prepared.
Teach emotional regulation, empathy, and conflict resolution. These skills are essential for healthy relationships and emotional well-being. Managing relationships, making phone calls,public speaking, coordinating and planning small events, etc…How to utilize public transportation.
Travel offers so many great opportunities for homeschoolers to expand their horizons beyond textbooks and traditional classrooms. Learn how educational travel empowers homeschoolers to learn through direct experiences and create lasting memories that will enrich their education in profound ways.
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Travel offers so many great opportunities for homeschoolers to expand their horizons beyond textbooks and traditional classrooms. By venturing out into the world, homeschool families can bring their lessons to life through immersive experiences. Whether it’s touring landmarks and historical sites, experiencing different cultures & cuisine, or exploring the natural world, educational travel ignites a sense of curiosity and wonder in students of all ages.
Homeschoolers can customize their itineraries to align with their educational goals, fostering a deeper understanding of subjects like history, science, and geography. Additionally, these journeys provide real-world lessons in independence, problem-solving, and adaptability, helping homeschoolers develop essential life skills. In this episode, we are going to talk about how educational travel empowers homeschoolers to learn through direct experiences and create lasting memories that will enrich their education in profound ways.
One of the reasons that we made the choice to homeschool was so that we had more flexibility to our schedules and could fit more travel in. A lot of people feel that being tied to a traditional school schedule feels really restrictive. We’ve always loved to just pick up and go whenever we wanted. And it’s great to be able to travel to those busier tourist places when it’s the off season.
There are so many opportunities to be had for an educational vacation that fit any budget. All it takes is a little planning and organization and today we’re going to tell you just how to do that! Learn about World Schooling.
How do I begin to plan an educational vacation? (5:59)
Designing the ideal educational road trip or vacation is an opportunity to learn about new places, cultures, history, and science in a fun and interactive way. We’re going to lay out a step-by-step guide to help you plan an educational road trip or vacation.
Determine Your Educational Goals:
What are your specific educational objectives and goals? What subjects or topics do you want to explore? Is it history, science, art, culture, or nature? Have you been studying caves and now it’s time to experience them in person and go spelunking? Think about what you want your kids to learn or experience.
Consider the age and interests of everyone going. Tailor the trip to engage everyone. Even us moms get to have fun!
Don’t feel like you have to wait on this kind of thing until your baby is older. It’s easy to come up with a reason to put a trip off at every stage. A toddler may not remember going on a cruise, but they will always remember being part of a family that always did fun things together.
Choose a Destination:
Select a destination or route that aligns with your educational goals. Research places that offer opportunities for hands-on learning and exploration.
Consider both well-known attractions and hidden gems that may be less crowded but equally informative and fun. Sometimes those off the beaten track places are the best experiences and memories.
Consider eco-friendly tourism- visiting the not-so-busy areas or take the non-commercial tours and sightseeing options.
Plan Your Itinerary and budget:
Create a detailed itinerary that includes the places you’ll visit, their hours of operation, and any special events or exhibits.
Allocate sufficient time at each location to explore and learn without feeling rushed.
Include downtime for relaxation and spontaneous discoveries.
Include the kids in this process.
It’s really important to figure out a budget for all the things you will want to do on your trip- room and board, entry tickets for adventures, souvenirs, etc.
Choose your housing wisely:
This is often the most expensive part of your trip so consider your options. Do you want to stay in an RV, an Airbnb, a hotel or hostel? Or maybe even a tent?
Do you want something cheaper outside of town, or something in town and very walkable? This could mean that you don’t have to rent a car or pay a lot for shuttles.
Do you need a kitchen? We try to eat out and experience local cuisine, but not every meal because it can really add up.
Prepare educational materials such as guidebooks, maps, and relevant worksheets or activities.
Consider using educational apps or audiobooks for interactive learning while on the road.
Study in Advance:
Encourage your family to study in advance. Read books, watch documentaries, or engage in online courses related to the destination or topics of interest.
Create a list of questions or research topics to investigate during the trip.
Save on top cultural experiences – shows, museums, galleries, workshops etc with Viator.
Incorporate outdoor activities like hiking, wildlife observation, or visits to national parks. Nature provides numerous opportunities for learning about biology, geology, and ecology.
Visit Museums and Educational Sites:
Museums, science centers, historical sites, and cultural institutions can offer valuable educational experiences.
Look for hands-on exhibits, interactive displays, and guided tours.
We also often like to purchase some of our guidebooks or other supplemental materials in places where that money is going back to the site.
Experience the local culture. We love to experience traditional foods and interact with locals. You may even attend a cultural festival. Learning about different cultures fosters global awareness and appreciation.
Find local guides, especially when visiting a place that is foreign to you, that may place emphasis on respecting the cultures and traditions of your destination.
Encourage everyone to keep travel journals, sketchbooks, or even blogs to document their experiences and reflections.
Take photos and videos to create a visual record of the trip. I like to take an actual camera especially when we’re out experiencing these, so I’m not distracted with my smartphone which stays in my bag.
Don’t forget to bring educational tools like binoculars, magnifying glasses, field guides, or a telescope for stargazing, depending on your interests.
After the trip, engage in follow-up activities like creating presentations, reports, or art projects to reinforce what was learned.
Flexibility and Spontaneity:
Allow room for flexibility and spontaneity. Sometimes, the most valuable learning experiences come from unexpected discoveries.
Prioritize safety by following travel advisories and taking necessary precautions, especially when traveling with children. During covid this was absolutely necessary for a while- we still always check travel restrictions.
Enjoy the Journey:
Finally, remember that the journey itself is an educational experience. Embrace the opportunity to learn and bond as a family or group.
An educational road trip or vacation can be a memorable and enriching adventure that inspires a lifelong love for learning and exploration.
What kinds of activities should we include on an educational vacation? (17:03)
An educational vacation provides a unique opportunity to learn while you travel. There are so many activities you can partake in to make the most of your educational journey:
Join guided tours of historical sites, museums, and cultural landmarks. Knowledgeable guides can offer in-depth information and context, enhancing your understanding of the place you’re visiting.
Many museums and cultural institutions offer hands-on workshops and interactive exhibits. Participating in these activities can help you gain practical skills and a deeper appreciation for the subject matter.
Immerse yourself in the local culture. This can include attending traditional ceremonies, trying local cuisine, and interacting with local residents to learn about their way of life.
If your educational vacation takes you to a natural setting, consider activities such as hiking, birdwatching, or guided nature tours. These experiences can teach you about the local environment and ecosystems. If your destination is in a natural setting, consider activities like geology lessons, stargazing, or even survival skills training.
If you’re visiting a place with a different language, consider taking language classes or engaging in language exchange programs to improve your communication skills.
Attend historical reenactments, if available. These events can transport you back in time and provide a more vivid understanding of historical events.
Check local event listings for lectures or talks on topics of interest. Universities, cultural centers, and libraries often host educational events open to the public.
Attend local theater productions or live shows.
Explore local libraries and archives to delve deeper into the history, culture, or specific topics related to your destination. Presidential libraries are a really cool place to visit, too.
Take a cooking class to learn about the local cuisine and how to prepare traditional dishes. This is an excellent way to explore culture through food. A lot of cities offer food tourism, too. You can do a progressive dinner through several restaurants.
Seek out specialized educational centers and institutions related to your interests, such as botanical gardens, science centers, and historical archives. If you have a membership to a museum with a reciprocal program, you can save on visits!
This Travel Journal for Kids keeps kids working on their creative writing skills during your education vacation in a fun and easy way. The daily adventure questions provide structure and routine and kids look forward to their daily ritual. Kids will begin to observe and appreciate the details of their travels, helping them become curious explorers.
Explore on your own with pre-researched materials or audio guides. Self-guided tours can be flexible and tailored to your interests. I also love doing walking tours on our own when we first arrive. GPS My City
The key to a successful educational vacation is to strike a balance between structured learning experiences and free time to explore and absorb the culture. It’s important to tailor your activities to your specific interests and the destination’s unique opportunities.
What are some of the best places to visit in the US for an educational vacation? (23:15)
The United States offers a wealth of educational vacation destinations, catering to a wide range of interests. We did a search online and these came up as five of the best places to visit for an educational vacation in the U.S.:
The nation’s capital is a hub for history, politics, and culture. Visit the Smithsonian museums, explore the National Mall with its monuments and memorials, tour the U.S. Capitol, and learn about the American government at institutions like the Library of Congress and the National Archives. Do a Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Washington D.C.
With its rich colonial history and prestigious universities, Boston is a great destination for history buffs and scholars. Walk the Freedom Trail to explore key historical sites, visit the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, and learn about American literature and culture at places like the Museum of Fine Arts and Harvard University. Boston History for Kids.
Explore the history of the Gold Rush, the tech industry, and social movements in this vibrant city. Visit Alcatraz Island, the cable cars, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the many museums and cultural institutions, including the Exploratorium and the California Academy of Sciences. San Francisco: Fun Facts and Amazing Discoveries for Kids
Remember that the best place for an educational vacation depends on your personal interests and the subjects you want to explore. Whether you’re interested in history, science, culture, or a combination of these, there are numerous destinations around the world that can offer enriching educational experiences.
Health, fitness, and Sex Ed are crucial components of a well-rounded education. Today we’re talking about the importance of teaching your children to make lifelong healthy habits that will reduce their risk of chronic diseases and ensure their overall well-being.
It’s hard enough sometimes to fit all the regular subjects of reading, writing, math, social studies, and science into a busy homeschool schedule. Add in all your electives and you might wonder if you even need to make time for Health, Physical fitness, and Sex Ed. Maybe your kids are already active in sports or dance classes. Perhaps a healthy diet is already a part of your lifestyle. If so, great! You are already one step ahead. In today’s episode, we are talking about how health, fitness, and sex ed are crucial components of a well-rounded education. We all get so busy and maybe you’ve let a few things go and your kids have been watching a lot of TV or playing video games a little more than you want, or you’ve been too busy for those evening family neighborhood walks like you wanted and you’re ready to incorporate a healthier lifestyle. We’re going to be giving you tips on how to make these subjects happen in your homeschool. Teach your children to make lifelong healthy habits that last!
Fitness tends to be an easier subject for us- we are both active and we’ve mentioned several times that we both are lifelong athletes. Naturally, we’ve encouraged our kids to also be active. For many kids this is natural- especially when they are young. Kids love to play! But not all kids enjoy being super active and as they get older, that may become even more true. Promoting healthy habits from an early age instills lifelong habits. And this doesn’t just create healthier bodies and reduce their risk of chronic diseases, but it also ensures an overall well-being.
Physical education also fosters social skills, teamwork, and discipline. It also provides an outlet for physical energy and helps combat sedentary lifestyles, which are becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s digital age. Even before the Covid, inactivity was on the rise in a major way. Kids around the world are really suffering from inactivity. One of the best things about homeschooling is that you’re not tied to a desk all day. We have the freedom to move around and take breaks whenever we want. Regular movement has been proven to help kids stay focused and improve cognitive function. We’re not big on testing (especially in the younger years) but studies have shown time and time again that students perform better on tests with regular physical activity.
How to Include Physical Education and Fitness into Your Day (5:57)
Structured PE Curriculum: A lot of us have memories of PE class in school.For kids that are not into sports, this is a great option. Some homeschool families do use a structured PE curriculum or program designed for homeschoolers. These resources often include lesson plans, fitness activities, and assessments. These can be self-taught or sometimes you can find an actual class locally.
There’s a group here in DFW that I know runs PE programs in several cities. We’ve actually participated in two PE programs in North Texas over the years. They do drills, flag football, and other games. It’s great to get the kids out in groups while somebody else organizes the activity.
Daily Exercise: Make physical activity a daily routine. Set aside time for activities like stretching, yoga, calisthenics, or even have a dance party in your living room.
Outdoor Play: Encourage outdoor playtime for younger children. Activities like running, biking, playing tag, or sports in the backyard with siblings or friends or climbing the jungle gym at a park are great ways to keep kids active.
Sports and Recreation: Enroll your child in sports leagues or recreational programs. Many communities offer homeschool-friendly sports teams, swimming lessons, martial arts classes, or dance studios.
Home Gym: Create a home gym. And you don’t need anything special. You can do this with basic exercise equipment like jump ropes, resistance bands, dumbbells, or a yoga ball. And the best part about having a home gym is that it’s always open and so it’s easy to walk over and incorporate that into your homeschool day.
Through strength training, kids as young as 7 can safely develop a strong musculoskeletal system. Youth Strength Training provides 100 illustrated exercises with teaching safe techniques using various types of training equipment. This book is a great place to get your kids started off on correctly:
Family Fitness: Include the whole family in physical activities. Go for family hikes, bike rides, or play active games together. You can even go for a family walk around your neighborhood after dinner. Just make it a habit. You don’t have to go far, and it doesn’t have to take your whole evening. This will really foster a culture of fitness within your household.
Field Trips or hiking/nature groups: Plan educational field trips to places like museums, nature reserves, or science centers that offer interactive exhibits related to health, anatomy, or physical fitness. Dallas Perot Museum Sports Hall.
Physical Challenges: Create physical challenges or fitness goals that align with your child’s interests. For example, they can aim to run a mile without stopping, or do 20 push-ups without stopping, or go a certain distance on a bike. You could also try to throw together a Field Day with friends and do competitions and sports games.
Health Journals: Encourage your child to keep a health journal where they record their daily physical activities, meals, and reflections on their overall well-being. This can be a useful tool for tracking progress and setting goals.
Remember that fostering a lifelong love for physical activity and healthy living is the primary goal. Tailor your approach to your child’s interests and needs, and make PE, health, and fitness part of each day. Be sure to make it an enjoyable part- that doesn’t mean that they don’t work hard but you want to give them attainable goals and help to make them feel accomplished and empowered. This is our favorite Fitness Journal for teens and young adults.
How to Teach Health (15:54)
Teaching health to your child can be both educational and fun. There are so many great resources available that cover a wide range of health topics and cater to different age groups and it’s easy to integrate health education into your homeschool curriculum. You will want to cover topics like nutrition, hygiene, anatomy, and the importance of a balanced lifestyle. You can also involve your child in meal planning and preparation. Teach them about healthy food choices, cooking techniques, and portion control. Gardening can also be a fun way to learn about growing and harvesting fresh produce.
If you work solo in the kitchen and you send them to go play when it’s time to cook, I really encourage you to bring them to the kitchen and teach them now because let me tell you, it’s awesome to walk in the door and your teenager just cooked dinner. We started when they were very young when they were toddlers, climbing up in their learning tower and helping to tear lettuce for a salad. And if you feel lost on where to start, there really are a ton of resources available. You can use textbooks, online resources, and educational videos to teach these subjects. We will talk about a few of these options but will have tons of resources in our show notes, so be sure to check that out.
Two great free resources:
Khan Academy: Online courses on health and medicine that cover various topics suitable for middle and high school students.
KidsHealth in the Classroom: This website provides lesson plans, activities, and videos on health topics, including nutrition, exercise, and emotional well-being.
Some people want to go old style school textbook for this topic. If you are one of those, here are two popular textbook options:
“Supersize Me”: This documentary explores the impact of fast food on health.
“Food, Inc.”: An eye-opening documentary about the food industry and its effects on health.
We will caution that with documentaries- you really do need to consider the source- there are a lot of really one-sided sources out there that people quote on diet websites and there is always someone who will point out cherry picked date and offer the other perspective- so maybe watch both and use those things as a learning opportunity.
CDC’s BAM! Body and Mind: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a website with interactive games, quizzes, and information about health and safety.
MedlinePlus:A comprehensive resource from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that covers a wide range of health topics with articles, videos, and tutorials.
Teaching basic first aid is an important aspect of health education. Consider purchasing or assembling a first aid kit and teaching your child how to use it. You also can teach safety and emergency preparedness- years ago the kids and I put together a bin with essentials. Here is what we have ours:
Emergency Preparedness Kit
First aid kit
freeze dried food
I also included reading glasses, because that is an essential for me!
If you want to create one with your kids, you can use safety manuals and guides available from organizations like the American Red Cross. Or contact your local health department to see about resources, workshops, and educational programs they may offer to homeschoolers.
Years ago, in our adventure kids club we did a First aid CPR class at your house with an instructor. We also did another one with our scout troop at one of those stand-alone ERs. Basic Life Support Skills for Kids
And of course, you know we love our books! We’re going to have great ones listed on our show notes, but you can also visit your local library and find these titles or just explore the health and wellness section for books suitable for your child’s age. We found it handy to get lots of books about various subjects and keep them within easy access on our shelves.
One book we really liked was Body Book: Easy to Make Hands on Models. It’s scholastic and you end up going through all the different body parts and making an entire skeleton. We used this as a spine and then got other books and resources and read those before making the models:
When teaching health, you need to be sure to tailor the materials and resources to your child’s age, interests, and maturity level. Encourage open discussions about health-related topics and answer their questions honestly. You really want to create a supportive and informative learning environment.
How to Talk About Sex Education (23:31)
Sexual education is essential for empowering your child with accurate information about their bodies, relationships, and safe practices. This will enable them to make informed decisions and navigate the complexities of sexuality and relationships responsibly. These subjects collectively contribute to the holistic development of your child. It’s so important to equip them with essential life skills for a healthy and fulfilling future.
And keep in mind that it’s completely normal for children to worry about their bodies, especially when things start changing during puberty. Reassure them and always remember that you are their role model and your words and actions set an example. The way you talk about sexuality sends messages that last a lifetime. These conversations aren’t just about sharing information – you’re teaching values and attitudes. HOW you talk is one of the first lessons they receive about body image and sexuality.
Talking about sex and puberty isn’t a one-time conversation. Young kids are curious and have lots of questions. Being open to these questions without judgment shows them that you’re a source of support. Help them create a healthy body image by the way you talk about your own body and others. Encourage other healthy habits too like good personal hygiene and posture, healthy sleep habits, and stress relief.
And I would really encourage you to be proactive. Don’t wait for them to come to you with questions about their changing body. You really want to create a safe space for them to ask questions without shame or fear. Let them know that you’re available to talk but start conversations too. Discuss puberty and the feelings that come with its changes as openly as possible. Some parents might feel embarrassed discussing these sensitive topics, but kids are often relieved to have them take the lead. And I guarantee if you don’t teach these extremely valuable lessons, they’re going to learn somewhere else – and there’s a good chance that these other sources might not even be accurate information.
Talk to them about the changes their bodies will go through as they grow. Some girls start puberty at 8 years old, and some boys do by 9 so you may need to start these talks earlier than you think. Discuss the physical and emotional changes that come with puberty before they begin.
Where Did I Come From? Ages 6+. Another good book teaching the basics with accurate illustrations. It is a higer level of information provided to elementary kids, but it answers all the right questions and teaches anatomy presented in picture book form.
It’s So Amazing! Ages: 7+. Helps answer questions younger kids have about reproduction, babies, love, sex, and gender. Provides honest answers with age-appropriate, reassuring words and accurate, inclusive art.
Sex is a Funny Word Ages 7-10 by Cory Silverberg (Book): This book is aimed at kids aged 8 and older and explores topics like bodies, gender, and relationships in a way that is inclusive and affirming.
Sex Ed Resources for Ages 11-15
What’s Happening to My Body? Ages: 11-15 (Boys). This book is made for boys and touches on all the bases including steroids, acne, diet and exercise, romantic feelings, voice changes, and more. It’s straightforward and touches on what puberty is for girls. A good way to introduce a book like this is You should read first, then present the book to your child, and then once they are finished, come to them, and discuss and answer any questions they may have
What’s Happening to My Body? Ages: 11-15 (Girls).This book for girls touches on all the bases including breast development, reproduction, menstruation, growth and growth spurts, body hair, diet and exercise, romantic and sexual feelings and more. It uses a straightforward writing style and it touches what puberty is for boys. You should read first, present book, and answer questions.
It’s Perfectly Normal: Ages: 11+. This series is one of my favorites. One reason I love it is because it answers questions appropriately and accurately. It is a no-nonsense book and is a thorough guide to changing bodies, growing up, sex, and sexual health. It does a great job covering all the bases, including embarrassing things happening to their bodies! It also includes a chapter on Internet safety. The illustrations are for older kids. A must read for middle schoolers.
Sex Ed Resourcesfor Ages 14+
Consent: The New Rules of Sex Education. Ages 15+. This book is for older middle schoolers and high school. It covers an overview of human sexuality, common scenarios, and healthy ways to handle them. It gives tools for communicating and understanding consent and abuse. You should read first, present book, and answer questions.
Cycle Savvy for teens Ages 14+ (Girls) by Toni Weschler This is by the same author as Taking Charge of Your Fertility It’s the first book specifically designed to teach young women about the practical benefits of charting their cycles. Explore the fascinating world of ovulation, fertility, and why you even have periods at all!
Online Sex Ed Resources
There are also a number of progressive sex education resources online that prioritize comprehensive, inclusive information. These resources promote open and informed discussions, they emphasize consent, and they provide a safe space for kids to ask questions.
Scarleteen (Website): Scarleteen is a comprehensive online resource for sexual health and education. It offers articles, guides, and forums that cover a wide range of topics related to sexuality, relationships, and consent. The content is LGBTQ+-inclusive and sex-positive.
Amaze (Website and Videos): Amaze creates animated videos that tackle a lot of aspects of sex ed, including puberty, body image, consent, and healthy relationships. These videos are designed for young people.
Planned Parenthood (Website): Planned Parenthood’s website provides a wealth of information on sexual health, including educational articles, videos, and interactive tools. They offer resources for teens and parents, covering topics such as puberty, birth control, and consent.
Our Whole Lives (OWL) by Unitarian Universalist Association (Curriculum): OWL is a comprehensive, age-appropriate, and inclusive body/sex ed program for all age groups, from young children to adults. It is a year long program and covers topics like anatomy, relationships, and consent and so much more. My daughter did the middle school program.
Advocates for Youth (Website): Advocates for Youth is an organization that promotes comprehensive sex education. Their website offers a wide range of resources, including lesson plans, fact sheets, and toolkits.
Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs): If this group is available in your area, they provide a supportive environment for discussions on gender identity, sexual orientation, and other related topics. It’s a really safe space for a lot of kids that need it.
Always review the content of the resources to ensure they align with your values and the age-appropriateness for your child. It’s also important to create a safe and non-judgmental space for your child to ask questions and discuss sensitive topics. Open and honest communication is key when teaching progressive sex education.
As homeschooling parents, we are always on call. There are no days off and even if it’s not a “school day,” we’re still the one answering all the questions. But it is hard to be *on* all the time. You definitely need to try and carve out some time for yourself in the hustle and bustle of homeschool life.
We’re talking about the importance of self-care and giving you 11 ways to help ensure that you are at your best for not only your family, but for yourself!
As homeschooling moms, we are always on call. There are no days off and even if it’s not a “school day,” we’re still the one answering all the questions. Since you’re listening to this episode, you’re probably the default parent, the one on call 24/7 when your kid is sick, when they have a boo-boo or a bad dream and all those teenage issues. And even though we are grateful for the extra time we get with our children, many other moms would envy us this, but it is hard to be *on* all the time. You definitely need to try and carve out some time for yourself in the hustle and bustle of homeschool life. In today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about the importance of self-care and give you some ways to ensure that you are at your best for not only your family, but for yourself.
I love being a homeschool mom! This journey has been filled with quality time fostering strong relationships with my children – and them with each other. It’s filled with empowering moments like when we teach them how to read, and we learn together as a family. But let’s be honest, being a homeschool mom is a 24/7/365 gig – especially for single moms like me. Or moms like you, whose partners travel a lot. Homeschooling is a rewarding but demanding job for us because we are always on duty. Since there are no days off, it’s often really difficult to make time for myself. I’ve had to learn to squeeze in quick moments for myself, even if it’s just two minutes.
Incorporating self-care practices into your life is crucial to maintaining your well-being and ensuring you have the energy and patience to provide a quality education for your child.
11 ways to….
help you to fill your cup as a homeschool mom so you can be calm, present, and have more fun guiding and learning with your kids:
1. Set Boundaries (7:01)
Establishing clear boundaries between your homeschooling/mom hours/personal time is an essential part of self-care. Create a schedule that includes dedicated breaks for yourself during the day. Don’t feel like you have to answer that call from grandma in the middle of schooling or work on more school stuff when you are done and toasted for the day. Set dedicated times for yourself.
Also, overscheduling is so easy to do! If we want to take better care of ourselves, we must learn to guard our time. Guarding your time can look like saying no to something or it can be more about prioritizing your own goals first. Sometimes saying no gives us the freedom to slow down and really be present for the things that are important to us.
2. Prioritize Sleep (8:20)
Everyone talks about this when talking about self care. It’s because it is THAT important! So be sure you’re getting enough rest. Burning the candle at both ends is really tempting for homeschool moms! We all want extra time to do all the things. Getting the rest you need is an important part of becoming the mom you want to be and giving yourself and your family the very best version of yourself.
A well-rested mind and body are better equipped to handle the challenges of homeschooling. I am very protective about my sleep- it also helps maintain a healthy weight, build progress in the gym, and keeps me sane.
And I have to say that I really struggle with this one. Menopause has hit and it is no joke how it affects your sleep. I can fall asleep on a dime, but I tend not to stay asleep for very long, and I’m a very early riser so if I go to sleep late, I get very little rest. If you are having trouble sleeping too, we’ve got some great tips that can help.
Consider seeing a doctor if you are really struggling with this
Getting enough sleep is not only going to benefit you, this is also for your entire family. We want you to be happy and healthy!
If you’ve never heard of Calm before, it is a TOTAL game-changer! I’ve been taking it for YEARS and love it. Magnesium is actually one of the most important minerals that you should be taking. I mix a heaping teaspoon into cold and stir until dissolved – it tastes great! It also helps with restless legs at night and it also keeps you regular. It’s fabulous:
3. Morning Routine (11:45)
Self-care starts as soon as you wake up.Start your day with a calming morning routine that includes activities like meditation, yoga, journaling, or a healthy breakfast to set a positive tone for the day. Morning routines, no matter how small or big, can help boost productivity and creativity and reduce stress.
Try to wake up a little earlier. This is really going to allow you more time in the morning. Spend this time (or at least the first 30 minutes) of your day with no media. This is a game changer for reducing stress and setting my day up for success! Days that I have chosen to sleep in are always so rushed and I’m much less pleasant and patient with my kids. I also find I have way more hours in the day this way! We talked in detail about creating a morning routine and a blueprint for a beautiful week in Episode 046. Finding Balance in Your Home and Homeschool.
4. Exercise (14:01):
Incorporating regular physical activity into your routine is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. Whether it’s a brisk walk, a workout, or a yoga session, exercise can reduce stress and boost your mood. You can go for a walk or just pace around your home. Walking is really the simplest exercise that almost anyone can do!
Tracking steps is an easy way to increase your movement. You can use your phone or a simple step tracker. You can even get your kids trackers and then you can compete with each other. We’ve definitely done some step competitions this way. It involved our entire park day group. Our favorite step trackers for the kids is theFitbit Ace and we love the Apple Watchfor ourselves after upgrading from the Fitbit.
5. Delegate and Share Responsibilities (16:09)
Don’t hesitate to involve other family members. Sharing the responsibilities of homeschooling can lighten your load. Have an older sibling read to or teach a younger sibling. If your partner can take over one subject, maybe math or science, or maybe there is an uncle, aunt, or grandparent that has a skill they can teach. This can not only help teach your child, but it can also create a regular bonding time with that family member.
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We’ve even shared responsibilities teaching each other’s kids. So, you can reach out to other homeschool families. And don’t be afraid to outsource some classes. If you can afford it, hire a cleaning person, order groceries online, pay your kids to do some extra chores outside their regular responsibilities. There are all kinds of ways you can ease your load. We talked about this extensively and our recent episode about Finding Balance in Your Home and Homeschool. Be sure to get your free Chore and Cleaning Charts
6. Connect with Other Homeschooling Parents (17:15)
This is such an important part of homeschooling! Connecting with others is not just for the kids, we get so much out of it, too. Join homeschooling support groups or online communities where you can share experiences, seek advice, and build a sense of camaraderie. It’s so important to have a support system made up of people who get it and can be there for you emotionally and offer help and encouragement when you need it. We’ve loved our homeschool mom friends- we talk about this all the time!
7. Personal Interests (18:45)
I think that this might be the most important way to self-care, but it can be one of the hardest for a lot of moms.Make time for your hobbies and interests outside of your kids and homeschooling. Pursuing your passions can be a fulfilling way to recharge. Maybe don’t wait until your kids are off to college to figure that out- carve some time out now for your interests and make time for yourself and your passions. It’s easy to feel guilty about taking time to ourselves and for our own hobbies or interests but time really does go by quickly.
8. Meals and Nutrition (20:23)
Prioritize healthy eating habits. Proper nutrition can positively impact your energy levels and overall well-being. It can also be a family affair- we talked in our balance episode about meal planning and menus. We even created an entire Free menu planning packet. Eating better doesn’t have to mean adopting a strict diet or totally changing up your menu all at once.
You can begin with small choices like replacing unhealthy snacks or being more aware of portion sizes. One tool that really helped me to make better choices about food is a food scale. We love this food scale and keep it on our counter all the time. Another thing that always helps me feel better is making sure I have at least 100 g of protein every day. One of my favorite things to do is go to the farmers market on the weekends by myself. I get a coffee or smoothie and wander and find some fresh fruits and veggies. I don’t know why buying some of the same groceries I usually do feels better here, but it does!
9. Limiting Negativity (22:39)
Another step that has been a really important part of my self-care journey is limiting negativity. Sometimes that means limiting the amount of news media I take in and sometimes it means muting people on my social media feed.
Oh, there’s definitely days that I will go through and snooze everyone and everything for 30 days. We have a friend who did that to her entire list and only left her local groups up for planning purposes. I do a lot of socializing through social media, so I don’t ever go completely off grid, but cutting back does help.
10. Take Short Breaks (24:25)
During the school day, schedule short breaks to relax and recharge. Even a few minutes of deep breathing or stretching can help. And I am the power nap queen. I have always incorporated a mid-day quiet time. And my kids knew from an early age not to mess with Mom during this time. I only need about 10 minutes, but let me tell you, this has been essential for my overall well-being, and I look forward to it every day.
11. Self-Reflection and Assessment (25:47)
Periodically assess your homeschooling approach and make adjustments as needed. Self-reflection can help you identify areas where you can streamline or improve your teaching methods. And this may not seem like a self-care topic, but I promise as a homeschool mom, it most certainly is. If you’re wasting time on something that doesn’t work, your stress level will go through the roof.
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Atomic Habits was a book that we both read for a 75-Hard challenge and we both LOVED it! The real-world examples and success stories shared in the book are so inspiring and really help as you work on creating your own habits.
Remember that we always talk about the key to homeschooling is to be flexible and adaptable. That really applies to everything from curriculum to schedule to balancing your home. Self-care is not selfish; it’s essential for your mental, emotional, and physical health. Self care is often a problem for most moms – it is a draining, sacrificial job to raise children! Being a homeschool mom though, takes sacrifice to a new level. It is so important that you take care of yourself, but many of us completely ignore our own needs. Don’t do it! It’s ok to put yourself first every now and then. When you take care of yourself, you’ll be better equipped to provide a positive and nurturing homeschooling experience for your entire family.