058. Time Management, Stress, Organization, Study Skills

Time Management, Stress, Organization, Study Skills

Stress is normal! With all that your high school student is likely to have on their plate (balancing classes, assignments, college applications, extracurriculars, a social life, and more), it’s normal that they’ll experience stress from time-to-time. Understanding how to manage the stress they feel is an important skill for your teen to learn – during the high school years and throughout their life. Tune in to help your teen manage all the things and keep their stress in check.

This is the 12th and final episode in our HIGH SCHOOL SERIES

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Show Notes

If you are homeschooling a high schooler, you already know that navigating the intricate balance between academics, extracurriculars, and personal life can be tricky. Add in college applications, part time jobs, and social opportunities, and it’s no wonder some of our teens can feel overwhelmed and anxious about their future. With a focus on time management, organization, stress management, and study skills, we will explore some strategies and tools in today’s episode to aid in your student’s quest for academic success while maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the realm of homeschooling.

Let’s face it, High schoolers have a lot going on!  From expectations and normal pressures of academics to extreme feelings of stress, understanding how to manage the stress they feel is an important skill for your teen to learn – during the high school years and throughout their life. Stress is normal! With all that your high schooler is likely to have on their plate (classes, assignments, college applications, extracurriculars, a social life, and more), it’s normal that they’ll experience stress from time-to-time. 

Homeschoolers often experience less stress than students in traditional schools because they have more time available to them, more flexibility, and are less likely to compare themselves to others, but they probably still feel a lot of these same pressures!

How can our high schoolers deal with stress? (4:27)

Let’s talk about some ideas for high school students to deal with stress: 

  • Keeping a journal
  • Getting plenty of exercise
  • Eating healthy, regular meals and drinking plenty of water. 
  • Making sure you get enough sleep 
  • Meditating, deep breathing, or mindfulness, and monitoring their self-talk. 
  • Channeling their energy into sports or creative pursuits such as music, art, theater
  • forming meaningful relationships or friendships helps reduce stress. 
  • Reaching out to friends or family members who help you cope in a positive way
  • Staying organized and teaching your teen to create routines can be helpful. We are going to talk more about this today!
  • Limiting excess caffeine in soft drinks or coffee
  • Making time to do fun things
  • Spending downtime relaxing 

With so many big life decisions ahead, getting through high school happy and whole can definitely feel challenging at times. It’s easy to see why so many high school students feel stressed. The good news is that there are solutions. Adopt the strategies above, take a deep breath, and remind them it’s not forever!

Dialectical Behavior Therapy has helped millions of teenagers since it was developed just over 30 years ago! The DBT Skills Workbook for Teens: A Fun Guide to Manage Anxiety and Stress, Understand Your Emotions and Learn Effective Communication Skills. This Workbook takes your teen on a journey going through four quests to learn the four key skills in DBT.

Sometimes a big source of stress can actually be due to a lack of time management.  I know this well as I am a lifelong organized procrastinator!  I work best under pressure.  But every time I get through yet another project this way, I vow not to do it again next time. Mastering time management is an essential skill that not only cultivates discipline but can really help your teen maximize study time more efficiently. By establishing structured routines, setting clear goals, and teaching the value of efficient scheduling, you can empower your teens to take ownership of their education while also allowing for a healthy balance between their academic pursuits and personal growth.

Parental involvement in homeschooling time management is not a solitary endeavor. It entails open communication, active listening, and a keen awareness of your high schoolers’ individual progress. Some will be more mature and independent than others. By consistently assessing their growth and helping them to adapt the schedule and approach you will be helping to teach them self awareness and how to manage their stress. 

How can we help our teens manage their time wisely? (9:57)

Here are some time management tools and techniques that can set your highschooler up for success:

1. Homeschool Planner:

Using a dedicated homeschool planner or digital app like Google Keep organizing lessons, assignments, and activities. This helps them stay on top of their responsibilities and ensure they have plenty of downtime and time with their friends.

2. Time Blocking:

Time blocking is a simple yet effective way you can teach your teen to take control of their time. They can implement a time blocking strategy where they allocate specific time blocks for different subjects. This prevents overloading on a single subject to ensure balance. Time blocking asks you to divide your day into blocks of time. Each block is dedicated to accomplishing a specific task or group of tasks, and only those specific tasks. Instead of keeping an open-ended to-do list of things you’ll get to as you can, you start each day with a concrete schedule outlining what you’ll work on and when.

The key to this method is prioritizing your task list in advance. The free resource I created this week is a time blocking template that your highschooler can use as they plan out their day. Scroll Down to download! This method really does add hours to your day! It’s so effective. Time Finder is the app that I use when I’m on the go instead of using the paper template but I find the paper easier for teenagers to use.

3. Set Realistic Goals:

Teach them to set achievable goals for each day or week. It’s an essential skill to learn how to break down larger objectives into smaller, manageable tasks. This can prevent them from feeling overwhelmed and provides a sense of accomplishment as tasks are completed.

Most students believe that straight A’s can be achieved only through cramming and painful all-nighters at the library. But Cal Newport knows that real straight-A students don’t study harder—they study smarter!
How to Become a Straight-A Student: The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less reveals for the first time the proven study secrets of real straight-A students across the country and weaves them into a simple, practical system that anyone can master.

4. Weekly Planning:

Set aside time daily and each week to check in and go over assessments and progress. This helps them maintain a clear overview of what needs to be covered. Be sure to include extracurricular and fun with friends outside of academics. These are really important!

5. Flexible Routine:

Teach them to adopt a flexible routine rather than a rigid schedule. More than likely you’ve been doing this all along. This will teach them to accommodate variations in assignments and unexpected events.

6.Prioritize tasks:

Learn to differentiate between urgent and important tasks. This skill helps in managing workload efficiently and reducing stress.

Your involvement plays a vital role in helping them learn these skills. You can address their individual strengths, interests, and challenges, which will promote a deeper understanding of subjects and encourage a lifelong love for learning. You know we love to say that! 

How to teach study skills, note taking, organization, and other executive function skills?  (16:49)

As students enter into the high school years, they also need to add effective study skills and habits.  They must master skills like:

  • reading for content and not just for pleasure
  • note taking
  • researching
  • finding knowledgeable mentors
  • communicating with others to find out what they need to know
  • honing memorization techniques
  • practicing computer skills
  • identifying and utilizing helpful online resources

Homeschool high schoolers have a unique opportunity to learn some of these skills to suit their individual learning styles and schedules. Here are some effective strategies for homeschool high schoolers to cultivate good study skills and be more organized:

  • Create a designated study space: Establishing a dedicated area for studying helps in maintaining focus and organization. Ensure it’s free from distractions and equipped with necessary materials.
  • Develop a schedule: Design a timetable that includes study sessions for various subjects, breaks, and extracurricular activities. A structured routine aids in time management and consistency.
  • Encourage the use of checklists: Using checklists for daily or weekly tasks can help your teen visualize what needs to be done and experience the satisfaction of checking items off the list as they complete them.
  • Break tasks into smaller steps: Teach your teen to break down larger tasks or projects into smaller, manageable steps. This method helps in avoiding overwhelm and encourages steady progress.
  • Utilize various learning methods: Experiment with different study techniques such as mind mapping, summarizing, flashcards, or teaching concepts to someone else. Find what works best for individual comprehension.
  • Practice active learning: Engage in discussions, take notes, ask questions, and participate in activities related to the subject matter. Active involvement enhances understanding and retention.
  • Take regular breaks: Incorporate short breaks during study sessions to prevent burnout and maintain focus. Breaks can re-energize and improve productivity.
  • Promote decluttering: Assist your teen in decluttering their space regularly. Encourage them to get rid of unnecessary items and organize belongings in a way that makes them easily accessible.
  • Model and encourage organization: Set an example by staying organized yourself. Show your teen how you manage your schedule, maintain a clean environment, and handle responsibilities.
  • Provide guidance, not control: Offer guidance and support rather than micromanaging your teen’s organizational efforts. Encourage independence by allowing them to make their own decisions and learn from mistakes.
  • Develop effective note-taking techniques: Find a method that suits the learning style, be it Cornell notes, bullet points, or visual diagrams. Good notes aid in better understanding and revision.
How to Be a High School Superstar: A Revolutionary Plan to Get into College by Standing Out (Without Burning Out) provides step-by-step instructions to help any student adopt the relaxed superstar lifestyle—proving that getting into college doesn’t have to be a chore to survive, but instead can be the reward for living a genuinely interesting life.
Learning How to Learn: How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying; A Guide for Kids and Teens teaches teens about the importance of both focused concentration and letting their minds wander, how the brain makes connections between different pieces of information, the value of metaphors in developing understanding, why procrastination is the enemy of problem solving, and much more. 
Are you tired of struggling with exams and feeling overwhelmed by your studies? Do you wish there was a way to improve your grades and achieve exam success without all the stress? With Study Strategies for Teens: A Teenage Guide to Exam Success and Getting Better Grades as your guide, , you will learn effective study techniques, develop essential time management and organization skills, and gain the confidence needed to conquer exams and become a straight A student.

Note taking is a big question I see come up often on high school forums- it’s almost like none of us can remember or picture how this works outside the classroom. We ended up doing a bit of a deep dive on different techniques and thought we could share some popular note-taking methods:

  • The SQ3R Method: An acronym for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. It involves a comprehensive approach to studying a text, starting with a survey of the material, formulating questions, reading actively, reciting or summarizing key points, and finally reviewing the material. Learn more about SQ3R.
  • Cornell Method: This method involves dividing the paper into sections: a section for notes, a section for cues or questions related to the notes, and a summary section at the bottom. It encourages active engagement and summarization of key points. Learn more about Cornell Method.
How To Take Great Notes Quickly and Easily is a very easy guide for teenager. (40+ Note Taking Tips for School, Work, Books and Lectures. Cornell Notes Explained and more!
  • Outlining Method: Structuring notes hierarchically using bullet points or numbering. It involves organizing information into main topics, subtopics, and details. This method emphasizes the relationship between different ideas. Learn more about Outlining Method.
  • Mind Mapping: Utilizing visual diagrams to represent concepts and their relationships. It starts with a central idea or topic and branches out into related subtopics, creating a visual representation of connections. Learn more about Mind Mapping.
  • Charting or Tabular Method: Organizing information into tables or charts with columns and rows. It’s useful for comparing and contrasting different elements or presenting data in a clear format. Learn more about Charting.
  • Sentence Method: Writing down key points or phrases in complete sentences. It involves summarizing information in a coherent narrative format, making it easier to follow when reviewing. Learn more about Sentence Method.
  • Flow Method: This method involves jotting down notes in a continuous flow, without much structure. It’s useful during lectures or when information is presented rapidly. Later, these notes can be organized into a more structured format. Learn more about Flow Method.
  • The Feynman Technique: Explaining complex ideas in simple terms as if teaching someone else. It involves identifying gaps in understanding and revisiting complex concepts until they can be explained in straightforward language. Learn more about Feynman Technique.
  • The Charting Method: Creating columns and rows to organize information, often using headers and bullet points. It’s useful for comparing and contrasting different elements or categorizing information. Learn more about Charting Method.
  • Annotation/Highlighting: Underlining, highlighting, or annotating text in books or articles with personal comments or key points. This method helps in quickly identifying important information for later review. Learn more about Annotation and Highlighting.

Our kids did an awesome study skills camp with a fellow homeschool mom that taught several of these techniques.  Choosing the most suitable note-taking technique depends on personal preferences, the nature of the information being recorded, and the context in which the notes will be used. Experimenting with different methods can help individuals find the one that best fits their learning style and enhances their understanding and retention of information.

By actively supporting and guiding your teen through all of these above strategies, you can help them develop strong organizational skills that will serve them well in academics and throughout their lives. 

This Week’s Freebie:

Help you teen stay organized and reduce their stress by Time Blocking
Download your Free Template

Unit Study Ideas

Unit Study Ideas

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).

Learn more about creating a unit study in Episode 056. How Do You Create a Unit Study? Ready to dive in and make learning a delightful experience? Let’s get started!

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:


Animal-Related Topics
Endangered species
Animal habitats
Food chains

Specific Types of Animals
Birds (general)/Backyard birds
Farm animals
Sea animals
African Animals


Plants (in general)
Edible plants
Anatomy of plant cells

Life Science

General Life Science Topics
Human anatomy and physiology
Bacteria and viruses
The five senses


People/Groups of Historical Significance
Indigenous People
Civil rights leaders
LGBTQ+ History

The Work People Do
Presidents/Prime minister
Community helpers
Healthcare workers

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
Marco Polo
Joan of Arc
Nelson Mandela
Pablo Picasso


The continents
North America
South America
The Arctic

United States

Landforms, Biomes, and Bodies of Water

Seas and Oceans
Ponds, Lakes, and Rivers
Coasts and Beaches
Rocks and Minerals

Space Science

Space (in general)
Solar system
The moon
The sun/stars
Black Holes
Space Travel

Meteorology and Weather

Seasons (general)
Weather (in general)
The water cycle


Physics (in general)
Force and motion
Simple machines
States of matter
Light spectrum


Chemistry (in general)
Periodic table
Chemical reactions


Transportation (in general)
Transportation Infrastructure
Contruction Vehicles
Auto design


The Internet
History/Evolution of Phones
Energy production and harvesting
Artificial intelligence
Game Design
Website Design
History of Animation
Music Composition/Recording
Graphic Design

Time Periods/Significant Historical Events

Ancient Egypt
Ancient China
Indus-Valley Civilization
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
Bodhi Day
Feast Day of Our Lady Guadalupe
St. Patrick’s Day
Day of the Dead


Finances (Budgeting, Investment)
Starting a Business
Interior Design
Interior Design
Artistry (painting/scultping/Jewelry/etc.)
Performing Arts (dance/theater/band/etc.)


Magic Tree House Books
Roald Dahl books
CS Lewis books
Little House on the Prairie
Charlotte’s Web
Harry Potter
Tolkien books (The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings)
The Wind in the Willows
Anne of Green Gables
The Giver
Red Badge of Courage
Bud, Not Buddy
Esperanza Rising
George Orwell Books

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These are FREE Homeschool Resources that we have discovered or used in our own homeschool. If a link does not work, please let us know by sending an email to us as

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Free Resources:

Tax basics: Teens who work part-time jobs need to understand the basics of taxes. This FREE Tax unit study has a teacher guide, student worksheet, and free poster. Ages 13+

Pre-Writing: FREE 24-page pre-writing tracing sheets. PreK

Guitar Chord Posters & Fingers Guide. This FREE 47-page pdf guide will help your new musician 🎶 All Ages

Mr. Popper’s Penguins unit study. Free 35pg pdf. Ages: 6-12. Read Mr. Popper’s Penguins Book Reviews

Teaching with math manipulatives helps concrete math concepts. This FREE 38-page pdf has the following printable manipulatives: Base 10 blocks, fraction blocks, fraction tiles, geoboards, pattern blocks, dice templates, block grids, dot templates, algebra tiles. All Ages

Apple unit study: Lots of interesting activities in this FREE 15-page pdf. All ages.

FREE 10-pg pdf with Fall Equinox Activity pages. Ages 7-13

Learn about the Science behind fall EQUINOX MYTHS with this FREE 3-page pdf that includes simple science experiments debunking superstition. AllAges

Fall Equinox: Teach how the Earth’s tilt, and its position in orbit around the Sun, determines seasons all around the globe with activities with this FREE NASA pdf. Ages 5-11

50 Bucket List Ideas for Autumn Activities (pdf). All ages

Teach Prefixes, Suffixes, and Root Words with this 112-page FREE pdf unit with TONS of games, worksheets, and activities. Grades 3-8

9/23/2023 is the first day of Fall! 🍁Enjoy this FREE 23-page Fall Packet. Kindergarten

Trees: learn about different trees with this FREE 25-page pdf activity pack🌲🌳 Grades 1st-5th

Climate Change: On September 20, 2019, students from 185 countries staged the world’s largest-ever protest on climate change led by Greta Thunberg. Teach about climate change and the role of nature in creating resilience with this FREE 44-page lesson plan. Grades 9-12

Spiders: learn about spiders in this FREE 26-page unit study. 1st-5th

Teach Consonant sounds with this FREE 49-page pdf workbook. Grades 1–2.

Women in STEM: learn about these innovative women and their contributions to STEM by downloading one or all of these FREE posters. You can have your child research each one to learn more as unit studies. Grades 3-12

Ancient Greece Study: timelines, worksheets, vocabulary, and more in this FREE 177 page study. Grades 5-8

Hispanic Heritage Month: Tons of FREE activities and printables in this 190-page pdf to celebrate and learn about Hispanic Heritage Month 9/15-10/15. Grades K-12

Mexican Independence Day 9/16: Have your family pair up in teams or assign these FREE pdf print worksheets with photo challenges for each child. Grades K-12

SEASONS: The change of seasons allows for many different types of work, food, celebrations and recreation. Plants and animals also change their ways with the seasons. These FREE Journal pages show the effects of weather changes on how we live. Grades 4-8

Learn about Monarch Butterflies before the Great Migration with this FREE 34-page pdf lesson & activity pack. Grades K-2

Animal Farm Unit Study. This 51-page FREE pdf study guide explores the world of Animal Farm with comprehension questions, analysis, group discussions, debates and writing exercises, plus a vocabulary list. Grades 9-12. Check out Animal Farm Book

Solar System: Make a book with a tab for each planet in our solar system with this FREE 11-page pdf booklet. Grades 2-5

Quill is a non-profit providing FREE literacy activities building reading comprehension, writing, and language skills. Quill does have some paid reporting features that would make sense for a large school or district, but the bulk of what they provide is free, and perfect for homeschooling. Grades K-12

NASA’s Space Place is an awesome FREE site with interactive games, projects, crafts, and facts about space. Content is grouped into five sections: the sun, Earth, solar system, space, and people and technology. An additional parents and educators tab offers classroom activities, printable posters, and more. Ages 7-14

Genealogy is a lot of fun and kids can be introduced to their family roots by making a family tree. Get FREE step-by-step directions on how to make one. Also, get FREE instant download templates. Young kids can make a simple version with immediate family and pictures. Grades preK-12

Kindergarten Learning Packet: This 49-page FREE pdf Packet made for a school has phonics, math games, songs, and other activities and can easily be used in homeschool. Grades K-2

September 11th Lesson 9/11: teaching the history of the attack on the World Trade Centers to children is difficult. This short BrainPOP video (with additional info) is a great resource to help children understand. SENSITIVE but age-appropriate. Grades 4-8

The Internet Archive is a fantastic FREE resource with a MIND BLOWING amount of information AND it’s one of your best resources for Research Papers with great search tools. This non-profit organization’s stated mission is “universal access to all knowledge.” They provide access to digitized materials: 28 million+ books and texts, 475 billion+ web pages, 14 million+ audio recordings (including 220,000 live concerts), 6 million+ videos (including 2 million Television News programs), 3.5 million+ images, 580,000+ software programs. There is also an Open Library, where you can login and borrow books for 14 days. All Ages

Healthy Teen Relationships: 18-page pdf guide helping your teen form healthy relationships and look for red flags.

Writing Templates: FREE 40-page pdf templates for helping and inspiring young writers with pre-writing skills and writing. Grades 3-8

Periodic Tabel Bingo: Learn the periodic table in a fun way with this FREE pdf BINGO Game. Grades 7-12

Learn about Community Helpers with this FREE 22-page colorful pdf sort and classify play mats. Grades preK-2

ROCKETRY: if your child is into rockets or wanting to learn about them, you can get together with model rocket flyers in a NAR Section near you — a lot of them have building sessions, launches, and more. My kids were both into rocketry and we were members of our local rocket society for years. It was completely FREE but this may vary, depending on each local chapter 🚀 All Ages

The Levels of Classifications of Living Things: Cut out and BUILD with this FREE 8-page pdf document. Grades 3-8

To Kill a Mockingbird UNIT STUDY: This is such an excellent classic book that teaches important lessons on division and unity. Use this 21-page FREE study guide and make it an entire unit study. Grades: 9-12

Place Value Activity Package: this is a fantastic FREE 115-page pdf activity pack—full of games, spinners, and a variety of activities to help concrete place value and number sense. Grades 1-6

WWII Visual History: 84 years ago today Nazi Germany Invades Poland, Starting World War II. You can use this FREE interactive which provides a complete overview of worldwide events leading up to, during, and after World War II. Articles, photos, and videos. Grades 6-12

Hurricane Tracking Chart: learn about Hurricane patterns by tracking current hurricanes in real time with this FREE pdf tracking chart with plotting instructions. Grades: 2-7

Minecraft Airport Design Challenge: with specific instructions from the FAA STEM Program, students design and build a model airport in MINECRAFT—New challenge starts TODAY! with Deadline 12/31. Grades K-12

Moon Calendar: make a moon phase calendar with this FREE pdf with instructions from NASA. Grades: 3rd-12th

Basic Auto Care: Teach your teen about basic auto care with this FREE 18-page step-by-step pdf Teen car maintenance and repair guide & checklist. Ages 14+

Dental Health: FREE 208-page pdf unit study with tons of activities (CREATED FOR A DAYCARE, so just SCROLL DOWN & use the relevant pages). Grades: PreK-1

Student News: The World from A to Z is a FREE Daily 9min news segment with summary of world events, stories that are interesting to students, and silly puns. If you’re not familiar with Carl Azuz, we love him and watch every morning to kick off our school day! Grades 6-12

MATH Competitions: Registration for MAA’s American Mathematics Competitions (AMC) program is open! Students in grades 6, 7, and 8 participate in the AMC 8. The AMC 10/12 is the first in a series of competitions that eventually lead all the way to the International Mathematical Olympiad. AMC Competition Dates: AMC 10/12 A: November 8, 2023, AMC 8: January 18-24, 2024

Ancient Egypt Game Senet: learn how to play Senet with this FREE printable boardgame and directions: Grades 1-12. You can learn more about the history of this game in Ancient Egypt in this YouTube video

Today commemorates the 60th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech. Use this 8-page FREE printable for activities, and print this mobile for FREE so your child can craft their own dreams. All ages

Poetry Guide & Workbook: Guide your child into the world of poetry using this FREE 73-page easy-to-follow format poem workbook. Includes format worksheets and poem examples. Grades: 5-12

History of Money: In this 45-page FREE pdf unit lesson, students learn a brief history of the origin of money as well as the history of money in the United States of America. Includes a lot of fun money worksheets. Grades: 2-6

Tons of FREE Science posters & worksheets with answer keys on this website. The pop-ups are a bit annoying, but everything is instant download with no sign up. Physics, chemistry, biology, physical science. Grades 7-12

Jesse Bear Unit Study: This was one of our favorite books when my kids were little and you’re going to love this FREE 28-page pdf colorful unit study. Grades: PreK-1. This goes with this Jessie Bear book

Emotional Workbook: The New Zealand govt developed this FREE pdf activity book for children whose parents are physically or mentally ill, but it has tons of activities and colorful worksheets about helping children deal with their feelings and overall well-being. Ages 5-12

Sight Word Lists: Teaching high frequency & sight words? Here are some creative and fun ways to teach and keep your kids engaged with FREE printable word lists. Our favorite is the sight word parking lot game! PreK-3rd

PSAT Guide & Practice: 11th GRADERS: The PSAT is both a practice SAT and the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). Each October, 11th (and 10th) grade homeschoolers can take the test through their local high school. If you want your Junior to take this exam, contact your local high school ASAP as deadline is fast approaching. The test is $18. You can find more information through College Board website. Khan Academy and College Board have partnered to bring you info & FREE test prep (you will need to create a free account)

Comic Book Templates: Bring art and creative writing together with these FREE 28-page pdf Comic Strip Template Pages. ALL ages

Conservation Lessons: FREE Lessons that address biological interactions, terminology, the impact of reforestation and urban trees on human health, and more. Each lesson plan has a teacher’s guide, student sheets, and videos. Ages 11-14

Lego STEM Activity: FREE 8-page LEGO Build Challenge Cards Print on card stock and make a family challenge or use one at a time for school warm-up. Grades K-12

New Driver Contract: Do you have a new or soon to be teenage driver? Some parents like their teens to sign a safety contract to help them commit to family and safety rules. This FREE pdf teen driving contract can help ease your nerves. 16 Years+

100 Field Trip Ideas: Are you looking to incorporate Field Trips into your school year for more hands-on learning? Here are 100 ideas. All Ages

Morning Basket Planner: Do you want to do a morning basket but don’t know where to start? Download this FREE pdf morning basket planner to help you get in the habit. A Morning Basket is a time in the day when everyone in the family can come together and learn together about specific subjects. All ages can homeschool together doing activities. The concept of the morning basket is derived from the ideals of the Charlotte Mason Homeschool method, but it is easily adaptable to many different styles of education. Grades: PreK+

Musical Dice: Learn to play and read music in a fun way 🎶 Print these FREE music dice pdfs onto cardstock paper (color optional), cut out, and assemble using tape. IDEAS: Game 1: Students must determine the number of beats the rhythmic value is worth in order to determine what number they have rolled. Game 2: Test your beginner’ ability to find the keys on the piano. Game 3: Review scales, arpeggios, and cadences with advanced students with the 12-sided Keys die. All Ages

Big Scholarship $$$ for Seniors: Each year the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation awards 250 scholarships valued from $4,000 to $20,000 to high school seniors based on character, personal merit and commitment. Applications opened Aug 1 with deadline of Oct 31. Good Luck Seniors!

The Walt Disney Family Museum’s Education Page has a ton of FREE lessons/resources you can instantly download. Drawing, animation, flip books, and more to inspire your child to make their own creations. All Ages

Ocean Life: Learn all about life in the ocean with this FREE 42-page pdf unit study from the Fort Wayne zoo. Animals, water cycle, fresh versus saltwater, on the surface, and more. Grades 2-6

Scratch Guide: Do you have a child that wants to learn programming? This FREE 35-pg step-by-step guide will teach them how to use Scratch. Ages 6-16. I posted about it before, but if you missed it, Scratch is a FREE programming language created by MIT where kids can create their own interactive stories, games, and animations.

Modern States is a grant funded organization on a mission to provide “Freshman year for free”. After you take the FREE online course, if you pass the CLEP exam, they refund your test fee too earning college credit for free. Grades: 9-12

Cooking Basics: Teach young children about safety in the kitchen and basic cooking skills with this FREE 24-page pdf unit. Comes with easy-to-follow recipes and handwashing poster. Ages 2-6

Teach Entrepreneurship & Business with these FREE pdf lessons from Scholastic & Shark Tank. Grades: 6-12

ChessKid is free to join and use. Kids can play unlimited games against other students. Play, learn, and have fun with this FREE chess site for kids. There is a premium version that isn’t necessary to enjoy their platform. Ages 6-13

Photography Lessons: Teach your kids photography with this FREE 70-page pdf with 16 lessons each with a photo assignment. Your child will learn photography fundamentals, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and specific photo technique. Ages 8+

BBC Bitesize is a website full of so many FREE resources covering a wide range of school subjects. Ages: 3-16

The Open Learning Initiative (OLI) is a grant-funded group at Carnegie Mellon University offering FREE online courses to anyone wanting to study a subject at their own pace. You must create a free account to access courses. These do not count towards college credit but can be used to meet High School course credits.

Geocaching is a FREE treasure hunt that is happening all over the world. This modern day treasure hunt will get you and your kids outside learning about their environment and incorporating math, map, and critical thinking skills. All Ages

Make Creative Writing part of your school year. NaNoWriMo is FREE and can make writing fun by allowing for all of the creativity without any of the stress, logistics, and red pen marks. The Young Writers Program has tons of FREE resources and your kids can participate in their event each November with smaller writing challenges year-round. Grades K-12 National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) starts on Nov.1. It’s an empowering approach to creative writing. The challenge: draft an entire novel in just one month.

Free Art Posters: You can request free art posters from the National Gallery of Art.

Make a Rhyming Peg Board: Make a literacy game that combines practicing fine motor skills with learning rhyming with this FREE 5-page pdf template. Grades: preK-2

Magic Book: Kids can learn a lot of critical thinking skills by learning and performing magic tricks. This 30 pg FREE pdf has some great tricks and tips with illustrations. Ages 7+

All About Presidents activity book. 13 page FREE pdf. Grades 3-6

TED-Ed is a FREE web-based platform created for teachers with 1000s of video lessons and follow up reading and questions (multiple-choice and open ended). Ages 6-18

Build narrative skills with these FREE story cubes. Print on card stock for durability (pdf). Ages 4-10

Your High Schooler can compete to win a $25,000 scholarship at the National Constitution Bee on Oct 23rd in Brentwood, TN. Two free study guides for the competition or just use them to learn in your homeschool. Grades: 8-12

Math Games for littles. Fantastic 40-page pdf guide with step-by-step instructions for engaging our littlest homeschoolers in early math skills. Created by the University of Melbourne for small groups but can be implemented easily in your homeschool or with a group of friends. Ages 3-6

Celetial Hike: Help you child understand distances in space. Grades: preK-4

Spelling City is an online, interactive way to practice customized lists of spelling words. You can sign-up for a FREE account and create your own spelling list or choose from lists created by other users. Your child can also play word games to practice the assigned words. They offer a free and paid account.

If you like to use textbooks for high school, this US Government Complete Activity Pack is 128 pages and FREE covering the entire course that will meet your high school credit. 9th-12th. This accompanies this McGraw Hill US government textbook (Amazon):

Life skills and Self-awareness skills lesson and activity guide addressing critical thinking, emotional, and social skills. This 124-page FREE curriculum is designed for independent and group activities, but can be adjusted for your home as necessary or used in a co-op. Grades 5th-9th

Freezer Meals are a big time and money saver! This 78-page pdf will be a BIG Help in your homeschool. I did an all-day cooking event with another homeschool mom years ago, and it lasted Aug-Dec!

Whole Kids Foundation guide with 35 FREE lessons and activities to engage kids in an exploration of fruits, vegetables and healthy eating. Grades: Pre-K-5th

NASA Earth Observatory Resources: I was looking for stuff on biomes when I found this section of NASA’s site. It has tons of free resources and links to even more!

MIT offers 2,000+ of their college STEM programs online for FREE. Through this program, you may read through the syllabus, course materials, lecture notes, assignments, exams, videos, and more, as if you are taking a course straight from MIT (you won’t get college credit or a diploma; they are offering the knowledge only ). You can use this for high school credits or supplement extended learning or use the material to create your own course. 9th-12th

Smart Shopper: Teach your kids how to be a smart shopper using their critical thinking skills comparing products & prices and also about how to meal prep with this FREE 75-page unit study with 7 lessons/activities. Ages 10+

Free Homeschool ID: Every year I use the easy and free form they have on this website to make my student and teacher ID. I just print it at home and laminate it.

Human Anatomy Activity – You can trace your child’s body on a large paper and have them learn about their body’s systems with this FREE 27-page pdf. Older kids can get detailed. All ages.

Kids CAN learn Japanese (and other languages) with this FREE course. Learn basic grammar with the text, audio and colorful illustrations. Lots of other cool resources like cooking, culture, and more on this site. You can go lesson by lesson on the webpage or you can also download all 48 Lessons in one 61pg pdf. My son was really into anime when he was 7 and wanted to learn Japanese. It was so hard trying to find something that he could do. I hope some of you find this useful! All Ages

Age-appropriate FREE Health Lesson plans that include discussion questions, activities, printable handouts, quizzes, and answer keys for teachers. Grades: PreK-12th

JeopardyLabs is a FREE game quiz template site and a fun way to learn and review concepts. There also have pre-built quizzes.

Scratch is a FREE programming language created by MIT where kids can create their own interactive stories, games, and animations. Both my teens are programmers and scratch is where they started! Ages 7-16. Here’s a a step-by-step guide to build your own computer games with Scratch and you can also find YouTube videos.

Beast Academy math pdfs: variety of Games, Cards, Graph paper, & diff printable Rulers. Grades 1st-12th

Telling Time FREE No Prep Dice Game (pdf). Grades 1st-3rd

Guess in 10 game has a free online printable version on all categories. All Ages

Postcrossing is a FREE project where you to send and receive postcards from random people around the world. It’s a great way to learn about geography and other cultures. All ages

Watabou Procgen Arcana: This website lets you randomly generate fantasy maps of realms, cities, building plans etc. It’s supposed to be for role playing games.

This FREE 180pg Dungeons and Dragons rule book WITH character sheet templates is a great place to start playing. Ages 12+

Complete Free Home Economics Kitchen Skills Course covering safety, terms, chopping, nutrition, & basic cooking with quizzes. 5th-9th Grade. *This is created by a non-secular family so there is mention of the author’s faith.

TinkerCAD is a FREE web app for 3D design, coding, and electronics. Our library has a 3D printer and we take designs my kids create on a flash drive. Easy! But it’s fun just to create designs.

Horrible Histories has been one of our favorite book series. You can make a unit study for Terrible Tutors with this FREE 51pg teacher pack. Ages 8+. If you’re not familiar with it, read about it here: Terrible Tudor book

Periodic Table: This is a collection of FREE pdf printable periodic tables. Grades 7th-12th

Zearn Math is a FREE online math curriculum. I’ve not used it, but I know homeschoolers who have. Grades K-8th.

Geologic Time Scale: Eons, Eras, Periods, & Epochs. The Geologic time scale explained with a FREE printable. Grades 3rd-12th

FREE Word Search Puzzles online or print w/NO POPUPS. You can also create your own. Brain warm up! 4th-12th

Destinos is a FREE Spanish course taught in story form in 52 episodes. Under each video lesson, link to practice & quizzes. High School 9th-12th

Subject Explorer AI Tool: This FREE AI tool allows you to type in an activity (i.e. grocery shopping, gardening, etc.) and it tells you what ‘school subject’ it falls under or what ‘ concepts’ your child learned. K-12th

FREE Magic Tree House book series lesson plans. MTH books are great first chapter books my kids loved. Ages 6-10

Poetry 180 is a FREE resource created to encourage daily poetry reading. Start your new school year with a daily Poetry Teatime (and snacks!) 8th-12th

FREE Shark Week resource to learn about sharks in anticipation of SHARK WEEK starting on July 23 on Discovery. 🦈 This year’s Shark Week will include Aquaman himself, Jason Momoa, as host! 🔱 Shark Week is an annual television event that celebrates all things shark-related and has helped educate people and increase conservation efforts of sharks.

Download your FREE pdf hurricane tracking charts. Studying weather patterns and tracking hurricane’s is a favorite with my kids. All Ages

Cell Size and Scale: ZOOM IN from the scale of a coffee bean ☕️ all the way down to a carbon atom ⚛️ We have something like this at our local science museum and my kids love it. All Ages

This FREE Interactive is really cool and shows the size of biological structures in context.

FREE audiobooks for Kids from 8 different websites/apps – both classics and modern stories. All Ages

Lava In a Cup: Learn about the chemistry of LAVA LAMPS and make your own with this free 4-page pdf. Grades: preK-3rd

Comic Creator: See 120 Years of comics and create your own with this FREE pdf mini unit. Ages 7-10

Junior Ranger badges through the Nation Park Service. Since Covid a lot of them are available online and we’ve reached out to the parks as we’ve completed badges- some will email us back with more info or mail brochures and things from the parks. Craft Knife blog is our favorite for finding new places to learn about, it has everything that can be earned online.

Lego Life is a Free magazine mailed to your home 5x/year that has comics, activities, posters and other content. Ages 5-9

The U.S. Currency Education Program has tons of FREE educational resources on their website to download AND have mailed to you. Grades K-8th

Big history project is a FREE course that covers 13.7 billion years of history. Grades 6-10

ReadWorks is a FREE online platform designed to improve reading comprehension skills for homeschoolers. (almost free – requires donation you set $) It offers a wide range of reading materials, exercises, and lesson plans. K-12. I’ve never use this and not sure how “school-y” it is, but I know some homeschoolers that have used it

Best FREE Library offering! UDEMY! Thousands of libraries can connect patrons to thousands of video-based courses in business, technology, software, and personal development—and more than 10,000 courses are taught by instructors in their native language (French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish plus seven additional languages). This top collection, curated from 150,000+. Check your local library. Grades 9-12

Make homeschool IDs quick with the FREE easy form on Homeschool Buyers Club. They also do group discounted curriculum buys with homeschoolers all over. They used to be called Homeschool buyers co-op. All Ages

Free SAT practice Khan Academy and College Board teamed up to bring this free SAT PREP resource. Grades 9-12

Starfall is an app & website with educational activities, games, and songs. It covers reading, math, music, and social skills. It has a lot of FREE content but also a paid part. Grades: PreK-3

Learn Geography for FREE with Seterra. It’s is a Free website and App that has interactive map activities to master geography through fun games and quizzes. Over 400 games in 40 languages. Ages 8+

Create your citations with this FREE citation generator. You can also learn about all of the different citation formats. Grades 6-12

FREE math worksheets with answer keys from Math Aids that can be printed without signing up for a subscription. All Ages

Learn to type for FREE on EDclub. All Ages

Free guitar lessons and more from Justin Guitar. Grades 1-7

All 100 Bill Nye episodes completely FREE. If you’re not familiar, these are a homeschooler favorite! Nye combines the serious science of everyday things with fast-paced action and humor. He visits many places relating to the episode’s theme, showing interviews of people talking about their work and other contributions. Ages 7+

We’ve been using the FREE app Trello for years and realized many people don’t know about this super handy tool for Homeschool and personal organization & meal planning. It’s very user friendly and you can share ‘boards’ with your kids as they check off their assignments/chores. 5min video how do use Trello in your Homeschool. All Ages

Wild Kids Nature magazine is FREE to read online or print. Each issue features foraging information and botanical coloring pages for wild edible or medicinal plants, nature journal pages, seasonal poetry, and more. All Ages

Detailed College Application Organizer Free from BTDT to keep up with all the admission and financial aid deadlines for each application (Google Sheets). Grades 11-12

Alison offers over 4000 completely FREE self-paced courses you can use for high school. IT, life science, languages, business, finance, humanities, so many! The photography course is a favorite among homeschoolers. Grades 9-12

The Crash Course has created thousands of FREE videos on a wide variety of subjects, including history organic chemistry, math, study skills, literature, world history, business, biology, philosophy, theater, ecology, and many more. Grades 7-12

Khan Academy has FREE lessons. Math, language arts, science, history, AP, SAT, MCAT test prep, computing, arts & humanities, life skills, economics, and more. Grades K-12

FREE Instant Download Math Lessons from the Actuarial Foundation (made for classroom so you can modify for your homeschool). Grades 4-8

Free Interactive ‘Real-World’ Math Lessons for Middle School from Scholastic. Grades 6-8

The Art Sherpa contains over 600 FREE step by step video art lessons for beginners. We’ve used it many times to host our own paint parties! Grades 3-12

047. Socialization: Will My Homeschooler Be a Weirdo?


The “S” Word

Will My Homeschooler Be a Weirdo?

Episode 047:

1. Click PLAY Button Above ^^ to listen here.
2. OR Listen on your favorite podcast platform:

Brand New to Homeschooling?
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Show Notes

Homeschooling is becoming more and more mainstream, but myths, misinformation, and misconceptions about homeschooling are still all too common. It’s inevitable that all homeschool parents will hear a comment like “Homeschoolers are weird and poorly socialized!” More likely, they will hear it 87,000 times.  Everyone from your partner, to grandparents, to the stranger in their grocery store checkout is going to have an opinion on it.  And you may have concerns and doubts about it, too, especially after hearing this question over and over again.

In today’s episode we are going to talk about the S-word! SOCIALIZATION. Socialization is a valid concern.  But it’s also one of the biggest myths about homeschooling.  The myth of socialization when it comes to homeschooling is a common misconception that suggests homeschooled children miss out on crucial social experiences. Some people are concerned that homeschoolers will never learn common social etiquette and participate in group activities. Or that they won’t learn how to do things like standing in a line, waiting your turn, sharing, and other manners and habits.  There are also concerns that they will miss social cues, not know how to talk to other people, or behave.  And there are concerns that homeschoolers won’t have opportunities they may get in public school- like clubs, sports, and other activities.

Homeschooling can provide a rich and diverse social environment.

Homeschooled children do engage in social activities such as sports, music – like band and orchestra, clubs, and community events. These activities enable them to interact with peers and adults from all kinds of backgrounds. Additionally, homeschoolers have flexible schedules which allow them to explore real-world learning opportunities. People are starting to notice, and studies are proving that these opportunities allow these kids to foster strong interpersonal skills unlike if they were in a classroom all day. They are out in their communities every day, shopping, running errands, going to the post office, talking to neighbors, hanging out with friends, and tons of other opportunities we’re going to get to. 

Everyone likes to talk about socialization like it’s only a positive thing, too, but the truth is, there’s a lot to be concerned with when it comes to socialization.  When people ask if we are concerned about socialization, we respond that of course, we are!  We are totally concerned about bullying, peer pressure, and exposure to age inappropriate content. Homeschooling offers a more personalized and positive socialization experience, as it allows children to avoid a lot of negative peer pressures and bullying that can sometimes occur in traditional school settings. Not that these things don’t happen to homeschoolers – they do, but it’s often easier to nip that behavior in the bud as it happens, because you are right there.  This is something that is so much easier to do in a family group setting than it is when you find out about something that happened at school days later. Also, being present and modeling appropriate social behaviors and teaching your child if they say or do something inappropriate, can be corrected right there on the spot.

Overall, homeschooling’s socialization myth has been debunked many times over by the multitude of opportunities for social growth and development available to homeschooled kids.

What is socialization and why is it important for everyone? (7:04)

One of the things you will notice when you start getting these comments about socialization is that people often throw that word out without actually knowing what it means or what they mean. Is socialization being in a classroom with 30 kids from your neighborhood really replicating what you’ll experience in real life?  Of course not, traditional school and maybe a nursing home are the only places this segregation happens.  In your job, in your neighborhood, in public, you are always going to be surrounded by people of all ages and so many different backgrounds.

And it’s not that we don’t think socialization is important. Socialization is crucial for everyone for several reasons:

  • Social Skills Development: These interactions develop important skills, like communication, cooperation, empathy, and conflict resolution. These skills are crucial for success in both personal and professional life.
  • Emotional Well-being: Socialization provides emotional support and a sense of belonging. It can help children develop a healthy self-esteem and mental well-being. Friendships and social bonds can provide a strong emotional safety net.
  • Cultural Awareness: Socializing with a diverse group of people exposes children to different cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives, which fosters more cultural awareness and embracing people of all walks of life. 
  • Learning from Others: Interacting with peers allows children to learn from others’ experiences and perspectives. It can broaden their horizons and encourage intellectual growth.
  • Teamwork and Collaboration: Many aspects of life, including work and sports, require the ability to work effectively in teams. Socialization provides opportunities to learn teamwork and collaboration skills.
  • Conflict Resolution: Socialization involves dealing with conflicts and disagreements, which are valuable life skills. Learning how to navigate conflicts constructively is essential for personal and professional relationships.
  • Preparation for the Real World: children will eventually need to navigate the real world outside of the classroom. Our communities are full of diverse people and social situations. Socialization prepares them for this reality. When you think about it, a classroom is actually an artificially structured system. There are probably a lot of parents of kids in public school who worry about their children making it in the real world. Homeschooled kids get far more opportunities to interact with all different kinds of people.
  • Networking: Building a social network from a young age can be beneficial in various aspects of life, including career opportunities and personal connections.
  • Coping with Peer Pressure: Socialization allows children to learn how to handle peer pressure and make informed decisions, which is especially important during the teen years.
  • Building Friendships: Friendships formed during childhood and adolescence can be some of the most enduring and meaningful relationships in a person’s life. Socialization helps children build and maintain these connections.

It’s important to strike a balance between socialization and academics, ensuring that kids have plenty of time with friends while still receiving a quality education. Homeschooling families are so creative and often find ways to combine socializing with learning to ensure that their children develop both academically and socially. 

What are some ways that homeschoolers find social opportunities? (10:53)

One of the things that we often tell people is that we do have a problem with socialization as homeschoolers.  And that problem is that with so many extra hours in our day, it’s easy to overschedule yourself.  We sometimes struggle to find time to be at home and get our work done! One of my initial reasons to homeschool is because I wanted to give my kids more opportunities Beyond what a school can offer – I wanted to give them the world — but the world is big and it can really fill your calendar quickly!

Scroll down to download our free full list of 100 Ways to Socialize your Homeschooler:

Homeschoolers have so many different avenues for socialization that can help them build meaningful relationships and develop those important social skills:

Local Homeschool Groups: search out local homeschooling support groups and co-ops where families meet regularly for educational and social activities. These groups often organize field trips, classes, and group projects.  

We’ve talked often about our park day groups which is really where we laid that foundation for friendships. And so many of the group activities and clubs we started later, came from these original park day groups.And we did so many parties with these now lifelong friends- not back to school parties, Easter Egg Hunts, Christmas potluck dinners, Halloween Parties, and Valentine exchanges. 

And later- we have been part of groups that put on dances- “what about the prom is a common homeschool question that we have all been asked.  Usually when we have kids so young, prom isn’t even on the horizon!  Well, they can go to the prom!  And there’s also Graduation- some mom friends and I worked so hard and put together a grand event– I think it was about 15 kids, and since my daughter also earned her associates degree in high school, we did the big ceremony at the community college too. And then I also hosted a big bash with all the kids she grew up with.  

Keep in mind that every kid is different, and they may not want a big graduation ceremony or a big party and that’s OK too. At 17 and 18, they probably have a pretty good idea how they want to celebrate. So, make sure you bring them to the table. That can be hard sometimes for parents because this is our celebration too.  Make sure you aren’t projecting your own feelings onto your kids. This is their moment. 

Extracurricular Activities: Homeschooled children can participate in extracurricular activities like sports teams, art classes, music lessons, dance classes, band, or theater groups within their community.

You should check out our FREE Extracurricular Workbook. We’ve listed over 100 ideas and step-by-step ways to help your child find some extracurriculars that they will love. 

Community Classes: Enrolling in classes at local community centers or libraries can help homeschoolers meet and interact with peers who share their interests. We love our libraries!  I started when my kids were toddlers, taking them to library story time. We’ve also done a lot of rec center classes- they are low cost and low commitment.  We’ve used that as a way to try things out without getting sucked into a multi month session if the kids want to quit after two classes.

Volunteer Work: Volunteering is also an excellent way for homeschoolers to give back to their community and make new friends. For years, we volunteered at an Alzheimer’s and dementia center and some of my kid’s friends are 90 years old. I absolutely love that my kids don’t care if you’re 2 years old or 90 years old. Age is irrelevant to them. We’ve often volunteered with other kids who are passionate about similar causes- we put together food bundles at food bank, we did a homeless coat drive, we got together with other families and wrote letters to veterans, we did a book drive for an underprivileged school and all the homeschool kids read the books to these young children. We also did meals on wheels when my kids were very young – Cameron was in his car seat, walking up and ringing the doorbell. Sometimes we would talk for a long time to these people. They were often very lonely.

My kids do a lot of nursing home gigs as Irish dancers especially during St. Patrick’s season- they absolutely love interacting with the seniors in these communities.  

Online Communities: There are also so many opportunities for homeschoolers to connect with others through online forums, social media groups, and virtual clubs or classes. We’ve talked about how online friends can be absolutely real and valuable.

Local Events and Clubs: you can also participate in community events and clubs, like 4-H, or you can participate in youth groups. My kids do Youth and Government through the YMCA.  Both of our kids have done scouting.  

Part-Time Jobs: Older teens can get a part-time job and learn a lot of valuable skills. They learn how to cooperate as a team and make new friends. A job can also provide exposure to a variety of situations as they learn to navigate working with others. And homeschoolers can work during the day. In high school, my daughter was able to earn her associates degree and work a full-time job to buy her first car, and still have plenty of time for friends. 

Family and Friends:  Don’t discount family!  One of the reasons I started homeschooling was because I had 2 kids under 2 and then 3 under 4.  I didn’t have the same social need for a preschooler that a parent of an only child might have.  My kids were a group almost from the beginning.

Time spent with extended family members and close friends are more social opportunities for homeschoolers. These family gatherings and playdates are the best!  And those private play days are such wonderful memories for me. Through the years, my kids’ best friends’ parents have been MY best friends. These are some of my favorite homeschool times. 

Field Trips: Homeschoolers often go on educational field trips to museums, zoos, historical sites, and nature reserves, where they can interact with both their peers and experts in various fields.

We love field trips and have an awesome episode with 100 Top Field Trips. Personally, I’d rather go on a field trip to learn hands on, than do a worksheet! I also created this super cool field trip guide you can download for free.

Online Classes: Some homeschoolers take online courses or virtual classes, where they can collaborate with teachers and students from around the world. We have loved Outschool!

Outschool is an educational platform offering over 100,000 Interactive Online Classes for every age group from 3 to 18 years. You can use it as full academic classes or supplements.
Learn More >>

It’s important to note that homeschooling can be tailored to each child’s needs and preferences, allowing families to create a socialization plan that aligns with their values and educational goals while providing ample opportunities for interaction with others.

Are traditionally schooled children better socialized than homeschooled kids? (26:18)

In those younger years homeschooling takes less than an hour. Even when our kids were earning their associates degree in high school, they never did more than 4 hours of school each day. This allows for more opportunities for positive social interactions. All of the social opportunities that we just talked about that homeschoolers are experiencing during the day when they’re not in a classroom, have given them experiences and more opportunities for socializing and learning these skills. 

It’s important to note that the social development of any child is influenced by a lot of factors, including their individual personality, their family environment, and the specific homeschooling or traditional school experience they receive.  And unfortunately, as homeschooled parents, the pressure is all on us.  Our kids are a reflection of us.  If your school kid grows up to be a troublemaker or outcast, you can blame the school environment. But nobody questions whether or not kids in school are socialized. Let me tell you, being put in a building with peers of your same age and socioeconomic background is not necessarily socializing. But for homeschoolers, it’s all on us.

So let’s talk about some of the differences in socialization between traditional school kids and homeschooled kids.

Here are some considerations:

Homeschooled Kids:

  • Varied Experiences: Homeschooled children have more flexibility to engage in a wide range of social experiences, including interacting with people of different ages, cultural backgrounds and perspectives, promoting diversity and tolerance.
  • Individualism: Homeschoolers feel minimal peer pressure to conform or fit in and are encouraged to express themselves and have a voice without social pressures. Homeschooling can provide more one-on-one time with parents or educators, potentially addressing specific social needs and positive guidance. 
  • Limited Negative Influences: Homeschooling can minimize children from negative peer pressures and bullying and provide guidance when needed.
  • Tailored Learning: Homeschooled children can learn at their own pace, especially those with learning differences, reducing the stress and social anxiety that can occur in a classroom setting. 

Traditionally Schooled Kids:

  • Structured Environment: Traditional schools provide a structured social environment with limited real-world experiences. Students learn to navigate various social situations and hierarchies with a large student teacher ratio affording minimal guidance. 
  • Peer Interaction: From an early age, kids learn how to be like others and conform, at the cost of neglecting or even never discovering what it is that makes them special. In a school environment, peer pressure can dictate things from how to look and sound to how to act in order to be accepted by the peer circle.

In Conclusion

There is a large body of research focused on determining whether homeschooled or traditional schooled kids are better-socialized. The research has found that being homeschooled does not harm socialization skills, and in fact, more and more studies are indicating that homeschooled children score more highly than children who attend school on measurements of socialization.

Ultimately, whether homeschooled or traditionally schooled children are “better” socially depends on the individual child, the quality of their educational environment, and their unique social needs. Some homeschooled children thrive socially, while others may face challenges.  It’s up to you to figure out what best works for your family and child. Similarly, traditionally schooled children can excel socially or encounter difficulties.  When someone asks you if you are worried your kids will be weird.  Ask them if they knew any weird kids from school. We all did! Here’s the thing.  My kids were going to be weirdos whether they went to school or not.  Sorry kids, but that is genetic!

The key is to provide opportunities for socialization and development. Many homeschooling families actively seek out socialization opportunities for their children to ensure they have well-rounded experiences. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether homeschooled kids are better socially than traditionally schooled kids. Social development is a complex and multifaceted process influenced by various factors, and both educational approaches can provide valuable social experiences when done thoughtfully and with the child’s best interests in mind.

It’s easy for those outside the homeschooling community to look at these students as “different” or “socially awkward.” But much of that sentiment results from simply not having any real knowledge of what homeschoolers actually do. Homeschool parents don’t tie their kids to a desk for 8 hours. They’re cuddled on the couch reading books, they’re learning at libraries, at museums, they’re interacting with residents at senior centers, with other families and fellow students. They’re experiencing real-life situations and conversing with many types of people from all walks of life. They play Little League, nerf battles, video games, text their friends, join clubs, and are free to be themselves with opportunities beyond what they could get in a school environment.

This Week’s Freebie:

Download the Complete Socialization List HERE (pdf)

046. 12 Ways to Balance Your Home and Homeschool


12 Ways to Balance Your Home and Homeschool

Episode 046:

1. Click PLAY Button Above ^^ to listen here.
2. OR Listen on your favorite podcast platform:

Brand New to Homeschooling?
Kindergarten Page >>
High School Series >>

Show Notes

If you’re brand-new to homeschooling, be sure to visit our GETTING STARTED Page

Sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day for us to do everything or do everything well. As a parent taking on the role of educator, it requires careful planning and adaptability. The home becomes a multifaceted space, serving as both a nurturing environment for family life and a classroom for structured learning. Striking the right equilibrium demands flexibility in schedules, creativity in teaching methods, and patience in handling the inevitable ups and downs. 

While homeschooling does present its share of hurdles, the opportunity to be present and fully engage with your child’s education and witness their growth firsthand is an unparalleled privilege. Finding harmony between nurturing a thriving home life and fostering a successful homeschooling experience ultimately hinges on a few things: Your openness to be flexible, initiating open discussions with your family, finding a supportive network, and a commitment to making this happen. 

Finding balance while homeschooling can be challenging and sometimes it might mean lowering your expectations and setting clear priorities and picking your battles. Some people have this idea of some social media picture or Pinterest worthy home all the time and it’s just not realistic and it’s so important to not compare yourself with others. What tends to happen when we start playing the comparison game is that we compare our worst selves with someone else’s best self. Don’t do it! It’s not a battle you’re going to win and you’re going to drive yourself crazy and your family crazy with those kinds of unrealistic expectations.

In this season, you’re educating your children. You’re raising babies. You’re making memories. There are going to be times when you are in pure crisis mode 24/7. The house is going to get messy again and again, but your kids are only going to be at home for a few short years. Let’s keep things in perspective. It WILL get easier, especially as the kids get older. Next month could look very different than today. And don’t underestimate what you DO get done. If possible, write down what you have done so you can look back and visually all you are actually doing each day. It’s probably a lot more than you realize!

Husband walks in, “What did you do all day?”

So, let’s get to some ways to help you maintain and balance your entire household during these years:

1. Establish a Routine (10:12)

Create a daily or weekly schedule that outlines when you’ll focus on homeschooling, house chores, and family time. A routine helps set expectations. We have an entire episode dedicated to this called “Schedules, Routines and Rhythms” because not only is it one of the main things people ask about, but it is also one of the key things to running a smooth household.  

There are a lot of benefits from having an organized routine. It helps you stay on top of everything but, also, kids find comfort in knowing what happens next. If you’ve recently come out of a school environment, you may already be used to having some sort of structure to your day.  The great thing about homeschooling though, is that you have the opportunity to cater this to your unique family.  You don’t need to replicate a strict school schedule to have a gentle routine in place. We like to use the words “routines” or “rhythms” to imply a more laid back, less rigid flow to your day. Finding the right fit is definitely going to be different for every family. Blueprint For a Beautiful Week

2. Use Technology (11:44)

Use technology to your advantage. Technology is a timesaver when you use it to streamline tasks. Online grocery shopping, home management apps, and educational tools can help save time and stay organized.  Keep a family calendar:
Google Keep
Some people like to use Alexa or Google home for grocery lists.  There is also online shopping- grocery store apps, or Shipt/Instacart.  

Since covid, so many stores feature online ordering and free pick up. You can keep a list going all the time and then click on the app when you are ready to buy and pick up. It’s so handy to take the shopping part out of your tasks and they load your groceries right into your car. Often this service is totally free once you hit the minimum pick up, but sometimes there is a slight cost- but still worth it!  This can help you save money, too- no impulse buying.  You can build your list right in front of you and make it fit your budget. 

Subscription services can help you save time and money, too. You can find companies where you can have dairy, produce, and cleaning supplies delivered, even pet food.  Amazon also has a subscription service you can set up for things you order often.

There are also a ton of meal planning services out there that will send you 2-3 meals per week with all of the ingredients and directions to make it.  These are so easy; your kids can do it.  It’s a great way to learn to cook! And it’s one less thing for mom to think about.

Subscriptions we have enjoyed for years:
Universal Yums has been a wonderful way to learn about people and food from all over the world

Misfits Market
Grove Collaborative
Oberweis Dairy

My college student turned me on to Google Keep and its handy for keeping different lists for today’s tasks, long term tasks, gift lists for each member of the family, a list of movies/shows to watch, podcast lists, to do lists- short term/long term, and you can make menu planning lists and grocery lists in there. 

Getting my family to use a digital calendar was the best thing I ever did, too.  Everyone knows to check Cozi before they ask me if they can do things with friends, and they put their own things on there so that we don’t double book.  My kids away from home still use it to plan trips home.

3. Time Management (15:40)

Teach your children about time management, so they understand the importance of balancing responsibilities and free time. In today’s fast-paced world, helping kids grasp the concept of time and learning how to manage it effectively is more crucial than ever. 

Teaching these skills to them isn’t about overloading them with schedules; it’s about empowering them with essential life skills. You can start by introducing age-appropriate tools like colorful timers or visual calendars, making time tangible for them. Lots of kids like magnet or sticker charts, or some kind of checklist. 

I love checklists and so do children! Recently, we posted on Facebook and Instagram pictures of one chart system I made where I used cardboard and clothes pins. We also have our free preschool routine charts, and I created several for the entire household for this week’s freebie. 

As homeschoolers, we often have a lot of social outlets and activities outside the home, but if you’re go-go go, you’re never going to have time to get your house picked up, so when things get really out of hand, you may need to limit outside activities. It’s hard to get a grasp on things in the house when you are never home!  

 The Pomodoro technique is a time management method that was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s- it involves using a kitchen timer to break work into intervals typically 25-minute breaks.  Pomodoro is Italian for tomato which is the shape of the timer he used.  

You can also try setting tasks to things like getting the whole house clean in the time it takes to wash/dry your bed linens.  You can also do an entire family pick up time! Even just 10 minutes of everybody picking up at the same time and doing nothing else can be super helpful. 

4. Prioritize Tasks (19:51)

Identify the most crucial household tasks and focus on those. Not everything needs to be perfect; sometimes, good enough is okay. 

The Fly Lady routine of having a weekly blessing of your house was handy- take an hour each and vacuum just heavy traffic areas, quick dust of surfaces, spot clean any floors with mop, polish mirrors or doors, purge magazines, mail, paperwork, change sheets, empty all trash.  Then you could dedicate time on other days to doing other projects and your house is always semi clean. She also recommended things like keeping cleaner and wipes in every bathroom, so you could always do a quick clean in a pinch without grabbing items from somewhere else.

Think about doing a daily reset of your home, or a closing time at the end of the night. Do things like throw a load of laundry in first thing (and then fold the previous days), unload the dishwasher or rack and wash anything that was soaking from the night before. Fill water bottles and prep any food items for lunch or dinner.  These things in the morning keep the rest of the day running smoothly and you never run behind on laundry.  

5. Weekly Planning (23:26)

Dedicate a specific time each week to plan your homeschooling lessons and household tasks. This can help you stay organized and reduce last-minute stress. Look at your calendar, plan clothing and carpools, plan menu and meals, look if there are any supplies or things needed for classes or projects.  

Keep a checklist of cleaning or organizing things that you do every week and divide those tasks into daily chores. Paying bills every Monday, Tuesdays check your grocery order, Wednesdays I will check my Every Plate or Hello Fresh order and select items for delivery (I also like to be working out like 3 weeks, so if I ever forget to do this one week, I don’t just get sent their selections)

6. Meal Planning (24:40)

Plan meals in advance. This will save you a ton of time and money and make your week run so much smoother and reduce your stress. There’s nothing worse than walking in the door and everybody’s hungry and there’s nothing to eat or everything is frozen. Also, it’s easy to get sucked into being a short order cook if you start asking for ideas! Consider batch cooking or using slow cookers for easy, nutritious meals. One year, friends got together and prepped a ton of freezer meals as a group. It took all day, but it completely packed our freezers with easy go-to meals. These are super easy, and you just throw them in the crockpot in the morning. I recently posted 2 free freezer meal plans with grocery lists in the Homeschool freebies Facebook group I created. Scroll down for our FREE Meal Planner!

 I have a chalkboard in my kitchen with each day listed and every Sunday, I go through our calendar, determine which nights might be hectic each week and need a quick meal, a thermos meal, or maybe a crockpot meal that you toss in that morning. On weekends you can prepare easy go-to things for breakfasts and lunches during the week. Breakfast sandwiches, eggs, muffins, or pancakes can be made ahead and frozen and then reheated.  Parfaits in a jar or a huge batch of oatmeal refrigerated in individual glass bowls are easy, too.  This saves money and allows you to control the quality of the ingredients too. Acadiana’s Thrifty Mom Blog and Karissa at Home Instagram.

Both of us use our Instant Pots almost EVERY SINGLE DAY

If you don’t already have an Instant Pot, you have to check them out!
Read Reviews>>

If your kids also like to cook, put them in charge of one family dinner a week. You can also set themes for each evening.  Things for each day like a “Meatless Monday,” “Try it out Thursday,” “Cozy Crockpot Wednesday,” or “Movie night Friday.”  You can list all of your favorite meals for each category and have a ready bunch of recipes to pull from each week. Planning doesn’t have to take long but it definitely will reward you in the long run.

We created this group as a way to share FREE resources all over the world with NO SPAM:

BTDT Homeschool Free Resources
Get all the FREE Resources including the (2) 100-page Freezer Meal with Grocery Lists mentioned in this episode!
Join the Group for Free>>

7. Multitask Mindfully (29:17)

Look for opportunities to combine activities. For example, you can discuss math concepts while cooking together or practice reading during family story time.  Using a literature-based curriculum means always mixing subjects for maximum effort- writing a paper about history reading crosses two subjects out.  There are also so many family style curriculums that allow you to use one thing for all of the kids and then you can focus more one on one later with just things like math or reading instruction.

Use real-life events like cooking meals to help kids learn AND get dinner on the table. When we go to the grocery store, have the kids help write out the list. Then, while shopping, teach them how to compare prices and determine which item is the better value. Both cooking and shopping are sneaky ways to weave in math without having to print out another worksheet or find another practice activity. 

As I’ve gotten older, I put them in charge of an entire meal with a small budget. We head to the store, they choose all the ingredients, they prepare, and they clean up. Just because you close the schoolbooks when things are out of control and you need a tidy, clean house with food on the table, doesn’t mean that you’re abandoning learning.

You can multitask with non-school stuff, too!   When kids were younger, I’d make all the moms walk laps around the playground on park days.  Now that they are older, I try to fit that exercise time in while they are otherwise occupied.  For years, we had evening activities that took hours- instead of sitting in the car waiting, I joined a gym on that side of town near my kids studio and worked out while they were in class.

8. Involve Everyone (30:33)

Have your children and partner help you with household duties. After all, they live in the house too and it should never be solely your responsibility to take care of everything all of the time. Delegate and give up on perfection. The goal is to have it done to at least a passable standard. 

Perfection is overrated. Share the responsibility! Assign age-appropriate chores to children, teaching them valuable life skills in the process. Download our free resource this week- it’s going to help you stay on top of those chores and involve everyone in your family as you divvy out responsibilities. There are also lots of lists out there with age-appropriate chores on it for inspiration.  Over time and with lots of practice and patient instruction, kids can become very good at helping around the house. It is not always easy when they are learning how to complete a new chore but reminding yourself that it will pay off in the long run. Scroll down for our FREE Cleaning and Chore Charts!

9. Ask for Help (35:19)

Don’t hesitate to ask for help from friends and family when you need it.  Delegate some of the schoolwork to them or put them in charge of a certain subject – maybe math! And completely take that off your plate. 

Sometimes you can share responsibilities with other homeschool moms.  We’ve shared carpooling a lot with some of my close mom friends. One year when our oldest kids were in a summer camp, we created a younger sibling kid camp with several families. We would each take all the younger siblings for an entire day and we would do activities and give the other moms the day off.  We loved all day park days as much as our kids did, but every once in a while when the kids were having a great time playing, we would switch off with a mom — where she would leave early to go do some errands and I will drop off her child later in the day and vice versa. Sometimes having more kids at your house is easier than just having yours at home.  

You might also consider hiring occasional help, such as a house cleaner or babysitter.  When my kids were really little, I had a young homeschool tween come in a few hours a day as a mothers helper.  It was a win win- she got supervised babysitting experience, and I got time to get things done.

10. Set Boundaries (37:43)

Clearly communicate your work and homeschooling hours to family members. Let them know when you’re available for non-school-related activities. Don’t be afraid to be firm about not taking calls between 9am and noon if that’s your prime school hours. You are not sitting at home doing nothing eating bonbons watching TV, your job is important and valuable. Turn your phone to silent and be present with your kids. They deserve that.

This is a struggle for all stay-at-home parents- people often think you have all the time in the world to take their phone calls, or book appointments, and meet household contractors, etc., just because you are at home. But you have your own stuff to do!

This goes for homeschooling commitments, too!  It’s easy to get sucked into a lot of volunteer roles or teaching positions or other activity coordinating.  And if you’re a person who is good at leading things, you’ll get asked to do this over and over.  Learn to say no!  Don’t commit to things your kids hate or that don’t benefit your family.

11. Self-Care (40:50)

Prioritize self-care. Taking time for relaxing and your personal interests helps you stay balanced and it’s going to reduce the chance of burnout. A burnt out mom is scary! As much as I used to be a night owl and hate early mornings, I really relish getting up with my quiet and coffee before everyone else so I prioritize that in my life.

It definitely gets a little easier as they get older to be able to leave them to go do things.  I used to feel guilty about meeting other moms out for a moms night, or going to a book club.  But don’t!  Your kids aren’t going to suffer with one night in with dad or an evening of pizza while you are out with friends. 

The point is to take care of yourself. Even a rockstar homeschooling mom needs a break. Don’t be afraid to make that part of the routine.

12. Flexibility (44:10)

Embrace flexibility and be willing to adapt your schedule as needed. Some days may require more focus on homeschooling, while others might prioritize home maintenance or family time. Being a homeschool mom is tough. There are times when it’s the most rewarding thing ever, but there are others when you feel lucky to make it through the day without tears. 

It’s not always easy homeschooling, keeping house, and keeping your sanity, and it definitely takes time trying to figure out how to balance it all. Remember that balance is a dynamic process, and it may require adjustments as your family’s needs change. Balance is a little bit of a myth, because when we tilt activities toward one thing – even if it’s needed – it takes away from things on the other side of the spectrum. There’s no such thing as perfect balance all of the time. That’s life and it’s okay not to be perfect all the time. Be patient with yourself and your family, and don’t be afraid to seek support from friends and family or local resources to help maintain a harmonious home and family life while homeschooling. 

This Week’s Freebies:

Get your FREE Chore and Cleaning Charts
Get your FREE Meal Planner

Outschool: What is it and should I use it in my homeschool?

What is Outschool?

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.

How Many Courses Does Outschool Offers?

Outschool offers variety of classes and over 100,000 Interactive Online Classes for every age group from 3 to 18 years. You can use it as full academic classes or supplements. You can also have your kids choose their favorites and dive into their interests. Below is the vast list of subjects your kids might be show interest in. The content appeals to all different types of learners and there are countless subjects.  To name a few: life skills (like Future Chef’s Baking Club), social studies (like indigenous studies taught by members of First Nations), organization (like Conquering the Clutter), the arts (like Dance with Me and crochet), Study Skills to get ready for high school and college, and a First Grade Sight Word Bootcamp taught with fun and games.

What Type of Courses Does Outschool Offers?

  • 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
  • Health & Wellness – Hygiene, Emotions, Exercise, Mindfulness, Nutrition
  • Life Skills – Cooking, Financial Skills, Study Skills, Social Skills, Critical Thinking
  • Math – Elementary math, Algebra, Numbers, Geometry, Fractions, Calculus, Statistics, Probability
  • Music – Guitar, Piano, Singing, Composers, Music Theory, Composing, Recording
  • Science & Nature – Chemistry, Biology, Zoology, Physics, Astronomy, Anatomy, Marine Biology, Psychology
  • Social Studies – Geography, World History, American History, Anthropology, Economics, Politics
  • World Languages – Spanish, American Sign Language, French, Japanese, Latin, German, Chinese, Greek, Italian, Mandarin
  • Leaner Favorites – Dungeons And Dragons, Fortnite, Lego, Pokemon, Minecraft, Cats, Dogs, Unicorn, Adventure

How Are Teachers at Outschool?

I personally know several friends that teach classes on Outschool. Many are homeschoolers, and many are classes that my own children have taken and loved. In general, you can find varied teachers with different personalities and backgrounds. You can choose a teacher that fits best with your teaching preference and style. Some of the teachers are retired teachers and others are passionate parents who are passionate about a subject and are really good at teaching. 

I’ve been really happy with every teacher we have used. They have kept my kids engaged and wanting to learn more about what is being taught. Most teachers offer a demo class for $20 or even less ranging between $10-15. You can use multiple trial and error demo classes to choose the best teacher that suits your requirements. When looking for a class, I would really recommend reading all the reviews about the teacher. Parents are pretty honest, and kids are pretty vocal when they’re not happy with a class. 

Most of the teachers love teaching and are exceptionally good with kids. 

Outschool offers small size classes and recommended class size to teachers as below:

  • For kids ages 6 and below – class size should be up to six learners in one class.
  • And for kids ages between 6-12 – maximum of 9 kids at a time is a pretty good class size.
  • Finally, Kids ages 12 and above – up to 12 learners are recommended.
  • The flexible schedule classes are capable of teaching 18 students at a time.

How Much is Outschool Classes?

Students can sign up for classes at a variety of costs.  Most one-time courses go for around $10.00 to $15.00 per student, depending on the length and content. Students can also sign up for ongoing and semester courses, which are priced comparably to one-time courses.  One-on-one classes and tutoring go for between $15.00 and $130.00 per session. Teachers’ charges vary as per subject, age range, content, and time.

What are the potential drawbacks of Outschool?

Here are some reasons that Outschool might not be a good fit for your family:

  1. Teachers: Some of the teachers are individual contractors which can make the classes hit or miss. There’s no guarantee that the teacher is going to be a good fit for your child.
  2. Special Needs: If your child has special needs, it is up to the teacher to decide if they will accommodate your child in their class. This is very inconvenient since some kids have different learning abilities at different levels. However, you can always reach out to the teacher before registering to address this issue to see if it’s a good fit.
  3. Payment: Payment is required upfront. If you encounter a problem and want a refund, you need to make a strong case to get one approved.
  4. Technical Problems: Technology isn’t perfect and if you I have tech issues, you may miss a live class. Fortunately, many live classes are available after, so your child can catch up if they miss. The best way to avoid this is to test out your equipment before class begins to make sure everything is working properly. They’ve made this system pretty streamlined. 

Is Outschool Right For You?

Outschool is a good resource and opportunity for learning something you may not want to teach and outsource or learn more about a special interest topic. It’s also a great way to learn something new from somebody other than mom. 

Personally, we have had a great experience and loved all the classes at Outschool. My kids have enjoyed both the group classes as well as one-on-one classes. They both prefer live classes but have also enjoyed pre-recorded classes because they can do them at their own pace. 

Outschool has been a great time-saver tool and has allowed me time to work one on one with my children while my other child is in a class. There are also several classes my kids have done together. 

I recommend that you try a class before you choose an 8-week program. Read all the reviews and sign up for a one-time class and see if the teacher seems engaging and is a fit for your family.

041. Gaining Confidence as a Homeschooler

Gaining Confidence as a Homeschooler

Whether you’re a new homeschooler or have been homeschooling for years, every one of us has encountered fear and worry at some point. In today’s episode 041, we are going to be talking about building the confidence in yourself and giving you the tools you’ll need when you’re struggling and needing assurance.

* How do I know when to start homeschooling?
* How do I teach subjects I don’t know?
* How do I build up my confidence as a homeschool mom?

Episode 041:

Brand New to Homeschooling?
Kindergarten Page >>
High School Series >>

Show Notes:

We all want the best for our children. Whether you’re a new homeschooler or have been homeschooling for years, everyone experiences fear and worry at some point. Sometimes when we have friends whose children are excelling in a certain subject, or sport, and we see their highlight reel on social media, it can be intimidating. But we all have these moments! We all feel uncertain about all our life choices at one point or another, it’s not just homeschooling.

There are a lot of reasons why people feel uncertain. This may be a brand-new road for them or sometimes it’s a matter of how aware we are of our own shortcomings. I struggled in math for years, and now I was taking on the responsibility of TEACHING math?! Or we struggled wondering if we would have the patience required to sit through lessons. Was I capable? How in the world was I ever going to teach upper-level science when I didn’t even understand it myself? It’s completely normal to lack confidence in something that you’ve not experienced before. Even if you’ve struggled with a subject in the past, you can be an exceptional teacher because you’re passionate about learning and teaching it now.

A big reason that people struggle with this is when a concerned and unsupportive friend or family member, or even a spouse puts doubt in their heads and tells them that they are incapable of such an undertaking. There are all kinds of stereotypes about homeschoolers out there, but most are simply NOT true. You are capable of homeschooling your children, and setting them up for success in homeschool, in college, and in life. It may be best to spend less time with unsupportive people.

We talk about dealing with naysayers in Episode 011. All About Family

If you have an unsupportive spouse, it’s important to listen to each other and your concerns – both of you. Homeschooling is a family decision and it’s an entire lifestyle. Let the results of all that you and your kids accomplish speak for themselves. Be patient with your partner as they grow to accept and hopefully embrace this new life. Have confidence in yourself and move forward and know it takes some people longer than others to get on board. Remember, they also have your kids’ best interest at heart.

Socialization: Episode 047. Socialization: Will My Child be a Weirdo?

Remember that there is no one more qualified to teach your children than you are. You’ve been teaching them all their life. In this episode, we are going to be identifying some strategies to help build your confidence but really the best way to grow in confidence as a homeschool mom is to DO IT. When we’ve decided that this is the best path for our children, if we are so terrified of making mistakes that we never try homeschooling or quit at the first sign of challenge, that is the real failure. If you are new to homeschooling, check out our Homeschool FAQ Guide.

There are so many reasons that families choose to homeschool.  Some families have concerns about safety and their child’s well being and want to have more control over their socialization (possibly they have gotten caught up in the wrong crowd or bad influences that are affecting them negatively)  or they may want to incorporate their beliefs, whether that be religious or cultural beliefs. Children who have had negative experiences in traditional schools, like bullying or social challenges, or feeling like a failure when they couldn’t keep up can thrive in homeschool.

Some parents are interested in customizing their child’s educational experience to meet their child’s individual learning style, pace, and interests. Some parents believe that they can provide a higher quality of education than what is available in the local public or private schools or theory may prefer alternative education philosophies. This personalized approach can lead to better academic outcomes.

Especially for children with special learning needs or learning disabilities, homeschooling can provide a more supportive and tailored educational experience. Gifted children also benefit since you can provide a more challenging or advanced curriculum. 

Families with non-traditional lifestyles, such as frequent travel or remote living, may find homeschooling to be a more practical educational option.  Homeschooling offers flexibility in scheduling, allowing families to create a learning environment that accommodates travel, family commitments, and other activities. Homeschooling allows for increased family bonding and more time spent together, strengthening parent-child and sibling relationships.

Every family’s decision to homeschool is unique and personal. Each family’s reasons and motivations may differ based on their specific circumstances, values, and beliefs. We always like to point out that every homeschool family is different.  A lot of the time, we may be homeschooling for completely opposite reasons. But at the end of the day, we believe ALL parents CAN homeschool.  You really just have to want to.

Create an entire Homeschool Lifestyle!

How do I know when to start homeschooling? (13:23)

Deciding when to start homeschooling is a significant decision that depends on several factors, including your child’s age, developmental readiness, family circumstances, and your personal preferences. Here are some indicators that it might be the right time to start homeschooling:

Maybe you have always planned to homeschool?  Consider your child’s developmental stage and readiness for formal learning. Some children may be eager to learn and show signs of readiness at an early age, while others may benefit from more time in a less structured learning environment. Once you’ve made a decision to homeschool, I know how exciting it can be, but I would encourage you to not let your eagerness overshadow your child’s readiness. We see a lot of parents wanting to start formal lessons when their child is clearly showing signs that they aren’t ready. This can often lead to frustration for both you and them. Young children learn and retain information best through play-based learning. 

If you have concerns about the traditional education system, such as the curriculum, teaching methods, or class sizes, and safety homeschooling can provide an alternative approach that addresses these concerns.

If your child has specific learning needs or interests that are not adequately met in a traditional school setting, homeschooling can offer a more personalized and tailored learning experience.

Consider whether you have the time, energy, and willingness to take on the role of a homeschooling parent. Homeschooling requires dedication and active involvement in your child’s education. Lessons may not take long, but homeschooling is more than academics. Your kids need to get out in their community and be with friends hanging at the park or playing board games, getting hands-on at the museums. Remember, learning doesn’t stop when the school books close and choosing to homeschool is a lifestyle. 

Assess the availability of support networks, such as homeschooling communities, co-ops, and online resources. Connecting with other homeschooling families can provide valuable support and social opportunities for both you and your child.

Ensure that you are aware of the homeschooling laws and regulations in your country or state. Familiarize yourself with any necessary paperwork or reporting requirements.

If you’re unsure, you can start with a trial period of homeschooling to see how it works for your family. This will allow you to assess whether homeschooling is a good fit before committing to it long-term.  If you’re pulling your child from a school environment that was not working for them, it’s important to spend some time going through the process of Deschooling.  We have an entire episode about that but in summary, it is a process to help your child transition into homeschooling if they’ve been in a school environment. If you are deschooling, download your FREE 90 Deschooling and Boredom Ideas List.

Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and the decision to homeschool should be based on what you believe is best for your child and family. Take the time to research, reflect, and discuss the idea with your partner and any other involved parties before making a final decision. But also remember that like we talked about in our deschooling episode, don’t be afraid to take that plunge. You don’t have to keep your kid in a bad situation because you feel like you don’t have a plan. You aren’t going to ruin a 4th grader by pulling them now and going through the process of Deschooling while you figure things out. 

How do I teach subjects I don’t know? (19:00)

You do not need to be an expert in any subject to adequately teach your children.  Teaching subjects you don’t know as a homeschooler can be a bit challenging, but it’s also an excellent opportunity for both you and your children to learn together. Here are some strategies to tackle this situation:

Scripted Curriculum:  Many curricula are totally scripted- the entire lesson is laid out for you with your questions and answers. This takes so much of the pressure off! And speaking of curricula- there’s a million options out there (we just did an episode on the 7 steps to choosing curriculum) so don’t feel like you need to come up with something on your own. Visit our Curriculum Guide>>

Hands on Learning:  So many children, especially young ones learn best with hands-on activities. We did so much of this with my kids. With math for instance, If you can count and recognize numbers you can teach a 3 year old math. Use objects to help your child visualize counting. Read books with numbers and counting. Point things out in everyday life.

Online Resources: Use online learning platforms, educational websites, and tutorials to learn the subject with your child. There are numerous resources available for various subjects, including math, science, coding, languages, and more. Khan academy is one we use often when we have trouble with a math or science problem and need a better explanation.  BrainPOP is an excellent resource that we have used for years.


Along with that is….Educational Apps and Software: Explore these tools that provide interactive learning experiences for your children. Many of these are designed to be self-guided, making it easier for your kids to explore subjects independently. While we don’t advocate for online programs for little kids, there are a lot of cute supplementary apps and programs that can help with things like reading. Starfall is a good option for younger kids.

Online Courses and local classes or tutoring: Consider enrolling your children in online courses or outsourcing to a local teacher or tutor who specializes in the subject you are unfamiliar with. This can provide them with expert guidance and support in their learning journey. We used both Outschool for all kinds of subjects and Thinking Reeds for upper-level science and math.

Co-ops with Other Homeschoolers: Connect with other homeschooling families who have expertise in the subjects you’re less familiar with. Organize study groups or cooperative learning sessions where kids can learn together under the guidance of parents with more knowledge in those areas. 

Library Resources: Utilize your local library to find books, DVDs, and other resources related to the subjects you want to teach. Libraries often offer educational programs and workshops, which can be beneficial for both you and your kids. Use Libby at your local library

Field Trips and Real-Life Experiences: Whenever possible, incorporate field trips and real-life experiences related to the subject. Visiting museums, science centers, historical sites, or nature reserves can enhance learning and understanding. We have an entire resource page on field trips that is totally awesome! Download your FREE Field Trip Packet

Documentaries and Educational Videos: Use educational documentaries and videos as supplementary learning materials. They can provide valuable insights and explanations on various topics. We love Crash Course, and Horrible Histories Videos, and Donuts and Documentaries Monday!

Horrible Histories explores the side of history that they don’t teach you about in school! From the Vicious Vikings and Awful Egyptians to the Slimy Stuarts and Terrible Tudors, Horrible Histories covers the funniest, yuckiest and most gruesome bits of history for kids.

Horrible Histories
Horrible Histories Video Series >>>
Horrible HistoriesBooks
Horrible Histories Book Series>>

Encourage Independent Learning: Foster a love for self-directed learning in your children. Provide them with the necessary tools and resources, and encourage them to explore subjects on their own with your support and guidance. Encourage your children to ask questions and explore their interests. Facilitate their curiosity-driven learning, and let their interests guide the direction of their studies.

Learn Alongside Your Children: Embrace the journey of learning together with your kids. Show them that it’s okay not to have all the answers, and that learning is a lifelong process. While you may not be an expert in a particular subject, you can still teach core skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, research, and communication. These skills are valuable in any subject area. It’s important to model that we are also continuing our education as adults- we never really stop.  Remember, homeschooling is about creating a nurturing and supportive learning environment. Embrace the opportunity to learn alongside your children, and you’ll not only gain knowledge in new subjects but also set a wonderful example of lifelong learning.

How do I build up my confidence as a homeschool parent? (27:18)

Building up your confidence as a homeschool parent is essential for creating a positive and effective learning environment for your children.  A lot of homeschool parents talk about how they NEVER believed they were capable! Maybe you didn’t do well in school yourself, but you are your child’s parent and the person who loves them the most in this world, so you are the best person to be teaching them! You will know what’s best for them and the fact that you know you want to homeschool is a sign of that.

  • Set Clear Goals: Define your objectives for homeschooling. Knowing what you want to achieve will give you a sense of purpose and direction, making it easier to stay confident in your decision.
  • Educate Yourself: Continuously learn about homeschooling methods, curriculum options, and child development. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to handle challenges and make informed decisions. Top 10 Books Every Homeschool Parent Should Read
  • Create a Supportive Learning Environment: Organize your homeschooling space to foster a positive and engaging learning environment for your children, which will also boost your confidence as you see them thrive.
  • Start Small: Begin with manageable tasks and gradually expand your responsibilities as you gain confidence. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much at once.
  • Be Flexible: Homeschooling may require adjustments along the way. So Stay open to trying different approaches and adapting your methods as needed.
  • Join Homeschooling Communities: Connect with other homeschooling parents through online forums, social media groups, or local support networks. Sharing experiences, tips, and encouragement with like-minded individuals can be very empowering. Don’t hesitate to seek advice or guidance from experienced homeschooling parents, educational consultants, or even therapists. Having someone to talk to can help you gain perspective and new ideas. 
  • Attend Workshops and Conferences: Participate in homeschooling workshops, conferences, and seminars to gain new insights, meet other homeschooling parents, and stay motivated.
  • Celebrate Achievements: Recognize and celebrate both your children’s and your own accomplishments. Acknowledge the progress you make, no matter how small it may seem.
  • Embrace Mistakes: Understand that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. Instead of being discouraged, use them as opportunities for growth and improvement.
  • Reflect on Your Children’s Progress: Keep a record of your children’s achievements, their academic progress, and personal growth. Sometimes just Reviewing these positive outcomes can remind you of how far you’ve come and the significant value you bring to their education. 
  • Trust Yourself: Remember that you know your children better than anyone else. Trust your instincts and intuition when making decisions about their education.
  • Self-Care: Take time for yourself. Set aside time for relaxing, hobbies, exercise, and activities that recharge you. You know I love my sports! A well-rested and balanced mom is better equipped to handle all those homeschooling challenges.
  • Practice Patience: Be patient with yourself and your children. Homeschooling is a journey, and progress may not always be linear.

By incorporating these strategies, you can gradually build your confidence as a homeschool mom and provide your children with a fulfilling and enriching educational experience.  Confidence is a journey, and it’s okay to have moments of doubt. We all have these feelings at one time or another! Embrace the challenges, celebrate the successes, and enjoy the process of learning and growing together. Take some time to write down all the reasons why you have chosen to homeschool. In these moments when doubt and fear surface, go back and read and reflect on the big picture. It’s essential to remember all the reasons why you chose to homeschool in the first place. Homeschooling is not something you have to do, it’s something you choose to do because you know in your heart this is the right path for your family. 

This Week’s Free Resource:

040. Homeschool Extracurricular & Volunteering

High school extracurricular and volunteering

& Volunteering

Adding extracurricular and volunteer hours isn’t only fun, it helps create diverse and interesting students and makes them stand out on college applications and job interviews.

* Should extracurricular activities go on the transcript
* How many volunteer hours should a high schooler do?
* Do hobbies count as extracurricular subjects?

Today, we will be answering these questions and more!!

Episode 040:

Brand New to Homeschooling?
Kindergarten Page >>
High School Series >>

Show Notes

If your student is college bound, you have probably spent a lot of time agonizing over putting together a transcript of robust classes and grades so that you can showcase the rigor and variety of education experience your child has been busy with.  But colleges and universities are not only interested in academics, but they also want to see well-rounded applicants who participate in a variety of activities and are active members in their community.  Admissions staff are often looking for students who understand how to build into a community because this can help build good college culture. Colleges like to know that homeschool high schoolers are not just sitting at home but know how to contribute to the world around them. There are all kinds of ways to build that “Total College Package” that will make your student a super desirable candidate. Volunteering and participating in a variety of extracurricular activities not only helps build good character, but they build great transcripts too! 

Get your FREE transcript templates>>

But remember there’s only one absolute must in all of this.  And that is to follow your state homeschool law. There are plenty of kids that get into college that were homeschooled without this extra, but it definitely helps you stand out. It’s also important to check the college requirements and put those into your plan. But beyond that, everything you do is your choice.

State Homeschool Law Guide>>

And even if your child is not college bound, participating in extracurriculars and community service is still an excellent way to figure out their future path and to contribute to society.  So don’t discount this important step of their educational journey. It will help create memories that these homeschool graduates can talk about in job interviews, too. Interviews often start with “Tell me about yourself”. Your new graduate that may not be college-bound will have plenty to talk about!

But there are so many more reasons to participate in these activities.

Skill Development:

These opportunities will help your teenager develop a wide range of skills beyond what is taught in the classroom. These activities can help enhance their leadership, teamwork, communication and time management skills. It also helps them home in on those critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

  • College Applications: Participating in extracurricular activities and volunteer work can significantly strengthen your college applications. Admissions officers often look for well-rounded applicants who have demonstrated their commitment and passion outside of academics. Your involvement in such activities can make you stand out from other applicants and showcase your dedication and interests.
  • Personal Growth: Extracurricular activities and volunteering offer opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery. Your high schooler can explore their interests, passions, and talents. These things are going to allow them to develop a sense of identity and purpose. These experiences can also help build their confidence. It really doesn’t matter what kind of extracurricular activities your kids choose to do, there are so many options, and each one is going to help them to develop resilience and learn to be adaptable – these are all really important qualities for success in life.  
  • Networking: Participating in extracurricular activities and volunteering can help you expand your social network. You’ll meet people with similar interests, make new friends, and connect with mentors who can provide guidance and support. Networking is valuable not only during high school but also in college and beyond, as these connections can lead to future opportunities.
  • Community Engagement: We have always made volunteering a big part of our homeschool. Volunteering allows your kids to give back to the community and make a positive impact on others’ lives. Volunteering cultivates empathy and compassion. It also gives you a sense of social responsibility, it exposes them to different social issues. These kinds of experiences really help our kids to understand the world beyond their immediate surroundings.
  • Exploration of Interests and Passions: Extracurricular activities provide a platform to explore and pursue your passions. Whether it’s joining a sports team, participating in a debate club, or engaging in artistic endeavors, these activities allow you to discover what you truly enjoy and what you may want to pursue further in the future.
  • Stress Relief and Balance: High school can be academically demanding and stressful. When our kids are involved in extracurricular activities and volunteering, it can provide a much-needed break and serve as a healthy outlet for relieving their stress. It can help create a balance between academics and other aspects of life, and it gives them a sense of overall well-being.

Remember, it’s important to choose activities that genuinely interest you and align with your values. Quality matters more than quantity, so focus on a few activities that you’re genuinely passionate about and commit to them wholeheartedly.

How many volunteer hours should a high schooler do? (10:13)

This number of volunteer hours that highschoolers do varies depending on their personal goals and how much time they have available. While there is no specific requirement, many aim to complete between 50 and 200 volunteer hours. A general guide is to aim for 10–15 hours per month during the school year, and as much as possible over the summer. Remember, there’s no specific number but it’s a good idea to shoot for enough to gain valuable experiences and make a positive impact. 

Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Personal Interest: Engage in volunteer activities that align with your interests and passions. Choose causes or organizations that resonate with you and where you believe you can contribute meaningfully. When you are genuinely interested in the work you’re doing, you are more likely to commit and enjoy the experience.
  • Time Availability: Consider your academic workload, extracurricular commitments, and other responsibilities when determining the number of volunteer hours you can realistically dedicate. Is your student working to try to save up for a car? That may be 20 hours a week really cutting into their free time for volunteering. It’s important to strike a balance with all your commitments while maintaining their academic performance and overall well-being.
  • Requirements and Recommendations: Some schools, scholarships, or programs may have specific requirements or recommendations for volunteer hours. It’s advisable to check with your school’s guidance counselor or college admissions offices to see if there are any guidelines to follow. However, keep in mind that the quality of your volunteer experiences is generally more important than the sheer number of hours.
  • Consistency and Longevity: Rather than focusing solely on the number of hours, consider the consistency and longevity of your volunteer commitment. Demonstrating long-term dedication to a cause or organization can be more impactful than sporadic involvement. It shows commitment, responsibility, and a deeper understanding of the cause you’re supporting.

Ultimately, the goal of volunteering is to make a positive impact and gain valuable experiences, so it’s more important to focus on the quality of your volunteer work rather than getting caught up in meeting a specific hour quota.

 Should extracurricular activities go on the transcript? (13:26)

So while you definitely want to include extracurricular activities with your application materials, the transcript is typically not the place for it.  You want to keep academic achievements and coursework as essential components of a transcript, while extracurricular activities highlight their involvement, skills achieved, and interests beyond the classroom.  These activities go on a resume or a second page or often, there is a space on the school application, or Common App where you can list all of this information.  Including this information can give colleges, universities, or future employers a well-rounded view of your abilities, dedication, and character.

High School Documentation Episode>>

Common App>>

When listing extracurricular activities on your resume or in your application documentation, consider providing the following details for each activity:

  • Name of the activity: Clearly state the name of the extracurricular activity.
  • Duration: Specify the period during which they participated in the activity (e.g., years or semesters).
  • Role or position: Indicate any leadership positions or significant responsibilities they held within the activity.
  • Description: Briefly describe the nature of the activity and their involvement. Highlight any notable achievements, awards, or recognition they received.

Remember, the goal is to provide a well-rounded picture of your high school experience, so focus on including activities that demonstrate your skills and passions! Examples of extracurricular activities you may want to include are sports, clubs, community service, volunteering, music or arts-related activities, leadership positions, part-time jobs, internships, or any other relevant activities. All of these can help you stand out and showcase your holistic development and commitment beyond academics.

 Do hobbies count as extracurricular subjects? (15:46)

So while hobbies may not typically fall under the traditional definition of extracurricular activities, they can still provide valuable insights into your interests, skills, and personal development. Especially if your hobbies are particularly relevant to your field of study or demonstrate important qualities, it may be worth considering including them.

Download the ENTIRE list of 105 activities >>

Maybe they align with their academic interests or showcase skills that are transferable or applicable to their desired path? Have their hobbies had a significant impact on their personal growth, character development, or community involvement? If their hobbies have led to noteworthy achievements or contributions, they can and should be mentioned. It’s essential to maintain a balance and focus on including activities that provide the most comprehensive and compelling representation of your abilities, interests, and accomplishments.

Many people worry about extracurriculars because maybe they have a kid who isn’t sporty or particularly artsy or crafty.  That’s ok!  There are so many different avenues for extracurriculars and there are few rules about what counts.  It’s your homeschool- you decide what is important and worthy.

Cameron building a guitar.
Perfect hobby for a musician!


The first thing that typically comes to people’s minds are sports. And just because your student is homeschooled doesn’t mean they don’t have opportunities for team and individual sports.  While in some places homeschooled kids can participate with local school teams, in other areas support groups have formed homeschool teams in basketball, soccer, baseball, volleyball, track and field, swimming, tennis, martial arts, dance, cheer, and more. There are also independent teams- rec and club level in many communities that offer these same services.

Golf was a lot of fun for my daughter
My son really enjoys ballroom dancing

Group Activities 

Personal interest clubs – Dungeons & Dragons, board game club, programming club, engineering club. My son was a member of the Texas Robot combat club for a few years and built combat robots from the design and a CAD program to 3-D printing, the chassis to mounting the servo and programming the remote and weapon. He actually won a couple of really cool competitions.

Government groups/Speech & Debate:

Model United Nations (MUN) is an educational simulation activity in which students role-play as delegates to the United Nations (UN) and simulate UN committees or other international bodies. MUN aims to provide participants with an understanding of international relations, diplomacy, and the workings of the UN. During a Model UN conference, students represent different countries or entities and engage in debates and discussions on global issues. They research their assigned country’s policies, they prepare position papers, and engage in negotiations with other delegates to find solutions to complex problems. Participants must articulate their country’s positions, negotiate with other delegates, and draft resolutions that address the issues being discussed. 

Model United Nations:

Model UN Representing Italy
Resolution: Water Desalinization…PASSED!

In a Youth and Government program, participants take on roles such as legislators, judges, lobbyists, journalists, or executive branch officials. They simulate the functions of government bodies, such as the state legislature, judiciary, or executive branch, and work together to propose, debate, and enact legislation, make judicial decisions, or carry out executive functions. The program aims to provide young people with firsthand experience in how the government operates, and it helps foster a deeper understanding of democracy, civic engagement, and public policy. Participants gain insights into the legislative process, develop critical thinking and public speaking skills, learn about policy issues, and engage in debate and negotiation.

Youth and Government:

youth and government
Our Youth and Government Conference at the Texas State Capitol

These gave our kids “student council” experience, too, which they went on to use in college on their university student council groups or sorority/panhellenic leadership.

Robert’s Rules of Order

Robert’s Rules of Order is a book that outlines the rules of parliamentary procedure. It is used by many organizations to help them conduct their meetings in an orderly fashion. The book is  useful for youth organizations as it can help them learn how to run meetings for their clubs or organizations.

Academic competitions

Participating in academic competitions, such as mathletes, science fairs, and opportunities include Jr. Achievement, Scholastic Bowl or National Quiz Bowl, Math and Spelling Bees, and Odyssey of the Mind competitions, or speech and debate tournaments can challenge and showcase a student’s knowledge and skills in specific subjects.

Odyssey of the Mind:

Destination Imagination:

Shakespeare Competition:

Poetry Out Loud:

National Quiz Bowl:


Spelling Bee:

Speech and Debate:

Junior Achievement:

4-H Groups

High-school students can form 4 H clubs in your homeschool group. Your children can raise livestock, collect insects, decorate cakes, or learn woodworking. There are literally hundreds of projects for children to try. They can compete at the county fair with their annual project. Parents are closely involved with the whole process. Leadership is carefully taught as each club is run by the children using “Robert’s Rules of Order.” Only children vote in these meetings.


At our recent homeschool expo I met the guy who runs the lone Texas 4 H Center- just 1!  In Georgia we had several and they are worth the trip.  4 H is an awesome organization and they often will do group events for a very small group- like 10 people.  That can be 3 homeschool families!

Texas 4-H:

Georgia 4-H:


Scouting can be a great source of leadership training.  Merit badges include excellent units of study and mastery to add to your curriculum. An Eagle Scout for boy scouts is an amazing accomplishment and girl scouts have the Gold Award which is a prestigious honor that recognizes exceptional leadership, project management, and commitment to making a sustainable and positive impact in their community. Similar to the Eagle Scout rank, earning the Gold Award requires a Girl Scout to complete a series of requirements, including identifying a community issue, developing a project plan, gaining necessary approvals, implementing the project, and measuring its impact. It also involves demonstrating leadership skills, engaging with community members, and dedicating a significant amount of time and effort to the project.

BSA also offers Venture Scouting. This is a great option for teenagers that have never been involved in scouts or are continuing on. It is a co-ed program for young men and women aged 14-20. It focuses on adventure, leadership, and personal development through activities such as outdoor adventures, community service, and skill-building. And they offer Sea Scouts as a program that emphasizes nautical skills and water-based activities. It offers opportunities for young men and women aged 14-20 to learn about sailing, boating, and water safety while fostering leadership and teamwork.

Girl Scouts

Boy Scouts:


Sea Scouts:

Venturing Scouts:

My daughter’s Venturing Scout Troop backpacking for 10 days in the Arizona Mountains:

My daughter was the lead navigator!

Civil Air Patrol

If your teenager enjoys the thought of helping others, wearing a uniform, and flying airplanes, then the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program might be a good fit for them. This is an auxiliary organization of the U.S. Air Force. Cadets learn aeronautics, aviation, military drills, marching, survival skills, and first aid skills. Uniforms, gear, and equipment are included at no additional charge. Cadets are promoted on their own merits through testing and achievement.

Civil Air Patrol:

I did this when I was in high school.  I was also part of an emergency services department as a ham radio operator.  I went out on calls and would do things like communicate with 911 and direct traffic.  It was an arm of our county sheriff’s department.  Check and see if your city has a similar program.

Community Programs and Classes, fine arts

Your student may enjoy being a part of a theater production or orchestra.  One of our kids is a musician, and took lessons and performed with School or Rock for years. He has since moved onto classical guitar, but it was a good stepping stone for him to get in front of an audience and learn stage performance. He wants to pursue music, and he loves jazz and classical music so he performs weekly at an open mic night here in North Texas. And he started to teach guitar to younger students. Some of our kids are fiddle players.

School of Irish Music:

School of Rock:

Here is Cameron performing with one of his School of Rock Bands

Check your local recreation center catalog for a variety of classes. Fitness groups like Crossfit or a weightlifting class can be great, too.

Book Discussion Groups

Many homeschool students form book discussion groups. Book selection can be made by the students, with parental input. This gives the students a chance to learn more about “give and take” or Socratic discussion, public speaking, and how to defend their position in a non-threatening atmosphere.

Community Service

There are many ways teens can become involved in serving their community, such as hospital volunteer work, helping at an animal shelter, visiting a nursing home, doing yard work for an elderly neighbor, reading to neighborhood children, etc.

 They can get great experience working on a political campaign. We canvassed for a very popular senate election a few years ago.   Kids as young as 15 can be poll officials in our county election office.  During the 2020 presidential election the most experienced clerk was actually a young man in his 20s who had started working there in high school as a teen.

Journalism and publications: Students can create or join in a school newspaper, join a yearbook committee, or literary magazine, where they can develop their writing, editing, and design skills.

Leadership programs: Leadership programs such as Junior ROTC, National Honor Society, or leadership clubs provide opportunities to develop leadership abilities and contribute to the school community.


National Honor Society:

Entrepreneurship or business clubs: Students interested in business and entrepreneurship can participate in clubs that focus on developing entrepreneurial skills, organizing business competitions, or engaging in fundraising activities.

Apprenticeships or Internships or part time jobs

Activities abound, but don’t overlook the unique opportunity you have to involve your teens in your adult life! Do you own a business? Train them to be your assistant. Are you a craftsman? Take on an apprentice! Our lovely podcast jingle was written and recorded by my lovely 16-year-old apprentice. Students can seek internships or part-time jobs in fields related to their interests or career goals, gaining practical experience and skills. Like I talked about my son teaching guitar lessons. 

So hopefully, if you aren’t already encouraging your child to explore extracurriculars and community service, we gave you some ideas of where to start!  These are the kinds of activities and experiences which really stay with you your entire life and have so many benefits all around.

This Week’s Freebie:

Workbook Lists 205 Activities with Links>>

039. First Day of Homeschool

It’s Back to Homeschool!

First Day of Homeschool

Celebrate your first day! Whether you’re schooling year-round or following a traditional schedule, create a special and memorable first day!

* How do you celebrate your first day of homeschool?
* What are some “NOT Back to School” traditions?
* How do you start your first lesson?

Today, we will be answering these questions and more!!

Episode 039:

Brand New to Homeschooling?
Kindergarten Page >>
High School Series >>

Show Notes

It’s back to homeschool! Whether you like to school year-round, or follow a traditional school schedule, there’s usually a time when you take a significant break and start back with a new curriculum, new supplies, and lay out new goals for your year. Back-to-homeschool is such an exciting time! It’s the perfect time to establish a good routine. 

If you’re brand-new to homeschooling, be sure to visit our GETTING STARTED Page to walk you through Step by Step!

It’s a good idea on the first day to let your kids take some time to thumb through their new curricula and resources. Some families may be totally stoked by seeing their new year’s program coming together. But if your kids aren’t thrilled with flipping through their new books, it’s okay! Some kids might find it a little overwhelming to see an entire year of school work and all the books and projects laid out on the table- even all the FUN ones you selected you know they’ll love. 

And maybe you have children who have lost their joy for learning? If you have recently withdrawn your child from school, we talked about how essential it is to go through a process of Deschooling. Typically, when people are pulling their kids up from school it’s because they are in an environment that’s not working for them academically or emotionally and going through this step is really going to set your Homeschool up for success so don’t skip it! Deschooling 101 >>

But once you have gone through this, they still might not be completely thrilled about homeschool – hopefully they are! Remember, you’re a homeschooler! You have the power and flexibility to tap into their interests and excite their learning once more!  You have the opportunity to create a fun homeschool first day to get the momentum started. Planning Your Homeschool Year >>

School Year Planner
Download your Free Planner Templates

Find your families natural rhythm is Episode 009. Schedules, Routines, and Rhythms

How do you celebrate your first day of homeschool? (5:58)

Celebrating your first day of homeschooling can be so much fun.  You can set some great traditions and make some really special memories. But before we get into some of those fun traditions, we put together some tips that are going to really help set you up for success:

10 Top Tips for a Great First Day of Homeschool

1. Don’t plan to teach EVERYTHING on the first day

It’s really important to ease back into your school schedule slowly. A lot of seasoned homeschoolers would tell you to start with just a few subjects and slowly add in more later in the week or even over the next few weeks. Relax and enjoy those first few days of school. Your children will have a much better attitude about starting school.

2. Take a picture

Those kiddos in the camera lens are the reason for all of the hard work.  They are absolutely worth it. A lot of people like to take it while their child is in their PJs all day long, or on their front porch, or at the donut shop. Taking a picture really drives home how fast they are growing and how fleeting these years really are.

Scroll down to get your FREE First Day of School Photo Signs

3. Plan a special breakfast

One of the great perks of homeschooling is that we have more freedom over our day. Take advantage of it by taking the time to go out for breakfast while other kids are waiting for the school bus. Or pick up some donuts and sit on your front porch while you wave at the school bus! You could also cook a special breakfast. Plan whatever feels special for your family – you could put together a waffle bar, have pancakes and sausage, make an omelet bar, or have that special sweet cereal that maybe you usually say no to. 

You can make Alphabet Letters with this
Pancake Pen >>

4. Plan a fun activity

  • Some people like to create a school year vision board together. If this is something you want to do, have all the supplies on hand and ready like posterboard and stencils or stickers. Together with your kids, you each can reflect on your personal goals for homeschooling. You can talk about what you hope to achieve and write them all down.
  • Design a schedule for your homeschooling activities together with your kids. Make it visually appealing and display it prominently in your learning space.
  • A lot of people like to bake cookies or a back to school cake – Home Economics 101! You could also take some of those treats to a nearby fire or police station.
  • Decorate your classroom together.
  • We’ve always created a homeschool binder and use dividers between subjects. If this is something you also want to do, you can spend some time having your kids decorate their binder.   
  • You could create a treasure hunt for them to find their curriculum all over the house.
  • Board games are a great way to start. We always play a boardgame on the first day of school! We have a great List of Educational Games. Your kids may not even know they’re learning! You can even make your own with these FREE Boardgame Templates >>
  • Water balloon fight or Silly string fight
  • All those museums are finally empty and waiting for you so plan an outing and go see that new exhibit.
  • Enjoy a day at a park with your new homeschool group.
  • Do an Art Party or do self portraits. Free Art Party with The Art Sherpa >>
  • Have a Poetry Tea Time
  • Go swimming – most pools are still open and with public school back in session, they are all yours!
  • Meet friends at the park or at a coffee shop to play board games.
  • Spend the afternoon at the lake. Your kids can break in their new literature book in a hammock. 
  • Encourage journaling or artwork where you can express your thoughts and feelings about your first day. This can serve as a keepsake to look back on as you progress through your homeschooling adventure.
  • Do an activity related to your curriculum. You can get really creative with this! For example, if you’re studying history, you can create a timeline. If you’re learning about simple machines in science, build a Lego car and create a ramp and have a race. You could also do simple experiments. Make slime for chemistry or erupt volcanoes. You can go anywhere with this! More Free Science Ideas with downloadable activities
  • Outdoor exploration: Take advantage of your flexible schedule and go on a field trip or nature walk to celebrate your first day. Observe and document your findings. For little ones, we have a free nature scavenger hunt you can download.
  • Finally, if you’re not too exhausted, end your first day of homeschool with a family game night or watch a movie. You could even choose a movie related to a subject you’re learning about. 
The fancy journal I put in my son’s Not Back to School Basket last year. He LOVED it!

The possibilities are endless!

And don’t stop the homeschool fun after your special celebration! Make fun a priority as you create a relaxed learning environment for your kids to thrive. Learn how to keep learning fun >>

5. Complete First Day of School/All About Me Questions 

Get your FREE First Day of Homeschool Packet with Questionnaire >>

Kids grow and change impossibly fast. Sometimes it’s hard to see it day to day, so I have my kids complete a First Day interview every year on the first day of homeschool. I save it and we all reflect on the changes of the previous years after they fill it out. They are always so amazed on how much they have changed and grown and quite frankly, I am too! I just wrote a blog post called The Bittersweet Beauty of Homeschooling: from Little Feet to Flying Wings. One night last week I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t sleep. I bawled my eyes out when I wrote this post reminiscing when my kids were little. Sometimes in all of the chaos and the whirlwind of it all, it can be hard to see just how fast everything is moving. They change so fast, so document it.

The Bittersweet Beauty of Homeschooling

6. Don’t forget to plan for lunch

You will be busy all morning with the excitement of the new year, projects, games, and teaching so either plan something quick and easy or cook lunch as part of a homeschool lesson.  I usually plan something really simple. Or you could pack a lunch and have a picnic and chat about your first day and what you’re looking forward to this year.

7. Read together

Reading together is one of our favorite homeschool memories. Choose a new read-aloud together and start each morning reading a chapter to get in a groove of a new routine. Maybe set up a new read aloud space or cozy corner in your house, fill a new bookshelf or basket with some special new reads.  Get some fluffy blankets, or a bean bag chair, or a new light. Check out the Top 50 Books for New Readers and Favorite Books for Middle Schoolers

8. Get the kids moving

Homeschool does not mean sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day. But it can be a little less active than running around all summer. You can ease that transition by planning something to get the kids moving. Get out in nature and take a hike, do a YouTube yoga routine, turn off the music and have a dance party, go play tennis together, go biking, or roll some exercise dice. Take them to the gym or if they are driving, let them go to the gym by themself. 

Exercise Dice >>

You may also want to Arrange meet-ups with other homeschooling families or friends who are also starting their homeschooling journey. Share experiences, tips, and celebrate together.  This really sets the tone for how social homeschooling will be- this is great for kids new to homeschooling and worried about that aspect.

9.Be Prepared and Routine-Minded

Set up a comfortable and organized learning area or dedicated education space in your home. Decorate it with colorful posters, motivational quotes, and any other items that inspire you. Remember, you’re setting the stage, take time each night before bed or on Sunday night to gather your materials and lay out your week ahead. 

You are beginning to set the stage for your entire school year. Consistency is important, but know that things are going to go wrong, so instead of having a very rigid schedule, be more routine-minded.   Even if you’re not a brand new homeschooler, this is a new year and you’re still figuring things out so be gentle on yourself and be patient with your children. They are still learning the expectations you have of them so if things aren’t perfect, give them gentle reminders. It’s going to take some time. And chances are if you’re not a brand new homeschooler, the expectations are going to be more than the previous year as they are one year older. 

Carl Azuz student news: World from A to Z

10. Prep/Plan Dinner BEFORE

You will be TIRED so make this easy on yourself, prep the instant pot the night before. Or start a tradition by ordering pizza for dinner on the first day of homeschool. 

jello ce;;
The year we kicked off NOT Back to School by making a candy Jello Cell >>

What are some Not Back to School Traditions? (27:19)

Homeschooling provides the opportunity to create unique traditions that celebrate the start of a new academic year. We’ve done so many “not back to school traditions” through the years.  

“Not Back to School” party:

One thing we really loved (and still love) is a Not Back to School Party. These are so much fun and so easy to plan.  If there isn’t one in your area, throw one together yourself.  Organize a picnic in a local park or your backyard with other homeschooling families. It’s a chance to connect, share experiences, and build a sense of community.

Not Back to School Basket:

I always make a “not back to school” gift basket for my kids. I put it out when they are still sleeping so it’s always a surprise when they wake up in the morning to find all the goodies. I put in lots of snacks, science kits, their FREE school IDs (Homeschool Buyers Club), fancy pencils, phone chargers, silly string, or water balloons. They are older now, so sometimes I like to put in Starbucks or Amazon gift cards, a fancy journal, and buy them. They each get their own Nutella jar, and on the Nutella say you can print custom labels for each grade. Download your FREE Nutella School Labels >>

Magic Pencil with Erasures >>
I can’t wait for my mine to arrive!

A few of our Not Back to School Baskets over the years:

New Pajamas: 

We always make a big deal about getting new pajamas for homeschool.  It started out as a bit of a joke for our couch school, but the grandparents look forward to our silly pajama first day of school photo every year!

Time Capsule: 

Some people like to create a Time Capsule where everyone puts in items that represent their current interests, aspirations, and goals. You can bury it or store it away to open at the end of the year or on a future milestone. 

Top 25 Homeschool Essentials
View our Top 25 Homeschool Essentials

Theme Day: 

Choose a theme that relates to a subject or topic you’ll be studying during the year. Dress up, decorate your learning space accordingly, and engage in activities, games, or experiments centered around that theme.

Homeschool Olympics or field day: 

Organize a friendly competition with other homeschool families. You can set up an obstacle course and do all kinds of physical activities, you can do team challenges, or also intellectual games. It’s really a fun way to promote teamwork, sportsmanship, and friendly rivalry. 

Curriculum Unboxing: 

Treat the beginning of the academic year like an unboxing event. Gather all your learning materials, books, and resources, and unveil them with excitement. It adds an element of anticipation and enthusiasm.

Volunteer or Community Service Day: 

Dedicate a day to giving back to the community. Find a local organization or charity where you can volunteer together as a family, contributing your time and efforts for a good cause. A school backpack/supply drive or stuffing event is also a great way for our homeschoolers to see how lucky they are!

Reflection and Goal Setting:

Take time as a family to reflect on the previous school year and set goals for the upcoming one. Talk about everything you achieved, the challenges you faced, and all the aspirations you have about the new year. We talked earlier about creating a vision board. This could be part of that. If you do create one, display it in your homeschool room to remind you of your goals.

Remember, the traditions you establish can be as unique and individual as your homeschooling journey. They should reflect your family’s values, interests, and educational goals. Feel free to adapt and create new traditions that resonate with you and make the start of each homeschool year meaningful and exciting.

How to start your first lesson? (35:12)

Starting your very first homeschool lesson can set the tone for a successful and engaging learning experience. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to begin:

Prepare the learning materials:

Gather all the necessary books, worksheets, or any other resources you’ll need for the lesson. Ensure that you have everything organized and readily accessible. There’s nothing worse than sitting down to do a project and finding out you are one ingredient short!

Set up the learning environment:

Create a comfortable and focused learning space. Remove distractions and provide a clean area for studying. Organize everything so it’s easily accessed and promotes a positive learning atmosphere. 

Review the lesson plan:

Take a few minutes to review the lesson plan or outline for the day. Familiarize yourself with the reading and activities you have planned.  It helps you answer the very important question- how much longer will this take?

Warm-up activity:

Start the lesson with a warm-up activity that captures their attention. This could be a short discussion, lighting a candle, or morning basket. It could be going over and reviewing what you learned the previous day or the previous school year if this is your very first day. You could also warm up by playing an educational game that’s relevant to the lesson.

When you’re ready to begin, start by introducing the new topic or concept. It would be a good idea to provide an overview of what will be covered and why it is important or interesting. Try to use real-life examples, visual aids, or stories to make the topic relatable and engaging. This is where we pull in things like our timeline for history, or lab journals for science. 

Interactive instruction:

Engage your child actively in the learning process. Use a variety of instructional methods, such as discussions, demonstrations, videos, hands-on activities, or interactive online resources. Encourage questions and discussion to foster deeper understanding. I also like to give my kids something to do with their hands while listening to readings- a handicraft basket, quiet toys, coloring, etc.

If you have kids that are old enough to be independent or if you need to have one working on one thing by themselves while you work with another, this is where you can  assign exercises, worksheets, or projects and provide guidance and support as needed.

Assess understanding:

Assess your child’s understanding periodically during the lesson. Use informal methods like questioning, discussions, or short quizzes to gauge comprehension. This will help you identify areas that may need further clarification or review.  

Wrap up the lesson:

Assign any independent work for the next day or that they need to work on one their own. Or have a discussion about what you’ll be doing the next day or in the future with this lesson.

Remember to be patient, flexible, and support your children as you navigate your lessons or curriculum. If things aren’t working, adapt your teaching style to suit their needs and learning preferences or incorporate other resources to help them understand the concept you’re trying to teach. By starting your first homeschool lesson with enthusiasm, organization, and effective communication, you’re going to establish a positive and productive learning environment for your entire family.

This Week’s Freebies:

038. How Do You Homeschool Kindergarten?

how do you homeschool kindergarten

How Do You Homeschool Kindergarten?

Kindergarten is such an exciting time for both parents and kids! Maybe the idea of homeschooling is completely new to you, or maybe you’ve been researching the topic for a while and have finally decided to pull the trigger.

* How do you begin?
* What does my Kindergartener Need to Know?
* What does a day in the life of a homeschool Kindergartener look like?
* What curriculum should I use for my Kindergartener?

Episode 038:

Brand New to Homeschooling?
Kindergarten Page >>
High School Series >>

Show Notes

Kindergarten is such an exciting time for both parents and kids! Maybe the idea of homeschooling is completely new to you, or maybe you’ve been researching the topic for a while and have finally decided to pull the trigger. 

Be sure to check out our Getting Started in Homeschooling page. There you will find all kinds of resources like finding balance between multiple children, dealing with naysayers when you’re starting off, socialization questions, and more to guide you as you begin. 

How do you begin homeschooling kindergarten? (3:34)

Curriculum Guide >>

The first step is to find out what your state requires. Every state has different rules for homeschooling, so it’s important to research your state’s homeschool laws. And note that there is often a difference between what a state requires for homeschoolers and what a state requires of public school students.  Sometimes, these may not be the same things at all.  In many states, there is a *minimum* age in which a child *can* register for public schooling and then there is a *compulsory* age for when they *must* start school. Kindergarten is often not required at all.  So don’t get too wrapped up in thinking you absolutely have to have your child homeschooling with a full curriculum at 5.  In many states, the compulsory age is 6 or 7 so you may have another year or more.

What does my kindergartener need to know? (6:26)

Our kindergarten advice doesn’t really vary that much from our preschool advice other than adding a Learn to Read Program if they are ready. Our preschool advice is to read lots of picture books together, do messy art and science projects, cook in the kitchen, have lots of imaginative/building toys- blocks, Legos, trains, etc.  Spend a ton of time outside- go for nature walks.  Get binoculars, magnifying lens, specimen jars and some local bird/wildflower/tree identification guides and take them with you.  Sing, dance, play musical instruments.  Get a tub of dress up items.  Play board games for math.  Preschool is so much fun!

Our podcast episode and webpage What should your Preschooler Know? has fantastic ideas that work just as well for 5- and 6-year-olds. It’s packed with valuable information and even includes resources that celebrate the power of play in education. This playful path to learning is such a joyous journey for your child. It allows them to develop age-appropriate skills without any pressure or need for perfection.

Homeschooled kindergartners engage in a wide range of activities and lessons that are designed to foster their early learning and development. While homeschooling approaches may vary, here are some common areas of focus for homeschool kindergartners:

Basic Literacy Skills: 

Kindergartners learn foundational skills in reading and writing. They explore letter recognition, phonics, and phonemic awareness. They practice writing letters, words, and simple sentences. They also develop listening and comprehension skills through read-aloud sessions and discussions.

Emergent Reading: 

Kindergartners are introduced to early reading strategies. They learn sight words, practice decoding simple words, and engage in guided reading activities. They explore age-appropriate books for new readers and stories, building their reading fluency and comprehension.


Kindergartners focus on developing their numeracy skills. They learn number recognition, counting, and basic addition and subtraction concepts. They explore shapes, patterns, and measurement. Hands-on activities and math manipulatives help them understand mathematical concepts in a concrete and engaging way.

Science and Nature Studies: 

Young children are naturally curious about the world around them, so science and nature studies should be incorporated into their curriculum. They should explore basic scientific concepts with Hands-on Science Activities like weather, plants, animals, and the five senses. They engage in simple experiments, observation-based learning, and nature walks to nurture their curiosity. 

Social Skills and Emotional Development: 

Kindergartners learn important social skills such as sharing, taking turns, and cooperating with others. They develop their emotional awareness and understanding of their own feelings and those of others. They engage in activities that promote empathy, kindness, and problem-solving skills.

Best Tips for homeschooling kindergarten (16:52):

1. Read a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction books every single day.

2. Keep lessons short.

3. Go outside for field trips, museum visits, and exploration.

4. Be flexible with time and routines. Take a break from the curriculum to follow their interests.

5. Review & Revisit.

6. Get creative when teaching concepts. 

7. Use a lot of hands-on activities. 

8. Have lots of play and social time. 

Art and Creativity: 

This age is perfect to provide opportunities for artistic expression and creativity. Do lots of art projects using different mediums and explore imaginative play through dress up. These kinds of activities help them with so much development. Like fine motor skills, expressing their ideas, and fostering their creativity

Physical Education: 

Physical activities and playtime are important for kindergartners’ development. They engage in gross motor activities, games, and exercises that promote coordination, balance, and overall physical well-being.


This age learns best through a combination of structured lessons, hands-on activities, play, and exploration. The focus is on fostering a love of learning and building a solid foundation for future academic pursuits. It’s also a time when they are developing socially and emotionally.

We know that parents want to know exactly what to do and what skills to master so we’ve come up with this list. We’ve found that combining resources likeHome Learning Year by Yearand What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know along with a combination of basic state standards helps us set goals for language arts and math for each grade.

My kids learned all about money and different coins with this Fun Cash Register

Kindergartner skills to master:

 These goals can become your benchmark for the year, allowing you to use various resources and activities to achieve them. This checklist can let you be interest-led while still meeting academic goals. Remember, there’s no “BEHIND” in Homeschool, so choose goals that fit them best.

Scroll down to download the complete list!

We have an entire episode about schedules, routines and rhythms where we talk about organizing your day.  While a rigid schedule is definitely not needed for small children, including kindergarteners, many kids do benefit by having a pattern to their day.  Kids like to know what is happening next and also having an informal routine or rhythm can really help make your day move more smoothly.

A day in the life of a homeschool kindergartner:

Here’s a sample schedule for a homeschool kindergartener. Keep in mind that flexibility is key, and you can adapt this schedule to fit your child’s needs, interests, and your family’s routine.

8:30 AM: Morning Routine and Circle Time

  • Start the day with a morning routine (getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc.).
  • Gather for circle time, where you can sing songs, recite rhymes, and discuss the day’s plan.
Create a morning routine with this Interactive Calendar and Weather Pocket Chart

9:00 AM: Literacy

  • Focus on literacy activities such as letter recognition, phonics, or sight word practice.
  • Engage in read-aloud sessions or shared reading activities.

9:30 AM: Math

  • Introduce mathematical concepts through hands-on activities, counting exercises, or simple addition/subtraction games. 
  • Use manipulatives or visual aids to support understanding.

10:00 AM: Snack Break and Free Play

  • Provide a nutritious snack and allow some time for unstructured play or exploration.

10:30 AM: Science/Nature Studies

  • Explore science topics related to nature, weather, or animals. Download your FREE Hurricane Tracking Charts
  • Conduct simple experiments or engage in observation-based activities.

11:00 AM: Art/Creativity

  • Encourage artistic expression through drawing on paper or sidewalk chalk, painting, or crafting. 
  • This develops creativity and fine motor skills.

11:30: Physical Education

  • You can do things like dancing, yoga, kicking a ball outside, going for a hike, riding a tricycle, or just simple exercises.
  • Play active games that promote coordination and gross motor skills.

12:00 PM: Lunch Break and Outdoor Time

  • Have a healthy lunch together as a family.
  • Spend time outdoors for fresh air, homeschool park day, with exploration.

1:00 PM: Social Skills and Emotional Development and Good Habits

  • Focus on activities that promote social skills, empathy, and emotional awareness. If you’re at a play day, help your child learn to share, and how to be a friend. You could also go on a field trip with friends to a museum or a wildlife refuge. These interactions were cornerstones for us at that age. 
  • Engage in conversations. If you’re home, you can role-play or play cooperative games or do a puzzle together. 
  • Model good manners and practice doing chores and habit formation

1:30 PM: Theme-Based Learning

  • Choose a theme (e.g., community helpers, seasons, or animals) and explore it through various activities.
  • Read books, watch educational videos, or engage in hands-on projects related to the theme.

2:00 PM: Independent Reading/Quiet Time

  • Have books that your children love available all the time and encourage them to read or do quiet activities like puzzles or drawing. Many children aren’t reading yet, but they probably have their favorite book memorized and love to look through them.
  • Provide a cozy space and quiet exploration. We always had an art area with paper in colored pencils that were available all the time. Remember, learning doesn’t stop when school is over. Kids are always learning and having these things available keeps them engaged.

So keep in mind that even though we listed times here, this doesn’t mean that you must be doing these activities for the entire time slot until the next one.  Really, kindergarten shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to an hour to accomplish a day.  But you can do a few minutes here or a few minutes there.

how long does it take to homeschool

This is just a suggested schedule, and you can modify it according to your child’s needs and your family’s routine. Flexibility is key, and don’t forget to include breaks and playtime throughout the day. Kids are going to learn more and retain more when they are interested in what they are learning so don’t be afraid to follow their lead. 

What curriculum should I use? (25:19)

We know how exciting yet overwhelming it can be to find the perfect curriculum for kindergarten. But here’s the thing, you don’t really need a formal curriculum at this stage! Remember, the skills we listed earlier are just a guide and many of the skills can be mastered through play. Research actually suggests that play-based learning is the way to go for young children like yours. You can create a rich learning environment right within the comfort of your home.

But we know that some of you are still going to want to buy a curriculum and get started. And that’s ok too! But I understand that you might still want some structure and reassurance that your child is covering important areas of kindergarten. Be sure that you spend some time deciding WHAT you want to teach and HOW you want to teach it. To help you, we’ve created 7 Simple Steps to Choosing Curriculum to guide you to find the perfect fit for your family.

So, let’s explore some popular publishers who offer homeschooling curriculum for this stage. 

Browse Through Our Full Kindergarten Curriculum List >>>

Blast off to Reading!

We really have made it a point to not recommend specific curricula on our podcasts and one of the reasons why is that it’s an ever-evolving thing.  Curriculum companies come and go, some change resources, and there are constantly new things coming on the horizon!

We’ve used Universal Yums for years. My kids LOVE them!

Universal Yums is a fun way to learn about geography and different people!

We’ve both been homeschooling a long time and who knows if we would have used some of the things, we did in favor of a lot of the things that have come out since.  So, this list comes to you with either our personal recommendations, or recommendations from other secular resources that we follow.  We keep an eye out and stay current on what’s new, and or what may be debatable or problematic with certain programs,

Facebook Resource Group:

As we mentioned before, homeschoolers really love to help each other out and share free resources. Many local groups do curriculum swaps and there are a lot of Free homeschool resources Facebook groups. Just this week we created a brand-new Facebook group for the sole purpose of sharing free and low cost homeschool resources. Since the popularity of homeschooling has grown so much since Covid, a lot of our go-to groups have been flooded with SPAM and it can be hard to sift through all that.

Homeschool Freebies & Support  for PreK-12
We created a new group called Homeschool Freebies & Support for Pre-K-12th. Join us and get all the goods!

This Week’s Freebie:

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