Homeschool Ideas

Homeschool Ideas

I am terrible at homeschooling.

Except for the times I am not.

Consistency is what I lack most. And my kiddo has pretty severe special needs, so there are complications. BUT, I still believe it is our very best option.

In these crazy, COVID-19 days, where CDC guidelines run the risk of seriously altering public education, it is a great time to investigate other options.

For anyone who may be wondering IF homeschool 20/21 is worth it, the following is a compilation of resources and ideas. I wish desperately I could turn back the clock ten years and start then, knowing what I know now, but forward is the only option.

First, you do not need to create your own curriculum. There are plenty to choose from.

Here is a list of free curriculums.

There are also many places to purchase an all in one curriculum or individual courses. Try here. Or here. Or another one. I have used this one and really liked it.

That should help get you started.

If you have small kids, ages 2-7, I recently stumbled across Other Goose. The founder, Erin Loechner, blogs here. She believes in chasing simplicity as though it were an Olympic sport. She’s my newest favorite.

There are MANY, many different educational philosophies. Each have their own strengths and merits. Many homeschool families combine various parts of various notions. One of the beauties of homeschooling os the freedom to find what helps your child/family to thrive.

Several years ago the book someone recommended A Thomas Jefferson Education. There was going to be a book group conversation about it, and of course I had procrastinated the purchasing of it, unaware that it is impossible to find in a normal book store. So, I downloaded it to my daughter’s kindle and sobbed my way through reading it.

Suddenly, my whole life made sense.

The author, Oliver DeMille, breaks down education into three types.

The conveyor belt education, education for the masses, is designed to teach people what to think.

A professional education teaches WHEN to think. This is necessary for medicine, education, and law, etc. Under what circumstances do you apply this information?

A Thomas Jefferson education is based heavily on mentoring and the classics teaches HOW to think. I suddenly realized why I hated school and struggled in Bible Study groups.

I hate being taught what to think. In that spirit, I don’t want to tell anybody what to think about how or where to educate their children. Instead, these are just ideas and places to get more information.

Here is a quick overview of several different educational philosophies.


The Charlotte Mason method, from my simplistic point of view, focuses on habits, nature, and reading original sources whenever possible. If you want your child to spend hours outside every day, consider this method.

This website gives a thorough overview. This morning my daughter made the bed without being asked. This counts as a homeschool victory! (Habits make up a life, for good or ill.)


Like Charlotte Mason. Reggio emphasizes environment for learning. Natural is best. Allowing a child’s interest to inspire deep learning is encouraged.

Here is a great, brief introduction. In fact, that website has an enormous amount of helpful information.


The Well Trained Mind is the modern go-to resource for information on a classical education. Here is their link, with an abundance of information.

In a vastly over-simplified explanation, the Classical Model teaches with history as the foundation. Learning goes through 4 one year cycles:

  • Ancient History
  • Medieval History
  • Renaissance/Reformation
  • Modern

The science, math, art, and literature are all taken from the period of history studied. This does allow a unique insight into how the people, places, inventions, and culture influence what happens from one period to the next.


I honestly know very little about Abeka, except that they have been around and used by Christian schools and homeschoolers for decades.

You can look into their resources here.

Never has there been a better time to make hard decisions about education. Paying private school tuition for online at-home learning would not be my favorite thing in the world. Days full of mask wearing, small crowds, no field trips and no assemblies is not a winning formula either.

One of my biggest regrets in parenting is that I stopped reading to my kids. Once they started to read chapter books, I let them read whatever they wanted as often as they wanted. They started reading chapter books at 5 and 6. If I had it to do over again, I would have continue to read aloud every night.

She is my favorite resource on the topic. If you really want to understand the how’s and why’s of how much good it can do for your kids look here, or here, or here.

Not everyone has a choice. But for those who do, who are thinking about the third option: HOMESCHOOLING, I hope this helps!

Thinking About Homeschooling Your Special Needs Child?

I can’t believe how quickly the summer flies by.

I hate that.

I love summer.

And educating my kids is the hardest part of parenting for me.

My special needs daughter had the very best kindergarten teacher in the world. Really, she did. I am not just saying that. This particular teacher is likely, realistically, in the top 1% of teachers in the nation.

She is THAT good.

However, not everyone is that good. The next grade, my daughter (who was mainstreamed in a typical 1st grade class) got her first report card. The entire thing was filled with the grade N/A. Not Applicable.

Gets along well with others? Not applicable.

Follows classroom rules? Not applicable.

Every category didn’t count for her. Obviously, that was not going to work.

When we went to look for a second grade teacher, I observed the class of the most highly recommended teacher at the school. Everyone raved about her. She was clearly uninterested in my daughter. She was curt when I was in her class, unwilling to attend any planning meeting, and if she saw me in the hallway would turn around and head the other way.

Obviously, that was not going to work.

The coordinator for her case at the school insisted we go look at the special education class. Ryan climbed up into my lap, curled into fetal position, and sucked her thumb the whole time we were there.

Obviously, that was not going to work.

That same coordinator, at the next meeting, would not put my concern/complaint about the school’s speech therapist into my daughter’s file. My daughter never hit a single IEP goal for speech; the therapist would not allow her to bring her school-paid-for-speech-device to speech. But complaints were not allowed to be put into the file.

Obviously, that was not going to work.

So we moved to private school. But the school changed and the enthusiasm for her weaned, so eventually we decided to homeschool.

Perhaps you are there, wondering what to do for your precious little person, asking if homeschool is the best available option.

I am a terrible homeschooler. I have moments of unbelievable glory, but incredible inconsistency. However, it is absolutely the very best thing for our family. We began in California and have continued in Texas. We did not sell our home in California for nearly two years, so we did not have the money I wanted for the therapies she needed. Additionally, in the two years since we moved, my mother in law passed away after a twenty year battle with dementia and my mother was diagnosed with A Typical Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.

My mom can no longer talk. She eats liquid food only. It is difficult and full of grief and anguish; and lots and lots of appointments. So there are HUGE things stacked against me in may quest to do a great job homeschooling.

But my daughter is cherished every day. She is not picking up behaviors I don’t like. We are learning–step by step. We have made progress and are ready for what will be our best year ever.

If you are wondering, YOU CAN DO THIS. Let me give you my recommendations:

  • Meet Sarah MacKenzie. She is the author of Teaching From Rest and The Read Aloud Family. She has a podcast and blog called The Read Aloud Revival. Make your number one priority to fill your world with great stories.
  • Audible. Actually, there is probably a free way to get audio books, so look there. But add audiobooks to your day’s plan. We have recently begun this and I LOVE not having the IPad out in the car. Instead, we have great stories to listen to. Running errands or going to appointments has become a productive part of our days.
  • Five In A Row. Five in A Row is a curriculum centered around reading the same story 5 days in a row. There is incredible learning tied into each story including life skills, geography, writing, comprehension and social studies. It is wonderful. It is the easiest I have come across that helps us feel like we are doing a great job day after day.
  • Light Tables. Light tables offer an open ended activity that encourages exploring and creativity. I have LOVED our activities and intend to build on that this year.
  • Play games. We play Yahtzee, go fish, and Whack-A-Mole. I am hoping to promote quick thinking and math skills. We are struggling in math.

If you add to the repertoire art and music and field trips, you will feel good about your child’s education. We have the 5 In A Row cookbook, so we will add cleaning up and cooking to the day.

Once I understood that sitting at the table for two hours each day makes all the difference in the world, things worked smoothly. Not two hours in a row–we break it up with walks, or giving her books to retreat for quiet reading time, or chores–but two hours at a table makes an incredible home school day.

It is so much less stressful than watching the system fail her..

This Is Your Moment

Educating my kids is the hardest part of parenting for me.

The truth is that I ended up hating school, as did my son.  And my heart breaks wanting things to be different for my girls.

Three and a half years ago, as my middle was finishing up fifth grade, my hubby and I set out to look at different education options with only one question in mind: Where will she get the most excellent education?

The choice, within that framework, was very easy. That fall our family became part of the San Luis Classical Academy family. It is a hybrid education, where she was in classes with wonderful teachers two days a week, and home schooled the other three. They guided the home days, and we got to add our own stamp to what we learned.

It was the best educational decision we have ever made.

Now she has started high school. And the school is having its very first CIF teams. Ever. It is our first volleyball season as parents, hers as a player and the schools as a team. We love it.

At the game the other day, the senior member of the team started encouraging the girls by saying, “This is your moment.” We were loving it in the stands…every time momentum was going in the wrong direction, she would call it out.

She was right. These really ARE the moments. Life, an abundant life, certainly has grand gestures and big events, but it is the simple of the everyday that really makes things beautiful.



Right before my eyes, she is changing. It feels like she grows an inch a week, and if I could I would sweep her back to chubby cheeks and endless days right by my side. But I can’t, so I will do what I can to pay attention today…because there is so much to be awed by.

She loves school because she loves to learn. We are watching and rooting her on, as we wipe away the tears when she’s not looking. Seeing my kids grow up breaks my heart with beauty.

We are transfixed. We are grateful. She has read Chaucer and Shakespeare; The Illiad and Beowolf. She has been wrapped in science and loves geometry. She joined the Writers Club. After volleyball she heads downtown to get dinner and then attends youth group at church with her friends.

My heart is overflowing with gratitude that God has blessed this process so abundantly, and I will breathe it in deeply because this moment will be gone all to soon.