Guest Post: Raising a Toddler by Chrissy Lyons

Guest Post: Raising a Toddler by Chrissy Lyons

Hi there. I’m Chrissy from www.lyonessandcub.com. Today, I’ll tell you about how I am raising a toddler. My Lyons Cub. He’ll be four in two months, so toddlerdom lies behind us now, and I congratulate myself on my preschooler.

All of you who have toddlers will know them—the terrible 2’s and even 3’s. I once had the faintest hope it would get better at the age of three, but no such luck… I had the chillest baby you could possibly imagine: Leander was so laid back; he hardly ever cried (maybe he didn’t have the strength, because he was born a preemie with IUGR, weighing only 3 lbs and spending the first three weeks of his life in the NICU). He didn’t suffer from colic or reflux, slept through the night most of the time, was friendly towards strangers, and smiled and giggled a lot. My friends told me back then that the sweetest babies make the wildest toddlers. They would be right…

Picky Eaters: Baking with Your Toddler to Stimulate Their Appetite

My son needed fortified breast milk to gain extra calories. So, I became an exclusive pumper, feeding him every three hours, including at night, for the first year of his life. This was tough, but we made it (and I rewarded myself with beautiful breast milk jewelry). I even used a pumping app to keep track of my daily output and his daily input. When my son turned five months old, we started with baby food. From the mom forums and blogs I was on, I heard about baby-led weaning and wanted to try it. However, my son mostly just smashed his food and played with it on his high chair. He seemed to enjoy the sensory play, but he also gagged and spat out a lot. So, I often wondered how much really went into his tummy. He gained a little weight, though, and reached the normal growth when he was nine months old.

Eventually, he developed into a picky eater, still loving his milk (we used Holle goat milk after he was one year of age). He preferred fruit and rice puffs to meat and veggies. I soon noticed when he was allowed to help prepare the food, he seemed hungrier and more eager to eat. Specifically, he liked to bake brownies, cookies, and cake. Although it was quite messy, I baked with my toddler whenever I got a chance. We used the floor to have a large space where he couldn’t fall or drop anything (no worries, I cleaned thoroughly before and after!). I remember the fun he had when he baked a Very Hungry Caterpillar cake with a mold I had found at ALDI’s. For Christmas, we build a gingerbread house every year, which is my German family’s tradition. He can hardly wait to pluck the candy off it!

Montessori Education: Child-Centered with Freedom of Choice

Although it was quite expensive, I chose Montessori education for my son. When he was 18 months old, he joined Amare Montessori. The children had “directresses” (you don’t call them “teachers” in Montessori language) who helped him help himself. That means he dressed himself proudly (and sometimes came home wearing his pants back to the front and his shoes on the wrong feet), harvested his own tomatoes, and prepared his own salad. The children flourish in a prepared environment with child-sized shelves full of beautiful Montessori materials they could choose from freely to satisfy their inner teacher. They also had a big garden to grow flowers and vegetables, with outdoor musical instruments hanging on a wooden fence, sticks for building tents, and mud kitchens.

Being outside in nature is emphasized strongly in Montessori education. Some kindergartens even have animals, so the children learn to care for them and cherish them (my son got to experience and to feed his aunt’s chickens). His little tasks were called “work.: Every day I received a short, written report with successes like, “he did the banana cutting work today,” or “he did the orange peeling work.” One day, I read, chuckling, “Leander painted a lot today, including himself.” That was true! I had a “Blue Boy” like the one from Picasso when I went to pick him up. He became very self-efficient as a consequence of this educational philosophy. However, the downside turned out to be that he doesn’t like my explaining and showing things to him; he wants to explore them by himself and doesn’t listen. We are still working on “following directions.”  

Since I had become widowed unexpectedly during the year I was pregnant after our IVF journey, I needed a nanny to have support with my baby while I was working full time. Luckily, I found a great nanny through care.com, who was on board with me to raise Leander the Montessori Way. Her husband helped me build a Montessori house bed for my son, and I got a Pikler triangle, arch, and ramp from Etsy. Initially behind with gross and fine motor skills and needing Early Intervention, my son developed into a fast, sportive, strong boy who loves hiking through the forest and going swimming.

Outdoor Activities for Extremely Active Toddlers

This leads me to the next point—what to do with overactive, never tired toddlers, who seem to have everlasting energy? This is one tired mommy!! (Well, I have as excuse that I am “AMA,” or “advanced maternal age” or a “geriatric mom,” meaning a mommy over 35.) My son is now high maintenance, as he needs constant entertainment. When we are inside, we often play the piano, as I educate my son with classical music (his late daddy was a professional pianist and composer). He also loves to build with LEGOs and Duplos and to create elaborate race tracks for his battery-powered cars.

As nice as it is to play indoors with playdough, clay, marble runs, etc., he cannot stay cooped up for long. He gets cabin fever. I am a little hyperactive myself. The best thing for us is to get out of our four walls, breathe fresh air, run around on a green meadow, and play in the park. We are lucky to have great parks in our neighborhood. One has awesome climbing animals to explore with children, as well as a training parcours (developed for seniors, but enjoyed by the kids of the area) with lots of exercisers like a huge outdoor gym. We spent many summer afternoons there with grandma.  

One of the highlights for my son is the animal park, where he gets to pet and feed alpacas, deer, goats, sheep, and watch otters, porcupines, seagulls, owls, and plenty of other animals. There are vending machines for pelleted animal food, because the visitors are not allowed to bring their own food. My son has lots of fun letting the goats and sheep eat the pellets of his hand. There are educational boards everywhere that talk about the animals, what they eat, how they live, what sounds they make, and other curiosities. When it gets too much for my son, he enjoys the big playground with the tire swings and the climbing tower.  

We also have a zoo close by, where Leander got to admire pelicans, deer pigs, elephants, a brown bear, macaws, penguins, seals, etc. At home, we read up on those animals and answer his questions. We also watch them on YouTube, so he can learn more about them.

Bilingual Education

My son was born in Clarksville, TN. We moved to Germany in 2020 due to the pandemic, to be close to my relatives. If you are a mixed family like ours, use this wonderful opportunity to raise your child bilingually. It will be beneficial to him/her in school and later in the job market. My son speaks German and English, and for an almost four-year-old, he has a great vocabulary and sentence structure. I spoke German to him from the beginning, and his nanny and the directresses and kids in kindergarten spoke English, of course.

Additionally, we read a lot of books together. Reading to your child is so important! Every evening, he goes to bed with one German and one English book. His favorite books at the moment are those that deal with hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, or the solar system, and he also likes The Pout-Pout Fish series, Der Grüffelo (The Gruffalo), Wo die wilden Kerle wohnen (Where the Wild Things Are), Der Tag, an dem Louis gefressen wurde (The Day Louis Got Eaten), and Peter und der Wolf (Peter and the Wolf). Grandma speaks only German. We Skyped with her almost daily, so he got used to talking to her in German even before he met her in person. He grows up with songs and games in both languages. If you feel inclined to learn German from a toddler, check Leander out saying, “Stoffel stolpert über einen Stein.” That’s a tongue twister. Good luck!!!

Tea Time: A Time to Connect

Tea Time: A Time to Connect

Tea time is a pastime practiced all over the world. However, it is not very prevalent in the US. Even though I have always enjoyed an afternoon cup of tea (23andMe says I am 98% British, so I guess it’s in my blood), I never really thought about having an organized tea time. That is until I started homeschooling. Sitting around the table together, enjoying a treat and a cup of tea is definitely a thing in the homeschool community. And let me tell you, my heart soared when I learned tea time could be a part of our weekly routine.

What is Tea Time?

I know this is a basic question, but it is one I honestly had. When you are a new homeschooler, you have to learn the lingo. Terms like spines, morning basket, living books, etc are specific to the homeschool community. I spent more time than I like to admit googling this stuff, ha. So, what exactly is tea time? Honestly, it is what ever you want it to be. You don’t even have to drink tea! Seriously, my oldest drinks water during ours. I define tea time as coming together around the table to enjoy a yummy snack and each other’s company. That’s all. It doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy if you don’t want it to be.

Our Routine

One thing I learned about myself at the beginning of my intentional living journey is my ideal and my reality often do not match. That is okay! Learning, knowing, and accepting what my capacity is a gift from the Lord. Truly. I say this because, in a perfect world I want to have a beautiful tea time with made from scratch treats every school day. This is not reality. I plan for three days a week, but most of the time it is twice a week. Furthermore, store bought snacks often grace our table. Did you know I almost gave up on the idea of tea time because I knew I wouldn’t be able to have homemade baked good every time? Talk about legalistic thinking! (I am working on it) Store bought cookies are the unsung heroes for us.

Alright, here are the details you’re looking for. A few times a week, while my youngest is napping, I make a pot of tea for me and my middle child. I fill a little pitcher of water for my oldest, who, like I said, doesn’t like tea. I set out some tea cups, saucers, and a plate of cookies. I typically serve enough for each of us to have two treats. I call the girls over, pour the tea, and we all sit down together. Then I either read a story, devotion, poem, or we answer the fun table conversation cards. This is also a time to practice manners. My children love it. I am planning on including my youngest once he get a little bit older and no longer napping. On average, this special time lasts for about 15-20 minutes.

Make It Your Own

The beauty of tea time is that it can be whatever you’d like it to be. And you, of course, do not have to be a homeschooler. You can enjoy tea time before bed, on a Sunday afternoon, and any time in between. As long as you are making time to connect with your family, then you are doing it right.

Tell me your thoughts! Would you like to start a tea time with your children? What treats would you serve? What do you want it to look like? Tell me all about it in the comments below. And, as always, if this post encouraged your, share it with your friends.

Learn about Christian Missions in Your Homeschool

Learn about Christian Missions in Your Homeschool

Disclaimer: I received this product for free and was compensated for my time. My opinions are honest and true to my personal experience with this product.

Modern Day Missionaries

I was thrilled to discover Growing Up Wild by Wild Brothers Productions. This Christian missions focused curriculum shows the daily life of the Wild family. Mom, Dad, and four brothers (Morgan, Hudson, Kian, and Asher) live in the remote jungle of Papua, Indonesia with the hope of spreading the Gospel. We spend a lot of time learning about different counties and cultures around the world in our homeschool. I want my children to have a vast knowledge of God’s creation. You can read more about our goal of having a world view in our homeschool here.

The Curriculum

Growing Up Wild consists on five DVDs and Activity CDs. Each DVD contains 3 episodes of various aspects of daily life living deep in the jungle of Papua. We learned how the Wild family built their circular home, gather water, harness solar energy, and so much more! The narrator then offers several activity suggestions to connect your learner to the life of a missionary living in a remote area. Each episode speaks to the wonder of God and encourages learners to go out an explore God’s creation for themselves. I really appreciated all the activity suggestions to connect the life of the Wild family to our family living here in America. Sometimes it is hard for children to visualize people living differently from themselves. Growing Up Wild does a great job to overcoming this challenge. Also, my own children really enjoyed seeing the life of another homeschool family.

Mama Wild holding baby in Papua

Why Learn About Christian Missions

I fundamentally believe it is of utmost importance to expose children to people and places that are different than their every day norm. Furthermore, when we are exposed to people and places whom we consider “other,” we automatically fall in love with the entirety of God’s creation. Both people and places. Therefore, we can’t help but become Kingdom focused when we take this approach. I love how the Growing Up Wild curriculum brings these morals right into my own living room. Furthermore, children seeing others actively spreading the Gospel empowers them to do the same. This curriculum does a wonderful job of showing day to day life of being involved with christian missions. However, I do with the family went into even more detail on the specifics of their work.

Wild family engaged in a family Bible reading in their circular home.

Seeing Christian missions through the work of the Wild family has blessed and enriched our family and homeschool. Additionally, I hope their story encourages you and your children as well. Please click on any link in this post to learn more about Growing Up Wild and the Wild Brothers Productions.

Homeschool Room Tour

Homeschool Room Tour

Intentionally Well: Living on Purpose with Purpose Every Day

We are very lucky to have a dedicated homeschool room in our house. We converted a downstairs office to a space strictly for learning. Today, I wanted to give you a little tour of this room. Here’s the thing, I don’t live my life for social media. You’re not going to see the perfect Pinterest or Instagram space. However you will see a space that is practical and perfectly functional for our family.

I love having a separate space for our homeschool room. My children do their school work all over the house, often working on math in the living room for example. But, it’s nice to compartmentalize a little bit. I like walking out of the homeschool room at the end of the school day and closing the door to my teacher self.

Let Me Show You Around

I love our big table that has room for all of us. My kids sit here to do art or listen to me teach if I am using our white board. I love these wall filing shelves. I like to keep lots of colorful paper here for easy creative access. There is also a little turn table storage container to store our crayons, markers, and glue. Then, of course, we have a. bulletin board to hang up their creations.

I recently bought this cube storage shelf for my girls to store their textbooks. Last year, we used plastic storage boxes stacked under the table, but we moved a toy box upstairs to make room for this shelf. I really think it is going to work beautifully. Each school aged child gets a cubby. The baskets on the bottom will store our read-a-loud books, headphones, charging cords, and other miscellaneous things we use often.

My favorite thing that I have added is this little fidget station on top of the shelf. My children love to have something little to play with throughout the day, and I have already caught them playing at this station throughout the day.

On the opposite side of the room is this comfy chair that I love. I sit here often and read while my children are working independently. I love how it is positioned next to the windows. This rug is another favorite of mine. It provides a lot of texture and warmth to the space without being scratchy. The little wooden rocking chair is a favorite of my middle child. It actually belonged to my dad when he was a little boy, so it is extra special.

A you see, I don’t have rows of bookshelves. Honestly, I don’t have the room. This is both a good and a bad thing. Good because I have to really consider space when deciding how many books to buy. Bad because I have to consider space when deciding what books to buy. Ha! It is so easy to fall into the “give me all the books!” mindset when homeschooling. There are so many good ones! But in our homeschool room, I really only have these two long shelves for extra storage. They came with our house when we purchased it three years ago. Here is where I keep all my teacher manuals, flash cards, inflatable globe (seriously, don’t spend money on a real globe that takes up lots of space), and manipulatives for my preschooler. I also keep the spines for our social studies curriculum on these shelves.

There You Go

I hope you enjoyed this homeschool room tour. I hope this encourages you to use your space intentionally without feeling the pressure to make it look perfectly Pinterest approved. You do you, bestie. Create a space that is functional for your family and real life.

First Year Homeschooler Reflections

First Year Homeschooler Reflections

I am no longer a first year homeschooler! Our first year is in the books. I have the attendance records to prove it, and it feels like such an accomplishment. My school aged children completed second grade and kindergarten at home. You can read more about our decision to become a homeschool family here, but our decision was not related to the pandemic like so many others. The pandemic just confirmed to us that we made the right choice for our family. We are at the end, and I have thoughts.

What We Liked About Homeschooling

I think my favorite thing about homeschooling was the freedom we experienced in our daily schedule and routine. If something came up, or if we were just bored with what we were doing, we just changed it. I even switched our language arts curriculum mid-year. You just don’t have that flexibility with traditional public school. My favorite part of our day was cuddling up on the couch and reading to my girls. We entered and explored so many wonderful stories and worlds together this year. I watched their love for books and reading blossom from the front row. We traveled the world together through our social studies curriculum and learned how not every one lives, looks, speaks, or believes the way we do, and that is what makes every one unique and special.

In addition, I loved how our days look on a leisure quality. We were not rushed nor over scheduled. One of the things I disliked the most about my children’s time in traditional school was the long day. They were gone so much of the day. My oldest came home exhausted around four o’clock each day. She came home so late in the day and so tired, that we often had to complete homework in the mornings before the bus came. I did not like feeling like I got the leftovers of my children. I felt I was missing too much. They missed each other as well. This past year my children had so much time together, and it grew their sibling relationships in the best ways. I often say to my children that their siblings are their forever best friends, and I saw that come to pass this year.

What We Did Not Like About Homeschooling

Don’t get me wrong, being a first year homeschooler was not sunshine and roses all the time. However, I think the things we found to be the most challenging were things that were amplified by the pandemic. When we made the decision to become a homeschool family, we knew our children would have to make new friends. ~Sigh~ new friends, again. I say again because, remember, our family moved across the country in 2018. Our kids had already been through the difficult process of meeting and making friends after our move, and they had to do it again.

Our community has a strong homeschool presence. However, everything was closed for so long because of the pandemic. I had a really difficult time connecting with other homeschooling families. This was our biggest struggle by far. My oldest told me she loved doing school at home, but she missed the kids from her old school. We tried play dates when we could, but a world wide pandemic really puts a damper things. Every family has different comfort levels with precautions to COVID, including us. It was difficult for them to establish meaningful connections. One of our biggest changes we will be implementing next year is enrolling them into a co-op. They will do classes with other kids one day a week. Everyone is excited about this!

Another thing I found challenging was adjusting to having my kids around me all day long, every single day. I love my children with every part of my being, but my introverted self needs time alone to decompress and recharge. COVID amplified this because my long haul symptoms from having the virus were so pervasive. I spent much of the year in recovery. I often had to take naps in the middle of our schooling, because the fatigue was so intense. Many of our days were spent doing only the essential subjects. I am really excited about adding more extracurriculars next year, now that much of my energy has returned.

Final First Year Homeschooler Thoughts

I don’t believe homeschooling is the right decision for every family, and that is okay. Homeschooling is not one size fits all, and you absolutely need to feel called to do it. It’s a hard work, but it is definitely a worthy work. I am so glad we finally made the leap, after we considered it for so many years. As of now, our plan is to continue homeschooling through at least elementary school, and everyone is excited about this. I looked at this year as a learning year, and I experienced so many lessons as a first year homeschooler that stretched and grew me. Lessons I am forever grateful for. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us next year!


The Best Advice for Raising Well-Adjusted Children

The Best Advice for Raising Well-Adjusted Children

This post is by guest contributor Kristin Louis from Parenting with Kris

Parenting advice is everywhere these days, and shaping children into happy, well-adjusted members of society is a tough job. It’s easy to get caught up on particular facets of parenting, such as discipline, and lose sight of all the other ways you can raise children who thrive in school, work, and life. Whether your kids are toddlers, teens, or any age in between, check out the following resources for help raising children who are well-behaved, emotionally stable, and equipped with the skills they need for success.

Advice on The Importance of Routines

Routines help children feel grounded and in control. Set a schedule for your mornings, mealtimes, and bedtimes so your kids know what to expect.

12 Tips to Master Your Kids’ Morning Routine and Eliminate Stress by Nicole Spector

Best Ways to Help Children Fall Asleep at Nap Time

Creating a Night Routine for Your Family

Advice on Setting Boundaries

Establishing firm rules and boundaries—without sacrificing respect—can help your children learn to self-regulate their behavior.

How to Set Limits for Kids Without Harshness, Fear or Shame by Sarah MacLaughlin, LSW

Using Praise to Encourage Good Behaviors by Amy Morin, LCSW

Rules For Kids That Parents Should Follow by Sherry Parnell

Advice on How to Support Learning

As a parent, your actions have a significant influence on your children’s academic progress. There are plenty of ways to support learning at home!

Strategic Ways to Use YouTube in Your Homeschooling by Emily Sewell

7 Educational and Entertaining Activities for Young Kids

101 Reasons That Video Games Can Be Educational

Upgrade Your Internet for the Best Game-Playing Experience

Advice for Building Problem-Solving Skills

Raise confident, problem-solving kids by giving them the tools they need to figure things out on their own.

5 Reasons to Let Children Make Their Own Decisions by Ken Myers

Why You Should Let Your Child Fail: The Benefits of Natural Consequences by James Lehman, MSW

It’s common for parents to worry about whether they’re doing everything right. Just remember, there’s no such thing as a perfect parent! The most important thing is to be there for your children through every age and stage of development, offering gentle guidance and allowing your kids to take the reins once in a while. Do what you can to provide a happy and supportive home environment, and your kids are sure to thrive.

I hope you found this parenting advice round up helpful. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given since becoming a parent? What’s the worst? Let me know in the comments below. If you found this post helpful, share it with your friends!

Spring Sensory Play

Spring Sensory Play

Let’s embrace promise of warmer weather with some spring sensory play for the kids! Sensory bins are a favorite for kids of almost all ages. From young toddlers to elementary age, sensory play is not only fun but educational. Making a sensory bin for your kids is simple and easy. Take a look at the one I created for my preschooler and elementary aged kids.

Start With a Base

First, you need to decide what you’re going to use to hold all your items. You want something that isn’t too deep but is wide. I have this table, but you could also use a baking tray or something you have around your house. For the base of your sensory play, you want something that is smallish, that can easily be scooped and poured. You also want something that can be easily cleaned up, because let’s face it, sensory play involves a lot of clean up (stay away from sand!). I really like to use rice or beans. They sweep up easily, and they aren’t dangerous if a child accidentally tries to eat them. For our spring bin, I chose a mixture of pinto and garbanzo beans. I like that these have varying shapes and textures. Little pom pom balls are also fun, especially if you’re looking for a quieter option.

Add Some Interest

It’s fairly easy to keep your sensory play base the same at all times. However, I highly encourage you to change up the items in the sensory bin every season, or every month if your kids play with it daily. I am going with a spring theme here. I’ve added some plastic Easter eggs, artificial flowers, and several small flower pots.

Add Some Tools

Adding tools to your sensory play is adding the fun. Kids love so much to scoop and pour. This provides a huge learning opportunity too. Young toddlers learn things like cause and effect, while older kids are visualizing and estimating volume. You want to add small containers or cups (remember those little flower pots?) as well as spoons and scoops of varying sizes. I have this set, and my kids absolutely love it. You can also add in things like tweezers or magnets.

Spring sensory play is so much fun for kids. Have you ever made a sensory play area for your kids? Let me know what you like to put in your sensory bin in the comments below. If it is still feeling like winter where you live, check out this post on activities to beat the winter blues. As always, please like and share this post if you found it helpful and encouraging.

Strategic Ways to Use YouTube in Your Homeschool

Strategic Ways to Use YouTube in Your Homeschool

The best hack I’ve learned as a first year homeschool mom is to use Youtube. I know screens can get a bad rep a lot of the time. However, I find that when I am strategic with YouTube, I get so much bang for my buck (as well as the kids!). With the help of other homeschool mamas, here is a list of strategic ways you can use Youtube in your Homeschool (without any guilt!).

Travel the World

Our Social Studies curriculum has us traveling the world this year. We study maps, read books, and write about a specific country each week. We also log on to Nat Geo Kids’ YouTube channel to see if there are any related videos, which there typically are. National Geographic has a whole series where siblings explore and experience various countries and cultures. These videos are my kids’ favorite part of the week. They love learning about a new country through the eyes of other kids.

Read Alouds

Did you know that there are quite possibly thousands of read alouds on YouTube? Seriously. This one surprised me, but it’s true. If you are wanting to read a particular book, but your library doesn’t have it, check YouTube. It’s most likely there. There is everything from Charlotte’s Web to The Very Hungry Caterpillar to everything in between. I’ve even found some less popular books that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else. This is a great way to incorporate more books in your kids’ daily routine, especially if you have a reluctant reader. (You can read more tips on helping your child learn to love books here)

Get Moving

Between the pandemic and winter, it’s safe to say that we are all spending a lot of time inside our homes. When we have a lot of pent up wiggles, we turn on YouTube to move our bodies. If you need something active, GoNoodle and Koo Koo Kangaroo are great options, especially if you need a quick brain break. If you are looking for something more focused, you can’t go wrong with Cosmic Kids Yoga. My kids even like to lay out towels like yoga mats.

Entertaining the Toddler

I know. I know. But look, there is no (absolutely zero) shame in using the tools you have in ways your family needs. Youtube has WONDERFUL resources to teach and entertain toddlers, because sometimes you need to go teach a math lesson or make lunches or just go to the bathroom by yourself. Did you know that the super popular Cocomelon was a Youtube channel before it was on Netflix? It was even previously called ABC Kids TV. Super Simple Songs legit taught my youngest his letters and numbers (#noshame). We’ve also recently discovered Bounce Patrol, which my three year old really seems to enjoy.

Animal Studies

It is so common for elementary aged children to have a strong interest in animals. A great way to foster this love of animals, the earth, and the environment is to watch some videos. BBC Earth has a wonderful channel about all things animals. There are so many videos where you see animals up close in their natural habitat. I love that BBC Earth also always encourages taking care of our planet. And of course, it’s easy to do a search of a particular animal, but I do recommend previewing these first. Did you see my Instagram reel (@intentionally_well_blog) of my feelings when my kids wanted to learn more about the anaconda? Yeah….I don’t like snakes.

Art Class

I’ve shared before that art isn’t really my thing. I kind of forget to plan for it, and I am not crafty. Enter YouTube to save the day for my girls who really enjoy drawing. We love Art for Kids Hub for teaching us all how to draw cute little cartoon-y things. You can also do things like explore the Louvre! How cool is that?

I think that is my most favorite thing with using Youtube in our homeschool. We get to learn and explore places and interests that we wouldn’t really have access to otherwise. The concept that I want my kids to internalize most this school year is that we live in a vast world full of interesting people and places. YouTube has given us a window into this world in a wonderful way. Use it mama, unashamed and guilt free! If you are already using Youtube, what are your favorite videos and channels? Let me know in the comments below. And as always, like and share this post if you enjoyed it.

We’ve Made Some Homeschool Changes

We’ve Made Some Homeschool Changes

That’s right. We have made few homeschool changes and upgrades since we began our year last July. I think that’s my favorite thing about homeschooling. It’s okay and even encouraged to make adjustments to our schooling when we need to. I find it so freeing!

Language Arts

The first big homeschool change we made this semester was switching our Language Arts curriculum. Last semester, we used Abeka. You can read all about my initial review of this program here. Even though I quickly realized we wouldn’t stick with Abeka long-term, my plan was to finish the books I bought. However, we couldn’t even do that. The workbooks started moving too fast for my kids, and no one was having a good time. So, I made the decision to go ahead and toss it out earlier than expected.

What did we switch to you ask? Logic of English. We are LOVING it! Loving it, I tell you. My kids get so excited to do language arts every day. They love the multi sensory approach to each lesson. I made the decision to start with Foundations A, which honestly is way below their current reading level. But, LOE teaches things differently than Abeka. We needed to learn how LOE teaches. Plus, did you learn about broad sounds when you were in school?? I sure didn’t! Did you know the letter “i” makes FOUR different sounds, and there are rules for each one? Me either! I had to memorize so much when I learned how to read. It turns out, there are more logical (ha, see what I did there?) rules to reading than I thought. So, starting with Foundations A has filled in any gaps my kids (or I) had.

Hymn Study

The second big change we’ve made to our homeschool isn’t switching curriculums; it’s adding in a whole new subject. We started a hymn study. As you know, my husband is in vocational ministry. We are active in our non-denominational church. However, my husband and I grew up in more traditional churches. We grew up singing the hymns that have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. I wanted my kids to learn these holy songs. There is something so inspiring about singing the words to a song that have united Christians of generations past and present. I wanted my kids hide these songs in their heart just as I have done.

As far as hymn studies, it turns out there are a lot of good options. All unique in their own way. I ended up choosing the curriculum by Not Consumed. This is a unit study program. And out of all the choices, I decided on this one because it had many songs that I personally love. The parent enjoying the material being taught is an important component of homeschooling. This study also teaches the child to play the hymn on a tin whistle (basically a recorder), which has been so fun. We are learning one hymn a month, and we just finished our first one – It Is Well.

Attitude and Pace

The last change we’ve implemented is my overall attitude on the pace of our homeschool. I’m realizing that it is okay if we don’t hit every single subject every single day. I’m continuing to learn that homeschooling does not need to look anything like traditional public school. That there are a million ways for kids to learn. That allowing time to play IS allowing time to learn in an organic fashion. I am dropping the weight of the pressure I put on myself a little each week. Yes, I make plans (I am loving this EC lesson planner), but it’s pretty rare that I check off every single little thing. And that’s just fine by me. I know my kids are learning and growing. Not just academically also emotionally and spiritually as well.

So tell me, whether you homeschool or not, how is the year going for you kids? Let me know in the comments below. As always, if you liked this post, please like and subscribe to be the first to see new posts!

Hate Teaching Math? I got you.

Hate Teaching Math? I got you.

Being an enneagram three, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that I like teaching math. I have always enjoyed the subject. It’s completely black and white. There’s no gray area with math. You’re either right or you’re wrong. My mother was even a math teacher, so it runs in the family. However, I can appreciate how many homeschool parents find teaching math difficult. Just like poetry makes zero sense to me (seriously, I cannot interpret symbolism for the life of me!), I understand how math can be difficult for others.

What to do?

Now, this isn’t really something that effects a typical person in every day life. We have our calculators on our phone, and that works just fine. But what if your a homeschooling parent, and you’re now the one that has to teach all the math to your kids? What then? Well, my best advise? Fake it ’til you make it. I’m serious! Fake that enthusiasm for your least favorite subject, so it’s not your kids’ least favorite subject. My second piece of advise is delegate the hard parts to someone else. From such an early age, kids are duped into believing they are bad a math, especially girls (which is a whole other can of worms that I’m not going to get into here and now). But in reality, kids just haven’t been taught in a way that they understand.

In our family, we use a few different approaches. You can read about our main math curriculum here. We do take a pretty traditional approach to math, and that seems to be working for now. However, I was recently approached by a company who has put together a really great online math curriculum. A+ Interactive Math by A+ Tutorsoft Inc. has been a really great addition to what we were already doing. And my kids look at doing math on the computer as a fun treat.

Online Homeschool Math Option

A+ Interactive Math operates in the traditional lane of homeschooling. They actually line up their lessons with public school, so it is a great resource for keeping your kids on track if you are only planning on homeschooling for a short time (hello 2020 pandemic). We have the Family Math Package, and it allows my kids to work mostly independently at their own pace. They can work from anywhere as long as we have internet connection. I can view their progress from the parent account as well. This helps me to see where they might be struggling, and what we need to spend our time on. The Family Math Package includes up to 10 students accounts, which is perfect for Pandemic Pods or an entire family. It includes 7 different grade levels (1st-6th, Pre-Algebra) which gives you an option to place each child in a desired grade level and even change the grade level when ready. This curriculum includes video lessons, interactive review, practice worksheets, chapter tests, step-by-step solution to each problem, easy to read progress reports, automatic grading & tracking, eBooks (lessons, worksheets, chapter tests, solution guides) and much more.

I hope enjoy this program as much as my kids and I do! It has been a great addition (ha! get it?) to our weekly math routine. It fits in seamlessly to what were already doing, and my kids as to do this program literally every day. You can check it out for yourself and try one month free at https://www.aplustutorsoft.com/freestuff/family-math-package . USE MY CODE: EMILY20 AT CHECK OUT FOR 20% OFF THE FAMILY MATH PACKAGE