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.

How to Love Your Neighbor in 2021

How to Love Your Neighbor in 2021

How to love your neighbor well in 2021 can be tricky. I mean, we are still in a pandemic and the country is so divided over so many things. February is a great time to focus on others. There’s Valentine’s Day on the 14th, and a few days later is World Kindness Day on February 17th. I know I can speak for all of us when I say we can all appreciate a little extra love in this crazy world. Here are some simple and easy ways to love your neighbor this month.

Send Some Happy Mail

Don’t you just love getting something in the mail besides bills? We ALL do! Send a letter (vintage style, ha) or a postcard to a friend or loved one. Let it be a surprise. This past week, my kids made postcards (we used this kit) to mail to their friends. They had so much fun and talked about sweet memories they have with those whom they were creating for. I plan to mail my own little notes of encouragement too. Parenting is hard. Parenting during a pandemic is hard. Parenting during the winter during a pandemic is ridiculous. Send some unexpected love. It will fill your heart as well!

Everyone Loves Coffee

You know coffee is basically life for moms. Show a friend or even a stranger some love by paying for their Starbucks. The Starbucks app makes it really easy to send someone a gift card. Also, paying for the person behind you in the drive-thru line has the potential to make someone’s day or even week! When you pay for someone’s coffee order in the drive-thru, it will often set off basically a coffee love chain where people continue to pay for the person behind them for quite some time. That’s pretty cool!

Your Actual Neighbor

Loving those in our closest sphere of influence can be so powerful. That includes people who actually live next to us. I know I have been guilty of not knowing my neighbors before. Falling into that isolation really doesn’t benefit anyone. If that is you, it’s okay! Now is the perfect time to reach out. Shovel your neighbor’s driveway one morning, make them some banana bread (or the star of the pandemic – sourdough bread), bring their newspaper to their front door so they don’t have to walk to go get it, or offer to take their dog on a walk. There are so many little things we can do to make a difference in someone’s day.

I think so many of us had such high expectations for 2021. Like we thought the end of 2020 would just cause all the big things to just evaporate. Well maybe not quite so dramatic, but we hoped to at least to have turned a corner. For some people, things have gotten better. But for many, things are mostly the same. Pandemic fatigue is strong. Moms are all struggling. I know I definitely have hard days.

I know none of the things listed above are super revolutionary. But sometimes we just need to be reminded of the simple every day things that can make such a difference for others. I think the middle of winter during the month of love is perfect time to show friends and strangers alike a little extra love, kindness, and grace in a tangible way. How are you going to love your neighbor this Valentine’s Day? Let me know in the comments. And, as always, please like, share, and subscribe if you enjoyed this post.

Sending My Child to Preschool

Sending My Child to Preschool

But wait a minute….Didn’t I just write a whole post about our decision to homeschool? Yes. Yes, I did. We are homeschooling are kindergartener and second grader. However, we decided that our almost three year old will still attend his preschool this year. He will be going to school two mornings a week starting mid-August.

There was a lot that went into this decision, and it wasn’t easy given the current state of the world. Some of the main points in choosing this route were acknowledging that what’s best for one child in our family might not be what’s best for another child, and that is okay. Our preschooler needs some more opportunities to be around a group of peers. He needs to learn that he can have fun with other people rather than just mommy and daddy and sisters. He needs some more practice in following rules in a more structured environment like a classroom. Are you catching a theme? We really feel that the social skills he will gain in preschool this year will be a huge benefit for him. Teaching those types of social skills at home can be really difficult (although, definitely not impossible). He also has a minor speech delay. We are confident that preschool will continue to propel his speech forward. And lastly, he LOVES his preschool. He loves circle time and singing songs and dancing and all the things. He thrived last year in his little class, and I have no doubt he will do the same this year.

Now, what about the Big C? The Corona? This is where I am just going to have to trust and rely on God. I have His peace right now. If something changes, then we can always reevaluate. The school is putting procedures in place to keep staff and the kids safe, without being too over the top. Kids will still be able to be kids. Our family has already had Covid19. And even though the whole immunity situation is still a big question mark, we are confident that if/when we are exposed again, that our bodies will know how to fight the virus.

There are no easy or clear answers for anything these days. We are all doing the best we can with the information we have. And that is okay. Our kids are going to be okay. Mama, your kids are going to be okay! What is best for us this year might not be what we choose for the following year. Just like everyone else, we will take things day by day, week by week, and month by month. Tell me more about how your kids will do school this year. Are all of your kids on the same path? Or are different kids doing different things? Do you have peace about your decisions?

We’re a Homeschool Family Now

We’re a Homeschool Family Now

Yep, we have made a change. Like every other family in America, school is going to look different for us this year. However, our switch to homeschooling was not a reaction to the Coronavirus. Homeschooling has been on and off our hearts since forever. When we lived in the south, I had many friends who homeschooled (how many times do you think I will type this world out in this post? haha!). I was so intrigued by it. But my oldest is an extrovert, and I felt like our personalities clashed often when I would try to teach her things or switch to “school mode” at home. So, I doubted myself. I doubted my ability, even though I taught preschool before kids.

Fast forward a couple of years, and our kids were thriving in their preschools. They were learning, having fun, and I was enjoying those few hours of separation (having littles is tough, guys). Every time homeschooling started to creep back into my mind, I would push it out with all these positives. Then came Kindergarten for my oldest. I was dreading it. It was SUCH a long day, and i knew that a lot of that time was filler. She wouldn’t get home until about 4:00 and would be utterly exhausted. And that’s exactly what happened. I really felt like the long school day was stealing our family time. Because my husband works in ministry, our weekends are often busy. Homeschooling, again, started to weigh on me, but I put a pin in it.

Then came first grade. We loved her teacher, but the school wasn’t meeting some specific needs my child had. When I would bring this up (over and over again), I was met with a lot of explanations but also a lot of resistance. My middle was in pre-k, and the thought of her having to deal with the long day of public school kindergarten made my brain hurt. And so in January of 2020, we once and for all decided that public school was not working for our family. We knew then that we would be homeschooling the following year. We told the kids our decision (they were so excited!), and I started dabbling in researching homeschool methods and curriculums (curricula?).

And then the world as we knew it came crashing down. When schools closed in March of 2020, my oldest was sent assignments to do at home, and she would upload her work for her teacher to see. It was here that I got a really good sense of how she was being taught, and I was like no wonder! Neither of us had much fun with this e-learning. It was a chore. I had already ordered some homeschool materials, so we withdrew our oldest 2 kids from their perspective schools and started our homeschool journey right then and there.

It was so great! Even with having to take breaks as I recovered from Covid, the kids really learned a lot. Best of all, we saw them grow closer as siblings and have FUN with school. We did school until the end of May and took a break in June to enjoy the summer. It was really nice to have those weeks to slowly ease into what homeschool would look like for our family.

The week after the Forth of July, we officially started our new homeschool year. I have a second grader, a Kindergartener, and a toddler (who will still attend preschool two mornings a week). We are about three weeks in, and so far so good….I think. Just kidding! It’s good. We are learning new rhythms and routines. Learning to give and receive grace. Learning when to push through and when to take it slow. Learning how to balance all the things and not feel stressed or overwhelmed. I’ve loved all of it. I love seeing my kids learn new things and know that I was a part of that.

School is going to be different for everyone this year. Some families are homeschooling, some are choosing virtual school, some are choosing in person school (as much as the districts will allow). There are no easy or clear answers for any of us. I am here for you. I support you. What works for our family might not work for your family, and that’s ok! Share with me what you and your family will be doing this fall in the comments.

Is Survival Mode the New Normal?

Is Survival Mode the New Normal?

I really hope not, but it sure does feel that way sometimes doesn’t it? I don’t know about you, but just when we seem to get into some semblance of a routine that feels comfortable, a curve ball comes our way. Recovering from the virus has taken a lot longer than I wanted, which is SUPER annoying and frustrating. I have dreams of living my best quarantine life, but I’m not physically able to at this point. I was going to clean and declutter all the things. I was going to spend my afternoons getting lost in a great book. I was going to cook new recipes, including perfecting my favorite French macarons. I was going to blog three times a week and post content to Instagram every day. I was going to tackle my kid’s picky eating, and we were going to be loving vegetables in no time. Oh, the plans I had!!

But here’s the thing, friend. None of us have been through a pandemic before. None of us have been in a situation where we’ve had extensive shelter in place orders to follow. We are all going through a collective traumatic experience. There is no play book for this. So, I think it’s vital we give ourselves grace. It’s also vital that we extend that grace to others. It seems to be so common for people to experience good days and hard days. Happy days and sad days. Productive days and lazy days. And that’s okay!

But living in “survival mode” mentality is, quite frankly, exhausting. So, what are we to do? I think the first thing we can do is actively acknowledge that this is hard. Take some deep breaths and just sit with that for a moment. The second thing I think we can do is establish some self care routines, not only for ourselves, but also our partners and children. For example, last week I decided Friday mornings would be my husband’s time for himself. He will go for a long drive, catch up with friends over the phone, or finish up work from the week. The key is that he is off duty as husband and dad for those few hours, and it fills him up so well! He comes back refreshed and revived. Self care for our kids has been interesting. They are young (7, 5, and 2), so like my entire life is caring for them, ha. But, I have bought them more of their favorite snacks since quarantine started. Who doesn’t love comfort food? I also check in with my older 2 kids and really ask them how they are doing with having to stay at home and not see their friends. We have been able to have some really good talks about our feelings, and they feel supported and heard when I tell them that sometimes I am sad too. We make sure they spend time outside at every opportunity when the weather allows it. For me, self care has looked different depending on how I am feeling since I am still healing from covid19. When I was spending a lot of time in bed, I shopped online for a few spring wardrobe additions because it helped me remember that brighter days will come. Now that I am up and about more, I like to go for a quick 20 minute drives a few times a week and blast really the music (…in my minivan, haha!). Whatever self care looks like for you, do it. Because you know what self care really is? It’s a way for us to take care of our mental health, and that is valid and important. You have permission to do what you need to do to recharge and take care of your mental health, mama. It’s true that you might have to get creative with self care, especially if you’re more extroverted. Maybe it’s a zoom coffee date or cocktail hour with your friends. Maybe it’s going on a walk or trying out a new exercise video. Maybe it’s crafting or reading or painting. Whatever it is, you do you mama, because you are worth it!

Preparing for Covid19 and Talking to your kids about it

Preparing for Covid19 and Talking to your kids about it

After sharing my story on social media, I have had several moms ask what they can do to prepare for the virus to hit their family. Experts all agree that most Americans will get this virus at some point. But, that’s ok! Most of us will be able to self manage symptoms at home. I do not want to down play that this disease is serious for some, but this post is meant to help families who will experience the virus in its mild/moderate form.

First, talk to you kids in a matter of fact way about what is going on in the world. My kids are seven, five, and two. The two year old obviously doesn’t have a clue, but my other kids had some questions. When schools first started closing, we very plainly told them that there was a new virus going around that can be very serious for people who are older and who are already sick (that is how we defined preexisting conditions for them in this context), and some people will have to go to the hospital. We told them that the virus was not really dangerous for our family – that even if we got sick, we would be ok. But, we explained how everything was closing to help keep people safe and healthy. My husband and I chose not to talk about news headlines in front of the kids or our fears and anxieties. When the virus was confirmed to be making its way through our own family, we were able to simply say, “Yes, mommy has coronavirus, and two of you have already had it. Remember your cough? That was the virus, but now you are all better.” In fact, just this morning, my 5yo complained of a stomachache and has a low grade temperature. I told her that it was her turn to have the virus, and she just said ok and went back to playing. All along, we have validated their feelings about things being different and hard with social distancing and quarantine. But we have always always reiterated that this is what we need to do to help keep people safe and healthy.

Secondly, as far as what actions to take, here are a few ideas of things to do (and hoarding things is NOT one of them). If your time and budget allows, making some freezer meals will help. The fatigue and aches are real. They also come and go day by day. Having quick and easy meals that are already prepared will help conserve your energy. Honey was also something that was nice to have on hand. It is helpful for soothing a cough and a sore throat. For the body aches, we have been using Tylenol. There is mixed information about the use of ibuprofen, so speak to your own doctor about that. Taking a warm bath with 2 cups of epsom salts also helped with the body aches that would come on in the evening.

Thirdly, REST! This is so hard for moms, especially if your children are little. But please, this is NOT the time to try to push through. Covid19 is such a strange disease. The symptoms come and go for a while. Some people, like me, will take a turn for the worse around days 7-9. I really thought I was over it, then I started to really have breathing difficulty. Do not push yourself. Do not put your body under any additional stress. Turn the TV on for the kids, order them a few new toys, do what ever you need to do to be able to rest just do it.

Lastly, don’t panic. This is a hard one. I know it is. How can we not panic when we are getting daily death toll updates and news conferences? It’s all so incredibly heartbreaking. But, when you or someone in your family starts having symptoms, just take it day by day. Call your doctor for advice and care instructions. Do your best to not focus on all the what ifs. If that means you need to turn off the news and really guard what you see and hear, then do it. Protecting your mental health is just as important as protecting your physical health.

Testing…is this thing on?

Testing…is this thing on?

Hi. Hello to the vast space that is the internet. Let’s have a little story time, shall we? Last year was a big year for me personally. There were a lot of big changes to my life ( you can read the 3 measly posts before this one for more context). I really felt like I was called to write. But write about what? I’m pretty basic. A mid-thirties millennial living in the mid-west. Then, life got hard. It turns out, moving across the country is incredibly difficult. It’s difficult to lose your community. I felt lost and alone. This internet space that I created with such great intentions faded away into obscurity. Like, I didn’t even think about it any more.

Then, something happened. The clouds parted, and the gray season I was in started to clear. I started to feel like my human self again. I got healthier. I started exercising. I looked around and saw my people – my community whom I had prayed for, and who the Lord so graciously brought me. And then, the little whispers started again. Write.

I logged on to my old site, and lo and behold, it was still here. I still had my domain name. So, here I am writing…we will see what happens next.