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10 More Super Sites for Free Homeschooling

I couldn’t help but notice how much my lovely readers appreciated my list of 14 fabulous sites for free homeschooling.  I’ve been watching the comments and shares and realizing that you guys are really into finding ways to homeschool on the cheap.  And why wouldn’t you be?  You know, of course, that you can come here every week for new free printables and units, but you need more.  Right?

more free homeschooling

Well, it just so happens I am a font of information about homeschooling for free.  I’ve been doing it for 5 years, and I have accumulated so. much. stuff.  Many of the blogs I follow are not only full of excellent advice but offer free downloads and resources for other homeschoolers.  In fact, there are 10 more sitting in my inbox right now, so I thought I would share them with you.  You need them.  Once again, these are in no particular order.  I love them all for different reasons.  You will, too.

  1. Handbook of Nature Study When I first started homeschooling, and I knew Nothing About what I was doing or where to start, one of the first things that intrigued me as I trolled the interweb was nature study.  I had never heard of it until 5 years ago, but I was immediately drawn to it.  Nature study is a fun and ludicrously easy way to start homeschooling.  All littles love learning about their world, and there are so many ways to do nature study that 5 years later, my Littles never get bored with it.  Barbara McCoy’s Handbook of Nature Study site is a great place to start.  If you subscribe to the site, you will receive for free Every Month the Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter, a pdf download that covers a different topic each month.  These newsletters are full of information, ideas, and even printable planning pages for your child’s nature journal.  I’m telling you, this is one of the best resources for nature study I’ve come across.  handbook of nature study
  2. The Old Schoolhouse The Old Schoolhouse is a homeschool blog and magazine that offers tons of free advice from myriad homeschoolers.  Its estore is full of cheapity-cheap homeschool resources as well as lots of free stuff that is truly usable.  I can’t tell you how full my school folder is with awesome stuff from TOS.  My favorites are The Curiosity Files science units and the Wanna Be career units.  And I got them for free!!  You have to check this out.the old schoolhouse
  3. Only Passionate Curiosity Heather has a shop where you can get units and printables on the cheap, and she also offers freebies all the time.  If you click on her Homeschool for Free tab, you will find a huge list of links similar to this very post.  But more in-depth.  With some sites even I have never heard of.  Which rocks, because obviously I am going back there to check those out.  I’ll see you there.passionate curiosity
  4. Schoolhouse Connect Technically, Schoolhouse Connect is part of The Old Schoolhouse.  But if you go straight to this link, you’ll see the opportunity to get a free welcome basket.  And it. is. awesome.  You get a choice of 2–one is all e-resources and is totally free, and the other includes a few physical products that will be mailed to you if you just pay shipping.  This ‘basket’ is full of goodies to help the homeschool parent, whether you’re a veteran or just starting out.  There are even a couple of free Curiosity Files in the basket, so Win.  schoolhouse connect
  5. Hip Homeschool Moms I love the Hip Homeschool Moms.  For one thing, look at that name.  Bask in that stuff.  I crush hard on it.  But also because nearly every other blog post contains free printables.  And because the girls over there are intelligent, witty, experienced homeschool mamas who truly help my journey.  And I have to admit, I kinda have that feeling like when I grow up I want to also be a hip homeschool mom.  Ya know? hip homeschool moms
  6. The Practical Mom Blog Are you kidding me?  Swapna has an entire tab devoted to more than 75 art project tutorials as well as directions on setting up an art studio for next to nothing.  You have got to see this.  The projects are for 2.5 to 5 year olds, but I think they could easily be adapted for older kids.  She also has a link for STEM and literacy activities that is full of juicy goodness. The Practical Mom
  7. The Natural Homeschool Tanya’s site is beautiful and her free printables are excellent.  Think history, organization, science, and all things Montessori-inspired.  I love it when a blogger truly puts effort into the stuff she offers, and Tanya made this list because of that effort.  She also has an activities tab that you Have To take a look at.  Yeah yeah, this one is fun. natural homeschool
  8. The Multitasking Mom Stephanie has free printables for darn near everything.  Not just stuff your littles can use, but stuff for you, too, mama, like personal goal trackers and organization charts.  Plus, 40,000 followers must be onto something.  Check this amazing site out and you’re sure to find more than one thing your homeschool can’t do without.  multi taskin mom
  9. Confessions of a Homeschooler Another very cool blog title.  I like it.  Erica offers a tab full of entirely free downloads that cover everything from art and animals to science and sight words.  Plus, Erica is incredibly cool and honest about her journey and I love reading her blog.  I started following her before I started blogging myself, and I still eagerly await every update.  confessions of a homeschooler
  10. Donna Young This site requires a subscription, but you won’t be sad about subscribing when you see all the free stuff she has to offer.  I have used the science tab on Donna Young more than probably any other site.  There is so much here that it’s almost overwhelming.  Do not blow this one off.  You will be amazed.  In fact, I’d like to start a new club.  We’ll call it “I Heart Donna Young.”  You in? Donna Young

 

Seriously.  Put this list with the 14 I gave you a couple of weeks ago (and don’t forget to add on Lit Mama! haha), and homeschool is taken care of.  Which Rocks.

Also, if you’re into the free stuff, don’t forget to go over to my giveaway and enter to win a canvas with a Seuss quote on it for your classroom or littles’ room.

Have a glorious weekend, lovely readers.  It’s gonna be spring weather here, so I am looking forward.

Love wins,

KT

Homeschooling: How to Get Started

I’m often approached by people who are thinking about starting to homeschool and need some advice.  The two biggest questions are 1) Should I try to homeschool? and 2) how do I get started?

I am never going to tell someone they should not homeschool, so there’s your answer for number 1.  Of course you should homeschool. Duh.

no school like home

As for how to get started, each case is individual, but there are a few things you can do to ease yourself into it.  You know, so it feels a bit less intimidating. ( Hey, I’ve been a new homeschooler; my head spun just as much as the next mama’s.)

  1. Check your state laws.  The very first thing you should do is check the laws in your state so you know what you’re up against legally.  Here in Indiana, the laws are simple.  Your child has to attend school 180 days a year, just like a public school.  You have to keep attendance so you can prove your child has attended school.  Your child has to be up to snuff with the grade level he would attend in public school.  That’s it.  Easy peasy.  But other states have much more strident laws and/or tests that must be passed by the student each year (or each quarter). You have to know what the tests are so you can teach your littles the stuff they need to know to pass them. Also, in some states you have to register your homeschool with the state so they are aware that you are homeschooling.  If your child has been in public school previously, you have to inform the school, in writing, that you are withdrawing him to homeschool. The cool thing about starting with this step is that many state education websites also offer advice on homeschooling, so you get what you give.  Once you know what your state expects of you, you’re ready to move on.
  2. Choose your homeschooling style. There are lots of different ways to teach.  The public school model, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, unschooling, child-led, unit study… the list is long and extremely interesting.  You can Google any of those styles and find a plethora of information about each on the ol’ interweb.  Personally, I went eclectic.  We pull from all of those styles and more in our homeschool, so you never know what class is going to look like at our house from day to day.
  3. Get guidance.  If you’re not sure where to start, there is a set of books by E.D. Hirsch, jr that starts with What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know and ends with What Your 6th Grader Needs to Know.  I own them all.  I haven’t cracked them open in a good, long while, but when I was starting out, they saved my ass.  I used them as a starting point for most of our lessons for the first 2 years.  They have chapters on Language and Literature, History and Geography, Math, and Science, and each one is literally full of what your little should learn for each grade year.  If you are just starting out, buy the book that applies to your little and take a breath.  You’re armed and ready for action.  If you can’t buy the book or can’t find it, seek other homeschoolers–either near home or on the interweb–and find out what they have done.  It helps to have people to lean on at first and commiserate with.  Believe me, every one of us has been where you are and we have all felt the way you feel.  We wouldn’t be human if we hadn’t.
  4. Choose your curriculum. If you’re like me, you don’t want someone else writing your curriculum for you.  But let me warn you, that entails a whole. lot. of work.  If you have the time and the inclination, it is also a Whole Lot Of Fun.  If, however, you’re happy letting someone else do the work, there are tons of curriculum to choose from.  Some of the ones I’ve heard really good things about are A Beka, Waldorf, Time4Learning, and Classical Conversations.  You can Google that stuff, too.  Do your research.  You don’t want to pick the wrong one, or the most expensive one.  And don’t be too shocked or disappointed if you end up not liking the one you choose.  I know a lot of mamas who have chosen the wrong thing and ended up using it kind of like I use the Hirsch books.  And I know quite a few who have simply ordered new curriculum from somewhere else when they realize the current one is not working.   The great thing about writing your own is that you can do it practically for free.  So if something isn’t working, you just chuck it and find another free thing to replace it.  Again.  A Lot Of Work.
  5. Trust yourself. This is, perhaps, the most difficult piece of advice for a new homeschooling mama or dada to take.  Every homeschooling parent starting out is Absolutely, 100% Certain he or she is doing it wrong.  You will be sure you’re doing it wrong.  You will not be.  You know your kids better than anybody.  You know their interests, how they will best learn, and what it takes to hold their attention.  A little math, a little reading, a bit of history and science… that’s all it takes to provide a school day.  If your littles are smiling and learning (even if it’s just a little bit at first), the rest is just details.  And as you gain experience, the details will start to take care of themselves.
  6. Keep your sense of humor.  You’re gonna need it.  In spades.  Good thing you have one.

You got this, mama.  You got this, Dada.  So go ahead and get started.  I have faith.

Love wins,

KT

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When Home Disagrees About Homeschool

So, my beautiful husband and I had (for us) a huge fight last night.  This doesn’t happen often.  We’ve been together for the better part of 17 years, and while we do disagree sometimes, it’s rarely a raise-your-voice type of thing.  Sometimes, though, you Really Disagree about something.  And we did last night.

And it was about homeschooling.

Family Field Trip--In complete agreement

Family Field Trip–In complete agreement

Here’s roughly how it went.

Me: Littlest is still having trouble with fractions, and I’m running out of ideas here.  His brain works more like yours than mine and I really don’t know how to teach him this so he remembers.

Martin: Well, what’s the problem, exactly?

See, Martin is a genius at math, and over the years I have learned from him different ways of looking at how to solve problems.  It has actually made my life easier, because he didn’t learn these things in school; he learned them by working on motors and building things.  Real Life math.  Somehow, it’s easier for my brain to absorb those things.  But I will never be able to do what he does, because his brain is mathematically oriented and I’m… Well, I’m the Lit Mama.  So I’ve always assumed Martin would see Littlest’s problems easily and help me solve them.

That is not how the conversation went.  Sure, he made some suggestions, but to be honest they were things I’ve already tried.  Like leaving the books and doing a two-week concentration on fractions.  But I figured it couldn’t hurt to go through it all again, so I agreed to try it.

That’s not what we fought about.  Here’s how That went.

Me:  Okay, but what if it doesn’t work?  He used to be ahead in math, now he’s getting behind.  I’m putting all this pressure on myself to catch him up, and I’m afraid that pressure is leaking out to him and stressing him out.  Which makes him unable to learn.

Martin:  Here’s my problem with your homeschool…

(WHAAAAAAT?)

You don’t give them homework, they don’t go to school as long as other kids, and when they get an answer wrong during class, instead of counting it wrong, you tell them the right answer.

Me: Whoa.  Slow down right there.  I don’t know a single homeschooling mother who gives her child homework, but I know hundreds of kids, parents, and public school teachers who think homework doesn’t serve any purpose.  You do your school work In School so you don’t have to do homework.  

Martin: But the aren’t accountable for anything.  They don’t have to do anything themselves.  They don’t have to figure out the answers and learn how to get them right on their own.

Me (voice starting to rise):  Now, hang on.  They’re at two different grade levels in math.  They always do math on their own.  And the older they get, the more work they do on their own in all of their subjects.  That’s completely untrue and unfair.  Besides, one of the things I Hate about public school is that they can’t take the time to tell their students Why their answers are wrong.  I have that option, so we go over it in class.  I’m not just going to go , “Nope, that’s wrong, you get a (insert grade), sorry ’bout it.”  The point of this is to Really Teach them, not confuse them and grade them.

Martin: (Honestly, I didn’t hear what he said.)

Me (voice a little higher):  Also, No One goes to school for 8 hours a day.  Even in high school, if they have 7 classes they have 5 minutes between classes to get to their next class.  If school ends at 2:30 (which it does here), that knocks them back to 2.  They have lunch; that’s another half hour at least. That knocks them back to 1:30.  90% of them have a study hall, which knocks them back to 12:30.   Our school lasts from 8 till around noon.  Now tell me, how are my kids learning for less time than public school kids?

I admit, I was practically screeching by the end of that tirade.  But, sheesh, I have to hear this crap all the time from people who don’t homeschool, now I gotta hear it in My Own House?  I don’t think so.  Not on my watch.  So he says the following, which almost put me through the roof.

Martin (actually raising his voice, which he almost never does): Fine, don’t ever ask my opinion again.  They can graduate and go to college or not.  I don’t care; I wash my hands of it.  It’s All On You Now.  Don’t even talk to me about it.

This is the point where we both stopped.  Me, mostly because I was thinking, Are you kidding me?  Of Course it’s All On Me, why the bleep do you think I’m freaking out?  Him, because he heard himself after the fact and realized he had said something really horrible.  So we stared into space for a while, each refusing to look at the other or speak.  I was still so angry I think I could have hit him.  But I replayed the scene in my head and realized I might have interrupted and overreacted. I mean, I didn’t give him a chance to finish his thought, I just heard, “My problem with your homeschool,” and went ballistic.  So I started to calm down, but still wasn’t ready to talk about it.  Then, my beautiful husband said,

I apologize.  Of course I care if the boys go to college, and I didn’t mean to imply that I think there are things wrong with your homeschool.  I was just trying to say that maybe you should give them homework since they have time for it.

Well, then, Say That, for Pete’s sake.  So I said, I’m sorry, too.  I overreacted.  But I put myself under enough pressure, have enough doubts about whether I’m doing this right.  When it sounds like you’re doubting me, too, I guess I get scared.

Here’s the truth.  Martin and I agree wholeheartedly that we should homeschool our kids.  But we feel that way for different reasons.  For me, it’s the lack of real learning that takes place in public schools.  For Martin, it’s a safety issue.  He hasn’t done the years’ worth of research I’ve done about homeschooling.  He hasn’t talked to a hundred other mamas to find out how they do it so our homeschool can be tweaked and perfected.  When he thinks of school, he thinks of public school.  It’s where he comes from.  So his ideas about homeschool are markedly different from mine.

It doesn’t mean he’s wrong.  But it does mean we need to have another discussion about what we expect from all this.  See, every one of us has a different reality.  We see the world from a place of our own thoughts and experiences, and that doesn’t always coincide with even our closest companion’s.  We forget that, sometimes.  Don’t we?  It means when I ask Martin’s advice, I need to listen to what he has to say without getting my… ahem… undergarments in a wad.  Because his opinion matters, too.  They’re his kids, too, and when he sees a problem, he needs to be able to address it.

He just needs to learn to word it better.

When a disagreement arises in your house over homeschool, make sure in your heart it’s something you really need to fight about.  Because, honestly, having Littlest do some math homework is not really a bad idea.  Getting him to do the problems in the afternoon so we can go over them the next day might just give him the freedom to learn this thing on his own.  There are always going to be disagreements, especially if you’re coming at this thing from two different places.  Don’t assume you’re right, even if you’ve been homeschooling for many years and have been in absolute charge of your littles’ educations and you think you’ve got it down.  If you’re homeschooling in a two-parent household, both parents’ opinions matter.  If you can’t see your way to agreement, see your way to compromise.  It might be the best thing you ever did for your littles.  It could open up a whole new world of learning for those precious kids.  As long as you agree that your children Should Be homeschooled, you’re doing it right.  Everything else is just details.

Just watch how you say it, when you offer advice.

Love wins (thank God),

KT

It’s Hallo-Week! Free Resources for Homeschool

brokeback ktSo, I am seriously laying on my couch right now with a heating pad under my lower back, typing to you, my lovely readers, because even when I am down, I have a responsibility to you.  See, a few years back, I got this brilliant idea to move a birdbath from one part of the yard to the other.  A concrete birdbath.  Now, I had purchased this birdbath on my own, transported it home on my own, set it in its original spot on my own.  Yeah, it’s heavy, but I’m a pretty strong person, and I know how to lift correctly.  Except, on this particular day, my scatterbrain was off in La La Land.  I had recently started working at the library, and I had been working on my latest novel, Frog’s Princess, that morning, and my brain was infused with daydreams about how wonderful life is.  It was not considering that whole ‘lift with your legs’ thing.  When I went to move the bottom of the birdbath, it felt like someone pulled my spine in two.  I had never had problems with my back, and this truly astonished me.  I Did Not Believe I could be truly hurt.  So I had to lay in the yard writhing in pain for a while.  So putting pressure on my legs made it feel like that person was still dangling from my lower half, continuing to finish the job.  Hurt schmurt.  I could walk if I stayed bent at a certain angle.  And I did.  I even went to work that day.  And worked my whole shift.

What a maroon, as Bugs would say.

I’ve had periodic back pain ever since.  Usually not of the crippling variety.  Now, I can’t tell you what I did this weekend to cause the crippling pain I’m having now.  Nothing that I am aware of.  Even so, my back has decided it does not want to support me right now, and nothing I do seems to be changing its mind.  Weak.  Lame.  This sucks.

But enough about me!. It’s Hallo-Week!  The best week of the year.  And you may be wondering where to turn for free resources to present to your little homeschoolers.  Well, I have them.  Some of these you will find on my Pinterest Board, Halloween Awesomeness, so if you follow me on Pinterest, I apologize for doubling up.  But you know by now how much I Love Halloween, and in school this week we are reading ghost stories from China and Japan (which ties in to geography rather beautifully, if I do say so myself).  The rest of the week is All Halloween for us.  To get us pumped about our Halloween Party on Saturday.  And to pretend Halloween lasts longer than just one evening.  Because it rocks.  (And because yes, I can teach from the couch in a prone position.  Poor Littles.  They were hoping for a sick day. lol)  All of the following resources are free.

Math

We skip out on our Saxon math books this week to do fun Halloween math.  This post isn’t about My Worksheets, it’s about other awesome blogs and their worksheets.  So here are some links.

Wtiches’ Brew Halloween Math Activity witches' brew

This worksheet is awesome.  It’s a witches’ brew recipe that your child has to multiply by different numbers to make it serve more people.  FUN!!!!

Math Drills has a bunch of Halloween Math Worksheets including skip counting, ordering numbers, patterns, and geometry.

Kidzone has worksheets separated by grade,  kidzone including this awesome graphing workseet.

TLS Books has both math and language arts worksheets with a Halloween theme including count and color sheets like this one. halloweencountandcolor3

 

Classroom Jr. has worksheets for 3rd through 5th grade, like this cool one with bats. batty for math

(Whew.  Ever tried to type while flat on your back with a laptop on your stomach?  This Is Hard! haha)

Language

TLS Books has both math and language arts worksheets with a Halloween theme (did I say that already?) including alphabetizing Halloween words. alphabetizing Halloween

St. Aiden’s Homeschool offers this very cool Missing Punctuation worksheet about the Salem Witch Trials.  missing punctuation Salem

I fell completely in love with this free download for journaling and more from Thistle DewOctoberYou have to scroll down quite a bit to get to it, but it’s worth it.  And it looks like Kim has one for every month, so I will be returning to her blog frequently and with much pleasure.

Squarehead Teachers has a couple of Halloween Parts of Speech worksheets along with some other fun activities.

If you’re littles are studying French, check out the French Halloween Lapbook at Here’s an Idea (the printables are not free, but the ideas are).  And a Free Halloween Bingo game from the same sweet lady.   If Spanish is the language they’re learning, there’s a selection of Spanish Halloween worksheets at ABC and  123 and a cool skeleton parts worksheet from SpanglishBaby, apparently now defunct or moved, but you can save the image on Growing Up Bilingual and it still prints out just fine.  Just right click on the picture, select Save Image As… and save it to your computer.  Then you can print it out.spanish skeleton

Technically, I guess you could do that here on my blog, too.  However you want to do it. 🙂

Science

Creekside Learning has a post containing 25 Halloween Science experiments Halloween-Science-Experiments, which should make everyone happy.

Three Boys and a Dog has a week-long skeleton unit that we will definitely be enjoying this week.

Frugal Fun for boys has directions for this Awesome Candy Corn Catapult that the Littles can’t wait to build. candy corn catapult

How about a Free Unit on Vampire Bats from Educating Everyone 4 Life?  I know. Awesome.  You can compliment it with this Free Bat Unit Study from Royal Baloo.

These science projects from Fantastic Fun and Learning have the fizzies if your littles like them. fizzy science

History

Here’s an interesting History of Witches and Their Broomsticks from Made.In.Transylvania that even has directions for making your own broomstick.

There’s also an intriguing article about Forensics in History related to the Salem Witch Trials that Littlest will particularly enjoy.  Plus, since we’re studying forensics in science right now, it is Perfect!  Grab this free Salem Witch Trials Lapbook from Beautifully Bohemian to go with it.  salem-witch-house-750x400

Hub Pages has a good article about the history of Halloween.  There are also a Close Read History of Halloween from Panicked Teacher and a What Is Halloween/ Printable from BusyTeacher.  Click on ‘request the worksheet’ to download 9 pages of different types of lessons. There are other free printables on BusyTeacher, too, so browse around.

Arts and Crafts

Crushing hard on these Ghost Rubbings from It’s About Time, Teachers.ghost rubbing last

Free Teacher Worksheets has a bunch of cool printables for cutting and pasting practice, like this Dracula page. dracula

Buggy and Buddy has directions for these gorgeous Blow Art Halloween Trees that Everyone should try.halloween tree

O…M…G… Lit Mama herself can’t wait to do this Spider Web Art from Learn with Play at Home. web art

Who doesn’t crush hard on Cindy’s The Art Curator for Kids site?  If you don’t, it’s because you’ve not yet been there.  She has created this gem–ghost stories of china and japan–100 Ghost stories of China and Japan, which has art lessons, language lessons, and cultural lessons.  We are definitely grateful for it this week.

Food

Just a couple things here, because they’re fun and cooking is a good way to practice math and how to take care of yourself when you’re a grown up.

The recipe for these Easy-Peasy Chocolate Crescent Witch Hats is available on Pillsbury’s site. crescent witch hats

Yummy Mummy Truffles? Yes, please!  Get the recipe at Mod Podge Rocks.  yummy mummies

Marshmallow pops kids can make themselves are over at Better Homes and Gardens.  Too stinkin’ cute.  marshmallow pops

All right, lovelies.  I’ve given you a portion of the stuff I’ve found to make this Hallow-Week fun and memorable for your littles.  The rest is entirely up to you.  I’m going to get this laptop off of my belly now.

Love wins,

KT

P.S.  I just know you’re forgiving me any type-o’s.  Due to the circumstances. 😉