• My affiliate links won't hurt you, but they might help feed my kids. See my full disclosure policy in the main menu.

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

6 Ways Dr. Seuss Rocks Introductory Reading

6 ways Dr. Seuss rocks introductory reading

If you have a little who is at the age when she should be learning to read or he’s just begging you to teach him, you may be feeling a little intimidated by how to start.  But I’m betting you’ve already taught her the ABC song, so the next logical step is to teach what the letters look like.  Once he has that down, the rest is cake, especially if you enlist the help of Dr. Seuss.  There are several reasons you should consider using Dr. Seuss to help your little learn to read.
Continue reading

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

Yeah, yeah, there were affiliate links

The Joys of Guided Reading

You’ve probably noticed that I talk about reading and/or literature in almost all of my posts. I probably always will. I’m one of those crazy librarians who can’t think of a better way to learn about the world than to read a good story. (But if you’ve read more than one post here, you already know that.)

May I have your attention, please?

May I have your attention, please?

The Littles and I share a love of both reading and learning.  We look forward to our school sessions and during breaks we genuinely miss school.  Sometimes we pick a book to read together just for the sheer fun of it, even when school is not in session.  Now let me explain our favorite class: Guided Reading. When I say guided reading, I mean reading aloud together, going over vocabulary from the book, answering questions out of study guides I create for each book, and doing some sort of hands-on activity that helps us keep that day’s chapter in our minds. For me, it’s the most important class we do. For one thing, look at the English language practice we get. Vocabulary, reading comprehension, the chance to discuss grammatical twists and turns, and practice understanding how the language works. The boys take turns reading every other page, and we usually do a chapter a day. If they have questions, we can all stop for the answers before moving on. There’s no confusion or passing over a chance for knowledge because their psyches can’t assimilate the lesson. This helps tremendously when we read books from other centuries like Robinson Crusoe or Oliver Twist (you knew I was going to throw Dickens in there, didn’t you?). Then when we’re done we answer both ‘what happened’ questions and critical thinking questions, because there’s no point in reading a book about the plight of the poor if they don’t know what a plight is or don’t understand just how devastating poverty was in Dickens’ time and is today. Sometimes these books give us the opportunity to explore current events. For instance, has the poverty problem been solved in our world?  And what can we do to help?

Beyond the English language practice, the activities we do might be an art project or a science experiment or anything in between. It’s an opportunity to learn more than just history and language. We can incorporate any subject into these activities, even geography and math. And it’s fun! Guided reading is our very favorite time of the school day.

Gone-Away

Right now we’re reading Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright.  If you’ve never heard of this gem, let me tell you, it is quickly becoming one of my favorite chapter books for children.  You know how some authors plant you in that slow, lazy childhood summer place so deeply you feel it wrap you up and spirit you away?  This book has the stuff.  It was first published in 1957, so it has that innocence about it that only mid-20th century children’s books have.  To be honest, the reason I chose it for guided reading right now is I’ve been pushing this book at those boys for a couple of years, practically begging them to read it on their own or for book reports, and they kept passing it over for ‘more exciting’ stories.  I was so afraid they were going to miss out on this beautiful, amazing  story because it didn’t have zombies or Greek gods in it.  Solution?  Make it a class.

And you know what?  They Love This Book.  We’ve laughed together over how much they like it after all that stubborn refusal to read it.  And hopefully I’ve convinced them to try a new genre.  Hopefully, as they grow, they will be like me and want to know All The Stories in the world, regardless of genre or age level.  Well, maybe not, since it’s impossible to achieve and it leaves you with this wistful longing to be reading even when you’re having the time of your life.  And wondering every time you pass a house, a field, or another person, what the story is there if you can find it in a book.  Hmm.

Nah, let them be wistful.  So long as they are readers.

Guided reading is an amazing way to dig in deep with your littles, introduce them to books they may not otherwise read, and supplement your learning experience with a lot of fun.  There are novel studies and lesson plans all over the interweb and soon I’ll be opening my own shop to offer you some affordable novel studies so you don’t have to do the work all by yourself!  Pick a book, find some questions and activities to go along with it, and guide your littles through the glorious pages.  And check back here in a few weeks.  I should have several Lit Looking Glass Novel Studies up and ready for you.

Shamelessly plugging.

Love wins,

KT