Everything Homeschooling

3,000+ Homeschool Activities

Homeschool Lessons at Your Fingertips! Just $5.95 per Year, per Family!

Start Homeschooling Today!
March 2021
Everything Homeschooling
Free Learning Ideas for Learning Fun!
Everything Homeschooling
See our Unit Studies and printable Log Sheets!

Homeschool Help, Articles, and Editorials

How to Use This Web Site

Re-Energize Your Homeschool: Coping with "Burnout" and Sparking New Ides

How Much Time Does Homeschool Take?

Struggling? Simplify Your Homeschool

Why Playtime Is Important

Self-Directed Learning

Sample Lesson Plans

Start Homeschooling Today!

How to Use This Web Site

First, rest assured that you CAN homeschool your children -- from Kindergarten through High School graduation -- by using the information on our site! We know. We've done it! And we will show you how.

Using This Site

Our site is simple to use, and here we'll show you how.

First, though, the best place to start is WITH your children. Discuss what THEY want to learn, what they want to do, regardless of their age.

Remember that "homeschooling" is not "school at home." Rather, it is a natural part of living and learning each day. When families try to "school-at-home," both parents and children often end up disappointed, confused, or frustrated. That's why we are here for you.

Keys to Success

Flexibility, variety, and fun ways of learning ARE the KEYS to successful home education.

Read some of the Free Articles on our "Articles" page, which are written by homeschooled youths, such as Andrew Tipping, Michelle Healey, and Hannah Glenn. Their first-hand experiences are very insightful. Simply click the "Articles" button in the menu on the left.

If you're just starting out, it's helpful to check your state's homeschool regulations and see what they require. The state laws often sound intimidating, but generally they're quite simple to comply with. If you have questions about your state laws, e-mail us.

Record-Keeping Tips

In many cases, homeschool families keep a homeschool portfolio, which can include homeschool records. Our "Homeschool Forms" page includes printable Weekly Planner Sheets, Reading Logs, and other forms for our subscribers. Click the "Homeschool Forms" button in the menu on the left. You may use the Forms if you are unschooling, deschooling, homeschooling, or eclectic-schooling.

Weekly Lessons & Homeschool Subjects

To use our Weekly Lessons, click the Grades K-2 Lessons, Grades 3-8 Lessons, or Grades 8-12 Lessons and do the activities with your children. Start with Week 1 or start with any week.

Or, you may click the Lessons by Subject, on our Home page, such as: Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, Science, Life Skills & Health, Arts & Music. Then choose your grade level, and choose a topic or activity.

New Educational Adventures

Go as far as your children would like to go with the activities -- and, most importantly, let them branch off into any other directions. That's the beauty of homeschooling -- pursuing amazing paths and new adventures sparked by one small idea.

Do the Weekly Challenges, the Hands-On Activities, the Daily Activities, Daily Writing Prompts, Field Trips, Unit Studies -- all are designed to provide ideas and inspiration that are interesting, enjoyable, and educational. Write down the activities your children do on the Weekly Planner Sheets from our "Homeschool Forms" page. (Older children can write down the activities they do each day or each week, to save you time.)

We have a "Teens Place" page with more advanced educational activities and interesting topics for teenagers. And we have a "Preschool Place" to keep preschoolers learning while you're working with your older children.

"Click & Do" Educational Activities

The main goal of our site is "Click and Do." It's simple for working parents, single parents, stay-at-home parents. We provide hundreds of educational activities throughout each year to ensure continuous learning.

Simply "Click and Do" the activities, and allow your children to learn, to explore, and to pursue the activities and special interests, or follow new ideas, as well. Help guide them along the exciting paths that inspire or enthuse them.

Questions? Contact Us

Feel free to e-mail us here at EverythingHomeschooling.com with any questions or help you need. Our contact information is on our "Contact Us" page.

Why to Use This Site

The End Goal

At this point, let's address the "end goal." The end goal is possibly your homeschooled child's high school graduation. That may seem like a long time from now, or it may only be a few years away. It's good to know, depending on your state's regulations, that you can issue your child a high school diploma through your own privately established homeschool, or through your homeschool association, or by keeping high school transcripts of credits earned, etc.

We don't issue diplomas, but YOU can. Examples can be printed from our Homeschool Forms page -- the diploma is free for our Subscribers. Or, you may order your child's diploma through companies such as HomeschoolDiploma.com. As they explain, there is no mystery to a diploma. We all know what a diploma is.

What's important is the education that takes place PRIOR to the issuance of the diploma certificate. What's important is your child's happiness, your child's character, your child's knowledge base, your child's capabilities, your child's development, your child's future, your child's desire to learn (now and in the future), your child's quality of life, your child's future career, and your child's happiness in his or her future career, as well as in his or her life.

Happiness, knowledge, the ability to learn and be self-dependent, to have morals and values to believe in and adhere to, to have goals and desires, to awaken each day with excitement and enthusiasm for life and learning -- these are true, meaningful accomplishments. No diploma, nor certificate, nor piece of paper can adequately measure and convey these accomplishments as accurately and realistically as the child or young person with that glow of excitement and enthusiasm for life and learning.

Remember that the diploma you issue your child is an indication that he or she has met the standards you set for your child's overall education. Since you made the decision to homeschool your child, your standards are no doubt much higher for your child than those of a public school. The diploma you issue is simply another form of paperwork that conveys the fact that your child did meet your standards, did earn the appropriate number of credits during the high school years, and does have a transcript depicting the credits earned in each year of high school.

"But," you may ask, "how do I use this site to help me accomplish that?"

We're getting to that!

A Parent Is a Homeschool Parent

You CAN homeschool your child. That's a given. If you can parent your child, you can homeschool your child. If you have a child, you are automatically a parent. Likewise, if you have a child, you are automatically a homeschool parent.

Think about that previous paragraph a moment. It is something that should be better understood by everyone. A "homeschool parent" isn't an "oddity" or a "unique individual" or an "unusual person." A "homeschool parent" is a parent; a parent is a "homeschool parent." The oddity lies in relinquishing the parenting privilege to educate our own children.

For homeschool families, the option of sending children to a school is as alien a notion as sending their children to be raised by strangers. It simply is not an option at all. It is the farthest thing from our thoughts, when thinking of our children.

As parents of children we love and cherish, we would never send them off to be raised by strangers. Similarly, as parents of children we love and cherish, we would never send them off to be surrounded and swayed by strangers.

Again, if you have a child, you are automatically a parent. If you have a child, you are automatically a homeschool parent.

"But," you are asking, "how does your site help me?"

We provide educational ideas and fun learning activities and knowledgeable guidelines for your homeschool days. We do all the "legwork" for you. BUT, we also allow YOU to parent your child in YOUR style, we allow YOU to raise your child in YOUR style, and we allow YOU the flexibility to homeschool your child in YOUR style.

And we're still getting to all of that!

Easy Homeschooling, Inexpensive Homeschooling

Our overall goal is to make homeschooling easy and affordable for your family!

We also make record-keeping easy! We provide the Homeschool Records or Homeschool Portfolio pages that you might need for your homeschool.

Just follow our Weekly Lesson Plans and jot down the activities and lessons you do each day (or each week) on our printable Weekly Planner Log Sheets. These are free for our Subscribers, on our "Homeschool Forms" page.

Our other printable forms include Reading Log Sheets, Report Cards, High School Transcript Forms, Diploma examples, Notice of Intent to homeschool, and more. It couldn't be easier!

Doubts as a Parent or Homeschool Parent

Maybe there are times when you don't feel like the greatest parent in the world. During those times, what do you do?

You talk with your partner or with a parent or relative, you share your feelings and experiences with another parent, you seek advice and suggestions from others, you read books and magazines on parenting, and you realize you're not alone in your feelings. You find answers to your parenting questions, you find ways to improve yourself, and you find solace in knowing that there's always someone to turn to. You're never alone as a parent.

The same is true for homeschool parents. There may be days when you don't feel like the greatest homeschool parent in the world. But you can do the same as any parent:

You can talk with your partner or with a parent or relative about the education of your child, you can share your feelings and experiences with other homeschool parents, you can seek advice and suggestions from homeschool families, you can read books and magazines on homeschooling, you can join local homeschool groups, and you realize you're not alone in your feelings. You find answers to your homeschooling questions, you find ways to improve yourself as a homeschool parent, and you find solace in knowing that there's always someone to turn to. You're never alone as a homeschool parent.

"But," you may still ask, "how does your site help me?"

We are here for you every minute of every day. We respond to your questions and calls for help as quickly as possible. We provide you with tips and suggestions on how to simplify your homeschool days, how to keep it fun, how to keep children excited about learning, and how to believe in yourself and your abilities. We make sure that you never feel as though you are alone in this adventure.

And we'll elaborate more on all of that, too!

Using This Site

Now that the "end goal" is more clear, and the "concept of homeschooling" is more clear, you can focus on the substance of your child's education. No one knows your child's strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, personality and character, as well as you. You are, therefore, the best teacher and guide your child could have. Never doubt that for a minute.

We will now show you how you can use this site to carry out your homeschool program, or to complement or supplement your homeschool program, or to form the backbone of your homeschool days.

You can:

  • View our free Getting Started information if you're just starting out, or if you need to reconsider your educational goals and philosophies.

  • Consult the Curriculum Guidelines to see what your children "should be learning" in each grade level. You'll never be at a loss on what your children "should learn" from Kindergarten through High School!

  • Use the Weekly Lesson Plans for interesting, informative learning fun and extension activities. The Weekly Lesson Plans follow national curriculum guidelines, week by week. Adjust the plans, if necessary, to best fit your child's current skills and abilities, then build upon them.

  • For Lesson Plans suited for Kindergarten through Grade 2, Click Gr. K-2 Lessons. For Lesson Plans suited for Grades 3 to 8, Click Gr. 3-8 Lessons. For Lesson Plans suited for Grades 8 to 12, Click Gr. 8-12 Lessons.

  • View our Monthly Educational Activity Calendar on our Daily Activities page. This provides daily activities or research projects based on historical or scientific events that occurred that day in history.

  • Use the Daily Activities page for extension activities, too. When exploring a daily activity from our Daily Activities calendar, children can take off in many educational directions, as they learn more about the era, culture, and people related to the historic or scientific event. (This is part of the beauty of homeschooling: allowing children freedom, flexibility, and plenty of time to pursue areas of interest.)

  • Incorporate the Hands-On Activities from our Weekly Lesson Plans or our Hands-On Activities pages, for additional learning fun, projects, and arts and crafts. Again, allow your children's interests to spread out and encompass related areas of knowledge and educational activities. One hands-on activity can evolve into several hands-on activities in one day, resulting in more learning in one day than might otherwise occur in one week!

  • Take Virtual Field Trips to visit online museums, zoos, historic buildings, landmarks, and more, to learn about the world through firsthand views. Use the follow-up activities to further reinforce learning revolving around the Virtual Field Trips.

  • Visit the Free Worksheets page for Activity Pages, Journal Writing Pages, Research Pages, and more to complement lessons and reinforce curriculum goals. Or visit the links to a multitude of Free Worksheets, available for downloading and printing.

  • Print the Homeschool Forms, including daily planner pages, reading logs, report cards, high school transcripts, high school diploma, and more.

  • Use every page and link on our Home Page to make your homeschool experience easier, stress-free, and to enhance and round-out your child's education in a fun, interesting, and enjoyable way.

    Our Goals

    The purpose and goal of every page, article, and activity on our Everything Homeschooling site is intended to accomplish the following:

  • Save you time!

  • Put daily activities and weekly lesson plans at your fingertips.

  • Bring new and informative sites to you every week, with just a click of your mouse.

  • Link to the books, materials, and sites to support and enhance the weekly lessons.

  • Provide a Creative Corner for your children to share their creative writing or artwork.

  • Provide a Busy Parents place for you to share your homeschool tips, experiences, ideas, or advice.

  • Provide you with helpful, inspirational articles and tips, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whether you are at work, home, or on-the-road.

    Our goal is to make sure you never feel alone, stymied, or unprepared. In seconds, you can find activities to keep your children learning and educationally involved each day. In minutes, we try to answer any question you might have on homeschooling.

    This is our daily mission and our goal: To help you with your own educational mission and goals in providing your children with an enjoyable, well-rounded, educational homeschool experience!

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    Re-Energize Your Homeschool: Coping with “Burnout” and Sparking New Ideas

    Burnout is usually a result of trying to do too much or trying to stick to an old format. It can be a sure sign that it’s time to try something different, to broaden your horizons, to make changes not only in your homeschool, but in your lifestyle. Change can help us keep growing and lead to many happy years of exciting, rewarding homeschool experiences.

    Encouragement for Your Homeschool Journey

    Burnout can occur after ten years of homeschooling or after two years. Parents may feel that they have exhausted all the ideas that once seemed so fabulous and endless. After a few years of homeschooling, the kids might not be as excited about the homeschool experience as they were in the beginning. Trying to get them to open a book or finish an assignment seems like a losing battle. But it needn’t be a battle — not with the kids and not within yourself.

    Eliminating Stress

    Stress is one of the main causes of burnout. Parents may find themselves trying to fill two full-time roles in the home: as a parent and as a “schoolteacher”, which adds unnecessary stress to their lives. As we've noted in previous articles, learning is a natural part of living, and homeschooling should be a natural part of your family’s lifestyle. You needn’t turn it into “school at home” or make it more difficult than it should be. Teaching your children is simply a part of parenting your children.

    Burnout also comes from setting expectations too high, then trying to reach them, day after day, and finding yourself falling short. Your expectations may be emotional ones, intricately interwoven with how well your children are learning. If you feel you’d be a “better teacher” if your children were ready for learning every morning at 8:00 A.M., dove into their lessons with glee each day, stayed on task throughout the morning and afternoon, achieved 100% on all their papers, and were able to deliver the Gettysburg Address over dinner, then you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. Occasionally, a day may work out this way, but it’d be a miracle for nearly any teacher to experience such success.

    If you, on the other hand, feel you’re accomplishing your goals when your children enjoy most of their lessons, like to delve into things that interest them, are learning new information and skills each week, and can deliver the Gettysburg Address by the end of a school year, then you and your kids are probably enjoying the homeschool process, and you won’t be as likely to burn out.

    Preventing Burnout

    As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Lower your expectations for yourself and for your children, and you will lower your feelings of stress and chances of burnout. It’s true that you’ll want your children to attain certain goals, so you naturally have some expectations of them. Just remember that you have an entire year to reach those goals. And then there’s next year, too, and the year after that.

    When you begin to get that nagging feeling that maybe you’re not doing enough in your homeschool, or read or hear about the fantastic adventures of other homeschool families, take some moments to step back and look at your own family. Consider the happiness and well-being of your own children. Consider how much they’ve grown, how much they’ve learned since you began homeschooling.

    Helpful Tip:

    If your children are exhibiting signs of boredom, then they may not be challenged enough. Set the learning rail a little higher for them—just enough to entice them to try a little harder. But not so high that they become frustrated, which will lead to feelings of frustration and burnout for everyone.

    Less Structure and More Flexibility

    Remember that childhood is a time for being a child, not for squeezing hundreds of exotic lessons or extracurricular activities into their lives. Remind yourself that childhood is a time for being curious and explorative, for daydreaming and thinking, playing and learning, having fun and being happy. The child who has plenty of time for these simple activities will grow into a curious, thinking, happy adult who enjoys the freedom and fun of learning.

    Rekindling the Fire

    If you’ve gone from burning with enthusiasm to “burnout” in your homeschool, it’s time to rekindle that fire. Try to determine what has lost its appeal. Are you bogged down by record-keeping and constant updating of learning logs? If your children are old enough to print, hand that duty over to them. You may need to spend a few days helping them record their activities, but they’ll quickly get the hang of it. As you’re preparing the next lesson or activity, they can update their learning logs and reading lists.

    Streamline Record Keeping

    If your children are unable to handle the updating of the learning logs, streamline the record-keeping process. You’re no doubt keeping records because your state requires it, or because you want documented proof that your child has covered certain materials. But this doesn’t mean you must write daily essays on your child’s homeschool experiences. Imagine a teacher writing descriptive analyses for each of her thirty children every day!

    Simply write the chapter or page numbers of textbooks you used that day in social studies, jot down the Cuisenaire Rods math lesson, the Super Spellicopter spelling game in language arts, the nature walk in science. If you want to write a more detailed description of your homeschool days, you can do so on the weekend when you have more time.

    Helpful Tip:

    A picture is worth a thousand words. Keep your camera handy and snap photos of ongoing lessons, activities, and projects. These can reduce the need for in-depth documentation in the learning log, remind you of projects you’ve done, and be placed in your child’s portfolio. It may also inspire your children to take up photography as a hobby.

    Reduce Lesson Planning Time

    Are you spending too much time preparing lessons? This can cut deeply into the best part of homeschooling: the fun, interactive learning activities you do with your children, or that you observe your children doing together. You really shouldn’t have to keep a lesson plan book AND a daily learning log. If you keep a lesson plan book, but don’t get around to that lesson, erase it and move it to another day. If you do something in place of that lesson, jot that down.

    Rather than developing in-depth lesson plans, note what you hope to cover and what you plan to use to cover it. The point of a lesson plan book is to help you be prepared, saving time over the long run. Use an hour or two on the weekend to glance ahead in any textbooks and note the topics and their page numbers. On your next “field trip” to the library, which probably occurs every week or two, check out books that help convey lessons and subjects in fun, colorful ways. Jot them down in your lesson plan book, too. Skim through your homeschool ideas books and your favorite Web sites on the Internet for supporting activities and experiments. Jot them down, and you’re ready for the week ahead—plus you’ve got your learning log filled out in advance!

    Staying Motivated and Inspired

    When you stay genuinely motivated and enthusiastic about homeschool, your children will stay motivated and enthusiastic, too. However, the time may come when the wind has gone out of your sails and you begin slowing down and not billowing with as much enthusiasm as before. Your children are quick to pick up on this.

    Motivational Strategies

    When learning has meaning and is enjoyable, your child will be inspired to continue learning. Here are some strategies to help motivate your children to learn:

  • Allow children to choose topics they’d like to study and ways in which they’d like to learn.
  • Have children think of new ways to promote learning, using games, arts and crafts, hands-on projects, recreational pursuits, field trips.
  • Be sure that learning activities have real meaning to your children and are genuinely interesting to them.
  • Provide plenty of free time for children to become deeply involved in the learning activities that interest them.
  • Pursue family hobbies or studies you might never have considered as a way to stimulate new interest and goals.
  • Encourage children to follow those areas of interest that branch off from the path they’re currently traveling.
  • Praise children for specific skills they’ve developed, information they’ve learned, and efforts they have made.

  • If learning is an enjoyable activity, the level of motivation and enthusiasm for learning rises dramatically. When a child enjoys the learning process and has the desire to learn, very little can hold her back. Her curiosity will abound, her knowledge will increase, and her desire to continue learning will expand. This desire to learn is a form of self-motivation. Because there is something that she wants to learn, she will learn. Motivation and enthusiasm are key ingredients in successful learning.

    Helpful Tip:

    Avoid using reward systems that focus on end results, that is, reading to appease a parent, completing an assignment as quickly as possible, striving to get the best grades on a test. For a child, or adult, to remain enthusiastic about learning and education, they must enjoy the process of learning. When they enjoy the learning process, the good grades and successful achievements naturally follow. The end result is the reward.

    Reconsidering Curriculum Choices

    If you’ve been using a certain type of curriculum or teaching style, but you’ve noticed a lack of interest in your child or an obvious resistance to homeschooling, it’s time to make a change. Try unit studies for a while (these are lots of fun for everyone) or explore the concepts of unschooling (a wonderfully natural way of living and learning). Your children will love you for it, and they’ll be bubbling over with excitement once again.

    It can be difficult to release your hold on a curriculum (whether it’s one you designed or a prepackaged plan) and adopt an unschooling form of education. It can be difficult to trust your children to learn in their own way. I know, because I’ve been there, as have countless other families. Having removed my child from public school, I initially felt compelled to follow a national curriculum guideline. It didn’t take long to look over the guidelines and ascertain how repetitive they are, year after year. If one followed them stringently, with little variety and spice, one would eventually be bored out of one’s mind.

    Loosen up. Be flexible. Be adventurous. Enjoy fun, learning activities and hands-on projects. Take advantage of the simple pleasures and learning possibilities that each day naturally provides. Remember that homeschooling is not "school at home." Try the fun weekly lessons and activities right here on our site, which kids enjoy and remember!

    Article to be continued. Excerpted from The Everything Homeschooling Book by Sherri Linsenbach, www.EverythingHomeschooling.com. For more on making homeschooling more enjoyable and educational, check back here next week.

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    How Much Time Does Homeschool Take?

    Homeschooling can take much less time than you might imagine!

    Below are the average minutes or hours per day that are normally spent on the core educational skills: Reading, Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, and Science.

    Keep in mind that just as important as "teaching time" is free time for play and learning on one's own.

    For the Kindergarten to Grade 2 Age Group:

      Preschool and Kindergarten: About 30 to 60 minutes

      Younger Elementary Ages: About 60 to 75 minutes

      Older Elementary Ages: About 75 to 90 minutes

    For the Grade 3 to 8 Age Group:

      Younger Elementary Ages: About 60 to 75 minutes

      Older Elementary Ages: About 75 to 90 minutes

      Middle-School Ages: Between 1 to 3 hours

    For the Grade 8 to 12 Age Group:

      Older Elementary Ages: About 75 to 90 minutes

      Middle-School Ages: Between 1 to 3 hours

      High-School Ages: Between 2 to 4 hours

    Remember: The amount of time can vary, depending on the child, his or her age, current skills, abilities, attention span, etc.

    The "teaching time" need not occur all at one time. It can be spread out over the course of the day or evening.

    Just as important as "teaching time" (or perhaps more so!) is free time for pursuing areas of interest on one's own. (See our
    Articles Page.)

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    Struggling? Simplify Your Homeschool

    We sometimes hear about parents, especially moms, who are struggling with homeschooling. They feel pressure -- perhaps from relatives, or from educators, or maybe even pressure that they heap upon themselves.

    They feel that their children aren't "doing enough" or are "resisting learning." This leads to worry, doubt, and stress, which, of course, doesn't do anyone any good! They even begin to wonder if they should "quit homeschooling!"

    Never! Just smile, relax, and simplify your "homeschool schedule." Everyone will thank you for it -- including yourself!

    If you can live with your children, you can homeschool with your children. If you can laugh and love with your children, you can have fun and joy in your homeschool.

    Simplify Now
    Simplify your homeschool by reducing the pressure of "doing what schools are doing," of trying to pattern "learning at home" after an outdated assembly-line, factory-style education. Simplify by focusing on what you believe your children need; not on what a failing system thinks you or your children need.

    Consider the following points, welcome your children's ideas, and enjoy learning in the way that suits your children and meets your family's needs. You'll lighten your load, ease your schedule, and create more time for what's really important -- your children and your family.

    "Homeschool" Is Not "School at Home"
    So many times it has been said, but it bears repeating: "Homeschool is not school at home." Once parents can wrap their minds around this, and absorb it, the pressure and stress will be whisked away by a calm, refreshing breeze.

    A home is not a school. It never has been, and it never will be. And best of all, it never should be!

    "Homeschooling" is probably not the best term to describe our children learning at home. It does, indeed, conjure up an image of children sitting at desks, at home, doing worksheets.

    If some children enjoy sitting at desks, doing worksheets, that is fine. Many children do, in fact, like to do "busy work" or activity pages at times.

    However, lots of children prefer to be actively engaged in projects:
    - Conducting science experiments in the kitchen
    - Constructing Lego skyscrapers and bridges in the family room
    - Reading literature books on their beds
    - Playing challenging math games on the family computer
    - Building bird feeders in the garage
    - Monitoring the wildlife and weather outdoors
    - Collecting rocks, minerals, or leaves on nature walks
    - Pursuing social studies by reading Calliope magazines
    - Creating a collage of artwork with siblings or friends
    - Touring businesses when running errands with family members
    - Helping elderly or needy neighbors or relatives
    - Learning to change the oil in the car or repair a plumbing pipe
    - Cooking a savory meal, lettering the mailbox, balancing a checkbook
    - Writing in their journals each night about their daily experiences or hopes and dreams.

    No Desk Required
    All of the above projects, and much more, equals "homeschooling." And none of it requires a desk, or a textbook, or a school environment. But all of it will spark joy in learning, be interesting to children, and be useful now and in the future.

    In "homeschooling," try to disassociate the concept of "school" with your home. Try to forget your memories and impression of what school was like for you. Those have little to do with learning at home.

    Try to avoid using terms or phrases that are school-based, such as: recess, homework, math class, restroom break, school begins at 9:00, school is over at 3:00, lunch period, music class, study time, and "extracurricular" activities.

    Home Is Not a School
    Your home is your home. Not a school. The terms you use for events in your home should be home-based, not school-based. At home, "playtime" or "free time" makes much more sense than "recess."

    "Homework" sounds right -- but it's simply work that is done in the home. "Homework" could mean folding laundry, or cleaning the kitchen, or cleaning the gutters -- similar to "housework" or "yard work."

    There's no need for "homework assignments" (the type that are sent home with school children). All the "assignments" done in your home are already "homework" -- and were probably completed early in the day!

    The Reason for Schools
    Remember that schools were created, and expanded, to consolidate large numbers of children in one location. The school buildings had to accommodate these large numbers of children in an efficient, affordable manner. And the large numbers of children needed to be divided into manageable, categorized groups -- approximately 20 to 30 students per teacher -- in various classrooms within the building.

    To prevent chaos in the midst of hundreds or thousands of people in one building, rules and formats were developed, which have been tweaked here and there through the years. To move through the day in an "orderly fashion," bells were rung to signify what people were to do next, or to stop doing now.

    Obviously, such a system is not needed in your home. Yes, you will want some structure in your home, but that structure should meet your family's lifestyle and needs. Anyone would feel pressure if they were trying to model "homeschool" after a school system's assembly-line format, which is meant to move thousands of people through a 200,000-square-foot building!

    Your home does not require such an extensive system or format!

    The Educational System
    Similarly, the teaching system was developed to handle hundreds and thousands of students. Rather than trying to teach 20 or 30 kids at one time, you are helping one child, or three or five children, learn in the comfort of your family's home.

    It does not require that your children "do what they're doing in school." Yes, you want your children to learn, but not to follow an outdated system that fails more and more children each year.

    The educational system was not created to teach children one-on-one, unfortunately. But, your system is designed for helping your children learn, with one-on-one attention. Therefore, your system must work for your children and for the educational goals you believe are important, in accordance with your family's morals, values, and beliefs.

    If you try to model your "homeschool" after the type of school you remember attending, or the type of school that thousands of children are now attending, the model will crack and be useless. And no wonder that the parent would feel worry, anxiety, doubt, and stress!

    Just remember: "Homeschool" is not "school at home."

    Keeping Kids Learning
    "Okay," you say, "I understand that a home is not a school building. I understand that I'm not a teacher, trying to instruct 30 kids in my dining room. But I do have 3 kids here that I'm trying to teach. How do I make sure that they're learning what kids in school are learning?"

    First, you need to ask yourself if you want your children to learn what "kids in school are learning." Many are learning how to be disrespectful, how to bully other kids or how to hide from bullies, how to smoke, use drugs, talk back, be smart-alecky, or otherwise "unlearn" the good manners and social skills their parents originally taught them.

    Next, you'll want to consider what you would like your children to learn, such as how to be kind, respectful, and compassionate toward others; how to treat others as they would like to be treated; why peer pressure is wrong; how smoking and drugs are harmful; and how good manners and proper social skills will take them great distances in their lives.

    Goals and Desires
    And speaking of great distances, you'll want to discuss where your children want to go with their lives. Your 14-year-old and 16-year-old children might have fairly good ideas of what they'd like to do for a career. And you can, of course, help them pursue those areas. When someone enjoys certain things in his or her life, and can pursue those areas of interest and build a career around those things, life can be wonderful.

    But what about your 6-year-old or your 10-year-old? Is a discussion on where they want to go with their lives a bit too much at this age? Perhaps.

    But it isn't too complex for them to discuss what they like to do. They'll be more than eager to tell you! The places they may "want to go with their lives" could be outside for a game of hide-and-seek, followed by a nature walk and collecting rocks. Or, they might want to go to the library this week, or to the zoo next week, or to build a model airplane or to create a life-sized drawing of themselves.

    "Resistant" Learners
    If you worry that your children aren't "doing enough" or are "resisting learning," ask them what they'd like to learn about. Ask them to brainstorm some learning ideas with you.

    Ask them to help create some fun, learning activities with you. Let them become more active and hands-on in their own learning adventures.

    When they have some choices and input in the matter, their interest levels will escalate. And they'll no longer "resist" learning. Rather, they'll look forward to it, because it's something that interests them or that they helped to create.

    Eliminate the Stress
    When you eliminate the stress, the pressure, the worry or doubt, your family's homeschool experiences will be happier, smoother, and more productive for everyone! When you realize that "homeschool" isn't "school at home," and everyone is able to relax and enjoy learning activities in the home, the stress and pressure will melt away -- for you, for your children, and for your family.

    When your children realize that you are open to new learning ideas, to their interests and desires, to their unique learning styles and experimentations, they will feel worthy, knowledgeable, and respected. And they will become more interested in learning and in sharing it with the person they love and admire the most in the world -- YOU! It does not get any better than that!

    So, the next time you think that your children "should be doing what kids in school are doing," thank your lucky stars that they're not. Feel blessed that your children are happily learning, in their own unique styles, in the comfort, safety, and loving environment of their home.

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    Why Playtime Is Important Time

    Children learn more -- and retain more -- through play, than through instruction. This is an innate quality of all animals, providing everything from basic survival skills to an all-encompassing education. Remember to provide plenty of games, toys, books, creative activities, and a stimulating environment to encourage play and learning throughout each day.

    Follow the joy and enthusiasm that bubbles from within your children each day. If they love to run and tumble, join in the fun as you sing alphabet or counting songs. If they love to color and paint, discuss the many shapes and colors they create. Through play, learning occurs naturally!

    Create a Stimulating Environment
    Provide areas in your home that allow for dramatic or pretend play, a dress-up corner, a kitchen play area, music area, and a library or quiet corner. Use cardboard boxes and the imagination to serve the purpose for these areas.

    The presence of stuffed animals or dolls allows for the care and nurturing of animals and infants. Arrange other toys and hands-on manipulatives appropriate for your child's age on shelves that are accessible to him or her.

    Make learning activities available that stimulate the sensory, visual, and auditory senses, such as physical touch, reading, playing, singing, dancing, and talking. Create a place for art and crafts projects, painting, clay, cutting, and pasting.

    Spend lots of time together, looking through picture books and discussing what your child sees. Include your child in daily outdoor activities, such as walking the dog, feeding the birds, getting the mail, or planting and weeding a garden.

    You'll round out your child's daily education and enhance his mental, social, and physical growth by including dramatic play, music, reading, art, discussions, and recreational play each day.

    Imitation for Learning
    Young children love to imitate and play make-believe, day in and day out. Through this play and imitation of older siblings or grownups, they naturally learn, grow, and fine-tune their skills.

    Some even enjoy "playing school." By allowing them to play school, you are allowing them to learn. Sometimes, they want to be the student in their play schools, and sometimes they want to be the teacher. As teachers, these new, young students can teach us a lot! We need only sit back and watch in order to be amazed by their fresh knowledge and abilities.

    Importance of Playtime
    Whether a child is involved in fantasy play or building a LEGO village, he is using his imagination -- pretending, exploring, and discovering. He focuses his thinking and problem-solving skills on the moment at hand -- learning through playing.

    When a child is removed from this "playtime environment" to sit at a desk "for school time," the learning processes (which he was thoroughly engrossed in) are abruptly disrupted. His brain must quickly readjust to this drastic change of events as it struggles to shut down its imagination process, its creativeness, and its problem-solving mechanisms.

    The child feels suspended between two worlds where nothing makes sense for a few minutes. This is why it's important to allow PLENTY of time for free play!

    Make the transition between playtime and "school time" gradual and easy. A good transition period could be snack time, lunchtime, reading time, or rest time, before switching gears to "school time."

    Learning on Their Own
    Play provides time for children to learn on their own, to explore and experiment, to use trial-and-error, and to exercise choice and freedom in a fun and safe manner. Relax, let your children play, and rest assured that learning is, indeed, taking place!

    -- Excerpts from The Everything Homeschooling Book by Sherri Linsenbach.

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    Self-Directed Learning

    It may be difficult for some people to understand that children naturally teach themselves!

    The benefits of self-directed learning leads to self-motivation, self-confidence, and self-reliance. Children who experience freedom in learning and exploring, also experience more purpose and joy in each new day.

    The positive power of self-directed learning greatly influences the child's happiness and success in all areas of his or her life.

    Failure of Forced Learning
    We, as parents, can share information, share our own experiences, provide guidance, answer questions, and suggest ideas. But we can't get inside our children's minds and take over the way they process, absorb, or retain information.

    As parents, we can help them, we can be of assistance, we can observe the manners in which they seem to learn best. But we can't force them to learn according to our own styles or timetables. Forced learning will usually result in a lack of learning, or resistance to learning.

    Freedom to Learn
    Children acknowledge, absorb, and retain information through their own experiences, research, and discoveries. When they have some control over what they are learning, and have the freedom to delve into ideas and concerns that interest them, they have a sense of purpose and identity.

    Self-directed learning, or freedom to pursue their own interests, is one way to help teenagers begin to acquire their independence. The desire for more freedom in self-directing their learning should be supported and encouraged by parents, who can keep a watchful eye on their children and guide them when they need assistance.

    Educating Oneself
    Today's fast-moving technology and way of life demand that children, young people, and adults, all be capable of learning new skills, enhancing their own knowledge base, and continually expanding their education.

    Teens who have sat through school, expecting others to teach them what they need to know, or who think that the education process is over after high school or college, may not advance as far in the workplace as those who have learned how to educate themselves.

    Responsibility for Learning
    As you progress through the high-school years, you'll want to reinforce the importance of learning on one's own, while still helping to guide your teens through their studies. Now is the time for teens to start keeping track of their weekly lessons, and of their grades and credits earned. This is especially important for those planning to attend college.

    Help teens keep a list of books they've read each year, keep the daily learning log complete and up to date, keep a portfolio of assignments completed, book reports, essays, science projects, and proof of other activities they have been involved with. In this way, they can increase their own responsibilities for learning, which will benefit them in the years to come.

    Enthusiasm for Learning
    Yes, your children can teach themselves! Allow them the freedom to learn. Look to your teens for ideas, direction, and guidance, too. They will be delighted to share the things they've learned with you and your family. And you will be surprised and pleased by their interest and enthusiasm for learning on their own!

    -- Excerpts from The Everything Homeschooling Book by Sherri Linsenbach.

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