Keeping up with the Joneses, Homeschool Style

Ever been to a homeschool group and overheard a mom share an award her child just earned? And you immediately felt a slight sinking feeling? Or, scrolled through social media and read about a homeschool family with three children winning first through third place in a competition? And, felt like maybe you weren’t doing enough so that your children won competitions too? It’s very easy, sometimes, to fall into the comparison trap and try to “keep up with the Joneses”, especially if we have recently faced challenges in our homeschool days. The grass seems to be greener as we try to remind ourselves “everyone has something they are dealing with that we don’t see”. But it can be hard to work on that proper perspective after days of tears from not understanding a new math concept, and I’m not just talking about those of your children. However, there are some things we can do and keep in mind to remember the next time we start to feel a longing for that grass that seems greener.

Make a Habit to Recognize your Child’s Unique Gifts

When things don’t seem to be going very smoothly in one area, complement your child (and even yourself) for remaining patient during a difficult learning process. A saying in our house when we have to work a little more or harder on something is “slow and steady wins the race!” This helps us focus on the fact that sometimes there are going to be challenges, but we can work through them a bit at a time and keep a steady and good outlook about it. We don’t feel the need to be the best or the fastest. We also explore with fun and excitement the areas that God has bestowed on us certain talents, skills, interests, or abilities. We are thankful for the specific unique qualities that we are given and able to use in this life.

We celebrate within our family individual accomplishments, successes, and achievements of each of our family members and are happy for one another’s moments. But, more than what the person “did”, we celebrate who they “are” as the most important part of them. On birthdays, we take the time to celebrate their lives and what their presence means to us.

Keep in Mind What You Don’t See

When we see a family of siblings winning competitions or awards, or posts on social media of extravagant projects, we may start to wonder if we aren’t doing enough in our own homeschools. What we need to keep in mind is what we don’t see.

What we don’t see is how much time and energy or effort is devoted to that activity for the competitions or the awards. And we don’t see all the time spent doing those projects. What we need to keep in mind is everybody does “homeschooling” differently and in their own way with their own priorities and what works for them. And that is the beauty of homeschooling. You may be spending more time and energy on other areas because that area is a priority for you and your family, while the competition or big project family may be spending less time on that area.

Everyone has their own interests, priorities, skills, and abilities the way God has made us. Keep on “being you.”

Take a Break from Social Media Once in a While

If you are going through a challenging time, find your inspiration and refreshment someplace else, other than scrolling through social media. It’s hard to not focus on something, sometimes, when it comes across your screen while you are trying to do something to relax.

Find something else to do with some free time other than looking to see what everyone else is sharing or doing. You might be surprised by the relief you may feel during that break and relaxing and spending your free time in another way. Going outdoors, reading, and even knitting (that’s the latest thing they recommend for relaxing and boosting your feel good chemicals) are known for bringing on the positive endorphins, besides exercise. But seriously, a healthy hobby or activity away from the internet or social media does benefit us.

Count your Blessings

You have probably heard this many times before – “count your blessings” and “be grateful”, or write in a “gratitude journal”. This may sound cliché, but these actually do work. Praise God for every blessing.

Look back at each day and write down three things that you are grateful for or that went well that day. The negative tends to stand out more strongly in our recent memories and affects our moods more than the positives. Sometimes it takes more positives to outweigh one negative.

If we make this a habit each day, we will notice that it becomes more natural to notice the positives; and the more positives we notice, the less the negative will affect us. No matter how small the accomplishment or success you celebrate for that day, it makes it easier to continue when you start again the next day. You will be approaching it from a winning point of view instead of one of frustration and defeat.

The more you make it a habit to notice the positives, the more you will notice the negatives don’t affect you like they were. We have control over how we want to look at things and the power to influence our thinking and perspective. Sometimes, we just need to remind ourselves.

Celebrate the Success of Others

In practicing to celebrate the successes within our family, we are also practicing the ability to step outside ourselves and celebrate the successes of others outside our family. So, the next time we hear a mom talk about an accomplishment of one of her children, we can be one of the first to say how wonderful that is and share in her happiness.

When we focus on others, we also tend to forget a negative we may be experiencing. We also stop looking at the green grass of that other mother as though we are standing on something less attractive and apart from her. When we celebrate with her, we are standing alongside her patch of green grass and on our own patch of green grass. Sharing positive feelings with other people helps us to experience positive feelings as well. It’s also a celebration for the homeschooling community and another success story of what homeschooling can accomplish!

As we become more focused on the positives and thankful for our own God-given gifts and uniqueness and celebrate alongside others for their God-given gifts, we lose the temptation to “keep up with the Joneses.” And we become quite satisfied with our patch of green grass.

Written by Katie Glennon of Katie’s Homeschool Cottage. Read more posts by Katie.



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How to Start Homeschooling

So, you’ve decided to homeschool. Questions will come to mind after you have decided to start homeschooling. There are a number of things to consider and places to get answers, but first, remember you are not alone! Homeschooling has become a viable and an accepted alternative means of education. Chances are there are a number of active homeschool communities and groups near you for support and interaction.

5 Things to Consider When You Decide to Start Homeschooling

Check Your State Laws
You will want to check your state on the laws for homeschooling. If you are withdrawing any children from school, you will also want to check out what documentation is required and the procedure to withdraw them and start a homeschool in your state. When starting a homeschool, you will want to make sure you are submitting the required forms and meet any requirements to be able to homeschool your children (these vary from state to state). Also, you want to be aware of any records you need to complete, submit, and keep to start the year, during the year, and complete the year. There are websites available to consult about local state laws and updates to those laws. State departments usually have a homeschooling department for information and required documents. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) provides you with local state laws, updates and upcoming legislation, contact information for questions, documents, and reporting, local groups, and general homeschool information and guidance.

Research Learning and Homeschooling Styles
After you are familiar with your legal requirements, the fun begins. Homeschooling gives you the freedom to choose how and what you will use to learn in your homeschool. First, you will want to determine your and your child’s learning styles. You will want to be aware of your own preferences and how that might work with your child’s preferences. These learning styles vary from visual, auditory, and kinesthetic to a preference for learning and processing concepts and skills in an organized and structured format or learning concepts in a random or more spontaneous fashion. These learning styles will influence the materials and curriculum you purchase.

Here is a Learning Style Quiz to take to see what preferences you and your child may have in your learning styles.

Next, you will want to determine your Homeschooling Style or Philosophy. These range from a Traditional or Classical Approach to Charlotte Mason or Montessori Methods to Project Based units or Unit Studies. Again, you may have one approach that you would enjoy teaching and spending your day doing and your child may have another. So, it’s important to get an idea of where everyone is coming from.

Here is a Homeschooling Philosophy Quiz to give you an idea of everyone’s preferences.

After you have your results, you can read summaries of these philosophies at HSLDA.  

There are other homeschooling styles you can look into as well like Hybrid Homeschooling academies where your child attends a school for only specific days during the week and then completes the assigned school work at home for the rest of the week. There also online schools for one, some, or all of your classes.

Choosing your Curriculum
Now, is the really fun part! It’s like Christmas shopping from a catalogue. Based on the results of what kind of learning and homeschooling styles you and your children prefer, you will make choices about curriculum and materials you want to use. There are some curriculum resources specifically geared toward certain styles and others that can be used interchangeably.

A lot of homeschoolers refer to themselves as “Eclectic Homeschoolers”, meaning they use a combination of materials and teaching and learning styles that meet their needs. As you homeschool more children at one time or your children become middle and high schoolers, you may want to consider using online classes to free up your time in planning and leaving you available to work one on one with other children.

Homeschool conventions are a great place to evaluate lots of curriculum at once. Check out Teach Them Diligently and Great Homeschool Conventions, or look for your state homeschooling organization’s convention. Conventions are also a great way to get encouraged and to feel like you are part of a MOVEMENT, so plan to attend one this year. There is nothing quite like being in one place with hundreds or thousands of like-minded people.

Look for Groups, Activities, and Classes to Join
You can look into support groups for moms or your children to find out what is available to homeschoolers in your area, such as classes, activities, field trips, and other resources. You can look to your church for activities, as well as Christian groups and coops in your area to find a homeschooling community of faith. Some school systems also allow homeschooled children to participate in elective classes and extracurricular activities, while others allow no participation.

You will want to decide if you want to commit yourself to something that meets regularly or allow yourself the flexibility to join in on specific activities as they arise. You also want to keep in mind that all groups have different personalities and one group may not be a fit for you and your family, while another might be just right.

Look into opportunities that are open to all students if you do not find ones you are interested in that are tailored specifically to homeschoolers. Businesses and museums often cater to homeschoolers with classes and field trip days.

Decide what Kind of Schedule you Want to Follow
You will want to decide if you wish to follow a more traditional school schedule that matches your local school or a year round schedule to allow for vacation time or extra time off each week or during the school year. As long as you meet your state’s required number of days of school, the scheduling is up to you. From there, you can decide what kind of daily school schedule you wish to follow. The sky’s the limit!

You might want to cover a subject each day for a short designated amount of time or do more of a block schedule where you take more time on specific days of the week to only cover specific subjects. We did a combination of short daily lessons for certain things like math, reading, spelling, where I felt we needed the daily review, and spent more time only a couple of times per week on science or social studies. We saved Fridays for field trips, projects, experiments, or special classes. With time, you will find your personal rhythm and routine that suits you and your family.

As they say, “The days may feel long, but the years are short.” So, even though the above list is important in building a successful homeschool foundation, the most important thing is to build your family in your faith in Christ and enjoy your time together and your homeschool journey!

Written by Katie Glennon of Katie’s Homeschool Cottage. Read more posts by Katie.



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5 Reasons to Homeschool Through High School

When deciding to homeschool, only some parents make the decision to homeschool through highschool as early as 5 years old. A larger number of parents want to “see how it goes”. When we started out, we put that decision in the Lord’s hands and decided to see where we were at when the time came.

It turned out, we decided to homeschool through high school. And, it turned out to be the best decision we ever made. Below are 5 reasons we found to homeschool through the high school years:

  1. Build a Strong Christian Foundation and Family Relationships

    The time between middle and high school is an important period of personal development during the teen years. You’ve raised your child through elementary and middle school years in your Christian faith and family values. Now you face the decision as to whether to send your child to a school or continue to homeschool through the high school years.

    It was at this time, my family felt we were really just getting down to business and entering a time when my children would be tested and we wanted to be more present in their days during this season. We wanted to continue to build that firm foundation for when our children entered college or went out on their own.

    And now that I have one graduating from college, I feel we made the best decision for our family. That firm foundation really paid off during those college years. Homeschooling through high school gave our family the time together to build strong parent and sibling relationships during a key time in their development toward young adults. There is more time to talk and enjoy activities than if they were in school all day.

    We cherished the time we spent with our guys at this age building lasting memories at a different level at this age before much of their time was taken up with college.

  2. Time and Opportunity to Pursue Interests

    Homeschooling through the high school years gives students the time and opportunity to explore and pursue their passions and personal interests. Those can be in the form of specific courses, internships and apprenticeships, entrepreneurship, jobs, clubs and organizations, hobbies, volunteering, or just reading about a subject that fascinates them.

    For our family, this time was a great investment in character development and practical experience. Through leadership positions and hands-on training, it helped my guys discover their talents, interests, and future career options. And, it was exciting for us as parents to be able to have front row seats to witness their discoveries and watch them bloom!

    It was a great learning process with successes, failures, and life skills they obtained to build on for the future.

  3. Map Your Own Course of Study

    One of the wonderful aspects of homeschooling is the ability to map and tailor your course of study to your own interests. Both my boys studied the required courses to meet state graduation and college admission requirements. But what was exciting for them and helped them stand out during the college admission process was the additional course load they pursued or unique courses they took to meet those requirements.

    This consisted of specific and particular subject areas that defined their personal interests and reflected who they were and where they possibly might want to go in the future. Some of these were college classes or online classes that would not have been available to them if they had attended a nearby school. It also gave them additional credits that were applied to their college transcripts. These types of classes assisted them in determining what they wanted to study in college and to which colleges they wanted to apply.

    It was also what made “school” interesting to them. They helped me with designing their high school scope and sequence and what resources to use in their schooling. We would begin each spring and finalize their selections each summer.

  4. Less Drama

    Homeschooling during these years decreased the amount of drama. As former middle and high school teachers, we intimately knew the atmosphere of schools where hundreds of teens spent hours together in close proximity. And, now with social media and texting, that time together is extended.

    Homeschooling allows teens a chance to relax and decompress in a quieter atmosphere among family and away from peers. It allows children an opportunity to turn off the “noise” for a while, step back and gain a more balanced perspective of situations. It’s difficult to do that if you are forced to sit in class or walk the hallways all day every day with tumultuous hormones and feelings all around you.

    Homeschooling gives your teens the “space” they need to “chill” and figure out their own thoughts and feelings about “things”. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that you’re there if they want to use you as a sounding board instead of another teen.

  5. Learning to Work Independently

    When my first son started college, it was very rewarding when he came to me one evening and thanked me for homeschooling him. He had done this during the years, but this was different. He was now completely on his own with his studies and professors. He told me that he could really see how the years in high school where it was his responsibility to follow a syllabus I drew up for him for his courses (with his input) helped him in college.

    We used high school as a training ground for independent study and time management. He was grateful for that practice and habit formation, now that it was the norm in college. He felt more prepared and confident than a number of his fellow classmates.

    Now that both my guys have graduated high school and have done extremely well in college (not just academically), I can’t see us “not” homeschooling through high school. I feel it was actually the most important time to homeschool them. The most trying times were during the high school years. But, the most rewarding and fruitful years were spent homeschooling through high school.

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What I Wish I Knew Early in Our Homeschool Journey

What I wish I knew early in our homeschool journey.


What I wish I knew early in our homeschool journey.

We didn’t purposely seek out homeschooling for our children. I was a teacher who left the classroom to become a trainer to other teachers throughout the Southeast. My husband was an administrator in public schools.

When we had our first son we put him in the local school, despite a calling I felt toward homeschooling. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t motivated for selfish reasons. After moving my son and putting him and my younger son in a Christian school, I still felt the call toward homeschooling.

That is when I was convinced this was what we were supposed to do. Thus, our homeschooling journey began.

Now that we have graduated both our boys and they are now in college and doing extremely well. This is what I wish I knew early in our homeschool journey, that I know now…

… that there is no “behind”, just a different timeline or sequence for personal best.

… that there is no “right” way or curriculum. What works best for the children and their parents is the “right” way.

…. that I didn’t need to stress about “covering certain things and not missing anything” during the elementary years. The elementary years introduce concepts and skills that will be repeated throughout middle and high school. Enjoying the exploration of “enjoying learning” is important during these years without stress.

… that some of the most important lessons learned were unplanned and unexpected and came through living life.

… that our family life, homeschooling lifestyle, and our Christian faith merged into one, and became indistinguishable.

… that homeschooling for us was best when it did not resemble “school at home”.

… that it would be so fascinating and exciting to give my children the freedom to explore their What I wish I knew early in our homeschool journey.personal interests and talents, especially during the middle and high school years. And then see them take flight and accomplish things I could never have imagined or knew existed.

… that colleges would seek out and want to recruit homeschoolers because of their skill sets and diverse experiences because of homeschooling.

… that my children would grow so firmly into their Christian faith because of the integration of our family life and homeschooling lifestyle with our faith.

… that my son would tell me he wants to homeschool his own children when he’s married.

… And that I can now look back at those times I went on my knees during our homeschooling years, and I can see and feel God’s providence and grace in our lives, and feel so grateful for our homeschooling journey together.

Are you currently homeschooling? What did you wish you knew earlier in your homeschool journey?

Written by Katie Glennon of Katie’s Homeschool Cottage.