Hate history?

Ditch the textbooks and make history come alive!


Ditch the textbooks and make history come alive for your children!

Do you hate History? Did you watch the clock tick off each minute as your teacher droned on? Did you suffer through dry readings, memorize meaningless dates, and answer pointless review questions? Do you dread subjecting your child to the same boring process?

If so, I’m sorry. Believe me, it doesn’t have to be that way!

While in college I have a vivid memory of sitting in the library studying with some friends  for an upcoming test for World Civilization. We were reviewing English history during the 1500’s.  My friends were struggling with dates, names and seemingly unrelated events.

I wasn’t struggling. The reason… in high school I had read a series of historical novels set in the courts of England. Nothing boring or dry there. There had been romance, court intrigue, religious conflicts, betrayal, heroes and villains. I’d cried for Queen Catherine as she watched her marriage and family crumble because she couldn’t produce a male heir, and was horrified as her daughter, Bloody Mary, turned her reign into one marked by revenge, fanaticism and bloodshed.

I wrestled with the issues that caused England to break from the Catholic church and was fascinated by the complex and fragile allegiances that were formed to consolidate power. The characters I met were complicated individuals who were forced to make decisions that would affect whole countries, individuals often beset with self-doubt and questions. I found myself caught up in their dilemmas wondering what I would do, what they should do…and rarely finding a satisfactory answer. (more…)

Mistake 1 of our series…5 Homeschooling mistakes you don’t know you’re making!

Mistake 1 of our 5 part series!


Help shifting from teaching a curriculum to teaching a child.The first and biggest mistake many of us make is teaching a curriculum, not a child. 

Let’s take math. Our child needs to learn mathematical concepts, so we choose a math program. Then, almost universally, we become focused on the curriculum instead of the student.

Have you ever become hyper focused on your child finishing that day’s math page.  We hound them by saying,  “Pay attention, we have to finish this!” We threaten and bribe to keep them on task.

The shift is subtle, but the math lesson is no longer about the child learning the material, it’s  about getting the lesson done. After all, our accompanying teacher’s manual says we need to do 4 lessons a week, with one day for testing! The curriculum has become our focus.

Completing the lesson, or the entire book, is of no value if your child didn’t master the concepts in the lesson. This shift in focus is sneaky, we don’t recognize it happening until 3 months down the line we realize our child is hopelessly lost.

As parents, we are not the only ones who get caught up in this trap. Our students are even more likely to commit this mistake. Unless you have worked hard to convince your child that the purpose of the lesson is to learn the material, and they have bought into the idea, they will likely rush just to finish. Most kids work as quickly as they can so they can be done.

Your job, as a parent and a teacher, is to help your students see that finishing is not the goal, learning is.

I understand the anxiety that comes when we know we won’t ‘finish’ in a timely manner. However, the world will not end, your child will not be a failure if they don’t finish their 4th grade math program while in the 4th grade. What will create problems is your child being pushed through a curriculum ‘on schedule’ but with little comprehension of the concepts they needed to learn.

Our focus needs to constantly be evaluated…are we developing our child’s understanding or working to finish a program. We need to stay focused on the purpose of education. Our child is the focus of our educational efforts. Their development and understanding is what matters.

Curriculum is a tool, nothing more.What is truly key to homeschooling because it's not curriculum.

Don’t allow the curriculum to become the mini dictator in your school day. Use the curriculum as you would any tool, to aid you in accomplishing your task, but don’t become so focused on the curriculum that you inadvertently switch from teaching your child, to teaching your curriculum.

When we really grasp this concept and apply it to our homeschool, it can change everything.

The pace that is pre-set in a curriculum is, to a certain degree, arbitrary. It will work for a percentage of children, but there will always be those who are bored because they are not challenged, and those who are frustrated, because they can’t keep up. As homeschoolers we can relax a bit. We can slow down when our child is struggling with a concept, and speed up when they are ‘getting it’.

So, as you begin this homeschool year, re-orient (or re-center if you use google maps) your teaching, so that your child is the focus and your curriculum is your tool.

If you don’t want to miss the next four mistakes that homeschoolers make, be sure to sign up for my email list. I’ll be sending out links to the other post in the series when they are all up.

Mistake #2

Mistake #3

Mistake #4

Mistake #5










New Homeschool Year Checklist

With free printable

Homeschool Checklist!I LOVE September.  Forget the whole ‘January is a new year’ business, it’s the start of a new school year I love. So here is my list of what needs to be done as you begin the new school year.

1.  Evaluate 

Most of us want to jump straight into ordering curriculum, but there is some important work to be done before that. Arrange for some quiet, distraction free time and grab your notebook and pen. Go to a park, the library or Starbucks and think through the following:

    • What are your goals for the year for each of your children?
    • What are your child’s strengths…where do they struggle?
    • What worked last year that you want to build on this year?
    • What didn’t work last year?
    • How has your family’s needs changed…financially? Ages of children? New High Schooler?

2.  Make an ‘overall’ plan.

  • Decide on what curriculum you need to purchase this year. (If you need ideas for elementary school children you can check out my post here.)
  • Make sure you’ve covered the basics: Reading, writing, math, history, science.
  • Decide on any classes your children will be participating in, either with your homeschool group, music lessons etc.
  • Are your children going to be playing sports? If not, how are you covering PE?
  • If you have High Schoolers, make sure your students are on track to have the necessary courses to graduate in your state.

3.  Purchase Curriculum

  • If saving money is a priority check into used curriculums on Craigslist and ebay. Also, ask around in your homeschool group…perhaps you can purchase used, make a trade, or borrow.  Instead of purchasing readers check out the library. I’ll be posting an article soon about how to save money on curriculum, if you want to know when it’s posted you can subscribe to my email list, or like me on Facebook. New articles will be there.

4. Plan for the next 3 months

  • Dividing up specific assignments for the entire year is a recipe for disaster. Trust me, and the legions of other homeschool moms who’ve slaved over constructing year schedules. Schedule is done and then, bam, in Octobe a bad case of the flu worked its’ way into your household, and now you are hopelessly behind, and you have dates and plans and pages to finish. There are too many variables to be sure where you will be next February so hold off on a whole year plan.
  • 3 months is a doable option. You’ve planned ahead, but adjusting isn’t a mammoth task.
  • So for now, look at your curriculum and figure out what you want to have done by Thanksgiving and then break it up for each week. I find breaking it up into days is just too tedious. If I know what I need to get through this week, I’m good.

5. Enroll your child in any additional classes, music lessons, sports they will be participating in.

6.  Join HSLDA. Just do it. Even if you never need their services, you are supporting other homeschool parents who are fighting for their rights to homeschool…and those cases protect your rights. (For those who don’t know HSLDA is the Home School Legal Defense Association. Your membership is basically legal insurance. The attorneys at HSLDA do a phenomenal job fighting for the rights of homeschoolers. Check them out.)

7. Set up your ‘homeschool’ area

  • It’s fun to surf Pinterest looking at people’s homeschool rooms, HOWEVER, a dedicated room is not necessary!
  • I never had the space for a homeschool room, so we homeschooled at the dining room table and the living room couches. We had bookshelves of books sprinkled throughout the house, and each child had a box that contained all they needed. In the morning they could grab their box and get to work.
  • So organize what spaces you have to accomodate schooling, but a fancy set up won’t make your school any more or less successful.

9.  Find a support group

  • I think it’s best to find a local group of families that you can join. Having a support network, a place to go with ideas, friends to call who understand the frustrations is critical for success.
  • If you can’t find a local group, find an online community of homeschoolers. The key is to have a place to go for encouragement, ideas, and

Get New Homeschool Year Checklist 

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Summer News

Time to order curriculum and enjoy these last weeks of summer!

What’s New???

Well, if you are reading this, you’ve found what I’ve been working on this summer. The website will be up and operational by the beginning of the school year. This is a sneak peak before I have all of the links working and content up.

Content, in various forms, will be going up on the website 3 times per week, come Sept.  In August I’ll be adding content constantly to get the basics covered. If you want to keep up with what is being added, sign up for the newsletter…there on the right…and I’ll be sending out a letter every week or two with a list of new content that has been added.

I would love to get input from you in the comments. The idea of the blog is to cover topics that will help you, as parents, develop confidence as educators. If you have a particular concern about homeschooling, let me know! I want what I publish to be helpful.

Also, in these first months, I’m sure to make some techy mistakes, so if you find links that don’t link, or if navigating the site is difficult in anyway, Let me know. It will probably take me a few days to fix it…but I’ve been learning a lot and I’m becoming a WordPress expert. (Total exaggeration).

With all of that out of the way, let’s move on to next school year!

Raging Waters

Tuesday, August 23rd

$29 per person, $15 for parking

 I need a headcount ASAP, and  the money for this trip to  me by August 16th. (Yes, I can add more on at the park, but I need to make sure we meet the minimum for a group rate.) You can drop a check or cash off at my house, or pay via Paypal. This is one of the field trips that inviting friends and family to is encouraged. The more the merrier!

If you have curriculum questions or questions about this next year, I’ll be hanging out by the River, and we can chat. We can also chat about non-school related things, I’m good at chatting.


A quick reminder of what you’ll need when you register.

  • Shot Records, or updates for current records.
  • If you are a new student, a Request for Records, I will have the forms at the first parent meeting.
  • Registration form
  • Course of Study (a simple summary of what subjects and curriculum your child will be doing this year.)
  • Fees – Registration and Tuition Fees.  Class Fees if applicable.
  • If your student is a high school student, be sure you get a copy of high school graduation requirements.

Fee Schedule

Full Time Students ($35 per child to register, $30 per month for the first child, $5 per month for additional children)

Full Time – includes record keeping, curriculum counseling, activities, school photos, field trips etc. Classes for full time students is $15.)

Part Time Students (Does not include record keeping. No registration fee, tuition is $20 per month. May participate in Field Trips, classes are $20 )

Adjunct Students (Students whose only involvement involves taking classes)… each class $30 per month


First Parent Meeting

August 29th 7:00

We will be meeting at Kelly’s House, 30750 Montgomery Ave., Nuevo, CA 92567

Friday Classes

All classes will be held at Kelly’s house.

Warning: I have an unfenced pool in the backyard. We are working on fencing it, but currently, it is open. It is an above ground pool, and while all of the students in classes are tall enough to stand in it, both the pool and the deck  will be completely off limits to all students, regardless of age or swimming abilities.

Also, kids can use my refrigerator and microwave. However, food, glasses, silverware etc. is off limits.

8:30  Exploring Creation: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day  This class is for students in 3rd grade through 8th grade.

Along with the text, students will also need the notebook journal. There are two of them. This will take you to the one for older students. And HERE you’ll find the Junior Notebook.

I realize that is a wide age range, but the book and notebooking journal is written to accommodate this. This course is a bit more intense than the Astronomy that we did last year, so appropriate for Jr. High students. I will expect that their notebooks will be filled in more completely and the quality of the projects that we will work on will be more involved. Younger students will need help with the notebooking, perhaps using Mom as a scribe for portions.

We will be going on a variety of field trips that will add to this class: Sea World, Tide Pools, and Whale Watching.

Here is the syllabus. This lays out the work that will be done at home for the year. In class we will be adding in some additional books, experiments, videos and dissections. Love the ocean, so this is one of my favorite classes.

9:30  Boot Camp – this class is a bit of a everything…but a bit of everything with a purpose. All ages welcome. There will be a $10 curriculum fee. I’ll be providing the curriculum, so there is nothing for you to order.

This course is open to all ages, provided students can read and write on their own. Students will be creating their own reference notebooks that they will be able to refer back to for years. Our class time will consist of a short lesson, and then work in stations.

I will have a sample of the book students will be working on at the first parent meeting. I will also be posting the syllabus for this class soon.

Math  – (Note – this is not meant to be your child’s math program. Our time will be spent primarily on rote memory drills, which, adds to a solid foundation so your student can concentrate on more important aspects…but, a good math program is going to be concerned with concepts, reasoning etc.)  We will be using speed drills, games, crafts etc. to master basics of  addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, reducing fractions, converting improper fractions, converting between fractions and percents. Older students can move on to drill some algebraic concepts. Students will all begin with the basic drills and then progress at their own rate.  We will also cover some geometry, perimeter, area etc

Vocabulary – a portion of each week will be spent on vocabulary and spelling development. The focus will be on learning Greek and Latin roots and building from those. I know many of your students have done some of this already, so they can zip along quickly.

Grammar  – Students will get lots of hands on (literally)  practice. Reviewing the parts of speech, punctuation, graphing sentences, and common errors.

History – We will be doing fun activities to learn portions of important speeches and documents. We will also have activities to hone students ability to place major events into the correct time period.

Art & Music – We will develop our ability to recognize famous artists and composers and their works.

Very excited for this class!

10:30 Greek Mythology and Percy Jackson

The Percy Jackson books should appeal to students from 4th grade on up. They are fast paced and offer plenty of humor, excitement, and a creative perspective on the Greek gods. A thorough understanding of mythology has long been considered a necessary component of a good educations. Allusions to myths are frequently made in novels, plays, and articles.

This class will provide a thorough grounding in the myths and the classic story, The Illiad and the Odyssey by Homer. While studying the Percy Jackson books we will explore literary themes, terminology, plot construction, characterization…and have a ton of fun.

I’ve been having a great time planning this course this summer and a reading syllabus with preliminary notes about some of our projects can be found here.

Here are links to the books we will be reading. The Percy Jackson books must be purchased, and I STRONGLY recommend the D’aulaire book, but there are numerous links on the Internet that also tell the stories.  Note: The books about The Odyssey are part of the Magic Tree House series, they are obviously written for younger children, but provide a good basic retelling of the stories, for an good price. Jr. High and High School students may want to actually read The Odyssey, I’ve included a link to a good translation.

Greek God’s and Goddesses byD’aulaire

Tales from the Odyssey, Part 1 by Osborne

Tales from the Odyssey, Part 2 by Osborne

If you have older students, they may want to read the full story.  Here is a good translation of The Odyssey.

Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan, this link is for all 5 books.

11:30  Geography – 4th grade and up can handle this class. Parents are welcome to join us.

We will be learning the countries of the world, major rivers, mountain ranges, seas, and other features. We will work continent by continent across the globe.  A syllabus will be available later this month.  It’s great to have kids do this or a similar program several times during their school years. I had mine do it in elementary, Jr. high, and again in High school. They have told me this served them well in college.

Along with gaining an appreciation for the physical and political features of the globe, we will also delve into a few different cultures to get a feel for the great diversity of God’s creation.

This year we will be working in this Geography Coloring book, instead of a collection of copied maps. I really like this book, and think it will serve the kids better than what we have done in the past. They will be able to keep their books as their own personal Atlas.

12:30-1:00  Lunch

1:00-2:00  Shakespeare  This class is primarily for Jr. High and High School Students. Motivated upper elementary students have also enjoyed this course, but that age will not be the focus. Parents are welcome to join us.

We meet 35 times during the course, so that will give us 7 weeks per play. The plays are 5 Acts long. The readings will generally be one Act per week, with the additional two weeks to memorize portions, to prepare re-enactments of scenes, or to do a written project. A syllabus will be posted in the next few weeks.

I have chosen a Tragedy, 2 Comedies, a History, and a Romance.

We will be starting the year with As You Like It, as there is a performance of this play being done the beginning of October in Pomona. You will note, that I have two books per play. The first book listed is the play in the language we think of for Shakespeare. The second book listed ‘Shakespeare Made Easy’ has the original play, and next to it a translation of the play into modern English.  If you think it would be helpful for your student to have the modern English to refer to, then get that edition. Just to be clear, you only need ONE copy…choose which one will suit best.

As You Like It 


As You Like It  Shakespeare Made Easy

Julius Caesar


Julius Caesar  Shakespeare Made Easy

A Midsummer’s Night Dream


A Midsummer’s Nights Dream, Shakespeare Made Easy

Romeo and Juliet


Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare Made Easy edition

The Tempest


The Tempest, Shakespeare Made Easy edition

2:00-3:00  World Religions  For Jr. High, High School Students and adults/parents

I’ve been doing quite a bit of study to get ready for this class, and it’s been fascinating. Kudo’s to Desiree for suggesting it.

We live in a community of diversity. The U.S. has always been a melting pot of nationalities, it’s one of the things that defines us. That, combined with the mobile nature of the world we live in, means that many cultures now live in our neighborhoods. There was a time that Christ’s commission to go to the ends of the earth spreading the message of the gospel, meant being a missionary and traveling. There is certainly still a need for that in our world. However, in this mobile age the truth is the world has come to us. This is a wonderful opportunity to extend God’s kingdom.

Unfortunately, and I place myself in this group, many of us are woefully ignorant of the world’s religions. I had a rudimentary understanding of Islam, but almost no knowledge of Hinduism and Buddhism. While I understood Judaism up through the time of Christ, I was less familiar with the modern day practices of Jews.

As I studied this summer I was reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words that he had become all things to all men so that he might save a few…and also his speaking in Athens to the crowd and using a statue to an unknown god to tell them the truth of the one, true God. In order to be lights in a dark world, we need to know our audience, to connect to something in their world to reveal to them our faith.

I am a firm believer that we do not ‘argue’ people into the kingdom of heaven. We do not open their eyes to truth by insulting their culture and beliefs. No, when we respect and understand other’s beliefs, when we treat them with the same respect we would want an unbeliever to treat our faith, we open the door to honest dialog.

And so, this year we will be going on a journey to understand the wisdom traditions and religious beliefs that have shaped our world.

Students will be keeping a journal, (like a Mead Composition book currently $.50 at Walmart)l. Each week students will read a section of the text and write a reflection (or more) in their journal. This tool will be useful for processing the information, recording questions, areas of confusion, etc.

Students will also need to purchase the text. This book includes great photographs of sacred texts, artwork, and the buildings associated with each faith. This text, in a condensed form, has been one of the leading works on this topic for 50 years. In a recent Anniversary update, the author (yes, he’s in his 90’s and still writing) wrote this shorter version with beautiful illustrations. This book is a bit (well, quite a bit) easier to read than the original. If you wish to read the longer version, it is this one.

I would suggest parents read along with us so that they can discuss the chapters with their kids.


See you all at Raging Waters!!!!!


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