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Homeschooling Today: Encouragement + Practical Help
Winter 2022
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Encouragement for Your Soul title
Hold On, He’s Faithful
‟We don’t believe He’s good because He steps into our circumstance. We believe He’s good in the middle of the unanswered questions and issues we’re facing.”

hings look bleak in winter, don’t they? There’s beauty in every season of course, but to me, the beauty of spring is matchless compared to the others. It’s funny though isn’t it, the vibrant colors of spring are made that much more awe-inspiring after enduring a season of bare limbs and brown grass.

How do we hold on to the hope of spring while in the midst of winter?
There’s not much you can do to change the seasons; you can’t speed up time or force the earth to rotate. Perhaps you’re in a spiritual season of bleakness or hardship. Many of us are facing battles right now, whether it be physical, spiritual, mental, financial, etc. We are in need of feasting on His faithfulness to fill us up for this season. When we’re full of His faithfulness, everything gets swallowed up and becomes tiny in comparison.

Think of a two-sided scale. One side holds our perspective on reality from the natural point of view, only taking into consideration what we can see, touch, and feel. This is a hard scale to tip. What we see, touch, and feel seems to scream at us for attention.

On the other side of the scale is the spiritual perspective on our reality. It is unseen… it tends to whisper and is filled with promises that are fueled by faith. It reminds us that God has never lost a battle and if He is for us? You know the rest.

How do we convince ourselves of His faithfulness? It starts with letting go. We let go of our expectations on how and when God will act and we release that to Him. We don’t believe He’s good because He steps into our circumstance. We believe He’s good in the middle of the unanswered questions and issues we’re facing. We build ourselves up in the timeless truth of His goodness and trust Him to hold the issue(s) for us.

Just last night I woke up for a few minutes, rolled over and promptly started worrying about something. Why is it always in the middle of the night these things come to mind? I had to stop myself with these words, “I can’t worry and trust at the same time.” Try it, it’s impossible. You have to pick one. So I picked trust and went back to sleep. Some things that pop up are easier to do this with than others, but the One we’re trusting is just as capable of holding the big things as He is the small.

This practice of letting go and feasting on His faithfulness is what will carry us through the “winter.” Whatever your winter might be.

‟Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”
Hebrews 10:23
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The word faithful means loyal, constant, true, without wavering.
‟Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.”
Isaiah 25:1
‟Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.”
Psalm 36:5
I could camp here in these thoughts. Something stirs up in our spirits when we begin joining our faith to His. We tip the scales. We see life from the right side and the other side falls low. Suddenly, our cares and concerns are outweighed by a God who has proven to us over and over, He is faithful and He never changes. Then, somehow we move from the scales just being tipped, to a joy bubbling up from inside of us that wants to yell back at our circumstances, “You just wait! You’ll see. My God always comes through.”

Another thing will come up and try to tip the scales back again. So we get to practice once more. Letting go, feasting on His nature, and trusting His faithfulness.

The more we practice, we literally teach ourselves how to react to the things that pop up and the more natural this cycle of trust becomes. One day, we’ll realize there is no longer such a fight. The scales just seem to remain tipped and are hard to reverse. Because we know Him. We know we can trust Him even in the midst of our winters.

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Publisher & Co-Executive Editor
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In this Issue title

shley’s message in Encouragement for Your Soul reminds me of this quote from Henry Blackaby:

“In God’s perfect design for our lives, He has planned for times of fruitfulness and activity. He will also build in times of quiet and rest. There will be times when He asks us to remain faithful doing the same work day after day. But there will also be periods of excitement and new beginnings. By God’s grace, we will enjoy seasons of harvesting the fruit of our faithfulness. By God’s grace we will also overcome the cold winters of heartache and grief, for without winter there would be no spring. Just as it is with the seasons of nature, these seasons in our lives work together to bring about God’s perfect will for each one of us.”
Without winter there would be no spring. I love that perspective. Are you in a “winter season”? Are you feeling overwhelmed with holiday preparation or do the holidays remind you of a loss? Do you long for rest? Are gray skies and cold winds leaving you feeling restless and distracted? Are your kids complaining about schoolwork or chores or each other or… Well, you get the idea. But remember: spring is coming. Growth often happens in the dark and cold places. Like tree roots that dig deep into the ground to find nourishment and strength—go deep into God’s goodness and faithfulness. He will not only sustain you, He will grow you and your family in the process.
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Usually at this time of year we do a digital holiday edition, but then there wasn’t anything new until the spring. We know you need more encouragement and practical help—during this often hard, yet beautiful winter season.

It’s a season of transition for us, so it seems fitting. We’re excited to announce that next year we will have FOUR print editions as well as a few other fun changes coming your way. So in this issue, we’re bringing back the old while ushering in the new.

There are a few holiday articles we wanted to remind you about from the last few years. Tricia Goyer calls families to a Gratefulness Challenge, I’ll share how to have a singular focus this Christmas, and Kim Sorgius helps you plan for the new year.

Ashley shares a great perspective on growing old and cultivating the simple, yet memorable moments with your family. And I hope to help you figure out how you can stop playing the game of Twister with your kids! After teaching piano for over twenty years, our fabulous copy-editor, Tracy, is going to give you her best instrument practice tips.

Cheryl Bastian answers the question, “How do we keep high schoolers motivated through the winter season?” And Wendy Hilton gives us great ideas for winter learning adventures for all ages. We’re also introducing a new feature in our Great Books column: The Family Read-Aloud. No matter what the ages of your children are, we believe reading aloud will not only grow them academically, but also help create those simple moments Ashley talks about in Real-Life Homeschooling.

We’ll take a walk down memory lane with you as we bring back some of our favorite articles from our archives as well! We’re so blessed that Ashley’s mom, Debbie Strayer, wrote so much of her wisdom down and we continue to be encouraged and inspired by it. She shared Grace for the Winter Months… something we all need.

You’ll find articles on art, geography, science, math, and more. There’s truly something for everyone and every subject in our Winter Edition!

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Co-Executive Editor
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This Year at a Glance; HOME titles
spring 2022: cultivating the atmosphere
Let’s create a safe place for our children to learn—where our kids can make mistakes, be their unique and gifted selves, and know that they don’t have to “keep up” with the arbitrary standards and timelines for learning.
summer 2022: creating playfulness
It’s time to focus on FUNschooling! In this issue, we’ll talk about building relationships, making memories, and ways to keep things more “light”! We want to hone in on the things that graduates look back on and say, “I loved it when we…”
autumn 2022: curating rhythms
This will be a very practical issue full of help for organization, chores, meal planning, and all the things that keep the home fires burning. Find out how to teach kids life skills with topics like time management and productivity, too!
winter 2022: celebrating the family
This digital only edition will help you to celebrate the holiday season, keeping first things first. But that’s not all! You’ll find both unique and practical ways to keep the homeschool fires burning throughout the winter season.
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View the Digital Holiday Editions from 2020 & 2021

Download the 2021 Holiday Activity Guide + Our Holiday Season Planner

Nearly 100 pages of content!
Having a plan will help you be more intentional and focused this holiday season!
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Winter 2022 Table of Contents
Columns title
Hold On, He’s Faithful
I’m Starting to Go Gray
Stop Playing Twister! How to Teach Your Child, Not the Curriculum
Winter Wonderland
Book suggestions and activites for multiple ages
How do we keep high schoolers motivated through the winter season?
The Lombardi Principle
10 Ways to Make it Fun! cover mockup
Activity Guide
Winter 2022 Activity Guide Cover
The Seasonal Activity Guides are downloads for our print subscribers and help parents take advantage of all the unique learning opportunities the seasons offer. We make seasonal learning easy! With art lessons, a variety of seasonal-based activities, relationship-building activities, and more, our guide will equip you with fresh ideas and the resources to actually implement them.

Hands-on activities add variety to your children’s daily lessons and keep them active even when they are cooped up inside. With the Winter Activity Guide, your children will have plenty to do no matter what the weather brings.

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“Loved it! Definitely got to be the best Christmas film of this year!”
Richard Smith – The Christian Film Review
“Loved it! Definitely got to be the best Christmas film of this year!”
Richard Smith – The Christian Film Review
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Tracy Klicka

Tracy Klicka


hat morning I knew without a doubt that I was the worst mom in the world. I did something I never thought I was capable of doing. The day I did that awful, horrible deed, I had six children, eight and under, including twin toddlers I was trying unsuccessfully to potty train. I was also expecting my seventh child. Officially homeschooling two young girls seemed easy when compared to teaching and training four toddlers. Clearly, I was outnumbered by these little munchkins. Order dramatically decreases the more tots you have.

Besides trying to potty train my twins, I was also working on naptime for the twosome. Having seven young kids in one house meant these two busy jibber-jabberers had to share a room. And I desperately needed them to stay put in their beds for just an hour or two each day, which would give me a little time to work with my two school-age girls without constant interruptions and distractions.

While most toddlers across America were taking naps, my supercharged twins’ energy could have lit every bulb in the house if only we could have harnessed it. Since they clearly weren’t going to sleep, I hoped Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet, too, as I affectionately called my larger and smaller twins, would at least stay in their bunny ballerina toddler beds and play quietly with their terrycloth babies. These itty bitty dolls, which I had embroidered with each of their names, were constantly with my girls wherever they went, much like a security blanket.

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Gratitude-Filled Holidays?
by Tricia Goyer

ne of my favorite holiday carols goes a little something like this: “Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light.” Yet this is easier said than done. Around my house, there are often kids grumbling over who got the more significant piece of pumpkin pie around the Thanksgiving table. Either that or making a list, checking it twice, and then adding to it daily.

Then, when you add unrealistic expectations to the mix, parents get in on the grumbling too. I’ve grumbled when the cookie decorating yields more sprinkles and frosting on the floor than on the cookies. I’ve complained about kids stealing my clear wrapping tape or about buying a stack of Christmas cards, only to have them still sitting on my desk on December 24.

A few years ago, I knew things had to change. Our large family—which at the time included me, my husband John, my ninety-year-old grandmother who lives with us, and eight of our kids still at home—decided to go a year without grumbling. Okay, John and I decided it was a good idea, and we encouraged our kids to work with us to change our attitudes, change our hearts, and turn grumbling into gratitude.

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Ashley Wiggers

I’m Starting to Go Gray

I’m thirty-six years old, coming up on thirty-seven in just a few short months. Maybe this is a little early to see gray hairs speckling in with the dark ones around the sides of my face. Here’s the odd part. I’m okay with it. My sweet husband even says he likes them.

I think the reason they don’t bother us is because we’ve been through a lot together and somehow gray hairs seem a fitting representation of the time that has passed and the road we’ve walked. The phrase “I’ve earned these gray hairs” has been found slipping out of my mouth on occasion.

We all have a story to tell with the ups and downs included in this life. When looking back at the path that has led us here, I find gratitude rising up in my heart for God’s faithful hand guiding and sustaining us.

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A Singular Focus
by Kay Chance
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Myhusband and I married on December 18, 1993. At our rehearsal dinner, each person brought us an ornament to hang on our future Christmas trees. Twenty-eight years later, we place each ornament on our tree and it reminds us of the people surrounding us during that time of celebration.
It was a simple thing.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. Over the next few years, we were gifted with so many Christmas decorations, as well as those we began adding ourselves—singing Santas, pieces to an It’s a Wonderful Life display of buildings and characters, manger scenes and knickknacks of every kind. We decorated the same way our mothers had, and we both loved it as children. But before long the idea of decorating felt like something we were obligated to do, not something we enjoyed doing.

So years ago, we decided we were done. We talked about the atmosphere we wanted to create in our home at Christmas, then we paused and started hitting the delete button. My husband and I decided our decorations would reflect our faith and family, and so we paired them down to those things that helped us to do that—just enough for one room we hoped would feel warm and cozy and welcoming for the holiday season.

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Listen to the A+ Parents Podcast
We share tips, tricks, and stories from educators on how students can think for themselves. You’ll hear from homeschool leaders like Connie Albers, Colleen Kessler, Ann Karako, and more!
Hosted By:
“Mr. D Math Live” Founder Dennis DiNoia.
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Teach: Creating Independently Responsible Learners!

Empower students to become self-directed learners and inspire them to discover their own educational path to doing what they love.

“This is a book that will empower you, change how you homeschool, and help your kids take confident control of their learning. You’ve got to read it.”

–Sara, Blessed Homeschool

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Enhanced – read by the author

a father helping his kid with laundry while his other kid sweeps next to them
a father helping his kid with laundry while his other kid sweeps next to them

onfession time. I admit it. I am that homeschool mom. In seven years of homeschooling, we have tried a total of five different core curricula. We have experimented with four different approaches to math. I have a library of resource books on my shelf that “look so good!” and “would be so much fun!” But there they sit, dousing me with a cold bucket of failure every time I walk past them. I am sure they are so good, but, this busy mama of four never really had time to try them out past the first lesson or two. So now, instead of shopping the used curriculum sales, there I sit at my selling table, trying to pass curriculum off to the next naive and insecure homeschool mama pushing the stroller and wrangling a preschooler or two and maybe passing back a few of my wasted dollars in the meantime.

About a year and a half ago, I began to ask myself, “Why?” Why can’t I seem to find the curriculum “niche” that I fit into? Why am I consistently frustrated and frazzled with how our homeschool is going? Why are we lacking peace and joy in our home when I know this is what we are called to as a family? Why do my kids keep putting up with me when I teeter-totter between the sweet sit-on-the-couch-and-read-with-you-and-isn’t-learning-fun mommy to the beastly, bug-eyed, don’t-you-dare-get-out-of-your-seat-again-until-you-finish-your-entire-mathbook-and-you’re-not-eating-til-it’s-done-monster mom? This is when the Lord impressed clearly into my heart these words:

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Is your child hating math? Confused? Behind in grades? Escape the frustration.
Mastery Based Curriculum A Balance of theory and practice that encourages understanding of topics.
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No more getting overloaded, exhausted or bored to tears! mathmammoth.com
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Learning Naturally by Kay Chance

Stop Playing Twister!

How to Teach Your Child, Not the Curriculum

Spin the wheel. Right foot, left foot, right hand, or left hand. Blue, green, red, or yellow.

Whatever the wheel says, you have to do it. That’s the game of Twister.

But in order to do what the wheel says, you have to bend and reach, stretch and twist. Eventually everyone falls except for one… the kid with the most flexibility or balance or who just happened to not have to twist as much as the others. There’s only one winner, though—unless of course, they all fall in a big heap.

Sometimes when we teach our kids it becomes a game of Twister. We think, “But we have to follow the rules!” Whether it’s the curriculum telling us what to do, the state standards, the experts, a friend, a family member, or even our own expectations.

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On an Adventure with the:
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• Follows National Standards
• Inspires a Love of Learning
• Produces Independent Thinkers
• Nurtures Curiosity
• Easy to Teach
Try it out for FREE today! Go to:
Great Books
We believe in the power of story.
In our Great Books column, you’ll find suggested titles for preschool, elementary, and secondary students—along with a book synopsis, why you’ll want to read it, discussion questions, and related books.
“When you read a book, you are in a mind-to-mind encounter with its author, whether he lived 1000 years ago or lives today. This is the wonder of real books—all kinds of books, not only the serious and factual. Your mind grows through these encounters.”
—Dr. Ruth Beechick
Winter days In the Big Woods Cover
Pioneer Winter
Based on
Winter Days in the Big Woods
adapted from Little House in the Big Woods
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Book Description:
The original autobiographical Little House books tell the stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder as a young pioneer girl traveling across the Midwest with her family. In Winter Days in the Big Woods, Laura spends the winter in their log cabin in the woods of Wisconsin. Together, the family gathers potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, cabbages, and pumpkins from the garden, storing the vegetables for the coming winter. When winter comes, Laura and Mary draw frost pictures on the cabin window with Ma’s thimble. They also churn butter, cut paper dolls, and make bread. Night finds the family singing to Pa’s fiddle tunes. Young readers are invited into the adventures of this pioneer family building a homestead in the Midwest.
Elementary School
Worth the Wait
Based on
Owl Moon
by Jane Yolen
Owl Moon Cover
Book Description:
Waiting can be difficult, but it can also be rewarding. Owl Moon by Jane Yolen (Philomel Books, 1987) invites readers to wait alongside a young girl eager for her first owling adventure. Anticipation builds. Finally, one evening the wait is over. Father and daughter trek through snow-covered woods, their path lit by a full moon casting shadows on snow “whiter than the milk in a cereal bowl.” Together, father and daughter walk quietly, seeking the Great Horned Owl.
Read Aloud
Lion the Witch and Wardrobe Cover
Not Safe… But Good
In each Great Books column, we’re now featuring a favorite read-aloud. If you prefer, you can use this title as a reader for your middle or high school student, but we hope you will enjoy it as a family!
Book Description:
The fear of the Nazis bombing cities in England leads the government to evacuate children during World War II. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Pevensie children—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy—are sent to live in the country with Professor Kirke. While playing hide and seek, Lucy, the youngest, discovers a wardrobe that leads to another world called Narnia. At first her siblings do not believe her, and Lucy’s brother Edmund spitefully teases her. But it isn’t long before all of them are caught up in the world of Narnia as they work to rescue a kind Faun who helped Lucy at the expense of his own safety. Their adventure in Narnia unveils an epic battle between good and evil with fantastical creatures, high adventure, and a sacrifice that will save it all.
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10 ways to make it fun title image
with Wendy Hilton
winter wonderland

hese ideas to make winter learning fun are perfect for all kinds of winter days—from mild to cold and for indoors or outdoors.

1. Create Some Paper Crafts.
Paper crafts are a fun way to work with your children on following instructions, using fine motor skills, developing problem-solving skills, encouraging creativity, and more! Try this 3D Paper Craft Festive Winter Scene, this 3D Paper Craft Cozy Winter Scene, or make a beautiful quilled snowflake.

2. Do a Winter Bird Study.
Try doing your own winter bird study. Or participate in the Great Backyard Bird Study that happens each year in February and is sponsored by the National Audubon Society. (Yes, it seems like February is a long way off, but it will be here before you know it!)

3. Read Books Together.
I read aloud to my children all the way through their high school and teenage years. We loved it!

10 ways to make it fun title image
with Wendy Hilton
winter wonderland

hese ideas to make winter learning fun are perfect for all kinds of winter days—from mild to cold and for indoors or outdoors.

1. Create Some Paper Crafts.
Paper crafts are a fun way to work with your children on following instructions, using fine motor skills, developing problem-solving skills, encouraging creativity, and more! Try this 3D Paper Craft Festive Winter Scene, this 3D Paper Craft Cozy Winter Scene, or make a beautiful quilled snowflake.

2. Do a Winter Bird Study.
Try doing your own winter bird study. Or participate in the Great Backyard Bird Study that happens each year in February and is sponsored by the National Audubon Society. (Yes, it seems like February is a long way off, but it will be here before you know it!)

3. Read Books Together.
I read aloud to my children all the way through their high school and teenage years. We loved it!

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Planning Your New Year title
A family playing with a sparkler
by Kim Sorgius

As the smell of pine fades and the rush of the holidays becomes quiet, the chilly air blows in a brand new year full of the promise of change. The countdown is on and we can’t help but feel the excitement of change that bubbles over in our New Year’s celebrations.

Change is one of those words that either thrills your soul or gives you hives. For most, welcoming change can be a very uncomfortable thing. Like the Israelites who wanted to go back into slavery rather than navigate the change in circumstances, we’d often much rather suffer where we are than embrace the unknown of change.

And yet, the new year forces its way in each and every year, demanding that we consider the change. My friend, may I challenge you to embrace it this year? Don’t let past doubts cloud your hope. Instead, use this opportunity to continue to grow and change to be more like Christ.

Enhanced – read by the author
Practice Makes Perfect title image
by Tracy Selle
Child playing acoustic guitar on their bed
Practice Makes Perfect mobile titles
by Tracy Selle

a piano teacher for more than twenty years, I’ve discovered a common theme with students—most kids are excited at the thought of playing an instrument—it’s practicing the instrument that isn’t much fun. What’s a parent to do? No one wants to nag all the time. (And I guarantee your children don’t want you to nag either!)

Good news! I’ve got some practical tips for you that don’t require your children to practice for hours on end, and they work for any instrument. Best of all? You can help your children be successful even if you’ve never had a music lesson in your life!

Enhanced – listen to the article

"Grace for the Winter Months" script
Debbie Strayer

“God’s grace, His unmerited favor, can enable us to succeed when times are tough. It can enable your children to succeed when something is difficult for them.”

ave you ever tried to start a car that has been sitting awhile? You know the machinery is there to make the car run, but the engine is cold, the fluids aren’t flowing, it may even be out of gas. It still looks like a car and has the potential to act like a car, but initially it may not be able to respond the way a car should.

The winter months of homeschooling often find many children in the same position (not to mention their teachers). They look like students, they have the potential to be students, but their engines are cold. The fluids aren’t flowing, and they may need refueling. The holidays provide an enjoyable rest and reward for the months of work in the fall. The excitement of seeing family and friends, the celebration of Christmas and the special events all add up to make some of the most vivid memories of childhood. As we return to schooling, instead of cookie-baking and pastry-making, mom once again becomes the keeper of schedules, the lesson plan writer, the checker of chores, and enforcer of learning…you get the idea. She, or the homeschooling dad, resumes all the duties of the homeschooling parent.

Let’s make sure we’ve got this picture straight. It’s cold and rainy or snowy. There isn’t a break in sight. You start back teaching, maybe not January 2nd but close to it. There they sit, feeling as excited as you would feel about cleaning out the garage.

Amanda Bennett

Amanda Bennett

The science of yeast has astounded kids for generations, and now is the time to show them how it works!


old weather is here, and the time is ripe for some indoor science. This season is a great one for baking experiments that the whole family can enjoy. Bread, yeast and kids always bring out fun as well as plenty of fascination. Don’t be surprised to hear comments along the lines of “You mean that yeast creates gas, too?”

The science of yeast has astounded kids for generations, and now is the time to show them how it works in bread, along with a bit of baking and tasting, of course. Ask your children a few questions to find out what they already know:

What can they tell you about bread? What are their favorite kinds of bread? What makes some kinds of bread light and fluffy?

An Invitation to: Culture typography

by Shirley Solis

Gathering Together: Love, Food, and Culture

ur family once went to Ecuador to spend time with loved ones. One of the things that stood out to me the most was how every meal was a small ritual of love and culture. Breakfast went beyond the simple cereal and milk, and instead included a sit down option of several juices, eggs, cheese, bologna, breads, and coffee. Lunch was no different, serving a delicious and creamy vegetable soup and a main course. Dinner was equally filling with a large serving of rice, lentils, and a fried or grilled piece of steak or chicken.

This incredible experience helped me realize the potential mealtime has for us as homeschooling families. We have the opportunity to create rituals of love and culture for our children, as well as giving them the chance to experience the cultures of people around the world through food.

Family Meals: Rituals of Love and Culture

Although the meals were quite satisfying, what was more filling were the emotional portions of sharing and talking while we ate. There was no rush. Whenever we were done, we were done. In between every morsel of food was the story of the day and every serving included a new ingredient to bring each member together.

Hands-on Learning typography
Stef Layton

Real Life Math


y oldest tactile son seems to think math is a four letter word. I can not really blame him considering that math has always given me indigestion. How does one mom (who may or may not have failed college algebra more than once) confidently teach her hands-on student Math?

One rare day, my oldest son was displaying outstanding behavior, the type of behavior that makes you think you should consider writing a parenting book. I did not want to ruin our great mood by pulling out the dreaded Math book. Instead, I suggested we play cards. I took the chicken exit out, but it was worth it to play Gin Rummy. This card game was a favorite pastime my mom used to play with me. The object of the game is to collect a hand where most or all of the cards can be combined into sets and runs. Once a player can “go out” everyone counts points on the table. If you are left with cards in your hand, their value is subtracted. About the third hand it dawned on me, Math skills had stealthily invaded our fun time.

Fast forward a few weeks to a weekend beach vacation when we found the Yahtzee game in a drawer. Immediately, my 1st grade son started counting dice. We were all laughing and cheering for one another. I don’t know of a math class where you count and cheer for one another, and believe me, I have been in a lot of math classes. So I began to seek out more ways for all of us to enjoy hands-on Math.

Hit the Restart

Cheryl Bastian

“‘I cannot make it through the rest of the year!’ I have spoken these words and so have my children, especially between January and March.”

Gray clouds hover above us, and dirty snow covers the ground. Winter woes hit whether we have home educated for six months or twenty years. As holiday festivities end and decorations find rest in the attic, we hear our days shout “hit the restart.” Plow through the winter gray—rejuvenate, refocus and readjust. Your home will be happier for the reboot.


“I cannot make it through the rest of the year!” I have spoken these words and so have my children, especially between January and March. Our minds are tired from the holidays. Routines need to be reworked. Colder, sometimes inclement, weather keeps us inside and less active. We need makeovers, in body and mind. But how?

The Arts
Lori Lane
hand on piano, little girl painting, ballet shoes
left open quotation mark
Simply put, I was ‘doing school at home’ instead of homeschooling.
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Ilove the arts! What could be more exciting than making music, exploring literature through theater or learning to draw and paint? All through my childhood and teenage years, I was involved in the arts in one way or another. Concert band, marching band, choir, accompanying, piano, vocal ensembles, plays…were all a vital part of my education. I was a piano performance major in college. I taught music both privately and in the classroom. I had even taught theater and music based on historical time period. But when I began homeschooling my children, all my dreams of incorporating art, music and theater seemed to crumble onto the floor, stomped to death by the time and attention all our “required subjects” seemed to demand.
High School Helpline title
with Cheryl A. Bastian
gray dial phone with white cord
gray dial phone with white cord
High School Helpline title
with Cheryl A. Bastian
We’re tackling some of the most common questions parents ask and sharing simple action steps to make it easy.
How do we keep high schoolers motivated through the winter season?
Winter can be hard.
Multiple aspects of the winter months often collide—holiday hustle and bustle, weather constraints, family travel, and less hours of sunlight—leaving children and parents stressed and overwhelmed. This doesn’t necessarily need to be so. In fact, the winter season could be a welcomed season of gratitude, refreshment, and life skill refinement, all of which can be crowded out at other times of the year.
The Benefits of Playing Chess title
Dave Schloss
Chess is thought by many to be the greatest game ever invented. What does it take for a game to garner that type of distinction? First, it has to be fun to play, and second, it should offer great benefits to the players. In these areas, chess certainly qualifies. It is fun to play, and the many benefits help players of all ages. Because it can be played throughout one’s life, the benefits can also last a lifetime.

Personally, I also love the fact that it’s one of the few games that’s based 100% in skill and involves no luck. This means the time spent studying and learning the game will never be wasted because the better you get, the more you’ll win. And even though the total number of possible chess moves is finite, I have played literally thousands and thousands of games and no two have ever been the same, which keeps the game fresh, interesting and challenging.

Chess helps develop cognitive and creative thinking skills while also improving problem solving and decision making skills. Chess requires you to think, come up with a viable plan and carry it out. This is a microcosm for life, as it’s been said many times, “People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.” The thought process needed to constantly devise plans in the game of chess easily translates to many areas of life, from something as simple as throwing a ball, to driving a car, to planning your future and much more.

Enhanced – read by the author
The Family Man title
with Todd Wilson
The Lombardi Principle
A football, the lower half in shadow

Just about every motivational speaker, conference leader and back woods preacher has used the illustration about football coach and legend Vince Lombardi to make a point about going back to the basics.

Standing before his team at the first practice of the season, he held a football as he began his opening pep talk. The veteran coach held the football high and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”

Since then the story has been told and retold in all kinds of venues…and maybe for the first time is about to be applied to homeschooling.

My suspicion is that Coach Lombardi knew that sometimes even the best player forgets what really matters and what it’s all about. I know homeschooling moms do. You can’t blame them, really. There’s so much expert advice being tossed about. This expert says this, that blogger says that, this Facebook page says yet another thing.

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