Why Homeschool?

why homeschool

Why Homeschool?

By Christina Gerwitz Moss

Author, Public Speaker, Homeschool graduate and now Homeschool Mom

Homeschooling for me has always been a way of life.

I was homeschooled from K through 12th grade and loved the experience. I decided to pursue higher education and graduated from college in three years with honors. It wasn’t just the opportunities I had but the loving surroundings in which I was able to grow and flourish with love, stability and Christian spirituality. I attribute my homeschool experience as a wonderful springboard for my life and events that took me well into adulthood with fond memories.

My brother and I were not concerned about how other students would treat us as we learned.

My brother was “disabled” in the sense of the world, but I didn’t think it was odd that I, two years his junior was on the same grade level. We were free to learn at our own pace, gleaning information on topics that interested us (it seemed) at every turn during school hours or not. I later learned that my mother planned our year ahead of time and often switched topics as our interests became fine-tuned to a particular subject. It appeared to us as if the world was our school and many days we were excited to begin.

We were free to learn at our own pace

Testing was a form of a game where mom asked us questions and we bunny-hopped, jumped, or skipped to the end signifying completion. When testing became more formalized it still was a contest where we tried to beat last time’s score or asked for special “extra credit” answers that would bring us over the 100 mark. Mom was always sure to comply. My mom didn’t like testing us, but I enjoyed the tests.

Homeschooling my own children was an easy choice to make

Homeschooling my own children was an easy choice to make, especially since I have the loving support of my husband, who was not homeschooled, but had cousins who were through high school. We both want to offer our children a great education both academically as well as with the foundation of Christianity. Homeschooling we both agree will accomplish that desire for our family. I am excited knowing my children will experience the same things that I had growing up, the freedom to talk and discuss deep religious truths, question when those teenaged years come up and know that my parents never discounted our questions as childish or rude, but listened and directed with love and concern. I also love having a flexible schedule with the exception of offering my young children a little more structure than my mom gave to us. Mom is almost perfect in the proverbial “Mary Poppins” sense, is an icon of the homeschool movement, and well loved…but I can’t do everything just like her! In fact, I learned that from her. She told me to think for myself, stand my ground, and always cheered me on when confronted with tough decisions and whatever live-crisis crops up in life.

Just beginning my own homeschool journey

Several years ago, I began my journey with my young children, the oldest turned eleven in January. With almost six years of schooling completed, I have come to realize what a great undertaking homeschooling can be for the entire family. We have had the most incredible year in terms of growth, enjoyment of each other’s company, and of course the element my mom used, “fun.” We have learned much and had a few ups and downs along the way. Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. It takes commitment and dedication. It takes a totally unselfish love for your children that supersedes what the world says is “normal” in regard to traditional schooling.

I remember a story recounted by my mom.

She had us in a high-end preschool where academics were stressed thinking that was important for my speech-delayed brother. I went along for the ride, so to speak, and made friends easily as did my mother. When it came time for school, mom decided to homeschool my brother and of course, I followed suit. She received a call from a friend one morning (I was too young to remember), who felt “sorry” for my mother. You see, she had rushed through the morning, deposited her child on the school bus, and harried was sitting down to a wrecked kitchen and a cup of coffee before she tackled the day. She told my mom how sorry she felt that she was not getting a “break.” My mom recounts, “I told her that I was sitting in bed, with my second cup of coffee, still in pj’s with two kids flanked on either side, pillows fluffed, and reading. We had completed our religion books, Bible, and history. Breakfast was long done, washed and put away, and we would soon dress, do a few more chores before we headed upstairs to our school room to tackle some math, writing and other activities.” This friend didn’t call again feeling sorry for my mom. In fact, we felt sorry for ourselves if we did not complete school by noon so we had the day to explore our world!

For the success of a lifetime homeschooler, I believe it is a decision, not something to revisit every year.

I think it is similar to reviewing your marriage and deciding yearly if it is working out for you! Marriage is a commitment and for my family so is homeschooling. We will give it our all we don’t micro-analyze it looking for an out, looking at what they are “missing” in terms of the school bazaar, fund-raisers, track and field events or the like. We feel it is ordained by the Word of God, and we know, by His grace we will continue the tradition of raising a mighty people who love and will serve Him in thought, word and deed! If you are considering homeschooling I ask you to prayerfully consider what the Lord wants for you, for your life, for your family. Do not look left or right, look straight ahead. If the Lord ordains it He will give you the blessings and grace to continue. Don’t take my word for it, take His.

Christiana is daughter of Felice Gerwitz, Vintage Homeschool Moms and owner of Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network

Happy Fourth Birthday

Happy Fourth Birthday to The Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network

with Felice Gerwitz

Happy fourth birthday to the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network! As we are celebrating we have a fun week of activities planned for our listeners. Who are the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network podcasters? They are homeschool parents, just like you – some are still homeschooling others are “graduated” homeschool parents with grown-up children. All of us love homeschooling and coming alongside you each week.

Fourth Birthday Giveaway:

In this year’s birthday celebration, we are giving away $500 to one blessed homeschool family. Go here to enter the contest.  There are some contest requirements so be sure to share with a friend, and please follow this blog post as well.

The way to never miss out on any of our upcoming giveaways is to be a subscriber to our email list. In this way, the information comes to your inbox.  Go here to enter the contest – and once again, if you missed it – be sure to subscribe to our eZine for future giveaways!

About our shows:

College Prep Genius with Jean Burk – everything test taking, what you need to know about college entrance exams as well as SAT and ACT prep. Twice monthly.

Vintage Homeschool Moms – (me!) Felice Gerwitz – everything I wish I had known before and while homeschooling. I began in 1986 and will end in 2018. I have five children and seven grandchildren and I’ve seen it all! It is my turn to be your mentor. Weekly shows.

Brain Coach Tips with Jan Bedell – everything brain training and more. Special needs, learning struggles and gifted. Dr. Jan Bedell has a program to fit your needs and struggles. Her show airs weekly.

Making Biblical Family Life Practical with Hal and Melanie Young – focuses on bringing the practices of the Biblical family into the home in a real and practical way. Hal and Melanie make it fun. They share the antics of their large family, mostly boys and the lessons they’ve learned along the way with southern humor!

Dollars & Sense Show with Carol Topp, CPA –   lots of archived shows for teens, starting a business, saving money and more. Now the show has been revamped to include advice for homeschool leaders and will be called the HomeschoolCPA podcast.

Finish Well Radio with Meredith Curtis and the Finish Well Team – for teenagers and young adults, with a firm dose of hope, love, and grace. One time per month but many archived shows are available.

FPEA Podcast with Suzanne Nunn – Florida Parent Educators Association shares everything Florida and hosts a large conference each year. Join them for a weekly podcast.

The Homeschool Highschool Podcast with Vicki and Sabring two of the seven sisters. If you don’t know what I mean, you have to listen to one of their podcasts. These ladies are a powerhouse on homeschooling during the high school years.

Family Renewal with Israel and Brook Wayne, two homeschool graduates who are now married with a large family of their own, carrying on the homeschool legacy and impacting their family and yours with a Christian focus, and ways to renew your family inside out.

Mommy Jammies Night with Gina Glen is a one time per month jammies party for moms. This is a live event throughout 2017 so be sure to stop by and like-minded moms from around the world at 9:00 pm eastern. Topics to encourage ALL moms.

Mr. D. Math Podcast with Dennis DiNoia – Dennis serves up high school math like you’ve never seen before as well as timely topics on high school.

The Homeschool Sanity Show with Pyschologist and homeschool Mom, Dr. Melanie Wilson – weekly show that deals with homeschool issues moms face and ways to stay sane.

The Roadschool Moms Show with Kimberly Travaglino and Mary Beth Goff – two families who sold it all – and headed on the road, bringing their families along for the fun. Weekly show airs live at 9:00 pm eastern. You won’t want to miss the fun!

Momfessions with the Real Kathy Lee – weekly shows that explain none of us are perfect and ways to keep on doing what we can for ourselves as well as our families.

Homeopathy for Mommies with Sue Myers – weekly shows that deal with topics of health, wellness and natural remedies such as oils and homeopathics that help your families stay Healthy!

Victory Over Adversity with Heather Laurie – twice-monthly shows dealing with handling illness within your family and ways to conquer this by praising God in all things. Heather shares her story and great advice.

Talking Mom 2 Mom with Richele and Lindsay two moms on either end of the homeschooling spectrum. They bring savvy advice to homeschool moms and have plenty of shows in the archives.

HomeschoolingIRL with Kendra and Andy Fletcher – a witty look at big families, homeschooling, and subjects most people don’t want to discuss. Always truthful and always funny. Many shows in the archives over three and a half years on this network.

How can you help?

These podcasts are absolutely free! From time to time we have sponsors on our network and on our podcasts – a great way to say thank-you for our free podcasts is the following:

  1. Visit our sponsor pages -even if you are not in the market to buy – visit the page and let them know where you heard about their product. Tell them the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network sent you!
  2. Share our podcasts with your friends. Let others know, via social media – facebook, twitter, pinterest, instagram, etc.
  3. Listen to our podcasts by downloading them on your computer, listening online, or on your phone – on any podcast app.
  4. Give us a star rating. Stars on iTunes, GooglePlay, or Stitcher – we’d appreciate it!

Tell us what you want to hear!

We hope to continue to add more shows – and there are hundreds in the archives. To search for a show topic go to the front page and search in the search bar! Also, what are we missing? Is there a show or a podcast you’d like to hear? We’ve tried through the years to add topics and shows YOU the listener would like to hear.

College Preparation

college preparation College Preparation Time

Do you know the deadline dates for college preparation? If you are a college-bound high school student there are many dates you should be aware of – and some right around the corner. If you are a 9th or 10th grader you have some time, but the clock is ticking for you 11th and 12th graders. In a series of podcasts with college-test-taking expert, Jean Burk she shared those dates and important information you should know.

The great thing is being homeschooled. I gave my kids study-hall credit and allowed them time each day to prep for the SAT. This allowed them to do timed practice tests, study areas where they had weaknesses and truthfully, it helped tremendously.

College Preparation – PSAT and SAT

  1. For 11th grade – this is the year to take the PSAT – why? The PSAT is a test that is used to select National Merit Scholars. This could mean a full ride and free college to many universities. In order to take the PSAT, you must sign up with an area high school (or check your state or local homeschool group) or even the school board in your area. You must do this in advance. But, if you miss this important test there is a little-known secret – listen to podcast 60 here to learn more.
  2. For the 11th grader now is the time to take the SAT in October, November, and December. If you put time into studying, you are ready to take the test. If you take the test at different times, you have to study all over again. You do not have to show anyone your test results until you are ready. (See super score in number 3 below)
  3. For the 12th grader, you can take the SAT  in October, November, and December if you want to increase your score. Most colleges allow for a “super score,” which means that the scores are taken from different sections of the test. So, if you scored better in math in December and better in the reading portion in October you can use those test results as one.

FAFSA – Free Application Federal Student Aid 

I always thought that this meant student loans and it was not a necessary part of the process for college since my children really did not want loans or debt. Well, I was pleasantly surprised to hear from Jean in her podcasts – FAFSA Equals Free Money and the FAFSA Top 12 Best Kept Secrets that this is just a small portion of what FAFSA provides.

Why is it important to sign up for FAFSA?

  1. High school students can find grant money they didn’t know they qualified for.
  2. The student fills out the form (first download the PDF so you are prepared) and lists their own assets (not parents)
  3. You give your tax information for two years prior – so when filing date comes around Oct. 1st there is no need to delay.
  4. You can qualify for other available scholarships.

You don’t know unless you try. Right? Didn’t your mother always tell you this? Just be sure to avoid the top mistakes people make when filling out the FAFSA application and you can be one of those families who can be debt free after college!


Kids Cooking

Kids Cooking ~ A look at Raddish Kids

by Felice Gerwitz

*Raddish Kids is an Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network Sponsor

Who doesn’t love to get mail and especially when that mail is a fun box with recipes. When I was first married I belonged to a recipe club and loved getting those packages as well. Some of those recipes became family favorites that I use to this day. How I wish I received recipes as a kid! That’s what Raddish Kids provides. Great recipes that children if children can read they can make on their own!  Learning to cook is a skill that is so valuable no matter what your age.

Learning to cook is a skill that is so valuable no matter what your age. It opens an entire world of good nutrition and healthy living. It can teach children to eat foods they would not try before as well encourage them to participate in planning and selecting a menu. Involving your children has never been easier. Raddish Kids kits provides all the information a parent (or grandparent!) needs to successfully cook with your children.

cooking with kids | kids cooking

Raddish kits come monthly and you can try one,  six or twelve months. In each kit comes a set of recipes, as well as a shopping list. It also has fun items such as a patch, discussion questions and a cooking technique or two. There are table topics to discuss as a family. More fun! One of my favorite items was the spatula that came with the kit. I loved it! (Not sure my kids will get that one.)

Listen to any of the Vintage Homeschool Moms podcast, here, here and here for a coupon offer from Raddish.

Here are some tips to make cooking time fun:

  1. Be sure you have time. Cooking with little ones can be a slow process
  2. Lunch or cooking on weekends – may be the best time for cooking
  3. Age appropriate activities
  4. Safety consideration – sharp knives, hot stove, etc.
  5. Simpler dishes (Raddish kits offer kid-friendly foods)

The benefits of cooking with kids: 

  • Hands-on experience, children learn best by doing
  • Cleanliness – teaching children to wash their hands before cooking
    • Washing utensils, not touch raw chicken etc.
  • Kitchen safety.
    • Using knives safely
    • Safety with stovetops and heat sources
    • Safely removing items from the microwave
  • Use recipes as “copy work,” that the children can use to read
  • Reading and following directions.
  • Math skills
    • Learning about the correct temperature to cook
    • Measuring
    • Calculating
    • Fractions
    • Dividing recipes or adding to increase
  • Agriculture
    • How food is grown
    • Farming techniques
  • Geography
    • Places where food is grown
    • Learning about different cuisines
  • Good nutrition
    • How food works to make your body strong
    • Food that is good for you
    • Food that is not good for you
  • Cooking skills
    • Cutting techniques (and safety!)
    • Whisking
    • Folding
    • Whipping
  • Shopping for foods
    • Creating a grocery list
    • Planning
    • Shopping

Remember, in order to make cooking memorable as well as successful select a time when the children won’t be tired or too hungry! Doing some prep ahead of time is always helpful. Giving a child who can read the recipe to read aloud, giving the little children who can’t help something to play with such as pots and a wooden spoon and having a happy attitude will go a long way. Some of our best times as a family is time spent in the kitchen. All of my children cook and well! And that comes from practice and no fear in trying.

What are your cooking successes?


Cooking with kids can provide skills that can be taught across the homeschool curriculum. Including math, copywork, agriculture, and kitchen safety. | kids cooking


Homeschool Memories and Giveaway

Homeschool Memories and Giveaway

Homeschool Memories and Giveaway

I was thinking back over the 20 years I’ve been homeschooling a lot lately. So much has changed! One of the best things to have come along is homeschool blogs.

Back in the day, I’d wait for my envelope full of homeschool offers on those 4 x 6 cards and shuffle through them. Anyone remember the one about colon cleansing? True story.

Or, I’d wait for my The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and read every article. Now even TOS is digital! Instead of gathering online, we gathered in support groups and state conventions. And, to be honest- I miss that.

But, homeschooling has changed and grown. I have more homeschooling friends than I’ve ever had, most I’ve never met IRL. Facebook groups have taken the place of yahoo email groups and email forwards. Truly, my world has broadened and I’m thankful for that.

Surely God in his Providence knew there’d be a time when our strength would need to be in numbers and support would come from the four corners. And I’m glad!

We’ve shared the loss of children, parents, and spouses. We’ve cried over prodigals and been the prodigal an online-sister called home. Experiencing the loss of fellow homeschool moms and bloggers keeps life real. The online part dissipates a bit.

So, this year- sharing a back-to-school party and giveaway is reminder of all the sweet ladies who put their heart into what they offer, the way only a homeschool mama can. Please stop by each of the sites in the giveaway (you get kudos if you do!) and let them know how much they mean to you!

They mean a lot to me!

Don’t miss the giveaway – and thanks to Encouraging Moms at Home for the Back to School Party!

Here is a huge package of homeschool prizes you are going to love! Some of these will be physical books shipped to your door, and some of these are digital – like the awesome 20th Century Music course! The total retail value on this giveaway is over $570!!!!

Here’s the prize list for one blessed winner in this huge homeschool giveaway.
  1. Walk This Way Book and Posters $19.99 = $5.99 (physical book, digital posters)
  2. 20th Century Music Appreciation for High School $99
  3. Reading Comprehension with Aesops Fables (digital) $6.99
  4. Hidden Village (physical) $6.99
  5. When Lightning Struck (autographed copy 16.99)
  6. Bible Road Trip Curriculum One Year ($20)
  7. Bible Road Trip Notebooking Journal ($20)
  8. Choice of Bible Memory Cards ($7-14)
  9. Loop Scheduling Workshop + Facebook Support Group $15
  10. Creation Bundle from Media Angels $49.97
  11. NaturExplorers Spectacular Spiders $12
  12. NaturExplorers Animal Signs $12
  13. Behavior and Social Skills Bundle $36
  14. 9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling ebook $4.95
  15. 5 Days to Your Best Homeschool Year e-course $47
  16. Little Lads and Ladies of Virtue ebook $15
  17. Lads and Ladies of Wisdom $15
  18. The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas (Volume 1) $21.99
  19. The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas (Volume 2) $16.99
  20. 5 Minute Devotions for Homeschooling Moms $5.50
  21. Homeschooling: What to do When You Want to Quit $15.99
  22. Premium Lifetime Homeschool Copywork Membership $97

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit me on Mommy Jammies Night!

Solar Eclipse

solar eclipseSolar Eclipse Shows The Glory of God

The solar eclipse has been talked about in anticipation for years and not just by scientists. Many people are planning to watch, some on the optimal path to witness this event, first-hand and others virtually.

I remember watching the lunar eclipse as a child. My dad was an astronomy buff. He loved the ocean – he was a sailor as a young man, but he equally loved the sky. “In the sea, you sometimes see the fury of God, but in the stars, you see His glory,” he’d say. He took us to see the Apollo 11, the spaceship that had a lunar rover that landed on the moon. We’d get up early in the morning to watch the spot in the sky which was the rocket(s) take off — depending on which Apollo spacecraft we could see from our house. We lived in the middle of the state of Florida, yet visited the Kennedy Space Center many times. The space center is even hosting a viewing of the solar eclipse.

However, even with the science behind it, and the excitement in anticipation of the event, what really comes to my mind when I consider this event is Almighty God. The glory of God to be exact. In the vastness of the night sky, we realize how small we are–just a dot on the planet.

Psalm 19: 1 summarizes it beautifully – “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” 

God created lunar and solar eclipses – they are a handiwork of His wonderful creation. We see the vastness of the earth dwarfed by the sun – that allows our earth flourish. Think about this; the sun is in the perfect place, not too far away and not too close. The same with the moon. The solar eclipse demonstrates how far away the sun is, in comparison to our planet.

For me, the idea of witnessing the eclipse safely is important. Even if I had the safety, approved glasses I would not look at the sun during this eclipse. My eyesight is too precious – as well as that of my family. This is how I recommend watching the solar eclipse:

  1. Nasa Live streaming:  Nasa live streaming
  2. See how the solar eclipse will look in your area – add your zip code to learn more
  3. If you still want to see the eclipse here are instructions from a trusted source, NASA

Thanks to the wonderful universe that God created, we can witness these types of miraculous occurrences. Observer them safely!

How and Why to Find a Mentor and Back to School Giveaway

How and why to find a mentor

As a homeschooler, have you struggled with any of these questions?

  1. What are my state requirements?
  2. How do I get started?
  3. What do I teach and when?
  4. What methodology is best for my family?
  5. What do I say to critics?
  6. How do I schedule our day?
  7. How do I motivate my kids to do lessons?
  8. What curriculum do I choose?
  9. What about learning and teaching styles?
  10. How do I handle special needs?
  11. How can I homeschool frugally?
  12. Do I need to worry about Common Core?
  13. Where did I put my coffee?

Well, ok. That last one is probably just me.

Whether you’re new to homeschooling or a few years into it, chances are you’ve looked for a homeschooling mentor of some kind. Homeschooling is a challenge and it is such an important undertaking! It only makes sense to find homeschoolers who have “been there, done that” to come alongside us and help navigate the sometimes murky waters.

Finding A Mentor

Benefits and Limitations

As with any mentors, homeschooling mentors have limits. Nobody knows you, your family, and your child as well as God does. Not even you. Going to Him first with every concern is far wiser and more effective than relying on any mentor. Checking anything your mentors say against God’s Word and His leading in your life is also critical.
No book, site, or individual is going to perfectly encompass all the needs and goals of your family. To simply follow what someone else does because they appear to be doing well is not a good choice. However, it is worth the time and effort to find that handful of mentors and reliable resources that fit your needs relatively well and can help you navigate the plethora of homeschooling issues and information.

Face-to-Face Mentors

Face-to-face mentors are hard to find. It’s sad, but true. I once asked a leader in the large homeschool support group I joined a few years ago if they had some sort of mentorship program or if she could connect me with another mom to help me get started. She said no! They had tried, but the more experienced moms ended up being too busy and the relationships never lasted.
Even so, it can happen! I think they are worth the effort (and the vulnerability that comes with it) to keep looking for those mentors. I have recently refreshed my search for one or two for myself.
Here are a few things to keep in mind on your own search:
  • Observe – If possible, find other homeschool moms that you’d like to learn from. Look for some with kids one or two levels above yours, and some who are nearing the home stretch. Perhaps they have a strong Charlotte Mason flair you’re interested in. Maybe they seem to keep things moving with 6 kids, or they’re just pleasant and easy to talk to. Local support groups are a great way to find homeschoolers and scout for mentors!
  • Approach – The best mentors develop naturally. Instead of saying “hey, can you mentor me?” try asking if you can buy them a coffee and pick their brain about homeschooling, or come to their house and be a fly on the wall for a few hours. Email them asking some resource recommendations or what their homeschool day looks like.
  • Be Considerate – Homeschool moms are busy. Be considerate of their time and make sure you aren’t using them as a crutch or your only source of information! I find that asking general questions (“what is your homeschool day like?”) or troubleshooting (“how do I deal with letter reversal in handwriting?”) are the best ways to learn from them without sapping their energy.

Online/Book Mentors

Of course, there is a vast sea of blogs, sites, and books all about homeschooling that are meant to mentor and support you. Ask around and find out what the favorites are. In the past few years, I’ve figured out what my favorite go-to sources are for troubleshooting homeschool problems or general ideas and inspiration.
Just remember that it’s much better to have 5 or so books and resources you rely on instead of allowing input from hundreds a day to reach your ears. Who has the time and brain capacity for that? Not me! I know, because I’ve tried. Keep in mind that we are looking for “mentors,” not seeking to gather all possible opinions.
Here is my short list for online sites, books and blogs I follow loosely for information and encouragement. Yours will look different, and that’s ok!
  • Doorposts – This is more of a parenting and discipleship resource, but we all know how integrated those are with homeschooling! This is our favorite biblical parenting resource, hands down.
  • Educating WholeHearted Child (and other materials by the Clarksons) – I read and enjoy many homeschooling books, but this is the one I always come back to. It is packed full of good helps, information, guidance and encouragement!
How about you? What are you looking for in a mentor? What are your favorite “mentors” online or in books?
TaunaMTauna loves her family and loves God. She is a homeschooling mama that has been married for 8 years and has 4 young children. She writes at Proverbial Homemaker.com, so named because, as she says, “me becoming a wife, mom, and homemaker proves that anything is possible with God.”



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Lists For Back To School

back to school lists One of the greatest inventions was the idea of keeping track of things with a list, and what better way to celebrate Back to School, than with a series on lists! I’ve tackled organization with the disclaimer that I’m not naturally an organized person. In the series on organization I’ve taken back and overturned the chaos of messy piles and will soon be looking at a newly organized and CLEAN home! I’m excited.

In fact, I mentioned to my sister-in-law the other day how excited I was to have one top shelf almost cleared off. Okay, I admit — I’m a work in progress. I’ve decided that what works for me is cleaning in small bursts. If I can clean one section of a room and keep it clean, then clean another section in a weeks’ time I have a clean room! The key is keeping it clean.

But, we were discussing homeschooling … so, the list can be massive but take or delete what you’d like. I’ve created a podcast on the topic here as well. See what you think. The lists are over on the podcast post- on VintageHomeschoolMoms episode 96  – Amazing Lists For Homeschooling – so don’t forget to download yours.

An overview of the topics of the podcast began with listing making in general for your homeschool.

Lists for back-to-school

Select Your Curriculum and Order It:

By this time many of you have your curriculum; however I know many of you are still ordering books as we speak! There are many great book selections from Cathy Duffy on her website of homeschool reviews. She wrote a series of books on the topic of the Top Homeschool Picks. My own books have been selected in two of her books. So, once you’ve selected your books – order them! I know many of you enjoy free products, but if you do get these, be sure to keep them in a file so you can find the when the time comes.

Organize Your Homeschool Space:

Atmosphere – atmosphere – atmosphere – let your learning space be a place that is conducive to learning. Be sure to check for clutter, keep books contained and be sure to pick up after each school day. Whether you school in the kitchen, on the dining room table, back porch (as we did one year while our house was being remodeled), or you have a specific room for school, make sure it is organized.

Organize Your Supplies:

I love office supplies – seriously, I could spend hours in office stores. However, discount stores are much more reasonably priced when it comes to school supplies. Every year I purchased the kids new spiral notebooks, pencils, crayons, markers, colored pencils; and when they got older, mechanical pencils, pens and highlighters. We keep all of our saved work (the ones we will keep to show for evaluations) in a big 3-Ring binder book.  That is handy all year so as I see papers that are worthy of inclusion I will ask the kids to place them in the book. You will have to help the really little ones. I also purchased a good 3-Ring Notebook-all-in-one that has multi-subjects and multi-pockets. Once the kids were in high school we no longer needed this type of binder. It just didn’t hold enough papers. They prefer spiral notebooks anyway to keep all their notes within. I like to surprise the kids with one, two or three special things. Like the year I purchased time-line notebooks, or special school supplies and holders. It is after all the first day of school when I pass out the new books and supplies, so I like to make it special.

Organize Your Books:

messy homeschool shelves organized

Shelves – Before and After They Were Organized! http://www.HomeForLearning.com

How exciting – new books! I love to get the new school books for the year, even if it means I’m pulling books from the shelves and placing them on another! Many beloved books are keepsakes, and we’ve added them to our library. These were used for many years ago, by their older siblings. Organizing the books on one or two shelves helps the children to have easy access. I am going to admit that after many years of homeschooling my bookshelves are a wreck! I organize reading books for literature, books I will read to them and I give them their school books such as Math to keep at their own desks. It makes it easy for me to see whether or not they’ve completed their reading lists by a quick view of the shelves as well as their check-off lists. Here is a picture of one set of shelves that are going to be organized and another set that is almost completed!

Organize Your Year:

You’ve got the books – now take out a calendar and look at how long it will take you to complete the books on hand. For example, if a science book has 300 pages you would divide the number of pages by the number of school days. Here in Florida we school for 180 days so do the math! Be sure to leave holiday days – for example, if you are taking days off for vacations, Christmas holiday break, etc., you want to plan for these times as well. Once you do this with all your books you can move onward.

Unit Studies – or Theme Studies:

For unit studies, I always gave myself six-to-eight weeks to complete the study. Many times it didn’t take us that long, so we filled in the time with extra reading, field trips and fun television shows or videos that kept us on track. Other times, if it was something mom didn’t like studying – like insects, we’d motor through the unit study and move on to the next one. I’d also give myself some planning time in-between to find additional books or plan out my days. However, I knew exactly what we’d study for the entire year or I could loose valuable time trying to make it up on the go!

homeschool scheduleOrganize Your Day:

Years ago I was very frustrated that the kids were having difficulty completing their work. My husband asked me to create a simple check off list. When they were younger it included time –so for example where math was it would say 30-min. All the kids had to do was check off Math when they did the work. Every week they turned it in for special stickers, a movie night, or something else fun we had planned. No checkoff list meant an extra chore. You can give this to your children as a guide and keep one for yourself. This is a high school example, but you can do this same type of thing with elementary students or middle school.

Once you get your books the ideal is to divide pages by the number of weeks in the school, for you textbook people and create a schedule like this chart.

Here is another version to download: Example Check Off Lists-2

You can give this to your children as a guide and keep one for yourself. This is a high school example, but you can do this same type of thing with elementary students or middle school.

You can give this to your children as a guide and keep one for yourself. This is a high school example, but you can do this same type of thing with elementary students or middle school. I have a daily check off list I give my children as well – for a copy go here: blank copy and another one here: Example Check Off Lists – Younger and older ones here: Example Check Off Lists-Older

Whatever format you use – even if you un-school – it is nice to keep track of your progress – and it helps the children become familiar with check-off lists!

Organize Your Child’s Work station:

We’ve homeschooled on the kitchen table, on the back porch, out of a book bag on the way to doing errands, in the car on audio cassette and CD (by the time mp3 came along, my kids had outgrown “car learning”, and in a desk in a designated room. We’ve done it all in the years since I first decided to homeschool. So, what is the common thread in homeschooling in various places? Keep your stuff together! Some homeschool moms keep clear bins with plastic lids and contain their school stuff there. Other’s school out of a closet or shelf. Whatever you do give your child ample space to spread out.

What is on your list? Share yours with all of us!

Photo Credit: Copyright 2015 Deposit Photo – photo credit – stuartm

An Author Teaches Her Kids to Write

An author Teaches Her Kids to Write | a WriteShop Review by Felice Gerwitz

An author Teaches Her Kids to Write | a WriteShop Review by Felice Gerwitz

History tends to repeat itself and sometimes in very good ways! When I homeschooled my young children I found they were prolific writers if it was topic that they enjoyed. For example, my kids wrote stories about finding pets and keeping them. In fact, the children in their carefully- crafted stories had the most amazing mother in the world! Why? Because she allowed them to keep each and every pet they randomly found in the yard, and she welcomed them with open arms. This was the antithesis of their “real” mom!

Now was the time to work on their nonfiction abilities.

All of my children have struggled in this regard. They enjoy making up stories, rather than researching and writing a factual account, so I came up with a purpose, a family newsletter. This was a combination of factual writing, as well as poetry and interviews. Thus, the “Cousin’s Newsletter” was born. There were cousin contributors: Katie from Texas, Marie and George from Tennessee, Kathleen from Virginia, and Christina and Neal from Florida. Four of the children were homeschoolers and two were not  so there was a nice mix of school and home types of articles. This was in the ‘90s when computers were just becoming household words and there were still lots of copying and pasting manually to get pretty borders and print out copies that were then mailed to all the family members. It was quite a project so we strove to complete two Cousin Newsletters per year.

Still fiction was a favorite and years later my daughter Christina and I went on to write three novels together.

I felt that Christina was one of those people with a story in her blood! Fast forward to the future and now Christina is homeschooling her little ones. She balked at the idea of using any writing program with her little ones, but then was presented with an opportunity to review Writeshop’s primary curriculum; here is what she had to say:


“I recently had the opportunity to use WriteShop Primary (Book A) written by Nancy I. Sanders with my first and second graders. I love the well-written writing program that was well organized and effectively incorporated many of the foundational writing concepts that I wanted them to become proficient in utilizing while still in their formative years. My girls especially enjoyed the layout and presentation of the activity worksheets, while I appreciated that they were learning the basics of writing in a fun and relaxed setting.

Imagination is something my children are not lacking, however, before using this program, their stories or papers often lacked structure and flow.

This book offered a brainstorming section in which they organized their thoughts and even an editing and revising section, which allowed them to analyze their own writing with my guidance. Each activity set was well presented and organized, which allowed me to easily grasp what was going to be covered each day. Overall, both my children and I enjoyed using this program and look forward to continuing with it throughout the school year.”

Catch our reluctant writers episode with Kim Kautzer, the contributor and executive editor of Writeshop Primary. You’ll enjoy hearing how to identify reluctant writers, as well as gain practical tools and tips from Kim.

Do your children have writing struggles? Or do you have great advice for us on ways you encourage your children to write? I’d love to hear from you.

Curriculum, Learning Styles, and Choices… Oh, My!

Curriculum learning stylesAs a new homeschool mom with an arsenal of degrees and certifications to show for my years of college and experience in the preschool and special education arena, I thought I was prepared. I handled a class of 25+ students in the sixth through ninth grades of Specific Learning Disabilities classes. Surely I could handle two children who were my own.

So I set off as many of you do, to recreate the school within the home, only to find it was a dismal failure. Well, not totally. We loved waking up each morning to a hot breakfast, and then I’d take my second cup of coffee and my two little ones to my room where we’d snuggle up and I’d read the Bible, a biography, and often we’d end up back there again to read after lunch. My oldest child had some learning struggles and he was not getting math. Simple facts were beyond him and asking him to memorize the multiplications facts in later years was like asking him to recite the Pythagorean Theorem.

That’s when I discovered that while I could read most things and remember them, I had hands-on learners who loved exploring and delving into things, getting their hands dirty, and loving it! So instead of just talking about rockets, we turned the refrigerator box into a space ship, complete with countdown to blast off music. My children wore bicycle helmets and pretended to be astronauts.

When our lot flooded, I would have been happy to read about the flood plain, and use words like – “cypress slough” in a sentence or learn about all the animals that like the flood water habitat using an illustrated children’s nature book, but, nooooo, not my children! They had to don boots and drag their brand-new red wagon my parents purchased for them around our flooded yard. They would play outdoors for hours. One day my son ran in all excited and asked, “Is it red-on-yellow kill a fellow, and red-on-black friend of Jack?”  Do you see a recurring theme here?ChristinaSpaceShip

These two were not happy to read about nature in a book, they had to experience it, and so when I happened upon Cathy Duffy at a homeschool conference, it finally made sense! Learning styles, yes – I remember learning about those in my special education classes and then it hit me! Our styles were completely different and not only those of my children, but mine as well.

That doesn’t mean it happened overnight, nor does it mean that I couldn’t encourage my strong visual child to learn things orally as well. It just meant that I wasn’t trying to fit a square peg into a round hole any longer. I finally was able to hit on some compromises that worked for our family and we happily became a unit study, Charlotte Mason, textbook, workbooks, biographies, fiction author, eclectic type of family. One size does not always fit all – and I’m a case in point.

Have you struggled finding curriculum that works for your family? Or did you finally have an, “Aha!” moment like I did?


Felice Gerwitz is the host of Vintage Homeschool Moms show that airs on Monday at noon eastern time. Her guest is Cathy Duffy.

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