Back To School Tips

Back To School Tips by Homeschool Veteran, Felice Gerwitz ~ Episode 474

It is that time, and with the coming of the school calendar, it is time for some really great back-to-school tips by our podcast network founder, Felice Gerwitz. She homeschooled for thirty-one years and in that time learned what worked and what did not work. In this episode, she drills down to the basics that will help your homeschool journey.

Visit my website at for curriculum, novels and so much more for your homeschool needs.

Are we excited or dreading the new school year? Yes, it is okay to be nervous but please let me assure you that you will not ruin your children. If you have a heart for spending time with your children and you can openly communicate your needs to them and they can talk honestly to you, all will be fine.

Whenever I’ve listened to a podcast or a talk on the topic of homeschooling I walked away feeling that I would never be able to “do that” or be “that creative,” or accomplish anywhere near the amazing mom speaking. One time I went to a homeschool conference and listened to a mom who talked about teaching American History and then proceeded to parade her children out on the stage in matching period costumes. My mom was an amazing seamstress and I can not sew. Can you imagine how I felt after I left that talk? Years later, when I joined the homeschool speaking circuit and spoke at conferences I met this lady and got to know her well. She is not a super mom but she loves to sew. For her, this was a fun project and for me, it would have been overwhelming. She had her children help with the sewing and taught them more than one thing at a time.

Saying this brings me to one of the most important points I hope you learn today. Work within your abilities and your wheelhouse. What are some talents that you bring to the table? Are you good at art? Is music your thing? Are you a sports advocate? Do you like history, math, or science? What is it that you enjoy doing or teaching? Taking this into consideration what can you easily implement into your homeschool? For the mom who loved sewing, it was teaching her kids to sew and make historical costumes.

Back to School Tips – Do. Not. Do.

  1. Duplicate the public/private school in the home.
  2. Set yourself up for failure by overplanning.
  3. Teach over your child’s attention span.
  4. Talk too much. Lecture only.
  5. Not allow your children to participate in discussions.
  6. Failure to ask enough questions.
  7. Unsupervised learning, no checks, and balances.
  8. Failing to schedule time off.
  9. Lack of field trips.
  10.  No extracurricular activities.

Look over this list and add to it – and the reverse is as follows:

Back to School Tips:

  1. Use textbooks, but as a starting point and/or a supplement. Map out the chapters to complete during the school year and count in time off.
  2. Set a realistic schedule within the timeframe of the school year including the time that school starts and ends.
  3. Teach younger children in bite-sized portions, for example, teach math with manipulatives and spend the time necessary to master skills rather than sporadically cover them.
  4. Keep lectures at a minimum. Answer questions and go from there.
  5. Allow your children to participate in discussions.
  6. Be sure to ask questions, if they can not answer them give them time to research.
  7. Be sure the children are getting assignments completed by checking the work or having them check each other’s work with supervision. If your kids know you are not going to check math assignments or writing projects they may slack off.
  8. Schedule time off and let the children know, put this on a calendar they can access or give them one of their own to maintain.
  9. Plan field trips.
  10. Plan extracurricular activities.

Nightmare Story

I heard a mom share that her well-behaved high school student did not get the majority of his school work finished because he knew she would not check it and when she finally did, she was appalled. So much so, that it delayed his entrance into college by one year. It was a combination of the perfect storm as she had little ones that took the majority of her time and elderly parents that were ill. In order to avoid these types of issues having the child show you the work, every few days is an advantage.

More on the recording.

Check Your Communication

Open communication and checking in with our children no matter what the age is beneficial. Will every child like every book? No, but we have to be willing to find another solution in case something doesn’t work out. In other words, don’t be married to a particular book or curriculum.

One year at a conference the parents were looking for a flexible science curriculum for their multi-aged children and came by my booth. My curriculum is a hands-on Creation Science-based series. There are four books, Creation Science, Creation Astronomy, Creation Geology, and Creation Anatomy.

The parents were both science majors and had high expectations for their homeschool but realized with three children under sixth grade and a baby the options were limited to textbooks for three different grade levels. The parents returned to my booth near the end of the conference and purchased all four study guides plus the activity packs. They reported the next year that the science lessons went extremely well and gave the children a chance to study additional topics.

Adding in field trips was a fun addition. Unit studies do not work for every family but they are beneficial when you are homeschooling various aged children on different grade levels.

Remember at the start of this broadcast I asked you at the beginning of this broadcast what you bring to the table. Your gifts and talents are not wasted in any homeschool setting. Another blessing is to ask other homeschool parents what their skill set contains. One year we needed a degreed scientist to sign off on the county-level science fair entries.

We had registered nurses, two doctors, and one dad with two degrees in science and a science master’s degree. Within our small community of homeschool parents, we were set! We also had built-in judges for our homeschool science fair.

We’ve had plays, art fairs, history and science fairs, sporting events, field days, beach science trips, nature center field trips and so much more within our years of homeschooling. By pooling your resources you will be amazed at all you accomplish.

Bible Crate – Teach the Bible

Bible Crate - Teach the BibleBible Crate ~ Teaching The Bible In A Year

Do you want to teach your children the Bible? Today my guest is the publisher of the Bible Crate, from  Good and True Media, Mr. Brian Gallager. He will share with you the importance of storytelling and how the impact of teaching children at a young age about the glory of God is a wonderful addition to any child’s education.

Special guest, Brian Gallager, publisher of the BibleCrate

Bible In Order ~ For Kids

 What do you think about group activities for the family that will teach the Bible in chronological order? Well, today I am welcoming a guest, the co-owner of Good and True Media, Brian Gallager.

Reading the Bible is high up on the list of any Christian, and more so as a parent. One way to learn the Bible is to study it in chronological order. Most children love stories and the Bible is filled with action, intrigue, sin, redemption, and steeped in Biblical history.  When children are presented with a good foundation as well as context, they will remember the main ideas, and as they grow older they will have an appreciation of Scripture as well as the foundation to dive deeper.

Additionally, the Bible should be a focus for any Christian family as a subject of study. The Bible Crate engages the family through stories as well as combining them with activities such as crafts. This set is ideal for any homeschooling family. There are multi-children packs available for bigger families to use

Topics discussed on air.

  1. The importance of establishing context when teaching the Bible
  2. Jesus taught through stories (parables), and the Bible IS a story (and a true one at that!). Teach the story
  3. A way to teach scriptures that are fun and not frustrating as the Bible is dense with meaning it can be overwhelming, even for adults. It’s important to make the Bible accessible to young minds and hands-on through crafts and activities that they will remember later in life with fondness.

Unruly Kids

Unruly Kids Just for Kids episodeUnruly Kids ~ Just For Kids Episode

Hey moms, grab the kids, unruly kids if you have any of those on hand. This is a Just For Kids episode of Vintage Homeschool Moms and we are going to tackle the issues of misbehavior and the logic behind getting along with others. So, bring your child along as you listen to my episode here

Visit my website at for books, a membership site, character planners, and more. I recommend the Truth Seekers Mystery Series, these three novels are an adventure, and mystery series that will keep you reading until the end.

Okay kids, here is the thing. (And yes, I say “thing” quite a bit.) We are going to talk about unruly kids – and what that means. It can mean many things, but for this podcast, I am going to define it as a kid, that is someone between the ages of five and sixteen – maybe, seventeen. And, if you are younger, that is great, you are welcome to listen.

So, a kid between five and sixteen who does things wrong, but not too terrible. Unruly can mean troublemaker – have you heard that word before? It is someone who likes to make trouble just because they think it is fun or they can get out of work if they do. It is a person who is loud when they should be quiet, or who enjoys (and laughs, even if it is inside) quietly when your brother or sister or friend gets in trouble and you don’t.

Misbehaving is not following the rules, and sometimes you might not know the rules, or sometimes the rules change.

So let me break this down for you, and answer these questions:

  1. I laugh when other people get in trouble.
  2. I like to make my brother or sister cry.
  3. I like to make my brother or sister angry.
  4. I like to get away with making trouble without getting caught.
  5. I enjoy it when people look at me, even if that means I get in trouble.

Let’s stop there – can you answer these questions. If you need to rewind this audio you can, and think about this or write it on a piece of paper.

Now, let’s pretend that I asked your parents these same questions and they answer like this. (read and answer with a yes!

How would you feel if your mom, your dad, or caregiver, let’s say a grandparent or aunt or uncle laughs when you get in trouble, likes to make you cry, likes to make you angry, likes to get you in trouble, and not get caught doing it and likes to have people look at them. Would that be a good thing?

Unruly Kids – Scenario #1

How about this… It’s dinner time. When your mom asked you to set the table you said no, and then yelled that it was not fair and your brother should do it. You decided to throw a pillow at your brother and that made your mom yell at you and tell you to go to your room, which is what you wanted because that means you do not have to set the table and your brother does. At dinner, you get up, without asking anyone if that is okay, and you go to your room because you forgot something there. When you get back, your plate of food is on the floor under your chair. And, the dog is licking the rest of the food from the plate. How do you feel?

Probably not very good. You are probably angry, and rightly so because someone didn’t care about you getting to eat the good food on your plate. Someone didn’t care if the dog ate it instead. Someone didn’t care about what you thought or would feel. Did I forget anything? Is there something else you would feel?

**Has there ever been a time when you were selfish like that? Think about it.

So now let me ask you this – if your mom asked you to set the table and you said no, then you threw a pillow at your brother and got in trouble, how did she feel?

  1. She is making your dinner because she cares about you and the family.
  2. She asked you to help because she thinks you are responsible and can be trusted to carry plates, and other stuff to the table, and that is wonderful!
  3. She felt sad that you did not care to help.
  4. She had to stop what she was doing to discipline you – that is making you go to your room.

So – was it worth it?

I had a son who would get into trouble and when I asked him if it was worth getting in trouble he said yes. He was honest and that is good – but it also showed me that I had to change the way we did things in our home.

Here are the things I’d like your mom, dad, caregiver, grandparent, aunt, or uncle to know.

  1. There is only one boss in a home and that is the adult.
  2. If a child misbehaves and does something wrong, that does not get the child out of work.
  3. If the child misbehaves you may want to consider the child being given some work. (My husband use to call it the work-duty punishment.) There are always toilets to clean, garbage to take out, and the garage to sweep out or clean.
  4. The punishment should fit the crime. For the child who threw the pillow at the other brother, the punishment could be picking up the pillow, setting the table (the first thing that was asked), and doing the brother’s job – for example, if the brother was supposed to help clear the table.

Unruly Kids – Scenario #2

Here is the scene I want you to think about. You are outside playing with your brother and sister. You walk in and it should be dinner time. You do not smell any food cooking, and there is nothing going on in the kitchen. You go into the living room where you see your parents watching some grown-up movie – something you do not like. Your mom is laying on the couch and your dad is nearby with his feet up. They have plates with only crumbs left. Looks like they are already at dinner. Your mom says, “Can you get me something to drink?” which you do – and you and your siblings look at each other and think – “What is going on?” Then your parents ask you to wash their plates. They don’t say anything to you, and finally, you ask, “Where is dinner?”

Your mom hits mute on the TV pausing their show and looks at you with surprise. “Dinner?”

Your dad says, “Oh, dinner. We already ate, did you do the dishes?” Then he asks your mom to unpause the show.

How would you feel? You would probably be surprised, angry, or upset and shocked. Aren’t you happy that your parents don’t act this way?

**Has there ever been a time when you were selfish like that? Think about it.

The next time you argue over a game, or whose turn it is to do dishes, or do a bad job in cleaning up and leaving crumbs on a table, or refusing to help – think about this, what if your parents did the same thing?

Why don’t parents act like unruly kids?

If you want a peaceful home, one where you get along with your brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends, think about being helpful instead of being harmful. When you fight, when you do something that is wrong (pinch your sister’s arm when no one is looking or shoving someone aside,) how does that look? If you are an unruly kid and you are not corrected you may become an unruly adult. Recently a national event showed an adult accidentally nudging a child over with her elbow. I don’t think it was really on purpose, even though I am not a big fan of this lady, but it looked really, really bad on the replays.

Whatever we do often becomes a habit – if we practice a musical instrument or some type of sport we get better and better. If we practice bad behavior we get better at it too.

Do you want to be good at bad behavior? If you do, then I think you answered yes to #5 above – I enjoy it when people look at me, even if that means I get in trouble. If you need attention get it another way, get it because people are saying, “Oh. My. Goodness. William is so helpful to his mom, he is always asking if he can do something useful. or maybe, Alex is so awesome he brought in his mom’s bags from the car and not just his own.” Or “Did you see Ben, help his little brother Michael with his shoes, that was so wonderful.” Or maybe they said, “Olivia is the nicest sister to her little brother Christopher and they play so well together sharing their toys.” Don’t you want people to talk about you but in a good way?

Do you really want to be an unruly kid? If you said yes, you should listen to this podcast again, and again, and again until you can truly say, “No thank you, I’d rather enjoy my life, not make trouble for other people and have fun with my family.”

So, what do you think? I hope you enjoyed this podcast and it makes you think about how you can really be helpful like my two grandchildren, Emma and Samantha who are wonderful helpers to their mom.


Conflict & Grace

Conflicts and graceFelice Gerwitz discusses ways to identify and minimize conflict in our lives, especially as homeschoolers, with help for guarding the way we react and the key to resolving problems especially among children.

This episode includes a two page printable.

Handout HERE

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Vintage Homeschool Moms


The Best of the Past to Bless Future Generations

VintageHSMomsShowPageJust for homeschool moms. Vintage Homeschool Moms preserves the best of the past while blessing future generations with the fruit that comes from putting God first and using the experience as a teacher. Your host, Felice Gerwitz, is a Christian wife, mother, and educator-turned-homeschool-mom in 1986. She began homeschooling as a trial and never looked back.  Felice’s topics range from home education, child-rearing, enterprising moms, SAHM (Stay at Home Moms), WAHM (Work at Home Moms), and so much more.

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