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It’s summer vacation for most of us in the United States. For many parents, that means figuring out ways to occupy the kiddos.

I’m quickly becoming a mom-group junkie, especially when it comes to homeschool groups. Since summer schedules seem to be a hot topic, I figured I’d go ahead and write a post detailing what a tentative summer schedule looks like in the Anderson household and how we incorporate learning.

But first, I owe you a quick update.

As most of you know we live in Georgia, which means summer break started in May. So far, our boys have enjoyed weekly VBS’s, sports camp, swimming lessons, summer movie screenings, community events, playdates, and more. This is probably one of the busiest summers in our entire homeschool career. Most importantly, our boys are learning things that textbooks can’t teach. Things like how to be a team player, respond to mean kids, meet new friends, and grow in self-confidence.

While summer break is the perfect time to take advantage of all the social opportunities it has to offer, many new homeschooling parents beg the question; How do I prepare my children for the next academic year?

There’s no right answer to this question but let me present you with a few studies. Consider this study that reveals students lose a significant amount of knowledge in reading, math, and spelling during summer. This learning loss accumulates over time leading to a regression in academic proficiency, which we all refer to as the summer slide.

There’s no denying that taking a substantial break from academics poses the risk for children to forget key learning concepts. For this reason, you’ll find that the average curriculum incorporates a review of previously learned material for the first few lessons. Therefore, summer learning loss is already accounted for.

However, if you’re like me and want your children to build fluency during summer, incorporating learning into your summer routine doesn’t have to be a battle. Here are some ideas for how you can encourage your child to continue flourishing during summer months.

1. Implement a family reading time.

In our home, I implemented what I like to call a “reading hour.” During this time, everyone grabs something to read, their favorite snack, and hangs out in the family room reading together silently. Afterward, everyone can discuss what they’ve read. For children who aren’t readers yet, try read-alouds or let them listen to an audiobook with headphones on. For struggling readers, research shows that reading just six books during the summer may keep a struggling reader from regressing.

2. Make fluency practice easy.

If you don’t mind screens, installing apps like Prodigy, Elephant Learning, Reading Eggs, Epic, and more, can turn tablet time into fun fluency practice. Learning apps are not only a nice break from worksheets, but they also make incorporating summer learning easier on parents by allowing them to create academic goals and track progress. While some of these apps aren’t free, there are a ton of free ones available for download. Some apps even come with a free trial, so take advantage.

3. Focus on learning a new skill.

In our home, we carve out some time to encourage our boys to learn something new. We not only want them to retain what they’ve learned, but also increase what they know. Learning new skills sharpens their brains and builds confidence. Some great ideas we’ve tried are:

  • Following drawing tutorials
  • Learning how to play a new song on the keyboard
  • Learning to code a video game
  • Following dance tutorials
  • Learning life skills like tying shoelaces, riding a bicycle, swimming, etc.
4. Enter a contest and win money for college.

I’m excited to share this opportunity with you all. Education.com is holding a Limitless Learners Contest for a chance for six students to earn $500 toward college and $1000 to donate to their elementary school or local library. There are no strings attached. All your child/ren must do is this:

Describe a time when you were having so much fun, you didn’t realize you were learning something new!

Kindergartners may draw or paint a picture to reflect their answer, while older kids can write a short story, poem, or even a comic strip. Deadline is October 31, 2019, but why not utilize summer break to sharpen your child’s writing skills and craft a winning response? See details, here.

5. Implement a reward system.

I’m a believer in incentives. In our home, screen time is a big deal, so I use that to my advantage. This summer, learning how to spell new words will grant my boys an allotment of precious Minecraft time. Of course, I had to make it fun by printing out this list of key Minecraft terms. I told my boys if they’re going to be playing the game, they need to know the spelling and definition of each term. The result? Over 40 words learned in just one week for my 9-year-old. My 6-year-old also learned 15 new words.

6. Develop the whole child.

Some parents focus solely on academics and unknowingly neglect other skills equally important for ensuring a child’s potential for learning, growth, and wellbeing. Outside cognitive development, other skills that should be challenged and developed are physical, social, emotional, and creative skills. In our home, we’ve also added spirituality to the list. How does this whole child approach play into academics? In short, research suggests children who are emotionally and physically healthy are higher academic achievers. But did we really need research to know that? Summer is the perfect time to check in on your child’s socio-emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Some books to read with your kiddos are:

If you need inspiration crafting a summer schedule, check out ours below. Keep in mind this schedule is always changing depending on what we do that day, but it comprises all the things we’d like to incorporate into our schedule when we’re at home. I love schedules for children not only because knowing what’s expected encourages positive behavior, but they also teach time management and responsibility.

What does your summer routine consist of? Let me know in the comment section!

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Happy Teacher’s Appreciation Week!

Being an educator has many challenges. Not only do most public school teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies and curricula, but many of them are also underpaid. If you’re an educator you probably know this. But if this is news to you, I hope you’re encouraged to support our nation’s educators and their dedication to teach the next generation. Here are a few ways you can show your support.

  1. Start a school supply drive to help teachers stock their classrooms.
  2. Partner with your child’s teacher by playing an active role in your child’s education.
  3. Send a teacher a “thank you” note and tell them how much they’re appreciated.
  4. Donate to the public library, which helps the facility remain a free resource for teachers and students.
  5. Vote for state officials that support teachers and education.

I might homeschool my own children, but I have many nieces and nephews who attend public school. My prayer is that more people start supporting educators for their sake and for the sake of future America.

How do I—as a homeschool parent—support other educators? Aside from supporting teacher drives, public libraries, and state officials in favor of education (including home education), I also create educational resources!

I started Nike Anderson’s Classroom in 2016 when I placed one of the geography resources I created to use in my homeschool for sale on Teacher’s Pay Teachers. I admit I did not expect to make a dime, but I thought the resource could be helpful to another educator. Even more, I knew that if my boys enjoyed this resource, so would other children. That resource is still my best selling product.

As I created more resources to use in my classroom, I shared the wealth with other teachers. I offer many free products, some of which you can find here, and all of my resources are affordable. I also offer resources with diverse images that reflect the average public school classroom. I believe representation for students of color, even in the form of a worksheet, matters.

This week, I’m partnering with TpT to offer educators discounted rates on my most popular resources. It’s my way of saying “thank you.” Whether you teach a homeschool, public school, or private school, you’re greatly appreciated!

Below, are some resources you might want to grab while this promotion is still going. For other resources, visit Nike Anderson’s Classroom.

UPDATE: This offer is no longer available, but be sure to follow my store to be notified when I upload more freebies and discounts. Happy Teacher’s Appreciation Week! Click on any of the images below to download.

More Like this at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!

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We’re fast approaching the end of the school year here in Middle Georgia. In fact, next month’s To-Do List includes a kindergarten graduation for my six-year-old and state exams for my third-grader.

Sometimes, it’s hard to believe we’ve been on this homeschool journey for four years. Yet, here we are. so much has changed. We went from doing school at home to adopting an eclectic homeschool approach with whole-child education as our foundation.

With that being said, I often wonder if it’s necessary to keep the homeschool room going. I mean, I love our classroom, but I must admit—at this point in our journey—it’s just for looks.

Which leads me to this blog post. Many homeschool newbies wonder if having a homeschool room is necessary.

The quick answer is no.

There are many unconventional places we’ve enjoyed learning outside our designated homeschool room. Here are a few:

Homeschool Room Alternatives

1. The living room: The couches in the formal living room are the perfect place to get cozy with a book.

2. The family room: Whether it’s making ourselves comfortable on the couch, rocking chair, or carpet, the living room has seen more learning than our classroom this year.

3. The dining room table: Multi-level learning is much easier sitting around the dining room table. We can all see each other’s faces, have plenty of workspace, and I can easily work with both my boys at once.

4. The kitchen: We’ve had many science lessons in the kitchen, from building volcanoes and robots at the breakfast table to using hands-on kitchen science to bake goodies. It’s also a great place for my boys to read-aloud to me while I prepare meals.

5. The porch: Our back porch has been the perfect place for us to get messy with arts, crafts, and science experiments.

6. The world: The world is literally the best classroom! Whether we’re hanging out at the library, touring the nation’s capital, or going on a field trip, these experiences give our children the opportunity to put their learning into practice. Click here to read about our field trip adventures. Click here for ideas on providing homeschool children with social opportunities.

So, no, we haven’t been making much use of our classroom. If you don’t have one, don’t feel like you’re missing out. Many homeschoolers I know don’t have a designated workspace either. I will say that there have been some pros and cons to having a homeschool room. Here are a few:

Pros to Having a Homeschool Room:
  • Contains Homeschool Mess: All schoolwork and homeschool supplies have a designated space that is contained and can be closed off at the end of the school day. This keeps other areas of your house from becoming a homeschool landfill.
  • Fewer Distractions: Having a homeschool room automatically sets the atmosphere for learning. Children know they’re in this room to learn and are more likely to stay focused.
  • Personalization: Decorating your homeschool room can be fun! Especially when you get the kiddos involved. You can really create a space that is unique to your family and makes your children excited to learn.
  • More Visuals: Typically, your homeschool room will include hanging charts of colors, shapes, numbers, the alphabet, nouns, verbs, maps, etc. Daily exposure to these visuals may help stimulate your child’s brain and facilitate learning—especially if your child is a visual learner.
  • Keeps Things from Getting Lost: Having a child do schoolwork wherever they please is an invitation for items to get lost. You may find yourself spending unnecessary time looking for pencils, scissors, and other school supplies. Your children may also lose their textbooks and other learning materials. Having a designated classroom ensures everything stays put in one room, cutting down on the likelihood of lost items.
Cons to Having a Homeschool Room:
  • It’s Not Ideal: Many homeschoolers discover that learning is actually best when it takes place outside the home. Field trips, library visits, nature walks, etc., are all opportunities for children to set the workbooks aside and put their education into practice.
  • It’s Segregates Learning: Having a designated classroom may reinforce the idea that learning and life are separate entities when the two are very much intertwined. Being able to learn anywhere may help children understand that learning is accessible anywhere and doesn’t only take place in a classroom setting.
  • It Encourages Overspending: “This will look cute in our classroom” is a phrase I used often. In actuality—even with being a homeschool minimalist—I admit to purchasing things I didn’t need just to “fill-up” our homeschool space.
  • It’s Less Organic: Cuddling up in the oversized rocking chair while I read to my boys about skyscrapers was much more authentic than having them sitting at their desks as I stood at the whiteboard lecturing. Many children I know—including my own—prefer a more organic approach to learning that allows them to better relax and learn at their own pace.
  • It Can Aggravate Cabin Fever: One thing I’ve noticed was that by winter none of us wanted to be in the classroom. Spending most of our mornings in the same confined space started to get old quickly. We wanted to be downstairs where the floorplan was open and the windows were plenty.

Can you homeschool successfully without a designated classroom? Of course you can! But if you must have a classroom and are looking for some inspiration, here is a tour of our updated homeschool space. I figured I’d go ahead and post it should we decide to change or get rid of it altogether next school year.

Homeschool Room Tour
  • Minimalism was the name of the game this year. I wanted to keep the decor simple and only house supplies we’ll actually use. The map is from Dollar Tree, the crayon decals are from Target, and the organizing carts are from Michaels. The bins on top of the carts were gifted from my mother-in-law. 

  • This is how I originally had the classroom set up. We got rid of the lamp, which was from Target. I ordered the office chairs from Amazon, which are specifically designed for children. The valences are a Big Lots’ purchase. Lastly, the corner shelf was gifted by my mother-in-law. 

  • This is what the space looks like with children working in it! The positive affirmations posters are from Target. The LED calendar and red caddy are also from Target. You can find pencil holders like the one in the picture at Dollar Tree and the table lamp is a Walmart purchase. 

  • No homeschool room is complete without a whiteboard. This whiteboard was purchased on Amazon. On the right-hand side of the board, I have my boys’ homeschool schedule and morning checklist laminated for durability and dry-erase use. The affirmation underneath the board says “You are a creator” and I thought it was fitting to place it above the art supplies. The art supplies are sitting on a stand by Melissa and Doug. 

  • My favorite space in this room is the reading corner. The letter decals,  lamp, and chair are from Target. I used the shelves on the floor-lamp to house some of our books, which are sitting in organizer bins from Dollar Tree. The pillow and crochet blanket were made by my lovely momma. Lastly, the Minecraft pickaxe and sword were purchased from a local circus. 

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As a homeschool family going into their fifth year of home education, we’ve been asked many questions about the whys of our homeschool journey.

I knew I wanted to homeschool the very day I was introduced to the idea. My firstborn was just a toddler then, and I was only into the second semester of my master’s program.

I remember my sources presented homeschooling as:

A lifestyle that allowed parents to customize their child’s education according to their  learning style and needs.

As a mother who knew—even then—that her son learned differently from how children were expected to learn in traditional classrooms, the idea of homeschool intrigued me and I decided to perform more research.

By the end of my extensive research, my husband and I were sold on the idea. Not only did homeschool seem to fit our son’s personality, but also our family’s personality. We were—and are still—travelers who would benefit from the freedom that homeschooling had to offer. But I must admit, at the time, homeschool was just a fantasy; something I wanted to do but didn’t think we’d be able to commit to financially. My husband and I were a new young family trying to establish our career paths and we needed two incomes to survive. 

My son went on to attend a preschool program that he enjoyed some days, but there were concerns I’ll refrain from mentioning. His teachers loved him and he graduated knowing sign language and other important concepts taught in preschool. Unfortunately, the issues he experienced left him ill, aloof, and straying from his happy-go-lucky nature. The idea of homeschooling still registered with me.

The timing, however, could not have been worse. Not only did our family just relocate, but we relocated to a town where there weren’t nearly as many resources for homeschoolers as there were in the metro area we once resided. Not to mention, we were crashing with our in-laws and our budget was tight. Homeschool seemed like a no-go.

But then something happened. I found myself researching again. I reread all the reasons why I should and shouldn’t homeschool—all the pros and cons. I read forums and even sought counsel about it. I revisited the idea with my husband, but we were still on the fence. This indecisiveness went on until one month before my son had to register for kindergarten at the public school.

We finally made a decision. I knew if we didn’t at least try homeschooling, we would always wonder. So with the support of my husband and family, I filed my declaration of intent for homeschool.

It took a while for my husband and I to fully grasp why we felt led to homeschool. You can read that post, here. Even to this day, our reasons continue to expand and evolve. What’s for certain, however, are the reasons why we didn’t choose to homeschool.

Here Are 3 Reasons We Don’t Homeschool 1.    To shelter our children. 

This was the major question I had to ask myself—am I homeschooling to protect my children from potential peer pressure? Rejection? Failure? Or any other fears that a parent may have? Let me just say that there is nothing wrong with wanting to protect our children—it is both instinctive and maternal. However, sometimes we can get so caught up in protecting them that we forget to teach our children how to stand confidently on their own two feet.

The truth is, social pressure and all of life’s unfavorable experiences have the potential to happen anywhere—even in our own home. So, unless I planned on my children not having any friends or social life whatsoever, I would have to teach them how to make good decisions in addition to healthy ways to deal with rejection, failure, and whatever else life throws at them. And let’s face it, these experiences don’t necessarily have to be all bad, as they are teachable moments.

2.    To be their sole educator. 

The saying is true that it takes a village to raise a child. And I knew that if I was going to homeschool, it was going to take a village to teach my children. Yes, I would be their primary teacher, but there’s a time when our children benefit from learning from other people. Whether it’s their peers, grandparents, coach, music teacher, or the cashier at the local grocery store—I know that other people have something valuable to teach my children that I can’t teach them myself. This is especially true when experience is the teacher.

Therefore, I didn’t go into homeschooling with the attitude that I was the only competent person to provide my children with a sound education. Rather, I only wanted to homeschool if I knew there was a community out there to help me teach my children and help them to reach their full potential. We were blessed to find not one, but multiple communities we can share experiences with and learn from. Our boys take extracurricular classes, play sports, and participate in many educational field-trips. You can read about it, here.

3.    To control how they’ll turn out as adults. 

We are a family of faith who—naturally—desire our children to share our belief in Jesus Christ. As parents, we desire and encourage our children to share our values. Whether those values have to do with faith, being a good citizen, or simply rooting for our favorite sports team, the more we share them with our children, the better our children get to know us—and what matters to us. 

We also understand that our children are individuals who will choose their own path one day. We cannot control them and we have zero control over who they’ll turn out to be as adults. For this reason, keeping our children home so that we can be the helicopter parent and govern their every move or influence their every decision wouldn’t be a wise investment of our time.

That’s all I have for now, friends. I hope you enjoyed this post.

If you’re on the fence about homeschool, just try it. Try it for one month. One semester. One year. You can always re-enroll your child into public/private school if things don’t work out. Just make sure you make your “why” clear. And remember, your “why” is unique to your family and no one can tell you it’s wrong.

Until next time, friends…

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Homeschool is great. Sometimes, however, we become so stuck in our mundane routine that we don’t even realize how far we’ve traveled from our vision.

If you’re new here, our vision for home education is this:

To foster a healthy relationship with learning that inspires a lifestyle of educational, mental, and spiritual growth.

While field trips, extra-curricular classes, and formal lessons are great ways to execute this vision, I strongly feel that just being can teach our children the value of rest. In rest, we discover the balance we all need to prosper.

Let me give you an analogy.

You’re probably aware that, when it comes to working out, rest is just as important as the physical activity.

Why?

Because it allows our muscles, tissues, nerves, and bones to rebuild after being broken down by an effective workout routine. Too much physical activity, when not coupled with resting periods, can take a toll on the human body.

In the same way, too much education, without adequate resting periods, can take a toll on childen—and their parents.

Enter the “reset” button.

You know, that button you press when your Wi-Fi has been running a little slower than usual? Yes! I press a similar button to reset my family when things have been a little—slow.

This spring, after pressing that reset button, we took a little trip to the Great Wolf Lodge resort. We called it our mini family getaway where for just a few days we could just be. Let me tell you, it was everything we needed and more!

Before I delve into my tips, I must disclaim this post is not sponsored. We paid our own money to stay at this resort and all opinions are my own. If you missed the video footage of our GWL adventures on Instagram, you can rewatch them on our Instastory highlights under the title “Today” for a limited time.

Now, here are some helpful tips if you’re planning a family getaway to Great Wolf Lodge (GLW) this spring. 

1. Sign up for emails.

Before you book your stay, I highly recommend signing up for emails. All you need to do is go to the company website and create an account. After doing so, check your inbox over the next few weeks. You’ll be surprised by how many promo deals GWL will send you for up to 50% off your stay. Without doing so, you could end up paying $400-$500 per night!

2. Your waterpark passes are included.

You probably know this but, in case you didn’t, when you purchase a hotel room for the night, this fee includes your entry to the waterpark for all the guests who’ll be staying in that room. So, if you booked a room for a family of four for $300/night, you will NOT have to purchase additional tickets to the waterpark. Each family member will receive a wristband upon check-in that grants them entry into the park.

3. Check for “Homeschool Day” offers.

If you’re a homeschool family, your location may offer “Homeschool Days.” Homeschool Days are basically days the resort invites homeschoolers to enjoy their facility at a discounted rate. Our location’s Homeschool Day was last month during Spring Break. They sent out offers as low as $99 per night! We were unable to take advantage of that deal but will be looking out for it in the future.

4. Don’t purchase a day pass.

From what I saw, day passes are around $55 per person. For a family of four, that’s $220. Trust me when I say, you can get a room (which includes your waterpark passes) for the same price, sometimes even less if you watch for promo deals. I highly recommend staying a night at the hotel if you can manage to book it for a lower value. You’ll be able to take advantage of the fun evening activities without worrying about driving/flying home. Plus, how cool is it to sleep at a hotel that has an indoor waterpark?

5. It’s an indoor waterpark and it’s warm!

Again, I’m probably insulting your intelligence, but GWL is an indoor waterpark. Although, I also don’t want to assume you know this information. Some people I spoke with actually didn’t know. All major attractions are indoors. No need for sunscreen or sunglasses unless you’re enjoying the outdoor pool/hot tub. It’s also very warm, about 80 degrees indoors. The water temperature is warm, too! And, yes, it’s open during winter.

6. Arrive early.

Standard check-in is at 4pm, but we were allowed to arrive as early as 1pm to have access to the waterpark, which we took advantage of. We simply checked-in, received our wristbands, and enjoyed the water park until our room was ready. And as a side note: our room was ready by 2:30pm, so we were actually able to get into our room earlier than the standard check-in time! However, this is likely because we visited during low-traffic hours.

7. Leave late.

Check-out is at 11am, but you don’t have to leave just yet. After checking out of your room, put all your belongings back into your car and enjoy the waterpark (and the rest of the resort) until it closes at 8pm (sometimes 9pm). Your wristband will still work for entry to the waterpark! If you want to keep your room a little longer you can always pay extra for what they call “late check-out.” You won’t necessarily need to, though, because everyone can shower and dress in the waterpark locker rooms. The locker rooms even have a machine to spin-dry your swimsuits.

8. You don’t need your wallet.

The wristband you receive upon check-in is attached to your credit/debit card on file. Simply scan it to make purchases at the resort. The wristband is also your room key so don’t lose it! This is pretty handy because you can keep your wallet in a safe in your hotel room and you won’t have to rent a locker ($10-$18) at the waterpark to host it.

9. Don’t struggle with your luggage.

If you’re not valet parking (which is an additional cost per day), send someone (your hubby or oldest child) to the front entry and have them bring a luggage cart to your parking space. There’s no additional charge for this service. Simply load up, check in to your hotel room, and leave your cart outside your door when you’re done. A staff member will bring the cart back downstairs for you.

10. Skip the upcharges.

GWL offers Wolf Pass packages for up to $60 per child. This is an additional charge. You get the following:

  • One MagiQuest game
  • One wand to play MagiQuest
  • One round of mini golf
  • One entry to the Moonstone maze
  • One climb at the ropes course
  • One arcade card with 20 points (this will go quickly)
  • One candy cup
  • One ice cream scoop
  • One pair of goggles

I personally did not think the passes were worth the money. There are plenty of free events to enjoy at the resort after the kids tire themselves out at the waterpark. There’s morning yoga, face painting, crafting, and story time. There are also several evening parties—including a dance party for the kiddos and more! Make sure you receive an activity schedule when you check in. If you’re staying for more than three days, perhaps the passes could be worth the money, but I wouldn’t recommend it otherwise.

11. You can pay for activities/attractions separately.

A Wolf Pass is not the only way to enjoy the resort’s activities. You can save money and just pay for the activities you really want to enjoy. MagiQuest, one of the resort’s most popular attractions, will cost you around $33 per person for the game and wand. That’s nearly half of what you’ll pay for the Wolf Pass. Save your wand to avoid purchasing another one if you plan to return to GWL. Additionally, bowling is only $6 a game. No need to pay $60 for a Wolf Pass if you only want to bowl! I will say the Wolf Pass is worth it if you plan to do more than two activities.

12. Visit on weekdays and off-holidays.

Part of the reason we had a wonderful time was because we visited on low-traffic days when the resort wasn’t crowded. Judging from other reviews, visiting on weekends, spring break seasons, etc., is a no-no. When we visited, the lines at the waterpark were not long. Some slides had no wait at all. There were also plenty of chairs to relax in, plenty of tables to eat lunch at, and plenty of room to move about in all the pool areas.

13. Take advantage of Camp Howl.

This is the only upcharge that could be worth the money. For $25-$30 per child, you can put your kiddos in a program called Camp Howl and enjoy a child-free evening from 5pm-9pm. This gives you an opportunity to sip some wine (if you drink), enjoy the hot tub, sit by the cozy fire and chat—whatever you and your spouse/friends want to do at the resort!

14. Beware of the towel return policy.

Be sure to return your towels before the waterpark’s closing hours. Failure to do so will result in a hefty charge to your credit/debit card. When returning your towels, you MUST ensure you swipe your wristband and hear that “beeping” sound. Some attendants may let you know about this policy (ours did), but judging from other reviews, some of the park attendants failed to relay this information to guests.

15. Stay an extra night.

This may not happen for you, but our resort sent us a promo code on the second day of our visit inviting us to stay an extra night for only $75. A huge savings from the $400 per night average! If you’re willing to take a risk, just book one night less than you’re planning to stay and see if your resort will offer an additional night for a fraction of the cost. Keep in mind that we stayed at our resort during low-traffic days, so more rooms were probably available to give us this offer. If you can swing it, you could save over $325 for your last night’s stay.

16. Don’t overpack.

The waterpark supplies a seemingly unlimited amount of beach towels, free of charge, but make sure you return them when you’re done! The waterpark also offers certified life vests and flotation devices. You will not be able to bring your own floatie into the park, but you can for sure bring a certified life vest if you’re picky about those types of things.

17. B.Y.O.F.

Yes, bring your own food if at all possible. As with any resort, prices are inflated and the food is just so-so. GWL allows you to bring a cooler into your room (not to the waterpark, though). There’s a nice size mini fridge to store it all. We packed sandwiches, cereal, apples, bananas, Gatorade, water, and more! For dinner, we simply drove about 8 minutes to the nearest Chick-fil-a. And I will add that the waterpark states “no outside food” but I saw plenty of families bring in their own food at our location. According to other reviews, some locations will check your bags so BYOF into the waterpark at your own risk. No worries, though, there’s a restaurant inside the waterpark should your kiddo swear they’ll die of hunger.

18. Not teen-friendly.

My boys are 6 and 9-years-old and I agree with the people who say this resort is for families with children ages 12 and under. I saw MANY bored teens. Unless your teen has a “kid at heart” personality or is a low thrill-seeker, they’ll probably hide in the hotel room glued to their cell phone. There’s only one high-thrill slide. The other slides were so low-thrill that I saw toddlers get on them. There were also moderate-level slides suitable for 9-12-year-olds. However, there’s an outdoor pool that teens might enjoy, but it’s only open during the warmer months. I’m not a high thrill seeker, so I was happy to get to enjoy the slides with my boys free of fear, haha.

19. You can relax.

The lifeguards and staff at my location were phenomenal. They were alert, friendly, but stern. If your kids are pretty well behaved, you can totally relax in the chairs next to the waterslide area and let them go at it! Honestly, I didn’t encounter one child misbehaving (although I know this is rare). The lifeguards are quick to blow their whistles and put them in check. My husband and I did enjoy the slides quite a bit with our children. However, after an hour or so, our thighs started burning from climbing all those steep stairs. We opted to stay in close range while our boys went on the slides as much as they pleased, and we felt like they were in good hands.

20. Coffee (and other adult beverages) onsite.

For all my coffee lovers, the resort does have a Dunkin Donuts on-site and the prices are actually reasonable. My husband and I paid about $5 for two medium coffees. For a resort, that’s not a bad price point.  We are not drinkers, but we’ve also peeped that the resort offers beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages in their restaurants. There’s even a bar in the waterpark.  Also, feel free to BYOB to the hotel.

21. Celebrate a birthday.

My youngest son’s 6th birthday gave us another excuse to splurge on this getaway. It worked out since his actual birthday landed on our homeschool field day last week and we didn’t get to throw a party. He had a great birthday with his friends, but GWL definitely took it up a notch. They made him feel extra special the entire stay, from singing happy birthday GW-style, to giving him special party hat wolf ears that alerted everyone to grant him birthday wishes. He kept asking how everyone knew it was his birthday. He loved it! Be sure to let the resort know you’ll be celebrating a birthday and get your camera ready to capture the moment.

22. Visit the Lagrange, Georgia Location.

If you’ve got options in regards to locations, choose the Lagrange, Georgia location. For starters, the customer service is great (shoutout to Ms. Kim at the check-in counter). The rooms are nice and clean since it’s a newer facility. The Lagrange location is also the prototype for future Great Wolf Lodge’s, as there are newer attractions that other locations do not have. So go and check it out!

Well, that about sums it up! Have you traveled to GWL before? What are your tips?
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Last year, I wrote a post titled, 50 Facts About Me, to welcome my new supporters to the family. The post consisted of random questions I pulled from Google’s search engine that varied from where my hometown is to what countries I’ve traveled to. Considering this post garnered a lot of traffic to my blog, making it among my top ten blog posts of 2018, it’s safe to assume you all enjoyed it—or at least thought it was interesting enough to click on?

In any event, we’ve got some new members to our blogging family and I figured I’d write a similar post to help everyone get to know me even better. Last week, I celebrated my thirty-fourth birthday, so it’s fitting that I offer thirty-four fun facts about me that I haven’t mentioned yet. The first few questions are related to blogging. The rest are random, yet interesting. I hope you enjoy this post!

1. How did you first get into blogging?

I believe it was the year 2010 when I first got a taste of the blogging world. I sort of fell into it. I joined a social media platform for women with natural hair and started sharing my natural hair journey with other women of color. Although this platform no longer exists, some of my writings are still floating around the Internet to this day.

2. What inspired you to start your recent blog?

Loneliness. When I started homeschooling my children, it felt like we were the only black homeschool family in the world. My blog allowed me to connect not just with other black homeschoolers, but with homeschoolers from many racial, cultural, and geographical backgrounds. It was my way of saying “I’m here and I’m with you” to all those homeschool moms that felt the same loneliness.

3. What is your greatest blogging failure so far and what did you learn from that?

Hmmm. I would say not doing adequate research. When I first started blogging in 2010, I would share any old info’ that popped up in my search engine and it came back to bite me. These days, I seek scholarly sources and am more thorough with my research when applicable.

4. What is your proudest achievement as a blogger so far?

Hands down, the number of people I’ve helped. Whether I’ve helped them find a valuable resource, peace of mind, or encouragement, it always warms my heart to open an email from someone who just wants to say thank you.

5. What is your greatest achievement outside of blogging?

I’d have to say my mental and spiritual growth. My skin’s a little thicker, I’m more confident, more spiritual, and am pretty much happy and thankful to be who I am and where I’m at in life.

6. Who are some of your favorite bloggers? 7. Is blogging your profession or just a hobby?

My blog is definitely a hobby right now. While it has helped me earn money, I simply haven’t had the time to make this a full-time gig yet. Contrary to what some people think, even blogging part-time is very time-consuming.

8. How often do you communicate with your followers?

Pretty regularly. Join me on Instagram where I post family snapshots and video stories at least four times a week. Follow me on Facebook where I share inspiring stories, budget-friendly resources, and snapshots of our day-in-the-life. I also like to read your blog posts on a weekly basis (if you’re a fellow blogger), so it’s likely you’ll see me drop by with a like and/or comment!

9. What do you do in your spare time?

When I’m not blogging or teaching, I’m creating educational resources for Nike Anderson’s Classroom, reading self-help books, writing musings, listening to motivational podcasts or Youtube videos, getting my blood flowing, helping my husband run the family business, exploring local (or far away) beautiful places with my family, eating Mexican food, window shopping, hanging out with friends, laughing until I cry, drinking coffee, or sleeping.

10. What are some red flags you watch out for in daily life?

It may seem weird, but too much praise. Sincere compliments are wonderful, but too much flattery makes me suspicious of a person’s intentions. Why? Because it NEVER, I repeat NEVER ended well when my relationships/friendships started off with incessant praise. Sometimes people use flattery as a manipulation tool, so be careful!

11. What “old person” things do you do?

Use slang incorrectly, say things like “Is that what the young people are doing these days?” or “What happened to real music?,” declare how “hip” I am, get excited about coupons, retell the same stories to anyone who’ll listen—okay, I’ll stop embarrassing myself now.

12. What makes you roll your eyes every time you hear it?

“Natural hair is not for me.” Oh, the irony of that statement. God gave it to you. It’s for you, boo.

13. How do you judge a person?

By how they talk about other people and/or treat people with lower economic status. I once read a statement that said, “How people treat others whom they believe are beneath them is very telling of their character.” So far, so accurate.

14. When was the last time you were snooping and found something you wish you hadn’t?

I Googled myself once (under my then blogging alias about 8 years ago) and found someone had shared one of my blog posts. The comments underneath that shared post were hateful and non-constructive. It took a while for me to get over it. But it was a lesson learned in so many ways. The primary lesson? It’s none of my business what other people think about me. 

15. If you were moving to another country, but could only pack one carry-on sized bag, what would you pack?
  • My Bible.
  • My cell phone.
  • My laptop.
  • My intimates (bras in my size are difficult to find and are expensive).
  • My family photos.
  • My important documents.
  • My makeup.
  • My good jeans (they’re high waisted and very forgiving).
  • Some leggings and comfy tops (I know how to pack military style).
  • My favorite bathrobe.
  • My Ninja to make smoothies.
  • My natural hair products.
  • A converter for my plugs.
  • A pair of heels.
16. If you could have an all-expenses paid trip to see any famous world monument, which monument would you choose?

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It’s currently the tallest skyscraper in the world and I would love to take my boys (who love architecture and skyscrapers) to see it in person.

17. What’s the most ridiculous thing you have bought?

During my undergrad years, I thought I was purchasing a $99 refurbished laptop from eBay (I know, I know). It was supposed to be a gift for my fiancé (now husband). Turns out when I received it, it was basically a shell with NOTHING inside. No motherboard, no nothing. The computer techs practically laughed us out of the store when we asked if there was anything they could do to “fix” it.

18. What outdoor activity haven’t you tried, but would like to?

Zip-lining. My husband just tried it last weekend and I would like to work up the courage to try it one day.

19. What’s the worst backhanded compliment someone gave you?

“I love your home—My husband and I are considering downgrading to something small like this.” It’s probably not the worst backhanded compliment, but it’s all I can think of at the moment. Believe me, homegirl was being super shady when she said it. It was a home my husband and I shared when we lived in Atlanta, Georgia nearly seven years ago.

20. If you were given one thousand acres of land that you didn’t need to pay taxes on but couldn’t sell, what would you do with it?

Grow crops for food. I’ve been liking the idea of growing my own food more and more lately, and I just might do it one day.

21. What about the opposite sex confuses you the most?

The thought-process behind throwing dirty clothes onto the floor NEXT to the laundry basket. Didn’t know this was an epidemic until I spoke with other wives with the same problem. Love you anyway, hubby! It’s all in fun!

22. What kinds of things do you like to cook or are good at cooking?

I’m told I make a great spaghetti meat sauce, baked mac n cheese, homemade BBQ sauce, and homemade chewy sugar cookies—just to name a few. I actually don’t like cooking, but I love when people enjoy my food—especially my hubby and children.

23. What life skills are rarely taught but extremely useful?

How to handle and overcome adversity. I think too many people give up way too soon. We’d have more successful people if we were taught to expect adversity and were given the tools to come out on the winning side of it.

24. What’s the most historic thing that has happened in your lifetime?

There are a few; the 9/11 attacks on the WTC, having the first black POTUS, and the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria—which was the most important election in that country since 1999, and I happened to be visiting during that time. I missed my flight back home to the States due to demonstrations happening in Lagos.

25. What’s the most awkward thing that happens to you on a regular basis?

The long, awkward pause when someone asks me how old my children are, what grade they’re in, how many years I’ve been married, or how old I am. For some reason, the answers don’t come to me straight away. Like, I swear I know how old my kids are, haha.

26. What’s the most annoying noise?

The sound of my children asking for water for the umpteenth time after going to bed. Haha.

27. What animal is the most majestic?

I love lions and tigers (you know you want to finish the song). But seriously, I am a fan of big cats. Have you ever looked into their eyes? So beautiful and regal.

28. What seemingly innocent question makes you think “It’s a trap!”?

The good ol’ “What do you do for a living?” I think most creatives hate this question because it simply can’t be summarized in a way that’s pleasing to itching ears. Also, I’ve found that this question stems from one of two places; 1.) Someone wondering how you can afford something they deem a luxury. 2.) Someone waiting for the opportunity to brag about what THEY do. Whatever the case, either your answer will cause them to feel inferior or superior. Neither is a good outcome. I do understand, however, that in some cases this is harmless small talk.

29. What small change greatly improves a person’s appearance?

A genuine smile. There’s nothing more beautiful than a face that reflects a heart at peace.

30. What topic could you spend hours talking about?

Ugh. natural hair. I low-key get excited whenever someone brings up the topic. I love everything about natural hair from the spiritual journey I’ve experienced, the discovery and acceptance of self, to the science of taking care of it. It’s all so fascinating. So much so that I was once a regular contributor to an online natural hair care magazine. Best hobby ever. But actually, I like talking about anything that’s helped me grow as a person, really—faith, homeschool, family, parenting, you name it!

31. What’s the weirdest thing that has happened to you while working at your job?

A couple years ago, I was hit on by a married man in front of his wife (and ALL my colleagues). I was working the front desk at a part-time job after relocating from Atlanta to Middle Georgia and the man blatantly flirted with me while his wife was standing next to him. She said nothing at all but stood there nervously smiling. And, yes, I’m sure it was his wife as I was helping them fill out pertinent paperwork. I thought I was on a prank television show or something. I couldn’t fill out his paperwork fast enough. Mortifying.

32. What are some of the most common misconceptions people have about you?
  • That I’m shy.
  • That I’m high maintenance.
  • That I don’t have a sense of humor.

In all fairness, I can see why that’d be an initial impression, as I’m a woman of few words around people I don’t know very well. That’s because I’m trying to discern what type of people they are. You’ll discover a lot about people when you close your mouth and just listen to them speak.

33. What was the biggest realization you had about yourself?

I am super TMI. Typically, this happens around people I’m comfortable with. I don’t know how many times a friend has lovingly said, “I didn’t need to know that.” I’m getting better though. It took a few unfavorable experiences for me to wise up and learn when to keep things to myself.

34. What values are most important to you?

Faith, peace, love, family, education, health, authenticity, and persistence. But above all; faith, peace, and love.

Can you relate to any of my answers? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time, friends…

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I wrote this post in 2016 when I was new to blogging and homeschool. After rereading it and making a few revisions, I wanted to share it on this particular platform because I believe it’s important to write about homeschool from all angles—and not just from the Instagram-perfect lens. 

True, homeschool is pretty awesome. But I think every homeschool parent has an expectations-versus-reality type of moment. You know, when you kind of feel betrayed because all those social media influencers made homeschooling seem like a Mary Poppins sequel, but then you discover it’s no walk in the park? Well, perhaps it is a walk in Jurassic Park, hehe.

I’m here for you.

Today, I’m going to share ten wakeup calls that I’ve experienced as a new homeschool mom. Now that I’m nearing the end of my fourth year, I must say it was pretty interesting to revisit this topic. At first, I feared this post was too negative. However, I’ve come to realize there’s nothing negative about seeing things for what they are. And there’s certainly nothing negative about personal growth and sharing that growth with others.

So, here it is:

10 Wake-up Calls That Rudely Awakened This Homeschool Mom 1.    Expectation—My kids will perform three grade-levels ahead.  Wake-up Call—I’m feeding my ego. 

I admit to being easily impressed by homeschool families who managed to do incredible things. When I read stories about teens who earned early college enrollment or admission to Ivy League schools, I wanted that to be my boys in the future. The problem with this frame of thinking was it changed the environment of our homeschool. We went from having fun to doing drills, and I became obsessed with keeping my boys ahead academically.

I’m all for preparing my kids for the absolute best, but something had to give. Everyone was frustrated! I had to ask myself a valid question; who am I really doing this for? The difficult truth was it wasn’t entirely for my boys. Compliments like, “they’re so smart for their age,” really fed my ego. I had to humble myself and make some changes to their curriculum that were more developmentally appropriate.

2.    Expectation—My kids are smarter because they’re homeschooled.  Wake-up Call—My kids are not superior.

Can I be real? It took me a while to let go of the notion that my kids are academically superior just because they’re homeschooled (Don’t condemn me. It’s flawed thinking that has since been corrected). Unfortunately, though, some homeschool parents haven’t gotten the memo, as academic superiority seems to be a primary topic of conversation in many homeschool groups and forums.

But who cares? I understand the desire for our children to excel, but why is it necessary to compare their intelligence to that of another human being? These days, I teach my boys the only person they need to be better than is the person they were yesterday. That doesn’t mean I don’t challenge them or encourage them to work diligently. It just means I’m not setting them up to adopt a practice that is notorious for being the “thief of joy”—comparison.

3.    Expectation—Academics come first. Wake-up Call—My kids have needs outside academics. 

There are many life skills and principles my boys need to learn that, in my eyes, are just as important to master as academics. Things like riding a bike without training wheels, tying their own shoes, coordination, discipline, and so much more. My husband and I had to become just as intentional about teaching these things as we are about teaching core subjects. And where we fall short, we’ve learned the relief that comes with investing in an instructor who can help our children master the skills and principles we value.

4.    Expectation—All Homeschool groups are welcoming. Wake-up Call—Finding the right homeschool group is challenging. 

Before we started homeschooling, I pictured other homeschool parents embracing me and my children with open arms. I pictured being a part of a community dedicated to giving our children a phenomenal education and awesome social opportunities. I pictured how easy it would be to connect and build friendships with people who were on the same journey.

Sadly, this hasn’t been the case.

I can’t emphasize enough how challenging it was—and still is—to find a homeschool group where I feel like we truly belong. If it’s not one thing that sets us apart, it’s another. Not only are we one of the few black homeschool families in our community, but we are also not native to Middle Georgia. The great news is, after a few years, I’ve made at least two solid connections with other moms and the outlook is promising.

5.    Expectation—I will shrug off the naysayers. Wake-up Call—My skin isn’t as tough as I think. 

I’m proud of my decision to homeschool, but there are moments when my confidence waivers. Those are the moments I allow the voices of other people to get inside my ear; voices that tell me my curriculum isn’t good enough, that homeschool is for weirdos, or that black people should never homeschool. I got knocked down so many times and continue to get knocked down. Developing tough skin is a process, but it’s happening. Each day I get a little tougher.

6.    Expectation—Homeschoolers are a Kum ba yah community. Wake-up Call—The community is divided. 

Should I choose the Charlotte Mason or self-directed learning method? A five-hundred dollar curriculum or a DIY curriculum? Everyone has an opinion. Everyone thinks their method is best. Parents who choose to DIY are criticized for not investing in their children’s education. Parents who practice self-directed learning are criticized for not taking their children’s education seriously.

There’s a war going on in some of these social media comment sections, and frankly, it’s appalling. I thought the homeschool community was full of unity and love, but I’ve discovered it can be just as divided as the rest of the world when our egos enter into the mix. Thankfully, I finally stumbled upon some great communities where none of this drama takes place.

7.    Expectation—We’ll do all our learning in the homeschool room.  Wake-up Call—Homeschool is better outside the home. 

That’s right! Our classroom gets very little use these days. The more we get out, go on field trips, and engage in extracurricular activities, the better the homeschool experience is for the entire family.

Of course there are times when classroom work is necessary, but no one wants to be in the house all day, every day. I learned it’s really important to, at the very least, schedule my boys to have outdoor time every single day (weather permitted). I’d venture to say that planning field trips and outings should take just a much effort as researching what curriculum we’ll use for the year.

8.    Expectation—I don’t have to worry about socialization. Wake-up Call—Socialization should not be disregarded. 

I know this is a touchy subject for some. I’ve heard, and often made the same argument, that by definition, fellowshipping with family members counts as socialization. While this may be true (socializing is socializing), I will venture to say that for MY kids, they need a bit more. Here’s why:

  • First, my kids need a break from each other! Enrolling them in separate extracurricular classes and activities gives them that much-needed break.
  • Second, my kids love hanging out with other kids. Yes, having a full-blown conversation with the cashier at the local grocery store counts as socialization, but my children crave to be with other children!
  • Third, my kids need exposure to people who are different from them. I’ve seen what it looks like when children are only surrounded by their own kind and it’s not a pretty picture. We’ll leave it there.
9.    Expectation—I will never use assessments on my children.  Wake-up Call—Assessments are not the Devil. 

Some homeschool methods feel strongly against any type of assessment. While I agree that assessments don’t always accurately measure knowledge, I personally like to know where my child stands in each subject so that I can see which areas need work. In other words; the assessments are for me, not the child. They are the red flags that alert me if I need to slow down, speed up, hire a tutor, change the curriculum, or keep up the good work.

Of the three types of assessments, I primarily (though not exclusively) use the formative version because it’s the most flexible. Examples of formative assessments we use in our homeschool are interactive discussions and oral/written quizzes. This type of assessment has worked for my boys because it is more lax, allows for immediate feedback, and has improved their knowledge retention and overall academic performance.

10. Expectation—All homeschool kids are just as awesome as statistics suggest.  Wake-up Call—All homeschool kids aren’t poster children. 

Like public school, some homeschoolers fall through the cracks. The problem is, there’s no way to actually determine that percentage because these kids are either invisible or are eventually enrolled in public school (which would then count them as a public school student when measuring statistics). In other words, homeschool doesn’t guarantee success.

I know, I know—it’s touchy.

The reality is, while there are some homeschool teens successfully attending college at the age of sixteen, homeschool is no guarantee that your child will be college-ready any more than the public school can make that same guarantee. At the end of the day,  it’ll all boil down to commitment.

Before I end this post, I just want to note that this post isn’t meant to discourage newbie homeschoolers. Rather, I hope that you’re able to form a more realistic picture of homeschool. The important thing to note here is that it’s okay to try new methods and do things YOUR way—even if it goes against popular opinion.

I’d be interested to know how your views of homeschool have changed over the years. Let me know in the comments below!

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Spring is literally around the corner!

Whether you’re a homeschool family like us, or your kids are home on spring break, I bet you’re looking for ideas on how to enjoy the warmer weather we’ve all been desperately waiting for.

Or, maybe that I’ve been desperately waiting for?

I mean, if you’ve read my recent post, you’re well aware that for me, and many other homeschoolers, winter is burnout season. But we’ve powered through it and kindly welcome the chirping birds (let’s hope they don’t bully us this year and that they make their nests in a location other than our front porch), the budding flowers, the milder days, and the sound of children enjoying the great outdoors.

Enter, springtime! How, oh how, shall we celebrate?

Of course, spending more time playing outdoors, taking bike rides, and basking in the sunshine are obvious ways to welcome the spring months. I, however, wanted to recommend some of the educational activities we’ve done in the past that our boys especially enjoyed. All the activities I’m about to mention are family friendly and age-adaptable. Most importantly, they are super fun!

So, let’s get into it, shall we?

7 Educational Activities to Welcome the Spring 1. Learn about bees and pollination.

Where did we learn about bees and pollination? During a spring field trip to our local farm. We learned how bees make honey and how humans harvest it, the differences between male and female bees, and the important role bees play in pollination. We also got to taste some local honey harvested right there on the farm!

You don’t have to venture far to learn about bees, though. There are a ton of YouTube videos and library books on the subject that can be taught right from the comfort of your back porch on a beautiful spring day. But, of course, a lesson on a beautiful farm takes things up a notch.

And while you’re at it, invest in some local honey if the spring season aggravates your child’s allergies. Local honey is a great natural way to combat allergy season. Just a spoonful will do for children over one-year-old. And as a friendly reminder; never give honey to an infant.

2. Plant something green.

After covering our lesson on plant science, which included an awesome plant-cycle activity in our interactive science notebooks, we decided to get hands on. Planting grass is such an easy, no-nonsense experiment for children because it easily grows in many different environments. My boys loved taking care of their indoor plant and watching it change over time.

We got our seeds for free at a local farm, but you can pretty much purchase these seeds at any Lowes, home depot, Walmart, and even Target. In fact, Target has some pretty cool starter grow kits for tomatoes, carrots, and other veggies if you’re feeling adventurous.

3. Pick some strawberries.

Did you know strawberries are the first fruit to ripen each spring? That makes them the perfect fruit to welcome the spring months. So, pack up the kids, head to your local orchard, and get ready to pick some juicy strawberries!

But don’t stop there. Check if your local orchard offers guided tours, classes, or other educational opportunities to maximize your learning experience. Our local orchard taught our homeschool group a lesson on the life-cycle of strawberries and how to properly pick them before we ventured off to pick our own. We also ate some delicious homemade strawberry ice-cream, compliments of the farm.

4. Visit a butterfly garden.

Most butterfly gardens are open to the public. Visit one and learn about the many species of butterflies and their native habitats. The butterflies in the garden are typically friendly and will interact with you and your children. My boys even fed them nectar, which was the closest they’ve ever been to the beautiful creatures they tend to chase in our backyard.

Don’t have a local butterfly garden? Invest in a butterfly kit and grow your own butterflies. You can find them just about anywhere, but Amazon is probably your best bet. The kit comes with live caterpillars that turn into adult butterflies. Be sure to set them free after you’ve finished marveling at their transformation.

5. Camp out while doing your lessons.

Got a tent taking up space in your garage? Pitch it in your backyard and turn it into your spring classroom. Pack your laptop, sleeping bags, and yummy treats to cozy up and watch a documentary together. Or, pack some clipboards for easy writing and do your normal lessons in the fun cozy setting of your backyard tent.

You can also go on a real camping adventure. Just search for popular campsites in your area. Many parks and other recreational areas offer great camping grounds complete with beautiful scenery and the necessary facilities to make the most of your camping trip. Your kids will love solving math problems by the lake or underneath a tunnel of trees in the forest.

6. Do some spring-themed brainteasers.

Who can resist the plethora of cute spring-themed worksheets on the good ol’ internet? They’re especially handy “boredom-busters” for those rainy spring days when everyone is stuck at home. Education.com has got you covered! Not only does this resource offer an abundance of spring-themed worksheets, but also brain-teasers, games, and lesson plans for just about every topic I mentioned in this blog post.

Check out the brain-teaser below for a fun way to challenge your child’s cognitive thought processes, and improve their concentration, memory, and brain strength. Download it here for FREE!

Spring Maze Brain Teaser To celebrate the beginning of spring, these friendly flowers are here to help you through this maze! Be sure to check out Education.com for more learning fun. 7. Learn about local birds and make a birdhouse.

Making a birdhouse is not only fun, but is also incredibly easy to find in kit-form. We purchased our wooden birdhouse kits from Lowes and my boys had a great time building and painting them. All we needed was a kiddie hammer, some paint supplies, a back porch, and a beautiful spring day.

If you have a local nature center, it is the perfect place to learn about local birds and other wildlife. During our visit, we learned most of the wildlife at our nature center have been nursed back to health after being found injured or orphaned. Our boys got to see owls, eagles, and many other beautiful birds up close and personal. There’s something magical that happens when kids interact with animals!

Well, that completes my list. I hope you try out some of these activities this spring. A big thanks to Education.com for another great partnership to bring you awesome educational resources for your children and students. As you know, Education.com is one of my favorite resources so it’s always a pleasure to work with them.

Need more ideas? Click here for other spring-friendly field-trip ideas and join me on Instagram to see what activities we do this coming spring!

Be sure to let me know in the comments what your family’s favorite springtime activities are.

Until next time, friends…

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Over the past few months, my oldest son tried a hand at musical theater. That meant extra rehearsals for him and lots of downtime for mom, as I accompanied him.

They performed Beauty and the Beast last week, he was Phillippe, among other characters, and the performance was great. Just in case you’re curious.

During my downtime, I had the luxury of reading one of the books I checked out from the library a couple weeks ago, Boys and Girls Learn Differently! A Guide for Teachers and Parents. I wasn’t purposely looking for this book. It simply fell into my hands while reaching for another book about homeschooling on the same shelf. Nevertheless, the title of this book intrigued me, and I decided to keep it.

Let me paint the picture: my boys often stand when they work, pace when they read, don’t seem to know what walking or a quiet voice is, protest sitting still at any capacity, will mope about writing a book report on a classic novel but willingly write about the history of Minecraft, are drawing and coding fanatics, would rather listen to me read than read on their own, are so video game obsessed that I have to forbid it on weekdays—and the list goes on. 

As a woman, most days I just don’t understand them. But I love learning about their unique ways of learning and how I can better facilitate this process. I’m not here to change them. They’re fine as they are. I’m here to change the way I teach them.

Now, I’m no newbie to research regarding learning differences between boys and girls. Yet, this book taught me some new things and gave me great ideas on how I could foster a healthier learning environment for my boys. I’ve also linked other great resources in my post, should you want to investigate a little further.

I’m not here to debate whether boys or girls learn differently. Truthfully, some of the following tips—as proven by research—are useful for children in general. However, I won’t negate that some of the following methods I’ve applied to my homeschool have worked in our favor.

Although I’m looking through the lens of home education, please note that most of my research came from a traditional classroom perspective. So, don’t fret if you’re not a homeschooler, these tips will certainly work for your family or classroom, too!

Here are 10 Methods to Help Boys Maximize Their Learning Potential 1. Forget the desk and chairs.

Trust me—let him move! A boy’s autonomic nervous system causes them to be more alert when they’re standing and moving. Why? Movement activates all the brain cells boys use to learn. Research suggests that children who are more active show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed, and are better test-takers than children who are less active.

2. Schedule learning time after outdoor play or physical activity.

Jumping straight into morning learning may not be your best bet. If your little buddy is reluctant to learning, check back with him after he’s had a little outdoor playtime or physical activity. Why? Other than my aforementioned point about movement activating those “learning” brain cells, a study showed that young children who were given recess worked more or fidgeted less than when they were not given recess. Additionally, a 2016 study found that young boys who spent more time sitting and less time playing didn’t progress as quickly in reading and mathematics.

3. Let him draw it out.

Have your child draw pictures of a story in sequential order before they write a summary. Why?  Drawing can be used as a mechanism to help students recall details in a story or text before beginning the writing process. In fact, a study contended students who drew before writing tended to produce more words, more sentences and more idea units, and their overall writing performance was higher than the students who wrote without drawing. This method can also be applied to solving math problems and studying informational facts.

Check out my resource Book Report/Summary Guide for Beginners & Reluctant Writers

4. Pace while you’re teaching a new concept.

Boys typically interpret the world as objects moving through space. We might just hold their attention if we become that moving object. Why? Research suggests instructors’ physical movement increases boys’ focus and engagement during lessons. So, try pacing and using wide-range movements when teaching new concepts.

5. Bond.

Young children learn best from whom they’re intimately attached. Therefore, it’s a good idea to intentionally bond with your child to help him reach his academic potential. Why? According to research, the brain needs bonding and attachment to fully grow and learn. Try asking your child about his interests or playing his favorite game with him before starting your lesson. Be sure to give him your undivided attention.

6. Establish a consistent routine.

An unstructured routine can cause boys to lose that sense of security they crave, inhibiting their behavior and learning. Why? While children’s brains need freedom to discover information, they also need structure and order to turn that information into a learning experience. Research shows that boys with a structured routine exhibited better behavior in the classroom. However, boys without good structure or had a recent change in their routine exhibited more stress and behavioral problems than their peers.

7. Eat a good breakfast.

Time to ditch those refined carbs in the morning and give your lad a breakfast that’s high in fiber and protein. Why? Cereal and other refined carb breakfast foods raise glucose levels and cause jitters in boys—in addition to causing them to feel low. Consequently, according to research, boys tend to become impulsive during sugar crashes, spiking behavioral problems. Of course, if your child does any sort of physical activity in the mornings, unrefined carbs are okay to have.

8. Add Omega 3’s to his diet.

It’s a good idea to add Omega-3 fatty acids to your child’s diet to support optimal brain development. Why? Psychiatric and neurological disorders, such as ADHD (a common diagnosis for boys) have been linked to Omega-3 deficiency. Foods rich in Omega-3s are mackerel, salmon, cod liver oil, sardines, and oysters, among others. Got a picky eater? My boys love omega swirl fish oils.

9. Learn Outdoors.

Toss the textbooks and let nature be his teacher. Why? Research suggests the great outdoors helps stimulate the learning brain and resolve behavioral nuances. According to other studies, access to nature has also been shown to decrease the symptoms of ADHD. So, let your child have a change of scenery and go explore hidden treasure in your city or town. Beautiful greenery, flowers, rivers, and waterfalls. Creepy crawly creatures and local wildlife (albeit harmless). Or, simply take your workload and sit on a bench at a beautiful park and let the sunrays delight your child while he studies.

10. Give him power over his education.  

Try letting your child help you pick out his curriculum, create enrichment activities, and/or choose the time of day he’d like to work on his lessons. Why? Research shows most behavioral problems in males stem from their desire for attention and power. Therefore, giving your child some power over his education may result in him being more receptive to learning and staying engaged. Just be sure when offering choices to your son that you offer preset options that you can live with either way.

Got any more tips or resource recommendations for teaching boys? Leave a comment below and share the wealth!

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Welcome to March—home of the spring month!

For me, the month of March is a lot like Wednesdays; if you can survive it, the end of your journey will be here before you know it. 

It’s that time of year when many of us are just about halfway through the second semester of homeschooling. January and February came and went, and April and May will soon follow suit. With that said, some of us are feeling the middle-of-the-semester blues—also known as homeschool burnout.

The discussion of homeschool burnout is alive and brewing all over homeschool communities. And for good reason—it can wear a sistah down! I’m talking about dreading the day so much that you don’t want to leave your bed in the morning, neglecting homeschool responsibilities because you’re overwhelmed, and having an intense desire to enroll your kids in public school—any school—as long as it doesn’t take place in your house!

I’m here to tell you, it’s okay.

Just breathe.

Homeschool is a calling. And like most callings, there will good days and bad ones. We’ve got a tough job! But these trials are supposed to help us grow in character, perseverance, and faith. They are not meant to break us.

Here are five things to remember when you’re experiencing the infamous “homeschool burnout.”
1.    With God all things are possible. 

Challenging, yes—but still possible. The truth is, homeschooling our children is not supposed to be easy. We’re taking on the full responsibility of our children’s education. That’s a big deal! But know that with Christ we can overcome these challenges and persevere. I want you to say this aloud right now:

“With Christ’s help, I can successfully homeschool my child/ren.”

Write down that declaration and put it in a place in your home where you’ll always see it.

Verses to study:

>    Mathew 19:26—With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

>    Philippians 4:13—I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.

>    Mathew 6:33—But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

2.    Teaching God’s word should be the first priority. 

It’s in the word of God, so don’t shoot the messenger.

Let’s look at the bigger picture:

One day our children will be adults. It’d be a shame to realize only then that we’d been so focused on academics and social opportunities that we’ve put God’s word on the backburner. Teaching God’s word to our children goes beyond memorizing verses. It’s an intentional training! Meaning, we are to help our children apply those verses to their everyday lives.

Sometimes, our burnout is God’s way of telling us to slow down, drop the extra-curricular activities, close the textbooks, and intentionally teach our children how to live a holy life the best way we know how.

Verses to study:

>    Proverbs 22:6—Start children off in the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

>   Ephesians 6:4—Do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

> Deuteronomy 11:19—Teach my word to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

3.    You need God’s help. 

Listen, we are trying to carry a weight that it takes multiple teachers, staff, and administration to carry. It’s no wonder we sometimes feel like we’re sinking! But if we are truly called to homeschool, God will make provisions for us. The only requirement? Submitting to God and trusting Him to help us.

Verses to study:

>    Psalm 121:1-2—Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

>    Mathew 11:28—Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

>    Psalm 146:5—Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.

4.    There’s a season for everything. 

Homeschool for every family looks different. Some of us will have seasons of public school—or even perhaps seasons of other types of schooling. You may be called to homeschool for one year or eighteen years. Whatever God’s plan is for your family, remember to enjoy your season of homeschool while it’s still here.

Verses to study:

>    Ecclesiastes 3:1—There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

>    Jeremiah 8:7—Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons.

>    Titus 1:3—Now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me.

5.    God gives us everything we need to homeschool. 

How many times have we asked God to give us more patience? Wisdom? Faith? Money?

In this crazy homeschool life, we have everything we need: love, faith, patience, knowledge, wisdom, resources, and more! All of these components grow not by asking God for MORE, but by asking God to help us steward the measure He’s already given us. These virtues don’t magically fall out of the sky. We have to WORK to mature in these areas. They are like muscles—the more we train, the stronger we’ll be.

Verses to study:

>    2 Peter 1:3—His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

>    Philippians 4:19—And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

>    Matthew 6:8—For your father knows what you need before you ask Him.

If you are experiencing burnout, I pray that God gives you rest. If you have any tips on how to address/avoid burnout, please leave your comment down below for your fellow homeschool mom/parent!

Be sure to read my other post on burnout: Homeschool Burnout | One Mistake I Didn’t Know I Was Making

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