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5 Tips for Homeschooling Through Chaos

Job loss. Moving. New babies. High risk pregnancy. Hospitalization. Injury. Chronic pain disability.

These are a few of the things that we, at the Non Stepford house, have dealt with during our almost (gasp!) eight years of homeschooling.

That’s one of the many things nobody warns you about when you embark on the homeschooling path. Life keeps happening. As a homeschooler, you’re not immune to the chaos that life throws at you. In fact, I sometimes wonder if homeschooling isn’t some sort of lightening rod for it, or if it’s like hanging a sign on your front door saying, “Murphy! Come visit!”

homeschooling through chaos

The old saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Personally, the only place I tend to get going is to the fridge, to see if there’s any cheesecake hidden away.

I’ve been asked, many, many times, why I don’t just put the Minions in public school. I’ve given many thoughtful, profound answers over the years, but really, it boils down to three things: 1) Homeschooling is best for our family, 2) I don’t want to, and 3) I’m stubborn as all holy heck. To me, asking why I don’t put the kids in school is akin to asking, “Why don’t you quit parenting?” It’s a part of our life as a family now, and not something I’d ever willingly give up, at least during the elementary years. High school, I’m willing to negotiate on, depending on what the situation is. Heck, I’ve been known to BEG Diva, our almost 16-year-old, to try high school, but no dice.

See, I’m not someone who always planned to homeschool. We started as a direct result of Diva being horribly bullied…so we started out in chaos. And have been fumbling our way through ever since.

My tips for homeschooling through chaos:

  1. Scale back – Do what you can, as you can. If that means math and read alouds are the extent of your ability that day, that’s okay.

  2. Use media – Personally, I love me some National Geographic. There are loads of science shows geared for children, and I have no guilt at all in plugging them in to Magic School Bus, Kratts Creatures, or similar. The Middle Minions think Horrible Histories is fantastic. I also looked for free online ‘games’ for reading, spelling and math. They think they’re playing, but I know they’re learning. Win!

  3. Delegate – Daddy Wolf is probably the biggest resource I have. I can count on him to oversee math, to have the kids read to him, and to do read alouds when I’m not able. Diva, the teenager, does art with the Middle Minions, because since becoming one-armed (and left at that!) cutting, sewing, and painting are not in my abilities.

  4. Be patient – This is for you. Remember, when chaos hits, everyone is out of sync. Kids are more rambunctious, or at least the Minions are. If I’m stressed, or out of whack, so are they. I find that giving them some physical activities outside helps tremendously. Burn off that energy, so they can settle down and focus.

  5. Accept outside help – Granted, sometimes this isn’t even an option. We’ve been in a new city, without a support system, so I understand how that happens. But, if you have anyone you can turn to, that can help at all, LET THEM. Ask for help and support. You might be amazed at what folks will do when emergencies arise.

So. There you have it. Five tips for surviving chaos, and still homeschooling. My number six tip, is possibly the most important though: Remember, this too shall pass. And it will, and it does. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.

Melissa 'Imp' (4 Posts)

Wife to Wolf, Mom to 5 Minions at home, figuring out living, homeschooling, one handed in a 2 handed world.

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Homeschool Products from Nest Learning
***3 FREE Complete Drawing Lessons from the SEE THE LIGHT 9 DVD/36 lesson ART CLASS curriculum that is used by many homeschooling families. Recommended for ages 6 + +***

Defining Success in Your Home School

What does it mean to succeed? What does it mean to be successful and how do you measure success in your home school?

Do you measure success by how much your children accomplished today, this week, this month? It’s still early in the traditional school year. Do you feel ahead of the game, right on track, behind?

Do you issue grades as a benchmark of success? Maybe grades help you assess a child’s progress in a particular area, or you’re required by your state to keep them.

Defining Success in Your #Homeschool @hsbapost

Here’s a big one for those of us with older children with college in sight. Is acceptance to a college, especially a well-regarded one, a mark of success (or failure) on your child’s homeschool career, or do you feel it’s more of a commentary on your success (or failure) as a homeschool parent? After all, I’ve been asked this question more than once: “Why did you decide to homeschool? What about college?”

I’m posing these questions to our readers, because I have been asking them lately of myself. The institutionalized learning that we’ve rejected by opting out of the school system also applies to higher learning. A college education is no longer a guarantee of financial success, in fact, a case could be made that traditional, Industrial Age education is dead in all its forms, including college.

What ramifications does this have for our way of thinking, steeped in the belief that a college education defines whether or not our children have made it safely to adulthood and have the tools they need to become financially independent? If our homeschooled kids don’t make it to college, have we failed them academically and socially? How will they otherwise learn to function in the world and become self-sustaining and self-supporting?

The answer lies in our personal definition of success. In our culture, success usually means keeping up with the Joneses Facebook Page (just remember, Facebook shows faces not lives!). Homes, cars, vacations, elaborate parties–it’s a lot to measure up to.

While there’s nothing wrong with financial success (in fact I advocate it), success as a human being is far more complex than an individual’s net worth. Many homeschool graduates end up starting their own businesses because they don’t find traditional paths to be appealing. And why should we expect anything less? We’ve helped them take a non-traditional path in the early years, it should come as no surprise if they choose to stay on that path. Success also encompasses feelings of satisfaction, personal accomplishment, attaining and setting new goals, relationships with others, giving back to the community, being a good friend, son, daughter, neighbor. We can value and model all of these things within our families and in our home schools.

To quote Charlotte Mason:

“The question is not—how much does the youth know when he has finished his education—but how much does he care? And about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? And, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”

Having said all this, it’s likely my children will choose college (more and more colleges accept homeschoolers with open arms), but we still have a few years until those decisions are made. However, I need to be ever mindful that if one of my children does not choose college, I hope it will be a reflection of their ability to make wise choices for themselves and not follow a prescribed path simply because others have done it. I can hear the voices in my head now–of family and friends who don’t homeschool, “See, homeschool doesn’t prepare a child for college!” Those voices are my problem, and I can’t make them my kids’.

Do your kids, especially your high school age children, see college in their futures? Are you worried if they will be prepared? What do you do to alleviate those fears? If they don’t choose college, will you be ok with it?

Leave us a comment; we’d love to know what you think!

Angela (28 Posts)

Angela is co-founder of Mosaic Freeschool and a homeschooling mom to two never-been-to school kids. Born in Southern California and raised on the East Coast, Angela had a bit of an unconventional education, but did not consider homeschooling seriously until her first child was born. Believing that young children learn best from those that love them most, Angela and her husband John chose homeschooling for their two boys. She is dedicated to the advancement of alternative education choices, creating the web-site Raising Autodidacts in 2011 to further explore the idea of fostering the self-taught individual. In June of 2013, she started an instructional writing service called Gathering Ink .

A Word From Our Sponsors

Homeschool Products from Nest Learning
***3 FREE Complete Drawing Lessons from the SEE THE LIGHT 9 DVD/36 lesson ART CLASS curriculum that is used by many homeschooling families. Recommended for ages 6 + +***

These are a Few of My Favorite Homeschool Things


A Few Favorite Homeschool Things

So school has started and shopping is done. Well mostly done. A homeschool mom will reassess as they go and add in needed items and get rid of things that don’t work. {Tweet That} I wanted to take a minute and share with you a few of my favorite homeschool things for this year. These are items that have helped me feel confident or made my life easier as a homeschool mama.

Four Favorite Homeschool Things

Favorite Homeschool Planner

Simply Pretty HFavorite Homeschool Teacher Planneromeschool Teacher Planner. So, yes. I did create this teacher planner, but it is my favorite. I am using it this year and honestly it’s working great for me. It’s simple and pretty with bright pops of colored flowers throughout and has just the pages you need without a lot of extra printing of pages that you don’t need. It’s available through pdf download and printable. I designed it to be used with up to 6 children but if you need it for more, you can print extra pages to meet your need. The planner costs just $4.99 and is still available for the 2014/2015 school year. It has certainly become a favorite homeschool thing.



 Favorite Homeschool Grammar Help

Favorite Homeschool Grammar Help A Sentence a Day is a book that helps reinforce knowledge of grammar. Through daily proofreading exercises these sentences are designed to help kids to catch common mistakes that are made in writing. Using these proofreading sentences is a great way to test what your children really know about how grammar is used in the writing process. These sentences are for older middle school students to early junior high students. Or, for kids who are advanced learners. These sentence proofreading practices are one of my son’s favorite homeschool things.



 Favorite Homeschool Art Curriculum

A Simple Start in Chalk PasHomeschool Favorite Things, Chalk Pastel Art Lessonstels, instructional art series for homeschoolers. Tricia Hodges, homeschool mom and blogger, along with Nana (grandma) have put together a wonderful series of art lessons through ebooks, video tutorials and even a few how-to guides on their blog. Art Pastel Chalks are easy to use, forgiving of mistakes and with just a few strokes of the chalks, rubs with the fists and a little guidance from Nana, students of all ages and skill levels can make beautiful pieces of art. It won’t be long before you will be chalking along with the kids and discover that you have a hidden skill for art. It will quickly become one of your favorite homeschool things. With eBooks for every season and some fun guides as well, (like At the Beach and Sharks), your kids will be asking, “Mom, can we chalk today?” It’s a favorite of mine and a favorite of my son’s as well!

Favorite Homeschool Music Curriculum

Favorite Homeschool Music Curriculum SQUILT

SQUILT Music Appreciation Curriculum for homeschoolers. Mary Prather, homeschool mom, blogger and music enthusiast has put together a dynamic music appreciation course for elementary to middle school students. SQUILT stands for Super Quiet Uninterrupted Listening Time and guides your students to understand the dynamics, instrumentation and rhythm of music coupled with a study of the composers who wrote the pieces. Mary has thoughtfully made use of notebooking as a way to help students to become familiar with beautiful pieces of music. My son loves the “Draw What You Hear” notebooking page because it allows 2 of his passions to collide, art and music. He loves both so for him that page is the best! Three eBook volumes are available for $9.99 each or you can bundle all three for $26.99.


What are your favorite homeschool  things? Share some of yours in comments.


Renée (18 Posts)

Renée Brown is author at her personal blog, Great Peace Academy. She is a homeschooling mom to her one amazing son, Jonathan and has been the wife of her Beloved Michael for 21 years. On her blog you will find discussions about her work as a homeschooling mom, her family and her faith.

A Word From Our Sponsors

Homeschool Products from Nest Learning
***3 FREE Complete Drawing Lessons from the SEE THE LIGHT 9 DVD/36 lesson ART CLASS curriculum that is used by many homeschooling families. Recommended for ages 6 + +***