Homeschooling High School with Little Ones at Home

Homeschooling High School with Little Ones at Home

Homeschooling High School with Little Ones at Home

If you are homeschooling high school with little ones at home, save your sanity by planning ahead. Prepare for the upcoming homeschool year by spending some time putting together busy bags and boxes for your little ones! These will help keep those little hands busy while homeschooling your older ones. With any luck, you'll be able to form complete sentences and everything, when your little one is occupied with something entertaining.

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Fun Christmas Ideas for Kids and Families!

Fun Christmas Ideas for Kids and Families!

As a homeschool family, you have the freedom to use the month of December for special activities related to the holiday season. I have put together a list of my favorite fun Christmas ideas for kids and entire families! I hope you enjoy them!

Christmas ideas for kids of all ages:

  1. Instructions for 3D Paper Snowflakes
    I think a collection of these snowflakes would make for a wonderful and graphic kid-friendly display.

  2. Homemade Cinnamon Ornaments
    Wouldn’t these make your tree smell so delicious? Only 3 ingredients in this recipe!

  3. How to Cut and Fold Great Snowflakes
    Paper snowflakes are such a fun project for everyone. I love the first glimpse after unfolding the paper!

  4. Cute Cookie Snowmen
    These cute snowmen are so fun, bonus that they are tasty!

  5. Make a Cute Fudge Gift
    Practice giving to others with a sweet and easy homemade gift!

  6. Indoor Snowball Fight
    Be unexpected and host an indoor snowball fight! This is especially fun if you live somewhere very unlikely to get snow for the holidays!

  7. Make-at-home Character Ornaments
    How fun are these for kiddos who have a favorite character?

  8. Kids Books with Matching Activities
    Combining reading Christmas and winter books with a fun activity seems like the perfect holiday school day!

  9. Snowflake Ballerinas
    These DIY snowflake ballerinas would go along perfectly with a study of The Nutcracker!

  10. Make LEGO Ornaments
    Speak the language of little engineers with these instructions for making LEGO ornaments

  11. Candy Cane Hunt
    This sweet scavenger hunt looks like such a fun thing to do with little guys!

  12. Snowball Slam – A Game
    This easy-to-make game uses materials that most people have around their home.

  13. Fizzling Candy Canes
    Use candy canes as part of a fun science experiment!

  14. Pom Pom Christmas Tree Painting
    This is a fun craft idea for littles to paint their very own Christmas trees!

  15. Handprint Reindeer
    What a sweet way to cherish little hand-prints that won’t be little for long!

I hope you get the chance to try some of these projects and enjoy the special holiday season with your little guys and your high schoolers!

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Homemade Felt Ornaments for Christmas

Homemade Felt Ornaments for Christmas

My assistant Robin is such a genius! Look at these ADORABLE homemade felt ornaments she created for her Christmas tree! Wouldn't they be awesome as a gift from a child, or to decorate your home with a classic Christmas feel?  Just download this pattern, cut out the colored felt, and stitch. Easy-peasy, cute-and-fun gifts!

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Prepare Your Child for High School

Prepare Your Child for High School
I help prepare parents to homeschool high school all the time. I tell them to "read books, attend conferences, watch instructional videos and invest in yourself and your chosen profession." Parents also want to know the other side of the equation. How do you prepare your child for high school?

Prepare Your Child for High School

I have great news. The way you prepare your child for high school is the same way you prepare them for success in life.   Teach them to confidently read, write, and do math quickly and accurately. Do what it takes for them to develop good study habits and work ethic.

Teach them to be independent, so they can eventually self-teach. At the same time, they will need to respect your leadership so they will complete assignments you give them.   Teach them honesty, so they don't try to cheat or mislead you as they work independently. Keep their work in elementary school challenging, so they know what it is like to LEARN instead of KNOW new material. Make sure the work isn't overwhelmingly difficult, so they don't learn to hate school.  In elementary and middle school, teach your child how to pace themselves and their work, so they don't suffer from burnout. Having a schedule may help, but others achieve that goal by limiting the time allotted for each homeschool task. Have your child help around the house, and make sure they know they are family members as well as students.

Spend time in elementary and middle school working through issues that arise. Parenting doesn't get easier as children get older! Face  problems head-on, working through them as they come up, so high school will go more smoothly.

Enjoy homeschooling in elementary and middle school as your prepare your child for high school!

How are you planning to prepare your child for high school? What are you most worried about? Please share!

Please note: This post was originally published in October 2010 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

The HomeScholar Gold Care Club will give you the comprehensive help you need to homeschool high school.
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Wanton or Wonton: Why Spelling Matters

Wanton or Wonton: Why Spelling Matters
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy I may make a few pennies, but not enough for a latte.

A Wonton Disregard for Dumplings

My husband asked me to spell "wanton" for one of our newsletters. Apparently, he had written "wonton disregard" which means, of course, that you don't care for Asian dumplings. He was trying to say "wanton disregard" but the spelling didn't quite come out right. When your children ask why they need to study Wordly Wise and other spelling and vocabulary programs, just tell them that one day you hope they will be able to write a newsletter without embarrassing themselves!

I received a call from a homeschooling mother once, who was concerned about her son's academic level. He excelled in math and science, but didn't do well in language and spelling. I asked her if he had taken any standardized tests, and she replied that her son had tested "barely on grade level" for spelling.

Time for a reality-based intervention here. When my kids started using Spelling Power my husband and I tested our OWN spelling level. My husband is an engineer and manager at a "major northwest aerospace firm" and writes every day as part of his job. He spells at a 7th grade level. I have a bachelor's degree in nursing, and I spell at a 9th grade level. I enjoy teasing my husband about his spelling whenever I can (now, for example). Both of our kids can spell circles around us!

If your child is spelling "at grade level," that's wonderful!  It's nothing to worry about or be ashamed of! Encourage your speller as much as you can. At some point in high school, spelling is no longer taught as a separate subject, but is instead incorporated into writing. I don't encourage you to have a wanton disregard for spelling - I'm just saying that adults are able to compensate for spelling, and your child can compensate as well. With dictionaries, spell checkers and helpful spouses - if they have to - they can overcome spelling as poorly as even we do!

Please note: This post was originally published in September 2008 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Sign up for our free monthly e-newsletter, The HomeScholar Record, so you can check my husband's articles for spelling errors.  Because what he REALLY needs is thousands of homeschool moms looking over his shoulder!
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Have Fun on April Fool's Day

Have Fun on April Fool's Day
Do you have a plan for April Fool's day?  I love harmless pranks!  Need some ideas?

I always loved making holiday food, so obviously I start with some food suggestions!

For breakfast, you can make "Fried Eggs".  The egg is white yogurt or pudding with a peach half on top. I've made this myself, and it's very cute and fun! Put one drop of food coloring in their glass, and their milk magically turns blue!

For lunch, serve faux grilled cheese sandwiches, made with orange frosting between pieces of sponge cake. You could serve it with with undrinkable juice - jello in a glass with a straw in it.  Yes, you probably need to include some healthy food in there too... you're on your own there!

For dinner, serve desssert first! Serve a faux dessert called fauxberry pie. This pie is actually a chocolate-looking meatloaf with pink colored mashed potatoes that look strawberry flavored. Adorable!

After "eating dessert first" you can serve meatloaf and mashed potatoes again - in style! This time, make the meatloaf with Cocoa Krispies.  The mashed potatoes are ice cream with carmel topping.

These ideas are fun, but make sure to turn the lights down low, and eat by candle light for best results. has a fun list of 15 April Fool's Day Pranks. From switching the kid's to a different bed at night, to filling their shoes with tissue so they don't fit, these are very cute!

Have fun! They grow up so quickly!

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7 Big Ideas for Beating Homeschool Burnout

7 Big Ideas for Beating Homeschool Burnout

Are You Tired? Fatigued?  Need a Nap?  Here are 7 Big Ideas for Beating Homeschool Burnout

A mom called me last week, ready to throw in the towel. My advice was simple. Hang on for a month and see if the feeling fades. January and February are the most difficult months for all teachers - public school, private school, and homeschool alike. Burnout can be mild or debilitating, depending on the person and the situation.

Fatigue is the epic battle for homeschool parents. Often it's the biggest issue that homeschoolers face in the middle of winter. Between homeschooling and house-work, parents feel stretched. Add your own need for self-care, the needs of your children and spouse, and it can feel impossible. Then add the darkness of winter months and even seasoned veterans can be hanging on by a thread.

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Saving Your Sanity with Little Ones at Home

Saving Your Sanity with Little Ones at Home
Sanity-Saving Strategies for School Days


For some families, homeschooling high school isn't just about the teenagers.  It also involves keeping much younger siblings occupied.  Here are two big tips for keeping little ones engaged while their older brothers and sisters are working on calculus and physics.


Tip 1: Activity Boxes

Create activity boxes for young children, to keep them busy while you are doing school with older siblings.  Provide one box per day, rotating them so they don't repeat for at least a week or two.  With toys, games, and activities that look new and fresh, they are more likely to stay occupied. All it takes are boxes, and toys you already have in your home. One day could include Lego, another day might include blocks. Here are more ideas!

Quiet Time Bins

50 Activities for 2 Year Olds


Tip 2: Play School

Do you remember playing school when you were little?  It was fun! Allow little ones the chance to pretend they are doing school, just like the older children are doing school. Simple coloring books or worksheets that coordinate with your homeschool lessons can help them feel all grown up.  When they say "I wanna do school" you'll be ready with a plan! Here are ideas for coloring pages and printables.

Coloring Pages on Pinterest

Fall Printables on Pinterest

Preschool Printables


For more fun seasonal ideas and suggestions for keeping little ones busy, find me on Pinterest.

The HomeScholar’s newsletter comes out on the first of every month.  Sign up now for your free monthly newsletter!


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Scripture Study on Winners and Losers

Scripture Study on Winners and Losers
Talking with a homeschool group, my friend Kathy shared a scripture study on winning and losing. I think it's wonderful!  It will be a great quick study for summer - no matter how old or young your children are!

Be a Good Winner AND a Good Loser
By Kathy Moore Edgren
Used with permission

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When is the SAT not the SAT?

When is the SAT not the SAT?
When is the SAT not the SAT? When it’s the Stanford Achievement Test!

Some homeschool families test or assess their students each year.  The test their children for a quick check-up on how they are doing, or to comply with the homeschooling laws in their state. When they use a standardized test, some families use the “Stanford Achievement Test."  You may be familiar with this test. It measures ability level in elementary, middle school, and 9-10th grades.  Lots of homeschool groups host a testing day where their kids all get together and take the test at the same time.

What could be more fun than filling in a bubble test with dozens of your closest friends, right?  I think it's a good idea to have your children take a standardized test each year.  They will learn how to take a test in a room full of other children, filling in bubbles without fear.  You can read about the benefits here: The Joy of Tests: 16 Ways Standardized Testing Can Help Your Homeschool Thrive!

But there is something you need to know - an important distinction! The Stanford Achievement Test is very different from theCollege Board SAT!

The SAT is an examination that most colleges require for admission.  The SAT admission test is only for high school students, and it’s only used for college admission and scholarships. It can meet state requirements for a standardized test, just like the Stanford Achievement Test, but it's NOT the same test. Back when I was in high school, it used to be called the “Scholastic Aptitude Test,” but now the acronym ‘SAT’ doesn’t actually stand for anything at all, and they just put the funny "R" by the name of the test: SAT®.

This confusion makes it pretty difficult for parents who are new to homeschooling high school, and are trying to figure out what these tests are all about!  So here it is in a nutshell:

•    Stanford Achievement Test = SAT for elementary, middle school, and high school. Read more about it here.
•    SAT® = The College Board SAT is for college admission exam only.  Read more about it here.

Learn how to homeschool with complete confidence using my DVD, Preparing to Homeschool High School.
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National Merit Success Story

National Merit Success Story
If your child tends to be a little bit on the "smart" side, start researching the National Merit Scholarship early in high school.  With just a little practice, smart kids can do stunningly well in the National Merit Scholarship Competition.  And homeschooler can win!


Renee wrote to share about her daughter's successes.
I had to share the news about my daughter Abigail. This go-around (as opposed to the first two children), we listed her as private school student using our legal cover St Peter's Academy but when she made National Merit Semi-Finalist, the National Merit folks designated her as a homeschooler. I had to do all the paperwork (very stressful) and find someone (not related that had taught her) to write a letter of recommendation. The only outside classes she'd taken were online college courses, voice lessons and theater. Thankfully her theater instructor is reliable and was willing to write the letter. Today we got notification that Abigail is a Finalist. At her top choice school she'll get $9700 a year, out of state fees waived (worth about $15,000 a year), a laptop and money toward study abroad. At her second choice school (in-state), she'll receive tuition, room, board and a books stipend. We are so proud of her and once again just shows that homeschoolers can do anything. Parents with younger ones need to know it can be done!
~ Renee

It's true, what Renee said.  The paperwork involved can be daunting.  The best thing is to be prepared.  If you already have your transcripts and course descriptions ready to go, the paperwork is much easier to manage.  For more tips, or just to educate yourself, check out this article: National Merit Scholarship Information for Homeschoolers .

Not every child will win the National Merit Scholarship, but there is more than one way to get great scholarships.  For example,Renee’s older daughter did not get the National Merit Scholarship. She did get a full ride scholarship, based on ACT scores. There are lots of ways to afford college and scholarships.  You can read the story of that child here: "Homeschooler Wins Full Scholarship – Plus Some More!"


Now read Renee's words again, and repeat after me, "homeschoolers can do anything!"

For more information about how your child can earn great college scholarships, watch my video, “Getting the BIG Scholarships,” available both as an online class or DVD.

National Merit Success Story
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Syl-la-bles Vocabulary Game Review

Syl-la-bles Vocabulary Game Review
Looking for a game that both challenges and engages the multiple ages in your family?!  Wondering what you can do on Family Game Night that won’t make the older kids yawn?!  Search no more; Syl-la-bles is the solution!

The object of Syl-la-bles is to come up with the longest and most difficult (correctly spelled) word that begins with the letter on the space you land. The longer the word, the more points you score. All ages and abilities can play, because the difficulty of the words is up to each individual playing the game.  One player can spell ‘cat,’ while another tries ‘catastrophic.’  The game takes only a few minutes to learn, happens simultaneously (so no one gets bored waiting around), and players decide how long to play.

But there’s strategy here too: each letter has a point value, and each syllable is worth 50 points, so you must decide whether to risk misspelling a long word to earn lots of points, or to play it safe by trying for less points.  The strategy is up to each individual player.

A few special spots on the playing board (‘Synonyms’ and ‘Spelling Bee’) offer more opportunities to learn about synonyms and spelling, so players will always be challenged and engaged.  As a parent who’s always interested in including an ‘educational’ component in the games our family plays, I found Syl-la-bles to be a great way to have fun and learn together.

I am now writing for the “Seattle Homeschool Examiner.”  You can find great homeschool articles when you visit my column!
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51 Frugal Father Daughter Dates

51 Frugal Father Daughter Dates

I just love the idea behind this little ebook! 51 Frugal Father Daughter Dates - awesome!  I hope someone will try it and let me know what they think.

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Great Backyard Bird Count is February 17 - 20

Great Backyard Bird Count is February 17 - 20

The Great Backyard Bird Count is February 17 - 20.

People across the country will spend 15 minutes or more taking stock of the birds in their towns.This looks like so much fun!  I love birds!  You can find resources here: and they have a guide here: How-to HelpTo encourage birds to visit your yard, try hanging a homemade birdseed biscuit. I found the cutest heart-shaped recipe in Family Fun Magazine: Birdseed BiscuitsHave fun counting those birds!

Learn how to save money homeschooling with my free Special Report: “7 Secrets to Homeschooling Through a Financial Storm.”

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LEGO and Engineering

LEGO and Engineering

It would be lovely if every child wanted to specialize in something reasonable.  Something that made money, provided income, or was valuable for family harmony.  Sadly, most teenagers are still children, at least some of the time, and they may want to specialize in the most unusual things!  Instead of worrying, try to translate their interests into something reasonable.  In other words, if they DID specialize in that one seemingly - bizarre thing, what would that look like?

Loralee wrote to me because her child loves only legos.  If you took that interest and added a few years, what would it look like?

I just read one of your articles about encouraging your child's passions. I wish my 15 yr old son had a passion like chess or piano or fiddle playing! While he does read a lot (like your son, I assume), and has hobbies such as leathercraft, and biking, the thing he's passionate about is LEGOs! He loves them and wants to be a LEGO designer. My husband feels that's a childish thing to be doing all the time (and so do I to a lesser degree). He's has upper average grades, and we don't live in Sweden, and there are a million other kids who want to do the same thing, so it doesn't seem likely he'll get very far in his desired field.  So, how do I encourage his passion when I feel he should be growing out of it?  Thank you very much for your time! ~ Loralee

Lego needs engineers. Engineers begin their careers with Legos. Legos are the cornerstone of many science and engineering programs, leagues, and clubs.  For that reason, it looks like Legos are a GREAT way to ignite passion!  Check out these links for more information:

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