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Every Book List You Will Ever Need For Your Homeschool!

Sometimes, we just need a little help finding the right books for our homeschool. This compilation of book lists is essentially every book list you will ever need all in one place!

children's books for homeschooling

Book Lists For Every Month Of The Year

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of January

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of February 

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of March

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of April   

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of May

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of June

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of July

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of August

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of September

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of October

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of November

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of December

kids reading

12 Exceptional Book Lists To Help You Homeschool By Subject

Awesome Books For Kids Who Love Nature

Books For Animal Lovers 

Books For Insect Lovers 

Must Have STEAM Books

Great Books For Independent Learners

Great Math Books That Aren’t Textbooks

Finding Books For Gifted Learners 

101 Reasons You Need Audiobooks In Your Homeschool

Books To Help Kids Learn About Geology

Fantastic Books For Plant Lovers

Family Favorite Christmas Books

Activity Books For Learning History 

reading to our kids in homeschool

8 Excellent Book Lists For Social Emotional Learning

Books To Help Kids Who Worry 

Books To Inspire Kindness And Thankfulness

Books With Quirky Characters

Books To Help Your Kids Learn Mindfulness At Home

Books That Teach Character

Books To Help Kids Learn About Autism 

Books To Teach Executive Function Skills

Books To Help Kids Learn About Anger

mom reading with child

In my homeschool, having access to book lists like all of these has made all the difference. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time I want to support reading together in our learning.

I simply pull up a book list by topic, subject, or time of year and we are essentially ready to go!

These books lists will help you find just what you need, when you need it, in your homeschool.

Take a trip to the library, load up, and happy reading!

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Finding Homeschool Community (for our children and ourselves)

 
One of the challenges of homeschooling is finding a community that works for your child’s needs and interests. In this episode of The Raising Lifelong Learner Podcast, Shawna and I talk about the reality of finding a homeschool community for our children and for ourselves. 

homeschool community

It’s been a year of change for my family. 

One of the most notable differences between our homeschool now and our homeschool just 18 month ago is the lack of any real community. There are a variety of reasons for the loss, but the truth is, I find myself starting all over again in finding a community that make sense for my family.

homeschool community

Finding Homeschool Community (for our children and ourselves)

In considering how to begin again, there are a few things that I think are important to note when trying to find a homeschool community.

1. Your family is your primary homeschool community.

2. Start with interests.

3. It’s OK to walk away if it’s not working for your kiddo.

4. You may need to look for an outside the box approach for your outside the box child. 

 

homeschool community

A Conversation with Colleen and Shawna All About Finding A Homeschool Community

In today’s episode of The Raising Lifelong Learner Podcast, Shawna and I talk about how we have found community in the past and what we believe matters most for our differently wired kiddos. We get personal in this episode, sharing our struggles in this area as well as the lessons we’ve learned. 

 
 

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:

Homeschooling Gifted Kids: A Practical Guide to Educate and Motivate Advanced LearnersThe Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities for Kids Ages 3-12 (Prima Home Learning Library)The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America's Broken Education System - and How to Fix ItHome Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural WorldHomeschooling 101: A Guide to Getting Started.Homeschool Bravely: How to Squash Doubt, Trust God, and Teach Your Child with ConfidenceHOW TO START, MANAGE, AND GROW YOUR GREAT HOMESCHOOL GROUP OR CO-OP: Step-By-Step Quick and Easy SuccessHomeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn OutHomeschool High School Made Easy: Find Your Why . . . Then Find Your Way (Easy Homeschool)

 
 

Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!


 

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Meeting the Asynchronous Needs of Your Gifted Child

I remember her online comment like it was yesterday.

Her seven-year-old was reading at an eleventh grade level, had just completed sixth grade math, was exceptionally emotional, and had trouble holding a pencil.

the aysnchronous needs of your gifted child

She was struggling to meet all of her daughter’s needs as a new homeschooling mom and was reaching out for help.

Other readers chimed in, some offering great advice, but others criticized her for “pushing her child” and said that “all kids are gifted;” they just show their gifts at different times.

And I felt for her.

Her child was asynchronous and she felt all alone, tired, and defeated. She felt like homeschooling her gifted child had been a mistake.

I remember her post because it was like she was typing out my own thoughts. 

How do you meet the asynchronous needs of gifted children?

The term “gifted” holds, for so many people, negative or even threatening connotations. But, like not all children have special needs, not all kids are gifted.

As defined by Webster’s, gifted means having exceptional talent or natural ability.

The National Association for Gifted Children goes further:

Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.

Unfortunately people often confuse the term giftedness with gift.

Children are a gift. They’re a blessing. They are all important and have special talents, abilities, and struggles.

Meeting the Asynchronous Needs of Your Gifted Child

 

What does a gifted child look like?

While gifted kids are as different from one another as anybody is from another person, there are some traits and characteristics that bear watching for if you think your child is gifted. Keep in mind that not all gifted kids exhibit all of these traits.

Gifted kids:
  • process information faster and more effectively than same age peers.
  • may exhibit a highly developed vocabulary earlier than most children.
  • speak in complex, grammatically correct sentences early on.
  • are continually asking increasingly complex questions that show insight and advanced understanding.
  • spontaneously begin reading at very early ages.
  • pick up on the nuances of language and can precociously converse with adults at early ages.
  • perseverate on topics of interest (focus intensely for long periods of time), and seek out their own exposure to these topics.
  • have depths of background knowledge about the world around them that surprises even their parents.
  • remember things with little to no repetition.
  • are critical and creative problem solvers, often finding connections between seemingly disconnected things.

 

How do you keep gifted kids challenged?

Knowing beyond a doubt that your child is truly gifted (through ability, achievement, and IQ testing) isn’t nearly as important as creating a nurturing and challenging environment in your home. Being the kind of parent that recognizes ability and interests, and then capitalizes on those to help their child learn is the best thing you can do for a gifted child.

So how do you do it?

  • Follow your child’s interests. Gifted children who aren’t challenged can often become undermotivated and turned off of learning altogether. An underachieving child can spend more time arguing with parents about homeschool than actually learning. By tapping into your child’s interests and focusing their learning in that direction, you can stimulate their motivation to learn.
  • Find mentors for your child. Is your child interested in programming, but you don’t know your way in and around technology? Find someone they can learn from. A computer-engineer friend might be willing to meet with your daughter on the weekends to talk and play around with computers.
  • Fill up the house with resources. Books, computers, DVDs, streaming video subscriptions, toys that inspire creativity, etc. all provide outlets for learning and thinking. It’s important to bring your gifted child up in a resource-rich environment and encourage him to become a lifelong learner.

Meeting the Asynchronous Needs of Your Gifted Child

By tapping into your gifted child’s interests and strengths, you’ll motivate him or her to keep moving forward, and you can work on weaknesses within the framework of strengths.

Like the mother reaching out for help in meeting the asynchronous needs of her seven-year-old daughter, you may struggle from time to time keeping up with your gifted child. We all do!

Remember that you’re not alone and that gifted kids have special parenting and academic needs. Your child can and will learn, and you will be able to nurture his or her unique abilities.

Are You Homeschooling A Gifted Child?

The Learner's Lab

The Learner’s Lab is the community created just for your quirky family.  It’s full of creative lessons, problem solving activities, critical and divergent thinking games, and the social-emotional support differently-wired children and teens need most.

All from the comfort of your own home. 

This community was created to support children who are gifted and twice exceptional. We address topics just like this all year long, in a way that is educational and fun for children. They learn skills to help them cope and you learn how to help them along the way. 

We invite you to join us. Get all the details HERE.

Meeting the Asynchronous Needs of Your Gifted Child

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A Conversation With Dr. Meg Meeker About Gifted And Twice Exceptional Kids

 
Dr. Meg Meeker is a bit of a hero of mine, so I am thrilled to welcome her to The Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast!  Our conversation is all about her expert perspective on gifted and twice exceptional children, as well as the unique challenges of parenting our unique kiddos. 

A Conversation With Dr. Meg Meeker About Gifted And Twice Exceptional Kids

Seeing Our Children As Individuals

One of the key takeaways from my time with Dr. Meg Meeker is the importance of really seeing and responding to our children as individuals. In fact, Dr. Meeker shared that research shows that individualizing our approach to teaching our children increases their overall success. 

When we acknowledge that a child needs more gross motor activities than worksheets, or that our son needs more time doing something active together rather than talking with us, we are helping them learn and develop in the best possible way. 

We also help them figure out their place in the world.

A Conversation With Dr. Meg Meeker About Gifted And Twice Exceptional Kids

Feeling Discouraged As A Parent Of  Quirky Kiddo

It’s so easy to feel discouraged when your child is struggling.

One of the things that Dr. Meeker was very clear about in this conversation is how important it is to avoid comparison and focus on our own lives. She was very direct in how she views the pressures we face in this day and age. 

“I encourage parents to get off social media as much as I encourage teenage girls to do the same. It’s just demoralizing.” 

A Conversation With Dr. Meg Meeker About Gifted And Twice Exceptional Kids

Become A Student Of Your Child

It was particularly encouraging for me to hear Dr. Meeker echo my closely held belief that one of the best ways we can help our children, is to become a student of theirs.

She mentions the importance of taking time to really pay attention to what is happening emotionally with our kiddos, before jumping to any conclusions. Even better, she encourages us to ask ourselves why we believe the struggle is so real, from our children’s perspectives.

A Conversation With Dr. Meg Meeker About Gifted And Twice Exceptional Kids

Parenting Gifted And Twice Exceptional Children: A conversation with Dr. Meg Meeker

Learn about all of this and more from Dr. Meg Meeker in this very special episode. I can’t say enough about the depth and everyday practicality of her wisdom. 

 

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:

         

 

 

Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!


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Recognizing and Nurturing Giftedness In Your Child

My oldest son and youngest daughter both have my tan complexion. The other two are fair like my husband. All four of them boast deep, chocolate eyes like Brian, not the blue I’d hoped they’d inherit from me. When we’re all together, you can see that we’re a family.

They’re opinionated, assertive, and loads of fun – always on the look out for the next adventure. I like to think that, while they arrived in this world full of confidence, spirit, and a boatload of intelligence, that I’ve helped to cultivate it.

Recognizing and Nurturing Giftedness in Your Child

Nurturing a child’s gifts means first recognizing those gifts.

Even if others around you don’t see them.

You see them.

You see the way your child sprawls out, upside down, in the patch of sunlight coming through the blinds with a book bigger than he is.

You see the intensity in her eyes when she asks you (again) to tell her exactly how food is processed in our bodies and converted to energy.

You see the way he cringes when a mom at the ice cream parlor snaps at her little one who is tired and cranky, and how he empathizes with her and engages her in a game of peek-a-boo to help break her out of her funk and give that tired mama a reprieve.

You see her, weighing in on a debate with her big brother about the pros and cons of war, while holding onto her lovey, and with cheeks still flushed from the temper tantrum she just threw because you told her she’d had to wait the 15 minutes until you put lunch on the table to eat, and that no, now was not time for a snack.

Recognizing and Nurturing Giftedness in Your Child

I see it too.

I live it, right along with you – you’re not alone.

I like to think that both nurture and nature play a role in our kiddos and their giftedness. Nature made them who they are, and it’s up to us to nurture those dichotomies and help them channel their intensities for good.

So, what does giftedness look like?

Recognizing Giftedness in Your Child

When you’re trying to figure out whether or not your child is gifted, or what a gifted kiddo looks like, it’s often a good starting point to know what some of the early characteristics are. It’s also helpful to know some of the traits that characterize different types of giftedness – creatively, cognitively, or academically.

Your gifted child may:

  • need constant mental stimulation.
  • learn and process complex information quickly.
  • need to explore topics in depth.
  • have an insatiable curiosity.
  • ask endless questions.
  • seek precision in thinking and answering questions.
  • focus obsessively on subjects or activities of interest for surprisingly long periods of time.
  • be unable to focus on tasks that are not intellectually challenging.
  • not be willing to participate in repetitive lessons or tasks.

So, you’ve recognized the giftedness in your kiddo… now what? Do you need to have your child identified? Is testing really that important? Maybe… maybe not. You can read my thoughts about testing and decide for yourself.

I think, though, that it’s infinitely more important that we, as parents, nurture those abilities in our children. There are lots of great books that explore the effects of denying our gifted kids’ abilities. You can check some of them out:

 

As a mom of gifted kids, I made the decision long ago to shift my paradigm and homeschool my kids when traditional schooling wasn’t working out. But, whether you homeschool your gifted kids or not, it’s crucial to nurture their giftedness so that they are empowered to reach their potential.

Recognizing and Nurturing Giftedness in Your Child

 

 

Nurturing Giftedness in Your Child

It’s important to remember that, above all, your gifted children are kids. They need you more than anything else. You are the perfect parent for your gifted kiddo and he or she was given to you for exactly that reason. You’re perfect for your kid.

Love him, appreciate him, and help him grow into the person he is meant to be. Your gifted child needs you to appreciate him right now, and help him develop.

Yes… you know that, right? But how? You’re wondering how you should go about nurturing your child’s giftedness. Here are five simple suggestions…

Follow Your Child’s Interests

Remember the characteristics above? I know that my son will focus intently and passionately on anything that HE chooses to learn. So, I try as often as I can to tap into my kids’ interests and let them drive their learning.

As your kiddo gets older, try getting him involved in choosing his own curriculum. Build on your littler kids’ interests and dive into delight-directed learning. Take field trips. Get hands-on. Enjoy museum memberships.

Recognizing and Nurturing Giftedness in Your Child

 

Strew Great Resources

Get those kiddos of yours to expand their interests by strewing. While it’s important to nurture your gifted child’s potential and love of learning by following his interests, it’s equally important to expose him to new things. Create a learning-rich environment with loads of great books, games, and puzzles.

By rotating exciting new things, your kids may discover new passions. We have a small science table in our kitchen. Right now there are bird books, a bird log, identification guides, and a chair. This past weekend we put up a feeding station outside so that we’d attract birds to where we can observe them. I also put out small pots, seeds, and soil, along with a book about seeds. It’s springtime, and I’m hoping to encourage nature observations and an interest in getting a garden planted.

Think about the possibilities… what could you strew?

Recognizing and Nurturing Giftedness in Your Child

 

 

Pose Problems to Solve

Get your kids thinking. One of my favorite things to do when I taught third grade gifted kids was to challenge them to beat me in the strategy game of NIM. NIM is a mathematical game where players are required to remove objects in certain quantities.

There are endless variations of the game, but all involve inductive reasoning and can be won by the child who “discovers the secret.” I taught the initial variation to all the third graders in the building, then challenged kids to practice increasingly more difficult versions on their own and stop by when they thought they could beat me. If they’d solved the strategy and executed it flawlessly, they earned a sticker that boasted, “I beat Mrs. Kessler at NIM!” If they successfully solves all 20+ variations during the quarter I had the challenge live, they joined me and all the other problem solvers for a pizza party.

I had lines out my resource room door every morning for months, with my gifted kiddos all fighting to be the first to beat me at all of the games.

My own kids have loved the challenge, too.

Besides NIM, I’ve challenged my kids to beat me at Mancala, Mastermind, and other strategy and thinking games. I’ve also used great resources like It’s Alive, Real Life Math Mysteries, 100 Math Brainteasers, and Grid Perplexors.

Find Local Resources to Help Ease the Load

I don’t know about you, but I get tired of coming up with all of the ideas, activities, and materials to pique my curious kids’ interests all the time. I tap into the huge abundance of local resources I have at my fingertips.

We have memberships to local museums and zoos, and we frequently visit botanical gardens and nature centers. So many of them offer great classes during the summer and over spring break, and most of them offer classes and programs during the year, too.

And if they don’t – ask them if they will.

So many of the  amazing class opportunities we’ve had here in Northeast Ohio have come about because a homeschooling mom has asked if a theater program, community college, museum, or zoo would offer classes to homeschoolers.

They have the staff, love sharing what they know with the community, and are often eager to accommodate learners who want to learn. So… call around. Set something up, and then get on Facebook and shout out about the new offering. Parents and their kids will come. And you might make a few new friends in the process.

Recognizing and Nurturing Giftedness in Your Child

 

Find Community

This might be the hardest part of it all when it comes to nurturing your child’s giftedness. You and your child need community. You need other moms and dads who get exactly what you’re going through. You need a place to brag and cry and get help. Your child needs help making friends.

One of the toughest things about raising outliers is that they often don’t fit in with same-age peers. My 13yo has great friends – but they’re either adults or kids half his age. Asynchrony means that he likes to work through complicated ideas and bounce them off mentors four or five times his age, but wants to play Transformers with the 7yo brother of my daughter’s best friend.

Nurturing his giftedness means letting him be himself, and enjoy playing with young friends, and making time to take him to my father-in-law’s house to meet up with the “train guys” who come weekly to build model railroad layouts.

Whatever we do, we need to remember that our kids need us more than anything else. It’s up to us to recognize and nurture their giftedness – and to brag about them so they know we’re proud to be their parents.

Are You Homeschooling A Gifted Child?

The Learner's Lab

The Learner’s Lab is the community created just for your quirky family.  It’s full of creative lessons, problem solving activities, critical and divergent thinking games, and the social-emotional support differently-wired children and teens need most.

All from the comfort of your own home. 

This community was created to support children who are gifted and twice exceptional. We address topics just like this all year long, in a way that is educational and fun for children. They learn skills to help them cope and you learn how to help them along the way. 

We invite you to join us. Get all the details HERE.

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Is Identifying Your Child As Gifted Important?

 

At some point most parents of gifted kids will ask, “Does my gifted child really need a label?” In this audioblog episode, Collen tackles this question and looks at the pros and cons of giving your gifted child the “label.”

Is Identifying Your Child As Gifted Important?

Does My Gifted Child Really Need A Label?

I understand the question. How often have we heard complaint that we label kids too much?

“Why can’t kids be kids?”

“Back in my day we didn’t have all these disorders.”

“I just want to appreciate him without some label telling me who he’s supposed to be.”

While these are certainly valid statements on some level, at some point most parents of gifted kids will ask, “Does my gifted child really need a label?”

Related: 100 Hints Your Child May Be Gifted

Is Identifying Your Child As Gifted Important?

The Difference Between Labeling And Pathologizing A Gifted Child

To label a child means to identify them, in simplest terms. The salt and sugar in the cabinet each have a label that let you know what you’re working with, and a label for a child does the same thing. Pathologizing a child or a child’s behavior is akin to a diagnosis. Dismissing the wiggly kindergartner as having ADHD is pathologizing, whereas knowing that kindergartner is a wiggle worm is labeling.

Both have options for “treating” the behavior, be it medication or taking a short walk, but only one “blames” the behavior on a diagnosis or condition. 

Is Identifying Your Child As Gifted Important?

RLL Episode 115: Does My Gifted Child Really Need A Label?

 In this audioblog episode, Collen tackles this question and looks at the pros and cons of giving your gifted child the “label.”

 

Prefer to read the original post? You’ll find it here:

Does My Gifted Child Really Need a Label?

 

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:

The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know?Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger's, Depression, and Other Disorders (2nd edition)Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope with Explosive FeelingsParenting Gifted Children 101: An Introduction to Gifted Kids and Their NeedsBright Not Broken: Gifted Kids, ADHD, and AutismOn the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted ChildrenSuccess Strategies for Parenting Gifted Kids: Expert Advice From the National Association for Gifted ChildrenRaising Gifted Children: A Practical Guide for Parents Facing Big Emotions and Big PotentialUnderstanding Your Gifted Child From the Inside OutParenting Gifted Children: The Authoritative Guide from the National Association for Gifted ChildrenParenting Gifted Kids: Tips for Raising Happy and Successful Gifted ChildrenTeaching Gifted Children: Success Strategies for Teaching High-Ability Learners

 
 
 

Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!

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A Homeschool Writing Program To Challenge Your Gifted Learner

My daughter loves to tell stories.

She is creative and brilliant in her ability to weave together storylines and characters. Moreover, she’s imaginative in creating symbolism, even at her young age. (Another time, remind me to tell you how she cast our family into various animals roles. She was dead-on in her reasoning as to why each of her family members was one animal vs. another. Let’s just say one of us was a sloth…)

Story telling is part of who she is!

Because this is such an area of great interest and strength, I am always looking for ways to supplement and challenge her natural creative writing ability.

A Homeschool Writing Program To Challenge Your Gifted Learner

Although I have looked for creative writing programs suitable for her age and ability in the past, finding one that really works has been difficult. 

Our experience has been that most focus on the mechanics of writing first (think sentence structure) and leave the creativity out completely. 

This approach has never made sense for my daughter. 

She needs a program that begins with the creative and allows her to learn the rest as she explores her own strength in storytelling. 

Knowing this, I’ve found ways on my own, to incorporate this approach into our everyday learning.

But as she’s gotten a little older, I find myself wishing for something a little more structured and a little more focused.

Then, I discovered Night Zookeeper.

A Homeschool Writing Program To Challenge Your Gifted Learner

A Homeschool Writing Program To Challenge Your Gifted Learner

Night Zookeeper is an award winning and award winning creative writing platform that helps improve the writing skills of 5-12+ year olds.

The program has all the benefits of a complete language arts program, and also works well as a fun supplement in your homeschool. 

Night Zookeeper is committed to the following benefits for children:

  • Improved Core Writing Skills 
  • Personalized Feedback from a dedicated team of tutors 
  • Weekly Lessons that incorporate interactive video elements and games to teach your children key skills. 
  • Publishing Opportunities and weekly competitions with real life prizes! 
  • FREE Monthly Educational Printables 

A Homeschool Writing Program To Challenge Your Gifted Learner

Creativity And Storytelling Come First In This Writing Program

What impressed me most about this program is it’s emphasis on creativity and story telling first. 

For example, when your child first enters the site, they are asked to create and draw a fun character. The emphasis is on imagination and story first. The mechanics come later in the program.

I love this approach, especially for gifted homeschoolers. It taps into their natural abilities and keeps the learning focused on the experience, rather than the mechanics, of writing. 

A Homeschool Writing Program To Challenge Your Gifted Learner

Homeschool Writing That’s Fun and Games

In addition to the emphasis on creative writing, most of the program is “played” almost like a game. For my child, Night Zookeeper feels more like fun screen-time than it does our language arts learning for the day. 

This is huge for my sometimes resistant learner. She loves to tell stories, but actually sit down and write them? Sometimes, it’s a real challenge. 

Because the platform is so focused on making the learning fun, resistance fades as she gets more and more absorbed in the content and actually begins to write.

A Homeschool Writing Program To Challenge Your Gifted Learner

One of the most unique things about Night Zookeeper, is that children receive feedback on their writing!

Children get instant feedback on everything they write. They’re encouraged to improve their writing as they receive comments from Night Zookeeper characters, as well as personalized feedback from our team of educators.

The feedback is delivered in fun and engaging ways from the characters the kids are interacting with on the platform. It’s genius!

A Homeschool Writing Program To Challenge Your Gifted Learner

Looking For A Fresh Approach To Homeschool Writing For Your Gifted Child?

If you have a child who loves to tell stories, or who needs a little extra language arts practice without the added stress, I think Night Zookeeper is great option for your homeschool.

Right now, as a Raising Lifelong Learner reader, you can take advantage of a FREE 7-day trial. If you decide it’s a good fit for your child, Night Zookeeper is offering 52% off it’s annual subscription, bringing the annual price to only $59.99 for the entire year. There are also monthly payment options if you prefer.

With the free trial, you have nothing to lose!

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Managing Perfectionism: 10 Tips for Helping Your Gifted Child

As parents, we want our children to excel. We want them to strive for excellence, and to feel accomplished with a job well-done. Whether it’s their education, music lessons, dance, performance, or any other skill they’re pursuing, we teach our kids to aim high and master new things from an early age.

Gifted children know this expectation well. Because they rarely struggle with anything they attempt early on, we set high standards for them. After all, striving for perfection in the sense of learning to excel can be healthy and admirable. We just want our children to succeed.

gifted child perfectionism

 

The Unhealthy Side of Perfectionism

But, when reaching for perfection turns compulsive, it becomes an unhealthy struggle. And this type of pervasive perfectionism can become debilitating to a gifted child. Gifted perfectionists can be unsatisfied with their performance on anything – even when they’ve done beautifully.

My son has been taking flute lessons for a little over a year and a half. When he went in for his first “try out” and tested different band instruments to see what he was most suited to play, he was told that he had a natural ability, and could play whatever he wished. He chose flute.

At first, he practiced well and often, but as time has gone on, and the pieces have become more challenging, he’s pulled back. I know that it’s because he’s afraid he’ll fail. He has been told since the beginning that he is a natural, and so with every failed note, he feels increasingly devastated and angry.

 

That amazing solo happened because neither his teacher, nor his parents {us} allowed him to quit. He told us over and over again that he wasn’t going to perform. He argued that he’d been practicing the song for a year and still didn’t get it right every time. But we wouldn’t back down because he needed to play the song. He’d worked hard, and would be sitting in a gymnasium with other 5th and 6th grade musicians, none of whom practice perfectly every time. And almost every one of them was performing a solo.

He nailed it. And once he did, and heard the applause, his whole demeanor changed. He sat straighter. He clapped harder for his friends. And he smiled through the rest of the concert.

And then he fought me again the next day as we tackled a math concept that was new to him.

When Perfectionism Leads to Underachievement

Perfectionism is different than the motivation for excellence. The dissimilarity keeps gifted perfectionists from every completely feeling good enough about themselves. It keeps kids from taking risks. They become so afraid of failure that they avoid work, play, and new experiences altogether.

I still get this way as a perfectionistic adult. I get anxious and procrastinate on tasks or projects I have coming up when I’m afraid I won’t be able to meet my own high standards. I’m speaking about giftedness and managing intensity in a few weeks, and still haven’t put together my talks, slides, and handouts. It’s not because I don’t know the topics inside and out – I live those topics on a daily basis!

Managing Perfectionism: 10 Tips for Helping Your Child

I just don’t want to let my audience down. I’m headachy and nauseous when I think about it. I love speaking. I love writing. And I’ve done it for years – and get myself worked up each and every time because I care so much about creating the perfect experience for others.

I know exactly how my son feels.

I know how your gifted perfectionist feels. He might seem depressed or avoid basic work, making excuses and blaming others for his lack of follow-through. He may become defiant or rebellious.

Perfectionism And The Gifted Child

Unhealthy perfectionism affects the child {or adult} physically, emotionally, and intellectually. But it also affects his family and friends. Perfectionists may subtly cause others to feel down about themselves by pointing out their flaws and mistakes in an attempt to make themselves feel better.

One of my children is constantly pointing out a sibling’s flaws, and offering unsolicited advice. It’s not warranted, and all it does is make the recipient feel less perfect than the advice-giver. And the advice-giver feels more important, smarter, etc.

Giving others unsolicited advice reassures gifted perfectionists of how intelligent they really are. Causing others to feel bad has an unconsciously confirming effect on their own perfectionism.

10 Tips For Helping Your Gifted Child Manage Perfectionism

So, as parents who want our gifted kids to reach their potential and excel, without becoming unhealthy in their quest for perfection, how can we help them manage?

1. Let them hear about your mistakes.

Kids who struggle with perfectionism often think others are perfect. Talk to them about your failures and the lessons you’ve learned from them. When I taught gifted children in the public schools, I started the year by going into all of the third grade classrooms and reading excerpts from the book, Mistakes That Worked. In that book, inventions that were created from someone’s failures are profiled. The Frisbee, Toll House chocolate chip cookies, and Post-It Notes are some of the amazing things discussed in that book.

Sometimes the best learning happens from the biggest failures. After we discussed the books, their classroom teachers each shared a story of failure from their own lives. It was powerful, and enlightening. The kids loved it.

Managing Perfectionism: 10 Tips for Helping Your Child

2. Teach them to practice… and to lose.

Many things come easy to gifted kids, so by the time they find something that’s hard, they give up rather than fail. Find something they’ll have to work at – an art class, horseback riding, stop motion animation – and sign them up. Practice with them between sessions. Teach them that great things come through hard work.

Then, teach your kids to lose. Play games with them, starting with games of chance and moving onto skill-based games. Celebrate gracious losing.

3. Focus on the process, not the product.

Too often, perfectionistic kids have an idea of what something should look like when it’s done. Their picture may or may not match up with reality. Throughout the process of their work, ask them questions and offer compliments. When they’re done, ask questions. “What made you use that color?” “How did you come up with this idea in the first place?”

4. Explain your expectations, and stick with them.

Gifted kids are literal and need to know up front what it means to be done with a project. What does a great journal entry look like? How do we measure success on the ball field? What should his flute practice include? Tell your literal-minded kiddo what to expect and tell him to stop when he gets to that point. Use a time limit if necessary.

Managing Perfectionism: 10 Tips for Helping Your Child

5. Be silly sometimes.

Gifted and perfectionistic children can be so hard on themselves. Take time to laugh with each other – especially when mistakes are made. Practicing how to take falls, trying flips on the trampoline, and watching silly shows on television all help draw families closer together and remind kids to enjoy moments… and that everyone fails.

6. Talk about your own struggles.

If you’re a perfectionist too like I am, talk to your kids about it. I just chatted over Starbucks with my son about how I struggle when I have too many things on my plate. I get overwhelmed, think I can’t do it all perfectly, and just want to give up altogether. When he knows that I struggle with paralyzing perfectionism, too, he doesn’t feel so alone.

7. Break routines from time to time.

Like all children, the perfectionist craves routine. Help them see that the occasional break from routine is okay. If you’re in a hurry to be somewhere, model that it’s okay to let some chores go until later. If you always let your kiddo read before bed, but you got home really late, have them go to bed without reading from time to time. Teach them that routines and structures are meant to help us focus our days – not become slaves to them.

8. Make and progress towards goals.

Help your child see the bigger picture, and realize that mistakes and trip-ups are part of the journey. Start by having them think about things they want to achieve and break it down for them. For example, if your child wants to write and self-publish a book, have him first set the small goal of outlining his story. Then, have him set and meet the goal of writing the first chapter. Keep going like this in small intervals, helping your child see that there are many steps to ultimate goals, and nobody get there right away.

Managing Perfectionism: 10 Tips for Helping Your Child

9. Enjoy a state of rest.

Many kids get more worked up over their perfectionism when they over-extend themselves. Make sure that everyone is well-rested and takes good care of their physical needs. Set aside time to eat together as a family and reconnect. Include quiet down time in your day for kids and adults of all ages – we all need downtime.

10. Be a role model for healthy excellence.

Take pride in your work and don’t hide your mistakes or criticize yourself aloud. Congratulate yourself when you’ve done a good job, and let your children know that your own accomplishments give you satisfaction. Don’t overwork. You, too, need to have some fun and relaxation.

If your child’s perfectionism is getting in the way of normal activities and preventing him from getting involved in new activities, or if your child shows symptoms of anxiety related to perfectionism, like stomachaches, headaches, or eating disorders, you may want to get professional psychological help for your child and your family. Seeing a psychologist or a family counselor can help give you the tools to get your kiddo and yourself back on track.

Do you or your child struggle with perfectionism? What are some of the successful ways you’ve tackled the problem? 

 

An additional resource to help you as you help your child with perfectionism – 

perfectionism and gifted children

Get all the details about Never Good Enough, by Colleen Kessler  HERE. 

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Supporting The Social and Emotional Needs Of Gifted And Twice-Exceptional Kids

 
How do we best support the unique social and emotional needs of gifted and twice-exceptional kids? In today’s episode, Emily Kircher-Morris of The Neurodiversity Podcast joins Colleen to discuss the specific, intense needs of our neurodiverse children and how we can best help. 

The Unique Needs Of Neurodiverse Children

There are specific needs that are a part of a gifted and twice-exceptional child’s development that require a unique approach. These include:

  • The Distinctive Friendship Needs Of Gifted/2E Children
  • Existential Crisis And Gifted Children
  • Appropriate Discipline for Gifted and Twice-Exceptional Children
  • Screen Time and The Neurodiverse Child

Because these needs are more intense for gifted children, they require a more intense approach. We discuss each of these in more detail in today’s episode. 

Related: Giftedness and Intensity

Finding Mental Health Care For Gifted and Twice Exceptional Children

In order to best support the unique mental health needs of our gifted kiddos, it is important to do some research. 

You can start with a google search and asking other parents, but the very best way to ensure that a professional is right for your child is to interview them. In advance of any appointment with your child, I recommend you meet with the practitioner and ask questions like: 

  • What do you know about giftedness?
  • How do you help children who struggle with perfectionism?
  • What is your experience with twice-exceptional children?

You want to make sure that any mental health care your child receives is appropriate for not just their diagnoses, but their giftedness as well.

Related: What If Your Child’s Doctor Or Therapist Doesn’t Support Homeschooling?

For example, my guest, Emily Kircher-Morris, LPC, has dual Masters degrees in Counseling and Education, and specializes in the area of giftedness. She states, without question, that a professional must “view the mental health needs of children who are gifted through the lens of giftedness.”

 

Supporting The Social and Emotional Needs Of Gifted And Twice-Exceptional Kids with Emily Kircher-Morris

In today’s episode, Colleen discuses the unique needs of gifted and twice-exceptional children with Emily Kircher-Morris of The Neurodiversity Podcast. 

 

Emily Kircher-Morris, LPC has dual Masters degrees in Counseling and Education. She began her career as a teacher in the St. Louis, MO metro area. With a Masters in Education and gifted certification, and armed with her own experiences as a gifted student, she took an interest in helping her districts better serve their gifted student population. She helped develop curriculum and a learning environment that allowed students to learn at their own unique pace, building on each child’s strengths.

She decided to commit herself to the deeper needs of the gifted community by getting a Masters degree in Counseling from the University of Missouri/St. Louis. In 2011, she opened a private practice, Unlimited Potential Counseling and Education Center, in the western St. Louis suburb of O’Fallon, MO. The practice specializes in gifted and family counseling, group counseling, testing, and education services. 

She’s a soon-to-be-published author, and the mother of three gifted children of her own.

Emily has two books scheduled for release in 2021.

Raising Twice-Exceptional Children: A Handbook for Parents of Neurodivergent Gifted KidsTeaching Twice-Exceptional Learners in Today’s Classroom (Free Spirit Professional™)

 

Teaching Twice-Exceptional Learners in Today’s Classroom (Free Spirit Publishing, August 24 2021)

Twice-exceptional (2e) learners have often been misunderstood, disciplined, unchallenged, and left behind. Even as awareness of 2e learners has grown, educators are still in need of practical tools to recognize and support their twice-exceptional students. This book answers that need, providing teachers with accessible information about twice-exceptional diagnoses and suggested accommodations, modifications, and collaboration with other educational professionals.

Raising Twice-Exceptional Children: A Handbook for Parents of Neurodivergent Gifted Kids (Prufrock Publishing, November 1 2021)

Just because a child is gifted doesn’t mean they don’t have other types of neurodivergence, like ADHD, autism, dyslexia, and more. Conversely, even children with one of these diagnoses can be cognitively gifted. Raising Twice-Exceptional Children provides parents with a roadmap to understand the complex makeup of their “gifted-plus,” or twice-exceptional, child or teen.

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:

Raising Twice-Exceptional Children: A Handbook for Parents of Neurodivergent Gifted KidsTeaching Twice-Exceptional Learners in Today’s Classroom (Free Spirit Professional™)Understanding the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted StudentsThe Underachieving Gifted Child: Recognizing, Understanding, and Reversing UnderachievementTwice-Exceptional Gifted Children: Understanding, Teaching, And Counseling Gifted StudentsEmotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope with Explosive FeelingsUnderstanding Twice-Exceptional Learners: Connecting Research to PracticeEmpowering Underrepresented Gifted Students: Perspectives from the Field (Free Spirit Professional™)Raising a Gifted Child: A Parenting Success Handbook

 
 
 

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When Your Homeschool Day Is Going All Wrong

We’ve all had them. This is what real homeschool moms recommend for when your homeschool day is going all wrong. Special thanks to my friend, Amy Sloan of Humility and Doxology, for putting together this amazing compilation!

When Your Homeschool Day Is Going All Wrong

We’ve all been there. Sometimes the homeschool day just seems to be going all wrong.

Everyone is grumpy. The kids seem to have forgotten everything they have ever known. They’re more interested in fighting with Mom or with each other than they are interested in actually just doing their work.

What’s a homeschool mom to do on those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad homeschool days?

HELP! Our homeschool day is going all wrong!

In season 3 of the Homeschool Conversations with Humility and Doxology podcast, I asked each guest to share their best advice for what to do when the homeschool day is going completely off the rails. You may be surprised by how similar – and how simple – their advice turned out to be!

(You can find the complete interviews with each of these Homeschool Conversations guests in your favorite podcast feed or read the full transcripts at HumilityandDoxology.com.)

When Your Homeschool Day Is Going All Wrong

Tips and Tricks For When Your Homeschool Day Is Not Going Well

1. Go Outside (Mom, too)

One of the most common strategies suggested for salvaging a bad homeschool day is to go outside. This might mean sending the kids out in the yard to play or taking a nature walk as a family. 

Or maybe it means Mom herself needs to take an outdoor break breathing in the fresh air and soaking in some sunshine.

Not only is it good for us to be out in nature in general, but not moving our bodies enough makes it harder for our kids (and us) to stay focused on seat work.

Often our emotions reflect our lack of movement, Kristen Rudd pointed out. She also noted that it gets hard sometimes to remember that our big kids need to have time to play, too:

“I find that I have to do a lot of apologizing when I let my emotions get the best of me, but I found that usually it’s when no one’s moved their body enough, or somebody needs a snack and a nap…Usually, it’s, ‘Move your body. Go outside, go take a walk, go sweep the deck off.’ When they were little, I actually would make them go around the house five times until they just had burned off some physical energy. If they came back, I’m like, “Okay, just go play.” At this point, nothing’s getting done. You’re not learning. We are embodied people. We live in bodies and I think … especially when they’re older, we don’t really play as much.”

Aimee Otto agrees:

“I would say one of my probably default things to try is to just bundle everybody up and go outside for a little fresh air. That’s probably my go-to strategy for when the day is going off the rails. Inevitably it takes us a while to find all our hats and gloves and coats and nobody really wants to and everybody’s grumbling. If we just get out the door, it seems like walking around a little bit in the fresh air helps everybody’s mood to settle somewhat. That’s something that we turn to a lot.”

Keren Chu finds that time outside in nature puts things back into an eternal perspective:

“On other days when it’s extra difficult, I just stop and take a break. I think that’s what homeschooling had given us, the freedom to do that, to take a break and take a breather. Other times, I just say, ‘Okay, kids. Let’s go outside for a nature walk,’ and that’s what we do. I need that too. I need the fresh air. It’s been helpful for me. Jesus said, ‘Just look at the birds of the air for they neither sow nor reap.’ It reminds you, ‘Look at God’s world,’ then you’ll realize how infinitely small you are and how great our God is. Sometimes you get so caught up in the small details and even in the education of our children. When you look at the grand scheme of things, you realize what ultimately matters.

“There’s no bad weather, only bad clothes” is a maxim that Anne Guarnera has adopted in her family, especially during this pandemic. She added, “I have found being outdoors an instantly calming mechanism for myself and my kids, and rain walks great, snow walks great. I don’t recommend ice walks…but otherwise go outside and do it.”

Kelly Cumbee points out that nature is healing for Moms, too:

“Even for myself, I have found that if things are just horrible, if I just go outside it really does help. Being outside and being in nature, to me, is so important…Being in touch with nature and knowing your local trees and birds and flowers and those things, knowing your seasons, your weather… The more time you spend outside, the more– I think it’s just healing to your soul anyway, being out, and just seeing the clouds. You don’t have to memorize anything about clouds, you just rest and lift your eyes up to God. The heavens declare the glory of God. It’s healing just to go outside and be in nature…. It’s even healing for me to go out and take a walk and just de-stress. It clears your mind, then you can come back and reset.”

When Your Homeschool Day Is Going All Wrong

2. Take a Break

When everyone is crying, the learning has stopped. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just call a full stop to the day. Put the textbooks away; they’ll still be there tomorrow. Try something fun, unusual, or calming instead!

Jami Marstall has teens in her homeschool, and she smilingly noted that a fun coffee drink goes a long way with older girls. She sometimes tells them, “Let’s go get a fun coffee and get this day turned around.” Jamie also encouraged “being willing to be a little bit silly and find something to laugh about.” It’s hard to stay grumpy when you find something to laugh about together!

Of course, ice cream is always a good idea, too! Colleen says, “You can go get drive-thru ice cream. I have taken my kids to ice cream for lunch on really bad days, and there’s nothing like eating dessert for a meal that turns families around and makes people start laughing. Really, let it go. It is okay. You can always, always, always pick up the academics.”

Tawnya Vinyard finds that taking a hard break on a bad day restores relationship:

I would say get off course. We always prioritize relationship in our homeschool more than the actual bookwork. If you are struggling over a curriculum, get outside, go ride your bike to the park or ride around the neighborhood, take a walk. Don’t make it educational, just literally take a hard break, and really just focus on the relationship, filling that child up or children up. If you can’t get outside, we like a good board game… We’re not going to get Sum Swamp out to play, we’re going to get Catan or Ticket to Ride or something more fun that they enjoy. Monopoly’s my son’s favorite, so something like that…A hard break on bad days always seems to work.”

Homeschooling means we’re all around each other all the time. Jessica Jensen pointed out that sometimes we just all need a break from each other for a bit, especially when you add tweens or teens to the mix: “Sometimes we just need a time out. We seem to need to go to our own places and be alone for a little bit and cool down and try again. That works…Because pushing through, it doesn’t work.”

 

When I asked Jennifer Pepito what she’d suggest for the homeschool day going all wrong, she laughed and advised, “Definitely stop. Just stop because I think there’s a point where our kids can’t learn anymore and if we think that pushing them to tears is going to result in something, we’re wrong… I think that it is important if you want to homeschool to establish that you’re the boss, but then also be a respectful boss. If you see that your child’s worn out with what they’re trying to learn and it’s just not working, stop and play a board game. You’re doing math, they’re crying, stop and play a math game. You’re doing a grammar worksheet, they’re crying, stop and read a book out loud and talk about what you read…There are more fun ways to accomplish the same purpose with our children, ways that are respectful and kind… There are other ways to accomplish the same purpose beside doing every single thing that a curriculum tells you to do.”

Sometimes taking a break looks like taking time to address our own mindset as homeschool moms. Are we buying into lies about our own success or failure as the homeschool mom? Angela Reed finds that on those really bad days she often needs to take a break on her own to pray and readjust her mindset: “In the midst of a homeschool day that’s unraveled it feels like, ‘Oh my goodness. This ship is sinking and I’m the captain and I failed.’ I go in the room and I pray and I speak against those lies.”

Isn’t this one of the freedoms homeschooling has give us after all? Keren Chu reminded me, “that’s what homeschooling had given us: the freedom to …take a break and take a breather.”

Related: Should You Homeschool Your Gifted Child?

When Your Homeschool Day Is Going All Wrong

3. Keep Going

We just talked about how often on a homeschool day going wrong you need to take a break. But sometimes? The best thing you can do is to keep persevering, especially if you’re in a season of several hard days in a row!

But persevering on a bad day doesn’t mean gritting your teeth or resorting to yelling.

Sometimes we just need a change, not a break. Sometimes we need to cut back, not stop completely.

Amber Johnston advised moms, “Look at what is giving you life and what’s going well, and how you can maybe protect that or do more of it. Maybe you don’t need to do more, maybe it’s just a protection of [what’s giving you life]…Some things I still am planning to implement, but they’re put away right now because this wasn’t my season for that…I read one author who said that, ‘A change is as good as a break,’ or something similar. Sometimes it’s just changing the way that you’re doing something that could make it feel refreshing again.”

Amber also shared a quote that impacted the way she thinks about her homeschool: “Cut back until you have peace. Keep cutting back until you have peace.”

 Katie Waalkes has a super practical suggestion for those days when you’re struggling to push through. She prepares a “Bad Day Box” ahead of time for just this situation!  She explained, “It’s just a box of a few educational activities. Basically, we have a list of podcasts and YouTube channels and fun educational videos to watch on different streaming services in that box. We have some Usborne fun books that we don’t normally have out, some educational games. Just kind of a box for when we’re having a rough day and we need to go off track, we can go to that and pull from some fun educational resources and just mix it up in our family, and that’s been a lifesaver.”

A Bad Day Box is for moms, too! Katie includes M&Ms in hers and a ring of encouraging Bible verses. We all need an emergency supply of chocolate somewhere, right?!

 And don’t forget to ask your kids for advice! Sometimes the source of the struggles may not be what you think it is.

Aimee Otto likes to collaborate with her children to find creative solutions. She will ask them, “What’s making this hard for you or what would make this easier right now?” When Aimee’s daughter hit a stage where she cried over the math page every day, Aimee asked this question and discovered that her daughter was feeling overwhelmed by “so many problems.” So Aimee started cutting shapes out of the math page to remove a few of the problems. It was a creative solution that enabled her daughter to feel heard without quitting math altogether. “I think … if you can just collaborate with them a little bit and see if they have any insight into why you’re hitting this bump in the road, that can sometimes be helpful,” Aimee concluded.

Poetry tea time or read aloud can also be a great way to bring joy to a bad homeschool day. Anne Guarnera has found that “on a hard day, poetry tea time pretty much often turns my day around. Kids love cookies and my kids love poetry and they consider it a major treat. I don’t think they realize that sometimes I just do that to keep them quiet and eating things while I relax and read them poetry, but it works for all of us. We consider it a really special time.”

When Your Homeschool Day Is Going All Wrong

4. Focus on Relationships First

Relationships are more important than checklists. Those horrible homeschool days can feel so huge in our minds when we’re right there in the middle of one. But at the end of the day, the relationships we have with our children are way more important than any one math worksheet or any one project.

I often find it helpful to think about what kind of relationship I want to have with my children in 20 years, when our homeschooling experience is way back in the past. Will I really remember (or care) about the day we didn’t get to everything on our checklist? Or will it matter more to me that we love each other and want to be around each other?

How might that big picture perspective affect the way you handle your homeschool day that’s going all wrong?

Maybe it means you need to start by apologizing to your kids. Eek. I don’t always like to hear this advice, but it was a recurring reminder from this season’s podcast guests.

Kristen Rudd said, “Take a break, think about what you’ve done, and go back and apologize to your children, because usually when it goes off the rails, it’s because I have lost my cool. I’ve gotten frustrated in some way and my kids deserve an apology, and I’ve been in the wrong. I found that apologizing and explaining, not as a way of excusing, but as explaining, “I’m just frustrated and I took it out on you and I’m sorry,” I found my kids to be so receptive to that. It doesn’t make everything better, but usually, it calms down whatever’s going on. There are some days when you just have to be done, and there are some days when you have to dig in and try again. It’s a matter of intuition and knowing and making a mistake, and learning from it. Yes, go outside, take a breath, and apologize. That’s usually what solves it.”

Marc Hays pointed out that sometimes we parents like to think we’ve figured out the issue…but we might be wrong. In fact, Marc said, sometimes we’re the problem:

“That doesn’t mean that you’re the only one to blame in the situation, but it could be that you are exacerbating the problem. Perhaps by not rightly assessing what their problem is but being pretty sure that you’re going swoop in and fix it. Then come to find out, an hour or two later and 10,000 tears later, that that wasn’t the problem to start out with. Or, it was only part of the problem, it was a very minor part of the problem, and swooping in without pausing to assess (which usually requires asking questions and listening) sometimes results in much longer frustrations than if we started out more slowly. Sometimes, we don’t know what questions to ask. Sometimes, it just takes some long moments of silence to find a better question. I say all this personally, because I’m super guilty of it. Super guilty of thinking, ‘I know how to teach, and they’re not learning, so it’s their fault.’ Quite often it has nothing to do with teaching or learning. It has to do with what’s going on with them.”

Sometimes hard homeschool days come as a result of periods of trauma. Jennifer Dow has walked through tragedy, and she has seen God working in the midst of that: “I would remember, I think it’s Isaiah 54, that verse where God says, ‘And I, myself, will teach your children.’ I’ve constantly been amazed, and we’ve been through a lot of tragedy in our home in the last three years, how much that is true. That even when everything is going crazy, that my children learn in spite of me and my capacity, but how much that God really does love them more than I even can. Every single time. If I’m willing to surrender to that and follow His urging, wherever it leads, even if it’s something that I’d rather not do, then we’ll be okay.”

 Dr. Kristin Moon encouraged us to show grace to our kids… and to ourselves:

“Show grace and accept grace. Just cover the whole thing with grace. There is no shame in when you’re having a really terrible, horrible, no good bad day to just walk away from the books. Relationships always supersede getting through the curriculum. Because if you have a bad attitude, if your student has a bad attitude towards you because you’re having a bad day, because words have been exchanged or maybe looks or whatever, they’re going to have a hard time receiving what you’re trying to teach them. It’s probably going to just be scrapped anyway…Just understand that you’re going to have bad days, that it’s a marathon and not a sprint, you’re going to get through it, but ultimately the more important thing is not that you finished the textbook at the end of the year, but that you’ve deepened your relationships, that you’ve worked on character.”

Trying to force things and power through will likely lead to more tears and less learning. Colleen Kessler reminded us, “Connection matters more than anything, and if you guys are all in tears over academics, nothing’s going to sink in anyway. Most parents, especially new homeschooling parents worry that if they just put it aside, they’re never going to get back to it, because their kids are going to play them and keep crying when math comes. And they might, they absolutely might.

That’s when you use the connections in the heart, relationships that you’ve built, and sit down and say, ‘Hey, look, we’ve let math go for a little while because I know that it’s been causing problems between us, but I also know that you’ve been laying it out a little thick when math comes back around and it is something that needs to get done, so we need to come up with a solution together to solve this aversion you have to math or whatever it is.’

By building the connections and building the relationships in those crazy chaotic moments, you’re able to have those conversations, even with your littlest, for sure with your teens, but even with your littlest, you can say, ‘Hey, come on, you’re playing me here. Let’s get back to it, you can cry and throw a temper tantrum afterwards. We just have to get through these five problems.’

But in those first moments when you are all struggling, you really need to put it aside. You can go for a drive and put on an audiobook and still call that school.”

Encouragement for the Hard Homeschool Days

Hugs, Mama. If you’re having a hard homeschool day, I hope these encouraging and challenging words from veteran homeschool parents bring some much-needed perspective and hope to your day.

Go outside (even if it’s raining).

Take a break if you need to (ice cream optional).

Keep going and don’t quit (sometimes you just need to change things up).

Prioritize the relationships in your home (people are more important than worksheets).

Eat some chocolate. Say a prayer. Take a breath.

This homeschool gig might be the best hard thing you’re ever going to do…and you’re doing an amazing job.  

 

A Note From Colleen:

Isn’t this so encouraging?!

You should also know that Amy Sloan and her husband John are 2nd-generation homeschoolers to 5 children from 5 to 15 years old!

Amy Sloan

The Sloan family adventures together in NC where they pursue a restfully-classical education by grace alone. If you hang out with Amy for any length of time you’ll quickly learn that she loves overflowing book stacks, giant mugs of coffee, beautiful memory work, and silly memes. At any moment she could break into song and dance from Hamilton, 90s country music, or Shakespeare. Amy writes at HumilityandDoxology.com and hosts the weekly “Homeschool Conversations” podcast.