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5 Virtual Playdate Ideas to Keep Kids Entertained and Engaged While Home

5 virtual playdate ideas to keep kids entertained and engaged while home
HHM Five Virtual Playdate Ideas PIN

Are your kids going stir crazy at home? While people in some areas are beginning to be able to get out a little more, others are not. Or maybe you have a child (or yourself!) who has a medical condition that requires you to stay home and away from any potential danger of getting sick. Maybe you care for an elderly relative and can’t get out as much as you’d like. Or you could be in the middle of super cold, super hot, or even rainy weather that makes getting outside hard to do. There are lots of reasons why you and your children might be interested in virtual playdate ideas, so I’m sharing these 5 virtual playdate ideas with you today!

HHM Five Virtual Playdate Ideas wide

Thankfully, Zoom and other video conferencing platforms have provided a way to stay connected to friends and family even if you can’t be together in-person. This means kids can still see and talk to their friends. No, it’s not exactly the same as getting together in real life, but it’s the next best thing!

5 Ways Kids Can Connect with Friends Through Video

1. Board Games

Board games have always been a popular option for gatherings–and for good reason! They’re appropriate for any group size and are enjoyed by almost everyone. Now, video conferencing has made it possible to play games with friends and family even when you’re not in the same location. Yahtzee, Farkle, Bingo, and Charades are a few games you can play over Zoom or Facetime that are cost-effective and fun for all ages.

There are actually lots of kinds of bingo games for kids! Click this link to see some of them. You’ll find bingo games for preschoolers, alphabet bingo, animal bingo, holiday-themed games, and even Spanish versions!

And, on Only Passionate Curiosity, you’ll find an article sharing a printable Boredom Busting Bingo game. This one is a little different because it is actually a bingo board that includes spaces for things like “learn about food chains” or “make up a dance” or “make papercrafts.” Then, in the information included in the article, you’ll find links to printables for helping your kids learn about food chains, templates and ideas for all kinds of papercrafts, etc. This is a fun and educational way to play bingo! 

2. Weekly Book Club

This one is exciting – especially for book lovers like me! An online book club is super simple to set up. You can coordinate with neighbors, friends, or other homeschool families to find kids who are interested in participating. 

Once you’ve got a group together, have the kids choose a book (maybe have them vote on two parent-approved options) and discuss the details – days/times of meetings, which video platform to use, how many chapters a week to read, discussion questions or free-flowing convo, etc. Putting a plan in place will ensure everyone is on the same page (yes, pun totally intended). 

Right now with everyone stuck at home, escaping to a new world – with your friends! – is a great way to feel less alone. 

3. “Show and Tell”

Yep, I said “show and tell.” Just like we did in elementary school all those years ago. Kids love showing off their stuff!

Just grab a group of friends with kids and set up an informal weekly chat. Maybe (to get everyone “warmed up” and ready to be on camera) start with circle time and let parents take turns leading songs and stories. Then, let the kids hop on camera to show the group their most prized possessions. Let each child have a turn giving a little background about his or her treasure, and then have a Q&A time for others in the group to ask questions about their treasured objects (or pets….kids love their furry – or scaly – critters!). You can keep it to one kid per week or let everyone have a short turn each time you meet – whatever works best for your group.

Bonus – this is a fantastic opportunity to help your kids build confidence when speaking in front of others!

4. Arts and Crafts

Arts and crafts are the perfect boredom buster for kids at home. Have them put on their creative hats and get together for a virtual “make and take” project each week with friends. You can find craft ideas online and have everyone gather their own supplies before each meeting.

Crafts can be chosen based on a class theme (sea creatures, fairy tales, dinosaurs, etc.). Or, kids can take turns each week picking a craft for the group to do together.

Our sister site, Only Passionate Curiosity, has some great arts & crafts ideas that are either inexpensive or free. You’ll also find educational printables, unit studies, worksheets, and other fun ideas!

Pro tip – designate a parent to send out a weekly supply list so everyone has time to gather what they need to participate. Be sure the list is sent out at least a week ahead of time! 

5. Social Club (Around a Central Topic)

This one is probably my favorite. I have a child that can talk for hours and hours and hours about Minecraft. I try to give him my full, undivided attention, but let’s be real, it’s hard. My eyes glaze over because I don’t understand most of what he’s saying.

If you can’t get out and physically be with friends right now, forming an online group chat with your child’s peers surrounding a topic of interest is a great solution. It gives them an opportunity to “geek out” over all the details of their interest/hobby that we, as parents, don’t always fully get. And the friendships formed by kids connecting in this way have the potential to last long beyond these online meetups. 

Kids can exchange letters, talk on parent-approved messaging apps, and/or continue to video chat (or see one another in-person, if local) once the social club has run its course and life has gotten a little more back to normal.

Bonus Ideas and Activities

We all know we tend to feel better when we do nice things for others. It just makes us feel good to help others feel good! So how about performing some random acts of kindness? You can do these together with your virtual group or on your own!

Some of these may not be do-able right now if they require that you leave the house and you’re not able to do that, but many of them are perfect for doing right at home! 30 Random Acts of Kindness for Kids includes some fun yet simple ideas for doing things to show your kids you care. (Yes, we do that every day by feeding them and keeping them alive! 🙂 But sometimes our kids enjoy an extra special reminder that we’re glad they belong to us!) If you and your children want to do some random acts of kindness for someone else, you’ll find great ideas in these articles: 50 Random Acts of Kindess  (some of which can be done from home) and 50 More Random Acts of Kindness (That Can Be Done from Home).

The Wrap Up

Life looks different for many of us right now. While we can’t do anything to change the events of the past year, we can try to find the bright side and make the most of our current circumstances. While get-togethers aren’t happening as much, video conferencing has made it possible to connect face-to-face. 

Which of these ideas do you think your kids will enjoy? Or do you have other ideas to share? Please let us know in the comments below!

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Poetry Study on The Crocodile by Lewis Carroll

unpoppable bubble

Unpoppable Bubble Recipe

Soap Carving Ideas and Information for Children

Soap Carving for Everyone!

100 Hands On Activities for Middle School and High School FB Updated 1

100 Hands-On Activities for Middle and High School

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

what if your childs doctor or therapist doesnt support homeschooling

 
In this bonus episode, Colleen and Shawna answer a homeschooling mom’s question about doctors, therapists, and homeschooling. What do we do when doctors don’t support our decision to homeschool? How can we prepare for therapist visits and doctor appointments? When is it time to switch to a more homeschool friendly doctor?

What If Your Child's Doctor Or Therapist Doesn't Support Homeschooling?

Because this is a five week month, we are digging into a question that we are both frequently asked by homeschooling moms (particularly those who are homeschooling gifted and 2E children).

“Laura asks, How do you share homeschooling as a priority when you are dealing with doctors and therapists?”

This is something most of us will have to deal with at some point in our homeschooling journey, particularly if our children have learning differences. Let’s start with the basics.

Is It Possible To Homeschool A Child Who Needs Therapies And Interventions?

Not only is it possible to homeschool a child in need of therapies and medical interventions, in many cases, it is preferable. 

First off, It is legal to homeschool children with special needs in all 50 states. You have the same right to homeschool a child with differences as you do any other child.

When a child is in need of speech therapy, occupational therapy, educational therapy, and/or intense medical interventions, homeschooling provides a supportive and individualized atmosphere. Our children can learn at their own pace and do so in an environment that more closely aligns to their needs. 

What If Your Child's Doctor Or Therapist Doesn't Support Homeschooling?

How Do I Interact With Doctors And Therapists Who May Not Support My Decision To Homeschool?

There are a few things to keep in mind if it’s clear that your doctor or therapist doesn’t support your decision to homeschool.  This is a quick outline of what we share in the episode.

    • Prepare yourself to respond in a way that positions you as the “educator of your child” and not “just” the mom (Shawna walks you through a sample conversion in the episode).
    • Know that doctors are supposed to ask about school. That’s true for non-homeschoolers too. Try not to feel threatened by the questioning. 
    • You Don’t Have To Share All The Things. In fact, we recommend you come prepared to speak to one or two issues only. 
    • Sometimes, you may have to change doctors. It’s better to do it when you know it’s not working than to wait, and hope it will get better.

Incorporate Therapeutic Activities Into Your Homeschool 

The truth is, homeschooling can give your child a therapeutic advantage as well. Because you are able to individualize your approach and are with your child most of the time, therapies can be done almost seamlessly as part of your homeschool day

For example, these are just a few of our favorite sensory activities to use at home.

pelpo 40Fidget Toys - Super Sensory Textured Stretchy Strings - 6 PackLITTLE CHUBBY ONE Kids Velvet Play Sand Dino Egg Set - Toy Magic Sand Set - Includes 12 Eggs with Sand Plus Dinosaur Surprise Sensory Toy for Girls and Boys Age 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10NALANDA Wobble Balance Board, Core Trainer for Balance Training and Exercising, Healthy Material Non-Skid TPE Bump Surface, Stability Board for Kids and AdultsSticky Balls - Fidget Pack of 8 - Squishy Glow in The Dark Sensory Ball Stress Toys - Sticks to Ceiling and Wall - Stress Relief Gifts, Party Supplies, Anxiety Relief Items for Kids and AdultsTrideer Newest Exercise Ball, Yoga Ball for Home Gym & Desk Chair - Fitness, Yoga & Physical Therapy, with Quick Pump [ Sweet Series, 55cm & 65 cm ] (ice Cream, 65cm)

 

Planning And Preparing For Your Next Appointment

In order to help you feel more comfortable heading into your next doctor’s appointment of therapy session, I’ve created a little cheat sheet to help you organize your thoughts and make the most out of your visit.

Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast Episode 112: Working With Your Child’s Doctors and Therapists

What If Your Child's Doctor Or Therapist Doesn't Support Homeschooling?

For a much more comprehensive answer to this question, please join us in today’s podcast discussion. 

 

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:

The Everything Parent's Guide To Sensory Processing Disorder: The Information and Treatment Options You Need to Help Your Child with SPDHomeschooling Your Child With Special Needs: Practical Support And Encouragement For Learning With DifferencesSelf Regulation and Mindfulness Activities for Sensory Processing Disorder: Creative Strategies to Help Children Focus and Remain CalmRaising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues, Revised and Updated EditionHandbook of Evidence-Based Interventions for Children and AdolescentsSensory Processing Disorder Answer Book: Practical Answers to the Top 250 Questions Parents Ask (Special Needs Parenting Answer Book)Rhythms of Relating in Children's TherapiesHandbook of Evidence-Based Therapies for Children and Adolescents: Bridging Science and Practice (Issues in Clinical Child Psychology)Healing Child and Family Trauma through Expressive and Play Therapies: Art, Nature, Storytelling, Body & Mindfulness

 
 

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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Strewing in Your Homeschool to Spark Curiosity

strewing in your homeschool to spark curiosity

I walked into the kitchen to find my youngest two kiddos (9 and 6) deep in concentration at the table. Glancing at the pile of tiny clay food, it was clear that they’d been up awhile. These two are early risers.

I’m not.

For my own sanity, and to keep them out of trouble (bright and creative minds are uniquely dangerous when it comes to too much unsupervised time), I started strewing things for them to discover a few years ago.

Strewing in Your Homeschool to Spark Curiosity

Put simply, strewing is leaving something out for the kids to discover, piquing their interest. Putting things in the path of your kids — spreading a feast, so to speak, and letting the kids take from it what they will.

Strewing is popular with unschoolers, and I think it’s one of those things that anyone can adopt and pull into their homeschooling — or life. It’s a great way to incorporate more self-directed learning, giving kiddos ownership of their time and education. But, there are a few things to remember when it comes to strewing…

Strewing in Your Homeschool to Spark Curiosity

No Expectations

The first, and most important thing to consider when it comes to strewing, is that parents should have no expectations for how — or if — the materials will be used.

Really.

Strewing is all about sparking curiosity and letting kids run with it. You’ll set yourself up for disappointment as a parent if you’re putting something out as the start of a new unit study or because you think your kids need a bit more practice in an area.

Strewing fails when we get caught up in a desired outcome. If I strew space stuff — a book, games, maybe queue a video on curiosity stream, and put out some space tous, but the kids fiind a book on Ancient Egypt on the shelf and dive into that instead, it might feel like I’ve failed. And I did, if I set out to start a unit study on space with them.

But, when I keep in mind that strewing is about sparking curiosity, and not product placement, I realize that the Ancient Egypt play and conversation the kids are now involved in is a huge win. They’re owning their learning, and it’s a natural part of their lifestyle.

RELATED: Interest-Led Homeschooling And Your Gifted Children

strewing in your homeschool

 

It Can Be Anything

“What do I strew?” is probably the most common question I get when it comes to strewing. Most people who hear me talk about it get the whole leaving things out for the kids to find thing. They struggle with the what to leave out and the how to keep it from costing a fortune part of strewing. If you do too, I want you to relax.

Strewing can be just about anything:

  • books
  • queued videos
  • DVDs
  • games
  • toys
  • puzzles
  • building blocks
  • science kits
  • historic toys
  • art supplies
  • crafts
  • recyclables

Whatever you dream up — you can probably strew it.

To help you get started, I created a printable for you to download, print, and hang up in your school room or put into your planner to give you a bit of inspiration whenever you need it. Simply drop your name and email in the form below and check your email for your printable!

 

You can also learn more about our #StrewtoLearn email series and join in here! What cool things have you strewed out for your kiddos? Let me know in the comments.

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What Does A Gifted Homeschool Graduate Really Think About Homeschooling?

what does a gifted homeschool graduate really think about homeschooling


Have you ever wanted to ask a homeschool graduate what they thought about their homeschool experience? Are you curious about what an adult life after homeschool looks like? I get all the answers from Samantha Shank, a brilliant homeschool graduate, highly successful business owner, and highly gifted, eclectic learner. 
 

What Does A Gifted Homeschool Graduate Really Think About Homeschooling?

I absolutely adored my conversation with Samantha Shank, from Learn in Color. Not only is she a homeschool graduate, she is also an obviously gifted, eclectic thinker, whose enthusiasm for learning is contagious.

These are some highlights from our time together.

Related: Interest-Led Homeschooling And Your Gifted Child

What Does A Gifted Homeschool Graduate Really Think About Homeschooling?

The Most Important Things Parents Can Do For Their Homeschooled Children

As a homeschool graduate, who graduated from high school and college early, Samantha believes the most important thing her parents did for her education was simply this – 

“They let me learn.”

Sam’s experience and ultimate success, is one of the reasons I feel so strongly that interest-led, child-directed learning produces the very best outcomes for gifted learners. For a example, her passion for World War Two was the flickering flame that launched an entire business. 

Other experiences that Samantha remembers as essential to her homeschool education were:

  • Weekly Library Trips
  • Encouraging Outside Groups and Connections (I think Samantha is going to be Miss America someday!)
  • Her parent’s encouraging her to try new things, knowing that not everything would be a fit
  • Helping her learn to fail in a safe and supportive environment

What Does A Gifted Homeschool Graduate Really Think About Homeschooling?

Homeschooling High School, College, and Beyond

One of the most encouraging topics we covered was Samantha’s homeschool experience through high school and college. It’s clear that her passion for learning fueled not only her studies and interests, but her ability to build a flourishing business.

She attributes much of this success to her parent’s decision to homeschool her, specifically in an interest-led eclectic way.

Samantha is also quite encouraging for those of us who worry about our kids not fitting in or struggling to establish friendships. Her advice for our kids?

Do you. It may not happen in your city or your area, but eventually, you will find your people who share your interests. Find your group of friends in your own nontraditional way. You don’t have to sacrifice your core personality for friendship.

Samantha Shank, Learn in Color

What Does A Gifted Homeschool Graduate Really Think About Homeschooling?

If you are homeschooling a gifted learner, I think you will not only enjoy Sam’s episode, but find so much inspiration and encouragement!

Samantha Shank, Learn in Color

The Raising Lifelong Leaners Podcast, Episode 111: A Conversation With Homeschool Graduate Turned Business Owner, Samantha Shank

 
 

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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How to Make a Clay Cell Model

how to make a clay cell model

One of my son’s favorite homeschool memories was of creating his own clay cell model! For those of us who grew up in the days of read-about-a-cell-in-the-textbook-and-take-a-test-on-the-parts-of-the-cell, it can sometimes be difficult to remember that there are lots of fun ways to study all kinds of topics! We may sometimes shy away from doing more hands-on projects because we (mistakenly!) think hands-on projects necessarily take lots of time. While that can be the case, it definitely doesn’t have to be! Creating this clay cell model is just one example of a fun activity that can take as much or as little time as you’d like to devote to it. Give it a try!

NOTE: If you want to devote more time to this activity, you can always work on it for a certain amount of time each day instead of completing it all at once!

Clay Cell Model

Materials You’ll Need

This clay cell project requires only a few simple items from beginning to end. The clay I prefer is an air-dry clay since this prevents the need for baking if you want to keep your cell for any period of time.

place each piece in the foam with a toothpick

How to Do It

  1. Look at a diagram showing the parts of the cell. Our article, Edible Cell Project: Chocolate Chip Cookie Science, includes pictures of both a plant cell and an animal cell that you can use as references.
  2. Make a list (or use the one below) of the parts of the cell you want to create and label. If you have younger children, you might only choose to include a few parts of the cell, For older students, you might do all of the ones listed.
  3. Have your child create whichever parts of the cell you want to include in your cell model.
  4. While the clay is still wet, insert a toothpick halfway into each part of the cell. Larger pieces, such as the nucleus, may need two toothpicks.
  5. Then place each part onto the styrofoam “cell” and push the toothpick into the styrofoam to hold the part in place.
  6. After all the pieces are in place, roll out a strip of clay to serve as the cell membrane and press it around the edge of the styrofoam cell.
  7. After the pieces are dry, it’s time to paint your cell! Have fun!
  8. After the cell is complete, you may want to have your child label the parts (as shown in the photo of the finished cell). Or you may choose not to label the parts so you can use your finished cell as a way of occasionally checking to be sure your child remembers them.

Items to Label in Your Animal or Plant Cell Model

Use the list below as suggestions for parts to include in your cell. CLICK HERE to download a printable version of this list.

  1. Nucleus
  2. Golgi body
  3. Mitochondria
  4. Ribosomes
  5. Rough ER ( Endoplasmic Reticulum )
  6. Smooth ER
  7. Chromatin
  8. Plasma Membrane
  9. Cytoplasm
  10. Lysosomes
  11. Centrioles
  12. Cell Wall ( if plant cell)
  13. Vacuole
  14. Nuclear Membrane

More Ways to Make Science Fun!

Cell Models

If you’re looking for more ways to study cells with your children, take a look at 10 Awesome Ways to Make a Cell Model! You’ll find suggestions for making cells from cake, Jello, cookies, and even Shrinky Dinks and Legos!

Plant Cells Free Printable 357x500 1

If you’d like more ideas for studying plant cells, this Plant Cells Printable Pack includes activities and worksheets for studying the parts of plant cells.

Animal Cells Printable Pack 397x500 1

Or maybe you’re studying animal cells and would like this Animal Cells Printable Pack!

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Why Homeschooling Helps Your Gifted Child Thrive

why homeschooling helps your gifted child thrive

 

Education and achievement doesn’t have to look like school, and it doesn’t have to follow a prescribed path. In this audio-blog episode, Colleen shares the reality of rethinking achievement and how homeschooling helps our gifted children thrive. 

Why Homeschooling Helps Your Gifted Child Thrive

Making The Decision To Homeschool My Gifted Child

As someone who worked in the school system and loved it, making the decision to homeschool my oldest son, so many years ago, was not easy. I had so many preconceived notions of what defines success and academic achievement, especially for gifted children.

Now, as my oldest prepares to graduate high school (as a homeschooler), I can see that the decision to homeschool is actually what has supported him most and helped him to thrive.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Homeschooling Gifted Children

Why Homeschooling Helps Your Gifted Child Thrive

Why Homeschooling Helps Your Gifted Child Thrive

I can sum it up in one word – Freedom.

Homeschooling helps gifted children thrive because it gives them the freedom to learn in ways that work best for their brilliant minds!

As homeschooling parents of gifted kids, I think we need to revise our perspectives when it comes to achievement. Most people think that kids need to follow a linear path when it comes to learning. And, while it’s true that some subjects like math tend to build upon themselves, one skill at a time, that’s just not the case for most of what kids learn during their childhood.

Homeschooling helps a gifted child thrive because it removes the typical, linear approach and it allows for true learner exploration. 

And, it protects their own motivation and inspiration throughout the learning process!

Why Homeschooling Helps Your Gifted Child Thrive

RLL Podcast Episode 110

In today’s episode, we explore this concept in much more detail. This is a practical, in-depth look at both how we define achievement, and why this is so essential for our gifted children’s success . 

 
 

Why Homeschooling Helps Your Gifted Child Thrive

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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Yes Day Freebies and Giveaway!

yes day freebies and giveaway
EN US Yes Day Main Vertical 27x40 RGB PRE

Did you hear about the new movie called Yes Day? I got to preview it with my family recently, and we loved it! Even though I do enjoy a good laugh, I don’t usually (literally) laugh out loud very much. While I was watching this movie, though, I think I laughed more than I ever have while watching a movie! And after the stress of the past year, it was much needed.

HHM YES DAY Graphic FB

When and Where to Watch It

That’s why we want to share more information about this movie with you. We all need a break and a laugh and some time to have fun with our kids. If you have Netflix, you’ll be able to watch it this week starting on Friday, March 12!

Watch the Official Yes Day Trailer

Not sure if this movie is for you? Take a look at the official trailer below. It’s just over 2 minutes long, so it won’t take much time to watch it.

The movie, as you can tell from the trailer, is about parents, Allison and Carlos, who feel like they are always saying no to their kids and their co-workers. (Anybody else ever feel this way? I know I felt this way a lot when my kids were younger!) So Allison and Carlos decided to give their kids a Yes Day – where for 24 hours the kids got to make the rules (within certain boundaries). Little did they know that they’d be going on a whirlwind adventure around Los Angeles that would bring the family closer to each other than ever before.

Have Your Own Yes Day!

Let’s face it, everyone deserves a YES DAY – a day when parents get to say YES! to their kids (with some ground rules of course!). It is a great way to reconnect with your kiddos, change up the routine, and have lots of FUN together!

YES DAY is all about creating memorable experiences with our families right at home. To help you do that, we’re sharing this YES DAY Family Activity Guide for fun ideas and activities to get the party started! (Don’t worry. We promise you won’t have to go through a car wash with your windows down. Haha!)

Share Your Yes Day Adventures on Social Media!

We can’t wait to see how you spend your Yes Day! Be sure to share your adventures with us on social media using #YESDAYchallenge, @NetflixFamily, @NetflixFilm, and #hiphomeschoolyesday. We want the folks at Netflix to know that we homeschoolers are watching and that we like great family movies! 

Enter the Yes Day T-shirt Giveaway Contest

Do you want a chance to win a Yes Day t-shirt for each member of your family? Enter below for a chance!

Yes Day T-shirts for Your Family!

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A Quick Guide To Homeschooling High School For Gifted Children

a quick guide to homeschooling high school for gifted children

 
Homeschooling high school, particularly when your child is gifted and twice-exceptional, has its own unique set of challenges and rewards. This quick guide provides encouragement, practical tips, and real examples you won’t want to miss!

homeschooling high school

 

A Guide To Homeschooling High School For Gifted Children

One of the very first questions I’m asked about homeschooling high school is, “What do I do about course credit and transcripts?”

It is always a top concern, especially for parents who graduated in a more traditional high school setting. The good news is, this is actually one of the easiest things to tackle, when you have the right resources!

homeschooling high school

 

Resources For Creating Homeschool Transcripts

Homeschooling High School By Design E-course

How To Create A Transcript As Relaxed Homeschoolers

Getting Started With High School Course Descriptions and Credits

homeschooling high school

 

What’s The Most Important Part Of Homeschooling High School For Gifted Children?

Once you feel comfortable with the paperwork associated with homeschooling high school, it’s easier to focus on the very best and most important parts of homeschooling high school. 

Homeschooling high school is really more about helping your child learn, than it is teaching all the things. Most homeschool moms of high schoolers will tell you that their role as homeschool mom changed considerably over the course of the high school years. 

Shared Responsibility And Planning

One natural change is the level of involvement your child should have over their own high school plan. Sharing responsibility for the learning itself, as well as the planning associated with it (including curriculum selection, etc.) gradually changes for most families. The shift in my own life went from me being almost entirely responsible in my son’s freshman year, to him being almost entirely responsible in his senior year. 

Mentor vs. Teacher

Part of this shift includes a change in our overall roles as homeschool moms. 

As the high school years pass, expect to find your role in your child’s learning changing from “teacher” to “mentor.” This can be disconcerting at first, but the truth is, it can also bring so much more joy and accomplishment to both mentor and learner.

Materials, Time, And Resources 

I absolutely love this quote from my friend and expert high school homeschooler, Heather. 

homeschooling high school

It’s a great summary of what our kids really need from us as they progress through high school. They tell us what they need in order to learn, and we get it for them!

Why The Learner’s Lab Is So Helpful For Gifted And 2E High Schoolers…

The Learner's Lab

You Don’t Have To Homeschool High School Alone

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. 

Interaction with Other High Schoolers

One element of The Learner’s Lab that has been the most impactful for high school learners is the monthly live sessions with other teens. I have been so pleasantly surprised to see the level of interaction, interest, and engagement with our high schoolers. A few have even become good friends in life outside the platform!

Social and Emotional Learning Balances Academic Learning

This community was created to support children who are gifted and twice exceptional. We cover social and emotional learning as a support to academics,  all year long, in a way that is educational and fun for teens. They learn skills to help them succeed, 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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Homeschooling High School: A Conversation With Heather Woodie

I think that one of the very best ways to learn about homeschooling any age group, is to ask another homeschool mom who has already navigated it. I was so lucky to be able to do that this week for the high school years! You can find all the questions and answers, as well as so much encouragement in my latest episode of the Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast, Episode 109: A Conversation with Heather Woodie.

homeschooling high school

 
 

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:

         

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My Top 5 Tips for Online School

my top 5 tips for online school

With so many people homeschooling, and doing online school I though it would be fun to share some of my top tips for managing online school at home.

We have homeschooled since our oldest was in preschool, this year she is a senior and I can’t believe it! Once she started high school we added in some online classes to help get her ready for a more college level experience. I really wanted to make sure she was equipped to be able to manage her own routine, schedule, homework, study skills and so on.

It was a little bit of a change for me since I was used to being her primary teacher. While I really wanted her to become more independent, I also wanted to make sure I was still supporting her during the transition. So today I wanted to share some of what we’ve learned over the past few years and how I like to stay organized while overseeing my student in an online school setting.

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My Top 5 Tips for Online School 69

1. Create a Basic Daily Routine

I think the best thing we’ve done is to create a basic daily routine for our family. For example we get up, get ready, eat breakfast, go on a walk, then start school. We like to do our harder subjects in the morning, take a lunch break, and then finish in the afternoon with more fun activities like science experiments, art projects, and group activities.

We currently have two types of online schooling. One is student led, our kids can watch their video lesson any time of the day, so we tend to do those in the morning. My oldest daughter is also taking dual enrollment classes through a local community college which are giving her both high school and college credits at the same time. These classes are great, but some do have scheduled class times so she has to be online and available on their schedule.

Since we have a mix of class types, I wanted a way to make sure I was helping my older kids manage their online classes in conjunction with classes that I am teaching them. Since one of our goals is to help prepare them for college, make them more independent, and teach them study skills, and general time management this mix is working well for us right now.

I say all this to encourage you that you don’t have to be all online, or all at home. Homeschooling is very flexible and you can easily do a mix of classes that fit your needs best.

Once you get into a good routine, do your best to stick with it. Keeping things consistent and familiar is probably the best way to help students feel comfortable and motivated.

2. Create a “School” Area

Creating an area for your kids to work on school assignments can be really helpful in motivating students to get their work done! When we first started homeschooling we did school in the kitchen. But we quickly learned that we had to clean everything up so we could eat meals. We eventually decided to set up a school area in our dining room where we had desk space for everyone and we didn’t have to worry about cleaning it all up three times a day! Since then we have created an official school room that we work in daily. I have found that having a dedicated space helps get us in the right mood mentally to do our work. 

But don’t worry, you do not have to have a “school room” to do school in. Just find an area in your home that has decent lighting and a space for your kids to spread out.

3. The Right Tools For the Job

Online school can be great, but if you are struggling with technological issues, tripping over cords, and slow computers then it can be more of a road block than a help!

While I realize everyone’s situation is a bit different, I do encourage you to make sure you have the right tools for online school to be successful. When we started homeschooling we had the “homeschool computer” and we all shared it. That was fine while our kids were younger, but now the thought of four kids trying to share one computer is just not realistic.

They all have online things that they do, and there’s just no way they could share right now. We invested in less expensive laptops for them which has made my life, and theirs, much easier. We didn’t get anything super fancy, but they are good enough to be able to watch an online class, write a paper, and meet basic internet needs. We also set up our work area so that everyone has a plug under their desk and we aren’t tripping over cords, and as most of you have probably seen, they have their own work desk so we don’t have to worry about space.

If you have a busy household, I encourage you to get some decent head phones for your online classes. This can really help block out distractions and let you kids focus on learning rather than all of the noises around them.

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to do an online class and having your video freeze, lag, or otherwise be troublesome. My husband is in charge of our “internet stuff”. He makes sure that we have what we need for 5-6 people to be accessing online videos all at one time without our videos lagging, computers crashing etc. He also manages our printers so I don’t have to do all of that tech stuff which is a huge help for me!

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5. Daily Wrap-Up Meeting

As we have introduced more online classes into our homeschool schedule, we quickly realized that we needed a way to connect each day. I was feeling a little disconnected between what they were learning and how they were doing on assignments. I also wanted to make sure they were actually getting their work done, studying for tests and quizzes, answering any questions they may have, and making sure they were ready for the next day.

So we started having “daily wrap-up” meetings with our kids at the end of each school day. They aren’t super formal, we just meet one-on-one for about 10-15 at the end of the school day. We discuss any questions they had, check to make sure everything was completed, and grade anything that needs grading together. If they need help with something we discuss that then as well. For my senior we just meet up for a few minutes and she fills me in on what she’s got going on. How she’s doing on assignments, what she has coming up, etc. Since I’m pretty much completely out of the picture for her college classes we just use that time as a check in to see how it’s going. She’s doing very well managing her own schedule and I’m so glad we taught her those time management skills early on!

Daily meetings have not only helped me stay on top of our workload, but they have also helped give my children a sense of accomplishment, take responsibility for their education, and learn how to manage their time. All things crucial to moving forward into higher education and life!

5. Be Flexible!

Online school can be a great asset to a homeschooling family. Especially for working parents, or families with multiple kiddos. Having a mix of teacher led classes vs online classes to help spread the load for all involved.

But one thing we have also learned with them is that flexibility is key. Like I mentioned earlier, my senior has dual enrollment classes, some of which are night classes. So we have just learned to be more flexible with her schedule. She gets her main classes done during the day, then she has a lighter load on her night class days so she can do homework or work during the day, then be available for class in the evening. And each semester has been a little different for her depending on what is offered, when it’s offered, and what else she has going on.

Most of you know we do BJU Press Distance Online for a few subjects for my high schoolers. These classes are great, and we love them! I’m also still in charge of grading things via BJU Press, and I can adjust their schedules if needed. Sometimes they can include extra “busy” work and so we just take it as it comes and decide which activities are important and which we feel like we can skip.

I may also adjust their schedule if they end up with 3 major tests/assignments due in one day. Instead of doing them all that day, we will spread them out a little bit so they have time to study and not be too overwhelmed. Though we’ve also made it clear that mid-terms and finals are “a thing” and they need to make sure they’re managing study time so they can be prepared and not overwhelmed.

If you have younger kids managing online classes I highly suggest you help them navigate the websites and make sure they are familiar with where to look for assignments, find video lessons, and how to turn in assignments as well. Navigating these websites can be tricky and so I really like to make sure they are comfortable with all of the ins and outs of the computer. School can be frustrating enough without all of the techy troubles! And if you are working with a school or online teacher, ask them questions! That’s what they are there for, so if you are having troubles, make sure you talk to your teacher and get any of your concerns addressed so you can have a successful online learning experience.

All of that to say that even if you are doing online classes, you can still be flexible and make the curriculum work for you and not visa versa.

So those are my tips for staying organized and helping you and your students navigate the online school world. If you have any tips to share, make sure to leave a comment below!

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Great Books to Read with Your Kids in March

great books to read with your kids in march

Just as the daffodils are starting to break through the dirt and everyone is adventuring more and more outside, we cannot forget to take advantage of all these amazing books! Between outdoor adventures, St. Patrick’s Day, and Dr. Seuss’ birthday, there are many titles to choose from this month.

Check out these great books to read with your kids in March…

great children's books for march

What are you waiting for? Let’s dive right in.

Great Books to Read with Your Child in March

100 Backyard Activities That Are the Dirtiest, Coolest, Creepy-Crawliest Ever!: First up on the list is written by yours truly. Since the weather starts to get warmer in March, this book is the perfect way to get outdoors and explore everything from bugs to animals. It is time to turn the great outdoors into a living museum for your kids!

Planting a Rainbow: This book teaches kids how to plant seeds and bulbs. It also gives them direction on how to care for those growing seeds. Big bonus! The illustrations in this book are amazing!

In Like a Lion Out Like a Lamb: An adorable book with rhyming text and an excellent description of March in the form of a lion and a lamb.

Puddles: What type of joy can a rainstorm bring? Puddles of course! Grab your rain boots and get ready to explore puddles of every shape and size.

    

More Books To Read With Your Kids In March

The Wind Blew: Huge gusts of winds carry away everything out to sea. Before it is out of sight, the wind decides to bring it all back.

Kite Day: Take advantage of those high winds and get outside to fly a kite. In this story, Bear and Mole have to build their very own kite.

The Tiny Seed: Follow the life cycle of a seed along with the bright illustrations that can only come from an Eric Carle book.

The Curious Garden: A young boys finds a neglected garden and decides to take care of it. As soon as he the garden starts to grow it changes everything around him.

    

Great Books to Read to Your Kids for St. Paddy’s Day

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover: The old lady is back and hungry as ever in this classic with a St. Paddy’s day twist.

How to Catch a Leprechaun: This is a great book to read as you build a Leprechaun trap. Kids of all ages love to try and attempt to catch the magical Leprechaun who is impossible to capture!

The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day: There is so much anticipation the night before St. Patrick’s day. The Leprechaun trap is set… but will these kiddos be able to catch one?

   

Great Dr. Seuss Books to Read with Your Kids Anytime!

Dr. Seuss’ birthday is on March 2nd! Celebrate this incredible author by reading his silly yet wise stories. Here are some of our favorites.

Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!: Take a trip down thinking lane with this clever book that will get kids to explore their thoughts and all of the ideas that can come with it.

The Lorax: This book is a great way to introduce environmental awareness to kids. It shows the cause and effect of your actions when using up natural resources around us.

Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?: What a wise man Dr. Seuss was. Share that wisdom with your kids and teach them how to be grateful for everything they have.

What Was I Scared Of?: Give your kids a reason to not be scared of the dark with this cute story of a pair of pants… Scaredy-pants to be exact.

    

With all of these wonderful books to read will there still be time to tend the garden, celebrate the great outdoors as well as the silliest authors of all time? Of course! We are always looking for fun and educational ways to keep those kids busy and these books are the answer!

Feel free to share with me in the comments. What favorite books do your kids love to read in March?

 

More Fabulous Booklists For Your Kids!

    

Great Books to Read With Your Kids in March

100 Backyard Activities That Are the Dirtiest, Coolest, Creepy-Crawliest Ever a

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