10 Steps to Start Homeschooling

I have been meaning to put this post together. I decided that I best get it finished. I have been meeting quite a few new homeschool Mom’s and I would like to answer their questions, if possible. More and more people are realizing that homeschol may just be the best thing for their families. Times are changing and it’s time we all start to think about what we really want our children to learn and be influenced by.

Below is 10 Steps to help you begin your journey to homeschooling. I hope this helps you!

1. Look up your states homeschool laws here. Why? Each state has a set of specific laws you must go by in order to homeschool. Some are more strict than others. Once you know them, you will be able to move forward. You could write them down or print them out so you don’t forget.

I am in Georgia, so I have to follow the laws shown below.

2. Disenroll: Once you feel a little more confident in knowing the laws, pull your child out of school. Before you go, have your printed statel laws with you. Public schools usually do not know what the state laws are. Some may argue with you, so it is good to have proof.

3. What now? Don’t freak out. You have time. For example, in Georgia, a parent has 30 days to submit a declaration of intent to homeschool. This gives the parents time to sort out their plans. The form is online and is also submitted via the web. How convenient right? Here is what it looks like:

4. Deschool: Don’t play school at home. You want to get away from the idea of “school” because homeschool is nothing like public school. You are homeschooling for a reason right? The best thing to do is relax and live day to day as usual. Here is an article explaining deschooling more fully and I highly recommend you to read.

Deschooling simply means giving your just-removed-from-traditional-schooling child time to decompress before starting formal learning in your homeschool. The idea is that all children are born with a sense of creativity and a desire to learn and that these innate desires have probably been squelched by the  institutionalized school setting.


5. Find out your child’s interests. Explore, live, spend time together. Learn about your kids first. Take a field trip to your city’s historic sites or go to a museum. Have a conversation about your favorite things as well. You will discover that there is so much to learn about your own children. It is a really beautiful thing.

If you get to the point where one of your kids just doesn’t know, don’t freak out. They will figure it out in time. Just give them choices and always have resources readily available. Google is helpful!

6. Find out their learning styles. This is so very important. It will make life  for them and you, so much easier! No child learns the same as the rest. You have your visual, kinesthetic and hands on learners. I highly recommend you doing a learning styles quiz with your children.

Try this learning style quiz!

7. Placement tests: It is a good idea to know where your child is at in regards to Math and reading. I did our placements just to help myself know what we needed to work on and where there were any gaps. I did not even tell them they were tests. If your state requires these, you can find many free tests online. It is possible your state supplies this for you.

For your convenience, here are two website’s you can try.

Horizons Math Assessment

Sonlight Reading Assessment

8. Free Resources: Try out the free resources first. There are so many free resources online that one could homeschool completely FREE. You can scour the web for just about any kind of worksheets, lists, books unit studies and more. This gives you the chance to find what they like before committing to an expensive curriculum.

My recommendation for starting an already planned homeschool online for free Easy Peasy

For Free printables, have a look at Education.com


9. Don’t make it obvious: Make learning easy and accessible. Have bookshelves, paper, craft supplies etc., always around. You want it to be their idea while guiding them through independent learning. This is starting to sound a little unschooly huh?

10. Keep a journal and a record. Write about the struggles, the good days and what needs your attention more. I would get file folders to organize their work if possible. Don’t forget to breathe in and live life like usual. Also, remember, it is good to have a schedule, however, it will probably keep changing. You will soon discover that it takes time for you to find your homeschool groove.

When you start to have doubts, look back in your journal. I know it will help 🙂 I hope this is a good plan and guide for you. Maybe it will help you feel less stressed and afraid to take the plunge into new waters. I know I felt all of the emotions when we started.

Did I miss something? If you have a suggestion or a question please comment below. I would love to hear from you!

 

 

 

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Valentine’s Printable

Hey there,

It is almost Valentines Day and I have yet to start any crafts with my kiddos. We usually make homemade cards and fancy them up. We use stickers, glitter, gel pens and more. Sometimes we mail some out, give them to family members and to each other. 

Valentines around here is more about family love, not romantic love. The kids especially love the chocolates and teddy bears we get them. They really love celebrating love. I must have done something right! 

We will soon be working on our cards and lovey notes. I have thought to add a Valentine theme into our school days but I really haven’t had much time. It can be difficult to add more to the busy mix of life. I did, however come across a cute Valentine activity on one of my favorite sites. 

A fun way to add gammar practice is with themed worksheets. Especially, if your kids like busy work. Plus, using activities like puzzles, don’t feel like real work at all. You can just add the worksheet into what they are already learning. 

Practice preposition words with this fun Valentine printable. Head to Education.com for more learning activities just like this!

I love word searches! I could do them for hours. I think this will be something different from our usual.I may just go snag a few different activities to hand out.

What do you do for Valentine crafts and activities? Do you go all out or keep it simple like me?

5 Ways to Homeschool On A Budget

 

Homeschooling can be expensive BUT it can be affordable and even FREE. It can be whatever you like. There are always ways to save or not. You just have to learn to be smart and frugal about it. I recommend all new homeschoolers take advantage of all the free resources out there. It is a good idea to have plenty of printing paper along with a printer. Even if you don’t have a printer you can go to your local library or even Office Depot. My Office Depot is actually cheaper. Imagine that. Anyway, getting to my 5 ways to homeschool on a budget….

 

1. Don’t bother buying curriculum:

 

Well, you don’t have to take my word for it. Everyone is truly different, especially your children. I am so glad I didn’t break down and buy an expensive curriculum when we started out. Boy did I want to so bad! Let me buy allll the books and school supplies. I very much enjoy shopping for books. It is better than Christmas!

What I learned though was, my kids didn’t all like the same things and I was afraid of buying something that they hated. Money down the drain. What I decided to do was print of activities that went with certain subjects and books we were reading. I started using, and still do from time to time, Netflix. There are actually free activities out there that will go with educational movies like The Magical School Bus.

 

If buying a curriculum turns out to be best for your family, then by all means go for it. However, I do suggest having your children take learning style quizzes and go from there.

2. Go to the library:

To me this is a no brainer! Take advantage of your amazing local library. They are there to help you. Most have computers and activities for kids to do outside the home. And it is FREE. So why not help your kids love the library? It is our second home. You can have them look for one book per subject or release them wild and free.

3. Free Printables

I know I have mentioned this one already but free printables will be your number one go to resource. The web is full of so many. You can find something for every subject; like math, science, history. There are even lapbook printables and curriculum packs available for free. One great website you can try is Teachers Pay Teachers. Just sign up and they will keep you posted on new items (Lots are free some are not).

4. Try the Dollar Tree and used book shops:

 

I love shopping for new supplies at the Dollar Tree. They have paper, puzzle books, workbooks, art supplies, teacher supplies, things to decorate your school space and much more. It is nice to have the option when you have 4 kids to shop for. I like to surprise the kids with a cute notebook and pen each year. They love to write and it keeps that feeling in them alive. If you are lucky enough to have a local used book store or antique shop, you might fight some really good books. I visited an antique/thrift shop and the lady there had over 100 types of workbooks. Score!

5. Free Website and Apps:

 

I wrote a post about educational websites I love and use quite a bit….Jessica’s Fave Educational websites. Check those out and see what may work for you. I will be sharing some more soon in a new post. I started out using many websites, like Easy Peasy, to help us get an idea of what the kids should be learning. Of course that didn’t last forever because we finally found our own way. You can find some of these websites have apps as that you can download on a tablet or phone!

So you see…homeschooling can be affordable. Even without internet at home, you can do a lot of the preparing at the library while your kids are finding things to learn. I hope this has helped. If you have any thoughts or questions please let me know!

You can also join my group at Homeschool Help & Support on Facebook. Hope to see you there!

5 Tips to Inspire your New Year

Hey, it’s Jess again!

How was your Christmas holiday? Are you happy it’s over and ready to start a fresh new year? As much as I love the holly jolly time of Christmas, I also love when it’s gone and I am gifted a new beginning.

Sometimes it is hard to get back into the swing of things after a long break. The kids and I have taken the whole month of December off because I like to focus on the fun and family time more. With all the card making, baking and our youngest who’ll be 1 tomorrow, I was super busy. Taking some of the stress off of my shoulders was nice.

Life can definitely get away from you when there are so many things to tend to. So, I have a few tips I have used on how to inspire a new year and fresh beginning.


  1. Set new Homeschool goals: Okay, I know this seems daunting, well, because it does to me. At the end of the year some homeschool families are rushing to finish that unit study or curriculum. As an unschool family, we don’t do that. However, we do have many unfinished workbooks and some group lessons we do on occasion. I still feel like I should have made them finish those books but it honestly doesn’t matter. So, in order for me to let it go, I set a few new goals for a fresh new start. It could be a few new stories I’d like my kids to try. Or it could be to actually finish our Story of the World book and activities that we didn’t finish in September. Oops. The important thing is to make some new goals and have a plan in mind. This will in turn spark some motivation. At least it does for me.
  2. Count your blessings. What have you accomplished in the last year? Write it down. At the end of each year I’m so shocked at how fast it went by. It doesn’t feel like I accomplished anything because there have been certain things I couldn’t get to. That feeling of unfinished business, it isn’t a good feeling to me. I am also a perfectionist when it comes to many areas of my life. Which can become a negative aspect. What I have started doing is writing down all that I have done throughout the year. Bella and Cheyanne can now read fluently, Casey Jr. can spell, write and do math on his own and my oldest daughter works more independently than before. We no longer struggle with reminding her to do her work and it doesn’t take all day like before. As I start this list, I realize that WE most definitely have accomplished an impressive amount of milestones! I say WE because I am not doing this alone. So my point is, when we see what we have accomplished written down, only then do we finally SEE what is truly important. So stop being so hard on yourself Mama.
  3. Clean out those closets and maybe even your computer. Do some early spring cleaning. This one is strangely my favorite! I get such a good and peaceful feeling, like a load has been taken off of me, when I clean things out. Whether it be my computer or my house, I love to look through the closest and organize. Things that haven’t been used or worn get donated or thrown away. It feels empowering! I also like to move the furniture around for a different feel and to make it more accommodating for our unschooling life.
  4. Try something new. Try meal planning, a chore chart, a lesson with a documentary, a new book to read as a family, etc. Meal planning can give you more time for crafts, projects, field trips and more. A chore chart can help you stay organized, as well as teaching your children that families should work as a team. Try a new approach to homeschool. See what is out there. If you usually lean towards curricula, maybe try lap-books and unit studies instead. It cannot hurt to spread your horizons. After all, isn’t that why we homeschool?
  5. Relax. Have 2 days a week of nothing related to homeschool. Use that time to explore. It’s harder to explore when it’s cold out but there are many library resources and the world wide web. There are also places you can visit indoors, like museums. If you’d like to not worry about going somewhere, then stay home and watch some great learning shows and play some fun educational games. Your kids will continue to learn. Their minds do not shut off when they put a book or pencil down.

These tips are pretty simple when you think about it. All you have to do is take action. We decide what we want from life and that includes our homeschool. It’s all mixed in together. Just as you would make goals for your job, weight-loss or business, this is no different. I hope I have inspired you to start a fresh new year. Have a wonderful and safe New Year!

What is something you do that helps you get inspired for the New Year?

Our Snow Day

I just want to drop in a few pictures of our snow day. It’s rare we get a day like this in Georgia. Where we live the weather goes from warm to cold all winter. Mother nature can’t seem to make up her mind. I guess that is normal for a woman…so they say! 

Our beautiful fun-filled snow day



This is the face of pure wonder. Such a priceless moment that I will cherish forever!


This was last week or so and we are suppose to be getting some more next week. I won’t hold my breath but it would be nice for Christmas! I will keep these memories forever, regardless. 

Why You Shouldn’t Give up.

Do you know anyone that homeschools? 

When I first pulled my girls out of public school I knew only 2 people that had already chose the venture. One of those ladies gave me the push that I needed and the other has always been supportive. BUT, that day I came to pick them up and said adios to that school, I admit I felt absolutely crazy and scared to do it. I was afraid of being judged, afraid of the questions and how to explain my reasons and worried I didn’t have what it takes. After-all, I never felt too smart. Guess what? I did not owe them or anyone else, an explanation. I know this now.

Fast forward to my comfortable years of doing this thing called life. I’ve noticed a few friends and acquaintances decided to homeschool after something happened to their kids at school.When I hear stories of why they made the decision to pull them out, it was either because of bullying or the school/teacher would claim the student had a learning disability. I’ve heard that, and still do, the teacher says “Johnny is behind in his math scores.” or “Suzy may need to be held back.” I may elaborate on this more in another post.

Then there are the tests and quizzes. I really use to think tests were important. I was not good at tests. I would come close to failing them all. When in class, doing the actual work and assignments, I’d do fine. To get back to my point here, learning is not about test scores and there isn’t a level to be at. You simply cannot say someone is “behind” because their brain wasn’t psychologically ready for it. In my opinion, public school is a failed system. You just cannot expect kids to learn things at your pace. 

Back to those acquaintances I was talking about. They gave up! First, I want to say that I know we as parents are trying to do what we think is best for our children. I know that some really believe they just can’t do the homeschool thing or it didn’t fit into their lifestyle. It is hard for me to accept that because once you have kids, it isn’t about you anymore or your lifestyle. It’s about the lifestyle fitting with them. Does that make sense? I know a lot more Homeschoolers now and many with busy lives.

Parents running their own business….homeschool. Single Mom’s…homeschool. Mothers with health problems…homeschool. Work at home Dad’s….homeschool. Parents that work full time….homeschool. I could keep going here but I think you get my point. This is in no way a judgment post. I really just want the ones questioning their ability, to know that they can do this!

Please don’t give up! I will tell you right now, I almost did. If it ain’t hard, it ain’t worth it. Would you give up on making those sales goals? This is no different, except one thing….you have your children counting on YOU. Most parents do not give their kids enough credit either. They don’t realize how independent they can be in their learning. We just have to realize it and let them go. It is really that simple. You are their to guide them and cheer them on.

So, don’t give up on the thought of homeschooling. You can make it happen! That is the real beauty of it. You have control of what they learn, how they learn and when they learn…to an extent. Mine learn every day….the days we take “off” and every single moment in between.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”-Robert Louis Stevenson @whw_jessica <-Click to tweet

If you have any questions about homeschooling please feel free to email me at whatshappeningwithjessica@gmail.com. You can also find my contact page in this blogs menu. 🙂

Homeschool Anniversary: Year 4

“There is no school equal to a decent home, and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.” – Click to Tweet

 

It is the start of another “Homeschool” year. A new year means new beginnings. Just like children grow every year, so does our way of homeschooling. For the most part we are an un-schooling family. I love it this way and they are happier for it. It means we can do things our way. It means if we are tired of books, then we can go explore outside instead. It also means that my kids are not learning in a school setting. They know how to cook, clean and even sew barbie clothes for their dolls. They can learn what they want on their own. They know how to research, do cursive handwriting, and make pancakes from scratch.

 

I am probably the proudest Mother. I have children whose imagination is so big that it would fill this world 10 times over. They can write stories, poetry and draw pictures to go with them. They make up their own plays and tell a story through songs and make believe. Does it sound like they are learning? Do you think they are having fun? Yes and yes!

 

Sometimes we use workbooks and worksheets and other times we just play word games and watch educational films. It just depends on how we feel that day.

 

I remember when we first began our journey to homeschool. I was a nervous wreck. Yes, I took the time to think about it. I weighed the pros and cons. I mulled it over. A friend of mine listened to my worries for weeks before I finally made the choice to pull them out of school. January 2013 to be exact. You would have lit up seeing their faces when Mama came to take her baby birds home.

It took me a good solid year to start feeling confident that it was all going to work out. Someone was right when they told me it takes time. It really did! We changed what we did for schooling so many times. I messed up, I bored them to death and I cried many times. I almost gave up. When I stopped treating our homeschool like public school, it started to become so much easier. I decided I was done trying to be a teacher. Instead, I continued to be their Mom and go to person. We aren’t suppose to “teach” but to guide our children in everything until one day they can fly on their own. Learning is no different.

So, I will keep doing what I have discovered in myself….being the best Mom that I can be. I am and always will be the one that my children can gain inspiration from. In reality, they are my inspiration in all things. Happy Homeschool Anniversary!