How to know if you’re really Called to Homeschool

Do you feel called to homeschool? Maybe you think you might be or feel like you wish you could, but are questioning if God has called you to homeschool.

Do you feel called to homeschool? Maybe you think you might be or feel like you wish you could but are questioning if God really has called you to homeschool.

Maybe you’re picturing your sweet baby sitting all day in a hard desk instead of exploring the wonders of creation at the beach or reading together curled up on the couch, but you’re wondering if you missed this call?

Some homeschool moms talk about feeling called to homeschool.

But I always wondered what that call is supposed to sound like? Was I supposed to get some sort of message from God that homeschool is what I’m supposed to be doing?

Some homeschool moms talk about feeling called to homeschool. But I always wondered what that call is supposed to sound like?

I didn’t have a moment I heard God say, ‘and now, you shall homeschool.’ It was more of a gradual walking towards making this decision over time. 

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But hands down, It is one of the best decisions we have made.

At first, I felt it grew out of selfishness. I have this one baby, this one little girl that I waited to parent for SO LONG. Honestly, I didn’t want to send her away to school as soon as I got a chance to stay home with her.

Does the idea of sending your child to school give you a sense of unease?

It really did for me.

Other than just wanting to make up for the first few years when I worked and really enjoy raising my child, the only local preschool was full days. No way was my three-five year old going to spend 8 hours a day away from home.

God has given us this child to raise. By the time we would get home from work or school, we would only get a few precious hours before bedtime. Those hours would be full of homework and dinner. If she wants to play sports or spend time with friends, it would be even less.  

Can I really raise a child in two hours a day? Am I supposed to? Or am I called to homeschool?

Can I really raise a child in two hours a day? Am I supposed to??

No judging parents who’ve made different choices, but my daughter needed more of us those early years in her education. She was struggling with ADHD and intense emotions. Helping her walk through some of those things was crucial in her development, as was having lots of free time between lessons.

Homeschooling can usually be accomplished in few clock hours during the day. She sleeps until 8 or 9. We eat a leisurely breakfast and read together from the Bible or a history textbook.

School was 3-5 educational hours with lots of time to explore her interests. She had many hours for silent reading and many breaks for play and creativity. I had the flexibility assess her comprehension with a quiz or by asking her to draw a picture of life in ancient Egypt, or learn through travel & field trips.

Homeschool let her be little a little longer.

A recent Stanford study agrees that we’re sending kids to school way too early, missing time for play. A lot of cognitive development happens during play. Unstructured play even provides for the type of physical development which must occur before kids can sit still at desks all day.

Feeling like you might be called to homeschool? How can you know for certain? Click To Tweet

In the early 70s, my preschool was 2 or 3 half days a week at three and four years old. Kindergarten was half days. My elementary school days were 6.5 hours. We started at 9 and ended at 3:30. We also had 75 minutes for lunch and two recesses. I ate lunch at home with my mom and sisters.

School isn’t the same anymore.

Today, she would leave for the bus stop at 7:15 and get home by 3:30, having a thirty minute at-school lunch and one recess at the end of the school day. Having such a long day seemed to be unnecessarily structured for a kid who started teaching herself to read at 2 1/2 from Super Why!

Are you feeling like you can't send your child to spend 8 hours in a desk? Maybe you're being called to homeschool.

I also had unease about the quality of our local schools. All schools are imperfect, but our district zoned elementary school was very much struggling to provide recess, music, and art. I doubted the curriculum would be rigorous enough to challenge her even if the teachers were the most caring professionals.

And, I started examining the entire idea of sending her to school.

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What is your goal for your child’s education?

I want my daughter to grow up to be a productive member of society, learn to work well with others, but mostly, be a powerful woman of God. Was school really going to offer her the best chance of becoming those things, more than I could?

No teacher would care about her and her development more than I did. School teachers might have more resources and more training for the special needs of elementary students, but I knew God would guide me if this is what He wanted for us.

One of our biggest concerns was socialization, but what is socialization?

On one hand, it means learning to behave socially with others. Between co-op, play dates, an organized bible study homeschool class, church, and actually being in the world, my daughter got LOTS of chances to be social with all sorts of people. She visits the nursing home and is the hit with the ladies there. She makes friends in the waiting room at my doctor’s office. Being social isn’t an issue for her.

Socialization is one of the biggest concerns of being called to homeschool, but do we want our kids to learn manners or worldly values?

However, socialization doesn’t just mean socializing. It means the deliberate transfer of values and morals from adults to children. When I thought about it that way, whose values did I want her to have? God’s values are my highest priority. While I don’t do it perfectly, I know that she is seeing me learn and grow in Christ daily. Even through learning to teach her math . . . and my journey is teaching her to love Jesus and seek Him.

So, I prayed. I didn’t want to spend all day apart. Actually, I enjoy spending the days with her. So, Should we homeschool?

I didn’t have a clue how my husband would feel about it. We had agreed that I would go back to work when she started school.

I took it to God in prayer.

Have you taken the question to homeschool to God in prayer?

And my husband said, “I think we need to homeschool.”

WHAT?!?! I was expecting this to be a serious conversation, maybe even heated discussion. I was floored when he agreed with me.

If there was any moment I felt called to homeschool, it was this one. 

Are you willing to learn and grow as much as your child will?

If so, you’ll do just fine.

You love your child and will strive to provide the best education you can. Find mentors, talk to neighbors, join a co-op. From field trips to the beach or local museums, you’ll find so many amazing programs and supplemental materials available. It’s difficult to do poor job homeschooling if you feel strongly you’re being called to homeschool.

And if you answered these questions differently, that’s okay. God has a different calling for each of us. What’s important is that you’re listening to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and paying attention when He opens doors for you.

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Do your Kids need Help Focusing – Meet KazuTime

Giving my daughter help focusing has been a priority since we started homeschool because it's heartbreaking to watch her struggle with an attention disorder. Thankfully we discovered KazuTime

Giving my daughter help focusing has been a priority since we started homeschool because it’s heartbreaking to watch her struggle with an attention disorder.

She is highly emotional, easily distracted, impulsive, and tremendously sensitive. She gets caught up in the moment and doesn’t always have the internal ability to rein herself back in without external support and discipline.

Watching her struggle with an attention disorder is hard, helping her focus doesn't have to be. Click To Tweet

While most children need help focusing at some point, teaching her how to monitor herself is a daily struggle in our home as her parents, but as her teacher, I’ve seen how being distracted has become a wrecking ball for her education.

Difficulty with focus affects every aspect of her education.

Learning to focus on a task, pay attention, manage distractions is tough stuff in early brain development. Yet, most children are able to build these skills as they mature.

But kids with attention disorders need external support to gain these skills internally.

We use this great program called IXL. It even uses a visual timer for each section, but she will still waste time because she can’t pay attention to it. I’ve watched her get distracted between answering a question and pressing enter.

While new advances in ADHD medication might help focusing, I would rather start with behavioral strategies.

Counting has often worked to help her maintain focus on a task. I have her race to beat my count to finish a chore, which worked really well with her little competitive spirit. However, counting isn’t as effective now that we’re working on longer assignments and tasks.

I bought some kitchen timers, but I still found myself having to remind her often to pay attention to the timer.

Even with a kitchen timer, my distractable babe gets off task. We needed something better… Click To Tweet

She was still getting off-task and finding herself getting distracted.

I had to reassess my strategy for both of us.

That is when I discovered KazuTime.Giving my daughter help focusing has been a priority since we started homeschool because it's heartbreaking to watch her struggle with an attention disorder. Thankfully, we discovered KazuTime

Barbara Wichmann and Karine Pepin created KazuTime to help young children manage time better. Realizing that children often struggle to grasp the concept of time, much less manage it, they strove to develop an interactive app that would be fun to use and empower children.

The KazuTime app features puppies playing along a path for set amount of time that I choose. Kids can choose from three friendly puppies for each task and a different background color for each timer. Parents can also purchase a couple alternative backgrounds.

Tasks are repeatable, which is nice for daily chores. I can set the time for an activity, and she can watch the puppies progress or listen for the barks. What is neat is that the barks come at 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 of the set time to further build the internal sense of time. It is a gentle timer compared to loud noises and alarms.

For my six year old, KazuTime helped conceptualize amounts of time.

Even after just a month of using the app, I can see she has a better grasp of time, but still needs the app for help focusing.

I received a free download of KazuTime which is $2.99 in the app store for my review, but the opinions are mine.

My six year old LOVES it. She gets really excited about racing the puppies to the igloo and pressing DONE before they get there.

From my perspective, the dogs don’t do much and has very limited in customization, BUT this is probably intentional. The app is supposed to help kids accomplish other tasks on time, not distract them with activities.

And it works!

My daughter already is finishing tasks much faster with much less distractibility. I am glad KazuTime reached out to Heaven Not Harvard with their helpful app.

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A Secret Gem in Learning Websites for Kids

Finding excellent learning websites for kids can be trial and error, so when I find a secret gem, wonderful and worth paying for, I want to share it!

Finding excellent learning websites for kids can be trial and error, so when I find a secret gem, wonderful and worth using, I want to share it!

It’s back to school time and parents everywhere are hoping to empower their children to rock this school year.

Whether your children do school at home or in a more formal setting, we all want our kids to learn and love to learn, but we don’t always feel qualified or capable to help.

From backpacks to new glasses, we want to equip our kids to do well this school year. Click To Tweet

Even as a certified high school teacher, educating my own child can be a bit overwhelming. Did I cover all the skills she needs? What if I miss something? Did I give her enough practice? and am I doing this right? (Especially in math, my own weakest subject!)

Learning websites for kids can be a wonderful way to supplement your child’s education and give educators peace of mind.

But there are so many!

A google search  of ‘learning websites for kids’ literally brings back 33 million search results.
Out of 33 million search results for learning websites for kids, don't miss this secret gem! Click To Tweet

As we finished kindergarten, I was searching for online assessments to make sure my daughter’s skills were on target and saw one of IXL’s banner ads.

IXL is the world’s most popular subscription based learning site for preK-12.

But I had never heard of it.

When I looked at their site and sample questions, I was hooked.

All the practice drills are separated by the exact skill being measured, so I always know what the question is really testing. When she finishes a subject area, I can see her usage, trouble spots, question log, and progress.

And she reveals awards for every skill completed successfully, like virtual surprise stickers, which are a great motivator!

Finding excellent learning websites for kids can be trial and error, so when I find a secret gem, wonderful and worth paying for, I want to share it!

I contacted them at once about reviewing their site. They did offer me a subscription so that I could try all their features for the review, but I plan to pay for a continuing membership – this site is THAT good!

Expertly correlated to every state's standards, IXL is a leader in educational websites. Click To Tweet

Each grade level subject area is broken down into sequential skills that scaffold toward the next skills, so I never have to worry that she has missed a crucial lesson or doesn’t understand a concept.

Educator geek out -Every grade, pk-12, has its subjects correlated to your state’s standards. Simply choose your state from the map or drop-down box.

I found very little not to love about IXL. My primary criticism is pre-k, kindergarten and first grade do not have all four core subjects available at this time, but I know they are working on adding them.

Having all the answer choices adjusted to fit the screen would limit the need to scroll, especially when it isn’t clear how many choices there are. Additionally, I wish when she clicked on “keep practicing,” she was immediately directed to the next skill instead of back to the rather formal looking list of skills.

But these are very minor concerns for me.

Why is this worth paying for?

IXL’s learning website is excellent for students who don’t always fit perfectly into one grade level box. We have access to all subjects and grade levels with our subscription.

Also, the content is varied, so students don’t see practice questions repeated, which means you can know your student has really learned a skill, not just memorized the correct box to check.

They even have an iPad app. I believe, iPhone and Android are in the works.

Value – While some free sites offer some of this content, none that I’ve found offers this level of quality or comprehensiveness in all the varied subjects as IXL.com does.

Other web-based educational sites can cost $19.95 or more per month, for less than the equivalent of 4 months of those subscription services, we can get an entire year to learn and practice.

Classroom Teachers

IXL is expertly created to be internally and externally validated as a skills practice and assessment tool.

All that time trying to sort data from assessments to see how my students are doing is done for me, by the site. IXL breaks down which question or question type students are failing, as well as what percentage of students have achieved mastery or proficiency.

Additionally, IXL has a professional community to offer support and suggestions for using the site.

Lastly, my daughter loves it. She really enjoys playing on the site. She is excited about learning, revealing her awards, and having fun.

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My Best Lessons from our First Year Homeschooling

Homeschooling is more than just teaching school at home. Even after 17 years teaching public high school, I had so much to learn this first year of homeschooling.

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Homeschooling is more than just teaching school at home. Even after 17 years teaching public high school, I had so much to learn this first year of homeschooling.

Last summer, we decided homeschooling was our best option and love the flexibility for scheduling and curriculum choices, and the joy of learning together. Homeschooling has brought our family much closer.

I knew homeschooling would be educational – I didn’t realize all I would learn as the teacher.
1. The most important lessons aren’t always in the curriculum.

I learned that teaching one child I love is very different from teaching a beloved subject to 100 children. Structuring lessons around her meals, moods, and skills, I’ve gained a new appreciation for how many factors affect learning.

I knew homeschooling would be educational - I didn't know all I would learn, as the teacher. Click To Tweet

She had to learn about school. We had to address everything from paying attention to holding pencils to following directions.

When I focused on the goal of raising a learner, not just the math or reading concept, I was able see skills as building a foundation for her future.

To start, I had to teach her to fail.

When something wasn’t immediately clear, she would freeze and melt down rather than make a mistake.

I had to teach her it’s okay to fail:

  • mistakes are how we learn
  • doing your best doesn’t mean perfection
  • not having all the answers is a permanent condition (unfortunately)

Homeschooling is more than just teaching school at home. Even after 17 years teaching public high school, I had so much to learn this first year of homeschooling.

Then I had to teach her how to learn.

More than reading or math, I had to teach her how to tackle problems.

For example, my kid can skim through books using context clues and often guess unfamiliar words, but sounding out words is her kryptonite.

If you’ve ever sat with a six year old repeating, “sound it out; sound . . .  it . . . out; make the sounds with your mouth . . .” Welcome to my world.

Instead of losing my mind, I began calling her a “Word Detective” and showing her all the tricks of word detection, like the silent E that gives magic to any vowel within one consonant of its maniacal reach. . . mwahaha, and makes it say its name, but if two consonants stand in the way, they block the magic from changing that vowel sound!

Somehow, being a detective transformed her desire to problem solve. Eventually, I heard her using those terms in her self-talk. She was able to slow down and work it out.

2. Character education was our most important subject.

Building a foundation for the rest of her education means teaching her character and citizenship: diligence, perseverance, and the fruit of the Spirit.

We practiced doing our best, not racing to finish. Page protectors let us do an activity several times with dry erase markers.

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

We practiced how we show kindness and respect despite rough emotions and difficult days. And we LIVED the lessons from our daily devotions and scripture reading, which taught us both about being more Christlike.

3. Homeschooling doesn’t have to be AT home.

We could use the world to learn. Reading lessons could be a menu or nutritional label for informational text.

Homeschool doesn't have to be at home. Heaven Not Harvard
Here we’re learning what school was like in Laura Ingalls’ day at Old World Wisconsin.

We learned by going to museums, zoos, aquariums, and historical sites. Going fishing could be science class as she watched the clouds or the water, poked at bugs, or noticed the different characteristics of fish.

A trip was geography come to life. This spring she traveled to or through Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Texas, Nevada, and California.

Phew! No wonder I’m tired.

4. Homeschooling doesn’t have to look like school.

Almost anything can be school.

When I voted, I explained the basic principles of U.S. government. Going to the doctor and dentist, we learned about community helpers.

We could study nutrition at the grocery store, use math to calculate the cost of something, fractions cutting her sandwich, or division to share the last of the cookies.

Spending a week at my father’s nursing home, she learned to care for people of all ages, to ignore their infirmities and just see people to love and befriend.

5. Balance is the key.

The beauty of homeschool is the freedom, but we both need some structure to function in the world. Teaching her to follow a schedule was balanced by lazy mornings snuggling and discussing her dream from last night.

A field trip day was balanced by using books and worksheets to reinforce what she learned.

Being together was balanced by teaching her to complete a task alone before we’d review it, building her attention span and confidence minute by minute.

6. Homeschooling is a job.

I had to learn to approach it with professionalism or we’d end up procrastinating and getting side-tracked.

Half my day is cooking and cleaning, so I have to be a master multi-tasker, and accept some things just don’t get done. I have to dedicate several hours per day to school.

7. I learned that sometimes things that seem obvious to me are totally foreign concepts.

My poor girl was grumbling over a math worksheet last fall, skills she had been doing for months, so I didn’t understand what was wrong, only to realize she had never seen a numbered worksheet before.

She was trying to add in the number of the problem, reading –

  1. 2+3 =   as  1 + 2 + 3 and once she got past adding to ten, she was so frustrated.

Poor girl. Sometimes, even us seasoned teacher mommies forget how to start from the beginning.

From that lesson, I learned to ask more questions about what is happening in her head and the importance of clear communication from us both.

Homeschooling is more than just teaching school at home. Even after 17 years teaching school, I had so much to learn this first year of homeschooling.

8. Lastly, I learned I LOVE homeschooling!

We get to explore our world together, making memories everyday, and building a relationship closer than most parents will ever have. Her father and I get to share our different gifts and skills with her. We have just had the most fun learning how to do this together and can’t wait to see what next year brings.

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Can the KidloLand App Benefit your Kid?

Looking for great preschool content for your little ones? The award-winning KidloLand app has 245+ nursery rhymes &100 +educational songs and activities.

Looking for great preschool content for your little ones? The award-winning KidloLand app has 245+ nursery rhymes &100 +educational songs and activities, covering so many subjects it’s perfect to supplement your child’s learning.

Most mamas are intentional about screen time for our children, wanting only the best for our babies. The KidloLand App was recently awarded the Spring 2016 Academics’ Choice Smart Media Choice award so moms and experts agree, we can feel good about letting our littles use this app.

Can your preschool kid benefit from the KidloLand App? I think so! Find out why I recommend it. Click To Tweet

When my daughter was little, I found that the right apps and programs could do more than keep her entertained, they could help her learn through catchy songs and repetition, both of which the KidloLand App has in spades!

I was given a free subscription to write an honest review of the application, but the opinions are totally mine. The KidloLand app is certainly one you can feel good about handing to your toddler-preschooler.

The songs are sweet with adorable characters. I really like how the lyrics are printed on the screen and are clearly shaded as they are sung, which helps children visually track the words.

Looking for great preschool content for your little ones? The award-winning KidloLand app has 245+ nursery rhymes &100 +educational songs and activities.

Following from left to right and understanding that spoken words correspond to written ones are crucial steps toward literacy. Kids won’t even know how much they are learning.

KidloLand App has so many fun and educational features. Kids won't even know they're learning! Click To Tweet

My daughter just turned six, so she is at the top of the recommended ages, and I could see that she has probably aged out of much of the content, but even so, I downloaded it in preparation for a trip to keep her occupied during our travels.

She really enjoys playing on the app. Each song has several screens with interactive elements your child has to touch to discover. She has fun discovering what happens when she touches each character. She easily stays occupied for 15-30 minutes if I let her.

The songs cover such a variety of content, it would be challenging for most kids to even get through it all, much less get bored. The content ranges from very early learning all the way through kindergarten with the months of the year and counting.

As a professional teacher and homeschooling mom, I think the KidloLand app is a wonderful resource for early education.

A subscription unlocks ALL the content per month or year depending on your preference. Why subscribe? New content is automatically added every month allowing your child to constantly explore new lessons without singular in app purchases.

The cost of a subscription is under $40 a year, less than $1 a week, and you can get a 7-day trial for FREE.

Cons –

  1. Depending on how much your child would use the app, the price could be an issue, but the app has loads of value.
  2. As an educator, I would like more interactive lessons for children to have to demonstrate mastery of the material, which utilizes different levels and areas of brain activity.

Overall, KidloLand App is adorable and entertaining, using musical repetition to teach and reinforce almost everything a young child needs to learn.

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