Pour a Cup of Tea and Take in the Encouragement!

Handling Interruptions in Your Homeschool Day

by Kimberly Miller


When you are homeschooling, interruptions are inevitable. You will experience them, and you should expect to experience them. The phone rings, the baby needs a diaper change, a cup of juice gets spilled and has to be cleaned up, someone in the family gets sick. Homeschooling happens around real life, and so real life happens when you are homeschooling. Interruptions are a normal and expected part of the homeschooling process.


But that doesn’t mean you have to be discouraged by the interruptions, or that they have to derail your entire day (or week or year!). The question is, how do we best handle these interruptions when they do come?


Minimize the interruptions you have control over

While there are plenty of interruptions that are unexpected and cannot be planned for, there are some that can be. Don’t answer the phone every time it rings. Let it go to voicemail and return the call later. Don’t feel obligated to answer every text the minute it comes in, especially if it’s not about something urgent. Avoid making appointments during homeschooling hours. Put away electronic devices—sometimes it helps to physically remove them from the room you are in so that they are not a temptation, either for you or for your kids.


Maximize the time you spend in homeschooling

For a variety of reasons, it is a good idea to have a basic schedule or routine for your homeschool day. Having an order for how things should be done each day will help you and your children stay on track, or get back on track whenever you get off. Be careful not to become a slave to your schedule, and be ready to change it up if it isn’t working for you. But don’t hesitate to have some structure to your days. And when it’s school time, it’s school time. Be focused and as efficient as possible with your time, but also remember that a relaxed attitude will help all of you enjoy homeschooling much more.

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Audiobooks—A Homeschooling Parent’s Secret Weapon

by Kimberly Miller


Reading aloud is one of the most important things a parent can do for their own children to ensure their academic success. Listening to a good, well written work of literature does something to the mind and the imagination of a child that is truly remarkable. It prepares them, through the use of the imaginative powers, for life and learning. It plants seeds in the fertile ground of the mind that will grow and bloom well into their future lives.


Multiple studies have shown evidence that reading to children is beneficial and in many ways even essential for learning and brain development.


It is important for homeschooling parents to not underestimate the power of reading to our children. For something that seems so simple, the effects are far reaching and may even be immeasurable. At the very least, it helps set kids up for a love of books and reading. But sharing a read aloud can also be a bonding experience for parent and child.


You probably read to your child when they were very young. Most parents enjoy holding a child in their lap and sharing a classic picture book together. Young children can learn so much from the language patterns, repetition, engaging pictures, and captivating ideas contained in quality literature for young children. Be sure to capture those moments while they are available. Little ones don’t stay little forever, and before you know it, they have moved past the picture book stage. They won’t want to hear you read Goodnight Moon forever.



At some point, it will be time to move on to longer and more complex books. Early readers, chapter books, and children’s classics like The Secret Garden and The Wind in the Willows can offer a feast for the heart and imagination of children. Once again, books like these shared between parents and children are delightful opportunities for strengthening the parent-child connection. Those hours spend sitting side-by-side, sharing a good book together, create special memories and important moments for both parent and child.

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10 Best Free and Affordable Platforms for Online Courses

by Chinh Ngo


What Are Massive Open Online Courses?


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offer accessible and affordable remote learning opportunities to students all over the world. Many famous higher education institutions, including Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, deliver these online courses on a variety of topics and at a variety of educational levels. You can take a single class to delve deeply into a particular topic or take a sequence of courses to gain comprehensive knowledge of an area of study.


While you can access many MOOCs for free, certain platforms charge a small fee if you want to obtain a verified certificate of completion. Relatedly, some universities offer course credit for these online courses. As their name suggests, MOOCs often enroll hundreds, even thousands, of learners at a time. To accommodate such a large student population, these classes usually provide open enrollment — i.e., year-round enrollment or within a designated time frame — and a self-paced learning format.


In a self-paced format, you learn by viewing pre-recorded lectures and webinars instead of attending live sessions and interact with instructors and peers asynchronously through message boards. Depending on the MOOC, there may be weekly assignments assessed by other students using an established rubric. Auto-graded quizzes represent another popular form of evaluation.


At a time when retraining and upskilling are the norm, MOOCs give students and professionals the opportunity to continue their education outside a formal university setting. This guide details 10 popular MOOC providers, listed in alphabetical order. You will gain insight on each platform's credentialing, course offerings, and networking features. The guide also covers university and industry partnerships.

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For These Homeschool Freedoms, We are Grateful!

by Joanna Martel


We are Grateful…


·         For not having to say good-bye to our children.

·         For growing with our children.

·         For freedom from fear.

·         For being a part of their mistakes.

·         For being present when the light of cognition goes on and their faces light up.

·         For the frank conversations when the reality of the world and the material in the book do not mesh.

·         For the freedom of religion.

·         For the community that loved and raised them.

·         For the flexibility to go deeper, go sideways, or go back.

·         For the whole calendar in which to learn, 24-7, 365.

·         For the opportunity to exemplify the character of and work that much harder because of those for     whom we have holidays (i.e., Dr. Martin Luther King, President George Washington, and our brave   men and women of the military).

·         For the freedom of speech.

·         For the opportunity to interact and socialize with all age groups every day.

·         For the opportunity to make serving others a part of who we are.

·         For allowing the student, even the youngest, to be the teacher of others.

·         For the time to process, how to lovingly, give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.

·         For the freedom from want.

·         For the chance to become friends with our children.

·         For the understanding of the motivations and actions behind each learning assignment.

·         For the chance to stop reading a book or taking a course when the student can logically and   articulately explain why it is not of long-term benefit to their education, time, and development of   executive functioning skills.

·         For the opportunity to have relationship with my children so that when all those activities come that   pull them away from home, I still know who they are.

·         For the chance to learn how to live together, day in and day out.

·         For the chance to be a part of each other’s successes and understand, not just the time that went into something, but how it took more than just ‘self’ to accomplish it.


·         For family dinners, audiences, teammates, instructors, pen pals, cheerleaders, and best friends. 


      Joanna Martel, BS, MS, is a 30 year educator who works with home, private, and public schools to support educational innovation and lifelong learning.  She has homeschooled for 13 years, been a school administrator for six, and has run her own consulting business, Martel Learning Group, since 1991.  She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education from Northeastern University.

College Planning

By Wendy Thompson


With so many colleges out there (over 3,400), you may be feeling overwhelmed.  How do you narrow down your search?  Where do you start?  Luckily, there are ways to search based on what your preferences are.  Is there a specific part of the country you’d like to be in?  Does the college have your major that you want? Does the college base their admission on test scores?  Do you want to attend a highly selective college, a large or small college, or a college that has the sport you play?  Sites like these can help: 

·         College Board Big Future: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/?navid=gh-cp

·         National Center for Education Statistics: http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator

·          Universities Canada: search by major, location:     https:www.universitystudy.ca/searchprograms/

·          Unsure if a large or small college is right for you? Ø https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/find-colleges/how-to-find-your-college-fit/sizing-upcolleges-big-vs-small

·         "What Size College Should You Choose? Take the Quiz" – https://magoosh.com/hs/college-admissions/2019/what-size-college-should-youchoose-take-the-quiz/


Another helpful site with a wide variety of topics, researched with input from many higher education professionals and created by an educational consultant and former admissions dean is College Express: www.collegexpress.com/college/search.  And another site to help you narrow down your search is Colleges That Change Lives: www.ctcl.org,


Some helpful books are Fiske Guide to Colleges which contains an insider's look at the academic climates and social and extracurricular scenes at schools in the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain by including academic, social & quality of life ratings,  schools with the best education at the most reasonable cost, student tips, overlap listings to help students expand options, selectivity statistics, SAT and ACT ranges, and more; The Best 385 Colleges by the Princeton Review has helpful descriptions of colleges in the Fiske Guide + many others--the most valuable sections under each college are those titled Life, Student Body, and The Inside Word and makes a good companion piece to Fiske; The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process at a Premier College by former NY Times education reporter Jacques Steinberg (www.the-gatekeepers.com/asp/about.asp) which has a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at what actually happens during the selection process at a highly selective college, and although nonfiction, it reads like a novel and is enlightening for both parents and students. 

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