On Sale 7/19/16 — High School English Electives!

  |   Curriculum, Teaching High School, Teaching Writing   |   No comment


EssayStylesCover   ResearchPaperCoverPublicSpeakingCover

Day 2 of our Big Summer Back-to-School Sale features our High School English electives at 20% off!


On Day 2 for 24 hours beginning at midnight Monday — which is actually Tuesday, 7/19/16 — we are offering our high school English electives for 20% off.

Normally $43.97, for 24 hours you will save $8.79 on each course!

Also, Essay Styles for High School, when combined with General Literature (coming in August–pre-ordering soon!) is the perfect 9th grade English course, earning your student 1 1/2 high school credits!


To pick up one or more English electives for your high schooler(s), click on the following:

Essay Styles for High School

The Steps to Writing a Research Paper

The Art of Public Speaking



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Our Summer Back-to-School Sale is ON — beginning July 18th, 2016!

  |   Curriculum   |   No comment

Our Summer Back-to-School Sale is ON!

summer back to school sale-470x355

We are all on a budget, so any time we can save a few pennies, it’s a good thing, right?

Because we have never offered some of our products on sale and because some of our items are going to be offered at deep discounts, we are offering the sale prices on each item for only 24 hours.

To find out item is going to be on sale the next day and how much you’re going to be saving, check right here the afternoon/evening before! YAHOO!

The first item on sale is our TRIAL ANCIENTS UNITs of our Daily Lesson Plans!  Beginning at midnight last night and continuing for 24 hours, until the clock turns to 7/19/16, every edition of our digital trial daily lesson plans is going to be…. drum roll……

70% off!

Instead of $19.97 you will only pay $5.99 for SIX WEEKS of daily lesson plans in history, science, language arts and fine arts!

This is for the DIGITAL TRIAL UNITS of our Daily Lesson Plans, so as soon as your payment is processed you’ll get a link to your download! (Usually within minutes.)

So if you’ve been wanting to take a closer look at our Daily Lesson Plans, now’s your chance!  But remember this is only for 24 hours beginning at MIDNIGHT! (7/18/16)

To take advantage of this great deal:

  1. Go to the level of the daily lesson plans you are interested in (Links below)
  3. Click ADD TO CART.
  4. Repeat for any other levels you are interested in picking up at a 70% discount!

First Grade

Second Grade

Third Grade

Fourth Grade

Middle School


Editor’s Note: if you tried to order before 7:24 am 7/18/16 and did not get the sale price, the shopping cart glitch is now fixed.  Also on the first grade plans, the “View Cart” button is under the weather this morning, so just click the shopping cart icon in the top right hand corner of the page when you are ready to check out.  Thanks for your understanding!  

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What comes with Daily Lesson Plans?

  |   Curriculum, Geography study, Language Arts, Lesson Plan, Teaching Science, Teaching Writing   |   No comment

 what comes with daily lesson plans

Today I’m answering a question received this week from someone asking about what comes with Daily Lesson Plans.


Here’s the question:

I want to make sure that I am understanding ordering options correctly.  The 1st grade daily lesson plans are $200/$250 for the lesson plans.  This does not include the lists of books, the teacher manuals, or the k-2 unit program?  I guess what I am really trying to ask, is, side-by-side, what are the exact differences between the Daily Lesson Plans and the Unit Programs?  Thank you for your time.  


Here’s my answer (formatted for a blog post):


Good Morning, M.,
Thanks for your inquiry!

Our structured daily lesson plans are $250/$200 for one school year of daily lesson plans in:

what comes with daily lesson plans

The Themes/Objectives Page

  • history
  • science (including geography)
  • language arts (reading, poetry, grammar, punctuation, vocabulary…)
  • fine arts

They include reading assignments in our pre-read books, narration prompts, discussion questions, all assignments, evaluation tips for the assignments, copywork selections, grammar assignments and teacher keys, for one school year.

Each week you have the teaching objectives laid out for you so you can see what your educational goals are for the week.

We provide a book list for the week, along with a list of any resources and supplies you need for that week’s activities. We also provide detailed instructions for any of the projects or activities we have in the plans. You can see a sample week of our first grade daily lesson plans here.

So the daily lesson plans should be all of the curriculum you need for those four school subjects for one year, rather than needing to buy separate curriculums for all of them, with several extra books for different aspects of language arts.
what comes with daily lesson plans

The History/Reading/Geography Page


We started with our unstructured Unit Programs

The Unit programs are our initial unstructured curriculum. In a nutshell, the Primary (K-2) Program gives you a list of pre-read books divided into historical units, then by topics within those units. In each of our program components there are enough book suggestions for three years (or four, in the case of high school).  In fact, there are about 400 books in each of the four Unit Program components, all read by one of the authors.

The Teacher’s Manual that comes as a part of the unit program tells you how to teach history, science, grammar, punctuation, writing, spelling, vocabulary, and more, using living books.


what comes with daily lesson plans

The Language Arts Page

We give you tools like English Skill checklists, phonics checklists, assignment ideas, planning forms, and much more, for each of the grade levels. So with are Unit Programs you have all the tools you need to teach three (or four, in the case of high school) years of school. You can create the structure if you want to, but most people choose our unit programs because they don’t want the structure.  Read  more about our Unit Programs here.


We created the Daily Lesson Plans from our Unit Programs

 In a nutshell, we took the Unit Programs and created the lesson plans:

  • we choose the books that would be read each week for 35 weeks
  • we divided up the reading into daily reading assignments


    what comes with daily lesson plans

    The Science Page

  • we created discussion questions and narration prompts over the reading
  • we choose poetry that would be integrated into the history units
  • we integrated geography studies into the history and reading
  • we choose the spelling and vocabulary words for 35 weeks of study
  • we selected the copywork from the history and science books to teach grammar, punctuation, etc.
  • we added interesting and informative Internet links and historical notes here and there to add historical, biographical and other background or enrichment information
  • we pulled out science and history facts for memorization
  • we created graphic organizers specifically to help your student learn to organize his/her thoughts (a pre-writing/writing skill)
  • we created a short teacher’s guide to the daily plans that describes how to best use them, how to set up student notebooks, a summary of the Charlotte Mason methods we use in the plans, how to teach narration, etc.
So we give you the TOOLS to create that kind of structure in the Unit Programs, but most people who use them don’t want that much structure.  They would prefer to go to the library and grab books, choose a project or activity idea in history and science every week, choose 3-4 English skills from our checklist, find copywork selections, spelling and vocabulary words from the history and science books to illustrate the English skills and just journal what they ended up doing, rather than planning it all out ahead of time.
So although the tools are there in the Unit Programs, YOU decide what you are going to do with those tools, whereas in the Daily Lesson Plans we have taken the time to plan all of that out FOR you.


The Bottom Line

So, you do not get the Primary Unit Program, Teacher’s Manual or extended book list when you order the Daily Lesson Plans, because you already have everything you need to teach the year in the plans themselves.

That said, some people decide to add the Teacher’s Manual with the Daily Lesson Plans just because it has additional background information about teaching the subjects we cover.  But you can certainly do just fine without it.  Some people buy both programs together so they have additional books listed and have the Teacher’s Overviews for each historical unit — but again, this is not necessary, and most people don’t do that.
We have found over the 10 years we have been doing this (plus 15 more than we have homeschooled) that moms usually prefer the unstructured OR the structured type of curriculum, so we have priced them according to the amount of time and effort we put into the curriculum.
I hope that clarifies things for you, M!  If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask.  🙂


Editor’s Note:
I hope that clarifies things for YOU, too, if you were wondering what comes with our Daily Lesson Plans!
If you have questions about anything you see on our website, please email at or fill out the contact form found on every page of our website.
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6 tips for raising godly leaders

6 Tips for Raising Godly Leaders

  |   Books!, Curriculum, Parenting/Homeschooling in General, Teaching - all grades, Teaching High School   |   2 Comments


Have you noticed lately that the world is becoming notably less tolerant of our biblical beliefs? Moral relativism and immoral perspectives are not creeping, but charging,  into our communities, public education system and even into our churches. Soon our children and grandchildren are going to be on the front lines. It is our jobs to prepare them. It’s  our job to be raising godly leaders.

Coming from a corporate background prior to marriage, kids and homeschooling, I’ve always had an interest in leadership. But there’s a difference between training leaders in the marketplace and raising leaders at home.

As Christian parents we not only want to raise leaders; we want to raise godly leaders.

I know it’s a lot to ask harried moms struggling  to get in the academic basics, but it’s crucial that we look at the big picture and intentionally raise our children to be godly leaders.

So, how do we go about raising godly leaders?  Here are 6 tips:


1.  Teach the Word daily and model integrity.

  • Men and women who are leaders have integrity. Integrity is moral uprightness; displaying strong principles based on truth. Without daily teaching of the Truth, your children will not know how to recognize it from the falsehoods constantly bombarding them from our culture.
  • When an integrity issue comes up, put the books away and deal with it immediately. There are some non-negotiables when it comes to behavior, and integrity is one of them.
  • As Christian parents, hold yourselves to the same standard and remember that you have little ears and eyes listening and watching. And when you are at fault for something – apologize immediately. Just as they are accountable to us, we are accountable to God.


2. Keep your eyes on the big picture: share your vision for your children with them from an early age.

Teach your sons and daughters that they are made in God’s image, and that He has given them unique strengths and special talents. Teach them that God gives us those to accomplish great things for His kingdom. Share with them how excited you are about them and how you can’t wait to see those special gifts and talents develop as they grow up!

Remind them of this periodically and identify and reinforce these gifts and talents as they appear, because they will!


3. Train your children to have sound physical and mental habits.

Probably because my husband and I lived so far away from our parents, we had no clue how to raise children.  Then we moved to the South where children’s roles are very well defined, and we learned the secret: You train them to have good habits.

As Charlotte Mason wrote:

“The habits of the child produce the character of the man . . .every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.”

Habits are skills that are cultivated in our children by training, repetition and accountability. Character is molded through habit training, whether they be physical habits or intellectual ones.


4.  Read and discuss stories that show children as godly leaders.

If you are using a literature-based homeschool curriculum (and I hope you are!), read historical fiction and literature with characters who demonstrate the leadership traits you would like to see in your children, such as: integrity, humility, responsibility for self and others, reliability, initiative, willingness to be self-sacrificing, ability to learn from mistakes, resistance to peer pressure, willingness to tackle difficult problems with a positive attitude, diligence, and  perseverance.


5.  As you study history and current events, regularly point out and discuss examples of exemplary and poor leadership.

History is full of examples of leadership and good character, as well as their opposites!  If you use a Charlotte Mason-style, literature-based homeschool curriculum, you have the perfect opportunity to set a feast of inspiring characters before your children on a regular basis!  Choose books with plenty of examples of great men and women of the past, and in your discussions and assignments, compare and contrast them with others, as we do in our high school World History I course, subtitled Lessons in Leadership.

Additionally, do not wait until your kids are old enough to vote to discuss local and national candidates for public office. Talk about the jobs candidates are campaigning for as well as their track record and experience. Identify leadership experience within their backgrounds.

The newspaper and other media are full of articles of both exemplary and poor leaders. Draw their attention to these snippets and help them to identify these differences in discussions.


6. Give your children opportunities to practice leadership inside and outside the home.

From being responsible for their own belongings at home, teach them to be responsible for pets, chores and their own school supplies. Let them be responsible for a family event, such as a service project, teaching them to plan, anticipate, organize and communicate with others what their roles will be. Give them a small garden to research, plan, plant, weed and harvest. Encourage industriousness and entrepreneurship.

Let older children be responsible for helping to teach younger children at home, as well helping teach Sunday School, Youth Group, etc., at church. Help them expand into service to the community, such as spearheading a neighborhood or road clean-up project.

Encourage your high school students to earn all or part of the money for their own activities, rather than just handing money over like so many other parents do. This happened regularly with friends of my son, particularly, and it was very difficult at the time, but our firm stance on this issue has reaped many benefits since then!

Let your high school student make his own appointments. Does he need to go to the dentist? Call the doctor’s office to get a refill on a prescription?  Look for a summer job?  Please don’t do those things for him — let him do them himself.

We owe it to our children to prepare them to live in the world they will be facing in just a few short years.  They must be mature, steadfast and well-grounded to be who they were designed to be.

What are you doing to encourage godly leadership in your children?  What are your biggest challenges to instilling leadership characteristics in them?


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Summer Learning Loss for Highschoolers

  |   Books!, Curriculum, Holidays, Teaching High School, Teaching Writing   |   No comment

summer learning loss for highschoolers

Do you have a rising ninth grader this year? Do you know that THIS SUMMER is one of the most critical transitions in a young person’s academic career, according to the National Summer Learning Association?


If you’ve read the first two posts in this series about summer learning loss  — i.e., what your student forgets from the time the school year ends until s/he starts school again at the end of the summer – you’ve learned that 1-2 months of math and some measurable degree of reading and language arts learning just…vaporizes… during the summer.

Unless you have some kind of program in place to keep that from happening.

What’s even more amazing is research shows that often this learning loss is cumulative.  Yikes!  Not that you should be fearful and throw your kids into public high school! You just need to evaluate activities this summer and if your students aren’t doing anything academic, it’s not too late to add it in.

This isn’t rocket science, but it definitely takes determination to put a system in place that keeps your highschooler working on math, reading and writing on a daily or almost daily basis during  most of the summer.   Schoolish things are the last things on teens’ summer list of to-dos, I know!

What I recommend you do for your high schoolers to avoid summer learning loss

With this age group it helps to discuss the work you want them to do, but let them help decide the “when.”  In other words, it is not negotiable that they are going to be doing some math, reading and writing during the summer. What is negotiable is when it’s going to be done.  But before we talk about “when,” let’s talk about “what.”

Because high school work should be more challenging and time consuming than previous work, and it’s much harder to get everything done during this important four years, consider getting a head start on next year’s work during the summer.  I know YOU need a break, so try and choose things that your student can do by himself, with your husband if he’s amenable, or even an online class where someone else does the teaching.

With those ideas in mind, let’s get specific.


Just like in the younger years, the easiest thing to do is just to keep doing math during the summer. Either finish last year’s math text and/or begin next year’s.  Again, if someone other than you can work with your student, all the better. If you don’t want to supervise, perhaps a neighborhood college student would be happy to do so for a small fee. Because it is the summer, you certainly could choose to go at a slower pace than you usually do.  Maybe do two or three lessons a week instead of five, for example. Another benefit of working on math during high school summers is that your student may be ready sooner to take the S.A.T./A.C.T college readiness exams. This may provide additional time to retake the exam which is helpful to many students.

If you don’t want to start curriculum yet for next year for whatever reason, have your high school student try his hand at this site  (easier) or  this site (more advanced) for some regular math practice.  (I didn’t check out everything on these pages, so do your due diligence.)

If you have a mathematically gifted student, you might consider sending him or her to a math camp for part of the summer.  (I saw that many camps offered financial aid, fortunately.) If you need to plan ahead to do this, consider it for next summer.


summer learning loss Highschoolers how to readI recommend all high school students read this book during the summer before ninth grade, or whenever they can fit it in.  I’ll tell you upfront – it will not be their favorite book.  They don’t even have to read the whole thing to benefit by it.  (Have them at least read through most of Part III)  The easiest way to accomplish this is to have them read short sections at a time and  narrate (tell back) about what they read. The second easiest way is to have them take reading notes.

But the best way to make sure they are actually reading and understanding the book is to read it in short sections along with them, then listen to the narration and talk about anything missed.

If you look at this book at, you can see by the comments that it is an excellent but rather tedious book to read –but it’s worth it.

Why? First of all, you’ll help prepare your high schooler by experiencing that high school work is harder and takes more effort than he may have expended previously.

Secondly, part three of this book will teach him how to read fiction, nonfiction, poetry, plays and more. This will help him get the most he can out of his reading — in high school, in college, and beyond. If you read this along with your student, it will help you, too!

If your student has already read How to Read a Book, I recommend ordering your high school curriculum early enough to begin the reading earlier. Alternatively,  you could have your student combine the reading and writing with the suggestion below under the ‘Writing’ section.

If you want to take a complete break from school/curriculum, have your highschooler spend about 45-60 minutes reading most days. It’s best to choose books from different genres.  For example, if your student is interested in mountain climbing he can choose a non-fiction book about mountain climbing, a fictional story about it, a biography about a famous mountain climber, an autobiography written by a mountain climber…


Frankly, writing is the area that we’re most likely to skip during the summer. After all,  it’s more effort for many students and more effort for us to have to evaluate.  But since writing is the foundation for a large part of high school work,  I’d make the effort.

Here’s some ways to make it happen.

  • Have your student choose a classic novel or novels from the ones you suggest. Have him keep a reading response journal daily after reading. (Have him choose a quote from his reading and copy it with the page number. Then have him write a paragraph about why he chose that particular quote, how it moved him or what he liked about it.)
  • Want to get one English elective (½ credit = about 60 hours) out of the way this summer as well as giving your student a firm foundation in writing the five high school essay types?  Have him begin or complete our Essay Styles for High School course, written directly to him. Designed as a one semester course written to your student, if your student started it during the summer he could either finish it in the fall or just spend a chunk of time on it and get it out of the way this summer.
  • Have your student keep a journal during the summer and respond to writing prompts.

Again, let your student weigh in about when s/he is going to be working during the summer. Working regularly is important. But your teen might prefer to get it out of the way  first thing,  or sleep in and do it during  the heat of the afternoon, or before going to bed. Math and writing could also be on alternate days. It doesn’t matter when it’s done, just that it’s done. (I suggest you check work at regular intervals, too, especially if you aren’t teaching.)  🙂

However you set up your summer learning program, know that your highschooler will benefit greatly by you taking the time and effort to make it happen!

So what are you doing or going to do this summer with your highschooler to help avoid summer learning loss?


Have younger kids? Don’t miss the first two parts of this summer learning loss series!  

Part I, concerning preschool through elementary,  and Part II covering what you need to know about summer learning loss for middle schoolers.



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What you need to know about summer learning loss for middleschoolers

  |   Holidays, Language Arts, Teaching Middle School, Teaching Writing, Uncategorized   |   4 Comments

summer learning loss for middleschoolers

In elementary school it’s important….but for middleschoolers, the summers are really heating up — and I’m not referring to the weather.   Summer learning loss for middleschoolers?

Summer learning loss for middle schoolers is a big deal.

That’s a big statement!

And here’s another one that will  really amaze you:  The ACT (one of the tests students take to see if they’re ready for college) states in their research “the academic level a student reaches in eighth grade is more important in predicting success in college and career than what is achieved in high school.”*   So —  those foundational skills need to be there by the end of eighth grade, especially if your student is college-bound.

If you have a rising middleschooler, this is an exceptionally useful summer to plan some regular math, reading and writing work to keep or get your student to the level s/he needs to be. (And this would apply all of your student’s middle school summers, but particularly the one before eighth grade.)

What can I do to help summer learning loss for my Middle School student?


The easiest thing to do is just to to keep doing math over the summer.  That might mean finishing the book your student was working on last year if it is unfinished, or  beginning next year’s level early. Or it may mean doing something else to review skills already learned, or work on solidifying skills that are not quite “sticking” before more complicated skills are taught next year.

My very favorite math review books are the Key to Fractions, Key to Decimals, Key to Percentages, etc., series by Key Curriculum Press, available at and  I love this series because the explanations are clear and they’re practical. Instead of just worksheets (and you know I hate worksheets), they use real-life applications.  Depending upon what skills you want to review and how solid your student’s math skills are, I would look through the book descriptions and decide what your student would benefit by reviewing. At you can see the complete table of contents which will help you best assess where you student might need review.

For example, this is the from the Key to Decimals series, with notes from the website:

Book 1 “Key to Decimals begins with basic concepts and operations on decimals. It covers real-world uses of decimals in pricing, sports, metrics, calculators, and science. Key to Decimals’ success-oriented approach builds confidence and independence.” Book 1 focuses on the basic concepts.

Book 2 “Book 2 focuses on Adding, Subtracting, and Multiplying.”

Book 3 “Book 3 covers multiplication and division, remainders, place value, word problems and more.”

Book 4 “Book 4 covers rounding off decimals, estimating, graphing averages, the metric system and scientific notation.”
(These are also available used on, which might be cheaper.  Note that you need to buy an answer key as well as the student book.”


Just like your younger children, middle schoolers need to keep reading daily or almost daily to keep their edge. Thirty-45 minutes a day of free reading will be enough to keep their skills up, especially if you encourage your student to sample a little more variety than he may have read in the past. For example, you might help him alternate between books in different genres: historical fiction, adventure, mystery, biography, science fiction, non-fiction. You could always compromise and have him read something you helped pick out for the first half of reading time, then read whatever he wanted for the second half.  If you get stuck, let me know in the comments and I’ll post some ideas of our favorites books in a few different genres.


Writing is a lot like reading – if you do it regularly it becomes easier! Also, when it has a purpose, it’s easier.  Are you visiting any parks, relatives, the beach, the mountains, an historic site, aquarium or museum this summer? This is a great time to have your middle school student write a few paragraphs  every week or so about what she learned and her favorite part of the experience.  A middleschooler should be able to self-edit as well. Have her look over her writing after she’s finished to make sure it:

  • has a title
  • “makes sense” when it’s read aloud (Does it say what she wants it to say? Are there any words missing?)
  • is grammatically correct
  • has the correct spelling
  • is punctuated properly

Then you take a look. You don’t need to mark all of her spelling and punctuation errors — just put on the top of the paper how many you found of each and let her try to find them herself.

You don’t have to correct everything that your student writes.  But if you find the same types of regular errors in her work, it would be helpful for you to address them, especially if this is the summer before 8th grade. Make sure to have a good grammar reference on hand to help both of you. You can see some I recommend here.

Writing hint for a reluctant writer:  Have him get ready to write, and then tell him you are going to set the timer for 15 minutes and he is not allowed to think about spelling, punctuation or grammar — he is just to write as much as he possibly can about the experience he’s writing about and has to stop when the timer goes off.  There’s  something about that timer that helps get the words onto the page!  He can clean it up and organize it another day, also for 15 minutes, if need be.

Incorporate different forms of writing into the summer, as well. Maybe keeping a prayer or other journal, lists of things that your middleschooler wants to do over the summer, letters to Grandma or others, or responding to a writing prompt that you provide will appeal to your student. Variety always makes things more interesting.

I hope this sparked a few useful ideas for your middle school student!  If so, please tell me in the comments what you liked best!

*ACT. (2008) The Forgotten Middle:Improving Readiness for High School.  Iowa City, IA.

In part I of this series we talked about most kids forgetting about 1-2 months in math computation skills with not as much but still quantifiable losses in reading and other language arts skills during the summer.  If you have preschoolers through elementary school students, you’ll want to take a look at that post here.

Part III of the summer learning loss series is a must-read if you have high school students, especially if they are rising 9th graders!

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What you should know about “Summer Learning Loss” and what you can do about it

  |   Charlotte Mason Mondays, Holidays, Parenting/Homeschooling in General, Teaching Elementary School   |   No comment

summer learning loss

Also known as the summer slump or summer slide, summer learning loss is what your students forget between the end of one school year to the beginning of the next.

Public school teachers say they have to re-teach a MONTH or more of what kids had already learned the previous year to make up for summer learning loss. Yikes! And just because we are homeschooling families, we are not immune, especially if we follow the traditional public school year and take the summer off from academics.

How much learning do they lose?

The biggest loss seems to be in arithmetic computation – about one to two months’ worth! Yikes! That represents a lot of work on your part as well as your students’ part, doesn’t it? If you spent hours last year quizzing one or more of your kids on addition, subtraction, multiplication or division facts, you see why it would benefit you to work a little math facts’ practice into your relaxed summer days.
Second to numerical computation, reading and spelling are affected, especially for children whose parents don’t or can’t involve them in summer reading programs or other summer enrichment programs.

What is really scary is researchers say this loss is cumulative, possibly putting students further and further behind as they move into middle and high school years.

What can I do about summer learning loss?

This summer slide is so preventable.  If you school year ’round, you probably don’t have to worry about this at all, but the rest of us need to plan activities to minimize it’s effect. Of course, summer should be a time to do some relaxing, get outdoors more and have fun, but keeping your kids in learning mode to some extent is critical to keep the momentum going during extended school breaks.

(Mom, even if you use the summer to work inside/outside the home, you can still put some steps in place to keep your kids’ skills sharp over the summer.)

Here are some ideas at different ages for avoiding the summer slump:

Preschool –

That’s right. Engaging in very active play – running in different directions, rolling on the ground, spinning, hanging upside down on a swing and just MOVING. A. LOT. is crucial to your preschooler’s development and learning readiness. It has something to do with inner ear development that takes place with these kinds of activities (they need “rapid vestibular input”) and it CUTS DOWN ON FIDGETING later when it’s time to start homeschooling. (Or any kind of schooling).

In addition to lots of movement, expose your preschoolers to books by reading aloud to them daily and talking about what you are reading. Let them participate in household events such as cooking, cleaning the house, doing the laundry and making their beds. This is the time to start that habit training that Charlotte Mason talked so much about. Start getting your littles ready for school by teaching them to listen to you and be obedient right away, to take care of their own belongings, and to do tasks well.


If you have pre-readers, let them work on their letters by using their bodies to form letters (and have you or a sibling guess which letter), write them in a pan of sand or in a sandbox, or build letters with blocks. Anything to add a hands on element.

If your primaries are beginning readers who are solidifying their skills, now is not the time to let them lose ground! Take them (and all of your kids, actually) to the public library once a week, if at all possible, and participate in their free summer reading program that will help you track your kids’ reading (or your time reading aloud to them) and get stickers or little rewards when they reach certain milestones.

Don’t insist on making them read things that are terribly challenging to them, just let them read for the joy of reading. Help your kids find books and magazines in areas they are interested – especially helpful for any reluctant reader. Spend some time in the morning when they are used to doing school or in the afternoon when it’s too hot to play outdoors to have a “reading time” when everyone quietly reads their books and look at their magazines.

Primaries can do a lot around the house, too. One of the best ways to reinforce arithmetic is to let them help with meal preparation–“How many forks do we need? How many knives and how many spoons? How many utensils is that altogether?” And, “If we are going to make twice as many cookies, we need to make the recipe ‘twice.’ But we don’t have to actually make the recipe two times, we can just make it once if we use double the amount of the ingredients. If we need two cups of flour and we want to double the recipe, how much flour do we need? We can figure it out by making this number sentence: 2 (cups) + 2 (cups) = 4 (cups). ”

And just like preschoolers, primaries need to spend a certain amount of time each and every day moving.  Going for a walk, swimming lessons, dancing and other active, whole-body experiences help children learn.

Later Elementary-

The last comment about moving applies here as well! Actually, it applies to all of your children, no matter what the age.

Reading: Have your elementary school children work up to reading  3o minutes a day. Even if what they choose is beneath their reading level, they are still building reading fluency by just putting the time in daily. Make sure you and dad are modeling reading as well – reading for pleasure and/or to learn something and talking about it will help a reluctant reader to see the value in reading.

Math: In addition to cooking and working with recipes, it is not a bad thing to do some daily math drills with this age. Anytime you can make this into a game, that’s good:

  • It might be as simple as standing in a circle with your kids, saying, “4+6” and then throwing a ball to someone who has to answer the question. Then the person who answers gets to come up with a problem and throw the ball to someone else.
  • Another fun game is “Math War” with cards: Two at a time can play; divide up the cards into two piles and each person gets a pile. Each person takes her top card and flips it face up on the table at the same time. The first person to add the numbers together gets both cards. You can also subtract the smaller number from the larger, or multiply the numbers. If you have a younger and older child, one can add or subtract and the other one can multiply. To make this more challenging, you can even have another person sit alongside to call out the numerical operation that needs to be performed.

Writing: Look for opportunities for your students to write. Have them write Grandma a letter. They can write instructions for taking care of a pet, or directions from your house to their best friend’s. Or have them keep a journal and write a few sentences in response to a daily prompt, or record what they did that day. Be creative and use as many ways to write with ‘a real purpose’ as you can.

What about the upper grades?

Learning loss becomes a little more serious as your student moves from elementary school into middle school and then into high school. Find out how to immunize your older children against summer learning loss in parts 2 and 3 of this series!


So, what are you doing this summer to hedge your bets against summer learning loss?


If you have a middle schooler, make sure to see Part II in this series:  Summer Learning Loss for Middleschoolers.

If you have a high school student, definitely read Part III to see just how important those summers are!

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Is your homeschool curriculum bossing you around?

  |   Curriculum, Teaching - all grades   |   No comment

unstructured homeschool curriculum

Personally, I don’t like my curriculum telling me exactly what to say and do. Maybe I have other things to say than my curriculum does about Christopher Columbus, the Civil War, or the ecology movement. Maybe I don’t want my kids to do all those activities each week.  Isn’t there ever any time for them to just… play?!

If you are just starting out homeschooling, you might want a curriculum to tell you exactly what to say, what to do and when to do it. There’s no shame in that. In fact, that’s why we created Daily Lesson Plans from our original Unit Program curricula — for moms who want and need that kind of structure. But if you have homeschooled awhile you may feel you don’t need that much structure anymore. You might be ready for a more unstructured homeschool curriculum.

Maybe as a Charlotte Mason mom, you want to let your kids form their OWN relationships with the concepts they are reading about, without needing a textbook to spoon feed them everything you want them to know.

Unstructured Homeschool Curriculum can work FOR YOU, instead of bossing you around.

Not only is it frustrating that your curriculum tells you what to say, it also gives you more to do than you think your kids need. (Busywork!) And when you don’t check off all the little boxes, you either feel like you aren’t doing a good job homeschooling OR you add extra hours to your day to get everything checked off. (Otherwise you’re wasting all that money you spent, right?)

With this tyrant in your home your homeschooling is not turning out to be nearly as fun as you imagined it would be, is it? You’re skipping all the fun stuff in order to get all those dumb boxes checked!

If you’d like to relieve the pressure before you blow a gasket, have more flexibility to go down those rabbit trails without feeling guilty, and make homeschooling FUN again, you can! Just try a more unstructured curriculum. Then YOU can add the structure when and where you need it.

Our unstructured unit programs give you the TOOLS you need to homeschool your kids:

  • Our 100+ page teacher’s manual teaches you how to use excellent literature for teaching history and science
  • We show you how to choose copywork, how to teach your kids to do narrations, and how to use the same books you’re using in history and science to teach grammar and punctuation.
  • Each of our unit programs has over 400 top-notch, pre-read book suggestions, divided by historical period, subject (history, science, and fine arts [music, art and architecture], topic and reading/listening levels.
  • Each historical unit also contains a 3-10 page overview of important events and people for that unit.
  • Our manuals include checklists of important English Skills for different grades, including phonics, so you don’t miss anything important.
  • Each unit has a page of history and science activities and projects to choose from, and our middle school and high school unit programs also have many assignment ideas as well!

With this unstructured homeschool curriculum, you can cover what you want to cover each day and journal what you did, rather than obsessing about what you didn’t do!

If your homeschool could use more flexibility and a little more fun, read more about our Unit Programs and click on the individual components at the bottom of the page to see samples for each level.

It might be time to toss that limiting checkbox curriculum that is cramping your style!  Are you ready to give more unstructured homeschool curriculum a try?


Read some homeschool moms’ thoughts about our Unit Programs:

              “I came across this gem several years ago as I was searching for a Charlotte Mason-style curriculum that would work with well with our notebooking pages and philosophy of education. True to its Charlotte Mason roots, Train up a Child Publishing has tossed the dry, dusty textbooks and carefully selected the best available “living” children’s literature to recommend with their integrated study of history, science, fine arts and language arts (grammar, spelling, vocabulary, composition, literature study, poetry, etc.).

           I have tried a variety of curriculum plans and each has their particular perks, but with this curriculum I feel I have all I need (not too much, not too little) to plan a wonderfully RICH, Charlotte Mason inspired, literature-based history program for my children.”      ~Debra, mom of many


         “E. is in 4th grade right now and C. is in 1st grade. I love being able to use Train up a Child Publishing curricula with both of them! (And we’ll be adding L. in kindergarten next year.) What a blessing this curriculum has been and continues to be for us! Thanks!”     ~Julie


          “The kids and I just finished playing a ’20th Century Trivia’ board game that A. made after I saw it in the Preparatory Unit Program of Train up a Child Publishing. What a great idea! He had to come up with the idea, use history & geography to come up with the categories and then the questions, make the board, paint the board and then make up the rules. It was a great 2-week project!”         ~Vicki


            “I love the Unit Programs’ FLEXIBILITY!!!! We can dig deep and do lots of writing and projects with each unit or at a bare minimum, just read some of the books listed – all depending on how busy the rest of our life is at the time. The kids LOVE the books. Also, I can teach multiple children of differing grades very easily with it. I will recommend this program [because it is] fun, flexible and far out! (I was trying to think of an F word that meant it’s awesome and good quality.)”        ~Julie Y.


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Do you have a homeschooling success plan?

  |   Character Development, Christian Parenting, Curriculum, Parenting/Homeschooling in General, Planning, Time Mangagement   |   8 Comments

Most of us jump into homeschooling SCARED. TO. DEATH. So you look to someone else who has homeschooled longer and you copy everything you can from this homeschool expert, instead of taking the time to carefully think through what’s most important to you and your family. Instead of creating your own homeschooling success plan.

If you constantly compare your homeschool to your friends’,  endlessly second-guess yourself, change curriculum and activities like you do your underwear … you need a homeschooling success plan.

Without thinking through your priorities and identifying what successful homeschooling means to you, you’ll never feel satisfied that what you are doing is best for your family. You’ll be distracted by everything everyone else is doing and constantly be second-guessing yourself and your plans.

Until you carefully consider what is important for your homeschool, your stress will mount while your self-confidence plummets. You’ll continually chase every new idea thinking that the next one is the one that will magically make it all better.

If you don’t have a well-thought-out-and-prayed-over homeschooling success plan, you might be like the “double-minded,” “unstable man” in James 1 who is “like a wave driven and tossed by the wind.”

I have felt that way. Maybe you have, too.

Maybe you feel like that now.
Homeschooling Success Plan

You need your own vision and plan for homeschooling success. Like a road map, it will keep you focused and moving in the direction that YOU choose.

Otherwise you will continually be distracted by the next bright, shiny program or activity that you see. You will be constantly pulled off your course.

When you homeschool with a plan, you know when to say “yes” and when to say “no.” You decide at the beginning of each year what you and your family are going to do and not do, what kind of curriculum you are going to use for the year,  how many outside activities are possible, and which ones support your goals.

So let’s make a plan! Let’s live in peace, not trying to “live up” to what others are doing. Let’s make a plan that fits YOUR family.

Let’s scrape you off the road and get you back in the driver’s seat. 😉


Creating your homeschooling success plan

Start by getting away from everything with your spouse, or if you are a single mom/dad, by yourself or with another homeschooling parent. Take at least a half a day or an evening to talk and pray about what YOU want your homeschool to be like.


1. Pray.

Read through Scripture, perhaps beginning with the verses below. Ask God to give you wisdom about your homeschooling years and show you His priorities. You’re honoring Him with your commitment to homeschool your children and raise them in the admonition of the Lord, so He WANTS to help you do it!

If any of you lacks wisdom,let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  (James 1:5)

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:2)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Gal. 6:9).

…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Tim. 1:7)

All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children. (Is. 54:13)

Pray. Write down any insights you glean from prayer.


2. After praying, determine your family’s primary core values.

Considering your prayer insights, answer the following questions and brainstorm others to help determine the core values you want to demonstrate in your family:

• Why are you homeschooling?
• How do you want your family to relate to one another and to others?
• What do you want your kids to be like when they are teens?
• What skills do you want them to have when they leave your home?
• What kind of atmosphere do you want in your home?

Continue to dialogue about what’s most important to you, writing everything down that you come up with. From the answers to these questions and the others you develop, create at least 5-10 primary core values for your family. These describe the “what” you want your family to be.


  • We will have a harmonious, peaceful household.
  • Teaching our children about the Bible and our faith will be top priority.
  • While they are in our home our children will develop life skills such as cooking, basic first aid and house and car maintenance.
  • We will focus not on the negative behavior with our children, but on the heart issue behind it.


3. Create tactics to fit your values/goals.

Tactics are the “how” you put into place to create the “what” you want your family to be. Using the first example above, these are some possible tactics:

Core Value: We will have a harmonious, peaceful household.


  • We will speak to one another kindly and character-training and development will take priority over academics.
  • We will proactively choose and monitor outside activities and limit them to what is realistic, affordable and in line with our goal of having a peaceful home.
  • Dad will take the kids once a week for a three hour period so Mom can do school planning, have some social time and/or take a nap.
  • We’ll teach our kids at an early age to be responsible for their own belongings and living spaces.

Note: these might not be priorities for your family, and that’s fine. Create values (goals) and tactics that work for YOU. That’s the point.


4. Put it in Writing.

Create a written homeschooling success plan by making a statement about why you are homeschooling. Follow that with your family’s core values,  and with the tactics you’ve developed to support those values. Use your plan as a guideline when it is time to make decisions about curriculum, activities, habit training and more. You might even post your list of core values in your homeschooling area to reinforce these values with your children.


5. Stop “looking around” so much.

Okay, you’ve developed your primary homeschooling goals and your tactics, put your plan in writing, and implemented it at home. Everything is humming along just fine and then you read something online, see something on Pinterest, talk to a friend who is raving about this new program…


6. Work your plan!

Concentrate on doing what you have already decided to do well and master that before you think about adding more.

Don’t ditch what you have worked so hard on in favor of something “new.” Work your plan!


Helpful hints to stay proactive instead of reactive:

  • Don’t endlessly search the Internet for new ideas. Search with a purpose and be focused.
  • Don’t try and keep up with the 25 blogs you used to read. Find a few that speak to you, share your outlook and values, are helpful, and concentrate on reading those.
  • Check in with your plan and your spouse before adopting anything new. Ask yourself: will this new idea bring us closer to one of our primary goals? Does it fit? Is there time for it? How will this change/ blend in with what we are already doing? Would it be better to wait and start this at the beginning of the next semester or the following year?
  • If you are experiencing problems in your homeschooling, try and ferret out what the problem actually is:  is it behavior you need to deal with?  Does your curriculum or teaching style work against a difficult child’s learning style? Do you need to get your husband to take a more active role in your homeschool efforts or hold a child more accountable? Do you need to train or re-train someone in a particular area? Could your child have a physical issue with eyesight or a learning deficiency? An opinion from an experienced homeschool mom and/or a professional might be profitable if you can’t determine the issue yourself.

Have you ever taken the time to think through your family’s core values and create specific tactics to reach your goals? How might creating a homeschooling success plan help you be consistent and more secure in how you homeschool and parent?

Does just the thought of creating a homeschooling success plan like this seem overwhelming?

Could you use a free ebook that lays out this process with step-by-step instructions and worksheets?

Get it here.

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How do you measure homeschooling success?

  |   Curriculum, Encouragement, Parenting/Homeschooling in General   |   9 Comments

how do you measure homeschooling success by Train up a Child Publishing

What is homeschooling success to you?

How do you know you are getting where you want to be if you aren’t sure what you’re aiming for?

Most of us have a vague idea that if we turn out ‘good’ kids and teach history, science, math and English every year, manage to have clean clothes most of the time, and throw half-way healthy meals on the table daily, our homeschooling is a success.

Those things are all important. But if you’re like most homeschool moms, it’s the things we do without really considering our true priorities that put us over the edge.

That make us live like we are being dragged behind our minivans instead of being in the driver’s seat like we belong.

Don’t you compare what you’re doing in your homeschool with what everyone else is doing in theirs? Haven’t you been guilty of thinking…

  • Shouldn’t each of my kids be in a sport year ’round?
  • Shouldn’t we be learning Latin?
  • Aren’t our kids going to be behind without starting athletics/ music lessons/art classes/ by age five, like everyone else’s kids?
  • Shouldn’t we be doing _________ (fill out the blank with a paid program), like the other homeschooling families in our church? 



It’s time to assess what homeschooling success looks like to YOUR family and let some of that other “stuff” fall by the wayside.

Identifying what homeschooling success means to YOU gives you a framework from which to judge everything: from what type of curriculum to choose, to what habits each of your children need to be trained in, to what activities you are going to participate in.

Does that upcoming field trip opportunity bring you closer to meeting one of your goals? No? Then maybe it isn’t the best use of your time, unless the social time is a priority for this season.

Does that curriculum you’re considering support a biblical worldview? Yes? If that would bring you closer to a primary goal, then that’s a superior choice for you over another curriculum that doesn’t support a biblical worldview.

Are you getting tired of being dragged behind that van?

If I am talking to you, leave a comment about what you want to change and why!

And be looking for part two of this post with a process for getting back into that driver’s seat.



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Why do “public school at home” using textbook curricula, when you can use innovative programs that are based on the way children actually learn?

Learn more about our curricula’s subject integration and our unique history cycle and see our curriculum options.  Explore our blog and receive two free gifts for subscribing to our free homeschool helps.

Train up a Child Publishing offers literature-based homeschool curriculum from Kindergarten through High School, all written from a Christian worldview. From our unstructured, Charlotte Mason-style Unit Programs, to our structured Daily Lesson Plans and our popular High School Courses, we have you covered.

Uniquely engaging with assignments appealing to different learning styles, Train up a Child Publishing curriculum makes homeschooling fun and effective.