Homeschooling in the Time of a Pandemic

Homeschooling in the Time of a Pandemic

This post may contain affiliate links.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave or on your own personal island for the past few months, you’ve already heard about the rapidly spreading virus hitting our world. With this understanding, I’m not going to get into what it is, not only because it’s all over the media, but because I honestly don’t understand it any better than the next random person.

What’s Changed

Recently state governments have been taking steps to help prevent the spread of this still-debated illness. These steps include asking people who might be infected to self-quarantine, practice social distancing, banning group gatherings of 50 people or more, canceling large events, and most recently closing schools.

That’s where I come in.

Homeschooling in the Time of a Pandemic

If You’re Unexpectedly Homeschooling

Last week your kids were attending classes at their public or private school, and today they’re home for a few weeks or more. You could use this as an extended vacation, or you can help them stay ‘on-track’ by creating a life of learning. 

Homeschool, Not Public School At Home

I’m sure your head is already spinning. 

You not only have to figure out a whole new daily routine, which might include working from home or finding childcare, but now you need a way to make sure your children aren’t being adversely affected by this unexpected change.

It’s going to be okay.

Take a breath, Momma. You’ll get through this. 

First, homeschooling doesn’t have to be, and in fact shouldn’t be, about trying to recreate public school at home. You don’t need to come up with eight-hours a day of table work for your children. 

Below you’ll find several ways to make sure your children continue to learn even while the doors to public education are locked.

Read Good Books

The best thing to do during the public school closure is to make sure there are high quality books available to your children. These can be in the form of physical books, e-books, and audiobooks.

Reading aloud is one of the most important things we can do for our children, but this doesn’t mean you have to read an entire book in one day. 

Take your time, even a little time is better than no time. 

Your children should also read books and listen to audiobooks for themselves.

If you don’t already have an Audible account you can get a free trial by heading over to Amazon.

Educational Shows

With all the different streaming options available, as well as YouTube, there is no end to what your children can learn while they’re home. Decide on a subject they’re interested in (or one they were studying when schools closed) and do a search for shows and movies that focus on those topics.

Currently my children are enjoying the show The World According to Jeff Goldblum (available on DisneyPlus) as well as videos on the various rain forests in the world.

Play Games

At our house we have a closet full of board games and card games. They range from games my three-year-old can play to advanced games like Bible Pictionary. Game Wright has several games that are both fun and educational, and most are available through Amazon.

There are many homeschool families who exclusively learn through games, this is referred to as game-schooling. 

Games You Might Enjoy

There are endless options for you as a family; this is nowhere near an exhaustive list, just a sampling for a starting place.

Plan and Make Family Meals

One thing that doesn’t change is the need for our families to eat. This is the perfect time to work together to plan and make meals. Search online for recipes that would be as simple or challenging as you and your children could handle. 

The point of this experience is to make memories with your children. To slow down, and do something together. 

After all, everyone knows food you prepare yourself tastes better. 

Get Outside (Just Not Close to Other People)

Being conscious of social distancing is the name of the game during these times of closure. This doesn’t mean you have to stay inside your house, though. 

Get into the yard and play together.

Watch birds, and look for bugs.

Smell the flowers as they begin to bloom.

Spend time in nature, and remember how wonderful God’s work is.

Slow Down and Talk to Each Other

We’re a society that is constantly on the go; over-planning our schedules so there is a neverending rush to do,do,do.

Take this time to slow down. Spend mornings enjoying breakfast together and discussing whatever interests your children. Read books as you lounge around the table after lunch. Answer questions they might have about what is going on, and how you as a family can help those less fortunate (while still maintaining social distance). Our children grow up so quickly, and if they’re usually in public school you don’t get as much time together as you’re going to get over the next few weeks.

Make this time count.

Something to Consider

Don’t look at this shutdown as an inconvenience, but as an opportunity to really connect to the children God has blessed you with. Embrace the experience with joy and acceptance. Consider ways to make the long days God-centered, and remember this is just a short time in our lives.

Something to Pray

Heavenly Father, 

During this time of uncertainty and doubt may we embrace the opportunities to connect with our children not in fear but in praise of You.

In Your Holy Name,

Amen 

wellofaith


Kids in the Kitchen: Easy Chocolate-Orange Shortbread Recipe--wellofaith.com

Kids in the Kitchen: Easy Sugary Chocolate-Orange Shortbread Recipe

Kids in the Kitchen: Easy Sugary Chocolate-Orange Shortbread Recipe

This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase something through a link, I receive a profit at no additional cost to you.

Baking Shortbread: Embracing the Kitchen Chaos.

Good Morning, Sisters!

It’s time for another peek into baking with the kids. I’m happy to say, this round was quite a bit easier on my anxiety than the last one.

Improvements, even if they’re little, are still important.

Today, I’m sharing a shortbread recipe that I tweaked one day after discovering all of my chocolate chips had vanished.

I’m still not 100 percent sure they didn’t grow legs and walk away, but I’m moving on (and keeping a better eye on the chips I’ve bought to replace them).

This recipe is a quick, easy, and versatile shortbread recipe that will work perfectly for gifts or gatherings this holiday season.

Bonus, it is simple enough for your children to do (mostly) on their own.

Quick and Easy Sugary Chocolate-Orange Shortbread Recipe

Shortbread Ingredients:

  • Aluminum Foil
  • Baking Spray
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 TBS granulated sugar
  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup powered sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dark bakers chocolate chopped (or mini-chocolate chips)
  • 2 teaspoons orange flavoring (or flavoring of your choice)
Kids in the Kitchen: Easy Chocolate-Orange Shortbread Recipe--wellofaith.com
Look at all that sprinkled sugar sparkle.

Shortbread Recipe:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Cover an 8×8 pan with foil, allowing the foil to hang over two of the edges.

Lightly coat with bakers spray (I use Crisco baking spray).

Sprinkle with 1 TBS of the granulated sugar.

In a stand mixer (or large bowl with handheld mixer) cream butter.

Add powdered sugar and beat well.

In a separate bowl stir together flour and salt before gradually adding it to the butter mixture.

Beat until well blended.

Stir in orange extract. Then fold in chocolate pieces.

When combined, press dough into the foil-lined pan.

Sprinkle sugar over the top.

Bake at 325 degree F for 40 minutes or until golden.

Cool for 30 minutes in the pan before lifting the foil edges and removing the shortbread.

Gently remove foil and slice into squares.

At this point, you can sprinkle even more sugar on top of your shortbread squares, or dip them in a bowl of sugar for a sparkly finish.

See, a super simple and quick shortbread recipe.

I hope you and your kiddos enjoy this recipe as much as my family does. If you experiment with it, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Until next time,

wellofaith

For other great recipes check out here and here.

Follow my behind the scenes life at instagram.

Poetry Tea Time Cucumber Sandwiches--wellofaith.com

The Perfect Poetry Tea Time Cucumber Sandwich Recipe

The Perfect Poetry Tea Time Cucumber Sandwich Recipe

Poetry Tea Time: A Family Favorite

The term “Poetry Tea Time” isn’t something I came up with myself, but discovered through the Brave Writer creator, Julie Bogart.

While my family’s tea-time rarely looks as artistically displayed as other families’, and we don’t spend much time on actual poetry.

The Perfect Poetry Tea Time Cucumber Sandwich Recipe--wellofaith.com

Generally we read just one or two poems before we jump into other books we’re enjoying; and the tea is often replaced with hot chocolate, chocolate milk or smoothies, the feeling is the same.

It’s a time when we put away the stresses of the week, come together as a family and enjoy good literature and a special treat.

Once in awhile we will invite another family to join us, and the tea setting will look much more sophisticated. That’s half the fun of having others join us. It becomes more of a party atmosphere rather than a cozy time with each other.

Family Favorite Tea Time Treats

Poetry Tea Time Cucumber Sandwiches--wellofaith.com

When it comes to the special treats at our tea-times, we change it up regularly. Sometimes we eat muffins, or donuts. Occasionally I’ll bake cookies or a cupcakes; once in awhile though, we go all out.

Today’s treat was a full spread. We loaded our plates with freshly sliced strawberries, deviled-eggs, and the easiest cucumber tea sandwiches.

We still didn’t dress up the table; none of our cups matched, and we still drank hot chocolate instead of tea–but those sandwiches were pure sophistication!

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices bread of choice–we used our basic honey wheat sandwich bread
  • 8 ounce cream cheese softened
  • approximately 2 Tbsp parsley flakes
  • one thinly sliced cucumber peeled

Directions:

The Perfect Poetry Tea Time Cucumber Sandwich Recipe--wellofaith.com

In a medium bowl place cream cheese and allow to soften.

Add parsley flakes and mix.

Peel and thinly slice one cucumber, set aside.

Lay out eight (8) slices of bread. Spread cream cheese mixture on each slice.

Layer cucumbers on four (4) of the slices, then cover with the remaining four (4) slices of bread.

The Perfect Poetry Tea Time Cucumber Sandwich Recipe--wellofaith.com

Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

Using a sharp knife cut into triangles (because nothing says sophisticated tea party like miniature triangles!)

Enjoy with your favorite beverage, or just shovel them in your mouth when no one is looking. They’re that simple and that tasty.

I almost feel guilty sharing this as a recipe because it is such a super simple treat. It’s perfect for children or when you’re looking for something different for lunches.

Another great recipe for tea time is hard-boiled eggs or deviled eggs. You can check out the instant pot “recipe” for perfect hard-boiled eggs here.

Let me know what you think!

Until next time,

wellofaith
homeschool from the heart

Homeschooling From the Heart Not Just a Curriculum

Blessed to Home-Educate

homeschool from the heart

This post contains affiliate links.

If you’re reading this, you likely are either considering homeschooling or are already deep in the trenches and looking for support or options.

Or, you just enjoy reading the ramblings of others who have a similar focus as you.

Whatever your reason, I pray this post brings something positive to your day.

There are others far more qualified to explain the deeper complexities of this lifestyle we’ve been called to, but I’m led to share what I have learned, so far, during my family’s homeschooling journey.

Not everyone chooses to walk this path, and that’s okay.

My family consider ourselves blessed to spend each day together learning, growing, and experiencing life (this includes the sibling bickering) the way generations of families did before the creation of government funded public school, and compulsory attendance.

In a world concerned with political correctness, progressive Christianity, and militant feminisim, I praise God every day that my children have the chance to avoid the indoctrination of modern ‘acceptance’.

From Public-schooling to Homeschooling

My family didn’t fall into this homeschool lifestyle by accident, but we also didn’t plan to keep our children home.

Seven years ago, my daughter was enrolled in first grade at the local public school.

For months I felt led to be more involved with children, and I admit, I assumed this meant I should be more active in the children’s ministry at church.

As with every decision in life, I turned to prayer.

The answer I received was not what I was expecting, or what I thought I wanted.

So, I argued with God.

After all, He must be mistaken.

I couldn’t imagine being home with my head-strong daughter all day, every day; and what did I know about teaching?

After several days of stubborn refusal on my part (my daughter obviously comes by her temperament naturally) I acquiesced to God.

I don’t regret that decision.

Homeschooling Philosophies or Boxed Curriculum Oh, My!

There are more curriculum choices and homeschooling philosophies than I personally know what to do with.

Homeschool from the heart

They’re great.

Or they’re not so great.

It really depends on each unique family and their learning styles, and I’m not going to recreate the wheel.

There are blogs upon blogs that discuss the differences–the pros and cons, of each philosophy or curriculum.

Jumping into the Deep End of the Pool

When we first removed our eldest from public school, I had no idea where to even begin.

The only things I knew were that God wanted us to follow this path, and the K-12 online program wasn’t for us.

That left a lot to wade through and consider.

In the last five years my daughter and I have used various methods for her education.

We’ve tried Charlotte Mason, Classical Conversations, My Father’s World, as well as a not so well-known curriculum (Accelerated Academics– also known as, A Squared).

Every year I’ve prayed about how best to educate my children; to raise them with a love of learning. Not to just teach them what a typical education would offer them, but expand their horizons.

I pray for the best ways to help teach my children how to learn.

God answers our prayers. He really, truly does.

So far, I’ve discovered that my children don’t learn the same way.

Some of this is age, but some of it is their own personal learning styles.

I also learned that I’m really not a fan of boxed curriculum. The anxiety they induce in me really isn’t helpful for anyone in my family.

Since neither of my children, currently of compulsory age (we live in Virginia, and sadly that age is far younger than I’m happy with–but that is a different post completely), care if they have a pre-designed curriculum or not, I have the freedom to kick that added stress to the curb.

Homeschool from the heart

My eldest son (6) loves worksheets and workbooks, but he also loves engaging stories about things he is interested in; he can build amazing creations with Legos, Lincoln Logs, or any of the several mechanically focused building materials he has. He practically taught himself to read, and though he isn’t a fast reader yet, he gets better every day.

Now, this is nothing like how my eldest daughter (11) learns.

She prefers reading great books and discussing them. She works well independently, and finishes the majority of her work without me. If I were to hand her a workbook, we would likely both end up on timeout.

Homeschooling From the Heart

What does it mean to homeschool from the heart?

Homeschool from the heart

For our family, that means there is a lot of prayerful thought and consideration for each child. It begins with deciding what we want (or need) to learn during the upcoming year.

This year I read through Plan Your Year, by fellow homeschooling Momma, Pam Barnhill, and that helped me to clarify my vision for our school. You can pick up your copy here.

Since we school year-round, we have quite a lot of freedom in our scheduling, and don’t worry about getting everything covered in 180-days.

We continually cover Bible (and as they get older a focus on Apologetics) Math, Latin, and Language Arts (literature and grammar–depending on the age). Based on the time of year, we also include Sciences, History (my eldest daughter’s favorite subject), Art, Geography, Writing, and Health.

Recently I’ve gone back to a lot of the principles Charlotte Mason taught, and have found a new love for the simple way of teaching and connecting with my children.

Homeschool from the heart

While I’m not truly what people would consider a Charlotte Mason educator, I love anything that tells me to share amazing books instead of boring textbooks. My inner bibliophile gets all giddy at the thought.

Another thing about homeschooling from the heart, is making sure you’re truly connecting with the heart of your children.

Each child is an individual, and even though they’re all part of the same family, they won’t always be like you.

My children are very active and social. They thrive being around people.

Since I’m quite introverted I make sure I pay attention to this aspect of their hearts too.

Church Activities and Co-Op

If left to my own devices I would likely never go further than the end of my drive-way. I have everything I need–or can have it delivered.

With four children–three of which love being around other people, I’m never left to my own devices.

I suppose this is for the best.

To insure my children get quality time with other kids of various ages, we participate in Awana every year. This one night a week is generally all I can handle outside Sunday mornings.

However, this is not enough for my brood.

Which leads us to this year, and Co-Op.

The last time I participated in anything Co-Op related, it was CC.

Turns out, that wasn’t really our thing.

My kiddos are definitely excited about joining Co-Op. They’ll be learning things I wouldn’t ordinarily teach them at home.

Like Debate.

Plus, there is that ‘socialization’ people outside of homeschool circles worry about.

How We Got Here

As you’ve already read, I spent five years trying to figure out which popular idea or curriculum was the right one. I read everything I could on the different styles and philosophies. I listened to people who swore this curriculum or that curriculum would be the answer for everything.

In short, I didn’t consider who my children are or who I am. I was looking for a one-size fits all way to educate young people who are not only separated by age and gender, but by interests and learning styles.

I didn’t consider how our lives really are.

That we don’t work well within the confines of grid schedules, and endless hours of busy work.

We have interests outside what are generally included in a boxed curriculum, and prefer more flexibility than is given in CC or even in Charlotte Mason.

Philosophies and curriculum are wonderful.

They really are, but they aren’t everything.

You can buy every new curriculum, or try every Co-Op. You can switch philosophies in mid year, or you can just wing it.

The most important thing to remember is that we’re teaching young people to learn.

To experience life.

We must teach the whole child.

Homeschool from the heart

Not just parts.

This means knowing their hearts, and knowing ours.

It means teaching manners and etiquette.

Teaching our children that hard work pays off, even if it isn’t in the way we expect. We won’t always get a trophy, and we don’t always need one.

To teach a child from the heart, we must do more than just parrot the newest craze.

We must learn to listen with a discerning heart.

To pray for wisdom so that we don’t fall into the trap of becoming like the world.

For more book recommendations check out this post.

Until next time,

wellofaith
Homeschooling From the Heart Not Just a Curriculum

Homeschool from the heart

Book Recommendations for July 2019: Sare’s Favorite Reads

Books are my friends, my companions. They make me laugh and cry, and find meaning in life.”

Christopher Paolini, Eragon

Book Recommendations for Personal Development and Enrichment

This post contains affiliate links.

Who is ready for a few more book recommendations? If you haven’t had a chance yet, check out other book recommendations here.

The month of July found me diving deeper into personal development.

Recently my focus has been heavy into Apologetics and strengthening my personal relationship with my Heavenly Father, as well as how my family’s homeschooling journey fits into it.

The following four books helped me with difficult decisions, and answered questions that nagged at me.

I pray they will help you as well.

Book Recommendation Number 1

Mama Bear Apologetics Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies

It isn’t enough for our kids to hear us talk about the truth; they must understand how we are to live the truth.

Hillary Morgan Ferrer

I love the term “Mama Bear”.

It speaks to my heart as a Momma of four.

Since I’ve been looking for a better understanding of how to help my kids not only understand the cultural lies they’ll face in their lifetime, but how to help them embrace their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ–and I’m still so young in my own journey, I jumped at a chance to read a book aimed directly at this season of my life.

Sometimes social media really comes through– I first heard about this via IG, and pre-ordered it. Since that time I’ve also subscribed to their podcast and have learned so much.

Knowing I’m not alone in the struggles and worries has been a huge help for me too.

You’ll read about Linguistic Theft —“purposely hijacking words, changing their definitions, and then using those same words as tools of propaganda” as well as the various isms our society is obsessed with (Self-Helpism, Naturalism, Skepticism, Postmodernism, Moral Relativism, Emotionalism, Pluralism, Marxism, and Feminism)

Written by women passionate about Apologetics and raising children with strong relationships with Christ; I can’t recommend this book enough.

It’s definitely a book I’ll keep coming back to read time and again.

Book Recommendation Number 2

Jesus Unmasked: The Truth Will Shock You

Never forget, God is more interested in our holiness than He is in our happiness.

Todd Friel
July 2019 Book Recommendations

Don’t let Ken Ham’s endorsement of this book turn you off.

Todd Friel has a way with words, and a passion that jumps off the page.

Now, to be honest nothing in the book ‘shocked’ me, because I already know how awesome Jesus is.

However, as with Mama Bear, above, I acquired a deeper understanding of the truths written in the scriptures.

Reading Jesus Unmasked was similar to sitting down to a deep discussion with a good and knowledgeable friend.

One who knows exactly when to juxtapose humor with the seriousness of our salvation.

I found this book to be a super quick read, with chapters short enough to finish in between the needs of my kiddos.

Since I’m a tad weird about needing to finish a chapter before putting my book down, this is something I certainly appreciate in any book.

You can pick up your copy here.

Book Recommendation Number 3

Plan Your Year Homeschool Planning for Purpose and Peace

It didn’t take me long to realize I had missed a vital part of the planning process…My perfect plan ignored the most important factor of all: the people in front of me.

Pam Barnill
2019 July Book Recommendations

When it comes to homeschooling there are multiple ways to do it.

Two of my favorites are planning it, and winging it.

Now, if you’re interested in actually being a bit more prepared for the year ahead, I recommend NOT winging it.

However, I also get a twitch from too much planning.

Pam Barnhill has taken (most of) the anxiety out of preparing for the year(s) ahead with this book.

Plan Your Year: Homeschool Planning for Purpose and Peace has something for everyone in it.

The personal stories of what worked for other homeschool moms give wonderful insight; and though we’re all different, seeing what ideas worked and didn’t work for others, helps us focus on what is best for our own families.

Since reading this book, and following the steps that fit my personal teaching style, and how I envision my family’s homeschool experience, I’m more excited for this year than any other year in our homeschool journey so far.

You can purchase your copy here.

Book Recommendation Number 4

Mother Culture For a Happy Homeschool

We experience greater fulfillment as women and homemakers when we find and uncover the hidden artist within us.

Karen Andreola
Mother Culture July 2019 Book Recommendations

Anyone familiar with the Charlotte Mason philosophy has likely heard the term “Mother culture”.

In the first chapter of her book, Karen defines what she means by mother culture.

“Mother culture is the skillful art with which a mother looks after the ways of her household and herself. In her home she creates a culture all her own with a mingling of love and responsibility.”

Now, as a homeschooling, SAHM of four kiddos, I’m guilty of forgetting about myself in the hustle of every day life.

There have been times in the not so distant past when I discovered I hadn’t read a book for personal enjoyment in longer than I could remember.

It isn’t surprising to note during that same period of time I wasn’t doing anything else for my enjoyment either. Sure, I was working out each day, but that wasn’t as much for enjoyment as it was a necessity for me to move without pain.

My personal time with God wasn’t happening the way it should either.

Life was spiraling out of control.

This book, while not the definitive guide to refilling your personal cup, is an amazing resource when you start to forget you’re a person as well as a wife, mother, and teacher.

My own copy of this book is already filled with highlights of things I want to be able to flip back to quickly.

With beautiful illustrations and wonderful quotes, Mother Culture For a Happy Homeschool is a great way to begin refilling your cup so you can continue to pour into your family.

To purchase your own copy, click here.

I hope this has helped you add a few more books to your summer reading pile.

If you’re read any books you think I should read, I’m always interested in recommendations. After all, there are never too many books to be read.

Until next time,

wellofaith