8 Tips For The New Homeschooler!

8 Tips For The New Homeschooler!

Homeschooling was something I have always wanted for my kids, even before I had any. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out as you hope – or on a timeline you prefer! In the end, my oldest (10) went to public school through grade three. We finished our first homeschool year a few weeks ago. Overall, things went even better than I anticipated! But as usual, there were also a few bumps in the road. I just wanted to share some things that have worked for us – as well as trying to homeschool on a budget!

Beginning the first homeschool year with your kiddos can be a bit overwhelming! I’m the type of person who likes to be *super* prepared – even overly prepared at times. I also LOVE school supplies! So when they started to appear in our local store, I picked up a few things here and there. Since it was our first attempt at this venture, I didn’t go too crazy & mostly bought stuff when it went on sale. We started with a few notebooks, a bunch of folders, some ring binders, looseleaf paper, pens, pencils, markers, colored pencils, watercolors, a couple rulers, pencil sharpeners, and most importantly – baskets to keep her stuff in! Her basket is pretty empty now in preparation for the upcoming year, but my preschooler(3) has one now too – and is pretty excited about it!

We are fortunate to have some great storage in our home, so part of the shelving in the large closet in our hallway become our “homeschool” closet. This previously had been full of art supplies, as we do a lot of crafting as well, so it was easy to integrate.

Curriculum choices can be overwhelming (and expensive!) as well. A couple of my close friends homeschool as well, and one of them clued me in on a free, online curriculum. So that is what we went with to start. It is called Easy Peasy, and is available here: www.allinonehomeschool.com. The layout can seem confusing at first, but the FAQ section is super helpful, & there are groups/help available on Facebook, too. This upcoming year, I have decided to branch off and kind of develop our own curriculum, work with my 10 and try to follow her lead on certain areas of learning. I ordered these books – Science, Math, Language Arts & History – and they are a great starting point to build off of. We are excited about them!

Since the curriculum last year was online (the list of work/activities, nothing was actually “turned in” anywhere online), we had very little “extra” stuff to have to put away/store. My 10 had her basket, which was big enough to hold everything she needed for the day. In the morning, she would grab her basket from the shelf in the closet, take it out to the dining room & work. Then pack it all up and put it away at the end of her day – for the most part, we struggled there sometimes! Midway through the year, I ended up buying a bookcase to put in the corner of the dining room, and all of our homeschool stuff lives there now. It can get messy/cluttered at times, which is the one downside. But having everything within arms reach from the table was a game changer!

This year, we are going “full homeschooler mode” – and have started decorating the dining room to reflect that, as well! We have even added an alphabet tree for my little one – she is very excited!

We’ve made a few other changes throughout the year, and have come up with a few other tips, tricks & reminders!

1. Don’t go crazy with school supplies.

It helps to have the basics covered – a notebook, folder, pencils – but sit tight a bit & see how things go before buying a ton of things or spending a bunch of money unnecessarily. As I said before, we got a bunch of notebooks, folders & ring binders – most of which ended up being somewhat unnecessary. My daughter would write randomly in different notebooks, not really paying attention to what went where. The majority of those pages ended up being removed & put in random folders which ended up all over. Recently, I got her an accordion style folder with 13 labeled pockets. I went through & labeled each section with a class, & now all of her papers are in one spot. It’s also handy to be able to save that one thing as her 4th grade work, versus a million other folders.

2. Don’t underestimate Pinterest.

I have a board dedicated to 4th grade/elementary activities for my oldest, and have started adding preschool ideas too: Homeschool Ideas. We mostly followed the pre-made curriculum, but when my girl struggled with certain areas (mostly math) at times, it was super helpful to get on Pinterest and find activities or worksheets to give her a little extra help. Another fantastic site is teacherspayteachers.com. They have some free stuff, and most of the paid things are relatively inexpensive – less than $5. Most of the ones we used were around $2-$3. Sometimes just looking through ideas can help you come up with an idea on your own, too!

3. Invest in a good printer.

This got us in trouble at the beginning of the year! We had a printer that did a decent job, but it blew through ink at an ABSURD rate. And it was one that wouldn’t print black & white only, if only the color cartridges were out. It was beyond maddening! You will have a lot of things you need to print out at times, so this is a big deal. In the end, we gave away our ink hog and after some research, went with a new HP Printer that works with the Instant Ink program – and it has been fantastic! This was probably our priciest investment throughout the year. This is the printer we ended up going with, and it has worked perfectly.

4. Utilize your local Library.

This may seem like an obvious one, but it must be mentioned! The library is great for many things – a bunch of books about a certain research topic, a novel for reading and doing a book report on, movies – it is such a helpful tool. And free, for the most part – unless you’re like my family, who for some reason has yet to be able to return books on time! Even so, those fees are minimal.

5. Don’t always buy new!

I struggled with this one a little bit, I’ll admit it. But when you need supplemental books, curriculum, even just a book for reading that you can’t find at the library – don’t just head to Amazon & buy a copy immediately. The same thrifty friend who introduced us to Easy Peasy, reminded me to check eBay for used books before purchasing at full price. I’ve even come to find sites such as Thrift Books that will sometimes have what we need. In addition to those websites, there’s plenty of “homeschool curriculum” buy/sell sites on Facebook to check out. In the end, there’s no shame in paying full price – you may need it quickly, or just just easier. But if you have the time to investigate a bit and are on a strict budget, it can totally be worth it!

6. Find a schedule that works for you.

In our house, my oldest will get up in the morning, eat breakfast, & get started on her day. Sometimes, if we having nothing else going on, she will sleep in a bit, laze around & start her day later than normal. I prefer that she get her work done sooner rather than later, but I create a daily schedule for her each week that she knows to follow & as long as it’s done before dinner time, it’s all good.

7. Find support.

It is so important to find your homeschool tribe. I was very lucky in that two of my good friends had decided to start homeschooling as well. Being able to bounce ideas off each other, sharing tips, websites, ideas, even just moral support at times is a huge benefit & I would definitely be lost without them. If you don’t know anyone personally, there’s always groups online that you can find support with. And always check your area for homeschool co-op options to look into, as well.

8. Be flexible!

This is probably THEEEE most important thing when it comes to homeschool! Some people just wing it by nature, & that is a helpful mindset to have from the start. Others – like myself – are very much of the “planner” mentality & can struggle a bit with this. Planning/scheduling is definitely a huge help, but flexibility when things don’t work out can make a world of difference. Don’t ever be afraid to change up something – even in the middle of a lesson! – if it isn’t working for you, your children & your family – find something that does. The most important thing I’m still trying to learn is let go of timelines & expectations you have developed if you were ever a part of the public school world. The beauty of homeschool is being able to work at your child’s own pace, and listen to their interests/learning styles. Try not to worry about your children needing to know all their multiplication facts & be able to do long division by the end of grade four, for example. If they buzz through it, move on to the next unit! If it takes them a little longer, that’s okay too – it is SO important to make sure your child is comfortable/mastered certain things before piling more on. Don’t worry about “getting behind”.

Now, I’ll be honest – occasionally I tend to side eye these sort of posts, because some may come across as OMG HOMESCHOOL EXPERT! and that is not even a thing. But I remember how overwhelmed I was at times, and posts like this would’ve helped a lot! I hope if nothing else, something contained in this post has inspired something in you to finally take the plunge into the wonderful, fun, exciting world of homeschool!

(This post contains affiliate links. I may make a small commission if used, at no extra cost to you.)

Summer Is Finally Here!

Summer Is Finally Here!

It took long enough, but it’s finally warm here in the Midwest and we got to break out our summer clothes!

Our friends at My Lavender Sun reached out & sent the most adorable outfit for us to review for my littlest bug!

It is so cute, comfy and fits her perfectly! This little lady is nearly 3 years old, and a BIG Trolls fan so this was right up her alley. The little pom poms on the shorts are the cutest touch, and I love the racerback!

My Lavender Sun is full of the most adorable outfits for kids! I’ve already got a few more in my cart. The shipping was quick, & the quality of the clothes is great. We will definitely be buying from them again!

Potty Training Tips!

Potty Training Tips!

Even at a young age, your child’s life is full of many milestones. Rolling over, sitting up, crawling, teething, walking, talking…most are pretty exciting for parents. Then, suddenly – it’s time for potty training!

I think I can speak for parents everywhere when I say that just reading that may give us a feeling of dread!

With my first, potty training was a dream! By the second week, there were zero accidents, dry at nap/bedtime, diapers were almost immediately a thing of the past and I don’t think I even bought one package of pull-ups!

Then along came my second – the wild child.

I wasn’t naive enough to think it would be a cakewalk again – the opposite, in fact. I figured it would be a complete nightmare, or take forever, millions of accidents, no end in sight, etc.

And unfortunately, I was correct!

In the end, after a few months, she is finally in undies full time, with very, very rare accidents. She is still in a pull up at night, but that’s okay. Here are a few tips I learned along the way that worked for us!

Don’t push them – THEY have to be ready to try. Initially, I was pretty gung-ho about the whole thing. We started on a Friday, aiming to be in nothing but undies and a tee-shirt for the weekend, not leaving the house, potty in the living room – thought we were good to go! After a day of nothing but accidents, with my little one giving ZERO effs, we decided to take a break and try again at a later date.

Don’t shame them. Accidents are inevitable during potty training, that goes without saying. At first, it’s easy to just let it go and move on. After a few days (or weeks!) of it though, your patience will become tested. It is so important to remember that this is a learning experience for both of you. It may take a while for your little to recognize the feeling of needing to go potty, and being able to hold it and make it to the potty. At this stage, your child isn’t going to have an accident just to spite you, or as a way to act out.

Don’t be afraid to switch it up. Sometimes kids can just go right to undies. Some moms might want to start their kiddos out with pull-ups and make their way to underwear down the line. Some kids can put undies on under their pants and not have a problem, other ones do better with no pants on – or even no undies for awhile! If one method isn’t working, try not to get frustrated. Just switch it up and keep going.

Reward them. When they get to the potty on time and their pants are dry, it’s important to act like this is the BEST thing you’ve ever seen! Throw your hands up, jump up and down, give lots of high fives and hugs and praise. If you get excited about it, they will too! In addition to that, it can be helpful to have some sort of chart with a reward at the end, or a small treat every time a trip to the potty was successful.

Don’t be above bribery. In the end, the last resort in our house became bribery. I’m not proud to admit it, but it’s the one thing that ended up working! Initially, with my little girl, I knew there were some things she wanted and we could work towards a toy as the main goal. That worked at first, but when all was said and done, what really got the job done was buying a couple of smaller things she was coveting, leaving them on display until she earned them. That may sound a little drastic or even harsh, and it did to me too at first. But, desperate times call for desperate measures! And she was none worse for wear.

Always remember potty training is a huge milestone and something that is guaranteed to challenge you and your little one at some point in the process. But don’t forget that there is a light at the end of the tunnel – and soon diapers will be a thing of the past!

xo, Cait

Find Some New Inspiration

Find Some New Inspiration

When you’re a blogger – especially a mom blogger – finding friends in fellow bloggers is important. Today, I wanted to share with you some blogs I’ve come across that I’ve added to my follow list! Please take a minute to see what they say about themselves, and go check them out. You may find some more blogs to add to your list as well. 🙂

Hi, I’m Darcey, a mom to an active and curious three-year-old girl. I’m an early childhood educator who is passionate about play based learning. You can find me at http://www.aflourishingrose.com . I write about motherhood, personal development and my experiences as an educator. Visit my blog for parenting tips, book recommendations, gift ideas and much more.
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/aflourishingrose
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/flourishingrose
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/roseflourish

I am Mai,  a mother of two beautiful girls in my thirty. In this blog I share about many of my random musings on motherhood — as it has given me a different perspective in life. A beautiful yet complex journey and not for the faint of heart. Follow me and my random musings here at https://cheerfulnomads.net.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thecheerfulnomads/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/iammrsmommai/
Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/iammrsmommai
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheCheerfulNomads/

I’m Pheng Lineses, the face behind Thinker Mom blog. This blog is for mom and moms-to-be, working and stay at home. Sharing life hacks, frugal living, and practical ways to manage a balanced family and work life. You can find Pheng at thinkermom.com
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/phenglineses/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/phenglineses/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Pheng_12
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peng.lineses
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/phenglineses/
Bloglovin’: https://www.bloglovin.com/@phenglineses

I’m Shay and I’m just your average boymom! I love sharing simple tips for moms, fun activities for the kids, and crafts on a budget. As a military wife, I also really enjoy sharing tips and stories about life in the army. My goal is for my blog to have something to offer for all moms. We’re all on this mom boat together and we’re all just trying to make it to bedtime. Visit Shay at shay-and-sons.com

Failure to Thrive No More writes about the struggles and triumphs of Special Needs Parenting. Her son was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder—Dyrk1a Syndrome—in 2018, and has been raising awareness ever since. She has also included her love for Self-Care, Fitness, and Military Life! Check out this blog at https://failuretothrivenomore.com/

Real Mom Moments is a place for moms to share and support each other in the moments we cherish, hate, celebrate or just barely survive. Moms also find encouragement here to take time for themselves and nurture their own interests and passions. Living the mom life is incredible — in addition to super draining and lonely. It’s so much easier to get through the ups and downs of each long day when we feel connected with an understanding group! Find relatable, humorous, and motivating experiences at Real Mom Moments – A Place for Moms to Keep it Real
IG https://www.instagram.com/real.mom.moments/?hl=en
FB https://www.facebook.com/RealMomMomentsBlog/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/RealMomMomentsStephanie/

Hi, I’m Jenn! A mother, a behavior specialist, a business owner, wife of a scientist, and lover of all things fermented. I was blessed with six amazing kids that range in age from 4 to 24 years old. With a background in behavior, two marriages, and 20+ years of parenting, I’ve got a lot to say about family time and raising kids in different stages of life; where to take them, what to feed them, and how to keep them entertained. Plus, things to do to maintain my own sanity like traveling, crafting, cooking, and shopping. I’d love to share my wisdom with you, so visit me at onehoppymomma.com and don’t forget to pour yourself a glass of your favorite beverage to enjoy while reading.

I started my blog in February 2019 because I love to help other moms! I am constantly recommending products, sharing what has worked or not worked for me, etc. with my mom friends and now I can share these things with many more people! At http://www.lalatomama.com/ you will find Mom advice, product recommendations, Mom stories and even some of the adventures I go on with my 3 boys! I work full-time in Human Resources so I do this on the side and love it!

Meredith is a former pediatric RN turned stay at home mom to two littles. She has never met a carb, Target aisle, or glass of red wine she didn’t love. Join her over at www.motherhoodbymeredith.com as she finds grace in the messy side of motherhood.
blog: https://motherhoodbymeredith.com
Pinterest: https://pin.it/vxxezftdpeyzfg Motherhood by Meredith
Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/motherhoodbymeredith/

Kale is a blogger, mother, wife, teacher, friend, and child of the one true King.  She also has a soft spot for teaching children about community service. Kale married her exact opposite, Steak.  They are living the dream in the Midwest with their two wonderful children. The family is constantly entertained by their hilarious mutt. Steakandkale.com is where you can find her writing, guiding, organizing, budgeting, eating plants, and cleaning up after the mutt.

I am Haley Crenwelge. I am a college graduate, single mother, writer, dreamer, 911 dispatcher, and future police officer. I have a beautiful daughter named Cahtalina Daenarys who was conceived only a month before my boyfriend committed suicide. I write a lifestyle/journey blog geared towards single mothers and helping them achieve their personal goals while still keeping up with the responsibilities surrounding their title of mother. You can find Haley at thegermangypsy.com.


Meagan is married to her high school sweetheart and is a stay at home mom to their two little girls. McKenzi, 7, and Sarah, 20 months. McKenzi is deaf and has a cochlear implant so this topic is talked about quite a bit on her blog. Meagan hopes to educate others on hearing loss in children. Her blog also has many tips on breastfeeding, co-sleeping, money saving ideas and more. You can visit her blog at https://www.meagandeal.com/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/meagan.deal/?hl=en
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/meagandealblog/
Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/meagandealblog/
Twitter https://twitter.com/meagan_deal

Internet Safety for Kids

Internet Safety for Kids

I am a 90’s child. I grew up in a time where we were outside more than we were in (in the warm seasons, anyway!), where we could leave in the morning with friends and not come back until dinner time (or until it got dark!), run around the neighborhood without a second thought. And it was AWESOME.

Unfortunately, it is now 30-some years later (waaaaaaah!) and times have changed.

I’ll be honest, we got a computer and dialup (shout out to AOL) when I was around 13 or 14, maybe? Of course, it was downstairs in the computer room (or den, according to my mom) and fairly private. For awhile, I spent my time online fangirling over the Backstreet Boys and any info I could find on them. Once I turned 16ish though, it was on. I was in chatrooms all the time. And man…mom, please skip this part…there was more than a few times when I would sneak out and meet up with random guys at night (or invite them over to my house, when my mom was out) after my parents were in bed. Ugh! So stupid, and gives me major heebs now. Thankfully, nothing scary happened. But you best believe that knowing FIRST HAND how sneaky teens can be, I will be all over my girls to make sure they never have a chance to do anything sketchy like I did!

My oldest is only ten – and my youngest is nearly three. I am hoping I won’t need to worry about any shady stuff from the ten year old for QUITE awhile. I do monitor her internet/tablet use, but like I mentioned – sneaky kids!

When the time comes however, I will be using this to go over some rules with her!

There are so many dangers online these days – especially for children & teens, this is such an important conversation to be having with yours!

xoxo, Cait

Family Fire Safety Plan

Family Fire Safety Plan

As the daughter of a firefighter, fire safety is something I am very passionate about! Sometimes, I admit I can take it too far – like not throwing away the empty popcorn bag straightaway, & instead letting it “cool off” on the counter – but for the most part, you can’t ever be too safe.

This is especially important with families with little ones…& even more so when it’s one parent home with multiple children.

My girls & I recently moved, & one of the first things we did after getting settled was go over our family fire safety plan. This includes general fire safety rules, but most importantly a plan of action in case we need to evacuate our home due to fire.

Of course, this topic can be distressing & scary for parents & children alike. However, it is SO important to all be on the same page in case an emergency arises.

I created this printable that I use with my own kids to go over our plan!

In ours, we have our address – important to memorize in case of any emergency – & in the “home escape route” box, I’ve drawn a little layout of our home with different escape routes in different colors. We also agreed on a family meeting spot outside.

Again, it can be scary to think about these things, especially when children are involved & it’s your home. But in the event that the worst happens, it’s always best to be prepared.

Get your free download here: FireSafetyPlan



Coming Up – A Giveaway!

Coming Up – A Giveaway!

Exciting news!

I’ve partnered with a fantastic Etsy shop to bring you guys a really fun giveaway – & even an extra treat!

I don’t want to reveal the details yet, as I’d like to grow my audience just a *bit* more first. For now, if you haven’t yet, please go like our Facebook page and follow our Instagram page! Once we get to 50 Facebook likes & 150 Instagrams followers, I will open up the giveaway & tell you all about it! And I can’t wait!

So please, like, follow, share, tell your friends – whatever you need to do!

And thanks again for the support!