Strengthen Your Family Through Biblical Homeschooling

Tag: Helps

Ready or not, the time for starting up the regular routine of homeschool is almost upon us (unless you are one of the many who homeschool year round, so you’re well into your routine already!) :) For the rest of us, back to homeschool time is one of the more exciting few weeks of the year. The prep work is fun; our kiddos are as excited as we are to start the new year; and the whole new homeschool year lies ahead of us full of incredible opportunities with no mistakes in it yet. What an amazing time!!

As part of our celebration of back to homeschool this year, I want to make sure you have plenty of resources to encourage your heart and inspire you as you kick off this brand new adventure.  For those of us who have followed God’s call to home education, the opportunities that lie ahead of us are immense– and wonderful. Just think of the discussions that await us… the discipleship opportunities that will happen every day… the incredible blessing of watching those we love most gain new knowledge and understanding of the world around us … and so much more. We are truly most blessed!

Sometimes, though, heading back to homeschool comes with a bit of trepidation and fear. Satan likes to remind us of failures of days gone by. He tries to make us believe we are ill-equipped, ill-educated, ill-prepared for the task at hand. Yet, we can rest assured that God will never call us to do anything that He will not also equip us to do– and to walk with us through it.

“Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” ~ Phillipians 4:6-7

So, for this back to homeschool, go into it with lots of encouragement and inspiration for your heart as the leader of your tribe. Then, go forth, laser-focused on the mission at hand and with expectation of the many ways God will grow both you and your children in the days ahead. I hope I get to hear all about your adventures in the days ahead. Make sure you connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and other social media platforms, so we can all encourage one another day in and day out.

Resources for Back2Homeschool

Free Ebook– 14 Days of Inspiration Devotionals For HomeschoolersGet instant access to this free 14 day devotional for moms. Each entry can be read in just minutes a day and will help you focus on the Word of God at the beginning of your day. 

Quick Start Guide For A Great Back To Homeschool.This video, featured on Teach Them Diligently 365, gives you some solid instruction and tips whether you are just starting to homeschool this year, or you have been homeschooling for many years. There are 3 things in my quick start guide that I think will be incredibly helpful for you– check it out to see if you agree with me! (While you’re there, you should check out all the TTD365 has to offer! It would be a great addition to your homeschool year, featuring access to more than a thousand audio recordings and over a hundred video mini-workshops, there is more than enough to get you encouraged and focused on your mission all year long!)

Back2Homeschool Conference!!

This year, we are so excited to be presenting the Back2Homeschool virtual conference to help us all be more ready than ever to get back in the swing of things and ready for the new homeschool year at hand. That conference features more than 50 amazing speakers, and more than 65 helpful workshops– all that you can enjoy from the comfort of your home ANYTIME you need a little encouragement and help! This week (July 15-21,) you can get your ticket for that conference for only $19!! After that, the cost is only $25– still an incredible deal. BUT, act soon, because once the conference ends on July 26th, you won’t be able to get a ticket anymore. Click here to learn more and get your EARLY BIRD ticket for only $19 now!


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“Oh, curriculum, curriculum, how shall we choose thee? How can we know that we have chosen well for our beloved children??”

When I am talking to homeschool moms, the question of curriculum comes up a lot. There are so many options available to us now, and we tend to be overwhelmed and almost paralyzed as we take a look at them all. Add terms like, “learning styles,” “Charlotte Mason,” and more to the volume of choices to wade through, and homeschool moms and dads can really get nervous about the entire process.

This summer, we hope to alleviate some of those fears and help you wade through the choppy waters of curriculum as we walk together through the results of the 2019 Homeschool Family Favorites Top 10 Curriculum Choices for each subject and level. Coming up in the days ahead, we’ll take a look at the top 10 curriculums as chosen by Teach Them Diligently families and give you a little more details about the top 3 of each one. We’ll also talk specifically about how to choose curriculums for each of those stages. Stay tuned, so you don’t miss a thing. In the meantime, I encourage you to download the 2019 Homeschool Family Favorite’s Guide and start utilizing that resource to help you decide what your homeschool will look like next year. Click here or at the bottom of this post to download now.

Still wanting more Curriculum Information? Check out these awesome posts from the TTD Blog.

  1. The Number 1 Reason a Curriculum Fails and Why You Should Change How You Select Yours by Kim Sorgius of Not Consumed gives a lot of helpful insight from a gal who has a masters degree in curriculum. (She’s a curriculum WHIZ, I tell you!) You’ll find some great tips here for choosing the perfect curriculum for your family.
  2. Get a Dad’s Perspective on Curriculum choice through this article from Steve Blackston of Husband of a Homeschool Mom. Steve’s articles are fantastic to help dad’s see mom’s point of view– and mom’s to see dad’s. I encourage you to check them all out by searching his name in the search bar on the blog.
  3. What to do when a curriculum isn’t working by Lana Wilson. Trust me, there will be choices you make that simply do not work for your family. We all have done that! This article will give you some great insights as to what options you have. I think you’ll find that it’s almost always better to jump ship that remain on a sinking one when it comes to curriculum.
  4. My Homeschool Doesn’t Have to Look Just Like Your Homeschool. We are all different. Our children are different. We even have different needs at different seasons. This article will walk through (and hopefully give you a sense of freedom!) several areas of homeschooling!


Be sure to download your copy of the Homeschool Family Favorites Guide today and be watching the TTDBlog in the days ahead as we walk through the curriculum choices you have!

Homeschool Family Favorite Guide Free downloadable

Looking to buy or sell used curriculum and resources?? Check out Homeschool Yard Sale!! We’re hoping it will become your go-to place for all things “swap.” :) Check it out here! It’s free to use!



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History is a subject students either love or hate. Long lists of dates, names, and events to memorize are dry and uninspiring. If we approach history through the power of story, however, it comes alive, jumps off the page, and is about more than rote memory.

Unless we live through an event, we must to trust the words of historians who write about historical events. Most historians do the best research they can, but they were not eye witnesses to history either. Sometimes, their research is flawed or their conclusions biased.

So how do we know what is true?

Some people, like Abraham Lincoln, and events, like the Civil War, are well-documented. If we want to study Lincoln’s life and impact on the world, we can easily find primary documents to inform us.

What are primary documents?

These documents are papers, journals, letters, and photos created by an individual living in the time period about the events they experienced. One of the arguments people have against historians is a tendency toward bias or a personal agenda.

When we go to original documents, eye witness testimonies bring the details of the times and events to life. We aren’t relying on a historian’s interpretation or worrying about their bias.

There are many primary documents created during Abraham Lincoln’s life. Some allow him to speak directly to us about the situations he experienced as President of the  United States. Others give us background about the events occurring during his day.

abraham lincoln

Documents about Abraham Lincoln’s early life:

Abraham’s Lincoln’s Youth (See words that Lincoln wrote in one of his school books.)
Lincoln’s Sense of Humor (See a business card designed as a joke.)
Virtual Library (Includes links to photographs and learning pages.)
Interactive Presentations (Uses newspaper clipping and photos to teach Lincoln’s days before being President.)
Video of the Kentucky Years from Lincoln’s Birthplace
Under Lincoln’s Hat (Primary Resources)

Documents about Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency:

Sheet Music and Songs Written About Lincoln
Telegram (Telling Lincoln of the surrender of Fort Sumter)
Civil War Maps
Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft (Tells what Washington was like during the Civil War)
Lincoln and General Grant
The Gettysburg Address
Pictures and Lithographs
Lincoln’s Resolution on Slavery

The Emancipation Proclamation:

Drafts of the Emancipation Proclamation
Petition Supporting the Emancipation Proclamation
Petition Requesting Exemption from the Emancipation Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination:

Lincoln’s Pockets (What were in his pocket’s when he was killed?)
Drawings of the Event and Funeral, including the Reward Poster for Lincoln’s Killer
Anonymous Letter Warning of Lincoln’s Assassination
R. A. Hunt to Abraham Lincoln, Friday, January 18, 1861 (Warning Lincoln of assassination attempt)
James S. Knox, Saturday, April 15, 1865 (Eyewitness account of Lincoln’s assassination)

Other Primary Resources for Abraham Lincoln:

Civil War Trust
Teaching Lincoln with Primary Sources
Documents from TeachingAmericanHistory
2nd and 3rd Grade Lesson Plans Using Primary Documents for Abraham Lincoln

Using primary documents can be fun and challenging. Finding out what really happened during historical events makes dates and names come to life. You may find the more documents you read, the more questions you have. Using original documents to unlock history can transform a dry process of fact memorization into a fact-finding treasure hunt.

Happy history hunting!

This article was originally published on our Homeschool Launch Blog.


For more on teaching history check out this video on Teach Them Diligently 365.

Teaching History Using Source Documents – Interview with Ben Kunkel

Watch “Teaching History Using Source Documents – Interview with Ben Kunkel”

There is great value in approaching the way we teach history by using source documents and real experiences to do so. Join Leslie and Ben Kunkel of the Ashbrook Center as they talk about teaching history to your high school students using source documents– and even throw in some great ideas for making history come alive for your younger students!

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tea spiced

It may be the right time to change things up a bit with these ten ways to spice up your homeschool in the new year!

1. Read more of the classics aloud.

Think of Charlottes’ Web,  Little House on the Prairie, or Mr. Poppers Penguins.  Read those or similar classics you haven’t gotten around to. Then, try your hand at writing a similar fiction story together as a family. Do a literary analysis by breaking down the story into parts: protagonist, antagonist, theme, plot, setting. Replace your own ideas for each category, and the fun begins! Younger children are great spontaneous story tellers and can give terrific ideas while the older ones can be the scribes and write it down. Try adding literature activities to enhance the story. Make a recipe, craft, art project or do a research paper.

2. Try relaxed schooling to instill a love of learning and less jumping through hoops.

Kids who love to learn become lifelong learners! Give your child time where nothing is scheduled by adding free play time into the day. Kids who are free to think can invent, problem solve, learn to listen to their thoughts and listen to God. Proclaim the ending of each school day at 2pm or 3pm, then don’t look at schoolwork or answer questions until the next day-just be mom and let them just be your child

3. Cook across the globe.

Learn about another culture’s music, food, and art. Try your hand at notebooking by having each child keep a notebook of all the wonderful things learned, drawing pictures and including photos. Interview friends, church members or neighbors from different cultures.

4. Join or start a co-op!

It’s enjoyable learning together. Both kids and moms make friends and a change of environment is refreshing! Check out To Co-op or Not to Co-op in our TTD365 archives for more details. It’s easier than you think and yields great rewards.

5. Use a slow cooker to ease dinner time stress.

Let each child take turns preparing it with you in the late morning. This is great for soups, stews, enchiladas, roasts, chili and so much more! Teach an older child how to plan meals and let them produce a week’s menu plan. Incorporate nutrition education. Help them prepare each meal to give them confidence then assign them one or two meals per week to prepare.

6. Try a new winter sport together as a family – sledding, skiing, ice skating, hiking, or animal tracking.

Being outdoors in winter can be invigorating if you dress warmly. It can also help to stave off those winter blues!

7. Take a risk and reach out to another mom and swap kids for an afternoon.

Your house this week, her house the next week. Chances are pretty good that she needs a break too! Plan a fun but easy craft to keep them busy or just let them free play.

8. Listen to a sermon series as a family from one of your favorite preachers.

After all faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God! Let little ones color or keep hands busy while listening. Teach older children how to take notes.

9. Make phonics cards with preschoolers.

This is a great way to keep little hands busy! Have you kiddos cut an 8.5 x 11 piece of cardstock in half. Have them cut out their favorite magazine pictures. Afterwards dot the alphabet on half of the sheet so they can trace the letters, then let them paste the corresponding picture on the other half. Hide the cards around the room. Upon finding one, search the house for another object that has the same sound.

10. Take regular teacher in-service days!

I was shocked when I read the local public schools taking off again for another teacher in-service day. Teachers need regular breaks to regroup, refresh and stay up to date on educational techniques. We need to take this seriously! It is one of the most frequent words of advice I give to new homeschooling moms. Obviously, we homeschool moms have different needs. Assess you needs carefully. Remember: going to the grocery store alone my be part of your in-service day, but not all of it! Schedule a teacher day on dad’s day off, so you can take time to get away and breathe!

If you’ve found a way to shake things up a bit when life got overwhelming, let us know by sharing your ideas in our Facebook group or in the comments below!

This article was originally published on our Homeschool Launch Blog.


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Find the Time

I’m convinced. One of the things I would do more of if I could go back to my fifteen years of homeschooling is to do more for myself without feeling guilty. I would still give 100% but not 150%. Who has the time you say with a schedule full of field trips, co-ops, basketball practice, potty training, and laundry? You do. Sometimes we just have to say no to one more thing that our children want to do and say yes to something that would support our well-being as a person. After all stress can be accumulative like a boiling pot of water and we need to let the steam out.

A marathon runner knows they must pace themselves if they are to make it to the finish line. That’s what we must do as homeschool moms, we must pace ourselves to avoid burnout and make it across the finish line. The goal cannot be only to get to high school graduation with well trained, God loving, kids, full of Christian character. We must make it across the finish line as well, still intact.

As a pastor’s wife I encourage young homeschool moms to go out every week if possible and take time for themselves. Rejuvenate, take a walk, have coffee with a friend, ride your bike by yourself, exercise, get a pedicure, anything that supports your emotional and mental health.

Mental Health Days

Sarah, homeschool mother of eight, calls it Mental Health Wednesdays. It started out as sessions for counseling and became so healthful she continued on and found wonderful ways to refresh herself. She says, “It’s put a bounce in my step and has given me a more positive outlook on life. I feel happier.”

How can it be done at your house? Older children can watch the younger children. A Starbucks card or pet fish can be payment for watching younger siblings every couple of weeks. Anything that’s important to the older child can be used as barter. And there’s always grandma or swapping with another mom who needs time out too.

So don’t wait another day! Give yourself a New Year’s Gift: Declare a regular mom’s day out for yourself. Take a regular Mental Health Wednesday. You will be happier for it and be assured to make it across the finish line still standing and ready to go on to the next phase of your life.

This article was originally published on our Homeschool Launch Blog.


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homeschool middle school independence

When my boy was little I learned he had a “quality time love language”.  Naturally homeschooling was a perfect fit to fill up his love tank since we were side-by-side all day long.  All.Day.Long.

I even discovered lap-booking was perfect for the quality time child, so we did them.  However, once we started middle school he hated them.

I was still reading lesson directions oblivious to the eye rolls. I found myself putting away books and materials frustrated he didn’t help me clean up.  I was planning out his daily schedule and he would complain he hated doing math “first”. He would ask me how to cook something, and I would just lecture rather than let him try.

Middle School encourages independence.

Independence grows best with some space.  I am a slow learner.  It took me a little while to figure this out.  Our sweet time together turned into sour moods and bickering because I was unaware of his growing independence.  Truth be told, I was inadvertently stifling it.

One day I saw a picture of him on my own Instagram account that I felt the scales fall from my eyes.  He looked so big. So grown up. He didn’t look like my baby toe-head anymore.  He looked like a young man, but I was not treating him like one.

So I started off with this new independence thing all wrong.  “Go ahead and get your work done.” I told him over breakfast. No direction. No expectation. Just a flip of the hand and smile.  I was so proud of myself for being so fun.

No surprise he doodled superheroes in his math book for an hour, failed a writing assignment because he neglected to read the directions, couldn’t find his science book, and ended the day overly frustrated. We were both mad at each other.

Middle School is not high school or even college. Just give a little space a little at a time.  No one throws the keys at a young driver without a lesson in the parking lot.

You do not have to …

hover over a middle school student ~ check in often!
plan every activity ~ offer some suggestions and allow them to pick something.
read every word ~ point out where the directions are to be found.
check everything ~ allow them the opportunity to grade/edit their own work.

Successful activities of growing independence will lead to great self confidence.  

But if we constantly do the work for them we are only hurting them in the long run.  We owe that to our children!

If you have a child who is not yet mature and needs more direction, give it to them! Do not compare to what other kids their age are doing. Everyone is different with unique gifts and talents.

Keep evaluating how they are doing and give them a bit more independence or scale back if it is too much.

It is very important to know your child (and how different they are from their siblings).  Give your middle school student some space to grow into who God made them.

This article was originally published on our Homeschool Launch Blog.


Make your plans to join us at Teach Them Diligently Conventions this spring to learn more about helping your homeschool student.

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Read through our essential homeschool resources for more encouragement!
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hot chocolate candy cane january

That can mean only one thing. It’s time to relax and evaluate for the new year ahead.

Somehow, we have to pull ourselves back from the great holiday blitz and go on homeschooling. One of the things that helped me most was to realize it would take a little time to adjust — just like back at the beginning of the school year.  It was o.k. to take a deep breath and relax.

Reading aloud makes a cozy winter language activity.

The rhythm can create a feeling of  peaceful re-entry. Pick a book about a winter adventure or new beginnings. Introduce a series that will invite your children to read the other titles in the series, on their own time,  just for fun.

The new year is a perfect time to take inventory of what we accomplished this past semester.

Make special individual time with each child, hot chocolate in hand, and chat about what they learned academically and in real-life skills. Give each child  new journal to record their progress and write down goals for the new spring semester.

It’s a good idea for mom to create a journal too.

Include what worked and what didn’t. No matter how optimistic our beginning-of-the-year goals, failing to reach a few is okay. We learn best through trial and error. Innovation comes from failure. Did you know that Kellogg’s Corn Flakes was invented when a pan of boiled wheat was left in a baking pan overnight? Sounds like homeschooling to me!

Pray and ask God for creative ways to accomplish what you could not.

When I realized my 6th grade daughter was behind in math, I needed to be honest myself. I did not have the time to think through algebra with her. A huge weight dropped off my shoulders when I could admit she needed a tutor. Many teenagers in other homeschool families make perfect tutors. They’re happy about the income and most are open to bartering.

There are plenty of free homeschool checklists online.

Too often we want to keep pushing forward when a little evaluation can yield a better result. Checklists cover social skills, practical living skills, character qualities, and spiritual growth as well as academic milestones for each grade. I use evaluation lists to help me think through my objectives, but I implement them loosely.

Children are not wired the same and develop at different paces. If my child isn’t good at something now, I know in two to four months, he or she will catch on just fine. By backing off for a month or two, then reintroducing a concept, I found my children caught on after all.  All children have their own gifting and learn in their own way. Striving to fit them precisely into a curriculum scope and sequence will only led to tears and frustration. For you and them.

Below are a few points to help evaluate the fall semester:

  • Has your child mastered concepts he was taught in each subject?
  • What special projects did they complete?
  • What books did they read?
  • Are they growing in their extracurricular interests and skills?
  • Do children follow instructions better?
  • Are any of them moving towards self-government?
  • Are they learning to control emotions?
  • Can your preschooler or K5’er sit still longer? Pay attention longer? This was a huge accomplishment for my son!
  • Is your schedule working for you?
  • Can you work smarter and not harder anywhere? If it’s easier for the kids to do math in the morning because you are freshest, then-do it!
  • Are you doing too much? Too many outside commitments?
  • Are you doing enough? Is there a child who is bored and needs to be challenged more?
  • Could you use a mom-time of refreshment? Can you build in some necessary self-care somewhere? Don’t feel guilty!
  • How are chores going? Is it time to graduate someone to more responsibility?
  • Has Bible time been a priority or has it fallen through the cracks?
  • Can I implement hands-on activities to liven a subject up?

Most companies complete inventories. Like them, doing an evaluation can give you a good perspective of how much ground you’ve gained or where you lost ground.  Taking an inventory of your homeschool progress can help refine your focus and objectives. Above all else, you can rest easy knowing learning comes in all forms,  Homeschool children are absorbent sponges and are probably further along that you think!

For a special evaluation treat,  try a hot chocolate snowflake-float with vanilla ice cream and a peppermint stick as you relax and evaluate for the new year.

Blessing to you on your new year!

This article was originally published on our Homeschool Launch Blog.


Read through our essential homeschool resources for more encouragement!
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Read our Blog, join TTD365, follow on Facebook and Instagram, and sign up to attend one of our homeschool events!

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Free Printable Responsibility Chart

With all the freedom that comes with homeschooling, it’s valuable to incorporate some structure into your home to help your child learn skills like time management and responsibility. A great way to do this is by using a daily responsibility chart.

Fill out the printable chart below from Alpha Omega Publications with some tasks you and your child can decide on together and help your little one cultivate an appreciation for personal responsibility.

aop responsibility chart


Visit the Teach Them Diligently Marketplace for access to AOP materials and more!

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