Starting a NOT Back to School Tradition in Your Homeschool

Have you ever felt a little bad for your kids the night before public school starts? I have to admit, I have. The hustle and bustle, the new crayon boxes, the new clothes laid out and the anticipation of starting a new year. I remember those days, and it was exciting sometimes!

However, schools aren’t like they were when we were kids, and God has laid homeschooling upon our hearts. So, instead of joining the hustle and bustle of public school we have started our own tradition. A NOT back to school tradition J and you can start one too! A NOT back to school tradition is something you and your children do each year on the first day of public school in your district. Here are some ideas to help you plan your own not back to school tradition in your homeschool.

Breakfast out- Take your child to breakfast at their favorite restaurant. Watch the school buses go by and talk about the fun you have planned for the school year.

Field Trips-Plan a fun field trip to a place that is normally crowded during the school year.

Picnic-Pack up a lunch and head out with the kids for a day out. Spread your picnic blanket and enjoy the nice weather and the laughter of your children.

Celebration with your homeschool group-This is what we do each year. We have a NOT back to school day at the park with all of our homeschool friends. The park is empty except for the laughter of our homeschool friends.

Community Pool-Have a pool day without the crowd! We have done this before, but you may want to check with your community pool to see when they close. Ours now stays open only on the weekends after public school starts.

No matter what NOT back to school tradition you start, I recommend starting one! We are normally “in school” before our celebration but, we take the day off and celebrate the fact that we are NOT tied down to a public school schedule. It has become a fun tradition and one we look forward to each year.

Guest Poster: Misty Bailey

Homeschooling in Alabama 101

If you have ever thought of homeschooling in Alabama, but was not sure where to start, this post is for you! When I first began homeschooling, I was overwhelmed with all that was required, and all that I felt I needed to do. Luckily, I had a great friend walk me through that first year.  Here are some tips she recommended, and some I would like to add. These are great recommendations to help you out when you first begin homeschooling in Alabama!

  • Find someone who homeschool. It may be a friend, a friend of a friend, a family member, or a stranger you meet in the library. Ask around and see if anyone you know, knows someone who homeschools.  Believe me when I say you can find SOMEONE who homeschools if you look hard enough.
  • Research curriculum. There is no perfect curriculum out there so I recommend you get a bunch of catalogs and look over them. Try to find somewhere to look at curriculum. This could be a used book store, or a homeschool convention. If you know other homeschoolers ask them if you can look at their curriculum. Seeing the books in person is a lot different than just peeking at them online. You can get a better feel for it in person. Also, do not spend a lot of money your first year. Just buy a few things to get you started. You will learn more about your style and what you and your children like after that first year.
  • Find a Homeschool group. If you do not know if there is one near you start one. The homeschool group I started began with 3 moms who had preschoolers, but had the desire to homeschool. Our first “official” year we had 6 families. We are on our 4th  school year together and now have over 50.
  • Enjoy your children. This is the most important! I wish I could go back to my first year and relax. There were so many tears and I pushed too hard. It was not fun! The 2nd and 3red year was much more relaxed and now that I am ending our 4th year I feel I have learned so much. If you slow down and just enjoy the time you have with your kids it will make your life so much easier. Yes there needs to be time to learn, time to teach and time to do school, but most importantly their needs to be time to enjoy each other as a family!
  • Research the homeschooling in Alabama laws. If your children are in public school find out whom you need to notify and when, BEFORE you pull them out. If you have preschoolers and plan on homeschooling long term get acquainted with the laws before your child is school age.  The laws vary from state to state so check out Homeschool Legal Defense Association to find out more information.

Beginning homeschooling in Alabama can be overwhelming. But, remember the hard work will be worth it! Hopefully these recommendations will help you as you start your journey. Also, don’t forget to attend Homeschooling for Excellence 101 in June!

Author: Misty Bailey

Misty is a homeschool mom of three and has been homeschooling for over 4 years. You can read about her homeschool journey and more on her blog, Joy in the Journey.


Do You Have a Vision?

Do you have a “Vision” for your home school? It is important. Vision draws us forward when life bogs us down. Every home school parent knows there are tough days that sometimes drag into tough weeks. Vision is the Light that will beckon in the wearying seasons. In fact, a right Vision becomes a Legacy Light! Do you remember singing this song with your children?

“Be careful little eyes what you see,
For the Father up above is looking down in love,
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.”

The beauty of teaching young ones is that those lessons are the ones we often forget to practice ourselves. Teaching is a great reminder to implement! It is a pathetically simple truth that we see what we look at. When we allow our eyes to be drawn to difficulties or shortcomings (in ourselves or others), our eyes become filled with the negativity. As Christians, it is imperative that we make a deliberate choice to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Only with our eyes firmly focused on Him, will we live in the victory faith brings. The best foundation for the endeavor of home education is faith in the power and provision of God.

This life, this endeavor of intensive parenting we call home schooling, is a God-given assignment that demands a God-given vision. Vision is sometimes defined as “a clear, concise and compelling picture of what the future can be.” What is the vision you have for your children, for yourself, for your family? Is it a God-given vision that trumpets out truth like Jeremiah 29:11?

‘I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and give you hope.’

Or it is a vision infiltrated with personal striving and fear of failure?

We struggle to remember that faith is the substance of what we do NOT see. Sometimes as home educators, our eyes see only incomplete curriculum, hectic schedules and friction in our relationships. The illusion of the ‘perfect’ home school family taunts us with our imperfections. Those are the times we need to sing the childhood rhyme again and look to our Vision.

The intensity of home school life gives us a great opportunity to model ‘eye placement. ‘As parents, when we diligently look toward God (instead of relying on our strengths or fearing our weaknesses), we teach a vital lesson to your children. We teach–by example–the key to living victoriously is living in the Light of Christ. Truly, there is no greater joy than having our children walk in Truth. Keep your eyes on Truth!

I Have a Teaching Degree and Chose to Homeschool My Daughter

Guest Blogger: Meagan, Homeschool Mom

There are certain questions that you come to expect as a homeschooling parent. “What about testing?”, “How do you handle them all day?”, and the constant stream of “What about socialization?” don’t phase me at all anymore. I knew these questions would come up when the thought of homeschooling first entered my brain; I even prepared answers for these questions so I would be ready the first time they were asked. But the first time someone asked me why I chose to homeschool my children even though I had a teaching degree and “knew the benefits of a public school education”, well I was stumped.   I had spent hours preparing myself for a barrage of questions that would be asked of me when people found out about our decision, but this was one question I had never considered.

Yes, I have a degree in elementary education and yes, I still chose to homeschool my child. To put it simply it’s because I feel I can give my daughter a better education at home, but that’s a pretty broad statement. Honestly there are a ton of reasons why I choose to educate my daughter myself and not send her to public school, and I could spend pages and pages writing down different answers. But what it comes down to the most is that I have seen the benefits of public education first hand, and I do not feel they would be that beneficial to my children.

For starters you have socialization. I’m sorry but even if my daughter went to public school I would not send her for socialization purposes. In my opinion school is for education, not socialization. I educate my daughter at home and she learns socialization in our everyday activities. She is not locked up at home all day. She goes on errands with me, we go on field trips with other homeschool families, she does sports, is involved in local theater, and she even plays at the park with the neighborhood kids-both homeschooled and public schooled. Homeschooling does not automatically mean I am putting my child in a bubble, but for us it does mean that we feel that school is for education. Socialization is not something we believe needs to be taught, it is something we experience in our everyday lives.

I also feel that classroom sizes are becoming out of control in today’s schools. Budgets are being cut which means fewer teachers in schools and more students per classroom. Before I started homeschooling, I taught a kindergarten classes with 25 students in it. That’s one teacher trying to split her time to give each student individual attention and set them up with a proper foundation to follow them for the rest of their academic careers. My daughter is a very bright and very energetic little girl. She needs one-on-one attention in order to keep focused. At home she thrives with the one-on-one support I can give, but I fear that at public school the lack of it could have left her falling behind.

Finally, I do not believe that education should be the cookie cutter, one size fits all institution that public school has become. For every five students you show me I will show you five different learning styles. Some are kinetic, some visual, some auditory.   One student might lean more towards numbers, or writing, and yet another will have a hodgepodge of this and that; no two will learn exactly the same. So why then do we try to teach them all the same material, the same way? At home I can pick out curriculum and methods that go hand in hand with my daughters learning style, and in doing so I am able to help her learn the material faster and more efficiently.   If a particular curriculum didn’t work very well for us last year we can switch it up this year and move on.

Now as I stated before, there are a lot more reasons why I choose to homeschool my daughter other than the ones stated above. These three are just a few pertaining to the public school side of the equation in particular. As a parent my goal is to give my children the best foundation possible to help them to achieve their dreams and goals later in life. In order to do that I must give them the best educational opportunities that I can, and I feel I can do that at home. Is homeschooling for everyone? Probably not, education is a personal choice and I do not put down other’s choices to send their kids to school outside of the home. But for my family and I this is what works. My daughter is thriving and that is what really matters in the end.


(2011). Dillon, Sam. Class Sizes Rise As Budgets Are Cut.


Just Breathe

Guest Blogger: Meagan, Homeschool Mom

There was a social media meme making its way around the internet a few months back where a homeschooling mom was complaining to her friend about her day.

“There was yelling and screaming. The kids were crying, I was crying…” said the mother.

“Maybe you could start your day with Bible time?” suggested her friend, to which the mom replied, “That was Bible time!”

I remember laughing and shaking my head while reading this, because in more ways than one I connect with that crying, screaming, yelling mama and her kids. More often than not our day starts out with good intentions but then I get caught scrubbing the breakfast dishes or my daughter drags her feet while tidying her room. Before we know it the baby is up from his nap and we are still only three problems into our math work. At six years old my daughter still needs me to sit next to her for most of her work, but with her little brother trying to grab her paper, screeching because mama had the nerve to set him down to help Sissy with a problem, or crying because he’s hungry and mama just isn’t feeding him fast enough. Well, it’s hard to concentrate under those conditions.

Before you know it that 6 year old can’t hold her emotions in any longer. Suddenly, 2+3=____ is too hard for her little mind to grasp when ten minutes prior we were subtracting 7 from 20 without a problem. She cries and pouts, doesn’t want to write, doesn’t want to sit in the chair, or even in the room. It isn’t long and this mama is ready to cry and pout too!

I have found that this situation is not a unique one, in fact every homeschool mom I have talked to has been in one exactly like it or very similar. But what’s next? What do you do when you want to throw in the towel and tell the little guy to pack it up, they are going to ‘real’ school tomorrow? Do you yell and scream, and stomp your foot? Do you slam the workbook shut, grab Sissy by the collar, and stick her in the corner until she is ready to do her work without complaint?

Ephesians 6:4 tells us ‘provoke not your children to wrath but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.’ So no, you don’t let your anger swell up and crash around you. But what do you do instead? You take a break. You separate yourself from the situation and have your own little timeout. In my house that means putting the baby in his crib with a distracting toy and sending my daughter to her room to read; then mama grabs a cup of coffee and just breathes.

Sometimes I open my Bible and read a passage, sometimes I pray, sometimes I even cry and wonder if I am really cut out for this homeschooling thing. But more often than not I just sit with my coffee in my hands and breathe. After a few minutes my thoughts start to become clearer and I can look at the situation for what it really was. I can think about what I can do to make this situation easier, and I go from there. I call my daughter back into the room and we talk about what we both did wrong. That’s right, I admit my mistakes! I feel it’s important for kids to know that parents are not perfect; it makes them feel less pressure to be perfect themselves.   Then we talk about how we can fix it the situation.   Sometimes she will ask me to write down some of the answers for her, she knows the answer but she hates to write and her hand gets tired. I will ask her to vocalize with me when her hand gets tired or she is feeling frustrated, because it’s easier to solve a problem when we are both calm and collected. This goes back and forth until we both feel that we have said our peace; then we always end our talks with a hug and a prayer.

After I have talked with my daughter and developed our game plan we go get her brother out of his crib. We’ll spend a few minutes playing as a family and get back to work. We start over and forget that the prior meltdown even happened. We move on, we don’t dwell on the negative, because if we don’t allow ourselves to move forward we will always be stuck.

Homeschooling is hard. As parents we are taking on the job of not only the parent, but also the teacher, mentor, counselor, lunch lady, janitor, principal…the list goes on! I wonder if I am messing up my children and their futures at least 50 times a day, and if we go two days in a week without having to take one of our little breaks I feel like we have accomplished something great! Yes, what we are doing is hard, but it is vital not to forget that it is also important. We are taking on all these roles because we love our children, and we want to give them the best we possibly can. We want to and we are. So next time you feel like the stress is getting too great, simply step back and take a break. Just breathe. Remember, even public school teachers get lunch and conference breaks throughout the day; and sometimes the best way to nurture our children is to nurture ourselves.


Top 4 Reasons People Homeschool

I would just about guarantee, that if you homeschool and have been out with your children you have been asked at some point WHY you homeschool. With the rising popularity of homeschooling, the negative comments may not be as bad as they used to be, but in general, people always seem to be curious as to why you are choosing to against the grain.

The reasons people homeschool vary from family to family, but there are four reasons that seem popular.  I have met numerous homeschoolers through the years and when asked why they homeschool at least one of these reasons are usually on their list.

  1.  Flexibility- Homeschooling leaves so many options open to families. They are not tied down to a public school calendar. This means they can take days off as needed, vacation when they want, and start school at a time that meets their families needs. This is great for families where dad may work out of town, or unconventional hours. It is also great for those who love to travel.
  2. Religious Convictions- Homeschooling allows families to teach their children biblical truths every day. Public schools are not allowed to teach anything other than evolution. Creationism isn’t taught as a secondary notion to evolution in Christian homeschool families, it is taught as the biblical truth that it is. Christian homeschool families also teach their children the religious foundations this country was originally founded on. This point of view is very important to religious families that want to teach their children their convictions.   For many families homeschooling is a conviction, something the Lord has laid upon their heart to do.
  3. Customized Learning-Some children just don’t fit into a public school “box”. They don’t learn like other children. They may need time to practice a skill before moving on. They may have trouble sitting still or concentrating in a large group. These children do not do well in large classrooms. They need material that is more tailored to their needs. On the other end of the aisle are children who excel academically. They are ready for more than what the public schools say they should be learning. Homeschooling allows parents to tailor a curriculum for their children. Customized learning is a great benefit for all children, but especially for those unconventional ones.
  4. SafetySchools are not always the safest learning environment anymore. School violence and bullying is on the rise, and this has many families concerned about the safety and well-being of their children. In addition to being concerned about physical violence in school, many families also struggle with food allergies that can be life threatening. Homeschooling is a great option for these families because it can give them a peace of mind they may not otherwise have had.

There you have it the four most popular reasons people homeschool. If you already homeschool, I would guess that at least one of these are the original reason you gave it a shot.

Author: Misty Bailey

Misty is a homeschool mom of three and has been homeschooling for over 4 years. You can read about her homeschool journey and more on her blog, Joy in the Journey.

Preschool at Home

Preschool registrations are in full force right now! If you have been debating on sending your child to preschool because you are not sure you can “do it” at home, let me reassure you that you can! Preschool is actually a great age to try out homeschooling, and find out if it is the right fit for you.

What to Teach

Preschool is something anyone can teach. Many of the things taught in public preschool are things you are already doing with your child. Things like cutting, pasting, teaching colors, counting, reading and looking at books, singing songs, and dramatic play. All these things can be done at home without a curriculum. If you look into your state standards many states will have preschool standards listed. There are also websites like this one that will have a breakdown of things children need to know before Kindergarten.

Curriculums to use

If you choose to get a curriculum there are TONS of options. A few free ones are Easy Peasy Homeschool Getting Ready 1 and ABC Jesus Loves Me. Through my years of teaching preschool at home to my children and daycare kids I have used Little Hands to Heaven, Before Five in a Row, Rod and Staff Preschool, and Christian Liberty Press. You can also buy basic workbooks at Wal-Mart and the Dollar Tree. I have not been able to tell a big difference in using a curriculum that costs money vs. free options. There are also tons of ideas on Pinterest for making your own preschool unit studies.

How do the Kids do in Kindergarten?

There are a few moms in our homeschool group who had no intention on homeschooling long term. Their oldest children are already in Kindergarten. Every single mom said they could not tell a difference in their child compared to the others. You could not pick out the “non” preschooler from the group of kids. Two moms said their child had been a little “bored” when preschool first started due to already knowing what was being taught.

What about Socialization?

There are tons of opportunities for children to learn all the necessary “social” skills before going to Kindergarten. If you know a homeschooler ask them if your children can tag a long on field trips, play dates and holiday parties. Most homeschool groups would be more than accepting to have some at home preschoolers join them. Another great option is a MOPS group. Check out their website to see if there is a group near you. When my crew was little we always went to library story times, parties, and activities. The kids made tons of friends at the library through the years.

I think it is important for parents to be aware that there are other options for preschool than sending their kids to public school. You do not have to plan on homeschooling to keep your children home during the preschool years.

Some of my favorite memories are from teaching my children during the preschool years. It is such a great stress free time. We had a blast learning our shapes, playing with play doh and making all kinds of messes! Preschool is a great time to build relationships with your children, and let them have relaxed learning before starting Kindergarten.

Guest Author: Misty Bailey

Misty is a homeschool mom of three and has been homeschooling for over 4 years. You can read about her homeschool journey and more on her blog, Joy in the Journey.