Thursday, October 10, 2019

I Could Have Done More. . .

If there is one thing I hear over and over again from families is "I really could have done more this year."  Sometimes they say this to me before they send in their portfolio, after I complement them on all they have accomplished, or just when they see me out at the Greenhills library.

I have started responding, "Well you know, you could have done less."  Usually that gets me a sort of head tilting confused look. I then say, "Really, you could have done less.  You could have read less books to your kids,  you could have completed fewer math pages, you could have participated in not as many field trips, or had fewer learning conversations."  I tell families, you did have a lot of great learning experiences with your students this year, and you worked hard.

I often joke that I have to have very high self-esteem to look at so many portfolios each year.  I am always fascinated at all families accomplish, and the progress their students make.  I see families who take amazing educational trips to places I have never heard of, utilize community resources in unique ways, read great literature, integrate learning into their lives in so many fabulous ways, find apps and web sites that are incredible, and find resources I had no idea existed.

What I have learned through the years is that everyone is good at something, but probably not good at everything. You are good at something with your students.  There is something that you can do that someone around you admires you for and wonders how you do it. Are there things you could improve on. . well of course. . we all could. We are all people on a homeschooling journey who are constantly trying to improve, and that is fabulous.  No one wants to be stagnant.  It is good to set realistic goals to improve your home education, but still rejoice in what you have accomplished.

I think it is important to remember what you are good at and what you bring to your homeschooling world.  Celebrate your student's accomplishments, celebrate your accomplishments and maybe even ask your students what you do well.  I am willing to bet their answers will surprise you.

And  please remember as doubt creeps in. . You truly could have done less.   So celebrate what you did do!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Fall Contest and over 400 Facebook Likes!

It happened this week!  Ohio Homeschool Assessments reached 400 likes on Facebook!  Pretty incredible in my book!  So I am at celebrating at Ohio Homeschool Assessments by having a contest.

I think we will do FOUR Amazon cards  of $20.00 each.  I will also be running a contest at Becky's Bookshelves so stop by there as well.  So many chances to win!!
I hope your school year is starting off right and you are enjoying the first days of fall.

If you are on a mobile phone. . go to the end of this post and click on the words "View web version" (It is under a HOME button)   It will take you to a page where if you look in the top right corner you will see the FOLLOW button.  Click on that and Follow Publicly. 

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Home Educating with Little Ones Part II (repost)

This is the second part of the series I ran in 2015.  Hopefully some ideas to start off you school year.  Part One is here

In this post I just wanted to share a couple of ideas that I have found helpful with my little ones. Maybe they will help your little ones.

A large container of uncooked beans with cups, small toys, and gadgets in it.  I am amazed at how this will keep a small child busy for some time.  It has been a favorite of all of my kids.

Playing a yard sale game or reading a books with a sibling.

Math Manipulatives make great blocks.  For some reason those are way more fun than the other building blocks at my house.

My kids loved playing in this bucket of water this week.  They played with plastic animals.  A great time.

A program I love for preschoolers is Ready Made Preschool.   I have used it with my daughter and we loved it.  I have written about it here.

Kinetic sand is our new favorite toy!  It keeps our daughter busy for hours.  After about 3 or 4 they can listen to play-aways from the library.  Or do both!

 Dress-up is always great!

 Playing with Magnetic letters or shapes is fun!  Magnets can stick to a board, a refrigerator, or cookie sheets.

Would love to hear any ideas you have in the comments.
Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Home Educating with Little Ones (repost)

I wrote this back in 2015.   I am shocked at how easily I have forgotten about the challenges.  Now my youngest is 7 and honestly it is so different.  So hopefully this will be helpful to someone.  My newest encouragement is . . time does pass, and your kids do get older.  Really. Stay Strong!  

I have homeschooled for the last 10 years and always have had a little one running around while I was trying to work with older kids.   When we started home educating I would read anything I could about how you home educate with little ones.  I actively sought magazines (remember this was awhile ago); and later looked at articles and blog posts on the subject.  I am not sure if I am all that good at it, but I have learned a few things that have been helpful along the way. Today I thought I would share what has been helpful organizationally, time-wise, and how I manage my days.  My thought is that maybe one of these ideas will help you.

Some things we have done:

I try to have a separate schedule for the little one in my master schedule.   I try to plan where they need to be in the house and what they should be doing while others are working.

I have invested in at least one computer curriculum for most of the school age kids.  If the school age child is working on the computer I can read, play a game, or just love on a little one.  

I try to have intentional video/streaming time for the little ones.  For me that means setting up a math lesson with an older child and telling them we will have 30 minutes to do a lesson and stay focused before the little one needs us again.  I also make a personal commitment to not be online or on the phone during this time.  I am amazed at what I can do in 30 minutes.

I try to train the little children to have some playpen time which later leads to playing by themselves in the family room.  I put the little one in the playpen/family room first thing in the morning.  That will usually give me 30-60 minutes until they start moving the playpen around the family room.  It also keeps them away from 3-5 year olds who tend to get in their face.

When setting up a schedule I will assign other children to entertain,read,  or play with a little one.  Up until 8th grade or so most students have time in their schedule for 20-30 minutes of play time with a little one.  I love how it teaches the older one to be patient, play directly with someone less competent then they are, gives them a meaningful break from work.  It usually helps both ways.

I set up a "school time" at the table with the little one with coloring books, small toys, or paper and crayons. They want to be like the big kids and do school.   I had to laugh when one of my children told me it was time for "math Jesus."  Apparently his bible coloring book qualified for this subject.

When my parents or others have asked what they can do to help, I invite them over to sit with a little one for a time and read books, play a game, or just hold and love on them.  It is good to ask for help.

I try to take breaks to just hold my little one, rock them, or read to them.  When I first started I was so worried about doing "the right thing" for the older kids doing school work I tended to not love on the little ones enough during the day.  If I can hold and rock someone for 5-15 minutes they are often fine after that and go back to playing.

What I have learned:

I have learned that no matter how great your schedule, how focused you are, or how great your plans  may be, sometimes how well things go depends on the temperament of the child.  Some kids are better at entertaining themselves, others need more training, and for some it is really hard and drastic measures must be taken.  My 6th child had to have each person in the family assigned to her for a 30 minute time slot to be with her.   We just to refer to that as "doing your time."

When I go into my day with a plan we are all better off.  If I can think of my little one as part of the learning schedule it helps all of us.  If I set aside a video, plan a story, know their snack, or set aside time for them we all have a better day.

It is never too late to start again.  I also try to give myself grace.  Home Educating is a hard job and adding a little one or two to the mix is not easy.  But I try to see it as a challenge that can be overcome, and not to take the bad days too personally.  Tomorrow is a fresh day with no mistakes as Anne Shirley says.

Lastly, the little one will grow up, and things will get better.  My 6th child is now learning to read.  I honestly was not sure if she would make it through her 2s, 3s, 4s, or 5s.  (currently I am not sure if I will make it through her 6s.)  But each time she has and she continues to get better.  I figure she will use her negotiations skills one day to become a CEO.  I try to nurture her skills, hold her more, and remember that before I know it she will be in high school. (Please note that this is on a good day.  The other days I whine to my husband.)

I hope these help.  Please add any ideas you have in the comments.  I am still reading those online articles on how to home educate with little ones.  I would love to hear your tips!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Quick Start Homeschooling Guide.

Some people start planning to home educate their children from birth.  They attend curriculum fairs and conventions way in advance when their children are little. They have files with curriculum catalogs alphabetized and bookshelves set aside and marked.   If this is you then this post may not be very helpful for you. 

I have many families who write me and need to start home educating fast.   Usually their circumstances have not led to them having time to plan way in advance.   This is the Becky Boerner Quick Start Guide to home education.  It is a way to start home educating within a few days of deciding to home educate and/or something to do while you search for the perfect curriculum.  It is a bare bones approach that will see you through for a season, or longer if you continue to add to it.   

I am going to divide this Quick Start Up by subject and age.  Please feel free to post comments or ask questions.  I will update this post throughout the year and it will be a living document.


You have two kinds of K-8 readers.  Those who are learning to read, and those who are reading to learn.  

K and up Learning to Read. 

With students who are learning to read I suggest 10-15 minutes of phonics reading instruction per day.  You are better off to do 10 minutes everyday than 30 one day, and then skip 5 days and then do more.  Small amounts of time done consistently will win the race.

I like Alpha Phonics.  It is easy to follow and I have had good success with it. You can use BOB books as beginning readers for your student. In this post I discuss more phonics options.  I highly recommend reading my phonics post.

K and up.  You need a library card.  Ask your librarian if you can  acquire a teacher card.  A teacher card usually allows you to check out a great deal more books, and sometimes there are no fines.  If you are looking for good books to read out-loud or have your child read Sarah Clarkson has a book called The Read-Aloud Handbook: Seventh Edition She lists books and gives summaries so you are able to choose what you would like to read. The Read-Aloud Handbook: Seventh Edition by Jim Trelease is another book that lists books to read. 


K-6  You need to teach basic math. Addition, Subtraction,Multiplication, Division, Shapes, Fractions, Measurement, Geometry.    A quick and easy program is MCP Mathematics.  Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, Third Grade, Fourth Grade, Fifth Grade, and Sixth Grade.  They are basic books that will get you started.

7-12- Mastering Essentials in Math .  This is a good basic book to catch you up on math.

Another place to go for math help is Kahn Academy .  They have a wonderful feature which includes a summary page you can print to keep track of what your child accomplishes each year.

Writing/Language Arts

The most important thing you can do to improve your students writing  is to have your student  journal every day.  In their journal they can write about what they did today, what they learned, their favorite . . . , their future plans, pets, friends, etc.  Any grade can do this.  Get a simple notebook like this.

  If you have little kids than  get one like

 They can draw pictures and write on the same page.

If you want to do a spelling/vocabulary program, Modern Curriculum Press or MCP is  reasonably priced one.   Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6,

Social Studies 

World History K-8

Studying History is a serious business in the home education community.  People have many opinions on what should be included, what time line to use, and which viewpoint to consider.    I have my own personal beliefs, but I am respectful of all opinions and beliefs.  So please decide for yourself  what is best for your family.   Please remember this is the "I need a curriculum fast guide."  If you need to think and study about this before making a choice please do.  But, if you need a basic history text fast read on.  

The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer is a series for younger children.  It is student  friendly and also has worksheet and activities available.  It is dividend up chronologically into four books that are each designed to last for one year.  You read them aloud or your child can read them. Each book is usually under $15.

Also you can go to your library and check out many many great books on history, geography, cooking around the world, and government.  Take field trips around your city and the state.  Watch PBS documentaries, and other historical shows.  So many ways to study social studies.    

For High School Susan Wise Bauer has also written books for adults.  My dad really enjoyed reading her history books. There are three books divided up chronologically.  


There are many fabulous books on science.  You can check them out from your library.  If you want to do experiments the book, The Everything Kids' Science Experiments Book: Boil Ice, Float Water, Measure Gravity-Challenge the World Around You!  is a great place to start. 

You can also watch documentaries, PBS, and I love the site Hooked on Science and write about it here.  You can garden, raise animals, go to the zoo, museum and take nature walks.

Many love to do nature journaling.  I bought my daughter the book Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You.   She has enjoyed the book and recommends it.  

I wrote a post on Conceptual Academy which has courses for high schoolers on Physical Science.
Some general helpful resources:

Reviews and discussed curriculum choices.  Everyone should own this book.

This is your basic how to give your child a classical education. 

  This books tells you what an experienced home educator wished she had done, or was glad she had done.

This is highly rated, and looks like a great read.

My Amazon Storefront.  
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