No, your teens do not want to hang out with you.



Yesterday, we went to the fair. Military get in free here. What a treat since we have no money. Our son came with us only because I told him that he could take the day off. He was a good sport. The poor kid had to look at the arts and crafts hall with his mother. He must have really wanted a day off from Algebra.

I felt bad for him. It was FFA day at the fair, so it was swarming with teenagers. He said nothing, but I could tell that he felt awkward walking around with his parents. I think he would have been fine had he been the only teen at the fair. Instead he had to walk past tons of teen girls.  Poor kid.

I always thought I was doing something wrong with my other two when they started complaining about coming along on day trips with us. We would bribe them with food, but they would remain grumpy. Finally, we would just let them stay home, but I felt guilty. I was a homeschool mom fail. Why didn’t my kids want to hang out with me?

I wish someone would have smacked me upside the head. Really? Why doesn’t your 16 year old son want to hang out with his mother? Give me a break.

Your teenager is trying to develop their identity away from you. Do you remember how challenging it was being a teenager? Trying to figure yourself out amongst the masses? Homeschooling is great for teens because they get to figure out who they are without the peer, pack mentality that permeates the school setting. But just because you have removed that from the equation doesn’t mean they still don’t need to figure out who they are.

Some things that you can do to give your teen space.

  1. Respect their need for privacy.

Your teen is probably going to spend more time in their room. So what? I did. You probably did too. As long as you don’t notice any signs of depression, let them be.

2. Don’t chaperone their activities.

They are with you ALL the time. Let them have a little time to be themselves without you hanging over them. Youth group trips? Don’t go. Many times I have had to explain why I will not chaperone trips. People usually respect my decision once they understand my reasoning.  A day at the fair with friends? They are fine. Don’t hover. It is no longer necessary for you to watch their classes or practices. They have coaches and instructors for that. If there is a problem, they will tell you. Or they won’t. Let that be their decision.

3. Let them figure it out.

Maybe they want your advice about trouble they are having with a friend or maybe they don’t. They need to figure it out. Be available. My kids would tend to talk to me when we were in the car alone. We would ride along for miles in uncomfortable silence until all of a sudden they would drop a bomb on me. I would offer advice, but ultimately, try to let them figure out what to do. It would take everything I had not to step in and fix the problem. I have friends who read this blog that know my pain. How often did I unload on you guys? When my daughter was working she had all kinds of situations that she needed to grapple with. We offered advice, and then let her handle it. Don’t get me wrong. It was tough. I talk like a pro here, but I basically stink at all of this.

4. Don’t make them go if they don’t want to go.

Walking around the forest with you isn’t their idea of fun anymore, so what? Have you failed as a parent? I thought that I had. I should have chilled out.  Come to find out that they still needed me, but they didn’t want to hang out with me. I guess I am not as cool as I thought I was. Sometimes they wanted to go to the movies with us, and sometimes they didn’t. Don’t make it an issue. I promise your time will be more enjoyable if they want to be there with you. The times that it was their decision to hang out with me were so fun! They really are fun to be around if you catch them at the right time.

I really felt the need to write this. Homeschooling teenagers is a beast. It is different than homeschooling your littles, and I think that we want it to be similar. All family bonding all the time. Well, I wanted that anyway. Maybe you have it together more than I did. Relax and chill out. Remember that you are trying to end this parenting business. Give them some space. They will thank you later.

Monday’s Musing


My poor Mitzi. The squirrels and the bird ruthlessly torment her. I don’t feel bad for her. She torments me at 4 AM with her playing and crying. Whose idea was it to get her little balls with bells in them, anyway? I still am not sure what to make of her. She needs to be around us all the time. She follows me around the house, but I don’t dare pick her up. I have kitty toys all over my house. It is almost like having a two year old again. (Obviously, I have forgotten what it is like to have a two year old in the house.)

It is chilly here today. I woke up to a house temperature of 64 degrees. I am not turning the heat on in October, so we all have just dressed appropriately. I did the dishes already. If you are cold, do the dishes. That is what my Mom always said to me. I remember rolling my eyes and telling her that I wasn’t that cold. Now I understand. There is something nice about having your hands in warm, soapy water on a cold day. I don’t mind doing the dishes. It is actually one chore that I don’t dread. Anyway, I love fall. It is my favorite season.


I am drinking rose petal tea this morning. It was given to me by a friend when my mom died. Somehow it got pushed to the back of the cabinet, but in the move I found it. So delicious. I don’t need honey or anything in it. It is a sweet, flowery taste, and it makes me happy as I think of my friend.

Speaking of my mom, I miss her a lot. I think it is because we are heading to the holidays. I don’t know. I just wish that I could talk to her.

We bought a lawnmower yesterday. We were kind of procrastinating on that one. No, wait, my husband was procrastinating. He finally broke down and bought one. He said to me, “You don’t have to keep dropping the hints. I get that you think I need to mow the lawn.” I said, “Oh good. I was starting to wonder if I needed to be more blunt.” Anyway, there is something about owning a lawnmower that makes this house feel like it is ours. Oh wait, maybe it is the leak in the roof that we have to pay to have fixed. That makes it feel pretty real too.

I do have good news! Our irrigation system is not broken. The lawn finally dried up. Apparently we live on the top of a natural spring that feeds the lake. Who knew? So the water table is very high. When you get over a foot of rain, it takes awhile for the water to find a place to go. Some lawns in our neighborhood are still draining. It is pretty crazy. Scott and I were wondering why it looked as if water was coming up through the pavement. It was.

We have a regular school week this week. I am proud to report that my son has changed his study habits and is no longer failing his math tests. In fact, he would have had an A on this last one if he hadn’t skipped an entire problem. I marked it wrong. I didn’t give him another chance to do it because that is how awful I am. What do you want to bet that won’t happen next time? Or maybe it will. I don’t know. Teenagers are unpredictable. But anyway, big Biology test this week. We are finishing the bacteria modules, and then I get to surprise him with a quarterly test. He is just going to love it. I KNOW it!

I am getting a lot of traffic on my Apologia Chemistry posts.  Maybe I will start working on those again. I will have a Chemistry student next year. It wouldn’t hurt to get my brain going in that direction again. I did see that Apologia came out with a new edition to their text. Is anyone using it? What are your thoughts? I would love to hear them.

Have a wonderful week, friends!

Life of Fred : Statistics- A review



DSC_0870I had heard of the Life of Fred math curriculum long before I ever contemplated using it.  People said that their kids loved it. It wasn’t until last year that I gave it a go.


Like I said, I had never considered using Life of Fred math. We were always Saxon loyalists. My son used Saxon math through Calculus (kind of). My daughter made her way through the “Green Book” and declared herself finished with math. Forever. Well, really, who can blame her? Have you completed the “Green Book”? It is hard. So. MUCH. math. Truthfully, I didn’t want to study Calculus, but I also didn’t want her to take the year off from math. I thought Statistics would be a good choice. I didn’t want light statistics. I wanted the “real” stuff. The stuff my husband had done for his MBA. I loved helping him, and I thought it would be fun. Besides, Statistics is applicable to life. It shows how Algebra is used in life. Life of Fred was the only Statistics book I found geared for the high school student. Oh sure, we could have used my husband’s book, but there would have been an all out war at my house. I was not looking for that. I needed something solid but not overwhelming. I am happy to report that Life of Fred was a good fit. She was successful on her own and has a good foundation if she needs to take Statistics in college.


It covers descriptive statistics, probability, and conditional probability. These are basic statistics that are covered heavily in Saxon math. These concepts were not new. Then, it moves into sample statistics. This is where it got good. It covers future, past, and present sample tests. The student will learn the distribution tests, the Chi-Squared test, the One-Way ANOVA test, and the Two-Factor ANOVA test. There are too many tests to be listed here.


It is written for the student assuming that the student has never had a statistics course. It also teaches all the tests that a student would need in a college statistics course. There is a good foundation here. The book is completely student led which is nice until your student needs help and you have to spend a couple of hours teaching yourself the chapter. (Ask me how I know.)

My favorite part of the book was the Field Guide.  If your student is proficient in Algebra, the actual working of statistics is not hard. The most difficult parts of statistics are figuring out what kind of distribution the problems are and what test needs to be used. Once you have that part, you are in there. That is why the Field Guide is gold. It helps you figure out what you need to do, by asking the questions that lead you to the right test. I will be sending this book to school with my son who will be taking Statistics next semester just because that Field Guide is going to come in handy. I would have bought the book for the Field Guide alone back when I was helping my husband with his Statistics had I known about it.


I wish there had been a few more practice problems. I did give my daughter a full credit for the course even though she was done 2/3 of the of the way through the year. Either she was very diligent or the course needed a little more practice.

The answer key also frustrated me. It wasn’t a solutions manual.  You know me, I don’t want to work that hard anymore. Many times I would have to spend time solving the problem myself in order to teach it to her. Such a drag.


She finished 2/3 of the way through the year.


She thought the story was silly.


I would use this again for a high school student who didn’t want to take Calculus. Even though it seems silly, it is a very strong course. I would recommend it. However, if you, the parent, are not strong in Algebra make sure that your student has someone they can ask for help if they need it. With hard work, I think your student has a probability of 100% of being successful with this course. (haha. Just a little statistical humor.)

A lesson learned.


I mentioned yesterday that I had learned a lesson from the debate tournament. It was a lesson about myself. I do not care for those kind of lessons. I much prefer the lessons of Algebra or Biology. Lessons about my behavior or attitude are much less fun.

Unfortunately, that is what I received. I suppose we could say that I have grown because I recognized it right away, but whatever. I still didn’t like it.

Ok. So let me give you some back story. I signed my son up for a debate class. I thought that it would be so good for him. It would help him meet some other high school aged kids, and maybe, just maybe, he would find an outlet for all that talking he likes to do. He agreed to take the class, but it wasn’t his idea. I wouldn’t say that he had a bad attitude about it, but he wasn’t all gung-ho either.

A couple of weeks into the class, I could tell that he wasn’t feeling the debate thing. Full disclosure here, but I was almost relieved. You see, I didn’t realize how much WORK debate was going to be. Granted the work is his, but I didn’t realize how far I was going to travel or how much I needed to be involved. You know me. Lazy.

So when I saw that he wasn’t feeling the whole thing, I had convinced myself that debate would not be good for him after all.

Here comes the lesson. Proud mom moment right here.

I had almost even convinced him that debate wouldn’t be good for him. Because I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to travel to the debate. I didn’t want to have to meet a bunch of new people. My anxiety had convinced me that this was not good. I was coming up with all kinds of stupid stuff (justifications) on why it was ok to not do debate.

Have you done this? Have you convinced yourself that no one is really going to need something because you didn’t want to do it? This doesn’t even have to be a homeschool thing. It could be about anything. I noticed this about myself with debate.

I am so thankful that my son told his teacher that we were going to the tournament, or I would have blown it off. I would have come up with some excuse. We would have stayed home and missed a good learning experience. My son likes the idea of debate now. He is excited about it. That has nothing to do with me, because if it had been up to me, we would be done. How unfortunate!

I think about myself. I know that I have done this to my kids before. How many other times have I blown off an opportunity because of my own anxiety?  What’s done is done. But I can recognize this about myself now, and work to change it for future things.

I hope you don’t struggle with this anxiety. You know, it is just one more thing. I can, however, work to change it now that I recognize it.

Personal growth. It is a bummer.

Monday ramblings


I thought I would start you off with a picture of my new back yard. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy looking at my backyard. I can see the neighbor’s house, but it is through the bushes. I have lots of birds and squirrels to keep Mitzi entertained. We thought about putting up a bird feeder or two, but the squirrels would just eat it all. I don’t want to encourage them. The leaves are beginning to change. We are going to have quite the mess to clean up when they fall, but I don’t care. I love trees so much, and I am so happy to have them right out my window.


The other thing I wanted to show you was my newest piece of furniture. It is sitting in my new dining room. My dining room that isn’t being used for dining because I do not have a dining room table. But I have a buffet! We bought this one weekend before Scott’s retirement. It was an impulsive purchase. We shouldn’t have bought it. It was what I like to call “retail therapy”. I love it. Some day when I can find a dining room table, I will love having people over for dinner. Maybe. Entertaining is hard for me, but that is a different subject.

Freckle Face and I went to our first debate tournament over the weekend. I was dreading the drive, and honestly, I didn’t want to go. I thought that since my son wasn’t feeling the whole debate thing, I could blow if off and be no worse for wear. Instead, he loved it. I enjoyed myself and the women were very welcoming. We are both looking forward to the next one.  I have a lot more I am going to say about this later. I learned a hard lesson this weekend. One that I should have learned a long time ago.

As far as the actual debate tournament goes, I was completely dumbfounded listening to my first debate. How old did you say these kids were? Are you sure? I was so impressed by the kids. They were very mature and well-spoken. All of the debates are based on the same resolution, but the kids chose different avenues to take within the resolution. I only observed the Team Policy debates, but there were also Lincoln Douglas debates as well as different speeches at the tournament. Definitely something I would recommend looking into for your high school aged student if they have any interest. Maybe even if they don’t. I made my son take the class, and now he is excited about it. Who knew?

I am sure that you have heard about the horrible storm that passed through South Carolina last weekend. We made it through safe and dry. Many families in my city can’t say the same. It is pretty terrible here, and it is going to take a long time to recover. Because so many streets were washed out, the traffic is heavy along the main routes that are open. We had been under a boil water advisory until last night. I just heard on the news that 73,000 people still have to boil their water. While it was inconvenient, there are so many people without water that I can’t complain. We had 15″ of rain in 24 hours. Honestly, I can’t believe that we didn’t have more problems. Our lawn is waterlogged. We aren’t sure if it is left over from the storm, or if one of our irrigation lines is leaking. Our lawn is watered from a well. We just need to shut off the pump, but we are trying to keep from doing that until we can shut it off for the season. Many lawns are still draining, so we are trying to wait it out a bit. That seems to be our biggest issue. Well, the roof leaked a little bit in one spot, but the roof is under warranty. I just need to make a call. We are waiting that out a bit too because these services are swamped right now. I am so thankful to God for keeping us safe and dry. My prayers remain with those families who lost it all.

Edited to add: Twitter was the best way to stay on top of the news during the storm. Sometimes the news media tweeted information before they were able to report it on television. I learned of closures, boil water advisories, shelter openings, city services announcements, curfews, and more on Twitter. If you do not use Twitter now, you may want to make a note in the back of your mind that it was very helpful in this situation. Something to think about.

Helpful studying tips (Or what helped me, anyway)


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I kind of left you hanging yesterday, didn’t I? It is all fine and well to tell you that your kids need to learn to study, but it doesn’t always come easy for everyone. Sometimes it takes a few tries with different methods. That is fine. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that.

I thought I would do a little searching around the web for you in order to get you started.

Here is an interesting site to get you started.

how to study

This website has several pages of articles and tips for studying. It also has a few free assessments to see where your study weaknesses are hiding. Of course, it also has a few places to purchase their material. There are also several links and articles on teaching. Many of the tips are geared for the classroom teacher, but there are some gems in the mix for homeschoolers as well.


You caught me. Outlining is my favorite method of study, but that is because it works for me. There really is a right way to outline. If you use Rod and Staff Grammar, it teaches the old school, right way to outline. It is even a bit too formal for me. If you have ever used IEW, then you are probably familiar with the key word outline which is a little to simple for study if you ask me. Although, his method seems to have great success teaching writing.  I think the right way to outline is somewhere in the middle with a little of your own style thrown in for good measure.

A quick look at outlining a textbook chapter.

The basic form of an outline.

How to outline your textbook.

I want to add a little something here. Science and history textbooks are generally fairly easy to outline unless you are using Apologia. The conversational style of Apologia is going to make a straightforward outline more difficult. That doesn’t mean that you can’t take notes or form a study guide of your own from an Apologia chapter. It just means that more creativity is in order.


Anyone else tortured with this method of study in the 1980’s? I was. Looking back I realize it was wonderful that my teachers taught me how to study in school, but I sure did despise it at the time.

A general overview of the method.

It doesn’t get more complicated than that. We had to outline all our chapters as well. This is the method I used to ace that A/P test that I was telling you about yesterday.


  • notecards- make some in fun colors too.
  • Different colors- add different colors to your outline. Use colors when drawing diagrams for study notes.
  • Drawing pictures- some people remember things better with pictures.
  • Practice problems- this will work the best with math and science.
  • Set your vocabulary to music- it isn’t just for the littles.
  • Add movement- walk around while you quiz yourself with notecards. It helps.

Please feel free to add any tips in the comments that you find helpful. We all want successful kids!

So you let them fail. Now what?




There is a meltdown. If you are the one having the meltdown, go grab yourself a cup of coffee and come back. No, really. In fact, I think I will make a cup myself right now. Be right back…

I am having the instant pumpkin spice latte from Maxwell House. Starbucks it isn’t, but it does in a pinch. Anyway, so you let your child fail. They knew it. You didn’t teach them right, (so they say) or the book didn’t teach them right. Even more distressing, your child thinks he is stupid. Of course we know that your child is not stupid, and we need to nip that one in the bud right away. Here is how the conversation might go at my house. M stands for me. T stands for the teen.

T: I knew! I am stupid! This is stupid. Everything is stupid.

M: You are not stupid. I know that for a fact.

T: Yes, I am. You saw my test score. I am so stupid.

M: You have every Pokémon character ever created memorized along with all their stats, colors, evolutions, and who knows what else I have never heard about. You can’t be stupid. It is impossible. (You can change this up for Star Wars, Taylor Swift lyrics, minecraft commands, you name it.)

T: Yeah, but that isn’t the same. Those are easy! Everyone can do that.

M: Not me. I can’t do that. I have no interest in doing that. Now, if It was important to my success, I would and I could. Do you know how I would do that?

T: whatever.

M: I would make note cards. I would set up charts. I would make sure that I went over my Pokémon cards every day. I wouldn’t just look at the cards and think that I know them. I would quiz myself. Which is basically what you do when you play them all the time with your friends. I don’t play them all the time, so I have to make a different system of learning for myself. This is what you have to do for things that aren’t as interesting to you. The funny thing is that once you master the information it will become more interesting.

T: I hate Algebra. It is stupid. I will never need it in my life.

M: I am sorry that you feel that way. Regardless, this is what you have to do.

Study skills are important. This is where it is time for you to show your teen some different ways to study. Note cards are a great tool. They can make their own flashcards. Whether or not they use them is up to them. You can give them extra practice problems for their math. (Do not REQUIRE that they do them. Leave it up to them.) You can teach them how to outline and find the main points of their text. Lots of ideas out there for studying.

Here is how the conversation can go the next time your child fails his test.

T: I hate school!

M: Well, did you study for this test?

T: Yes! I did. And look! I still failed!

M: How did you study? Show me what you did.

T: I looked at the book.

M: I am glad that you opened the book, but did you review your flashcards?

T: I don’t know where they are.

M: Huh. Did you do any practice problems?

T: You didn’t tell me to do that.

M: Well, I honestly thought we were passed having to hold hands. Do you still need me to hold your hand while you do your homework? Because I can do that. I can even hold your hand when we cross the street! I would like that. (big smile)

T: NO! No! Moommm! No way!

M: Ok. You need to start doing this on your own. I have given you the tools. I shouldn’t have to put them in your hands and hold your hand while you use them.

T: Fine. I still hate school.

M: I am going to go check Facebook. Do your math.

I know it is exhausting. We are tired. We do not want to fight anymore. The trick is that we shouldn’t have to fight. They only fight because they know it wears us down. They wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work. Stand firm, moms! You can do this!

Let them fail.



Whoa. There are some fighting words right there. No one wants to watch their kid fail. Am I right? I sure don’t want to see my child fail, so what is that title all about?

When my oldest was entering high school, I received some advice about making sure my student knew the information. That it was ok if he didn’t catch it the first time around. We could always go back and relearn the material in order for him to be successful. I thought this was great advice. Isn’t that what education is? Teaching children to understand the material and be successful?

To some extent I think this is still good advice for some students, the elementary ones. In the early years, it is ok to make sure they grasp the information before you move on to the next topic. Little brains mature at different rates.

Somewhere around 7th or 8th grade the dynamic changes. I have found that it become less about the developing brain and more about the rebellious brain. If your child has some learning disabilities, go ahead and stop reading. I am talking to the parents of children that have “normal” (I am using that term loosely. What teenagre is normal? seriously.) children.

I am sure that you have found yourself grading material that you have gone over and over with your child and they are still not getting the answers right. I used to think it was me. Was I not teaching it properly? What was I missing? Why was my child not getting it? It must be my fault. “We will just do it again,” I told myself. I don’t want him to be a failure. hahaha!

Do you know what I finally figured out? It wasn’t me. It was THEM.


I know. It was a shocker for me too.

What do you do when you have provided every tool for your high school student, and they still do not do well?

You let them fail.

At some point reality is going to hit them in the face. You can’t hold them up their whole lives. What do you think they are going to have to do when they get to the real world? They can’t keeping repeating over and over again until they get it right. A college professor doesn’t back up their lectures to let your kid try again. The state isn’t going to change the licensing test, so your kid doesn’t fail it.

For your high school child, at least 80% of the learning needs to be done by them. The time for hand holding is over. Oh, you need to be available to teach or facilitate the material, but the learning needs to come from their own guts. Don’t be fooled when they try to redirect the blame. For example, does your child say, “Well, you didn’t teach that part right.” Or how about, “The book didn’t say that.” (That is my favorite. When the book is wrong.) Mine have. It used to hurt. It doesn’t hurt anymore. I know what I taught. I know that they have a multitude of resources. I am available for assistance every day as they do their assignment. If they fail, it is their fault.

Let them fail. Failure hurts. Failure causes you to change direction. When a child fails a test, they recognize that something is wrong. Maybe they didn’t study hard enough. Maybe they should have corrected their daily work. Maybe they should have paid better attention while you were teaching the lesson. It could be a hundred different things. It really is up to them to figure out why they failed.

Failure can be a good thing. How will your child ever learn their own learning style if you make it impossible for them to fail?

I have a personal story about myself. When I was in high school, I did fairly well. My friend, however, did very well. She was a smart cookie and didn’t need to put in a lot of study time to do well. For some reason I thought I was as cool as she was. Until my first A/P test which I failed. I was devastated. For the next chapter, I tried something new. I outlined the entire chapter and studied every night. I aced the test. I think I may have even scored over 100%. If I hadn’t failed that first test, I know I wouldn’t have put in the effort to study for the next one. I also figured out how I study best. Just so you know, I had to learn the lesson all over again in college. Yay, me.

So don’t get all upset if your high schooler fails. Let them. If you know they are going to fail their test the next day, say nothing. It is painful. I know.

Now, if your high school kid doesn’t care that he is failing, you have a different problem on your hands. That is one that you will have to talk through with your teen.

High school can be challenging, but make sure that you aren’t the only one doing all the work!

I don’t believe in tests.


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Oh, I am not talking about me here. I love test days. It means that I don’t have to teach the subject that day. Lately, I have been hearing that statement a lot from moms, and while your homeschool is really your business, let me give you some reasons why I think you should take another look at testing.

First, a disclaimer. Testing in elementary school, I agree, is silly. My points here are for the more advanced students. Around 7th grade, kids need to start developing some good habits.

Testing helps develop good study habits. My children were not self-motivated learners. I always looked from afar with envy on those parents who had children that got right down to business and studied with passion. Mine chose different avenues of interest. If I had chosen not to test them, they would never have learned how to find important information in a text. There is always the question when we read, “What is the author trying to tell me?” This just doesn’t pertain to textbooks. When we read a news article, we must ask ourselves this question. Even the reader boards at the museum ask this question. Finding main ideas in our daily lives is an important skill. Of course, there is always the problem of “data dumping”. My college kids confess to this. I did it. You probably did it. In fact, that could be one of the reason that you do not like tests. It doesn’t make good study habits less important, it just means that we didn’t care about the information. Those are two completely different things. If you aced the test, you studied well, data dump or not.

One thing I hear from moms is that they already know how their kids are doing, so it is unnecessary to test them. I get this. When we lived in Washington, I had to test my kids every year. There was never a surprise on the results. I have always known how my kids are doing. The bigger question is do the kids know how they are doing? Remember I am not talking about 6 year olds here. I am talking about middle school and high school students who need to be aware of how they are doing. For example, my son was complaining that he knew all the stuff in his Biology module. It was so easy, he said. He didn’t need to study for the test. Well, he found out the next day that maybe he didn’t know the stuff as well as he thought he did. I knew he didn’t. I could have told him until I was blue in the face that he didn’t know it well. He wouldn’t have believed me.  He needed to know that he wasn’t as cool as he thought he was. A test gives him that information.

Finally, whether or not you believe in tests, the world loves them. Your kids may as well get used to taking them. Your child doesn’t want to go to college? They still may have to take them. If they choose a technical school, there will be tests. If they choose to go into the military, there will still be tests (lots and lots of them). If they start a job that needs any kind of licensure, they may need to take a test. If they want to work minimum wage at Pier One Imports, they will need to take a test (crazy, I know). They have to take a test to get their driver’s license. Telling our kids that they will never have to prove their knowledge is not fair to them.

Tests are not evil. You don’t have to use them to berate your kids or make them feel stupid. Use them as a tool. Use them to help your kids develop good study habits. Help them be successful. Don’t throw a test at a kid whom you haven’t properly prepared. Some of the responsibility of good testing rests on you, the teacher. Sometimes the responsibility is on the student. In your homeschool, you can decide where the responsibility lies and how to delegate the responsibility. Testing is useful. Don’t give up on it.

Just toss it.

I am getting ready for a move. We are only moving about 20 minutes away, but the thought of packing up all our books and homeschool supplies is giving me nightmares. I am not even kidding. Last night I dreamed that I couldn’t get to class. See? Nightmares.

Anyway, I have been decluttering the past few weeks, and as I get closer to putting things in the moving truck, more things are finding their way into file 86.

Let me explain.

Do I need that essay that my daughter wrote comparing and contrasting the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia? (I really did find that today.) No. She is in college now. No one cares. SHE doesn’t even care. How about the entire binder of Freckle Face’s science homework from last year? No.

“But wait! Maybe he wants to go to college!”

He does. But does any college want to see the work he did in 8th grade? No. Let me repeat that. No.

But what if someone comes knocking at my door demanding proof that we homeschooled last year? That was last year. I have a transcript. I also have proof through my planner. And if they really want to, they can test him.

How much stuff from previous years do you have clogging up you space and mental capacity? You know, the Explode the Code workbooks. Or maybe math papers upon math papers of Saxon 5/4. Do you really need to hang on to all these papers? Are you worried that you may forget that your kids are doing their work? What is the attachment you have to old school papers?

Do you want your old school papers? Do you want to see the story you wrote when you were 7 years old? I actually have one. It was bound up real nice for me. I attended the Young Writer’s Conference in second grade. My dad still has the book. You know what I think when I see the book? This is so ridiculous. Do you know who it is a memory for? My dad. I have the memory of the conference. It is blurry, but it is there. I really don’t want the book. (yes, Dad, this gives you permission) My mom gave me a bunch of my school papers one day before she died. I had fun looking through them. Then I threw them all away. There were really her memory. Funny how that works.

I am here to give you permission to toss 95% of their work. Especially their elementary course work. Save a sample if you need to save some. If your kids are in high school, save some of their best work in order to send it to a college if they ask for it. (My guess is they won’t, but you never know.)

What if you are having trouble throwing it away? Ok. Here is a good baby step. Buy yourself a good size bin. Not one for each kid. One. Put your favorite papers in this bin. If the bin is full, you are done. You can’t save anymore. If you want to add more to the bin, you must throw something away. This will keep all your school memories in one place. Now, you have more room for Christmas decorations!

Remember, you always have pictures. Take pictures of your children when you go on field trips. Take pictures while they are doing their work, making their lunch, or any other time that they are just being sweet. Those are the memories that matter. The ones you will all carry in your heart. It won’t be the math or the essays. It will be the time that you spent together.

P.S. Get rid of the curriculum that you aren’t using! It is sitting there collecting dust and making you feel guilty for not using it. Sell it. Give it away. Free up your heart to do what needs to be done and what you want to do. If you don’t have time for that Critical Thinking Press book, get rid of it. No guilt. I promise they will still be able to go to college if they want to go.


The Homeschool Fairy.