Hey mamas and papas! It is back to school season, but this year, back to school looks a lot different than usual. Whether your family is homeschooling, virtual learning, going to school "in real life," or something in between, it is important to have good resources on hand to supplement, support, or guide your child's learning.
As a teacher, a mom, and a student myself, education is so important to me! This fall, I'll be taking doctoral classes online, teaching Montessori English, reading, history, and government/economics to my middle school students virtually, AND I'll also be homeschooling my first grader and two year old. To be honest, I'm most excited to teach my own littles, but it is the most daunting task of all!
Something I've learned with teaching is that having great resources on hand makes a huge difference. Thankfully, Amazon has had my back in making it easy and affordable to purchase the items we need! There are tons of great materials available that make homeschooling a little bit easier and a lot more fun. Check out my little curated collection of favorites below to see the products we are using this year to facilitate a love for learning at home!
* Click on the images below for direct links to products. My blog will receive a small commission for any purchases made through these links, at no additional cost to you.
When dealing with younger kids (Pre-K to third grade), sight words are just as important as phonics in learning to read! Pair some level-appropriate sight word practice with a general love of books and reading, and you're well on your way to having an avid reader!
Some of my son's favorite ways to practice vocabulary and spelling are with flash cards and ESPECIALLY with sight word BINGO! We also have a few workbooks we use and like (linked below), but any time you can GAMIFY learning, it is a win.
MATH, Science, & Social Studies
Amazon has some really cool geology kits and things to captivate little learners and foster a love for science, discovery, and STEM. For both science and social studies, we love FLY GUY books. For younger kids, things like puzzles and globes are awesome for understanding the basics of maps and geography, the foundations for future social studies learning. The most important thing when educating young kids is not to drill them with information to memorize, but to INSPIRE them to LOVE learning and to spark a natural curiosity within them. The goal is to build lifelong learners!
While most of these are aimed for the kindergarten through second grade range, most of the brands linked also offer options to "level up" to meet your kid's needs!
If you need suggestions for other ages, specific educational concerns, or online/digital resources, just leave a comment below; there are so many resources out there for our kiddos. I'm happy to help however I can! Happy homeschooling. :)
I read this quote once, years ago: “Your greatest contribution might not be something you do, but someone you raise,” and I always think about it.
I don’t know about you, but I always put so much pressure on myself to do so much OTHER stuff in life, besides being a mom. I feel like I need to work full time to contribute to the family income. I feel like I have to keep up with this part time job I have out of fear of letting anyone else down. I feel like I need to exercise, and keep my house perfect, and manage a blog, and write, and do ministry, and travel the world, and so on and so on.
None of those things are BAD - obviously some of them are even necessary, to an extent. But I think a lot of us have this tendency to make everything else a priority BESIDES what is actually most important to us in our hearts. What I mean is that we treat the work we do OUTSIDE of the home as if it is SO IMPORTANT and SO urgent, but we often autopilot through motherhood and homemaking as if it doesn’t mean as much. We pride ourselves not on the daily grit that is essential to life for our households, families, and homes, but on the “other stuff” that we feel like we ought to be doing more of, but can’t quite always get to.
But what has been on my heart and what I’ve been wrestling with is how magnificently important the seemingly mundane stuff really is. It might feel like you’re just folding the same clothes over and over, or wiping down the same countertops night after night, or reading the same bedtime story for weeks at a time. But what you’re really doing is raising up children who feel cherished, cared for, safe and secure. What you’re really doing is cultivating an atmosphere in your home for these small humans to bloom into their best selves. The work you do, changing diapers and giving baby baths and preparing dinners - it’s life-changing.
Changing the world isn’t some big “OUT THERE” concept. It’s something you all do as mothers, each and every day, right at home. (Or wherever you are!)
You’ve probably heard it before, but do what only YOU can do. Your children have been entrusted to you by God! No one else in the whole world can be the mother you are to your children. If you’re married, no one else in the whole world is given the privilege and responsibility (lol) of being your husband’s wife.
When we do baby dedications at our church, our family ministries Pastor, Andy, gives out these cute little jars of marbles (which my husband and I have a running joke about because everytime I see it all I can think is that it’s a choking hazard!), but the point is that each marble represents a week that we have with our children before they’re grown; and it is wild! I have this app called Parent Cue that tells me how many weeks I have left with my kids. And when I see that I have already had 300 out of the 936 weeks I get to spend with my oldest son, that we are already OVER 30% through the way of his childhood, it shakes me to the core!
Motherhood really is only for a season. So while I have these dreams in my heart that I truly believe are part of my calling for the Kingdom of God, I believe that in THIS SEASON, God is calling me to rest in the peace of knowing that He is a sovereign and gracious God, so I can embrace this season of snuggles and skint knees without bearing the weight of all these other things that I’m not meant to carry. My hope is that you will embrace this season too.
Before we know it, our preschoolers will be teenagers, and they won’t be asking us to read to them in bed at night. They won’t want us to hold them or give them kisses or snuggles every day. So we need to embrace that while we can.
I think my own personal experience has made this such a passionate topic for me. I was a single mom for three years, and then I temporarily lost custody of my son after getting married because we had moved out of state for my husband’s job; I spent so many nights in tears during those two months when my son was away, missing him with a PRIMAL ache...). During those moments, I didn’t know how or if I would make it through that all. But by the grace of God, I did. And looking back, I’m actually able to thank God for walking through that with me because I don’t know that I would have been able to cherish time with my kids the way I do now if I hadn’t of once longed for that time so deeply at one point.
So, I just really have it on my heart now to encourage and exhort all of you mothers and mother-to-be to recognize the value in the role you’ve been entrusted as a mother. I hope that you will embrace it fervently, remember each day that the mundane is truly miraculous, and that this season truly does fly by.
Woah. Life in America looks a little bit different this week than anything I can recall. Store shelves empty. Museums, parks, restaurants all closed. Weddings are canceled, sports are called off, and events we've had tickets for for months are no longer going on. We've all been told that the best way to combat coronavirus in America is to just stay home.
If you're in any way a busy body like me, that's harder than it sounds. But if staying home for the next few weeks or a month even is the sacrifice we all have to make to take care of our country and society as a whole, then we should do it.
After all, despite the obvious issues and negative effects coronavirus is having on our world at large, I'm the type of person who is always searching for the silver lining. Honestly, there are some GOOD things about staying home.
Below are some of the ways I'm keeping from going crazy during this coronavirus pandemic.
Things to do while stuck at home:
1. Take care of all the tasks you've been putting off.
I know. That doesn't sound fun at all. But honestly, there's no better time to take care of all the boring stuff you've been putting off. Just get it done!
For example, this week we filed our taxes. Next on my list is to purge all the closets, get rid of what we no longer have room for or want, and donate stuff! (To my surprise, Goodwill is still accepting donations as of this week.)
Accomplish some of the tasks you've been avoiding, and then when the social distancing requirements lift and the weather gets warmer, you'll be glad it's all done! Who knows - I might even get around to finishing the application for the doctorate degree program I've had my eye on!
2. Read more!
This one is obvious, right? But my favorite part about this is that the library and bookstores are closed, so I'm forcing myself to finally finish reading the 30+ unfinished books that have been lingering on my shelf for way too long.
3. Spend time on the hobbies you usually don't have enough time for!
You know that thing you LOVE, but never get around to doing because life is just so busy and so rushed? When else in your life are you going to have the freedom and time to spend uninterrupted hours doing whatever it is you love?
For me, that's blogging, painting, writing, and sometimes it's just taking bubble baths or watching bad reality TV shows.
4. Do some yoga or exercise at home.
Earlier this week, my gym sent out a memo that it is CLOSED! It's essential to my mental health that I exercise regularly, so I was happy to see that several yoga studios are streaming their classes for free online right now (a lot of them accept donations/venmos)! Plus, YouTube has a plethora of fitness videos that you can do right from home.
5. Brush up on a second or third language!
Apps like DuoLingo make it super easy to take up a new language. I've been practicing my Spanish on the app so that when I'm with Juan's family, I can join in on the conversation more!
6. You can still go outside.
We've been making sure to get out every day. As long as you're able to avoid groups and stay at least six feet away from others, going outside is not frowned upon.
I've been going for runs, or we will go together on family walks, and we've even been to the outdoor tennis courts, as long as they aren't crowded. We bring out own equipment and sanitizer hand wipes. So far so good!