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Debi Needs Your Help!

October 1, 2012

I am putting together thousands of homeschooling ideas that you have sent in over the last eighteen years. This is your chance to make a difference in the way people homeschool their children!

Send in any of your good homeschooling ideas, titles of good books, educational computer games or programs children learn with, and don't forget to send us your pictures to go with them! Write us at [email protected]


26 comments on “Debi Needs Your Help!”

  1. Debi,
    My oldest is just 5 and I don't have any suggestions. But I do have a question and perhaps it is something you would like to cover in your homeschool book? I would like to know what you (and Shoshanna) recommend as far as how much Latin is helpful for medical/ botanical (herbal) purposes? I want to learn about herbs and natural medicine as I think it will be necessary to know how to take care of medical needs when things get bad and so I was planning to teach Latin for that reason. But I also think it would be such help in the kids' Christian walk to know Greek/Hebrew and to know what the Scriptures say from the original languages. So I wonder how important Latin is? Would it be enough to just teach key Latin words/roots like in nursing school? What about for herbal/botanical use? I would rather put the time into helping them learn more about the Bible but just wondered your thoughts on the best way to learn the Latin needed to practical purposes. Thanks so much!

  2. Hola Debi!!, escribo para agradecerles toda la bendición que nos han dejado sus libros en idioma español, como mujer me han sido de bendición los libros "preparándote..." y "creada para ser su ayuda idónea", como padres mi marido y yo hemos aprendido mucho leyendo "Para entrenar a un niño" y "Abandonando el Barco" Mil gracias! Seguro lo que estan preparando sobre el homeschool será grandioso, no puedo compartir ideas sobre esto pues aun no tengo experiencia en homeshool pero sí tengo muchas ganas de aprender y un hijo que pronto cumplirá 2 años =)

    Que Dios les llene de su sabiduría para que sigan compartiendo tantas bendiciones.

    Con Cariño: Jazmín

  3. This may not be real profound but I can honestly say that in the last nine years of homeschooling I would have never made it without prayer. I've used lots of different curriculum/books to give my children a Christian education, most of it given to me or bought second hand. One thing I know is all my children are so unique and have their own way of learning but without prayer my 9 year old daughter never would have learned her multiplication tables! She would cry when it was time to do math until I asked the Lord to show me how to make her understand. He is the one who has shown me how to teach them all individually. I praise God for the Holy Ghost dwelling in me that enables me to overcome any challenge I face being a homeschooling Mama!

  4. Well, I am on the tail end of homeschooling last one will graduate this year and I really just want to add that I can see where I left some gaps.. Everything needs to be useful..whatever your child needs to know for everyday living is what they need. We are all very interested in nutrition, so now we are backtracking to make sure that we understand digestion and the way our bodies use food. I didn't cover that as well as I should have, because they had so many other interests..but, we have to know these things in order to survive. The only other thing that I would add, is that it has to be FUN! Look at what your child enjoys and what you are trying to teach them and THINK about merging those 2! It is the difference between learning and drudgery! (Thanks Mike and Debi for teaching ME that, at least 10 years ago!) God bless! Evelyn in Texas

  5. This response is for Theresa,
    Learning the Latin names for herbs is a must if you are going to use them regularly. The common names can vary, and if you don't know exactly what you are using, you might acheive the opposite effect you were seeking. I'm no expert, but I am pursuing a degree in Herbal medicine, and this is something they emphasize from the start. Secondly, I'm not sure what the Pearls might have to say on the subject, but I would recommend Latin for Children DVD's (we ordered ours through Veritas presss, but you may be able to find it cheaper somewhere else). They feature other kids on the video and your kids chant along, to learn the vocabulary. Even my three year old things it's great fun. It doesn't take 15 minutes a day. It's a great base to learn a second language, anything medical or science based, and it even helps learn root words in the English language. Hope this helps!
    God bless,

  6. Oh, thank you,Thank You, THANK YOU for doing this for us!
    We want to homeschool our children (still small now) and need ALL the help we can get!

  7. Homeschooling my 7 year old and 6 year old while trying to take care of a 2 year old and 11 month old is about to send me to the insane assylum. Can you please include something about this? I give my 2 year old things to do, but trying to keep everyone fed and diaper changed and potty trained while teaching a subject and answering questions above screaming babies is enough to make me think I'm not cut out for this job. I have to yell just to be heard above the screaming. HELP ME!!

    On another note. I like using for my free curriculum. I used Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons is the book I used to teach my older ones to read. It was awesome. I started when they were 4 and have never regretted it.

  8. Let me add that I need ideas for time management, overall. I have laundry that never gets put away. My feet are sticking to my kitchen floor as I type. We have meals late on a daily basis and I get up at 5:30 every morning. How on earth do your daughters have time to homeschool their kids, run a business, write articles, maintain a house worthy of inviting guests over for dinner, and keep their husbands happy? I'll lose sleep to read a book about it, if you write it.

  9. Another tip I can share is that we often find ways to teach in everyday activities. For example, the kids help me cook (which is probably why it takes forever to get a meal fixed) and they have learned fractions as a result. They read the recipes too.

  10. We have only been homeschooling for about 5 years but the most precious 'educational tool' we have received was actually a cd from Victoria Botkin called "Curriculum Advice". Her teachings have taught us that education in and of itself is lacking and often too demanding for children and parents; real life should be education. Talk about a stress reliever! I cannot say enough about this teaching. Her husband talks at the beginning of the cd about the Marxist beginning of our modern day education system in America, VERY INFORMATIVE!!!

  11. Thanks for all you have already taught on this subject; I love your Homeschooling Ideas CD! One thing we discovered by visiting the library was a book for adults called "How to Calculate Quickly: The Art of Calculations" by Henry Sticker. It's an old, dull-looking book but it is teaching US [me too] to mentally add large sums in our head. This is just one example of why you have encouraged moms to regularly use the library. Jesus created us and all that is in the world, gave us dominion, and expects us to be excited about learning about the world He created! With all the false science and rewritten history, it can be intimidating, but He has promised to give us wisdom if we ask (James 1:5) and to guide us (Psalm 32:8). God bless you all-we love you! 🙂

    "Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah."

  12. My absolute favorite Science books in highschool were Dr. Jay Wile's books from Apologia. I never really liked science until I started using those books. They are very challenging and highly educational, but so intriguing and full of Biblical teaching!

  13. Some of the best advice I ever received was from my wise husband on our first day of homeschooling.

    Our daughter started talking at 9 months, she was writing, coloring, counting, and saying ABC's before we started kindergarten. We started her first day of kindergarten 2 weeks after she turned five. I knew she was ready, and she was so excited to "do school" now. So when is was time to write her numbers I was shocked when she wrote number 1 but could not write the number 2. She had been writing her numbers for months. I encouraged her in my happy voice, "Sweetie you remember like this...." No I can't do it", she continued to say. This exchange went on and on. I had a newborn in the next room and so I admit I was a little bit of a nervous wreck.

    I then proceeded to hold her little hand and helped her draw a number 2 on her paper, "now you do it, I said" Her hand melted flat as she let the pencil fall to the floor, "I can't she said". We tried that again, this time I was holding the pencil so hard I broke to tip off of it.

    At that moment what was going though my mind was..this is the first day of 12 years of this? And that I could not let her know how upset I was becoming. So with all the happy voice I could muster, I said, " Sweetie you just take a little break, Mommy will be right back".

    I went to the other end of the house and calmly called my husband at work. "WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS I THINKING WHEN WE DECIDED TO DO THIS HOMESCHOOLING THING"? I wailed as my husband said "hello". He asked what had happen since he had taken our first day of school photo and left for work? Then he let me explain, "she can do this this, but she is refusing to cooperate, with me". Boy, did I have allot to learn.

    Then he said something I would always refer to from then on. "Pam, forget it, forget the number two. Do you think she will get to college and not have learned how to make a number 2, if you do not teach it today"? Do a few more minutes of school, so she knows who is running this program, and call it a day."

    From that time on I never let my emotions get the best of me, it was just so much healthier if we hit a road block, to say "well we have had enough for today".

    We are at the end of our homeschooling days now, and it is bitter sweet indeed. Next May, that newborn in the next room our son, will graduate high school, and our daughter will graduate from college.

    And you know, my husband was right, she can write the number 2, even though I never again tried to teach it to her. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much. My daughter is 3, going on 30. I will always remember this advice. I want homeschooling to be a positive experience for her.

  14. I love classical education. It has allowed me to mesh our home education with a biblical worldview. And that is important to our family. Its important that our sons learn to know
    God and make Him known. I read "The Well Trained Mind" by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. I also referred to a few more classical education books and we are now part of a classical education group. If you are a christian and you have not at least looked at classical education I recommend that you take a peek and see if it is a fit for your family.

  15. I'm a mother of 4 children ages 7, 6, 3 1/2, and 18 months. I was homeschooled by my mom and never attended a public school. Now I'm doing the same for my kids and learning to truly appreciate what my mom did for me and my siblings. I'll admitt it's not easy keeping up with everything each day. I think something important to look for when shopping for curriculum material is to look for books, programs etc. that help kids learn on their own without mom having to walk them through every day. I try to work things out this way with the material I choose and also by taking out all their paperwork the day before and putting it in order for each one on their own clipboard. Many times the boys start working on their papers before I'm even out of bed. If they run into a problem at an inconvienent time for me I tell them to skip it and I'll help them later.
    I like the Bob Jones math course because the lessons are usually easy for them to figure out on their own or just with a simple and quick explanation. The student papers are designed to really help the kids picture things on their own.
    Another thought for mom's teaching first and second grade while trying to keep up with younger children is that certain things that many curriculums include in these grades is not really necessary. Focus mainly on making sure they can read well and understand simple math. They have plenty of time later on to read lots of history stories and all about science and even study English mostly on their own. Reading well and understanding simple math goes a long way in helping them with all their other subject whether you are able to find time teach other subjects now or wait till later.
    One last comment is that a free website that is very good for teaching kids geography is even my 6 year old can learn on his own here.

  16. I have 3 boys, ages 4, 2 and a newborn so we are just getting started. I've really been enjoying Right Start mathematics with my 4 year old. We're not very far, but it's been fun and hands on. For learning his letters we've started making posters for the bathroom. For example each week we'll pick a letter (Mm is for map, mop, mama, mountain, etc.) we draw pictures next to each word and at the bottom he traces letters upper and lowercase. Each time he goes potty he sees it and it reinforces what we are learning. I've also posted an alphabet poster and numbers 1-10. Even the two year old is found on the potty trying to sing his ABC's. It's simple and free and it's working for us so far! The 4 year old is really getting it, he'll say, "Hey mama, M is for monkey!" all on his own he's really connecting the sounds top his letters. We also sometimes make up a story with all the M words (ex: Molly the mouse goes to the mountains to munch mooshed muffins in the moonlight).

  17. We have four children, ages 10, 8 1/2, 5 and 3 1/2. We have home schooled the oldest two from K and are into 4th grade now and we have tried many books and curriculum packages. The best advice I received was from Debbie's "Homeschooling" CD when our children were still very young. Nonetheless, we went and purchased the 'curriculum in-a-box' designed for a Christian school and NOT a home school. We very quickly discovered that home schooling was not a joy anymore and we spent more time crying over school work than actually learning.

    Now we make sure the children do their A Beka math daily and we skip any extra pages when they understand the material, otherwise it is boring and a waste of precious time. We also read out loud ALOT and the children read individually for at least an hour daily. They also keep a journal/notebook where they do copy work of Bible passages and poems to memorize as well as a journal where they write stories on various subjects. They get to work on their language skills, grammar, composition, hand writing, memorization all at the same time and it is fun and exciting.

    We have used the Charlotte Mason approach to education for the last 2 years and we love it. The lessons are short to keep the attention of children and they retain ALOT of information by narrating the material back to us at dinner time. Our children enjoy learning along with me about the beautiful world we live in and about our Maker. We go on walks in the nature and then we draw in our Nature Journals the leaves, bugs, etc we have found. We then look up the names of insects we don't know in books.

    One rule in our home is that what ever the children are doing MUST be PRODUCTIVE. We try eliminate time wasting/idleness. We try to instill diligence as it is taught in the Word of God and to create an atmosphere of learning, helping and serving when ever possible. We are not trying to produce the smartest children, but rather children who love God and love people, who love to work with their hands, who are creative, productive and interesting individuals.

    Also, the most helpful thing we do as a couple is to get away once a year to our annual Homeschool Conference and be encouraged by the godly speakers and other like minded families. Together as a couple we look at our priorities and goals and see what needs to change in the way we are discipling and training our precious blessings from God.

    The advice I would give is to seek God's wisdom and study your children. Children are all unique and have different gifts and that is the beauty of home schooling. Home schooling is God's idea and not man's. For little ones, do fun hands-on activities with them first so then when you work with older ones, they will not try to interrupt too much as you have given them some attention and time. And... READ, READ and READ out loud good, character building books as nothing stimulates their curious minds more than reading and the time spent together is so precious. It is the most favorite time of the day for us.

    "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." ~Philippians 4:13

  18. As a young mom I had grand plans for my children and our homeschool, fortunately I had quite a few children in a short span and school got pushed aside. I had five children in 5 1/2 years the last pregnancy was a set of twins. I spent a lot of time researching the best methods and curriculums putting together my wish lists and planning their entire education. Then I read about unschooling, I read Raymond and Dorothy Moore's books (highly recommended), John Holt, and the read aloud handbook by Jim Trelease. These ideas laid the foundation for our love of learning
    I kept seeing these homeschooling blogs with these amazing moms and their perfectly decorated homes with dedicated school rooms and felt a disconnect. I also noticed that many of the blogs were two children families, with large budgets and only girls. I have 4 boys and 1 girl and there is a huge difference between what girls will do and what boys will put up with.

    Some things that have worked for us are:

    Audiobooks: they are often available at the library for free and Jim Weiss has very affordable stories.

    Crafting: making gifts and artwork keeps little ones busy
    Play dough
    Legos or as I call it lego fungus
    Playing store using change to purchase items and making price tags
    Reading aloud, read, read, read!
    The website wonderopolis and bedtime math
    scavenger hunts with riddles and clues about a fun activity planned
    making music together
    cooking lessons
    cleaning lessons
    serving others showing love in practical ways.

  19. My husband and I(that's right, Hubby is a "teacher", too!) have been homeschooling our children for 12 years now! We have 10 total children ranging from 16 years to 2 months and have 6 currently "enrolled" in home-school with "formal" reading, math, handwriting and science lessons. We DO NOT have it all figured out and learn more every year! I only have advice from trial and error of what we have done and things we have observed in the differences of our children's personalities and abilities.
    1.) Erase the concept that children begin school at 5 from your mind! Your children are learning in your home from the moment they are brought into it! If parents of young children will just be purposeful with their speech through correct grammar and descriptive language(NO BABY TALK)there is no need to wonder if they will every talk--barring an actual disability--or if they will learn to read well or write well. Children who have extensive oral vocabulary tent to be great communicators and later are capable of expressing themselves through writing which can be used as an opportunity to correct sentence structure as needed and spelling.
    2. NO two children are alike! Some of your children may be ready for a couple hours of formal schooling at 4 other will not be interested in formal schooling ever! Pitch to your child when it comes to when to start working on skills that need a lot of regular practice--like reading, writing and math sums. Don't put off starting a child who shows interest any more than you should force a child who just simply is not ready.
    3. Take time to do your homework and it begins with studying your child! How does your child learn the easiest--orally, by reading for them self, or when you show them? Most of us learn in a combination of ways and your child probably will, too. Some children can do very well with a work book where they read a page to them self are done in 15 min and move on to something else. Some children will never enjoy doing a work book but would listen and learn while you read to them and would be willing to "write" a report if you would write down what they dictate. Getting your child excited about learning in the beginning is more important then for you to feel like the are "on grade level" or "ahead" of other children. Later, when they have more motivation to sit still you can have them write for them self and for penmanship now you can have them write short little blurbs that you can correct letter stroke their memory verse for Sunday school, or thank you cards to Grandma or a short description of the day's weather.
    4. Character is more important than academics. You know what I am talking about...we all want our to tell the truth, be obedient, be helpful, and show love--but did you every think about how your children will learn this? We try to live so our children see those traits displayed everyday but we also take time to read character building books, work through dramatized situations with them and take time to make real examples out of conflicts or situations that arrive in our life. A lot of your child's personality is set by age 5, most of your child's vocabulary is built by age 7 and their foundations of right from wrong and morals are in place by age 12. So start with the important stuff and fill in the minor details later.
    Number 5. Last but not least...your child's most important education is going to come from the Word of God. Academics will help them be smart, skills will help them get a job, character might help them with relationships, but spiritual education will give them "Everlasting life" which is more important than collage by a lot! Read your children Bible stories, take time dressing up like the characters and acting out the stories, teach them Bible songs, learn the books of the Old and New Testament together, make "hiding" the scriptures in your heart part of your regular routine. Put them on the wall, read them as you pass by, praise your children for their efforts and reward them for their success. Falling in love with God now and understanding who Jesus is makes it easier to learn later why He had to do what He did and why we each need Him so much! There are a lot of resources out there--I would love to write down some I highly recommend but the 2 month old wants to nurse, the seven year old is trying to get my attention and I am needing to direct the 12 year old so I have to go!

  20. I have a 5 year old, 3 year old, and a 1 year old. I consider home instruction to start at birth. Everything from giving kisses, hugs, reading to them, giving them a bath, teaching them self control, running around outside, learning to count, exploring their world, learning the Gospel, caring for the elderly, caring for younger siblings, respecting mom and dad, learning to read......... they are all a part of understanding and operating in the world they live in. I don't divide a certain time out of the day and call it "school".

    Something that I find super helpful is putting together a list of learning objectives for each child according to their abilities (these can easily be found by grade level online for FREE by doing a quick search). I have a list of learning objectives that I put together to have an idea of where we are working towards by the year's end. Instead of using a text book to get there and giving them "busy work", I incorporate their learning into daily activities. Some things do require sitting down to do writing or figuring some math problems for practice, but I try to do those things only for necessity's sake instead of for the purpose of checking off a box in a curriculum handbook. My goal right now is to create an environment that stimulates a love, desire, and ability to learn. I am learning things with them too.

    As each child gets older, I would like for them to be self-directed learners. Keeping their own list of learning objectives and going after their own goals. The key is to know each child and be ready to adapt to their learning needs at any time.

  21. It's probably too late but maybe this will be useful to someone. Take the time to ferret out primary source documents and books. It makes history infinitely more interesting and is a fun treasure hunt. Some of our favorites are: "South" by Sir Earnest Shackleton (several of his crew members also wrote about the same incident and their accounts are fascinating to compare with one another), "Alone" by Admiral Richard Byrd, "Man-Eaters of Kumaon" by Jim Corbett, "The Man-eaters of Tsavo" by Lt. Colonel Patterson (the movie "The Ghost and the Darkness" is based on this hunting journal), "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom, "Sergeant York and the Great War - His Own Life Story and War Diary" by Alvin York, "Of Plymouth Plantation" by William Bradford, "A Texas Cowboy; or Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Pony" by Charles Siringo, "A Journal of the Plague Year" by Daniel Defoe, etc., etc., etc.

  22. ohh my gosh i cant wait to get my hands on your new homeschooling book 🙂 we are in our first year. i have 4 awesome kids 8,7,4,2 my bigest hurdle has been keeping the little ones busy so i can help the others. its only been half a year but i can see lots has changed from the start, for the better!
    all my kids like half of the website is free or you can sign up for it! there is a lot to offer on the free side thats what we use 🙂

  23. I would like you to include something about how we can abide by our country and state rules regarding homeschool registration and all the documents we have to submit to show what we will be doing and what we have done each year without going overboard or falling into the "school" trap.
    I will be moving to Queensland, Australia in a few months.
    Thank you!

  24. Could you give some advice, is it good to home school an autistic child? How? Could you publish some of the blog like that. An helpless mum.

  25. Do you have a question about how to homeschool or about which homeschool curriculum is best for you? This might help -