Mom-School Basket Inspiration for 2022-2023

September is back-to-school month for many of our families. What are you including in your Mom-School basket for this school year? Click here for some great journal ideas to add, in addition to:

  • Candles
  • A new coffee mug
  • Some nice chocolate
  • Essential Oils
  • Cozy socks
  • Nice pens and markers
  • Good colored pencils
  • Water colors/brushes
  • Ear buds
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Pretty blank books
  • Favorite snacks
  • Note cards and envelopes
  • Inspiring books and devotionals
  • Bible
  • Hand cream
  • Water bottle
  • Mints
  • Craft projects
  • Lip balm
  • Post-It Notes or index cards
  • Tea bags, coffee, or hot chocolate
  • Anything that makes you happy!

Taking Risks Together

Written ten years ago, but still as true today

Josh and I have been married more than 14 years, and every day is sweeter than the one before, love grows deeper and joy keeps stirring. Some people think that marriage always gets old and stale as the years go by, that doesn’t have to happen. My mom and dad have been a great example of keeping love alive. Josh and I have seen many of our friends end up with broken marriages, and it is so sad…

Josh has a silly quote “Change your life – not your wife!” He’s famous for this! To keep the excitement and fun in marriage… have an adventure, do something new together, take risks while you still have the energy and time to bounce back if things don’t work out. Learn a new skill together – like sailing, move to the country and back to town, get in over you heads on some crazy dream and hold tight to God and each other. Support each other’s goals, give each other time for refreshment, travel to new places, read books together, get a babysitter, say sorry a lot, start a new business, go on a mission together, ask God for new direction, redecorate the house, go to garage sales together, have a new kid! 🙂

There are lots of things to do together to keep the fun in marriage. The idea is to be on the same team. Some people get dizzy watching our life – they can’t understand why we are always doing new things. But, we are young, in love, energetic, and have lots of ideas and lots of dreams. Our ideas, and ventures may not always be a big success. Sometimes our plans flop, but really – if our marriage comes out stronger, our friendship sweeter, our family closer, and we wake up a little wiser and humbler – it was worth the risk.

Read more of Josh and Sarah’s story here:

The Lost Lamb

Sometimes the lost lamb

doesn’t know she is lost.

Sometimes the broken one

is too numb to feel her own pain.

Sometimes the captive one

feels at home in her prison.

Sometimes the slave believes

that in her chains she is free.

How can this be?

The lost lamb fears not the wolf.

The lost lamb dreads not the night.

The lost lamb wanders into the lion’s den

She feels no fear, she has no care.

She only feels hunger and cold

The farther she goes from the fold.

She feels the Shepherd was holding her back

From lusher pastures and sweet weedy snacks

Now free from the flock, she joins the pack,

With wolves all around her,

will she ever come back?

The winter is cold, and the icy rains fall

She feels so alone and has nothing at all

So far from home, and too fearful to call

Silent she hides among lions and wolves

The poison, the pain, the darkness of night

The threat of starvation, the fear of the fight

Without her shepherd, and the warmth of the flock

Hungry, and desperate and frightfully lost.

And each night she longs for the Shepherd

To be found, to be loved to be safe.

Yet in the day, starved and afraid, she still seeks her own way, pretending to be brave

Sometimes the lost lamb

knows she is lost.

Sometimes the numb one

feels pain again.

Sometimes the captive one

flees from her prison.

Sometimes the slave can see

In her chains she can never be free.

Does the Shepherd still see?

Only He can make her safe, and loved and free.

Only the Good Shepherd can give her what she needs.

-Sarah Janisse Brown

Take a Break!

Sometimes a break from school really gives parents time to help a child with a problem area so she can go back to school with new skills and confidence.

How do you do it? I would just let them play most of the time but spend about an hour focusing on the problem area. It’s a great time for dyslexia therapy or some multiplication games.

Sometimes the school schedule is so packed that a break like this offers us a chance help our kids grow in a specific area so they can go back to school stronger in the problem area.

Also, some kids have passions that they don’t have time for during the school year. I have a daughter who was obsessed with parrots and endangered species. It was a perfect time to let her “major in parrots” and learn to dig deep into a topic she really loves.

So we put together a Fun-Schooling basket full of stuff that helps her research birds and Endangered Species. It’s easy to focus because she’s so passionate.

So, during a break from school I would suggest only two things:

1. Zero in on just ONE problem area so the child can overcome some of her struggles.

We use DyslexiaGames.com for reading, writing and spelling problems. It’s so easy to use.

Try Math Craft for problems with basic math and multiplication.

2. Give the child resources based on their passion, and really make time for that passion. What is your child passionate about?

It’s exactly what we would do on summer vacation since this is a chance to focus on strengths and weaknesses, letting everything else go.

Besides that, the kids can have a blast and stay busy being creative, playing video games, watching movies, cooking their own meals, exploring nature, training a pet, learning new skills, and being together. The possibilities are endless!

Example of a Horse Lovers Fun-Schooling Basket

Sarah’s Mom Tips: Don’t Fear a “Learning Gap”

Don’t be afraid of learning gaps.

Kids don’t need to learn everything.

Kids need to know HOW to learn what they need when they need it.

Sometimes we fear learning gaps, but if a child knows HOW to research there will be no permanent holes because the child will be capable of learning on the go.

There is no way to prepare a child for what life and the economy will look like when they are adults.

Today’s standardized education is already behind.

It is research skills, creativity, character and resourcefulness that will insure potential for successful adult life.

Thinking Tree focuses on life skills, thinking skills, planning skills, being innovative, being creative, being resourceful, great character development, having excellent research skills, reading and writing skills and a strong work ethic. These things are NOT usually part of a standardized curriculum plan. You may worry that your kids will not be on grade level; but the skills that matter most are often overlooked and undervalued.

You Had Each Other First–Keep Each Other First!

Homeschool Mommy – Don’t forget that you are also a wife! (I know we have a few single moms here too.) We were just having a conversation about the guilt that some of us have experienced in the homeschooling community because we don’t always grind our own wheat, bake our own bread, do desk work for 6 hours, and look like pioneers. I think that it can be a beautiful life to do all that, I used to play pioneers with my children and do the whole classical education thing.

Here is the problem that I had… at the end of the day I was too tired from baking my own bread and arguing with my girls about wearing dresses… to give my husband all the love and cuddles he needed! So, first things first, you know! If what we are doing makes us too tired to be a good lover, we are doing too much.

Your marriage is first. The best thing you can give your children is the example of being an awesome wife who truly respects and adores her husband. Keep your husband happy, and let go of the things that make you tired at the end of the day. Save a bit of yourself for your lover. Give him your best. If you have little ones this may seem impossible… but it’s not. Find out what your husband and children really need and let go of everyone else’s expectations, and people who push academics as the key to success.

Follow the advice of the people you actually want to be like. If you have homeschooling friends who seem to have everything perfect, beware–their marriages are often suffering, and they have forgotten that they have husbands. Don’t trade your marriage in for the appearance of being a perfect homeschooling teacher. You are free to be a lovable wife, that girl that he married. That’s you!

Inspiring Your Child to Read

I don’t worry much about reading before age 9. The longer they play the better! When my children start asking me “Mom, how do you spell…?” That’s when I know they are ready for reading. When a child is ready to learn to read it’s so easy to help them.

When it comes to learning to read there shouldn’t be a struggle. Dyslexic children and creative kids struggle because we are trying to teach them too soon. Dyslexia Games helps prepare the mind for reading and writing without stress, and helps to teach reading in a self directed way that works for creative kids.

Still, sometimes the brain just isn’t ready for the job of reading before age 9. For some it may be age 11– kids who learn to read late tend to be very artistic and creative.

The first key to inspiring a child to read is to find out what the child wants to learn about and be attentive to what he is passionate about. Provide books on ALL levels about those topics. Look at the books together, and use books with a Fun-Schooling Journal. Allow the child to do a lot of drawing in the Fun-Schooling Journal if they can’t write, and please do some of the writing for him or her while the child watches and dictates (writing for your child once a week is enough).

The second key is to model a love for reading real books and writing on real paper – in front of your child – that’s what Mom-School books are for. When a child sees a parent reading and writing (not on a computer) they automatically desire to do it too. The brain is wired to give children a drive to do what adults do. (One big problem with classrooms is that all the kids are the same age, and kids are not getting an example of how people learn at a higher level.)

Curiosity will drive the desire to read, and the brain will begin to wire itself to read, write and spell. When a child is curious about reading they are going to learn quickly and efficiently. When a child feels the need to read, they WANT to learn.

When you try to force kids to read, write, and spell before they desire to do it naturally you are going to face a constant struggle. If the child desires to learn, they are going to be active in the learning, and actually teach themselves – it’s beautiful and joyful.

So, precious homeschooling mom, if your eight year old can’t read, don’t worry, just remember the two keys!

Sarah’s Mom Tips: How to Triage

Triage: A process in which things are ranked in terms of importance or priority.

Being a mom of 15, I’ve learned a thing or two about triaging life for our kids. Play, chores, reading, quiet time, research, exploration…all of them are rearranged pretty fluidly for each child. Just as medical professionals triage their patients, evaluating their needs in terms of urgency and precedence, so we homeschooling moms are continually evaluating our kids and what their needs are not only educationally, but also emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Here are some tips that have worked well for us.

As you plan to Fun-School a child under 10, don’t feel like you need to do everything on your list every day.

Listen to your child and watch for what brings them joy -You will learn what subjects and topics your child is passionate about, and those are the ones you should do every day and spend more time on (if the child wants to spend extra time researching their favorite topics).

Many teachers focus the most on the child’s weakness and problem areas. I do not focus more than 20 minutes a day on the problem areas if the lesson or activity burns them out. If reading is a struggle, I use Dyslexia Games, but only 15 minutes a day – unless they want to do more. Usually they like Dyslexia Games, so it isn’t a struggle.

If math is a struggle, use games and calculators, and our book 100 Numbers.

If they seem confused when trying to learn math – stop using a memory approach and teach them the WHY and HOW of numbers. They may need time to mature to be able to grasp new concepts. Children need to understand, not just memorize.

Make a lot of time for play, curiosity and discovery.

Children who are entertained constantly, over scheduled, or are addicted to gaming have a lot of issues. You can avoid MANY problems by making sure your child has time to use their imagination and PLAY without constant electronic stimulation. Kids often opt to be entertained. Boredom is okay and leads to innovation!

Healthy children often can’t sit still for more than 20 minutes at a time. They are wiggly by design, children need to move their bodies while learning.

If there is a topic or book that you want to use that they don’t enjoy, you can let it go OR do the work together OR you do it while the child watches you do it.

Make sure your child watches you write – in print and cursive. That’s what the Mom-School books are for.

Feel free to use audio books in place of reading, so the child can learn on a higher level.

Throw out anything that makes your child miserable when trying to learn. Try the fun and joyful methods. If there is no fun and joyful way to learn, you may be dealing with a maturity issue.

Kids on sugar may seem crazy and out of control.

Kids who do not sleep enough may seem moody and out of control.

Kids who see adults fighting or are exposed to violence on games and movies may seem depressed and unmotivated to learn.

Kids who text all night are often lazy all day. Is your child sleeping with a phone?

Find your child’s passion, and feed it.

It is good for kids to learn to research. Research is an awesome skill, that is learned best when a child studies their passion.

Some of most important things to teach your children involve:

1. Reading

2. Research

3. Relationships

4. Responsibility

5. Resourcefulness

6. Rest & Reflection

Put first things first. Outline your goals for each child and help them grow in the things that really matter.

Raising Employees?

Joe does passion-based homeschooling. He is in charge of his education and uses Fun-Schooling Journals, Tuttle Twins Books and a lot of Usborne books.

Real life has no instructions. All children grow into adults who encounter situations and opportunities where no one explains what to do. We want our children to think and be innovative. Almost all normal schoolwork is based on following instructions and memorizing information. At our house we don’t do that.

When I created all of my homeschooling books I created them for my kids. I am specifically designing a method of learning to inspire thinking, problem solving and innovation. Because my kids have dyslexia and Asperger’s (like me), we are not going to follow a normal path. My kids would never make good employees so I don’t expect any of my children to be employees. I expect them all to have an awesome work ethic and to be business owners and managers of their own families and homes. The public system is training millions of children to be employees – who have a very watered down work ethic. I would never choose to hire common core kids. That’s not our goal, so we are traveling a unique path. Each child is unique and so we focus on their gifts and interests.

Now, they will learn to be good workers because I am giving them all opportunities to learn by working in the home and the family business, and they serve with missionaries and in church. When they volunteer, they really shine.

I never actually expected so many other people jump in and use my books, but I think that your children will really be blessed and your families will enjoy homeschooling with these methods.

I wasn’t creating school books that will help the children to fit into a mold that prepares them for “higher education”. SORRY! My goal is for my children to be innovative business owners with steady incomes by age 20, who do not need “higher education or an extended adolescence” to prepare for real life. If your child needs that, go for it! No shame! It’s all good! We need all kinds of people in the world. Just don’t plan your child’s education based on an antiquated view of what education should be.

Knowing our goals, I try not to waste my children’s time, brain space, and energy on schoolwork that doesn’t prepare them for real life. I am a bit of a rebel, and sometimes I worry that my kids might miss something… but they are proving me wrong. Whenever my teens need to learn something simple or complex, they get it done! They rarely ask for help anymore (unless they are trying to open a bank account, need a new computer, need an investor, or are filling out forms to become Amazon Associates).

Our kids are all excelling in their own way, developing their own talents and starting their own businesses – often before I even have a chance to show them how. They all have strong faith and family values.

One thing I have them do is read popular adult level books on marketing, business, and leadership. I also have them building websites and creating real books at a young age – check out our “Notebooks for Creative People” on Amazon. We don’t use textbooks, we always use well-written and interesting REAL books by passionate experts on every subject we want to study. We don’t just unschool, (though it works on many levels) because I really want to pass on my favorite books, family values, faith and traditions.

Sometimes I wonder what will become of all these creative thinkers and innovative children who adore my books. I would like to know what your children are passionate about, and how you are helping them to learn!

Sarah’s Mom Tips: Is Math Your Homeschool Nemesis?

🧐The PROBLEM with math is that the way it is normally taught! Conventional math lessons are boring, hard to understand, seem irrelevant to real life, and are no fun. 😔

😉My books are like a reset button, kind of like comfort therapy. 😌

My math books are not designed to prepare your child to take a standardized test. Instead they bring math concepts down to earth.

My books make math practical, fun, creative, useful, and easy to apply to real life problems and projects.

What I do is have my children learn basic math with Fun-Schooling Books, and real life projects involving MONEY, time, calculating, and measurements. They become very confident and unintimidated by math. They don’t see it as a subject, but as a super valuable skill for getting things done.

If I were you and wanted to raise kids to be able to confidently use real math in real life… Work through the Thinking Tree Books, then add the math you need for testing, credits or grade level learning.

I would suggest Khan Academy, Life of Fred, Math-U-See, Prodigy…

My kids focus on learning the math that is relevant to their career goals.