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

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.

Teen Boys: What’s a Homeschool Mom to Do?

(In this post, we’ll go back in time to a Facebook post from 2015 and look at the model we followed (and still do) for homeschooling our teens. Sometimes it helps to see what it “looks like”!)

People often ask me what I do with my teens for school.  Here is a question that must be answered to start going in the right direction:

If you knew what your child was going to be when he (or she) grows up what kind of education would you provide?

Public educators expect kids to choose a “minor and major” when they go to college.  I expect my kids to study specific “minors and a major” starting in elementary school, and getting very serious at age 13.  For their 13th birthday we have a themed party based on their “career dreams” at the time.  Isaac wanted to be a chef at age 13, Anna wanted to be a baker, Estera wanted to be a photographer.  So you can imagine their parties!

Isaac, age 14

This is what my 16 year old son is studying this year–everything is relevant to his life and goals:

#1 Creative Online Marketing

#2 Publishing

#3 Personal Money Management

#4 Project Management (He is building a Minecraft server for homeschoolers with a history and inventions theme. He has a couple nerds working for him.)

#5 Music & Video Production (click here to see a documentary video he created!)

#6 Cats – He wants to breed and sell show cats, and make coloring books, an online community and a website for cat lovers.

#7 Bible, Missions, Evangelism and Teaching Students

#8 History (This is his passion, he loves Uncle Eric Books)

#9 Family, Relationships – Preparation for being a dad and husband.  He jokes about how taking care of his cats is prep for parenting, and he does want to get married and have a family of his own, and he knows that he will need to provide for that family.

#10 Cooking – in the past he wanted to be a chef, so we spent a couple years to help him train, he had two jobs as a personal chef at age 14 and 15.  Now he isn’t as interested, but could easily get a job as a chef at any point, and has great references. We invested a lot of time and resources in his previous passion for cooking – now he doesn’t want to be a cook.  Was that a waste of investment?  NO!  His family will be thankful, and he has something to fall back on… and he’s only 16.  The boy has skills. 

#11 Voice Acting.. Why not? Someone has to do it!

As you can see he has no time for a typical learning plan. We don’t do any formal math just practical math.  I am not worried about higher education, credits, testing, college.  He isn’t going to need a diploma to get a job.  He will be an entrepreneur; he will be the one hiring.  I have talked to him about higher education and the things he would need to do to take that path in the future. He knows that if he wants to go to college later he can prepare for the testing on his own and do it. He has plenty of time for hobbies and is very good at sports.

I started allowing my children to choose majors and minor when Anna (my 1st dyslexic child) was seven. She couldn’t read and write, so art, gardening and cooking were everything for two years until I invented Dyslexia Games

When people ask me about homeschooling and what the kids are doing I might talk might sound like I am talking about a college student, not a 7 year old.

I am not at all worried about higher education, I start giving them a higher education at age 13.

What would each of your children like to major in this year if they had the choice?

If your child wants to be an artist and mommy – take her seriously! Help her to become the best artist and mommy ever! That’s what I wanted to be my whole life… and that is what I have become.

Today, our son is 23, married, finishing Bible College this May, and is a composer. He’s running a recording studio as well. He has been supporting himself for five years.

Our son Isaac and his beautiful wife, Margarita

Transitioning Toward Adult Life

Here are some books that are very important for my 12 to 15 year-olds.  At this age, we are transitioning them from mainly studying what they love, to requiring some things that we believe they really need to master, to do well in adult life.

They will study their preferred majors and minors most of the time, but at least once a week, they need to spend a couple hours with some of these books.

At ages 12 to 15 I want my children to study leadership, economics and grammar while I expose them to many options for a future calling or career.  If they already have chosen an occupation, we get specific. For example, you can’t just major in horses. You need to choose one or two horse-related career options to train in.  You can’t just focus on general photography. You need a specific market. You can’t just major in the Arts. You need to focus your skill building in one main area, maybe two…like producing a musical. You can’t just keep playing around with lots of different artistic mediums, you need to master the one you love the most.

By age 14, they need to make a serious choice about what calling or career they want to pursue so we can focus on training, gaining experience, skills, providing equipment, volunteering or internships in the area they choose.

From age 14 to 18 we will help them turn their dream into an income source, or help them get involved with others who are living out the calling they want to pursue. They will gain 4 years of practical experience in the field. I will also ONLY require them to learn the math specialized to their future occupation.  If they change careers, they will have something to fall back on. And, they might just have a source of passive income to help them take the next step.

Why Do We Homeschool?

homeschool learning requires no desk

We love homeschooling because it gives us the freedom to customize each child’s education according to their strengths, weaknesses, interests, talents, needs, aspirations, hobbies, individual life callings, disabilities & careers plans. Not only that, it gives the family freedom to travel, see the world and put our family first. We can spend our days learning and living as a family.

Education is not the highest priority in the life of our family–love is. We don’t want school to be the main focus of the child’s life during these precious years of childhood. We want each child to have time to experience all the joys of growing up with freedom to play, explore, and learn through real life.

Because we homeschool, learning happens naturally in real life. In normal school kids learn how to live on paper, or on a computer, before applying that knowledge to real life.

Much of what kids learn in school is now irrelevant to real life. With homeschooling we allow learning to happen first in real life, and if needed we apply that learning to paper so the child can master the knowledge and research it further. When a child discovers their dreams, their callings or their desires to start a career, the training can begin…NOW.

Our children learn through Thinking Tree Books, YouTube, books they choose on Amazon, the library, and so much more. They spend lots of time traveling, volunteering, playing, creating, and engaging in music projects, art projects, animal care and research.

Thinking Tree Journals allow us to create beautiful portfolios of each child’s work and research to document their eclectic learning journeys.

Fun-Schooling for High School Credit

Parents often feel overwhelmed homeschooling high school and assigning credits. Remember, homeschoolers have a lot of flexibility. You don’t have to “school at home.” Your teen is preparing to launch into the world and doesn’t need to sit in a classroom with boring textbooks to thrive! Below is guidance on credits and some options for planning the high school years.

Remember-

Each country and state has different legal requirements. These suggestions should meet the requirements of most places. Please verify requirements where you live.

The HSLDA or your local homeschool support organization are good resources. Check to see if your area requires detailed record-keeping, transcripts, portfolios, testing, evaluation by a certified teacher, or any other records. Some states require in-depth and detailed transcripts while others are very laid back.

HIGH SCHOOL CREDITS

Most states require 15-25 credits for High School Graduation. For example:

Language Arts/English: 4 credits
Math: 3 credits
Science: 3 credits
Social Studies (U..S History): 1 credit
Social Studies (Any other Social Studies): 1 credit
Electives (physical education, home economics, foreign language, music, etc): 9 credits

Total: 21 credits

College-bound students will need a more specific record of courses based on their desired University requirements. The University admissions department will provide those details.

For example, specific science credits needed might be: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, & a Science Elective.
Social Studies might be: U.S. History, World History, American Government .5/Economics .5, Social Studies elective.

College-bound students will also need grades assigned to each completed credit.
Some areas require a more detailed description of courses taken. This can be anything from a short sentence to an entire portfolio of completed work. This is why it’s important to understand your regional laws.

How much work equals one credit?

In most places is 120 hours = 1 credit.
This is time working on journals as well as projects, field trips, interviews, etc. An easy way to track time is for your teen to write the start and end times when they work in a journal. This will also give you an idea of how much time is spent on that subject.

If you don’t have to track time, Fun-Schoolers usually give shorter single-subject journals ½ credit, longer single-subject journals 1 credit, and completed core journals 3-5 credits depending on their size. (click Page 2 to learn about selecting journals and assigning credits with Fun-Schooling)

Sarah’s Mom Tips: Strategies for Different Learning Styles

Recently a mom asked this question:

How should I handle a child who doesn’t put forth much effort on the Fun-Schooling pages?

The truth is, he was just hacking his homeschooling and doing the minimum, which is what kids do when they want to move on to doing something they feel is more important. The problem is that kids all have a different learning style. We make Fun-Schooling journals for all the different styles. Let’s start off by talking about these, and what I call the Five Learning Languages.

There are some kids who are Creators. The kids who are Creators learn everything for one purpose: to create something. All their education has to revolve around creativity. That’s what they are motivated by. These kids will not do normal workbooks. They need things that are open-ended, that revolve around their passions and interests.

Then you have the kids who are Detectives, who get really deep into the one thing they are passionate about. They love research and are not interested in anything that you want to teach them. They are only interested in what they want to learn. They are very difficult to give a standard education to because they aren’t going to remember anything or make any effort to retain anything that doesn’t revolve around their interests.

Then we have the kids who are Explorers. These kids will not sit still. They can’t. They want to be going from place to place. They can give maybe 5-15 minutes of focused attention to some sort of lesson, or activity and then they need to switch. They won’t sit at a desk, doing workbooks, textbooks, or even online school that makes them sit for very long. I developed a lot of materials for this kind of kid. We call them the “active kids”.

Then, the next kind of learner is the Friend Learner. These are kids who are motivated to learn through social experiences. They do not want to sit by themselves and do anything. They want to be with somebody collaborating, bonding, talking, or doing a project or reading with someone. If you ask this kind of kid to do something alone, they are going to get bored and distracted and wander off to find somebody to play with. Sometimes pets help.

Finally, we have the classic students, the little scholars, and we call them the Followers because these kids just want to please the teacher, the boss, the authority, the leader, the parent. They will do everything you ask them to do really well, step by step. They don’t put their heart into it for the sake of learning, but more for the sake of making somebody proud. They really like grades and scores and tests and multiple choice and ways to just prove that they are good at something and worthy. They are really good at “in the box” type of schooling, but a lot of times they don’t tap into their own creativity and curiosity. (click Page 2 to continue reading)

Sarah’s Mom Tips – Choosing a Major & Why 13 Is the Magic Number

I have noticed that between age 11 and 14 every child begins to develop a deep interest in one or two specific areas. If we don’t discourage them they can become experts. If they don’t embrace that passion for a specific career at that point they often drift into a season of fog where they don’t feel like they have purpose. At that point many teens drift into rebellion, confusion or a feeling of being aimless and like their lives have no value.
The kids who are encouraged to dig deep into their passion as a young teen develop a healthy and confident perspective. Even if they change “majors” they will never forget the skills they learned.

One of the most important ways we can invest in our children’s talents is by NOT distracting them or diverting their attention when they are focused on a project. I give my kids vast amounts of time to pour into their passions. Even if it means setting aside my preconceived ideas about what a kid should do and learn at their grade level. This is my daughter Susannah, she’s 14, and is focused on art.


Kids forget most of the information that they do not use, but once they learn a skill it is theirs for a lifetime.
What is your child passionate about? What careers relate to it? Is it a topic that other people are interested in? If your child spends a few years becoming an expert in that area they will be able to build a portfolio, and have real life experience in that field.
As an older teen they can volunteer to assist someone who is a professional in that field and get their foot in the door. Once they show their value, they can begin to be an important part of that business, so valuable that they will get a position working in that field.
At this point, as a young teen, they need to focus on people skills, leadership skills, teamwork, and character building.
I have seen many people take this path into the business world, where they end up doing what they love, and getting paid well for it.

Sarah’s Mom Tips – Homeschooling High School Outside the Box

(Note: This information is gleaned from a post in our Facebook Fun-Schooling Mom Support Group, dated 2017)

I don’t force my kids to learn anything that is obviously irrelevant.

I don’t teach toward college.

Naomi (then 11) volunteering as a barista, she is learning to clean the coffee bar right now.

I lead them toward a specific career starting at age 13. All of my kids look forward to turning 13, because they know that it is the big birthday where we buy them professional equipment based on their current passion, hobby or interest. Most kids feel like they don’t need to think about a career until they are choosing a college. It’s a different mindset. At 13 Isaac wanted to be a chef, Anna wanted to be a baker, Esther wanted to be a photographer, Rachel wanted to be a musician. Naomi wants to be a horse trainer. I expect to invest about $750 at that point.

We have more freedom to specialize and build real skills. The biggest obstacle to developing real skills as a teen is an addiction to media. I have limited my teens to about two hours a week on games or entertainment at times. Pull the plug. It’s great that your daughter knows what she wants to do, that is what my oldest son is doing.

Anna, helping with craft clean up, after hosting over 100 kids at an outreach. Great skills! Cleaning!

I am having them build portfolios and major now (this is from a post dated 2017) in the things they would learn in college later. Film, missions, caregiving, music, art, publishing, horsemanship, dog training, cooking, childcare, leadership, teaching, graphic design, editing, administration, baking, volunteering, drama, team building, event planning, entertaining children, photography. At this point (2017) the five oldest are already working professionally or as volunteers in these areas.

Our kids have very rich lives and lack no opportunity to use their skills to be a blessing wherever we go. Just thinking about today they are working as baristas, planning and organizing activities for 100 kids, editing their own film, taking care of their siblings while my husband and I cared for my mom who is in the hospital. They are illustrating books, they are managing their money, they planned a birthday party for their little sister, did all the shopping and baking, they are hosting new missionaries in our home, they are learning Russian. That was just today.

The goal is for each one to be an expert in their field by age 18, and to have an income source to support themselves.

If they need college to further their goals, they can show a great portfolio, and pay for it themselves.

I don’t really want them to go deep in debt over a degree though. Most kids don’t have a chance to develop their skills and become specialized in anything at a young age, because so much time is taken up on irrelevant things. 🙂

Ask God for wisdom for each child, and He will guide you, that could mean teaching toward tests, college, careers, missions, homemaking or anything.