Tag Archives: Homeschool

Introducing the White House Academy’s Homeschool Planner!

Homeschool PlannerI’m a planner addict….I don’t have any, but I love them! I will admit that I have several blank ones lying around that I’ve never used. The one planner that I DO use is my homeschool planner.

I had planned on spending lots of money on a fancy expensive planner, but I really didn’t want to part with my money, so I figured I’d see if I could do it myself…I DID!

I have it available to you on my etsy shop AND IT’s ONLY $3.00! That’s right THREE DOLLARS! There are even two versions available, one with subjects printed in and one with blank subjects.

This is my first time doing something like this, so ANY feedback you can give me would be fantastic! If there’s a mistake or something you think would work better or something you feel it’s missing, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!

And THANK YOU! Thank you for checking out my planner, for sharing my etsy site and letting me know your thoughts!

Here’s the handy contact form:


The End of Year One of Homeschooling

The end is in sight people! We have nearly completed (successfully) our first year of homeschooling! Pardon me while I take a moment to do my happy dance. In the Fall I was seriously questioning whether we would continue past the first year. It was daunting, there were arguments and fights, and it was not looking good.IMG_9389

Then sometime this spring it just clicked. We had figured out what worked for us and what didn’t and how and when to do what we needed to do. Just the other day, we had to do school in the afternoon, rather than the morning. Ave realized that she was still done with school before the kids were walking past our house leaving the high school. I was floored when she said to me how glad she was that she got to do school at home.

Hands down this girl’s favorite subjects this year have been Math and Science! I always ask what should be start with, and the answer is always science! She loves learning how things work and why things happen. Math I think she loved, because for the most part it came really easy to her this year. A lot easier than reading and writing.

We’re planning on continuing Read, Writing, and Arithmetic through the summer. I’m not going to be all crazy about it, but I do think she will benefit from the extra work, as well as being fresh when we start in the Fall. There won’t be a ton of time wasted covering things we’ve already learned.

I asked Avie about some of her favorite things about this past school year. Her favorite books were Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Owls in the Family, she loved our field trip to the Museum of Natural History. She didn’t like math so much because it got harder over the year.

I really loved Sonlight’s curriculum. Being that this was our first year, I really felt prepared each day. If you are not into reading and really don’t like reading aloud, then it’s not for you. I love books and I can stand reading aloud. We still haven’t finished all of the books that were assigned as part of the curriculum, but, again, I figure we’ll work through them over the summer.

I think going into Sonlight and KNOWING that we wouldn’t read every single book during the year helped me. That was part of our struggle,  I felt a lot of pressure to READ EVERYTHING and then realized I don’t have to. If it’s not working for us, move on. There were a couple of books that were really hard to get through, so we got them on audible and listened when we were in the car. Some of them, became ones that we read at bedtime. It works. That’s the wonderful thing about homeschooling, you figure out and do what works best for you and your kiddos.

While Matthew and I were away, we had given the grandparents a list of things to read. My father in law spent quite a bit of time with Avie doing her world history reading and he was blown away by how intense and substantial the readings were. I never felt that what we were doing was a waste of time or frou-frou. I have to say, that with everything subject we covered it was always meaningful.

I’ve put together an Amazon store of some of our favorites from this year! I’m hoping to keep adding every year to our library.

Our Favorite Homeschool Books


Do you listen to podcasts?

Over the last few years I’ve spent a bit more time listening to podcasts…they were great when riding back and forth to Albany for doctors appointments (2 hours one way). I’ve had a lot less time lately to listen to them, which has been kind of sad. One in particular I’ve made a concerted effort to listen to Sarah Werner’s Write Now Podcast, because I love it! IMG_5934

I don’t remember when or who I started listening to with Podcasts…I think maybe it was Kat Lee’s How They Blog, which I’m not even sure it exists anymore. I do know that she does Inspired to Action, which is another great blog. Anyways. It went from there to God Centered Mom and a whole bunch of other ones, a lot of them radio shows that I just never caught on the radio.

Then came the day that I just declared podcast bankruptcy because I couldn’t handle looking at the number of unplayed podcasts. In November I was looking for podcasts specifically about writing, which is when I found Sarah’s awesome podcast, which is what got me back into the whole listening to podcasts thing and wanting to BE a podcaster {I love them, I’d love to do one, I’d love to be on one…no idea what or who I would talk to}.

The thing I love about podcasts is how my mind can be engaged in something, while doing mindless stuff. I can learn something new, be entertained, inspired, or just about anything else while listening to a podcast and it doesn’t take away from my ability to perform any of the myriad of mindless activities that I need to do on a regular basis.

Just recently I started cleaning our church on a weekly basis which gives me a couple of hours of quiet time to listen to podcasts! Score! Until I got caught up on every podcast episode…now I am in need of some new material…WHICH IS WHERE YOU COME IN! What are your favorite podcasts? Why? Do you listen to every episode or pick and choose? And, if you DON’T listen to podcasts…why not?

What do I listen to?

I love Write Now Podcast, which I mentioned above. She does two different types, the more frequent ones are interviews, referred to as Coffee Breaks, and then there is the more technical/inspirational being a writer ones {which are my favorite!}. I have yet to listen to a Coffee Break, just because…my time was limited, but with cleaning I’m planning on delving more into them.

I also started listening to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s What Should I Read Next? The premise of the podcast is interviews and matchmaking between writers/readers and what they have been reading and what they should read next. It’s really a rather fascinating idea. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing something similar once a month on here.

I’ve already mentioned God Centered Mom and Inspired to Action, both of which I really enjoy. I just starte
d listening to Sorta Awesome with Megan Tietz, which is great, as is Tsh Oxenreider’s The simple Show. I do also enjoy listening to ProBlogger‘s podcast, but it’s more on the if-the-topic-interests-me basis, the same for Focus on the Family‘s daily broadcast.

I’ve really been looking for a family radio theater kind of podcast…either Lamplighter or something similar, but haven’t come across one. We love the Family Hour on Family Life Network, but it goes too late for our crew {they’re in bed by 7:30}.

What are your suggestions? What podcasts do you love? or maybe one that you listened to that you’re definitely not tuning in to again. Maybe you don’t even listen to podcasts. I want to hear from YOU!

How I Manage Homeschooling {for myself}

How I Manage Homeschooling and Our Home @JessicaMWhite.com

Over the past few weeks I’ve shared about HOW we homeschool and WHAT we use, now I’m going to share a bit about how I handle homeschooling so I don’t lose my mind. I don’t let homeschooling rule our life, which may or may not be a good thing. We get the work done, but it’s not the focus of everything.

There’s a school of thought, 1 Child – 1 Activity, created to help parents keep their kids activities from ruling the family. I’m very much a proponent of this {we do have 5 kids and it could get crazy as they get older} in all aspects of life. We need to be able to function as a family, not as caterers to everyone’s interests {that doesn’t mean that if our kids are interested in something we won’t let them do it, it’s a matter of priority}.

How I Manage Homeschooling @JessicaMWhite.com

I shared our schedule a few weeks ago. We try to get the sit-down work of school done first thing in the morning. It’s the best time for all of us. I can check it off my to do list, the kids are usually otherwise interested and can be on their own, and Peter naps. We spend between 1 and 2 hours and then it’s done. Getting that done first thing in the morning is a HUGE thing off of my shoulders. After that I feel like we still have the day ahead of us and I don’t have to dread trying to corral everyone.

The single most helpful thing for me, besides a set schedule, is a planner. I’m a planner girl. I like writing things down and checking them off. This year I went with HEDUA’s Well-Planned Day. It was the ONLY planner that allowed me the space and functionality that I needed. That said, it is a bit limited. I’m hoping, if we continue next year, to put together my own planner for next year that will work much the same way, but allow me a bit more space where I need it.How I Manage Homeschooling @JessicaMWhite.com

After our last lesson of the week, Avelyn is free to go play and I sit down with all of the instructor guides for everything and spend 20 minutes charting out next week and deciding what I need to pull together. I love this time! I love the quiet {because the kids are all ecstatic that she’s done for the week}!  I love sitting down and writing lists and filling out a planner! {Psst…This has quickly become my favorite spot and one of the highlights of my week!} I know this is not for everyone, but for us me taking the time to plan ahead is imperative for me not losing Avelyn’s attention when we do sit down to do school.

The other thing that has helped me manage homeschooling is meal planning and freezing! I know those dreadful words are always popping up all over the internet. Honestly though, it’s a huge help for me. I can take out dinner in the morning and let it thaw. If we have a busy day I can pull a freezer meal out, if I have time to cook I at least don’t have to guess what to cook.

We only do school 4 days a week. This allows us a catch-up day, whether that be schoolwork, housekeeping, outside activities or anything else. Pushing all our work into 4 days helps me know that we only have a certain amount of time, but frees me up to know that we can get the house back in order before the weekend or do things beyond school.

I keep everything together. In our dining room I have a couple of shelves for all of our school books, but I only keep the things we are using right now in the kitchen {where we school}. I have two large tote bags that contain all of the books we are using, my planner, and a pencil box with anything we made need for school {pens, pencils, crayons, markers, scissors, glue, post its, etc}. It saves so much time when I don’t have to go looking for things that we need.

Our method is working for me so far. I’m able to accomplish schoolwork, and still have time to get the other things that we need to be done…done.

What tips do you have from your own schooling experience?

Our Homeschool Curriculum

Our Homeschool Curriculum for First Grade @JessicaMWhite.com

*This post does contain affiliate links: You can find my disclosure policy here.

When we first considered homeschooling I was quickly overwhelmed with all of the different subjects, the different creators and everything else that goes along with it. I was familiar with some of them {my sister was homeschooled}, which helped, but I still felt way out of my comfort-zone. I began joining different facebook groups and reading blogs; asking what they were using, what their kids were like, what worked for them and what didn’t.

I ordered catalogs and compared curriculum and cost, how much prep time lessons would take me, and whether it sounded interesting. After all that, I placed my curriculum orders and STILL didn’t know if I was ordering the right things for us. Homeschooling really is a leap of faith, whether you’re a Christian family or not. It’s about taking a chance and praying {or hoping} that you’re getting it right. It’s also about humility and admitting when something just isn’t working for you.

I knew for us that we were going to be combining Kindergarten and First grade in certain subjects. I knew that I was going to have 4 other kids that demanded my attention during schooling. I knew that if Avelyn doesn’t like doing something she flat-out won’t do it, no matter how much you threaten or coerce. These were all things that I took into considering.

The majority of our curriculum is from Sonlight, which is what I was most familiar with from my sister and other homeschooling families. I liked how the lesson plans were all laid out for me. I could just sit down and do school without having to wonder if we were on track or covering everything we should or spend hours creating lesson plans.

What do we have?Our Homeschool Curriculum for First Grade @JessicaMWhite.com

Science A – Biology, Botany, and Physics
This is by far Ave’s favorite subject! She loves learning about animals and plants, how the world works, and why things are the way they are. If I let her, we’d do only science and never anything else. We love the primary text for this, Usborne’s Children’s Encyclopedia, the pictures are beautiful, the text is easy to read and understand. It’s just fun!

We also have some other materials that go along with the book: There’s an InquisiKid DVD, which Ave loves watching them do experiments {and I don’t have to deal with the mess}; there are also simple reader books, about different subjects, to supplement the lessons. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of our school time.

Intro to World History (Year 1 of 2)
This has been a lot of fun too, but there are a lot of things to do in each days lesson. Honestly, most of our school time is spent doing world history, because there are so many things to read. There are actual fiction books we read together, textbook reading, and non-fiction readings.  Two of the texts that we use quite frequently, and make this all the more enjoyable are Usborne’s Time Traveller and The Usborne Book of World HistoryWhat is great about both of these books is that they’re just wonderful books to have in our family library! {We use a lot of Usborne books in our curriculum}.

Language Arts 1
Honestly, Language Arts is the bane of my existence. You would think as someone who has a BS in English, this would be fantastic for me, but it’s not. Mainly because I made a mistake. I didn’t realize that this Language Arts level assumes that your child can read already. Avelyn absolutely could read, if she wanted to.

She’s able to pick out words here and there, but gets easily frustrated with herself. We do the best we can with this right now. Right now, I’m actually considering putting the whole thing aside and starting her with Explode the Code. I’ve supplemented several other things of my own to help us with Language Arts, but more than likely we will be repeating this part of the curriculum once she can read fluently.

This is where we step out of Sonlight Core Curriculum.

This is Ave’s second favorite subject! I am not a math girl {the BS in English should’ve tipped you off}. When we were choosing a math curriculum I had asked several people what they used, what worked and what didn’t work for them. A lot of people suggested Saxon, others suggested Horizons, and still others suggested Math-u-See, which is what we went with.

I liked that it was hands on. I liked that it was a logic based. It looked as though it would be a good fit for us, and we were right. My biggest thing is that I wanted Ave to have a SOLID base for Math, so we went back to the beginning and went with their PrimerSo far she is still loving it! She likes building with the manipulatives {little blocks that represent units and place value}. We just discovered the DVD the other day {I don’t know why I didn’t pull it out sooner}.

Since it is the very basics of math, she has flown through the textbook, finishing almost half of it in just 10 weeks. She’s starting to slow down now.

This has been another struggle of our’s. Again, Avelyn doesn’t like things that make her work {like most people}. However, I am an absolute STICKLER about handwriting. We started with A Reason for Writing‘s Level A, but I quickly realized it was going to be an every day battle. As Avelyn doesn’t read she was not ready to be writing a full sentence every day {even though she is constantly writing words and sentences all day, on her own!}.

I quickly backtracked and ended up going with Level K, which focuses on one letter a day. Much more doable for us. She’s flying through it and that’s ok. When she’s done we will move on to the next level.

Overall I have really enjoyed the books and material we’ve covered. Ave doesn’t love everything, but none of us do. She at least doesn’t flat out refuse to do school every day, which was one of my biggest fears. I’ve loved the flexibility homeschooling gives us with our time, I love how if something isn’t working for us, we can change it! That’s the great thing about homeschooling.

If you homeschool what are your favorite curricula?
Next time I’ll share about how I manage homeschooling for myself.

You can find more of our homeschool materials in my amazon.com store.