Tag: homeschool

Why Your Family NEEDS a Philosophy of Education

Why Your Family NEEDS a Philosophy of Education

One Thing Every Family Must Do Before the New School Year

True confession: I LOVE back to school season. I’m all about brand-new crayons and notebooks, clean backpacks, and a stash of unused glue sticks.

Are you getting ready for a new school year? Here’s the ONE thing you must do before the kids head back to school!

Whether your family is homeschooling full-time or “afterschooling,” we all want to empower our kids to follow their passions and use their unique gifts to make the world a better place, right? Ultimately, I want my children (and yours!) to walk into any classroom, any team, any job interview, and feel confident that they have something special to offer.

What is the school system’s role in education?

As a former classroom teacher, I know that most educators want the very best for each of their students. However, I also believe that the current school system is all about making learning as efficient as possible. It’s the reason why children are grouped into classes with their same-age peers and taught the same material all across the country.

The problem is: our children are NOT the same.

My third-grader is going to be on a different level than your third-grader. What comes easily to your child might be a struggle for mine. One of them might be advanced in math; the other might be advanced in reading.

No matter how hard the school district tries to homogenize learning, it just won’t work. 

Quote: Our kids are unique, and their education should be, too.

Unfortunately, due to budget cuts and out-of-touch legislation, things are not going to change in the public school system anytime soon. It’s the reason why I work with parents instead of going back to teaching. We are the ones who get to personalize learning for our kids and prepare them for a life outside the classroom.

What is the parent’s role in education?

If you spend much time with me, you’ll probably hear me say this several times: Education is a journey,  not an assembly line.

We are all moving forward every day, but not at the same pace. Some of us will travel on the same path for awhile, while others will head directly off the path to discover something new for themselves.

Quote: “Expecting all children the same age to learn from the same materials is like expecting all children the same age to wear the same size clothing.” -Madeline Hunter

For the past seven years, I have been homeschooling my own two children. If any two students were going to be similar, you might assume it’s siblings who have been raised in the same home with the same access to education and life experiences. And yet, my children are VERY different when it comes to learning.

  • One of my children is what you could call a “traditional” learner. She is studious, meticulous, eager to please the adults in her life, and someone who enjoys working with other children. She thrives off of checklists, schedules, and predictable routines.
  • My other child is NOT a “traditional” learner. She is a deep thinker who has no desire to sit still and do book work. While she does love to read, she is also always on the move or fidgeting with something in her hands. She prefers to work alone and completes her work as quickly as possible to move onto the projects that really interest her.

My job is to help them understand HOW they learn best and teach them how to use their strengths to make the most of their years in school, all while working on developing their weaker areas. If education truly is a journey, I want to put them in the navigator’s seat with all the tools they need to make their own way.

I don’t want my children to depend on a school district, a teacher, or a curriculum for their education. I want them to fall in love with the discovery process and pursue learning for a lifetime.

Creating a family philosophy of education

My goals for my children may sound lofty, but I don’t think the process has to be complicated. In our family, we have created a philosophy of education that guides our major decisions around our children’s learning.

Simply put: we prioritize good books, learning through play, and family adventures. 

What does your family believe about education? Have you ever sat down to talk about it with each other?

Helping our children find success in school starts with identifying what makes them unique. Crafting a philosophy of education and referring back to it at the beginning of each new school year means that no matter the school, no matter the teacher, no matter the curriculum, our children take back control of their learning. 

When times get tough, when our kids run into a challenge, we can remind them of their end goals. We can help tailor their study habits to their strongest learning style and teach them to advocate for themselves with their future professors and bosses.

Quote: "Our family philosophy of education acts as a road map to remind us of our values and priorities for learning."

Create your family’s philosophy of education today with our free training!

Online Math Curriculum for the Whole Family | a CTCMath Review

Online Math Curriculum for the Whole Family | a CTCMath Review

Have you been wondering about using an online math curriculum in your homeschool? We’ve been using the same textbook-based math program since we started homeschooling six years ago, so our entire family was excited to try something fresh and different.

I received a free trial of this product and was compensated for my time writing the review, but all opinions are my own!

I’ll be honest — I never expected to use an online math curriculum with our kids, but CTCMath has been a lifesaver for our family this year. Every spring, when the lessons in the math book get harder, teaching math becomes a headache for all of us. I’m raising a natural perfectionist, who wants everything to come easily … and even though we consistently work on our growth mindset and positive language, math is a bit of a trigger for her.

This year, we hit the frustration wall later than usual, and I give a large part of the credit to CTCMath. Both girls have been enjoying their daily practice on the iPad, which we have added to our traditional math lessons (textbooks, worksheets, and pencils) over the past two months.

Online Math Curriculum: Fun for the Whole Family

Why choose an online math curriculum?

Even though the myth persists that homeschoolers are unsocialized, we know how busy our kids are! The benefit of an online math curriculum is that our math lessons can go anywhere we go — without having to lug around a big textbook. Over the past two months, we’ve been able to log in to CTCMath at the library, in the car, and at Grandma’s house. Our softball season starts next week, and I am thrilled that we can get our math done during the 25-minute commute.

Overview of CTCMath

CTCMath is a web-based program, which allows our children to login from our home computer or use the iPad when we’re on the go.

Setting up a family account took hardly anytime at all, and my girls really enjoyed creating their own usernames and passwords. As the teacher/parent, I can login at any time to see my kids’ history and assign specific lessons for them to complete.

When a student logs in to CTCMath, they can complete assigned tasks or work on lessons of their own choosing. There are also a few simple games to practice problem-solving and math facts.

Each lesson has a short video that explains the new concept and demonstrates with a few different examples before giving a child a set of practice problems. The program gives instant feedback, letting a child see if they got the problem correct before moving onto the next one.

There is also a spiral-based review each week that covers a variety of skills and concepts with 20-25 problems. Since we jumped into the program in the middle of the year, there have been a few times I’ve had to quickly teach a concept in the weekly review, but that’s not been an issue at all.

Benefits of CTCMath

I’m rather old-fashioned when it comes to screen time for my kids, so the novelty of getting to “do math” on the computer or iPad is very enticing for both of them. The interface is easy to use, the instructions are very clear, and we have all seen clear progress from Day 1.

My favorite thing about CTCMath is that every child has access to the entire program, which means that each of my girls can work at their own pace. We can go back and review prior lessons or move ahead to the next grade level whenever they are ready.

Typically, we do math together, but children can also complete lessons independently. My husband even enjoys taking over CTCMath time on the days he’s home — and the four of us often end up on the couch together working through some of the trickier problem-solving lessons in the 5th grade section. Sometimes we “race” each other to find the answer first or work in teams so that our younger child can participate, too. Honestly, math has never been so much fun!

As we begin to think about purchasing curriculum for next school year, we’ll definitely be including the 12 Month Family Membership from CTCMath in our plans!

Note: Homeschooling families receive a massive 60% discount from regular price. Purchase any 12 Month Membership and receive a bonus 6 months for FREE! (total 18 months).

We all know how hard it is to switch curriculum sight unseen, so CTCMath offers a free trial for new families! You can also enter this giveaway for a 12 Month Membership.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you considered using an online math curriculum? Let me know your thoughts in the comment below!

Online Math Curriculum Benefits

Preschool at Home Curriculum Ideas

Preschool at Home Curriculum Ideas

This month only, join our FREE Preschool at Home Facebook group, where we’ll have daily conversation starters, weekly Q&A sessions, and lots of free resources. Click here to join us.


Do I need preschool at home curriculum?

Did you know the number one search result for both “tot school” and “preschool at home” is all about choosing curriculum? Which program will BEST prepare my child for Kindergarten?

As I’ve said before:

The truth is, there is NO perfect curriculum that will make tot school or preschool at home a guaranteed success.

While I am not anti-curriculum, I don’t think it’s necessary for MOST families who choose to do tot school or preschool at home. Curriculum is simply meant to be a jumping off point for teachers (and homeschooling parents). All too often, we become more focused on teaching the next lesson in the book rather than what our child needs to learn next.

{text} Which preschool at home curriculum is best for my family?
I don’t typically recommend that families “wing it,” either.

Some programs, like Five In A Row or A Year of Playing Skillfully, have a natural and gentle approach to how young children learn best. We also offer affordable, themed Family Activity Guides in our Play School Club, a membership program for parents with children ages 2-6.

The Family Activity Guides take a “menu approach,” with 40 hands-on learning activities that can be chosen based on skill, interest, or time. Think of the guides as a learning BUFFET, where everyone can get exactly what they want (and need!) next. Best of all, each guide comes with a list of recommended books, material suggestions, and the support of a (former) elementary school teacher–ME!

Or maybe you’re more of a DIYer? There are lots of great Instagram feeds and Pinterest accounts filled with activity suggestions for you and your kids. The piecemeal approach can be fun as you follow your child’s interests and passions … though it can cost you more time and money.


Are you considering preschool at home for your toddler or preschooler? Check out our series:


There's more to homeschool preschool than "just playing." Get your questions answered from a former classroom teacher.

Is learning through play really enough?

If you are new around here, you should know I am a BIG FAN of learning through play!

Is it enough for preschoolers learning at home? Yes…and no.

Babies and toddlers discover most of the world through play (and their mouths). It really IS enough to choose a few, intentional open-ended toys, stock the play area with a variety of terrific board books, and spend lots of time reading, singing, and playing outside.

If you have a preschooler at home, I believe that child-directed play should take up a large portion of each day. However, some skills will need to be taught directly to children by a caring adult. Despite my greatest hopes that they would pick it up indirectly, I have had to teach both of my children how to:

  • brush their teeth
  • wipe their bottoms
  • wash their hands
  • tie their shoes
  • and ride a bike.

(But they picked up how to read on their own. Go figure!)

Knowing which skills to teach (and when) can be tricky for parents and caregivers who do not have a background in education. (And even for those of us who taught older children and didn’t take many ECE/EYFS classes in college!)

Developmental Milestones Checklist

During our preschool at home years, I created a list of nearly 100 developmental milestones for children birth-age 5. You can grab yours here!

Developmental Milestones Checklist {from birth through Kindergarten}

Using this milestones checklist can give you the wisdom you need to plan fun, hands-on learning activities that are perfectly, developmentally-appropriate for your child(ren).


Where do I find ideas for fun learning activities?

As I mentioned before, there are so many amazing parents sharing their ideas on Instagram and Pinterest. Use hashtags #totschool, #preschoolathome, and #learningathome to connect with other families who have similar styles to you!

You can also follow us on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook for simple learning through play ideas — or join our FREE Resource Library for even more FUN!

If you’d like, we invite you to join us in The Play School Club for a free trial week. Download our latest Family Activity Guide, and see if it’s a good fit for your family.

(Simply use the code TRIAL here to join immediately!)

Try The Play School Club FREE for one week using the code TRIAL.