There are so many ideas, philosophies, and resources when it comes to homeschooling and parenting. Honestly, it can be overwhelming. So, that’s where I come in. I’m going to break down my favorite homeschool resources and share some of my favorite parenting and homeschool books, and tell you some reasons why they have been so helpful to me. This list is by no means extensive – it’s really just what’s worked well for my family. Some of these suggestions are books and resources that were shared with me because they were also helpful for other families.
- The library. It’s really simple. The number one homeschool resource is your local library. Anything and everything you could ever want to learn about or anything and everything your child would want to learn about can be found at the library. If you ask me what the ONE thing I couldn’t be without as a homeschool parent is, I would tell you my library card. Besides the books, a lot of libraries offer storytime for the little kids and classes or activities for older kids. Our local library offers STEAM kits to take home or paired with the STEAM class they offer on Tuesdays. The best part –– it’s free!
- Homeschool groups. Get on Facebook (there are actually can be some benefits to using this platform) and research homeschool groups in your local area. This will allow you to connect with other parents who might have kids of the same age and interests. Other homeschool parents are a wealth of knowledge. Get connected with them. It’s also a great way for kids to make friends, get involved in co-ops, or a place for parents to recharge while the kids are occupied. It’s not always easy to step into a new group of people, especially if you’re anything like me. I would call myself an extroverted introvert. But I know some people who love this sort of thing. If that’s you, set up your own homeschool group or homeschool parent coffee hour. Someone like me would be thankful for someone else taking the lead.
- Your community. A common theme I hear among homeschool parents is, “ I can’t teach____!” or “My child never listens when we’re learning about ____.” My response is almost always the same –– How well do you know your neighbors? Sounds funny, right? Well, hear me out. I encourage you to look around and see if you know any retired school teachers or experts in a field your child wants to learn about. Maybe someone in your church, or someone’s grandma on your child’s soccer team, or maybe even your next-door neighbor is a math expert or an incredible artist, or even a retired teacher. Retired school teachers can be an amazing resource for homeschool parents. They (hopefully!) love children and love teaching. So why not ask for their help? When my best friend’s daughter was having a hard time in math, she shared her frustrations with her neighbor, a 72-year-old retired school teacher. My friend’s neighbor offered to walk over and teach her daughter a math lesson three times a week for an hour. Suddenly, the stress lifted off both my friend and her daughter, and they were able to build a beautiful bond with their neighbor. The retired school teacher recently lost her husband and was so happy to be around young children again and share her love of teaching… but that’s a story for another blog.
Talk about an oversaturated market that will instantly make you feel like the worst parent in the world: the dreaded parenting book section. Often this leaves me feeling deflated as a parent and questioning my every thought, glance, and word spoken to my children. Not only that, but parenting is such a sticky and personal topic, and I often avoid it unless asked for my personal opinion. With that said, there are a few books that have shaped my perspective as a homeschooling parent and I’ll share them:
- Celebrate Calm. This is actually a podcast presented by a father who was raised by a very strict military father who was desperate to connect with his own son. He also has several parenting books, workbooks, and videos out. I haven’t tried them all but if they’re anything like his podcast, I’m sure they are amazing. I’ve seen Kirk speak of a few occasions and the wisdom he shares has really shaped the way I communicate with my partner and my children. He also speaks about parenting children with ADHD, Autism, and OCD. Click here to see his website, I promise you won’t be disappointed. Or better yet, I promise you won’t leave feeling like a horrible parent. You’ll feel heard, understood, and normal.
- Balanced and Barefoot by Angela J. Hanscom. This book is a great reminder to loosen the reins on our children and let them explore. I keep coming back to this book because for a long time (and still to some extent today), I have been an overly cautious parent. Hanscom does a great job explaining the benefits of letting our children explore freely outdoors. The educational benefits strongly outweigh the benefits of sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day and the stats on health benefits of outdoor play are mind-blowing. In a world where smartphones, iPads, TV, the internet, and video games are constantly at our fingertips, we need this gentle reminder to put down the devices, get our kids off screens, and go explore. Our children’s cognitive and physical development depend on unrestricted outdoor play.
- The Power of Showing Up: How Parental Presence Shapes Who Our Kids Become and How Their Brains Get Wired by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. To be perfectly honest, this is one book that at times has occasionally left me feeling like my parenting skills are subpar. I should have listened to this book before I had 3 kids running around. This is a powerful book about being there for our kids with undivided attention. Sometimes they really need our emotional and physical presence, even if that means sitting through the 45 “Mom, watch this!” jumps into the pool. This book also feeds my inner nerd –– I love learning about the neuroscience of our brains and our children, and this book gave me all of that.
I’d love to hear your favorite homeschool resources and parenting books or podcasts. Leave a comment with some of your own suggestions.