Preparing for Homeschooling Middle School and Beyond

If it tells you anything about how much I was stressing over homeschooling beyond elementary school, I started this post in 2014. My oldest was entering 6th grade and I was kind of panicking because, well, middle school is right before high school and high school is slightly (very) intimidating to me.

At least, it was at the time. I’m not so much intimidated by it now. I’m pretty excited at the idea of walking through that with my kids. I still have time to research so I’m good. Ask me again in a year or so and let’s pray I’ll be the same…

Preparing for Homeschooling Middle School and Beyond

Preparing for Homeschooling Middle School Resources

I decided that since I found the thought of homeschooling middle school to be intimidating, others might be in the same boat. So today I am finally going to finish this post and give you a few resources that I am currently reading/using or have already read/used to help calm my fears.

1. The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens by Debra Bell

I was given this book at a conference in early 2014, right about the time it was hitting me that I was going to have a 6th grader and that 6th grade isn’t very far from 9th grade. I’m a planner by nature, I like to plan things out so I thought I should definitely have this book.

Imagine my surprise when open it up and realize that she had written a section on homeschooling middle school and it was just perfectly what I needed to read. I personally love Deb’s writing style. It is conversational without being overly wordy. Like talking to a friend who cares enough to give you what you need to know, with just enough personal stories to make you understand that she gets where you are coming from.

I’d recommend this book to anyone thinking about homeschooling beyond elementary school. It pairs nicely with The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling.

2. Lee Binz’s The HomeScholar

This is a website specifically meant to help you homeschool high school. Her blog is a great resource for answering any questions you may have about preparing for high school. I like it because there are things that haven’t even crossed my mind that are discussed.

3. Other Bloggers

Yes, there are other bloggers out there who are walking this homeschool middle school journey with me and there are also homeschool bloggers who are finished with this part and want to help other moms navigate it confidently. I appreciate that so much.

The Sunny Patch has a list of blogs that talk about homeschooling middle school. I’d recommend checking that list out to see if one fits your needs.

One that is mentioned on her list that I am finding very helpful is Education Possible. One of the writers for that blog also happens to be one of the bloggers I met while working on The Library Adventure. Small world on the interwebs, isn’t it?

Dollie has a great article called 7 Ways to Transition Your Homeschool Into Middle School that I recommend reading.

4. Pinterest

You knew this was coming, didn’t you? Pinterest is one of my favorite social media platforms. It is so much better than a bookmarks folder. But you knew that, right? (See also: Homeschooling Resources on Pinterest – Organized by Subject)

A couple resources regarding that:

That’s the list for now. I hope it helps you find some help with easing the anxiety of preparing to homeschool middle school. Now that I’m here (times two now!), it isn’t so bad. In fact, it can be quite fun!

How to Read Blogs & Not Feel Like a Failure

Do you ever feel like bloggers have it all together? That you are the only one who can't do it all? Let me tell you a few things about bloggers at Vicki-Arnold.com

There seems to be an epidemic of guilt and feelings of failure rolling through blog readers these days. I am truly saddened by this because I know not one blogger who desires to make their readers feel this way.

I know I have been guilty of this myself in my “real” life and my online life. I see these women who are giants in an area and put them on a pedestal…without even realizing it. I finally realized what I was doing when I saw a woman I thought was this pillar of strength and faith break down in tears in a quiet setting…and I felt relieved. Relieved that this woman did NOT, in fact, have it all together.

And then I traded the guilt of not measuring up for the guilt of being relieved that someone else was suffering. You see, this guilt is a never ending cycle because we will never measure up. Never.

I wrote about guilt before and if you are dealing heavily with guilt, I want you to do two things. First, read this post. Second, email me through the contact page and let me know how I can pray for you.

For this post, I want to tackle the specific blogger-induced guilt running rampant. I want to tackle it and rip off the myths covering the truth like a cheap band-aid.

Myth #1: Bloggers are perfect.

People, please. Behind that blog is a person. Some of them do have their stuff together better than you in some areas, but I would be willing to bet that you have a better handle on other areas in life. For example, I am pretty good at this blogging thing (dude, that was painful to write…) and you may feel like a monkey when you try to write. That’s ok.

Wanna know where I struggle? Well, for the sake of brevity, I will share just one with you. You know that garden I wrote about earlier this year? Let me show you what it looks like right now…

Vicki, Vicki, how does your garden grow? Like this.

It’s a beauty, eh? (This is the result of those dastardly squash bugs, the rest of the mess I was going to show you my husband weedwhacked this past weekend. I kind of blew this garden this year…again.)

Please cut yourself some slack and do not measure your whole life against the very small portion of someone’s life that they put on the internet. Or the lots of small portions you see from lots of bloggers. Please.

Myth #2: Bloggers must have it all together to have the time to blog.

No. We have simply found a rhythm and balance that works for our family. Or not. Seriously, blogging takes time and that time spent blogging is not being spent doing a variety of things. It is a simple fact. If you are doing one thing, you can’t be doing another.

Many bloggers utilize things like crock pots; late nights and/or early mornings; and messy houses to make blogging work. It is a matter of priorities and someone else’s priorities should never make you feel inferior in yours.

Something that took me a long time to grasp is that sometimes it is a matter of life seasons. When I had three under the age of 4, there was no way on earth I would have had time to blog. I barely had time to bathe. Now that my kids are a little older (10, 9, 7, and 18m), when the toddler goes down for a nap, they go outside or do something on their own. This often leaves me with time to work.

Myth #3: Bloggers are online all the time and still have it all together.

Ha! Let me let you in on a little secret. Did you know that you can schedule things to post on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest? Yep. And we savvy bloggers do this so that we can be “online” when our readers are because the more often we are out there, the more likely you are to see our stuff. And the more people that see our stuff, the more traffic we get. The more traffic we get, well, I explained that in this post.

We interact when we are online and schedule things to share for when we aren’t. This is why it looks like we sit in front of a computer all day long. I could actually sit on Pinterest all day long, but something about naked kids being frowned upon and all.

Which brings me to the last myth I will tackle here:

Myth #4: Bloggers’ food/homeschool/houses/decor/etc. looks like a Pinterest pin.

Dude, you don’t even know how far from the truth this is. I love pinning things like lapbooks, DIY projects, and party ideas. And I DO use some of them, but…insert a big BUT here.

In real life, our homeschool has a lot of workbooks and frustrated mama moments. My sewing machine is currently buried under a pile of crap (not literal, thank heavens), and my kids are lucky if I let them break out the balloons and blow them up for parties. Because I don’t need something else to clean up. Amen?

You may not know this, but bloggers spend a good deal of time and effort into creating those “perfect” projects. Some do it simply for the fun of it and some do it because their blog is a business and traffic = money to a blogger.

Here’s the thing, you don’t have to do everything you see on the internet. I see tattoos all over Pinterest, but that doesn’t make me feel guilty about not having one (needles!!). Don’t feel guilty if you don’t want the mess of glitter in your house and therefore don’t do that super spectacular glitter craft. And your kids may even turn out ok. 😉

Be the mom God intended you to be. Be you. Lose the guilt, please.

Sometimes Change is Necessary

Sometimes Change is Necessary - Come be encouraged and read why our #homeschool is changing @www.vicki-arnold.com

With 5th, 4th, and 2nd graders, we are entering a new phase of our homeschool. I’ve mentioned before that we are pretty laid back for the early elementary years and around 4th grade, we start structuring things more. I will show you how that looks in our day-to-day homeschool life later, but today I want to share the heart of the matter with you.

Stick around and be encouraged…or learn how to pray for me. I’m good with either. 😉

Routine? No, Thank You!

This is the biggest change for us and the focus of this post. I am a rather random person. Delight directed learning appeals to me because I am a squirrel chaser. And I have been very resistant to adhering to any sort of schedule. I don’t like being told what to do, and routines are bossy.

Now, I love planning things. I have sat down and made schedule after schedule, list after list, and change after change. The problem I have is that I get so stinking B.O.R.E.D. after a few days or weeks and drop it.

After seeing my many charts, someone (actually more than one someone) referred to me as Type-A and I laughed.

At each one of them. I am nothing if not gracious.

I am a Type-A wannabe. I WANT to be organized. I WANT to be a go-getter. But the truth is, I am messy and rather relaxed when it comes to time frames. Yes, that can be a nice way of saying I am frequently late, but it applies to much more (not all negative, thankfully).

How’s that for transparency? You’re lining up to hear my tips for walking in the spiritual discipline of diligence now, aren’t you? 😛 <—That’s me blowing a raspberry.

No Routine Gets You No Where

Well, that header kind of gives away where I have ended up. After the Holy Spirit’s forehead smacks nudging, I finally realized I needed to change. It happened overnight…HA! I wish.

Truth is, I am still struggling with it.

I have moved from the “why am I not getting anywhere?” and “alright something’s gotta give” stages. I’ve passed the “I know what I need to do” mark. I am now camped out in the “I have tasted change, want more, but can’t quite grasp it” part of the process.

I know that the path I’ve walked for many years no longer works. What I still struggle with is the want to…the motivation. Breaking the habit of letting things wait until the last possible moment has been tough. I’ve tried on the mantra “why wait when you can do it now” and, frankly, it fits like a crew neck t-shirt. (Suffocating, in case you are wondering.)

However I now realize that it truly is easier to maintain something than to do a major clean up every so often. So…slowly…that crew neck t-shirt is loosening it’s grip.

Routines Aren’t All Bad

Wondering when I’m getting to the homeschooling part? Well, I never left it. While this effected my housekeeping most, there was overflow into our homeschooling. It’s unavoidable, whatever effects your home is going to effect your HOMEschool.

Please don’t get me wrong, I do not regret our homeschooling choices. We have truly enjoyed our time learning as we went. I’ve learned things that I never would have simply because one of my children was interested in it. It is just time for a change.

I will be talking more about our daily routine in a guest post coming up at Upside Down Homeschooling, but basically it comes down to my decision to embrace change.

This makes me laugh because my very first One Word WAAAAY back in 2010 was Change. I’m a quick study, huh? Seriously, I’m sitting here with my headphones on laughing at myself. My kids think I’m nuts.

So be encouraged, homeschool mamas. God will bring the seeds He plants in your heart to fruition, no matter how slow of a learner you are. Just look at me. 😉

Time for #homeschool changes @ www.vicki-arnold.com

P.S. Head over to the Teach Them Diligently blog to see what changes others are making in their homeschool this year.

Real Refreshement Retreat Sampler

Encouragement for Moms Homeschooling Young Children

Encouragement for Moms Homeschooling Young Children - a guest post I wrote for Hands-On Homeschooler

Today I am over at Hands-On Homeschooler. My post of encouragement for moms homeschooling young children is up today. Here is a snippet of what you will find!

Encouragement for Moms Homeschooling Young Children

The questions filling my inbox lately are from mothers with young children looking to start their homeschool journey this coming fall. Most are feeling called by God to homeschool their child. Most are overwhelmed, wondering if they really can do this. They have questions about curriculum, approaches, and how to get it all done in a day. This is my encouragement for moms looking to homeschool their young child for the first time.

For more head over to see the rest of the post at Hands-On Homeschooler!

How to Stay Encouraged While Homeschooling

How to stay encouraged while homeschooing. You can do this. Encouragement from vicki-arnold.com

Encouragement for the Homeschool Family

Homeschooling is awesome. It is also one of the most challenging things I’ve ever taken on. And if I think about the scope of what we are trying to accomplish, I am on the verge of hyperventilating. It is a lot to take on.

My kids are pretty awesome, if I do say so myself; however they are far from perfect. Which is astounding when you consider how close I am…hahahaha, sorry couldn’t even keep a straight face for that one. There are no perfect people in our house. I struggle with my imperfections daily. My children seem to have inherited my procrastinating ways and an organizational style that relies heavily on piles of stuff. I can’t tell you how super this is.

We deal with this “stuff” (also known as: child training, parenting, and getting over oneself) on top of attempting to educate our children as the Lord leads. It can be a mess. Yet we are entering our sixth “official” year of homeschooling (if you start counting with Kindergarten).

How? That is the question that Teach Them Diligently posed to us bloggers. How do you stay encouraged while homeschooling?

Why, why, why, why, why?!

I have said it before. Knowing WHY we are homeschooling is sometimes the only thing that pulls me along. Sometimes kicking and screaming…I kid. Sort of. There is a saying that nothing worth having in life comes easy. I view homeschooling very much in this light.

Our purpose for homeschooling can be summed up like this: God gave us these precious blessings along with the responsibility to disciple them and prepare them for life. We see childhood as such a short window in which to build strong relationships with our children, train their character (and, frankly, our own), and teach them the way of the Lord. We must take advantage of every precious minute. Homeschooling gives us that opportunity. And that freedom.

Community: Get One!

You need community. You need other like-minded people to help support you. Online friends are awesome for this in that they seem to be there at the press of a button. As awesome as this is, it is not enough.

You need someone in your “real” life that is there for you. Personally, I think a supportive spouse is entirely necessary. You do not want strife in your marriage over homeschooling. Marriage and homeschooling are hard enough as it is on their own. Don’t pit the two of them against each other. It is not worth it.

Beyond your spouse, finding other homeschooling families to fellowship with provides you with that “I’m not alone!” encouragement when you have hard times AND makes the celebration times more fun! Just don’t compare your children to their’s. Seriously. Don’t do it.

Encouragement: Find It!

No one is going to knock down your door to give you the encouragement you need. You will need to be intentional about finding it and keeping it.

Above All, Remember This

Seek the will of God in your homeschool. Read your Bible to see what God has to say to you. Pray, pray, pray. He will lead you to the encouragement you need, even if you don’t know what it is. He will also protect you from the headaches that arise from our wandering hearts. True story.

Now, head on over to the Teach Them Diligently blog to see what the other bloggers have to say about staying encouraged while homeschooling.

How to stay encouraged while homeschooling. You can do this.

Homeschool Newsletter

Don’t forget to sign up for my Homeschool Newsletter launching in July! Encouragement, freebies, exclusives, deals…yep, I’ve got you covered.


Dear Guilty Mom – Give Yourself Permission

Common Bond

There is a series of “Dear Mom” posts by Rachel Martin at Finding Joy that are very popular (for good reason). It is through these posts and the feedback on them, and the popularity of my own transparency post (popularity is completely relative, of course) that I came to realize one of the biggest struggles moms deal with is GUILT. The tremendous pressure of the things we think we should be doing. Sometimes we think we should be doing something simply because we see other “good” moms doing it.

You are Not That Other Mom

Here’s the thing. God created you to be the mother you are, to seek His will for your life as a mom. We are to train our children in the ways that God has laid out clearly in the Bible (Deuteronomy 6:7, Exodus 20:1-17) and to seek His will for the areas that are not “black and white” issues. In that order (see Matthew 6:33 and 7:7-11). He will answer our prayers and grant us guidance (Psalm 9:10). And, while there are some very good resources out there, not all of them are for you and your child.

Your path through motherhood will look different to another mom’s, even if you share very similar beliefs and convictions. I’ll give you five good reasons:

  1. Your backgrounds are different.
  2. Your children are different.
  3. Your ministry specifics are different.
  4. Your husbands are different.
  5. YOU are different, which means you do not have the exact same giftings from the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).

God has created each of us uniquely. Honor that. See 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 for encouragement on this.

Know the Difference

See the thing about guilt is, it’s not always a bad thing. When Christ left us, He promised us that the Comforter would come. This Comforter is the Holy Spirit, which dwells in us. The Holy Spirit’s job?

And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. Of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more. Of judgement, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, buy ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. John 16:8-15 (emphasis mine)

Conviction tends to come at us in the form of guilt because we realize once again just how far we are from the perfection of Christ (Romans 3:23). This is a GOOD thing. What becomes the problem is how we respond. The correct response is to humble ourselves at the foot of the cross, repent and obey what Christ has laid on our hearts (Acts 3:19, 1 John 1:9).

The incorrect response can come in many forms – hardening our hearts because we don’t want to change (Hebrews 10:26-29) and lashing out at those the Holy Spirit is using in our lives to bring conviction (Matthew 5:12) are two examples.

So, sometimes guilt is good.

Other times, though, we feel guilt based on “worldly” standards.

Worldly Guilt

This is where we need to give ourselves permission to be the mom we are at the moment.

Feeling guilty you don’t do enough crafts with your kiddos? Give yourself permission to stop trying to constantly entertain or “challenge” your kids.

Feeling guilty you don’t get up before the sun and start each day with quiet time? Give yourself permission to get the rest your body needs and get up with the kids.

Feeling guilty you don’t have exciting meal plans? Give yourself permission to keep it simple.

Feeling guilty you don’t sew your children’s clothes? Give yourself permission to buy them without guilt.

The funny thing about “worldly” guilt is, when we give ourselves permission to let go, oftentimes the very thing we were trying to make happen, starts to happen naturally. I don’t have any profound reasoning why, but I’m guessing it has to do with grace.

Again, Know the Difference

To find your balance between good and bad guilt, you need to know the Word of God. If the guilt you are feeling lines up with scripture, you need to seek God and what He has for you there. If you can’t line your guilt up with scripture, it’s not of God and you need to let go of it.

Give yourself permission.

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The purpose of this blog is to encourage and bless, if this post or any other has done so, would you consider leaving a comment and/or sharing the post with others? I would greatly appreciate it.

If you would like some scripture encouragement to help you overcome procrastination, please check out this post.

If you would like to change up your housework routine, this post may help.

Linking up with The Ultimate List of Mom Resources at Mom’s Mustard Seeds

Transparency — AKA I’m Not Perfect Either

Funny how things go sometimes.

Today in my Facebook news feed was a link to the latest post on Bohemian Bowmans, Things You’re Not Supposed to Say About Life.

While I agree with her reasons, I’d like to add another one to the table. A friend of mine and I were talking about this recently. We were discussing how it’s hard to be transparent with everyone because there are people who seem to be waiting for a sign of weakness to say “I told you so” or offer their “advice” to do exactly the opposite of what you are currently doing.

(Just One) Example: the homeschooling mom doesn’t share her homeschooling struggles because of the relative who uses every opportunity to share that sending the kids to public school is the magical answer to all of them.

The bigger issue is when we take our experience with one person and use it to make assumptions about another. A homeschool parent once made a comment about you sending your child to public school, so now you are wary of what you share with all homeschooling parents. Or, on the other hand, a public school parent intently questioned you on the socialization of your children or your qualifications for teaching your children once and now any time the question comes up, so do bitter feelings.

This creates a lot of unnecessary division in the body of Christ. We are part of a body, which means there are hands, feet, etc. And simply because you are a foot in one area of your life like so-and-so, doesn’t mean you’ll both be hands in another area. It also doesn’t mean you will be a foot all your life. <End Christian Cliche>

There seems to be a wave of transparency moving through the Internet. More and more people seem to be realizing that others are looking at what they are putting out there via blogs, Twitter, Facebook…and not getting the whole picture.

What’s the whole picture? Life is life for everyone, no matter their label. It’s messy, it’s hectic, it’s crazy…and it’s beautiful. It’s real.

Everyone struggles. Everyone.

So in the spirit of transparency, here is a dose of the real me…

Care to share a struggle?

If you are dealing with mommy guilt, please read my post called Dear Guilty Mom – Give Yourself Permission.

If you would like some practical help with housekeeping, check out my list of 19 Ways to Change Up Your Housework Routine.