The Homeschool Sanity Show
The Homeschool Sanity Show
Melanie Wilson, PhD
Homeschool encouragement and podcast
Get Organized The Easy Way
Does organizing or staying organized seem hard? It did for me. This is the Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where I share the easy way to get and stay organized. Hey, homeschoolers! If you've heard any of my organizing episodes before, you know that I was so disorganized that I felt I couldn't homeschool without having division of family services come in. Not only was my house a mess but I wasn't actually teaching my preschooler. He was my proving ground and I proved to myself that I could not do it! That was when I found FLYLady online and discovered the power of routines. Routines changed my life and gave me the confidence I needed to keep homeschooling and even have three more children. Routines--a string of habits regularly done in the same order--provide the structure that we need to keep up our homes, care for our kids, and homeschool. They also make organizing possible. But organizing, even with routines in place, can seem hard. Perhaps you have a part of your routine dedicated to organizing. But instead of decluttering and making access to things easier, you choose to do something else. You might decide to fold the laundry, clean a window covered with fingerprints, or scan Pinterest for organizing hacks instead of actually organizing. Why do we do this and how can we fix it? Before I share the easy way to get organized, I want to admit that I can easily fall into the hard way of getting organized, too. When I do, I don't want to organize. At all. Allow me to describe the hard way that has me wanting to do anything but get organized. Organizing the Hard Way The hard way requires a decision on every item in the space. Have you ever had to complete one of these long, legal documents for an expensive product or service you're purchasing? It has a dozen options that you haven't researched. So you have to look to the sales rep for an explanation and a recommendation for each. The worst is when the sales rep shrugs and says it's up to you. This is how we can feel when we're faced with a space full of items. Should you get rid of it? Move it? Buy an alternative to it? Ask someone if they want it? Sell it? Take a picture of it or record yourself explaining the significance of the item before you let it go? What kind of organizing system should you use for storing it? What options are available for that? Will you use it again? When? How often will you use it and does that frequency justify keeping it? That decision fatigue plus any emotion the item brings up can be exhausting with just one item. I feel stupid for buying it. I feel guilty for buying it. I remember the person who gave it me and I feel sad or angry. I wonder if that person will ask about it if I let it go. No wonder we want to avoid this process! Therapy would be easier. The hard way also means perfectly following the plan. I love the decluttering missions from Home Storage Solutions 101. So many times I've started the new year telling myself that I'm going to do the missions on the day they're planned. Then I get to "create tax organizer for current tax info." I see the word tax and I'm more interested in cleaning the toilet. I tell myself I can do tax stuff later. What I really mean by that is when my husband says our accountant needs all our tax stuff this week or else. So I skip it for now. Then when I'm supposed to take decluttered food to the food pantry according to the plan, I think, "I don't even know where to take it! Is this a big enough donation to drop off? Shouldn't it be better food than the lima beans I didn't eat?
Jan 31, 2023
18 min
How To Have More Confidence As A Homeschool Mom This Year
Do you lack confidence as a homeschool mom? A number of moms on the Homeschool Sanity Facebook page have commented that they do. This is The Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where we discuss how we can have more confidence as homeschool moms this year. Hey, homeschoolers! Before we dive into the topic of mom confidence, I'd like to thank CTC Math for sponsoring this episode. Sponsor Finding a math curriculum that works for your family can be a challenge! With CTCMath, all of your kids from K-12 can learn at their own pace with one family subscription. That's right! With a CTCMath membership, you have access to all grades and lessons, which means your children can work at whatever level is best for them. Whether your kid needs to catch up, keep up, or move ahead, with CTCMath they can finally understand math and work at their own pace. CTCMath is offering listeners a half-price discount plus a bonus 6 months when you register for a 12-month membership. Yep. That means you have access to a complete online homeschool math curriculum for all your kids for 18 months! Why We Lack Confidence Before we can talk about building confidence, let's talk about why we lack it in our homeschooling. The first reason is fairly obvious: we haven't homeschooled before. Even classroom teachers can be intimidated by the prospect of teaching all subjects to multiple students--especially their own. It's normal to lack confidence without experience. The second reason we lack confidence is we are aware of our shortcomings. I was keenly aware of my lack of organization--something I've written and spoken about extensively, and which troubles many a would-be homeschool mom. And it wasn't just messiness I was worried about. I'd been excited about a lot of projects in the past that I'd lost interest in. What if I did that with homeschooling? Many homeschooling moms didn't get good grades in general or in particular subjects, causing them to worry about their ability to teach their own children. The third reason we lack confidence is because of messaging from other people. We may have family members or friends who disapprove of homeschooling and tell us about homeschool horror stories. From childhood, we may have heard about our shortcomings repeatedly. Or we were mistreated, causing us to wonder who we are to take on this important responsibility. Finally, other homeschoolers can make us feel less than confident by presenting an unattainable picture of homeschooling. Engineers in your support group who lead a championship robotics team. Homeschoolers who pay for expensive private tutoring and classes to ensure their child's success. Mothers with supportive family who have lots of time to plan and implement an enriched education. You may feel like you're not qualified. How to Homeschool with New Confidence This Year Inexperience, shortcomings, and others' messaging can make us feel ill-equipped to homeschool successfully. But here is how we can overcome and take on homeschooling with a new confidence this year. First, we can begin seeing ourselves as co-learners rather than professors. I learned more about child development and education by homeschooling my kids than I ever did in school or my work as a psychologist. We don't want to fail in our homeschooling and parenting,
Jan 24, 2023
12 min
Special Replay: Homeschooling Through the Winter Blahs
Do you feel blah once Christmas is over like I do? The tips on this episode will encourage you! Subscribe on iTunes The Organized Homeschool Life or on Amazon. Join me on Facebook. I hope you'll join us for accountability. Teaching Tip of the Week The teaching tip of the week is Shining Dawn Books' Nature by the Season: Winter. This preschool/kindergarten curriculum will help you and your younger learner appreciate winter and have fun learning. With 40 Nature Walk ideas and colorful worksheets, you'll find yourself warming up to learning this winter. Click here to view more details Organized Homeschool Challenge of the Week The Memory Keeping Challenge How to Homeschool Through the Winter Blahs I turned to the bloggers of iHomeschool Network. I've created a free Thankful for Winter printable for you and your kids. There are plenty of free options for getting into the word at If you are still struggling with your attitude to the point that you suspect you're depressed, make an appointment to see your doctor or counselor. I did an interview with the Fletchers for Homeschooling in Real Life on depression. I have a winter workout for kids and 6 workouts you can do at home on Psychowith6. Be sure to check out my post of 6 more crazy-easy crockpot recipes for fix it and forget it homemade meals this winter. I have a really fun study on Mr. Popper's penguins on Psychowith6 that you could try. The iHomeschool network bloggers have lots of great ideas for you. I've also pinned some good ones on my winter inspiration board on Pinterest. Start a new fun study. Gena Mayo's 20th Century Music Appreciation is a great one. I bought soft fake snowballs for the kids for this purpose. Action Steps If we will change our attitude about winter, take care of ourselves and the kids physically, and do something new, we can definitely homeschool through the winter blahs. Make a plan right now and let me know what you're going to do on the Homeschool Sanity Facebook page. Next Week How to Teach Kids to Declutter Have a happy homeschool week!
Jan 17, 2023
17 min
The New Thing for Maintaining Homeschool Enthusiasm
Is it hard to be enthusiastic about homeschooling this time of year? It usually is for me and it's hard to be enthusiastic about life in general when the winter blahs set in. This is the Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where I'll share an idea for maintaining your homeschool and life enthusiasm--an idea that's already changed my life. Why We Lose Our Homeschool Enthusiasm This Time of Year January doesn't drag me down the way it did in my childhood. I grew up in South Dakota where the cold and snow had a profoundly negative effect on my mood--an effect I didn't understand until spring when I felt like someone had changed my batteries. Winter where I live now involves regular breaks from the cold and gloom. The occasional 60-degree days keep me going. But winter isn't the only thing that can make us meh about homeschooling. It's also back to the regular routine. The excitement of Christmas break is over. There is a lot of school left before spring. So what do we do? I used to make curriculum and routine changes for the new year. And these changes helped. But soon the enthusiasm I had for those changes waned too, and we were all fairly bored, hoping to muddle our way through to spring. The seasonal change can make symptoms of depression worse. (Help a son or daughter with depression.) The Power of Novelty If you can relate to any of my experience, you may be someone who enjoys novelty as I do. In fact, research suggests that many of us with attention-deficit traits are high in novelty seeking. But it turns out that God created all of us to seek new experiences. When we encounter something new, we get an increase of the reward neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine not only improves symptoms of depression but helps us learn. There are clear benefits of novelty, but we also benefit from the structure of a homeschool routine. I've discussed this on the podcast many times. If we tried to homeschool in a completely unpredictable fashion, we'd be stressed and our kids would be unhappy. So, how can we enjoy the benefits of both novelty and structure? Recently our local Christian radio station mentioned a woman whose resolution is to do something new every day this year. Wow! I was instantly sold on this idea, but I had no idea how life-changing it would be from the get go. Let's break it down. Something new. In Isaiah 43, God proclaims that He is doing a new thing. If God does new things, why shouldn't we? We can enjoy newness in curriculum and schedules and our school space, but as I pondered this woman's resolution, I realized that newness can be so much more. New Activities We can try new activities--especially once. It's low commitment and easier to fit one class or activity into the schedule than a six-week class. I signed up for a one-time, online Native American cooking class and an in-person bookmaking class with a friend this month. I found these activities by searching for class offerings in my area. With YouTube and free online classes and apps, you could try dozens of new activities with your kids. If you find out they're not for you, you've still benefitted from the novelty. New Options for Activities We can also try new options for an activity we already enjoy. I like to cook, exercise, and go out to eat. I made scalloped potatoes and ham in my Instant Pot and was astounded that the potatoes need just two minutes cooking time!
Jan 10, 2023
14 min
How To Protect Your Homeschool From Hijacking
Right before Christmas my HomeschoolSanity Instagram account was hacked. You may wonder what that has to do with you. This is the Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where I explain what happened and how my experience can help you protect not just your social media accounts but your homeschool and life from hijacking. Sponsor Finding a math curriculum that works for your family can be a challenge! With CTCMath, all of your kids from K-12 can learn at their own pace with one family subscription. That's right! With a CTCMath membership, you have access to all grades and lessons, which means your children can work at whatever level is best for them. Whether your kid needs to catch up, keep up, or move ahead, with CTCMath they can finally understand math and work at their own pace. CTCMath is offering listeners a half-price discount plus a bonus 6 months when you register for a 12-month membership. Yep. That means you have access to a complete online homeschool math curriculum for all your kids for 18 months! Protect Your Homeschool Life from Hijacking If you clicked on my stories for Homeschool Sanity for Instagram during Christmas week, you may wonder why I'm obsessed with cryptocurrency, bragging about the Mercedes I bought with my profits, and using a lot of y'all's in the captions. My account was hacked. There appeared to be no way for me to get it back. Instagram does not have email, chat, or phone support. Instead, a broken autoresponder was my only option for restoring access, and much to my disappointment, I did not get a Christmas miracle of suddenly getting it back by the 25th. How I Was Hijacked How did this happen? I wish I could say that I did everything right. But I did not. In fact, that's why I'm sharing this episode. Because there are a number of things I did wrong. I made some embarrassingly stupid moves. I'm sad to say it isn't the first time. It was the first time I lost a social media account to a hacker, yes. But not the first time I've made choices that made it easy for the enemy to hijack my life. I have learned a lot from these experiences, however, that I want to share with you in the hopes that your social media and your homeschool will be safe from hijackers. Unmanaged Emotions The first reason my Instagram account was hijacked is because I had emotions I hadn't managed. In my case, it was guilt. I had contacts with two people the day my account was hijacked who wanted money from me. My family and I had been generous with them in the past. I owed them nothing. In fact, they have a history of manipulation. But because they are still poor, I felt some guilt about not helping them. Later that day a woman, who had wanted to sell me makeup in the past, direct-messaged me on Instagram. I looked at her request that I vote for her as an ambassador as well as the fact that I had never purchased makeup from her and guess what I felt? Guilt. If I had done some truth journaling or some chatting with my husband about the guilt I was feeling earlier in the day, it would have been managed. I never would have been vulnerable to this request. Guilt isn't the only unmanaged emotion that can result in a hijacking, though. Fear and anger are two others. Moses let anger at an Egyptian who was beating a fellow Israelite lead him to kill the man. He then had to leave Egypt in fear for his life. We can all think of foolish things we've done out of fear and anger that were not managed properly. Distractions The second way I opened myself up to the hijacking of...
Jan 3, 2023
14 min
How To Gamify Your Homeschool
A homeschool mom wrote to ask me where my episode on gamifying your homeschool was. The problem is I don't have one! But I thought it was a fantastic idea. This is The Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where we talk about making our homeschooling more like a fun, motivating game. Sponsor Finding a math curriculum that works for your family can be a challenge! With CTCMath, all of your kids from K-12 can learn at their own pace with one family subscription. That's right! With a CTCMath membership, you have access to all grades and lessons, which means your children can work at whatever level is best for them. Whether your kid needs to catch up, keep up, or move ahead, with CTCMath they can finally understand math and work at their own pace. CTCMath is offering listeners a half-price discount plus a bonus 6 months when you register for a 12-month membership. Yep. That means you have access to a complete online homeschool math curriculum for all your kids for 18 months! Gameschooling You might have heard of gameschooling. There are some excellent online influencers who share games for teaching just about every topic. I've shared games for teaching language arts as well as holiday games. I'm a huge fan of games as a break from traditional teaching. Kids love them and depending on the games, we parents do too. Not only are games fun learning, but they can create family memories you will cherish. I incorporate games into Grammar Galaxy as well. I particularly like active games because they're a welcome break for active kids. The fun involved in a game releases dopamine in the brain which aids in retention of the material. Language Arts Board Games Free Grammar Games Free Vocabulary Games Gameschooling: The Waldock Way Gameschooling: My Little Poppies Gameschooling: The Mulberry Journal Gameschooling is great. But there is more to gamifying your homeschool than simply adding educational, fun games to your curriculum. Gamifying Your Homeschool Gamification means adding game principles to your homeschool life so that you and your family are more motivated. Let me share an example to explain. Imagine that you were invited to play a card game. There are many rules: you must play certain cards for points but there are other cards that will cost you points. You begin trying to play to earn points. But you forget and play some cards that cost you points. There aren't any written rules to refer to. After some time goes by, you ask how you're doing in the game. Are you ahead, behind, winning, or losing? You're told to just keep playing the game and you'll figure it out. New rules seem to be added to the game every turn that cost you points. When you make what you think is a play that will earn you lots of points,
Dec 20, 2022
15 min
Motivating Learners With Dr. Lyle Lee Jenkins
Is your student less than motivated when it comes to reading or math? This is The Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where Dr. Lee Jenkins shares creative ideas for motivating learners. Hey, homeschoolers! As a psychologist, mother, and now a guide for homeschool parents, I have a great interest in motivation. Before I introduce my guest, I want to thank my sponsor for this episode: 5000 Blankets. Sponsor: 5000 Blankets Movie It's incredible what can happen when you transform your heart to serve the people around you.Catch 5000 BLANKETS exclusively in theaters for two days only! December 12 & 13. Tickets at Motivating Learners with Dr. Lyle Lee Jenkins I was happy to have Dr. Jenkins join me for the podcast to share creative ideas for engaging our kids in the learning process. Lyle Lee Jenkins is an author, speaker, consultant and a recognized expert in improving educational outcomes. The author of How to Create a Perfect School, All About Henry, his newest release How to Create a Perfect Homeschool, and 15 other books, Lee has spent the last 50 years learning from world-class experts while working as a teacher, principal, school superintendent and university professor. Lee’s speaking career has taken him across the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Asia, and he has taught online courses to educators from more than 25 countries. His mission is providing innovative solutions for the most perplexing education problems. I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did. We discussed: * Tips for motivating reading * Tips for motivating math * Why Dr. Jenkins talks about the "perfect" homeschool Resources for Motivating Learners Find links to Dr. Jenksins's books at Learners Email Dr. Jenkins at Brown Bear, Brown Bear Aesop's Favorite Fables Have a happy homeschool week! Thanks again to 5000 Blankets for their sponsorship.
Dec 13, 2022
43 min
Why You’ve Fallen Behind In Your Homeschool Plan
Have you fallen behind in your homeschool plan? Do you want to avoid looking at your lesson planner because it’s so depressing? If that’s you, I have good news. This is The Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where we'll get back on track. Sponsor: 5000 Blankets Movie It's incredible what can happen when you transform your heart to serve the people around you.Catch 5000 BLANKETS exclusively in theaters for two days only! December 12 & 13. Tickets at The Planning Fallacy Now the good news: There’s nothing wrong with you! You’ve just fallen victim to a human thinking error that’s characteristic of some of the smartest people. It’s called the planning fallacy. It means we tend to underestimate how much time projects take, even when we have experience that has taught us better. So you tell yourself you can get the science experiment part of your curriculum done in half an hour, even though they’ve taken you at least three times as long in the past. Why are we irrational this way? Because we also have an optimism bias—especially when it comes to our own abilities. I’ve been watching a baking show, a baking competition in which bakers make elaborate baked goods in a very short amount of time. Even though a baker will admit to never having made the recipe at home under the time limit, she hopes that she will for the competition. She hopes. It’s a kind of magical thinking that we’re all guilty of at times. You’ve never made it to co-op in under ten minutes, but you hope you will today—somehow. Why do we have this optimism bias and this magical thinking about the future? Researchers have a number of theories: First, we use the best-case scenario in our planning. For example, we tell ourselves we can get to church in six minutes because of that one time when every light was green. Second, we plan this way because we want to believe that our scenario will happen. We avoid the disappointment of admitting that there is no possible way we can complete two foreign language curricula in one year. Third, we honestly don't remember how long a similar project took. We think the math lesson took ten minutes to complete when it actually took 20. Fourth, we emphasize the differences between the current project and a past one. Yes, science experiments took forever last year, but now you're organized. And your kids are more mature. Fifth, long-term deadlines promote poorer time estimates. We do worse in realistically planning for a full school year than we do for this week. Sixth, we focus on the variables that we can control, forgetting that much of the most time-consuming parts of our day are unexpected and out of our control. We don't know that our printer will stop working right when we go to print the lab worksheets or that the dog will get out of the yard as we're about to start the art lesson. How to Overcome the Planning Fallacy I don't know about you, but I'm getting depressed. Maybe we should scrap our homeschool plan and just see what happens? Depending on your homeschool laws, you might not have that choice. Or you know that you get far less done without a plan. So you'd still like to plan in such a way that you don't fall far behind. How can we do that? First, instead of using a best-case scenario,
Dec 6, 2022
12 min
How To Get A College Degree Debt-Free
If your student wants to attend college but doesn't want to be loaded down with debt, I have a treat for you. This is The Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where guest Kara Walker shares uncommon but practical tips for saving money on a college education. Hey, homeschoolers! I absolutely love chatting with homeschoolers. That's just one reason I wanted to interview Kara Walker. Kara graduated from college debt-free, and is now on a quest to help other students do the same with her podcast, "Money and Mental Peace," and her online course "The Debt-Free College Blueprint"! She is a twenty-something Christian entrepreneur, amateur snowboarder, and recovering over-achiever. Kara enjoys goal-setting, budgeting, and living a debt-free lifestyle, and wants to help YOU do the same! Kara is absolutely delightful. If you have a college-bound or finance-interested teen, have them listen to this episode with you. You won't be disappointed. College Degree, Debt-Free Resources Dave Ramsey personal finance courses Dave Ramsey podcast Modern States Study Guides Homeschooling for College Credit Money and Mental Peace - Kara's website and podcast How we manage college Have a happy homeschool week!
Nov 29, 2022
38 min
Special Replay: How To Level Up Your Gratitude
Hey, homescoolers! I've written and spoken about gratitude a lot because it's important. God's Word reminds us to give thanks 173 times. Giving thanks is the Lord's admonition to His people, but even secular leaders recognize the benefits of expressing gratitude. Gratitude journals are all the rage. But I had an experience recently that helped me see that my gratitude needs an upgrade. What's exciting about this recognition is not that I have another reason to feel guilty. On the contrary, I have another reason to be encouraged. And so do you! In this episode, I want to share some ideas for taking our own and our family's gratitude to the next level. And it doesn't require you to go on a foreign mission trip. Before I share those ideas, I just want to say thank you. I have been so blessed to have you listen to this podcast, to chat with me at Great Homeschool Conventions, and to write and tell me that my work makes a difference in your life. It's easier to keep running this race with your encouragement. I thank God for you and I pray for you. Last month, my son woke us up to tell us that our basement was flooded. We thought he meant that some water had come in along one wall. That had happened before and my husband had a plan for solving the problem. So I was shocked when I walked downstairs, only to have my feet sink into sopping wet carpet. Water had come in from every wall, leaving only the center of the rooms dry. Our sump pump had failed in the midst of a heavy rain. We didn't know that the pumps have to be replaced regularly. If you haven't replaced your pump, let our experience be a warning to you. Before I entered our sopping wet basement, my gratitude list would have sounded something like this: Lord, I'm thankful for my family. I'm thankful for my home. I'm thankful for my business. I've matured enough in my faith that I wasn't grumbling to God about the mess the water had made, but it was definitely a damper on my day. I became hyper focused on solving the problem. More rain was in the forecast later that day. I was ready to turn to Google for help when I felt the sense that I needed to stop and let my husband help me. Because my office is in our basement, I was feeling that I needed to be in charge. But I heeded the call to stand down. I just worked on cleanup. Then my husband announced that our plumber was coming in a couple of hours to install a new sump pump. That was very good news! But the rest wasn't. "I asked how he was," my husband said, "and I could tell something was wrong. He has cancer and starts chemo in a few days." I wasn't shocked because of the large number of people we know who have been diagnosed with cancer or a recurrence in the last two years. But I was in awe of how the Lord used our flooded basement to give us the opportunity to minister to a man at just the right time. Yes, I was grateful that we suffered so little loss with the water damage. I was grateful, too, that the flooding hadn't occurred after installing new carpeting. Instead, I had been wanting the carpet replaced anyway. But what I was most grateful for was the love of our God. He loves our plumber so much that He used a heavy rain combined with our failure to replace a sump pump to bring him to our home, where we could pray for him and witness to our faith. What's incredible to me is that He didn't just work this together for our plumber's good but for ours. God is more than able to use every circumstance to make His plan a reality. I'm so grateful that He is trustworthy! His will will be done, even if we make a mistake.
Nov 22, 2022
11 min
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