Welcome to the Home School Markeplace Blog!

middle-father-sonHere’s where you will find articles on the many different facets of getting started in homeschooling, articles that cover the nuts and bolts of how to homeschool, of best parenting practices, of how to have a more meaningful, less-stressed family life, and how to develop a home business.

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Stones of Remembrance

stones-of-remembranceDid you know that the winter following the first Thanksgiving was so severe and filled with tragedy that, at their lowest point, the Pilgrims were reduced to a daily ration of five kernels of corn apiece?

At their Thanksgiving feast the next November, in remembrance of the hardships of the previous winter and in gratitude for their survival, the first course, served on an empty plate in front of each person, consisted of five kernels of corn.

So if you have trouble finding something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, be glad you didn’t have to make it through last winter on just 5 kernels of corn a day! [Read more…]

Prioritizing Your Sanity

StressWith Thanksgiving just around the corner, we are headed into the winter holidays which, although wonderful, tend to contribute their own brand of overwhelm. Aside from the disruption to our normal schedule, the extra cooking and cleaning, the added expense, and the strain of either traveling to see relatives or having them as house guests, there are often a lot of unpleasant family dynamics that go on.

So how do we deal with this seasonal overwhelm?

Feelings of overwhelm usually have three major sources: deadlines, misguided martyrdom, and competency issues. [Read more…]

Predicting Educational Success

Lover of Books_thumb“A rule of thumb for predicting future success is to know the number of books in the home.”
–Cradles of Eminence

No, this post is not going to be about the election. I promise. You’ve probably heard enough about it already. I know I certainly have. Everybody I know is sending me Facebook posts and tweets and Instagram memes about how they either love or hate the outcome. Most of my younger friends are convinced we’re headed for an apocalypse, while most of my older ones just want all the drama to be over so the nation (and the media) can get on to other things.

So…let’s consider something else besides politics. And that is, as Game of Thrones keeps reminding us, “Winter is coming.” Which means, to me and my family, winter is time for a lot of great reading.

The Importance of Reading Great Books

Good literature is like beauty. You will never understand that unless you’ve read a truly good book written by someone who wields language like a great artist wields a paintbrush. Good literature does something healthy to the soul and spirit. A well-written book can transport you to realms that are not of this world—not just because of the story, but because of the way the words are used. Every really good book I’ve ever read has made me pause throughout the reading just to marvel at how the words were crafted.

And the more good books you read, the more that place inside you that appreciates truth and beauty and excellence is stirred. That’s why certain books have taken on a “classic” quality. It’s not just because of the plot, because often great books don’t have the exciting plots that cheap fiction does, but it is because of the beauty of the way the language is used to develop the plot and how it can touch you to your very core. [Read more…]

Needle Movers

pressure-guageI attended a webinar the other day about “needle movers” in different areas of life. For example, the three most important factors that “move the needle” towards better health are 1) sleep, 2) exercise, and 3) nutrition.

As I listened, I began to wonder if there are three factors that make the most impact on our home schooling as far as making it most effective and successful with the least amount of stress and strain on us or on our children. (Yes, I’ve seen just about as many burned out homeschool kids as I have seen burned out homeschool moms.)

Looking back over my decades of teaching my own children at home, I narrowed down what was most helpful for me. Here are my three biggest needle movers.

Needle Mover #1: Discover your limits.

Life is kind of like the gauge in the photo. There is a “safe” zone we can operate in mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially. When we are in that “zone,” all the different facets of our lives run optimally. The goal of “needle moving” is to move our needle right in the middle of the “safe” zone and keep it there as much as possible.

When you’re the glue that holds everything together in your family (which, like it or not, you probably are!), it’s easy to move into the yellow without even becoming aware that we’re exceeding our limits. In the yellow zone, we may still be able to handle things fairly well. But, if we’re not careful, we can find ourselves in the red–full blown overwhelm. And we all know what happens when we’re overwhelmed–we resort to our favorite coping strategies. These usually involve engaging in some unhealthy activity such as diving into the junk food, neglecting exercise, trying to survive on too little sleep, venting all over everyone and everything, losing focus, too much “screen time” (on TV, emails or Facebook), becoming depressed, etc. Everyone has their go-to coping strategies when they feel like their life is spinning out of control. Learn to recognize when your needle is moving towards the red so you can catch yourself and move it back into the green.

My son Seth who is a computer programmer calls the spectrum of green, yellow and red on the gauge “bandwidth.” Everyone has a certain amount of “bandwidth” they can operate in comfortably in the different areas of their lives. When we exceed our comfort bandwidth (the green on the gauge), our life gets messy spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially.

So, what are your limits? How much bandwidth do you have and how can you tell when you’re beginning to get into the “yellow?” We want to “move our needles” enough so that we’re solidly in the green, but not so much that we take on pressure that uncomfortable or unhealthy.

Needle Mover #2: Know your children’s limits.

Adobe Photoshop PDFI’m constantly amazed how few parents understand their children’s limits. In other words, in their zeal to make their home schooling efforts a success, parents tend to unintentionally push their children’s developmental boundaries, expecting them to perform at levels far above their capabilities, not only academically but also emotionally and in other areas as well. For example, well-meaning parents often ask me to recommend the best grammar program for their 5 year old or they push their elementary aged students into courses that required abstract thinking (which normally doesn’t develop until around age 12).

I’ve spent the past few years creating teaching materials for autistic students. And, because individuals with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) are prone to emotional “melt-downs,” one of the first things they learn is to recognize when they are becoming overwhelmed by a situation–in other words, they learn to “Watch Your Needle.” There’s a convenient 5-point scale that’s been around a long time to helps them become more aware of when they are getting into the “yellow” and moving towards a melt-down.

I’m writing a book right now about childhood developmental stages because I believe it would be incredibly helpful if parents would:

  • first, learn the typical childhood developmental stages and stop demanding that their children perform in ways they aren’t yet developmentally capable and
  • second, teach their children to become self-aware enough that they can recognize when their “needle” is going into the orange and red.
Needle Mover #3: Begin with the end in mind.

Sometimes I get the impression that home schooling parents are just winging it and don’t really have an end goal for what they’re doing. It would help to ask a series of questions such as:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • What do I want the end result to be for each of my children? (academically, skill-wise, character-wise, relationally, etc.)
  • What’s the most effective way to successfully reach my end result?

It helps if you write down your answers to these questions and refer back to your answers when you feel yourself slipping into the “yellow.”

So there you have it…my take on the three needle greatest needle movers in homeschooling.

What would you say are the three greatest needle movers in homeschooling?

High Five Friday: Creating Good Habits

minihabitsbookWhat I’m reading: Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results by Stephen Guise

Why I’m reading it:

One thing (among others) that home schooling your children uncovers about you is your own bad habits. In my case, my bad habits like procrastination, disorganization, staying up too late, failing to exercise, poor time management, eating junk food, and putting up with clutter became very, very apparent as I took on the task of educating three ADHD (poster) boys at home.

My method for dealing with my bad habits was usually along the lines of some herculean feat of willpower that brought temporary order to the chaos but only lasted several weeks before my willpower and motivation ran out. This cycle of trying to change and failing did nothing but make me feel like a failure, put me in a state of perpetual overwhelm, and cause me to become a super grouch. [Read more…]

High Five Friday: How to Stop Drifting

What I’m reading: Living Forward, A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want by Michael Hyatt

Why I’m reading it: 

I’ve followed Michael Hyatt’s career since he was CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing and he’s proven himself someone worth taking seriously. Plus, I’m in a sort of “leaving a legacy” phase of my life and am reconsidering how I want to be remembered by those I care about. This book shares how to do it.

Quote for the day:

“To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it. But we must not drift or lie at anchor.”
-Oliver Wendell Holmes

Michael Hyatt’s book juxtapositions having a life plan with drifting through life with no clear plan or purpose. He describes an experience of being caught in a riptide off the coast of Oregon and says this:

Life can have the same effect on us. It is so easy for us to find ourselves stuck in a riptide and pulled off course. Worse, we can find ourselves in harm’s way. Many people get into their forties, fifties, and sixties, look around, and realize they have been pulled out to sea. Perhaps their health is failing, their marriage is broken, or their career is stalled. Maybe they have lost their spiritual connection, and life seems meaningless and unfulfilling. Whatever the case, they look up and find themselves far away from where they thought they would be at this point in their lives. They have become victims of the drift.

[Read more…]

Stop Trying to Do It All

Yeah, I know, “bargain” is misspelled in the video. But, overall, it’s a pretty good summary of the book. (And the misspelling grabs your attention!)

What I’m reading: Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Why I’m reading it:

One of the puzzling things about people who achieve success in one area of business or life is they often wind up failing at their attempt to move to the next level in that area. When McKoewn studied this “success breeds failure” cycle, he noticed that failure was usually due to the person becoming “scattered”—taking on too much and, therefore, losing the single-minded focus that made them successful in the first place. They wind up in what Jim Collins calls, “the undisciplined pursuit of more.”

Our whole culture is entrenched in the idea that “more is better”—that we are never quite “enough” and never have enough so we have to do more, have more and become more to be happy, healthy, wealthy, wise, and successful. But actually, as McKeown points out in his book, “more” often leads to overwhelm. The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s not even about getting less done. It’s about getting only the right things done. It’s about challenging the core assumption of “we can have it all” and “I have to do everything” and replacing it with the pursuit of “the right thing, in the right way, at the right time.” It’s about regaining control of our own choices about where to spend our time, energy and money. [Read more…]

Stop Stealing Dreams

What I’m Watching:

The 30 Days of Genius series. An interview every day in May with thought leaders, trend-setters, etc. Personally, I find the interviewer somewhat off-putting, but some of the interviews are really great, including this one with Seth Godin.

What I’m Reading:

Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin (A free ebook about education you can download HERE.)

Why I’m Reading It and Watching the Seth Godin Interview:

OK, first of all Seth Godin has, as Brene Brown says, “been in the arena.” I’ve been following his blogs and reading his books for over 10 years and he always has something challenging to say.

My top takeaways from the interview that we can apply to any endeavor, including homeschooling our children are: [Read more…]