5 Things That are Working in Our Homeschool

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Now is a great time to consider what’s working in your homeschool and what resources you can take advantage of in order to bring about positive change.

Tools and resources for homeschooling

January is that halfway mark in the school year when teachers, homeschool or not, need to reassess what’s working and what’s not. Last week JessieLeigh made a great case for parents to do a double check in certain areas in order to set kids up for success for the remainder of the year. Today, I thought I’d share which things are working in our homeschool setting.

I started out this school year the best we have in years. Part of this was really good planning on my part and knowing that we’d be away from home for a month. While I certainly consider our European trip as an important part of our kids’ education, I was hoping we’d get ahead of the game in August so we weren’t behind in academics when we came back. That didn’t happen exactly as I had hoped. We’re not quite as ahead as I had hoped.

January can be rough on a homeschool mom. We see how far we have yet to go.

While there are certainly things that could stand some improvement, I’m going to cut myself some slack. Someone’s been ill at our house for the last month and the daily schedule has kind of been in upheaval thanks to the holidays and an influx of doctor and dentist appointments.

So to accentuate the positive, here are five things, five teaching resources, that are working well in our homeschool:

Tools and resources for homeschooling

iPad Apps

I got an iPad 2 for my birthday in 2011. It feels ancient, but it’s still ticking. Over time, I’ve added a number of apps to reinforce what the kids are learning in their other schoolwork. Some of our current favorites include:

Tools and resources for homeschooling

Trivial Pursuit

Trivial Pursuit was one of my very favorite games as a child. I saved up big bucks to buy the original Genus edition, right around 1982 or 83. I still have it along with the Genus 2 cards I bought later. While Christmas shopping last month, I saw the Family version. It comes with parent and child cards so everyone can play.

It’s pretty thought-provoking and a nice break from regular academics. As we memorize the cards that come around again and again, we’re learning about history, geography, and the world in general.

Tools and resources for homeschooling

Assignment Sheets

Proper planning will make a great day! When I get the kids’ to-do lists ship shape in advance of Monday morning, we all seem to do better. I’ve got books and resources ready; and they are all set to get to work.

You can read more about our school lists here. I’ve created several versions of assignment sheets as well as some blank ones in the Homeschool Add-on Pack.

Tools and resources for homeschooling


Years ago, a college friend-turned school teacher recommended that I supplement our Teaching Textbooks with ALEKS. I didn’t really take her advice until now when one of my kiddos is really struggling. Although is he is super musical, he just doesn’t like math, saying that he doesn’t “get it”. So, we’re giving ALEKS a whirl. He tried it out for their two-day trial and then we decided to commit for 6 months.

The algorithm of ALEKS is supposed to be able to determine what part of the coursework the student has already mastered and what he has yet to learn. So far, FishBoy12 likes how it’s set up and is willing to give it the old 7th grade try.

Tools and resources for homeschooling

Kindle and Kindle App for iPad

What would I do without Kindle and Kindle for iPad app?! Well, seeing as our old Kindle died on vacation, I’ll tell you. I bought not one, but two replacements during the Christmas sales. I even got one for $29 after a rebate at Staples. Booyah. Actually, one was a gift for FishBoy17. He’s off to college in the fall and a Kindle seems like a good tool for him to have.

Along with Kindle Unlimited and our library’s OverDrive system, we can easily borrow books for cheap or free. (Be sure to check Janel’s tips for other frugal Kindle options.) With two Kindles, an iPad, and FishPapa’s mini, we’re set for e-readers and can keep the kids supplied with new reading material.

Certainly, these things don’t encompass the whole of our homeschool, but they are great resources that we are benefitting from. Looking at what we’re doing well gives me confidence that we can make it through the year successfully.

What’s working for YOUR homeschool?


About Jessica Fisher

I believe you can get great meals on the table -- and still keep that pretty smile on your face.

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  1. Hi Jessica, I’m glad you posted this because I’ve been wondering about a high school diploma in our state. I live in CA too and if you’re able to share how getting a diploma works for your high schoolers, it would be helpful to me. Will your kids earn a “traditional” diploma, being that you homeschool? Do they have to take the exit exam, or are they exempt? We’re currently enrolled in an online public school, but I’ve considered going it alone and switching to homeshcool. I’m not sure how the diploma works, so I thought I’d see what info you could share.

  2. Nia Hanna says

    Hi Jessica,
    I’m wondering if you can tell me about the graduating process for your high schoolers? When they’ve completed the coursework you assign for their senior year, will they get a dipolma? A certificate of some sort? Are they required to take the high school exit exam? How does our state (I live in CA too) recognize a student has completed high school when they are taught at home?

  3. Jennifer says

    Interesting article! Over here, for Math and French we have proper school books that have been working really well for us. It gives me guidance, but it means that I have to “teach” them. They can do the exercices basically alone, though. I have a cool app on the iPad for additional French and Math and they also use Khan Academy that has been mostly translated to French. Sean LOVES it. There are videos that explain how to do problems, concepts, etc. For history, geography and science I have some text books but I also get a ton off the net that other teachers post on sites. We are on a good role. I have NO idea how far we are along. If we are up to speed. I’ve stopped caring too much because I see the way the kids are learning and developing. But to be honest, I really can’t believe it when people say they only devote 2 hours to homeschooling a day. We do the same as if they were in school!

    • I do the same as if I were a classroom teacher, but my kids can generally get their stuff done in about 4 hours (which, by American standards, is about the same amount of instructional time that happens in a public school day).

  4. I noticed on the Phonogram app, there were a lot of poor reviews. Many said there was not much you could do with it. What do you exactly use it for?

  5. The weeks I give a printed list for 1-2 weeks at a time go MUCH better. I’m flexible with “most” due dates as long as it’s done in a given range.
    Started the younger on Virtual Homeschool Group, a free website with volunteer teachers that have numerous subjects. We use it mainly for Apologia Sciences. They have an arrangement with Apologia to use their content for the “class” as long as each family actually owns a copy of their text book. Love their interactive lectures, labs, study info—and tracking of all that and quizzes and tests. The boys enjoy the change of pace and i enjoy the hands off of one course as well as their exposure to a “lecture” for those tricky areas—-with open homeroom to ask the teacher questions. We do the at your own pace section instead of the set time of their live classes. You might want to check out what courses are available! http://virtualhomeschoolgroup.com/

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