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These steps have saved me tons of money and tons of false starts. I’ve been pretty successful overall with my choices. And since these steps can be applied by any homeschool mom, they should also work well for you! | Homeschool Curriculum | Best Homeschool Curriculum | Homeschool curriculum choices | How do I choose a homeschool curriculum? |

3 Simple steps to pick the perfect curriculum

Choosing the best homeschool curriculum can be daunting!

So many choices. So much variety. So many options.

And each claim that they will help your child love learning. That they will be the “right fit.” That they will help you as a mom homeschool successfully.

And the reality is each CAN be the right homeschool curriculum for you … but not all of them can.

So how do you choose?

How do you wade through the massive number of curriculum choices to find the best homeschool curriculum for your kids?

After 16 years of homeschooling, I’ve developed 3 simple steps you can take to decide which curriculum is right for your family.

They aren’t foolproof -- but these steps have saved me tons of money and tons of false starts.

And while not every homeschool curriculum is a slam dunk (we’ve spent years looking for the best homeschool math curriculum for our family), I’ve been pretty successful overall with my choices.

And since these steps can be applied by any homeschool mom, they should also work well for you! 

In this video I share one of the best ways to set up your homeschool so you can be confident and successful. Check out my Confident Homeschool Foundations Program.

Use the coupon code “PickPerfect” to get over 50% off the regular price!

Want to keep reading instead of watch? Scroll to read a transcript of the video.

Don’t forget to check out my Confident Homeschool Foundations Program.

Use the coupon code “PickPerfect” to get over 50% off the regular price!


Hello ToriAnn Perkey here and from my homeschool to your homeschool today I want to talk about three simple steps that you can take to pick out the perfect curriculum.

How to Pick Perfect Curriculum

Ah, isn't that the desire of every homeschool mom to find the perfect curriculum so that your kids will magically want to do everything that you want them to do. This'll be the curriculum that your children will wake up excited to do, that they will never complain. They will never whine. They will be thrilled and their learning will exponentially increase.

3 Simple Steps

Yeah. Actually the perfect curriculum, "perfect" doesn't exist, but in this video, I am going to give you three simple steps to help you find the best curriculum for your child at this point in time. And you can do a much better job of finding good curriculum without spending a lot of money and a lot of time researching and getting lost in the details. Because the reality is when you're researching curriculum, particularly if you're just starting out, the options are overwhelming.

I know it's hard to believe this, but it's actually a good thing. When I started homeschooling over 16 years ago, man, there just weren't a ton of options out there and the number of people who have created amazing possibilities in the last 16 years while I've been doing this is mind boggling and that's great. That means you can find an option that's going to be a good fit for you and your family and your child. The downside is that means you have so much more to figure out and research. So let's talk about three simple steps to kind of narrow it down to make it just a little bit easier for you.

Step 1 Create a Homeschool Vision

Now the first step, the very first step I recommend is actually getting clear on your vision for your homeschool. Why are you homeschooling? What are you hoping to accomplish and what is your sort of philosophy? What are you, why are you homeschooling? And this is a really important question to answer because different types of curriculum are actually going to feed into different attitudes about education in general. And so if you know what your reason for homeschooling is, you can start to weed out the ones that just don't line up.

You know, if you're really, really big on child led learning and discovery, you're not gonna want a rigid curriculum that's just do step A, step B, step C. If you are a family, you're very focused on getting your children into an elite school and having them have the best academic opportunities possible. You may want something that has a more structured classical approach. So it's not about right or wrong, it's about getting clear on what you want.

Now, if you need help creating that vision, I do actually have a free training all about how to create a vision for your homeschool. You can check out the link down below. It walks you through the process so that you, by the end of about 30 minutes, have a really solid vision for your homeschool. So step number one, get clear on your vision.

Step 2 Learn the Personality and Learning Styles of Your Kids

Step number two, think about your kids. The curriculum is for them, but they're not all going to be the same. No two kids are the same. And certainly there's different kinds of categories of kids. So you want to learn and think a little bit about their personality, about their learning styles. Do they need to be up and moving around and wiggling a lot or do they do okay if they're sitting and doing bookwork for awhile? Different curriculums cater to different styles and of course you would hope that curriculum that's designed for younger children, all younger children are more wiggly than older kids. But there are some teenagers who that sitting is just not going to work for them in the same way.

So get clear on your kid. How do they learn how, what's their personality? What are their needs? As you spend time doing that, what will happen is you will be able to have a better sense of which curriculums are going to line up with the needs of your kid. And don't forget to keep in mind that you're the one teaching the curriculum. So you do want to get clear on are you going to be really involved? You need to have a little bit less involvement. Maybe you're doing this with a kid and so they need to have an outside recorded instructor. Maybe you need to nurture that child so you wanna spend more time together and just what do you need? Do you need something that's a little more structured? Do you want it to be more open ended? You are one of the kids that you need to be looking at. Okay, so that's the second thing. Get to know your kid.

Step 3 Explore Different Homeschool Philosophies 

Third one, get kind of, so you kind of know about the different philosophies of homeschooling. Homeschooling has been around long enough now that it's kind of branched off into different ways. There's classical, there's Charlotte Mason, there's Thomas Jefferson education, there's Waldorf, there's Montessori, there's eclectic, there's world schooling or road schooling. There's unschooling and many, many more. Those are kind of the big ones and getting to know a little bit about each one of those will help you determine what kind of curriculum you want.

Because some curriculum is designed specifically for classical education or Charlotte Mason education and you're going to see those words pop up a lot. Also, if you're asking and doing research and reading things and you know that that's not a style that's going to fit for your family, then you can just automatically let go of that particular curriculum choice even if it comes highly recommended cause you know it doesn't fit with what you are looking for. So the third one is you want to review the philosophies and get clear.

Research Different Homeschool Curriculum Options

Now once you have those three steps in place, you can go do research and research is, there's a couple different ways. One, there's a book by Kathy Duffy that I absolutely love. I've done another video on that, a link down below to that video and she has put together a book on the 102 top homeschool picks. Love the book. So worth the purchase. It will actually help you walk through these steps.

Use Google to Narrow Your Choices

The second one is your good old friend, Google. If you can put in, I need a reading curriculum for a really wiggly or a kinesthetic kid, that's Charlotte Mason, you're going to get a much more solid set of options to research. Rainbow resources, another really great place to go. A lot of curriculum there and they talk about these things and the different personalities and things like that. Social media is actually a great place to go, particularly Facebook groups that are aligned with your philosophy. You can ask questions about it in just geographic Facebook groups or in specific Facebook groups that aligned with those educational philosophies.

Learn from Other Homeschool Moms 

And then another thing that I just want to let you know is I actually have a course that goes through all of these topics and a whole bunch more to help you set up your homeschool, but particularly things to help you set up your homeschool with the right curriculum so that you can be successful. It goes along with the free training that I offered you earlier so you can join the free training, totally free to go set up your vision. 

But if you also want to learn about how your kids can, you know, learn more about your kid's personality, learn about learning style. If you're really, really interested in learning about the different educational philosophies along with other helps, like how to do planning, recordkeeping, how to structure your day once you figured out the curriculum so you can actually fit everything in. I think this course is really going to help you.

It's called the Confident Homeschool Foundations Program and I'm going to just give you a special coupon. Normally it's $97 and I just want you to go check it out. You can click the link below, but with this coupon that I'm about to give you, you can get the whole thing for $47 you just want to put in the word “PickPerfect”. No spaces “PickPerfect”. If you put that in, then you can get this entire course that lays out everything that you need to know to be a super successful and confident homeschool mom for only $47! That's pretty crazy.

So, but regardless of whether you want to do that, there is definitely the free training in there on how to set your vision, which is always the first step that I recommend. No matter what you're working on because it lays the foundation for everything else. All right. Good luck on your curriculum. If you have any questions, you can put those down below. I often don't answer specific curriculum questions, but I can point you in direct resources into resources that will be helpful.

I'm ToriAnn Perkey and I make these videos every week so that you can be a successful and confident homeschool mom.

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Choosing the best homeschool curriculum can be daunting! So many choices. So much variety. So many options. And the reality is each CAN be the right homeschool curriculum for you … but not all of them can. | Homeschool Curriculum | Best Homeschool Curriculum | Homeschool curriculum choices | How do I choose a homeschool curriculum? |
How do you wade through the massive number of curriculum choices to find the best homeschool curriculum for your kids? After 16 years of homeschooling, I’ve developed 3 simple steps you can take to decide which curriculum is right for your family. | Homeschool Curriculum | Best Homeschool Curriculum | Homeschool curriculum choices | How do I choose a homeschool curriculum? |
Math curriculum can be too dry and boring, too repetitive, and super tedious. But not Mr. D Math. It walks my kids step-by-step through what they need to know at a pace that actually works for them. Oh, how I am in love! | Online math | Algebra | Homeschool math | High school Math| Mr. D Math | Curriculum

Mr. D Math – An Honest Algebra II Review for 2020

(Note: I got a copy of this curriculum for free, and I was compensated for the time I took to write up this review. BUT I get to be completely honest about my thoughts, which is SUPER EASY because of how much I fell in love.)

I have been hunting for a great math curriculum for a long time.

When my kids were younger, we played math games and did lots of math activities. I taught them to count, and to add, and to multiply … and we did it with basic steps and some online review.

Then we hit Algebra

Then my kids hit fractions and decimals and pre-algebra. And we started to stumble.

Suddenly games and activities weren’t enough. My kids needed something more structured and more defined.

We lurched from one curriculum to another -- each would work for awhile (or not). But in the end, something always didn’t work.

 * It was too dry and boring.

 * It was too repetitive OR it wasn’t repetitive enough.

 * It required too much hands-on time from me.

 * It was all online and sooooo hard and tedious to listen to, we all wanted to poke our eyes out.

 * It moved too fast OR it moved too slowly.

So I kept searching.

Homeschool Math

And then I had the chance to take a look at a new homeschool math curriculum. And it is changing everything about math in our home!

Suddenly I’m feeling excited about math again because this curriculum checks ALL the boxes:

 * It walks my kids step-by-step through what they need to know at a pace that actually works for them.

 * It’s taught by a real human (not a “robot” human voice) and is actually easy to listen to.

 * It does ALL the teaching.

 * It provides tons of accountability because my kids correct their own work AND I can see how they are doing and determine if I need to step in to keep things moving along.

 * It provides extra help if the kids get stuck (which is really important now that my kids are past what I easily can help with).

 * It has both a self-paced version AND a live class version -- both of which have different benefits depending on what my kids need.

 * It’s easy to contact someone if we have any kind of question -- and we always get a quick and “real” response.

So what is this amazing math curriculum called? 

Mr. D Math -- and oh, how I am in love! (Seriously - you have to check it out!)

I feel like my search has finally come to an end. What a sweet feeling that is!

My son is currently taking the Algebra II course. And I’ll be signing up both him and my teenage daughter next year.

Check out my full video review for my complete thoughts on all of the benefits and features.

In my review, I’ve also done a complete walk through of the backend of the program, so you can see how it works and why I think it’s set up to support both the mom and the kids be successful from the very beginning.

(Is your kid a little young for pre-algebra and you’re still in the “play math games” phase? Then be sure to check out my favorite math games that we discovered over the years!)

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Confident Homeschool Secrets

7 Ways to Create a Homeschool That Works (and you LOVE!)

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When my kids were younger, we played math games and did lots of math activities. Then my kids hit fractions and decimals and pre-algebra. And we started to stumble. We lurched from one curriculum to another -- each would work for awhile but in the end, something always didn’t work. | Online math | Algebra | Homeschool math | High school Math| Mr. D Math | Curriculum
Suddenly I’m excited about math again because this curriculum checks ALL the boxes. So what is this amazing math curriculum called? Mr. D Math -- and oh, how I am in love! | Online math | Algebra | Homeschool math | High school Math| Mr. D Math | Curriculum
WriteShop vs Structure and Style (IEW) - (2020 Curriculum Review)

WriteShop vs Structure and Style (IEW) – (2020 Curriculum Review)

Writing Curriculum Review

Finding a good writing curriculum for your middle school kid can be tricky.

(Okay … middle school age can be tricky with everything … but that’s a conversation for a different time!)

A good middle school writing curriculum needs to cover basics like constructing a paragraph and then teach how to write an essay, as well as other non-fiction styles.

Hopefully it will push a student to expand their vocabulary, vary their sentence structure, and learn to express their own thoughts.

And of course, you still want your kid to work on punctuation, grammar and other writing mechanics.

Finally, a writing curriculum will also push them creatively and help them LOVE writing.

So where do you find something that does all of this??

Writing Curriculum

I’ve been looking at writing curriculum since my 4 kids were little. And since 2013, I’ve taught writing and English at our local co-op to the kids who are 12 to 17. So I’ve seen and used A LOT of different curriculum -- some okay and some great. 

Today, I’m going to compare two curriculums that I find very compelling -- WriteShop I & II and IEW’s new Structure and Style (available May 2020).

NOTE: Be sure to check out my video where I give you a detailed look into the student and teacher manuals for WriteShop and Structure and Style.

*****Also I need to state the following:*******

  1. I received the product for free.
  2. I was compensated for my time.
  3. All opinions are honest, and I was not required to post a positive review.

Both curriculum are designed for middle-school/early high school (grades 6 through 9). And they both assume that your child knows how to construct a basic sentence (start with a capital letter, end with a period, have a subject and verb, etc.)

Both curriculum require that you have a decent level of writing, although you DO NOT need to be an expert with either. (Both provide teacher support -- but in very different ways.)

Each has a video teaching element that you can use if you don’t want to do the teaching yourself. WriteShop’s is like watching a moving slideshow with narration (the voice is easy to listen to). Structure and Style has filmed Andrew Padua teaching a full class of middle-school students.

And both are fairly mom “intensive” -- which is to be expected of a writing curriculum. (Writing is subjective so there’s no easy way to just send your kids off to do it on their own. Someone must review and respond to the writing for your kids to improve.)

WriteShop I & II

WriteShop focuses on teaching your kid how to write by starting with brainstorming and then gently leading them through all the stages of writing -- rough draft (they call it “sloppy copy”) through a final composition.

Each lesson follows the same basic structure:

  • Pre-writing activity (often something hands on - like handling and talking about objects)
  • Practice writing activity
  • Brainstorming
  • “Sloppy Copy” (rough draft)
  • Revision 1 (student led with checklist)
  • Revision 2 (after you make comments
  • Final Copy

Each lesson is designed to take two weeks -- with additional writing skill activities and narration/dictation skills built in as well.

I love that WriteShop I starts with just constructing paragraphs, and let’s the student work on their writing one paragraph at a time until they feel confident. Only then in WriteShop II, do they move on to longer non-fiction compositions -- like essays.

My experience teaching many kids is that once they’ve mastered good paragraph structure, it’s much easier for them to apply that knowledge when they start writing essays.

I also love the quantity and quality of writing skill practice that WriteShop I & II includes. There are three included in each lesson, and each builds on the last. These are a FABULOUS way for kids to practice skills that they can use over and over in their writing.

The brainstorming element of each lesson is also well done. Instead of just saying “brainstorm … here are a few ideas,” there is a detailed brainstorming outline that walks the kid through all the different ways to approach the topic. (These are AMAZING and I’ll be folding them into my co-op classes starting next week.)

The downside of this approach could be that it leaves your kid on their own to know how to write a good paragraph, but WriteShop compensates for this by providing TONS of examples of well-written student paragraphs. 

This is great for both the student to see examples AND as a mom (so you know what level of writing is appropriate to expect at this age).

Additionally, the resources in the appendix of the WriteShop appendix blew me away -- TONS of additional writing topics and creative writing ideas. This alone is a fantastic writing resource, and helps provide additional ideas for creative writing beyond the non-fiction writing that is the focus of WriteShop.

There are a few things I don’t love about the curriculum.

The formatting of the pages could be difficult to read -- especially for kids who have dyslexia or other reading issues. I think this is an excellent curriculum to consider for kids who struggle with organizing their ideas, so this is unfortunate. (Be sure to see my video if you want to see the pages for yourself.)

Also, while the amount of help provided to the teacher/mom is extensive, the tone is insistent that you not skip anything and follow the instructions very carefully. While I can see why there are some moms who probably would appreciate that level of hand-holding, I found the way it was written felt restrictive. (I’m a big fan of modifying based on what’s happening in your home and with your kids!) 

Structure and Style (Institute for Excellence in Writing)

Structure and Style focuses on teaching how to write by giving the student well-written paragraphs, teaching them to deconstruct the paragraph (using keywords), and then asking them to rewrite the paragraph in their own words using only the keyword outline.

(Note: Structure and Style is the newly revised version of Teaching Writing: Structure and Style, that has been the flagship curriculum for the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) since the 1990s. The bulk of my experience has been with their previous version, so some of this review is based on sample pages. The new version will be available May 2020.)

I like this because your kid sees great writing from the very beginning. However, this format of writing can get tedious at times and doesn’t encourage a student to write from their own ideas. 

Each lesson is structured as follows:

  • Pre-writing activity (some lessons)
  • Read a paragraph (or several paragraphs in later lessons)
  • Create a keyword outline
  • Retell (speak) the keyword outline in your own words
  • Rewrite the paragraph (or combine paragraphs) using the keyword outline
  • Review and revise (using provided checklist)

Of course, the parent is involved in reviewing and revising, but it isn’t scripted in the teacher edition. 

(IEW has a completely separate program teaching parents how to teach their programs that they consistently reference if you want more help reviewing your child’s work.)

Each lesson is designed to take a week. Additional “fix-it” (for grammar and mechanics practice) and literature activities can be included to flesh out the program, but must be purchased separately. There are some writing skill activities included in each lesson, but not as many or as thorough as in WriteShop.

I love that Structure and Style also starts by having students work with paragraphs and then slowly graduates them to writing essays and other non-fiction. And I’m impressed by the variety of topics that they encourage students to write about. 

I also love that there are several creative writing assignments -- and lessons on story structure -- sprinkled throughout the curriculum. These are more open-ended and really let the student flex a different kind of writing muscle. My students and kids enjoy these breaks from the “harder” writing assignments.

I’m a big fan of how Structure and Style does their writing checklists that the student uses in each lesson. They understand that a checklist can feel overwhelming, so they only include a few things at the beginning. The checklist grows as the new concepts are introduced. In essence, the student “grows” with the checklist.

While IEW’s Fix-its are not included in the basic Structure and Style curriculum, they are available and can be aligned with the lesson plans. I LOVE this style of learning grammar and writing mechanics, and I have incorporated these into every class I teach.

Finally, I HAVE to talk about the format of the teacher edition. IEW is slowly reformatting all their curriculum to match more traditional publishers, where the teacher edition is “wrapped around” the student edition. (Be sure to watch my video to see what this looks like.) I’m so excited that Structure and Style will now have this format!

This makes it sooooo easy to see how the teacher edition and student edition relate. No more flipping back and forth, trying to reference between the two. This is HUGE deal for me, and if it’s close between two curriculums, this will often tip the scales for me.

Unfortunately, the student edition formatting isn’t much friendlier than WriteShop’s. And the font they’ve chosen to use is particularly difficult for dyslexics to read.

Side-by-Side Comparison

Here are the main features of WriteShop and Structure and Style compared:

Structure & Style (IEW)

Writing process -- brainstorm, “sloppy copy,” 2 revisions

Writing process -- deconstruct paragraph with keyword outline, rewrite in own words, 1 revision

Variety of brainstorming styles encouraged - including outlining and mindmapping

Uses similar writing process through entire curriculum – deconstruct or outline, then write

Lots of student examples of written paragraphs in each lesson

Student samples only in the appendix

Brainstorm and rough draft

Deconstruct pre-written paragraph with keyword outline

Skill builders (3 for each lesson) reinforce writing skill focused on in that lesson

Some skill building – but focus is mostly on writing paragraphs

Thorough and complete checklist from the beginning for each lesson (can be overwhelming)

Checklist only includes skills taught so far and grows as more skills are learned

Uses standard vocabulary to describe conventions and style

Uses IEW proprietary vocabulary to describe different writing elements

Incorporates copywork/dictation for grammar/punctuation help – but requires copywork book (separate)

Incorporates “Fix-it” grammar into lesson plan – BUT requires purchase of upgrade bundle 

Video lessons – powerpoint/pictures w/person talking – focused and specific

Video lessons – live teaching classroom environment

Problem/solution section in teacher edition very helpful if you’re teaching and want to know what to look for

Gives some specific examples in teacher edition on how to structure teaching – but not a lot of help looking for student issues

Teacher edition separate and sometimes difficult to reference with the student edition

Teacher wrap-around edition makes it easy to connect information to student edition

Choosing Which Writing Curriculum Is Best for You

So which writing curriculum is best for your family? As with everything, it depends.

WriteShop is a great choice if you want to focus on student brainstorming and seeing student samples, lots of writing skill practice, and writing two revisions for each assignment. There is also fabulous parent support built into each lesson.

Structure and Style is a great choice if you want students to work with well-written paragraphs and then reconstruct them in their own words, learning how to structure as they practice. Also, if you want creative writing built into your lesson plan and easy referencing between student and teacher editions.

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WriteShop vs Structure and Style (IEW) - (2020 Curriculum Review)
Why Your Homeschool Needs a Mid-Year Review & Reset

Why Your Homeschool Needs a Mid-Year Review and Reset

It’s January -- which means it’s time for the homeschool Mid-Year Reboot.

What IS the homeschool Mid-Year Reboot, you ask?

It’s when you come back after the holidays and realize you have another four or five months before summer.And you might be feeling a little bit of homeschool burnout. OR you might be super excited to dive back in.

Regardless, it’s the PERFECT time to sit down and do a review (and possibly a reset) of your homeschool.

During your homeschool mid-year review, you may consider radically changing your curriculum or your schedule. Or you may just need to make a few updates to get things working even better.

In today’s video, I’m going to cover WHY you want to do a mid-year review and what kind of changes you might consider making.

[NOTE: In the video, I talk about reviewing your homeschool vision. CLICK HERE to access your FREE lesson on how to create a homeschool vision]

Want to keep reading instead of watch? Scroll to read a transcript of the video.

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Confident Homeschool Secrets

7 Ways to Create a Homeschool That Works (and you LOVE!)


Hello, my name is ToriAnn Perkey. And from my homeschool to your homeschool today we're going to talk about why your homeschool probably needs a mid year review and possibly a reset. Okay? We are roughly halfway through a traditional school year. And if you are anything like me, then you now have four months behind you. Take where you are now, kind of taking a look at your homeschool and you're possibly trying to figure out whether or not you're happy with it or maybe you're not happy with it. And so the midyear review is an opportunity to kind of look back, determine what's working and what's not. And I want to help you figure out how to do that now.

Things have changed

So here's the deal. No matter how well you planned at the beginning of the year, no matter how much work and effort you put into it, your kids have changed. Your life has changed. Things are different than they were in September or August or whenever you started. And so there's a good chance that you need to change things up because we're always experimenting in homeschooling. We're always figuring out what's gonna work and so it's, you know, it's time to do this.

3, 4 month chunks

I like to actually think of my year, my homeschool year, in three, four month chunks. I know that's not how everybody thinks of the school year, but I like to think of the months before December, like from September until the end of December and then another chunk that happens from January to about April and then our third chunk is the summer, which is may through August. That's kind of how I like to think about it and what's nice about that is a four month chunk is enough that you kind of know if something's working but isn't so long that you don't have time to switch things up and try something new.

Give yourself a break

Now, before you get into doing all of the things I'm going to talk about in this video, please keep in mind we are just ending the holidays. That means that you probably just did Thanksgiving, you did Christmas and those are crazy times for homeschooling. There's breaks, there's travel, there's vacation, and it's really easy to look at those, that little chunk of time and think that you're completely failing your homeschool because you didn't do anything because maybe you were so busy traveling or it's just you lost steam or things weren't working. So remember that you have to look beyond the holidays and look farther back to kind of get a sense of whether things were working before the holiday started. And then you'll know how you want to move forward.

Step One: Vision

Now the very first thing I recommend you do to do your midyear review is go review your homeschool vision. I talk about this all the time. You have to have a vision. You have to know where you're going with your homeschool and what you need to do in order to move forward. And if you don't have that vision it is really hard to know whether or not you're moving forward in the right way. So if you've already created your vision, awesome, go take a look at it. If you haven't, I want to help you out. I actually have a free lesson that you can listen to that will walk you through step by step how to create a homeschool vision. There's a link going to be below this video or up above or wherever you're watching it so that you can go watch, listen to that lesson and walk your walk. It'll walk you through the steps that you need to do to create a homeschool vision because it's really hard to do anything if you don't have that in place.

Step Two: Questions

Now, once you have in fact reviewed your homeschool vision, I now recommend that you ask yourself a few questions as part of this midyear review.

#1 What is working

Now the first question is what is actually working? We want to start with the positive. Look at your curriculum, look at your schedule, look at what you've actually accomplished and recognize and celebrate the successes and whatever's working. You want to capitalize on that and you want to keep going.

#2 What do you look forward to

The second question you want to ask yourself is what parts of your homeschool do you actually look forward to? And this could be anything from you know, snuggling on the couch reading or going on field trips during non-busy times. It might be when you guys get to sit down and play games or it might even be that you guys have gotten super excited about a certain subject and you just want to go deeper into that subject. Homeschooling is all about the adventure, right, so you're going to look at what are you actually enjoying because if you're having fun and your kids are having fun, you are more likely to be leaning into and looking forward to homeschooling every single day. You want to do more of the things that you look forward to and less of the things that you don't.

#3 What isn’t working

Now we're going to go into the next question. The third question I want you to ask is what isn't working and why. Not just "Oh, the math curriculum we picked it is not working", but really dig into why isn't it working? Is it not working because you have the wrong schedule? Is it not working because you're doing it at the wrong time or is it not working because it is just not the right fit for your kid? If it isn't, that's okay. You can either resell it or you can shelve it and maybe come back to it later and move on to something else or change directions. I know that that's what we're doing with a particular math curriculum with one of my kids. We are completely changing and trying something completely new because as I've done my midyear review, I'm realizing what we were trying is not working. Other things are really working so, but the reason I was able to make the switch is because I didn't just say what's not working, but I figured out why so I knew what I was looking for in the new change.

#4 What do you dread

The next question, what are you dreading? What do you dread about homeschool and why? Is it that you dread sitting on, you know, everybody says that you're supposed to sit on the couch and read with your kids, but you dread it. But because you have a two year old that's running around, pulling on the book and wreaking havoc while you're trying to read, okay, it might be time to either address that child's needs or maybe try to do it in a different way, or maybe just do something different altogether. If you look at the why of what you're dreading, you'll come up with you'll be able to have a foundation to then make different decisions and move forward.

Step 3: Adjustments

Now, after you've asked yourself those questions, the third thing you want to do is figure out, okay, what are you going to keep as is? What do you need to adjust, keep and adjust. What do you just want to toss? What are you completely done with? And you'd say, you know what? That didn't work. No guilt, no shame. It happens to the best of us. It happens to all of us. You move forward. You're always tweaking and adjusting.

Now there's a couple of just quick things to keep in mind that I recommend as you're doing this. First of all, we almost always have too much crammed into our homeschool schedule. Simple is better. So as you are doing this review, be sure to be looking to take things out because almost always that is the answer rather than trying to put things in.

The second thing I just want you to keep in mind is that there's a good chance that things are working more than you realize. It is so easy to see all the things that aren't working. It's a lot easier to miss the things that are working and sometimes the changes are imperceptible, very, very slowly incremental. I remember when we were teaching my son to read, it felt like it wasn't working and it wasn't working and it wasn't working. And it took forever to get to the point where he was finally reading and it was because the, and it wasn't because we weren't doing the right things. It was because it just needed time and it needed incremental steps by step and we were only going to get there if we just kept going.

So keep in mind that more is actually happening than you may realize. Now, those are my three major steps. First, review your homeschool vision, and if you haven't got a homeschool vision, go check out that lesson so you can write one second, ask yourself the questions that I went through. And the third is figure out what you're going to keep, what you're going to adjust and what you're going to toss.

Now, if you're looking for a major reset and I'm talking like you know nothing's working and you want to go back to the drawing board and you're just feeling overwhelmed and maybe even like you want to quit, then please, please, please check out my free webinar. It's called confident homeschool secrets, and I go through many of the secrets that longtime homeschoolers know that really, really, really can help you be successful as a homeschool family, as a homeschool mom, as a homeschool dad, it's completely free and there is a link to sign up to watch that as well.

I am excited for you. We are headed into the second half of the year. This is when you really dig in and you get, you can make your homeschool happen and it's time to just adjust a few things so you can finish out the year super successfully. My name's ToriAnn Perkey and from my homeschool to your homeschool, happy homeschooling. I make these videos every week so that you can be a successful and confident homeschool mom.

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Why Your Homeschool Needs a Mid-Year Review & Reset
Why Your Homeschool Needs a Mid-Year Review & Reset
Bananagrams game review to teach spelling

Toss the dreaded spelling list and play this game instead! {Bananagrams Review}

Spelling … how’s it going in your homeschool?

I look at spelling a lot like learning basic math facts. Absolutely important as a building block to higher level schooling -- but not always as exciting to learn.

Bananagrams game review to teach spelling


Over the years, I’ve tried so many different approaches -- memorizing basic lists, using copywork, playing tons of games -- and each has pros and cons.

What I’ve found is that the type of learner that I have really determines what kind of approach works best.

My wholistic thinkers do really well with games and spell check and copywork. Each time they see a word misspelled, it gets filed away … and over time their spelling continues to improve.

I’m always amazed because these wholistic-thinking kids are also the ones who seem to be allergic to lists and memorizing anything … it’s almost as if they need to just absorb the spelling through everyday exposure.

On the other side are my linear thinkers. They LOVE lists … and really need them to do well.

My dyslexic linear thinker must methodically and logically taught spelling -- helping her see the patterns and the connections. Her spelling is slowly improving through consistent focus.

My other non-dyslexic linear thinker uses the lists and immediately sees the connections on his own. He LOVES words. He also LOVES word games because spelling comes so naturally to him.

So with this mix of kids, I’ve found that a mixed approach to spelling has been effective. Some get lists, some get copywork.

But games are one way that we all can come together -- adjusting to accommodate the different skill levels.

I want to share with you one of my favorite word games that we’ve been able to adapt in several ways into our homeschool.

Play it straight -- or modify it to teach and review specific words. So much fun no matter how you to do it!

CLICK HERE to check Bananagrams out for your homeschool.

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7 Ways to Create a Homeschool That Works (and you LOVE!)


Hey everybody, it's ToriAnn Perkey. From my homeschool to your homeschool, do you have dreaded spelling lists? 

Do you pull out the spelling list and your kids go, "Oh Mom, not another spelling list!" 

Spelling is one of those things that we know our kids need to do when we're homeschooling.  Is there a way to do it that's more fun, more engaging, more exciting? Because I'm going to tell you that anything that is more fun, more engaging and more exciting is going to work so much better in your homeschool.  And throughout all the different homeschooling things that we did, I was always looking for ways to make the boring, the mundane, the write-it-down-5-times type of spelling list thing ... is there a way to make it more fun?  There almost always is. Which is why today I want to tell you about a really cool game that we used in our home instead of dreaded spelling list. And it's so multipurpose that we used it far beyond and continue to use it far beyond the ways that it's designed. And it is ... Bananagrams.  Yay!

Okay.  So, have you ever seen Bananagrams?  This is the cutest little package. It's a banana, right?  And when you open it up inside are these letter tiles. I'm just going to pull out a few.  And here we have like an F, and a V, and an I, and in a lot of ways at this point it seems a lot like Scrabble, but this game does not play like Scrabble.

First of all, these tiles are made out of plastic.  You probably can hear that, and they're smooth. I love the tactile feel of these tiles. And they're a little bit smaller than Scrabble tiles.  The second thing that I like about them -- or I like about this game -- is that when you're just playing the straight rules, it is so much faster than Scrabble.

I don't know if you ever get bored playing Scrabble.  I know there's lots of people who don't, but I do because I have to wait for everyone else to take their turn. And if you're playing with younger kids, and they're waiting, it's not going to work.

So, what's cool about Bananagrams is the gameplay. Everyone's playing at the same time.  They're building their own, individual Scrabble boards with the same cross patterns and things like that, but you are building them all at the same time. So everybody gets to play. And you can modify the rules for the younger kids versus the older kids so that everybody has an equal chance depending on where they are.

Now, when I first saw Bananagrams, I was really excited for my kids who knew how to spell because I knew we were going to have fun playing it and practicing spelling words. Practicing how to spell any word while you're playing a game is way more fun than learning a spelling list.

But how do you use a game like this ... a bunch of random letter tiles ... how do you do that if your kids can't spell?  Well, the letter tiles themselves become these fabulous, fabulous kinesthetic tools to help kids spell. So, you can be laying out the tiles, you could have the spelling list, and you could say, "Okay, take the list and create me a grid like a Scrabble grid or a Bananagram grid using these words.  Can you do it?" Or you could take the tiles and you could lay them all out and you say, "Can you just find all the letters that go to your words?” Or what else could you do? Anything where the kids have to look at the word and spell it but they're doing it with tiles instead of with their hand writing on a piece of paper.

And I found that for my kinesthetic kids, those kinds of games were so, so, so much more effective.  We would even play games where the tiles are spread out across the floor and you have to run and get the tile, so there's that high movement.  So much better, so much more fun. And then you still have the game that you can play as they get to be better spellers, so it's multipurpose. You don't just have a manipulative sitting on your shelf waiting to be used for this one part of your curriculum or your one part of school, and then when it's done, you're done.  I like multipurpose. Way more effective. Yes!

So, if you are looking for a way to get rid of the boring way to do spelling and liven it up a little bit, then this little game right here is one that I would highly, highly recommend. And you can check it out on Amazon.  I'll put a link up above, down below, or wherever it is wherever you're watching this.

From my homeschool to your homeschool, I'm ToriAnn Perkey, and I'm here to help you be a successful and confident homeschool mom.

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Bananagrams game review to teach spelling
Bananagrams game review to teach spelling
Bananagrams game review to teach spelling

Make Math Come Alive with Life of Fred {Review}

Do you ever feel like it’s easy to get kids to love reading?

But it’s like pulling teeth to get your kids to do math?

I hear you!

Life of Fred Book Review - Make Math Come Alive!


Of my four kids, one came out of the womb loving math. I swear he could count before he could speak.

But the other three … well … it’s been a journey.

Along the way, I decided that I wanted my kids to love math. Because math is beautiful.

I didn’t want them to think math was just numbers on a white piece of paper that they plugged and chugged.

I wanted them to see that math was EVERYWHERE -- in the way flowers bloomed, in the way that water boiled, in the way the ball rolled down the hill.

It is patterns and shapes -- a living, breathing way to explain the world.

So we spent lots of time looking at the beauty of math.

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help your homeschool?

But I also knew that they needed to enjoy computation -- so with my oldest I started using books that made computation fun and engaging.

No blank white pages for us -- I wanted stories and giggles and laughter.

One of my favorite resources that I found to help us do that was Life of Fred, a curriculum that incorporates heavy-duty math into a silly, engaging story that all my kids have loved.

They read it for fun. Seriously.

So if you’re looking to make a math a little more alive, CLICK HERE to check Life of Fred out for your homeschool.


Hey guys! ToriAnn Perkey here! From my homeschool to your homeschool. Today, I wanna talk about living math and how you can incorporate it into your homeschool. And then I have a really cool resource that we've used in my home, one of our living math resources.

So what is living math? Well, living math is the idea that math is more than just plugging numbers into equations. It's more than just counting, telling time, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. Math is alive. It's all around us and it explains the world. It explains why things work and it's beautiful. Math is beautiful. And in order for your kids to love math, they are going to fall in love with the idea that math is a wonderful, beautiful thing aside from computation.

So how do you do that? How do you take a subject that, for most of us in school, was pretty dry and boring unless we loved it inherently? And how do we turn it into something alive? Well, it comes from seeing how math fits into the bigger world. Seeing how math gets used everyday. And it comes from seeing that math can make us giggle and laugh and be in wonder and awe.

And there are many many resources out there to help you do this. And most of those resources are kind of a pick and choose. It can be a book that you read or a game that you play and I've talked about a lot of those as I've made these videos and these reviews and I'll talk about a lot more. Because this was an area where I felt really really strongly that I wanted my kids to fall in love.

But I do believe there is one curriculum in the math homeschool world that is particularly suited for anyone who wants to have more living math in their home. And it's more suited for kids who are interested in math from a language arts point of view. So these are gonna be kids who don't just wanna sit down and do a workbook but they want it to be incorporated into a story.

The reason I found these books is because my oldest was like that. She loved, loved, loved stories. But she didn't love sitting down and doing a workbook. And so that's when I went and found Life of Fred. Seriously, a math curriculum called Life of Fred. What? I know, sounds super silly. And if you've heard about this, you know it's amazing. If you haven't let me introduce you to Fred.

I'm gonna show you his picture. This was one of our first introductions to this book. This is Fred. He's a simple line drawing because the guy who wrote this curriculum, brilliant mathematician named, wanna make sure I say his name right, Stanley Schmidt was doing all the drawings himself. The illustrations are pretty crazy. They're all either hand-drawn silly like barely, barely illustrations. Or they're clip-art pulled off of the internet, it's just part of the style.

But let me tell you what I love about Life of Fred. It's all about a five year old kid who is a brilliant mathematician who works as a professor in an imaginary university called Kitten's University in Kansas. And the reason he is there teaching is because he was left there by his parents and you don't even hear that story until way into the calculus book. But he was left there by his parents and he makes a living teaching math. He's brilliant at math, but he's not so smart at, like the wisdom of living in the world. So he has to learn how to navigate the world while solving math.

And it's all sorts of situations and problems that he has to deal with. He has a doll that is his best friend that lives with him. And this doll is so funny. He's an amazing artist. So there's an entire book, one of the books is all about how this doll is making money selling his famous artwork and then how Fred feels about that and how they're having to deal with the supply and the demand. And then there's another one where the doll's really scared because Fred brings home a tiger as his pet. Then the tiger is attacking the doll, so the doll is scared.

So it's a book that appeals to boys, it's a book that appeals to girls and the storylines are written in such a way that they're hitting the kinds of things that you would want your kids to learn about in the real world. About asking good questions before you buy some and not being taken advantage of. About making good choices with your time. About being honest. These are the things that also show up in the book. It's a very character-driven book without being religious. There's no specific religion at all mentioned in the book but it is character-based and character-driven.

There's an entire elementary series and I brought a couple of those books here. It starts with apples and each one covers just a few subjects that you would hit in elementary. And then it goes apples, butterflies, cats, dogs. I think E is elephant and you're seeing the pattern here. It's A, B, C, D, E. Those go all the way up to J and then by the time you get to upper elementary then there's a fractions book, there's a decimals and percents book.

Then you migrate your way into pre-algebra and you go all the way up. These books go all the way to calculus. And I like 'em because there's a story and the math is integrated into the story.

So you're reading a chapter, you have some math to practice at the end. How did we use this? We didn't even use it really as a "curriculum", we would sit down and read it. We would read it as part of our morning routine. We would read a math book together and my kids loved it so much they'd actually pull it off the shelf and read it on their own. Because they wanted to know what happened to Fred.

And while they're reading all about Fred, they're also reading about math. Reading about math. It's almost like this antithetical phrase and yet I love it because my kids are soaking up and absorbing mathematical concepts without the extra effort that goes into saying, "You have to sit down and do this."

We did actually work the problems together and then later on they've been re-introduced to those concepts in other ways. But I loved introducing math in this way. And the best place to actually acquire this curriculum and you can see samples and you can check it out and look at all the different options, is a place called Z Twist Books. It's the cheapest place I've ever found it and I will leave a link either up above or down below. You can check it out, see if it's the kind of thing that would be really great to have on your shelf.

I love it. I believe living math is the only way to genuinely motivate and inspire kids to fall in love with the concept of math. It works even for my kids who don't love to "do math." They still love the concept of math. And in the end, that's one of the most important things for me when it comes to our education.

I'm ToriAnn Perkey, and I make these videos every week so that you can have a super successful and confident homeschool.

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Math come alive Life of Fred Curriculum Review
Math come alive Life of Fred Curriculum Review
Math come alive Life of Fred Curriculum Review
Make homeschool math fun Life of Fred Curriculum Review
Homeschool Curriculum: Home Learning Year by Year - Book Review

A Go-To Resource for Planning Your Homeschool Year {Review}

Have you mapped out your upcoming school year? Did you cover all the bases?

I always start by making a big list of EVERYTHING we could possibly do … and then pairing it waaaaaay back.

In fact, just the other day a brand-new homeschool mom asked me what was my top piece of advice going into her first year.

I told her to do less than HALF of what she had planned. She said it was the best advice she’d received. 🙂

Still — I like to have a sense of what different grade levels and ages cover.

That’s why I use Home Learning Year-by-Year EVERY YEAR to help me check in with what my kids can be learning.

I love how it focuses on topics, not philosophy, and gives me lots of ideas. Another little gem to make my homeschool planning that much easier.

Click HERE to check it out for your homeschool.

Add Beast Academy to Your Homeschool Math Curriculum Review

Add Beastly Math to Your Homeschool {Beast Academy Review}

In my house, I've always used "monsters" to make learning and working fun. For some reason, friendly monsters always inspired my kids.

We've played ...

Add Beast Academy to Your Homeschool Math Curriculum Review


Alphabet Monster -- a chase and tickle game when a monster showed up in a deck of phonics cards.

Vacuum Monster -- where I vacuumed the floor making monster noises and the kids tried to avoid the vacuum cleaner by jumping over it.

Bed Monster -- can you make your bed before the covers eat you?

Garbage Monster -- draw a monster face on the garbage sack with sharpie and then that big bag eats all the garbage from the cans around the house.

So you can imagine my delight when several years ago, I discovered that we could do MATH with monsters!

Beast Academy is graphic novel meets solid math for Grades 2 to 6.

While we've never used it as our main curriculum, my kids have LOVED reading the graphic novels in their free time (yes ... even my non-mathy 12 year old has read them all!).

And I've used exercises from the practice workbooks to supplement our regular math programs.

Yea for monsters that make math fun!

Click HERE to check it out for your homeschool.

Ready to feel Confident and Successful as you homeschool?

Register below to watch my FREE CLASS

Confident Homeschool Secrets

7 Ways to Create a Homeschool That Works (and you LOVE!)

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Add Beast Academy to Your Homeschool Math Curriculum Review
Add Beast Academy to Your Homeschool Math Curriculum Review
Add Beast Academy to Your Homeschool Math Curriculum Review
Add Beast Academy to Your Homeschool Math Curriculum Review