Tag Archives: Homeschooling

Win a Copy of The Trojan Horse Traitor

Complete any or all of the options below for a chance to win one of three paperback copies of The Trojan Horse Traitor, my Christian YA fantasy about 13-year-old homeschooler, Levi Prince. Here’s a link for more information on The Trojan Horse Traitor. TrojanHorseTraitor_FlatforeBooks

While you’re here, check out my On the Brink Christian suspense books, Whitewashed and Colorblind, about two 18-year-old homeschooled girls. You can also find articles about homeschooling and about being a pastor’s wife.

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Homeschooling on a Shoestring

downloadGas prices sky high. The economy worsening. Your family’s budget stretched to bursting. How you can afford to home educate your children? Here are some practical ways to cut costs and still operate an effective homeschool in the Columbus, Ohio, area.


  • Buy used. HOTR (Home on the Rock) and CHEO (Christian Home Educators of Ohio) publish information about used book fairs on their websites. Try Amazon, ebay, and ChristianHomeschoolers.com for good deals. Some sites like vegsource.com and welltrainedmind.com post swap boards to facilitate trading or buying/selling materials.
  • Use the library. The Columbus Metropolitan Library system has many resources available. If the nearest branch doesn’t have what you need, request it from another branch. They’ll bring it to your location—free!
  • If you buy new, shop carefully. Rainbow Resource often has the best prices, but shipping can ruin your budget, so make a complete, one-time order. If your total is $50 or more, shipping is free. Some curriculum companies have free shipping months (often April).

Field Trips and Extracurricular Activities

  • Join a homeschool group. Homeschool organizations provide lots of information about money-saving opportunities. Groups like HOTR and CHEO usually cost less than $50 per year but include a 10% discount to the Home School Legal Defense Association. Some, like HOTR, have small-group cooperatives meeting around the city. You usually pay a small fee for expenses but get a great return on your investment. You and your children get to socialize with other homeschooling families. Kids can take classes with other kids and different teachers. Group field trips provide discounted access to local attractions. You’ll likely learn about unexpected opportunities—like the mom who teaches piano cheap or the one who will tutor your child in math if you’ll tutor hers in Latin. You might even find someone willing to swap or lend curriculum.
  • Take advantage of the free stuff. Many Columbus attractions are free or very inexpensive. And, of course, educational.

Columbus Free Stuff:

Slate Run Farm
Columbus Museum of Art (Sundays only)
Ohio Craft Museum
Riffe Gallery
Ohio Statehouse
Thurber House (weekdays only)
Orton Geological Museum
Shrum Mound
Longaberger Homestead
Park of Roses
Topiary Garden
Chadwick Arboretum
Columbus Parks and Recreation (costs $1 per badge per person)
Anthony Thomas Factory Tours ($2 per adult, $1 per child (ages 3-18), under 2 is free; admission fee may be used toward purchase)

  • Ask for the educational or field trip rate.  Just by filing a field trip form in advance and bringing your notification letter, your family can visit the Columbus Zoo for only $5 per person if you live in Franklin County ($7 if you live outside Franklin County). COSI offers an educator’s family membership for $95 per year. The Ohio Historical Society offers a family membership to educators for $50 annually that allows four adults and all family members under 18 to visit OHS’s 60 historic sites at no charge. Kelton House offers an Underground Railroad Learning Station Tour for $4 per student and a Kelton House Historic Tour for $2 per student. Columbus Children’s Theatre has discounted tickets in their Thrifty Thursdays plan. Catco is Kids (Phoenix Children’s Theatre) offers School Performance Matinees with tickets for $5.
  • Use coupons. You can often find great deals on-line, in the phone book, or at travel plazas.
  • Give useful gifts. Give your son karate lessons for Christmas. Ask Grandma to buy BalletMet tickets for your daughter’s birthday.

Don’t let today’s economy discourage you from home education. Columbus has so much to offer that you’ll find homeschooling on a shoestring is really no hardship at all.

PhD Dropout

download (1)For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a voracious reader. As a little girl, I curled up for hours with Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and Agatha Christie mysteries. In all those blissful hours, it never occurred to me that I could one day write a book myself.

Throughout school, I excelled in my Literature classes and eventually majored in English at Mississippi College, with the plan of becoming an English professor. I took a couple of Creative Writing classes, but still never thought I could write a full-length book.

After earning my MA, I headed to Baylor University and started my PhD in English. One semester into the program, I dropped out. Not because I couldn’t handle the class work, because I loved my studies (though I did not love teaching college freshmen). I dropped out because I wanted children…and I wanted to stay home with them. So I worked full-time while my husband finished seminary, and we had our first child soon after he graduated.

Over the next years of raising babies and beginning the homeschool journey, I didn’t regret giving up school to stay home with the kids. (Okay, most of the time I didn’t regret it, though potty training, toddler tantrums, and spelling lessons nearly drove me crazy at times.) But I missed studying literary works and writing those essays everyone else in class hated, so I took a correspondence course on writing for children. Soon after completing the course, I wrote my first novels (both short and pretty bad), one a children’s mystery and the other a Christian romance.

It wasn’t until after my youngest graduated from diapers that I attended my first writers’ conference. I took a class on how to write how-to articles, went home, wrote an article, and sold it a month later. Since then, I’ve had published forty or so articles, short stories, and devotionals (and had nearly that many rejected).

A few years ago, I began my Levi Prince fantasy series about thirteen-year-old homeschooler Levi Prince. Later, I wrote the first book in my On the Brink YA suspense series about three homeschooled girls beginning college.

For more than a decade I’ve had the privilege of raising and teaching my kids while learning and working in the field I love. Just this past year, I had the joy of seeing my oldest child achieve publication for two of his own articles.

All in all, I’m glad to be a PhD dropout.

Ways to Avoid Five O’clock Madness

clock12_clip_art_16380The clock strikes five. Dirty dishes cover the counters; looks like pizza night again. Mt. Laundry avalanches, burying the baby in dirty clothes, just as you discover a crayon T-Rex on your toddler’s bedroom wall. Meanwhile, your second-grader stares at the math lesson he started two hours before. History was a disaster, and Latin looks impossible. Your fourth-grader’s grammar lesson has to wait until tomorrow (again) because you got caught up in a phone conversation with your best friend. At this rate, you’ll finish up this school year in September—just in time to start up for next year. You heave a massive sigh and wonder how to teach your children to be more disciplined with their schoolwork.

Wish you knew the secret to avoiding five o’clocks like this one? Teaching kids to stay on task actually begins well before school time. The trick actually begins with you.

  • Discipline yourself. Children can’t learn self-discipline until you learn it yourself. Employ proper self-care—shower, eat right, exercise, sleep enough, read a good book, relax. Set aside devotional time daily. Enjoy a few date nights with your husband. When you take care of your needs, you can better care for your family.
  • Get organized. Put your house in order. Chaos doesn’t breed smooth schooling. Set up a chore chart. Plan meals and use grocery lists. Train your family to put things in their proper places.
  • Make a schedule. Set a daily routine for school, chores, breaks, etc. Post a copy in the schoolroom and on the refrigerator. Then stick to the schedule. If it’s not working, you can always make changes. You don’t have to set specific times for every little thing, just plan the order (i.e., 1st-Math, 2nd-Reading, 3rd-Snack, etc.). Don’t forget to plan special times for your preschoolers.
  • Minimize distractions. Turn off the TV and computer. Turn on the answering machine. Give family and friends copies of your schedule so they’ll know when not to call. Pick quiet toys and activities that you only allow preschoolers during lesson times. Separate students so they won’t distract each other. Utilize the little ones’ nap times for more difficult subjects.
  • Vary your routine. Try altering your schedule every six weeks to stave off boredom. Change the way you teach a subject by going on a field trip or doing an experiment, making a lap book or painting a picture. Let a child record or type a report instead of handwriting it.
  • Make your child responsible. Give your child a checklist of subjects to mark off when completed. Reward her with something fun—like a sticker, a piece of candy, or extra play time—when she meets the requirements. Always have consequences for lack of diligence—missed play time, extra post-school chores, or additional practice in the subject done poorly.
  • Plan for the “squirmies.” It’s hard for kids to sit still, so try alternating between the “sitting” subjects and the “active” ones. If math is hard for your child, be sure you do something he enjoys, like art, right afterward. You may try sending a squirmy child into the next room to do ten jumping jacks, then have him come back to write his sentence or work his problem.
  • Know when to say when. Some days it’s just time to throw in the towel. When the kids (or you) are sick and no one is learning, it might be time to give it up for the day. Sometimes Mom the Teacher forgets to be Mom the Mommy; occasionally, you just need to play awhile and enjoy your kids.
  • Set attainable goals. Don’t set monumental tasks that you and your child can’t complete in a day. Set small, reachable goals. You’ll see results in the long run.

Learn to practice self-discipline and teach your kids discipline. Then five o’clock will mean playtime with Daddy because school’s completed, chores are done, and supper’s nearly ready.