winter 2016

13 Fun Homeschool Extras that Will Give Your Winter Homeschool a Boost

13 Fun Homeschool Extras that Will Give Your Winter Homeschool a Boost

These fun extras (all less than $30!) will add a little oomph to your everyday homeschool routine and help ease you over the midwinter slump — without busting your budget.

Mission Possible: Totally Doable New Year’s Resolutions for Your Homeschool

Mission Possible: Totally Doable New Year’s Resolutions for Your Homeschool

Small changes can make the biggest difference in your homeschool life. Here’s how to make this year your most satisfying yet.

Book-Movie Match-Ups

You don’t have to choose between the book and the movie in these terrific adaptations—enjoy them both. We’ve rounded up some book-and-a-movie combos perfect for cold weather marathon sessions.

National Velvet
By Enid Bagnold
National Velvet
Starring Mickey Rooney, Donald Crisp, Elizabeth Taylor, Anne Revere, Angela Lansbury

The film version gets the full Hollywood treatment (star Elizabeth Taylor definitely doesn’t have book-Velvet’s cottony hair and buck teeth), but it manages to hang onto the story of one stubborn girl’s determination to win a horse race.


The Borrowers
By Mary Norton
The Secret World of Arrietty
Starring Bridgit Mendler, David Henrie, Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, Moises Arias

Though it wanders from the book’s storyline, Studio Ghibli’s adaptation captures the sheer visual magic of the Borrowers’ tiny world with gorgeous animation.


By George Bernard Shaw
My Fair Lady
Starring Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Gladys Cooper

Shaw’s play may feel like heavy going to readers new to his style, so take advantage of the delightful musical adaptation to appreciate its nuances—and to kick off the never-ending argument of what a happy ending to this story would actually be.


The Little White Horse
By Elizabeth Goudge
The Secret of Moonacre
Starring Ioan Gruffudd, Tim Curry, Natascha McElhone, Juliet Stevenson, Dakota Blue Richards

Maria’s quest to save her family from an unfortunate curse is the crux of this fantasy book and movie combo. (The book was J.K. Rowling’s favorite as a child.)


The Blue Fairy Book
By Andrew Lang
Tales of the Night (English Dubbed)
Starring Julien Beramis, Marine Griset

Though not a literal adaptation of the classic fairy tales, this inventive film about the enchantments of imagination, set in an abandoned theater, channels the same storytelling spirit—and may inspire some living room reenactments.


The Iron Man
By Ted Hughes
The Iron Giant (Signature Edition)
Starring Jennifer Aniston, Jr. Harry Connick, Vin Diesel, James Gammon, Cloris Leachman

Really, this animated film—about a boy who teaches a warmongering robot how to love—should get more respect than it does—and Hughes’ lyrical storytelling is as memorable as his poetry.


The Great Mouse Detective
Starring Vincent Price, Barrie Ingham, Basil Rathbone, Val Bettin, Susanne Pollatschek

Sherlock Homes sometimes used the alias Basil, so it’s no surprise that’s the name of the Sherlock Holmes of the mouse world, who—accompanied by his biographer/assistant Dawson—solves baffling crimes.


A Little Princess (Puffin in Bloom)
By Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Little Princess
Starring Eleanor Bron, Liam Cunningham, Liesel Matthews, Rusty Schwimmer, Arthur Malet

The action moves to New York and there are a few other changes in this lavish adaptation, but it slow-paced, dreamy filmmaking and a terrific Sara Carew make this movie a must-view.


This list was originally published in the winter 2016 issue of home/school/life. Because apparently winter is when we need lots of movie breaks.

Writing Your Next Chapter: Figuring Out Your Life After Homeschool

Writing Your Next Chapter: Figuring Out Your Life After Homeschool

As homeschoolers, we spend a huge chunk of time preparing our kids to be independent, competent people setting off on their own adventures. But what happens to us when our homeschool days are behind us? With a little forethought and some strategic dreaming, we can plan a next chapter for ourselves as exciting as the one we’re busy preparing for our offspring. Here’s how.


IT SHOULDN'T COME AS a shock, but often, it does: After years of learning at home with our kids, they’re ready to head off on their own to their next adventure, and we’re left not totally sure what to do with ourselves now that this all-encompassing period of life is finished.

Homeschooling defines our kids’ educational experience, but it also defines us and our sense of who we are. We spend a lot of time thinking about our child’s educational and social development, but the truth is that homeschooling changes us as much as it changes our kids. When we sign off on that last high school transcript and see our child off to college or work or whatever next step he’s chosen for his life, we are not the same people we were when we first Googled “benefits of homeschooling.” 

“When we started homeschooling, I was this shy, anxious person with a degree in computer science,” says Laura*, whose son left for college in 2010 after a decade of homeschooling. “When we finished, I had started and organized three homeschool groups, ran a local homeschool blog, and discovered that I liked history a lot more than computer science.”

Laura, who went back to college for her M.A. at the same time her son started his sophomore year, now teaches history at a private school. “It’s my dream job, but I never would have known that if I hadn’t homeschooled,” she says. “I loved being a homeschool mom, but I love this new chapter of my life, too.”

Letting go of our lives as homeschool parents is a major transition, and it’s fine to mourn those halcyon days of readalouds and backyard science experiments. But the transition from homeschooling doesn’t have to mean losing yourself—in fact, as Laura and other graduated homeschool parents have discovered, your post-homeschool life can be about finding yourself again. 

It’s my dream job, but I never would have known that if I hadn’t homeschooled.

“For nearly two decades, homeschooling was all I thought about—all my goals were goals for my kids not for myself,” says Janet*, who sent the last of four always-homeschooled children off to college in 1999. 

Deci, who started yoga classes when her youngest was in high school, went on to become a trained yoga instructor and now teaches yoga at her own studio. “I thought my life was over when my youngest moved out, but it was really just another beginning.”

TO MAKE THIS TRANSITION as graceful and gradual as possible, start laying the groundwork for your future adventures now. These simple exercises will help you point a path toward your future, whether you’re in your first weeks of kindergarten or prepping college applications.

Give yourself room to explore. Jump in now to join your kids in constructing salt-dough maps of the world or learning how to crochet or studying astronomy. You’ll never have a more welcoming environment for your intellectual curiosity than your homeschool days, so don’t miss the opportunity to flex your own learning muscles now. The happiest and most successful second-lifers are the ones who are willing to invest in their own skills and education—something that homeschool parents may be uniquely positioned to do, says Pamela Mitchell, a reinvention coach. If you’re not sure where to start, try a little bit of everything, and keep a journal to write down your emotional reactions to your efforts. Over time, you’ll start to recognize patterns that identify your interests.

Don’t be afraid to think small. A lot of people hang onto the idea that transitions don’t count unless they are dramatic, but you don’t have to backpack across Asia or become a YouTube celebrity to have a satisfying post-homeschool life. Something as simple as a part-time job at your favorite bookstore or signing up for a watercolor class can be a great first step toward redefining yourself, says life coach Marc Astwell. “Imagining a whole new life can feel really intimidating, but a new life is just a series of small steps,” he says. Your great new adventure can look a lot like your homeschool life did—just shift the focus to yourself and your interests rather than keeping your energies focused on your kids.

Keep a dream board. Whether it’s a real-life cork board or a private Pinterest board, start a collection of images, quotes, ideas, and other inspiration for your life after homeschool. Maybe you’ll find your board filling up with books you want to read or home improvement projects you want to try; maybe you’ll accumulate novel writing tips or travel destinations. Don’t be persnickety about what goes on your board—if something inspires you, add it to the mix. Later, you may want to look for patterns and cull your board to reflect your plans, but for now, let your mind run wild. You may discover that your board changes over time—that’s perfectly fine. You can remove items if they no longer speak to your interests, but treat this board like a visual brain dump where lots of different possibilities can exist together.

Be a quitter. Many people hang onto volunteer positions long after our passion for a project has faded into a sense of obligations, but this is a sure-fire way to close yourself off to other opportunities, says Mitchell. This doesn’t mean you have to drop volunteer projects that make your kids’ lives better (like coordinating the weekly park day they love even though it’s not your favorite thing on your to-do list), but it does mean that you should start thinking about transition plans for letting go of these projects as your kids outgrow them. “It’s tough because sometimes there’s no one to pick up your slack,” says Laura*, who was sad to see one of the homeschool groups she founded fold when she stepped away from her leadership role. “But at some point you have to drop the rope—and the earlier you start laying the groundwork for that, the fewer stresses and hurt feelings you’ll have to deal with.” Mitchell recommends making a list of your volunteer commitments every fall and circling the ones that you absolutely love. “Look for ways to cut back the time you spend on the ones that don’t feed your soul,” she says. 

Look for ways to cut back the time you spend on the things that don’t feed your soul.

Look back. For many people, mid-life transformation isn’t as much about discovering a new passion as it is about rediscovering an old one. “Think about the things that you loved in childhood or adolescence, the ones that you put aside for a more practical career,” says Astwell. “For many people, those early passions are still the ones that make us come alive.” So if your garage is full of short stories you wrote before you decided to study accounting or you used to spend every spare minute in the woods behind yourself, a clue to your future passion may lie in your past. “I wanted to be an actress growing up, but I wasn’t a great actress, and my parents convinced me I’d be better off putting my acting skills to work in business,” says Gwen*, who homeschooled her two daughters for nine years. “When my youngest got involved in community theater in high school, so did I—and I still act and work behind the scenes for our local troupe all these years later.” 

Give yourself permission to fall apart—for a little while. However you prepare, the actuality of life after homeschooling can hit you hard. You've been extreme parenting for years, using every ounce of your time and energy in a specific direction. To have that pulled away from you, even for the happy reason that your child is now your adult, can be emotionally wrenching, says Jett Parriss, an Oakland, Calif., therapist. You may suddenly notice lots of things you’ve been too busy to pay attention to: health problems, work dissatisfaction, life imbalances. It can be scary and overwhelming, so let yourself be scared and overwhelmed for a short time. In the long run, falling apart and putting yourself back together will serve you better than pretending you’ve got it all under control.   


* We use first names only when we reprint articles on the website to protect the privacy of the people nice enough to share their stories with us. 

This is a portion of an article originally published in the winter 2016 issue of home/school/life.