Posted on

Top Tips for Making Homeschool fun!

top tips for making homeschool fun

.wp-block-image img {max-width: 100%;}
img {height: auto;}

Top Tips for Making Homeschool fun! is a post from Confessions of a Homeschooler. If you’ve enjoyed this post, be sure to follow Erica on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest! Also be sure to stop by her Community to join the discussion or her Store to see her latest items!

I love making homeschooling an engaging and hands-on experience for my kids!

My main goal when we started homeschooling was to make learning fun! Adding in tactile, hands-on, and engaging activities to our day encourages my kids to enjoy learning, and using all of their senses helps make the experience all that more memorable as well!

Finding ways to change otherwise boring, worksheet-type activities, into hands-on, tactile, and even kinesthetic activities can really help foster your child’s love for learning.


Here are some of my tips for making activities hands-on and fun!

  • Get a cookie sheet, fill it with sand, sugar, or salt and let your child trace letters in the sand.
  • Practice writing on a white board with dry-erase markers (kids love those!)
  • Have your use a stamp and ink, then stamp inside the letter shapes
  • Cut letters out of construction paper, lace through the letters, poke the letters with a push pin (activities all available in my Letter of the week Preschool Curriculum)
  • Fill a gallon ziplock bag with washable tempera paint about 1/3 fill, then carefully seal the bag so it lays flat. Tape it to the counter and have your child write the letters in the paint. The counter will show through where your child presses.
  • Use Do-A-Dot Markers to fill in letter shapes
  • Use bubble magnets to write letters (Or make your own pom-pom magnets)
  • Use pattern block tiles to create letter shapes
  • Use dry-erase markers to practice wriring
  • Use Jumbo push pins or toothpicks to poke holes along a printed letter
  • Read TO your kids a LOT! Find SHORT books they are interested in and sit and read with them in the evenings before bedtime. Make it a routine. Find books with pictures as well, most beginner readers come with fun illustrations. And if they are younger get a book that is tactile as well.
  • Be patient 🙂 Reading comes with practice and lots and lots of patience! Kids will get it when they are ready, some earlier, and some later.

Another thing I loved making more kinesthetic and hands-on was our phonics and spelling practice. We used word cards to spell the words with Magnetic Letters. I just used a colorful little cookie sheet, and printed out her word list on paper, then cut them out.


Letter Tile Spelling: I love using letter tiles! I have this colorful little cookie sheet, we practice spelling out our words on the tray with the letter tiles! It’s not only fun but also a great way to work on fine motor skills, letter recognition, and spelling all at the same time!

IMG 4289

Stair Phonics:

I used to do this with all 3 kids at the same time! They each got a question and if they got it correct, they hopped down one stair. If they were incorrect, they hop back up one stair. The first one down wins! Man, I miss these days!

  • Prek: Letter/number flashcards: Name the Letter & Sound 
  • Kindergarten: Show a CVC word card, have your child read the word 
  • 2nd Grade and up: I say a spelling word, have your child spell it 
IMG 4319 thumb%5B3%5D

Hop Along Phonics

We also do the same type of activities with our Hop Along Balls. I’ll sit on one side of the room and they hop around in a circle. Each time they get to me, they have to answer a question to get through the gate, a.k.a. my arm or leg sticking out. 


Some days I’ll even let them use the balls as chairs at their desks. Just simple movement helps them focus on the work at hand. I got our Hop Along Balls here, and I have to say it’s been the best money I think I’ve spent! They love these balls, even when not in school. Our “Jumping Phonics” usually ends like this, with everyone giggling and smiling and knowing their phonics and spelling words!


Spelling Strips: These are are dry-erase wipe-off sentence strips. We use the cards to practice writing their spelling words on. I don’t know what it is about dry-erase markers but my kids love them!


Alphabet Stamps: I love this activity, it works on fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, letters, spelling, and reading all at once! Simply give your student some plain copy paper, cute alphabet stamps, and some colorful ink pads, and let them practice writing their spelling words! Have them read the words back to you when they are finished.

IMG 4820 thumb2
Top Tips for Making Homeschool fun! 18

One of the lovely things about homeschooling is that we can meet our kids where they are and help them unlock any blocks they may be experiencing through our curriculum choices! Making activities hands-on and tactile can really improve their learning experience, help them focus, and improve memory retention too!

I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration to make your homeschooling experience more engaging and fun for your kids!

The post Top Tips for Making Homeschool fun! appeared first on Confessions of a Homeschooler.

Posted on

2021 Homeschool Room Tour

2021 homeschool room tour

.wp-block-image img {max-width: 100%;}
img {height: auto;}

2021 Homeschool Room Tour is a post from Confessions of a Homeschooler. If you’ve enjoyed this post, be sure to follow Erica on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest! Also be sure to stop by her Community to join the discussion or her Store to see her latest items!

Hi everyone! We’re cleaning up, cleaning out, and rearranging our school room, and so today I’m sharing our updated homeschool room tour with you! We have moved things around from last year just for a little change and we love it!

2021HSroomtour coah
2021 Homeschool Room Tour 21

I want to start off by saying that you by no means need to have a dedicated “classroom” in order to homeschool. You can literally homeschool anywhere you have space and wherever you prefer. We often pack up and head to the library to do school, sometimes we end up in the living room, and other times we head outside. It really depends on the day and our mood!

That said, I do have a setup school area that we use the majority of the time. It works well for our family and we’re thankful to have this space! So I thought it would be fun to take a little tour and show you how we have it all set up now that we’ve moved!

Watch Our 2021 Updated Homeschool Tour here!

For more details on our school desk setup. Ikea discontinued the tabletops I purchased, but they replaced them with the Linnmon Table Tops, white. I think everything else is the same. Here are links to the desk pieces.

As promised, here are some links to the products mentioned in this video and a few other products we’ve used in our homeschool:


Click below to download:

Gingham Calendar Days Part 1

Gingham Calendar Days Part 2

For those of you wondering about our birdies, they are happily vibing upstairs in my daughters room!


The post 2021 Homeschool Room Tour appeared first on Confessions of a Homeschooler.

Posted on

10 Ways to Get Through a “Gifted” Day In Your Homeschool

Every parent has good days and bad. Every mom has days she wonders if she {or the kids} will make it through the day. And every parent of gifted kids knows that there are just some days when “gifted” doesn’t really seem like it’s that much of a gift. Everything you say is challenged, in […]

The post 10 Ways to Get Through a “Gifted” Day In Your Homeschool appeared first on Raising Lifelong Learners.

Posted on

2021-2022 10th Grade Homeschool Curriculum

2021 2022 10th grade homeschool curriculum

.wp-block-image img {max-width: 100%;}
img {height: auto;}

2021-2022 10th Grade Homeschool Curriculum is a post from Confessions of a Homeschooler. If you’ve enjoyed this post, be sure to follow Erica on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest! Also be sure to stop by her Community to join the discussion or her Store to see her latest items!

Wondering which curriculum is best for 10th grade? Today I’m sharing our top picks for 10th-grade homeschool curriculum!

2021-2022 10th Grade Homeschool Curriculum 24

Watch our 10th Grade Homeschool Curriculum video here:

Our 10th Grade Homeschool Curriculum choices for this year:

Click here to see what our typical 10th grade daily schedule looks like!


Looking for more 10th grade curriculum suggestions? Check out my 10 Grade Top Homeschool Curriculum Picks post! It lists all of my favorites that we’ve tried over the years. There are multiple suggestions for each subject to give you a variety to choose from!

I also offer our exact lesson plans in one neat download for you! Click here to get our 10th Grade Homeschool Lesson Plans!


Check out our Homeschool Room Tour here!


Need Help with High School?

Check out my new HOW TO HOMESCHOOL High School eCourse! In this course you will learn everything you need to know to be able to homeschool your children and have your BEST HOMESCHOOLING year yet!


The post 2021-2022 10th Grade Homeschool Curriculum appeared first on Confessions of a Homeschooler.

Posted on

Homeschooling An Artistic vs. Academically Gifted Child

homeschooling an artistic vs academically gifted child

It is easy for us to understand what a gifted child is like when they are academically advanced. But what about the child who struggles academically, but is artistically gifted? How do we help them learn while at the same time, nurture their gifts?

I am often asked by parents of gifted and twice exceptional kids what to do when their child is clearly gifted, but not in any real academic context. When they ask, it is not uncommon for there to be a hesitation associated with having to admit that the typical subjects we study in school are not coming easily to their gifted child.


artistic vs academically gifted child

The Perception That Giftedness Is Only Academic

The hesitancy to discuss this type of giftedness should not surprise any of us. There is a strong perception in the world and often, even among experts who work with gifted children, that academic subjects are the true measure of a child’s capabilities and gifts.

Not only is this perception false, it creates unnecessary barriers to learning for children who are wildly gifted, but in more artistic and right brained functions.

artistically gifted


Artistic Giftedness Is Just As Gifted

The reality is that “artistic giftedness” is fully an element of giftedness for many children. This is “just as gifted” as the math prodigy or history enthusiast.

In fact, there are key indicators of artistic giftedness that make a child a strong overall learner.

Artistically gifted students typically exhibit a strong sense of creativity. They are risk-takers who employ innovative methods, use interesting materials, and test artistic boundaries. For example, when the rest of the class is still drawing stick figures, they’re experimenting with three-dimensional figures.

Often, artistically gifted students have a desire to express themselves through their art, and they see their art as an extension of themselves.

The difficulty comes when we try to determine how best to help an artistically gifted child in their academic studies.

gifted academically

An Interest-Led and Strength Based Approach To Helping An Artistically Gifted Child Learn

For any gifted child, I strongly recommend an interest-led and strength-based approach to learning. This is just as important, perhaps even more important, for children who are artistically advanced.

Because of their natural ability to approach learning in an innovative and more hands-on way, using strengths to inform your approach to their academic learning in your homeschool makes all the difference in their overall learning.

Quote – Teaching to an individual’s strengths, exponentially increases productivity and learner satisfaction.

The research also surprisingly showed that a learner, when allowed to progress in a ‘strengths based’ approach, increased his overall capabilities and performance, even in the areas that were weaknesses

Your child’s love for art can be the perfect opportunity to teach academically.

artistically gifted


Using Art To Help Your Gifted Child Learn

One of the best options I know of for using art to help your child learn academically is You ARE An Artist’s homeschool lessons. These lessons seamlessly integrate art into academic homeschool lessons.

The lesson library of Chalk Pastel art tutorials is exceptional. There are kid favorites like Star Wars and Harry Potter themed art lessons. But perhaps more importantly for the artistically gifted child, there many art lessons available that correspond with your homeschool history, science, literature, and geography lessons

Take a look at just a small sample of the lessons available:

  • American Presidents 
  • Famous Artists 
  • Composers 
  • Maps 
  • Ancient History
  • Medieval History
  • Knights and Crusaders
  • American History
  • Classical Collection History
  • Modern History
  • Literature Studies
  • Space And Space Exploration
  • And so much more! 

In my family, one of subjects that really began to click for my more artistically gifted child was geography. Rather than looking at a map of the world in a textbook, my son needed to experience it to fully grasp and understand the big picture. Enter You ARE An Artist map lessons.

These are the maps he has worked on so far.

  • Great Britain, Scotland, and Ireland
  • Africa
  • The United States and Canada
  • India
  • China
  • Australia
  • Italy
  • France
  • Lewis & Clark’s journey

There are also map lessons for:

  • The voyage to the first Thanksgiving
  • Biblical map of the journey to Bethlehem for Christmas
  • To the moon and back for modern history studies
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder family travels
  • Even a Map your garden plan

Learning geography in this way opened the world to my child. It worked so well; we have also used it in other subjects. You ARE An Artist has formed the backbone of our history studies, both ancient and modern. We have done science with their inventor lessons and space studies. We have also used You ARE An Artist for literature studies including Stopping by the Woods, by Robert Frost, The Hobbit, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

artistically gifted

Helping Your Artistically Gifted Child Succeed Academically

Using art to inform the academic studies of an artistically gifted child is a wonderful way to learn. Your child will enjoy and engage with the lessons in a much more profound way. Perhaps even more importantly, using art in this way helps your child lean into what makes them unique. This strength-based approach is easy with You ARE An Artist.

The good news is the You ARE an ARTiST Clubhouse is always open for membership – with access to a growing lesson library of over 700 video art lessons at the Complete level.

Posted on

Small Goals and Baby Steps

small goals and baby steps
small goals and baby steps

I remember years ago when I still had four kids at home how we dreaded the time change every year (well, twice a year)! When the time changed, a regular question for the next few weeks was, “Are you guys back on schedule after the time change?” And my typical reply was, “Yes!” Because I began preparing for the time change a week or so ahead of time. I slowly altered my kids’ bedtime and wake-up time by about 10 or 15 minutes each day so they’d be adjusted when the time change happened. It worked like a charm.

Just kidding! I was like nearly everyone else. The time change was horrible! It threw us off for days (or weeks)!

In reality, I usually forgot about the time change until the night it happened. My kids and I were usually exhausted and cranky for at least a week afterward. It’s amazing how much one little hour can change our whole reality, isn’t it?

small goals and baby steps

Small Goals and Baby Steps 

So here is the conclusion I came to as I gave some thought to the time change and how it affected us:

If one little hour can alter our schedules and our attitudes, why do we (at least I) tend to downplay the significance of “baby steps” in our own attempts to make improvements in our lives?  

I would love to say that I have always embraced the importance of the baby steps I’ve taken toward having a better attitude daily, eating more healthfully, encouraging my husband, kids, and friends more often, exercising…and the list goes on!  Instead, I tended to dismiss small changes as unimportant and focus only on the final goal.


Why do we dismiss small goals and baby steps and try to go straight to our goal? (Even when we know it’s harder and doesn’t usually work very well?) 

I have come to believe that much of this type of thinking comes from our misconceptions about not only those around us but also of ourselves.  How many times have you seen the mom in the grocery store with four well-behaved kids in tow, calmly shopping, reading ingredient labels, comparing prices?  Ok, maybe never, but many of us have the notion that WE should be that woman!

I, for example, am fairly often “accused” of being organized!  I try to dress neatly (My closet is a disaster, but I happen to be a master at “hide and seek.”), I never forget my earrings (Only because I never take them off!), and I remember to bring my organizer and a pen wherever I go. (I think I actually have an organizer addiction!) My appearance tends to lead folks into thinking that I am well organized, and apparently I don’t outwardly appear to be flustered or frustrated often.  Both of these things are occasionally true of me, however, they are not the norm!

So how do I move toward actually being organized instead of just appearing to be organized to others? How do I make changes that will help make my home and my homeschool run more smoothly each day? 

Set a goal to make smaller goals!

Yep. My first goal was to make it my goal to set smaller goals!  I know that I need to have something to work toward, but I want that work to be positive and enriching in my life and NOT make me feel like a constant failure!  My goals (and your goals, too) need to be small, do-able goals.

I’m also keeping in mind that, as a homeschooling mom, I believe I am the main role model my kids are likely to follow. I want to model for my children a positive approach to setting and accomplishing goals. In addition to that, my desire is to emphasize having a positive attitude along the way!


But wait! First, give yourself credit for what you’re already doing well!

A good example of setting a small (do-able) goal was years ago when I decided to help my son, who was then two years old, to walk.  He has Down Syndrome and, although I suspect he would have learned to walk eventually on his own, was showing no indication of interest in walking. When he reached his second birthday and was still crawling or being carried everywhere he went, I felt like a failure!  I was so disappointed in myself for not taking the time or making enough effort to teach him how to walk.

After beating myself up a little bit, I realized that his verbal skills and sign language skills were pretty amazing. He absolutely loved to help his brother empty the dishwasher, and he enjoyed helping his sister and me load wet clothes into the dryer and unload them once dry.  These things that I worked hard to help him accomplish did not erase the fact that I had carried him around rather than working with him to learn to walk. However, they did encourage me that I was NOT a total failure.

I had put time and effort into teaching him age-appropriate communication skills.  I had encouraged him to be a contributing family member. (I believe all kids, no matter how young, feel special and have a positive kind of pride that comes with completing chores and playing a role in caring for the whole family.) It made me feel better about what I’d already done and gave me confidence that I could move forward when I first gave myself credit for what I had already done well.

Next, think about your big goal and write down some baby steps for accomplishing it.

So, how did I “solve” the walking problem?  I sat down and wrote myself some goals.  They started very, very small.

  • At first, I pulled him to a standing position when he wanted to be picked up.
  • Then I picked him up as usual.
  • Next, I encouraged him to stand up on his own and reach for me before I would pick him up.

We took tiny, tiny steps toward the goal, and in about 6 months, he was walking on his own!  Yes, that seemed like a long, long time, but it was not nearly as stressful a process as it could have been if I had pushed too hard and caused anger or rebellion to develop in him or more frustration and anger in myself! Or if I had simply set a larger goal to teach him to walk without breaking down the steps along the way.

Once you reach your goal, set new goals and write down baby steps to accomplish them.

Yes, we still had to practice walking on uneven surfaces, balancing, running, jumping…so many other related activities.  But the great part was that, by that time, I had complete confidence that we would be able to meet those new goals. Our success with the baby steps we had accomplished and the goal we had attained gave me that confidence!

The best part, in fact, was that I knew as he grew he would understand that I was (and still am) his ally in the process of learning and not the enemy!  My hope was to bond and foster positive give-and-take rather than causing him to feel hopeless or rushed.

How This Affected My Attitude

How did this tie in with my attitude?  I stopped letting myself feel guilty for waiting until he was two to focus on walking. I stopped rejecting the praise that came when others saw the work we had put into walking for the past six months. I gave myself and my son credit for our hard work and was proud of what we had done!

I found that the “winning combination” for me was to allow myself to achieve just a little at a time and then make sure that I cheered myself on when each goal was accomplished instead of sliding back into old habits of self-criticism or guilt!  It seems to me that keeping this focus actually empowers me to continue to achieve and to smile as I do so! It makes my focus a positive one rather than a defeating journey in which I beat myself up a lot and teach my kids that scowling is a normal way of life.

What do you want to accomplish?

What are the goals you hope to accomplish?

  • Do you want to keep your house cleaner?
  • Want to find time to exercise?
  • Do you have a goal to study your Bible each day?
  • Maybe you are having difficulty keeping your kids current on their school assignments and want to change that.

Try setting small goals and baby steps!

1. Choose ONE change to make.

Set a goal to make ONE change to make the situation a little better. For example, if you find that the kids are sleeping later, dragging around in the mornings once they finally get up, and that school is beginning later and later and you feel frazzled, stop feeling frustrated and guilty!

Don’t try to completely change your entire morning routine all at once. You’ll just end up even more frustrated and defeated. Resist that temptation! Instead, choose one change to make. 

The first change I made was…breakfast!  I made a breakfast plan and got organized first thing in the morning.  For example, if we were to have muffins, I set out the ingredients the night before, mixed them up and baked them in the morning, and set out steaming muffins and glasses of cold water or milk at each child’s place before I woke them up.

My kids enjoyed the peace that came with me not rushing around all morning. I enjoyed the peace of knowing I had breakfast under control before morning even arrived!

2. Then make one more change.

After you’ve made your first change and given everyone time to adjust, choose one more change. For my family, my second step was teaching my kids to go straight from breakfast to doing morning chores. Once they adjusted to that, I chose one more change and so on until, finally, we accomplished our ultimate goal of staying current on school assignments.

Does it always work? Nope. Does it usually work? Yes!

Yes, it is true that I still forgot the time change.  It is also true, however, that I recovered from my oversight pretty quickly with no permanent damage done!  I still have a messy closet, but I don’t let it make me feel like a failure, and I don’t worry that I am doomed to a life of disorganization and clutter.

I attempt to remind myself, when necessary, that the closet just hasn’t made itself a high enough priority yet in my list of important goals (and baby steps toward accomplishing them), and I smile when people make comments about how organized I am!

You May Also Like:

how to survive homeschooling your teenage son 990x990 1

How to Survive Homeschooling Your Teenage Son

HHM 10 Reasons Why Im Glad I Was Homeschooled

10 Reasons Why I’m Glad I Was Homeschooled

WUH Want Your Kids to Love Reading Try This 500x715 1

Want Your Kids to Love Reading? Try This!

Posted on

Homeschooling A Gifted Child Who Struggles With Reading

homeschooling a gifted child who struggles with reading

“My child is really struggling to learn to read. How is this possible when we know she is gifted?” This is a question that comes up from so many parents who are homeschooling a gifted child who struggles with reading. In this episode, we talk specifically about giftedness and dyslexia with Marianne Sunderland from Homeschooling With Dyslexia. 


Homeschooling A Gifted Child Who Struggles With Reading

It’s the nature of homeschooling a child with twice-exceptionalities. They are so capable and so smart in one area, and struggle mightily in another. 

Academic Asynchrony Is Typical For Gifted Children

Academic asynchrony is quite typical for gifted children, and yet it can be difficult to know how to best help. 

For example, one of my children, clearly gifted, clearly twice exceptional, has struggled with learning to read. Her brilliance only exacerbated the problem. She knew she should be able to do it. She knew everyone else (even her younger sibling) could do it. 

It caused a significant amount of frustration and anxiety, which only made it more difficult for her to focus on reading.

Homeschooling A Gifted Child Who Struggles With Reading

Gifted Children And Dyslexia: The Reality Of Twice Exceptional Kids

The reality is, reading difficulties and dyslexia often accompany giftedness. Marianne shares the various accommodations we can provide for gifted children, who have the ability to progress, but need assistance in some areas in order to do so. 

This is where assistive technology and supports come in. 

Using a math chart to help with math facts is not cheating. Neither is using a speech to text app to help them write at a level appropriate for their interests and gifted abilities. 

We meet them where they are and use accommodations simply as part of the curriculum and learning. 

Homeschooling A Gifted Child Who Struggles With Reading

Raising Lifelong Learners Episode #132: Homeschooling A Gifted Child Who Struggles With Reading

This is the second episode in our series with Marianne Sunderland, from Homeschooling With Dyslexia. Today, we are specially discussing gifted children and dyslexia. This conversation includes testing, using assistive technology, and most importantly, encouragement that you are the best person to help your child succeed in learning and in life!


Links and Resources From Today’s Show

No More School: Meeting the Educational Needs of Kids With Dyslexia and Language-Based Learning Difficulties

Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child's EducationDyslexia 101: Truths, Myths and What Really WorksFor the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and SchoolHelping Your Child with Language-Based Learning Disabilities: Strategies to Succeed in School and Life with Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, ADHD, and Auditory Processing DisorderBlast Off to Reading!: 50 Orton-Gillingham Based Lessons for Struggling Readers and Those with DyslexiaThe Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic BrainSchool Can WaitRaising Creative Kids: A Collection of Simple Creativity Prompts for ChildrenThe Big Book of Kids Activities: 500 Projects That Are the Bestest, Funnest EverRaising Resilient Sons: A Boy Mom's Guide to Building a Strong, Confident, and Emotionally Intelligent FamilyWhy I Love Homeschooling Neurodiverse Kids: 25 Parents Share the Joys & Challenges of Educating Their Kids Who Have ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Giftedness, or Are Otherwise Differently Wired

Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!

Posted on

Spelling Success with All About Spelling

spelling success with all about spelling
AAS dictation pic PIN

Our Personal Story Regarding Reading and Spelling

We are all interested in something. Some of you may even be gifted in some areas. Maybe you can sew beautifully or cook better than your grandma. Maybe you have a green thumb. (If so, I’m jealous!) One of my kids has great aim with a slingshot or a bow and arrow. Another is a very talented artist. One enjoys science. The youngest loves anything with a motor!

My interests are reading and writing. I love school and I desperately want my kids to love it as much as I do! Regarding reading and writing, my four kids range all the way from “not at all interested” to “Why, yes! Let’s look up the word of the day and use it in a sentence just for fun, shall we?!”

AAS dictation pic PIN

When my third child showed an early interest in learning, I thought I had it made. I was wrong! He enjoyed listening as his older siblings did their school work and sometimes called out the answer to a random multiplication fact as they studied. He liked being read to. He asked good questions. When it came time to begin his “formal” education, though, I was surprised to find that he had a very difficult time learning to read and write.

He was often frustrated. He seemed to forget everything he had learned the day before. He gazed off into space and guessed instead of sounding out words. His handwriting was terrible. His spelling ability was nonexistent (even for sight words that could be simply memorized). I felt like a failure.

A Dyslexia Diagnosis

After two years of trying to teach him to read and write with very little success, I had him screened for dyslexia. To make a long story short, he was eventually fully tested, and we found that he is indeed dyslexic. He has difficulty sounding out (decoding) words, trouble recognizing sight words, challenges with word recall, and much more. Once I understood what he needed, we worked for three years to help him learn to read with fluency. Part of our strategy included using a program called All About Reading. Click here to read my All About Reading review.

Improvement in Reading (with AAR) but Not in Spelling, Handwriting, or Typing Ability

He may always have some degree of difficulty with reading and word recall, but by using All About Reading (AAR), his skills became close to those of his peers. One area in which his skills continued to remain poor, though, was spelling!

I knew he disliked handwriting, but I always attributed this to dysgraphia. It’s not uncommon for dysgraphia to go along with dyslexia.

When he began working on his typing, I once again attributed his reluctance to fine-motor difficulties related to dysgraphia.

Finally, in a moment of extreme frustration, he was able to explain that his main problem with writing and typing was not fine motor-related at all. It was spelling! Both typing and writing took a very long time and were very labor-intensive for him due to looking back and forth so much (from his source text to his paper) because he was unable to spell the words. Thankfully, I knew where to turn once I understood the root of the problem!

How We Chose All About Spelling

After having such great success with All About Reading, I had great confidence that All About Spelling (AAS) would help my son improve his spelling. I did research other programs, but I kept coming back to All About Spelling. I determined that this was the program I had the most confidence in and moved on to the next step – administering the placement test.

I administered the All About Spelling placement test to determine the best level for my son. It was very straightforward, quick and easy to administer, and definitely helpful. My son remembered many of the reading rules he had learned in All About Reading and was able to use those to begin at Level 2. I highly recommend that you begin at Level 1, however, if both you and your student have not yet used a thorough, systematic reading or spelling curriculum that included both reading and/or spelling rules.

The reason for beginning with level 1 is that there are many rules and hints that are introduced in the first level that will be very useful as you move on through the levels. Since they build on each other, I don’t suggest skipping any levels. Even though we began with Level 2, I purchased the flashcards from Level 1 and reviewed them with my son before beginning Level 2. These cards contain information to help your student learn words, sounds, phonograms, and spelling rules that will be needed to spell successfully.

Preparing to Use All About Spelling

To give you some practical information about the program, I’ll share my experience with preparing to use All About Spelling.

Spelling Review Box

It took just under an hour to separate the flashcards and organize them in the Spelling Review box. It would be easy to reduce this amount of time with the help of an older student or friend who can help fold the cards at the perforated lines and tear them apart.

Getting Familiar with All About Spelling

I spent about 30 minutes reading through the introductory information on how to use the program. I suggest making a cup of coffee (or tea) and settling down and enjoying it.

Phonogram Sounds App

The introductory material has a QR code to download the phonogram sounds app, which I love! This app teaches you, the parent, exactly how to pronounce each letter sound. Don’t be tempted to skip this part!

I highly advise getting familiar with the letter sounds yourself so you don’t accidentally make common mistakes when helping your student with letter sounds. (Your familiarity with phonogram sounds will help you to remember to make the “c” “a” “t” sounds correctly, for example, rather than “cuh” “aah” “tuh.”) And yes, this is important even for kids who read well.

Letter Tiles App

You may choose to use physical letter tiles or use the Letter Tiles App. My son didn’t have a strong preference, so I chose to use the app. I wanted the convenience of having the tiles all in one place with no risk of loss, but either method will work just fine.

If you choose to use the app, I suggest that you do the app tutorials (this will only take a few minutes) and practice using the app before you begin with your student. You’ll want to be familiar with how to select and use the tiles, how to clear the screen, and how to select the proper level and lesson.

AAS box

Some of My Favorite Features of All About Spelling

I really loved the preparation section!

It contains all of the information you need to successfully set up your materials. Additionally, it includes useful information on how the program works, how to get familiar with the material before you begin teaching your student, and some extras and strategies for handling rule breakers (the words…not the kids!).

I found that I enjoy the scripted lessons. 

I am a free spirit, and I love to do my own thing in just about every area of life – including teaching my kids. I did not think I would love scripted lesson plans, but I really do!

I have found that my son simply does not learn in the same way that I do. Having a script to follow not only relieves me of the pressure of finding the right way to present a concept, but it also gives me the security of knowing that I didn’t leave anything out or accidentally say it in a confusing way.

Additionally, I know they were scripted by an expert who knows exactly how to get the point across. The scripted lessons were a huge hit with both of us.

Lesson length is flexible, which makes the curriculum easier to adapt for your child. 

The amount of time you spend using the program each day is up to you. You may choose to complete an entire lesson (Lessons in AAS are called steps.) at once, or you may choose to break it up into shorter sessions as we did.

My son learns well for short periods of time and then becomes restless when he is struggling with difficult concepts. It was easy to find a natural stopping point within each step (lesson) and to simply continue from that point the next time.

AAS covers information thoroughly and logically.

I have confidence that my son is learning what he needs to learn. I don’t worry that there will be gaps in his spelling instruction that may cause confusion later.

I love that AAS is multi-sensory.

When teaching a dyslexic child to read or spell, including multi-sensory activities is a must! In fact, I believe that ALL kids can benefit from a multi-sensory method of learning.

It is known that kids with learning disabilities benefit from different methods of input, and it is suggested that this would be a great way to teach all subjects to all students. We use movement and multi-sensory input for every subject, so the fact that it was already included in this program really made the program even easier to use.

AAS Jail

Bad guys (words that don’t follow the expected spelling rules) go to jail in All About Spelling!

A Few Additional Things I Love

The materials are sturdy and durable. The card box is thick, the lid fits well, the materials fit inside nicely, and the dividers are strong and easy to see above the cards. It even comes with little foam blocks to use if you don’t have a full set of cards. (The foam blocks take up the extra space to keep your cards from falling down. They thought of everything!)

The paper quality is great, and the teacher’s guide is bound well. Even with daily use, the materials and teacher’s guide hold up well and are easy to use!

I enjoyed the clean, uncluttered look of the material. Visual clutter can be overwhelming, so I found the simple but enjoyable look of the materials to be pleasant.

The font of the materials is easy for my dyslexic student to read. 

Daily review is built into the program, which helps with long-term retention.AAS letter tiles

Final Thoughts and End Results

All About Spelling is a fantastic program for kids of any age or ability level.

My son has dyslexia, but the Orton-Gillingham approach that is used in this curriculum is equally great for all students.

Using All About Spelling with my son has been enjoyable for me and so helpful for him!

His confidence in his spelling ability has increased tremendously in a short period of time.

As homeschoolers, we have the option to continue to work with our students until they achieve mastery of many subjects. Spelling is one subject that he and I both felt is worth working hard to master since it will affect his ability to write well for the rest of his life, whether that includes writing papers for school or writing emails for work one day.

He has really enjoyed his increased ability to write without the stress and without the time-draining need to constantly look back and forth at how to spell so many words. He feels much freer to consider what he wants to say and how to say it since he is not nearly as exhausted with the mechanics of spelling each word.

We saw quick improvement and lots more progress over time.

When we first began using All About Spelling, my son had difficulty spelling most words, even the simplest ones. (His reading ability was very good, but producing the words through spelling was not a good skill for him at all.) Before we finished Step 1 of Level 1, I could already see that he was getting comfortable with spelling and that the methods laid out in All About Spelling were working for him. The dictations at the ends of each step are becoming easier and much less intimidating as he progresses through the program.

In fact, he came to me and expressed a desire to write about his journey with dyslexia and learning to read, write, and spell. Whether he ever actually achieves that goal or not, the fact that he has expressed such a desire tells me that he now feels equipped to do so and as his teacher and his mom, I know he is.

All About Learning Press Giveaway!

All About Reading and All About Spelling

melissa softened

Melissa Overland is a full-time wife and homeschooling mom. (She also happens to be the identical twin sister of Wendy Hilton who is co-owner of Hip Homeschool Moms.) She loves all things nerdy and creative and is quite unable to keep a clean house. She finds solace, however, in training her children to put God first, to be not only educated but also happy and content, and in aiming to learn to be better at the housekeeping thing as a family! She lives in the South with one husband, two children, and one cat, all of whom must be tough enough to survive life with no grains or gluten, very little sugar, and lots and lots of sloppy kisses.

Posted on

2021-2022 Year-at-a-Glance Calendars

2021 2022 year at a glance calendars

Hi everyone! It’s time for my 2020-2021 year at a glance printable calendar pages! 

2021yearataglance coah
2021-2022 Year-at-a-Glance Calendars 99

Normally I don’t offer my year-at-a-glance calendar pages as a stand-a-lone because they come in my planners. But since I’ve had so many requests I decided to go ahead and make one for you all.

I created them in both portrait and landscape so they can go with whichever planner you prefer!

I also added some fun features to it so you can plan out your overall homeschool year.

Helpful planning sections include:

  • Start and End dates
  • Semester and Quarters
  • Holidays and Vacations
  • Field Trips

I also use a highlighter to mark the dates as well so it’s easy for me to see them on the calendar. And yes, I use the same highlighter color as the topic boxes on the form just to make things easier to see.

Download the 2020-2021 Year at a Glance Pages below:

I hope these calendars help you in your planning!

Posted on

Strew to Learn | Five Days of Inspiration and Support For Strewing In Your Homeschool

strew to learn five days of inspiration and support for strewing in your homeschool

What is strewing and how can it help you homeschool? We strew to learn in our day to day and it has made all the difference. This is all about how strewing works and everything you need to get started.

I love to sleep in, snuggled deep into my covers, all cozy warm while the world gets started without me.

It’s a little piece of Heaven.

Two of my children are just like me in that regard, and for that, they’ll always be my favorites. Shhhhh… don’t tell the other two. ::wink::

The other two are the type of morning people night owls like me love to hate. They wake up talking. Ready to tackle the adventures of the day. And they want to drag non-morning people like me along with them, not understanding why we can’t form coherent sentences right off the bat.

And so I thought I was doomed to be a homeschool failure from the start.

But I wasn’t.

Strewing saved my mornings, and taught me that learning really does happen all the time.

Our homeschool has evolved over the years as I’ve gotten out of the way, and let my kids drive their own learning. I fill our home with fun and educational games, open-ended toys, amazing books, engaging documentaries, and give the kids rich experiences, and then watch what they get excited about and give them more of it.

I strew to inspire learning, creativity, and a love of exploration.

People ask all the time about the things I strew and how to do it because I share about it on Instagram and during my weekly Facebook Live chats.

And to answer them — and you! — I’m bringing you a quick and easy, no-fuss, chock-full of inspiration and ideas, five day series to encourage others to incorporate more strewing into the day.

Strew to Learn - Five Day Series of Support and Inspiration for Strewing Success

The Strew To Learn In Your Homeschool Series

I hope this series inspires you to enjoy your kids and their learning more and more. You have amazing kiddos with great ideas, and those kids know what they love when they find it. When we act as facilitators of learning, rather than impart-ers of knowledge, we give our kids ownership of their own learning, and we make it more fun for them. And, truthfully, more fun for us as well.


What You’ll Get

  • One email a day for five days focusing on the benefits and practice of strewing
  • My best tips and inspiration for using strewing to create a more delight-directed and child-led approach to your homeschool
  • Access to a growing library of subscriber-only resources, discounts, monthly giveaways, AND my favorite resources for strewing, gaming, reading, and learning
  • Support and encouragement via weekly newsletters and in a brand-new private Facebook Community for Raising Lifelong Learners (coming soon!) readers and listeners
  • And, for those of you following the series during its inaugural weeks (before February 9th, 2018), a chance to win a rock and gem collection to strew — curated just for you by my kiddos as an example of one of their favorite things for me to strew (details below)

How to Join: Strew to Learn | Five Days of Inspiration and Support

Strew to Learn - Five Day Series of Support and Inspiration for Strewing Success

Do you want to see strewing in action?

Be sure to follow Raising Lifelong Learners on social media because we share the things we’re doing to encourage a love of learning and cultivate creativity every day — and you’ll be the first to hear about new challenges, posts, and podcast episodes! Can’t wait to get to know you!