Tuesday, July 9, 2024

How to Become that Most Elusive of All Creatures: The Slacker Homeschool Mom

We've all imagined being this lady, haven't we? Lounging in our pajamas, feet up, enjoying our favorite beverage (be it coffee, wine, or soda ; )  - while our children magically become educated . . . 

The "Unicorn" Slacker Homeschool Mom (Source: RDNE, Pexels) 

Yeah, that would be great, huh? 

But maybe your reality is more like this:

In bed with flu, or chronic illness- or just need a mental health break?
(Source, WOKANDAPIX on Pixabay)

But, as we all know - there are no "Substitute Teachers" in Homeschool!

Most, if not all, of the homeschool moms I know are very hard-working people. Dedicated to their calling, and always on the job. 

But, we can always dream . . . 

There are some great reasons that you might need some resources to give you some breathing room:

  • Maybe you have a house full of kids, each needing one-on-one instructional time for part of the day- what do the others do then?
  • Maybe you have a chronic illness, and some days, you just can't
  • Maybe you have a new baby
  • Maybe you just need to cook dinner, or put in a load of laundry now & then
  • Maybe you did a full day of academics, but their kids want more in the evenings - and a steady diet of TV or Youtube isn't their ideal
  • Maybe you deal with mental health issues that make schooling on some days just too hard
  • Maybe you work from home, and need some time to get work done
  • Maybe you have to deal with repair people, or a realtor, and need some time without distraction
  • Or maybe you are just *are* one of those mythical rare slackers!
Whatever your reason or style - it's great to have a stash of great resources to use on those days - or every day! These could be used for *almost* an entire curriculum for a period of days, weeks, or even  months (Just add Prayer, Reading Out Loud by your child, and Writing Practice to make it complete). Or you could stack your (real or virtual) shelves with these for beneficial after-school entertainment. 

So maybe you can have just a few minutes like this, now and then
(Source: Relaxing by Andrea Piacquado)

These are resources that have been tested and proven in our house over the years, not something that I saw online and thought looked nice. They're also resources that I can still see the benefits from, years after we used them. Most of these are very cheap to purchase - some are free. A handful have a monthly subscription rate that is reasonable.

Many of the video series can be found free on Youtube, PBS or other platforms, since they're older. But those links move frequently, and leave me with dead links on my posts. Where possible, I'm linking to DVDs on Amazon or official sites to purchase -just to help you find the right thing - but search your favorite platform and there's a good chance to find them free, or your favorite online resale vendor for better prices. 

If you like to limit internet dangers, having these in a DVD format to play on a dedicated DVD player can be a win - especially with younger children.

I don't believe in sorting materials by grade level, and we don't restrict ourselves to one certain academic level in our house, just because of age - but if you do, most of these resources would probably fall into the kindergarten through 8th grade level. Many are also appropriate for teens. 

So, as the cool kids on Youtube like to say, "Lets Get Started!"

Video Resources:

What's in the Bible  This 13 DVD  series is what enables our daughter to do great at Bible Trivia when we play it as a family. She has been known to beat her parents - repeatedly - at that game. This has a LOOK somewhat similar to Sesame Street, with muppets - but the content would be informative for most adults- even adults with a Theological education. Purchasing the whole DVD series is pricey, but  it is available on two streaming platforms for a very reasonable monthly fee: Minno This platform runs about $9/month at the time of this writing, and has LOTS of other, good, kids' content. Mr. Phil TV This platform is about $5/month at the time of this writing. Binge watch the whole thing, and you only have to pay for a month or two!

Meet the Phonics This is a great series to teach pre-readers the memory facts they need for the basic skills to sound out words. They learn things like what sound each letter makes, what "SH" sounds like, and what "CL" sounds like, etc. I cannot recommend this series highly enough. It takes much of the stress out of teaching early reading, and turns it into entertainment.

Wild Kratts Classic PBS Series to learn about animals and geography. This link is to just one season - lots more are available. Secular perspective on science.

Magic School Bus Another fun, animated classic series, in which kids go on field trips in a magic bus that shrinks, grows, and time-travels as necessary. Very imaginative, and helps kids really understand a lot of basic scientific concepts, such as digestion, magnetism, volcanoes, etc. Secular perspective on science.  

Liberty's Kids Incredibly well-researched and engagingly-presented history of the American Revolution. A group of fictitious teen journalists report on the goings-on of Revolutionary times. 40 very in-depth episodes. My daughter watched these until she had nearly memorized them - and they took her quite far in mastering advanced American History topics. It is secular: it doesn't mention Christianity when it should (see Wallbuilders for context), and portrays an anachronistic feminist vibe in the Sarah character. But, overall remarkably accurate, educational, and fun to watch. 

Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego A fun, imaginative way to learn geography. This series has lots of iterations dating back to the 90's- including "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego," a 90's TV gameshow (than I've seen fairly recently on youtube), and a board game that we found in a thrift store and enjoy. This entire franchise has lots of resources to enjoy & learn from.

Superbook - this app includes episodes and games (you can also find the episodes on TBN). These are imaginative episodes in which modern kids - and their robot - time travel into Bible Stories. If you want to buy the DVD series, it can be found here: Superbook DVD series

Audio Resources:

Jonathan Park - 150 episodes of action-adventure audio stories teaching Creation Science, and a Christian World view. I prefer the unlimited subscription (at the "Unlimited" tab at the top of the page), but these episodes can also be purchased at their website (at the "Shop" tab). If you use secular science materials - or intend to send your kids to a state university to study, these episodes provide some good apologetics for a Christian view of Creation. They are strictly from a Young Earth perspective - even if this is not your personal perspective, these episodes provide a lot of food for thought about the earth's origins, and whether evolution, big bang, and similar theories of the earth's origins should be accepted unquestioningly. 

GT and the Halo Express Your kids (and YOU!) can memorize over 100 Bible verses while listening to these engaging musical audio dramas while riding in the car. I cannot recommend them highly enough. Seriously - if I only had enough money to buy these, for my entire curriculum budget for a year - they'd be my choice! (there's lots of free stuff for the other subjects ; )

Skipcount Kids Bible Heroes With these songs, kids learn to skip count proficiently, which is a foundational concept and skill for multiplication. Don't be surprised if you have a preschooler applying multiplication concepts after listening to these songs for a while in the car. There is a CD, but I couldn't find an available copy at the time of this writing. It can be found on Apple, Spotify, and Youtube, though. Often free : )

Video Games:

Starfall Has lots of fun educational games on the topics of reading and math for the pre-reader and early-reader stages. Some games are free, more are available with a reasonably-priced, paid subscription. They also sell the great early-readers that my daughter loved when she was little: Starfall Early Readers. Although there are free versions of these books at the site, there's something to be said for a kid falling in love with a book they can hold and read all-by-themselves : )

Prodigy math has lots of fun gamification of math skills for levels up to 8th grade (I have never tried their new English platform, only a fan of the math). I found this most helpful when I set my daughter's grade level BACK several grades, and had her polish skills she had previously become proficient in, while continuing to study at higher levels with me. This practice at "easy" math skills in a fun way, made all the difference between her being "okay" at math, and "good" at math. The educational content is free, the reasonably-priced paid version offers the ability to set grades back if you wish, as well as fun costumes for virtual characters and such to incentivize you kid's learning. 

Typer Island - we tried many typing programs and software. This is the one that clicked with my daughter that she really loved & learned from. She remembers it fondly enough that she reminded me to share it here. My personal philosophy is that typing should be mastered in early elementary, and this was a very kid-friendly platform.

Mission U.S. an immersive game in which players "live" parts of American history - from being an immigrant worker around 1900, to being a Japanese-American during WWII. These games have decided political undertones, so "caveat emptor" (even though they're free ; ) 

Whack-a-bone - simple game to help learners of all ages learn the more common names of the bones in the human skeleton.

Finance Games - this is an excellent selection of games about financial life skills. It's probably best for the Jr High to High School age, though younger kids may well enjoy it. Some of these games help kids understand concepts like how hard it is to make ends meet as a gig-worker (like being an Uber or Lyft driver), or how hard it is to get a good job after getting into legal trouble. 

Multiplication.com - despite the name, this site has Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication AND Division games, as well as very helpful memory tricks to help kids memorize their multiplication facts. If I had it to do over again, I probably would have spent a lot less time doing direct math instruction, and a lot more time having my daughter play these games - which she loved. 

Peter Pig's Money Game  - this is a simple game to help kids basic money concepts, and how to count money. There are also app versions of this available from popular app platforms.

Grammar Gorillas - this is an older, low-tech game that can be played online for free. It teaches kids how to find the 8 parts of speech in various sentences. There's also an "easy" setting that is just nouns and verbs.

Dragonbox - This app teaches basic Algebraic methods and reasoning, to help lay very good foundation in that subject. It helps a student develop a feel for what should go where, and the order in which things should be done. In addition to being  a great educational product, I enjoyed playing this. That's really saying something, since I'm a person who had previously strongly disliked both video games and algebra. My daughter enjoyed it, and learned a lot from it, too : ) There's a younger version at the same site, which we never tried, but that you might like. We also tried their Geometry product (Elements), but were disappointed in that and never finished it.  

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego This is a very old game - again, my daughter reminded me to add it, because it is great. But, attempting to download retro games for free to play online can bring viruses - so I'll provide the name - you find a site you like. You might also be able to find an older version on CD, if you have the older computer to play it on. (There's also a very old Board Game by this same name which we also enjoy)

Honorable Mention:


As I was writing this, my daughter reminded me that she loved Cluefinders when she was a kid - even then, it was really old. If you can find an older version from a thrift store or such, and have a machine to run it, it is good. And, who knows- you might be able to find a reboot somewhere (I do see one with a lot of glitches exists on one app-selling platform). She enjoyed the levels that targeted various grades 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade - but we did not play them during any particular year - if I recall correctly, she did them all within a few weeks of each other. We did not try other versions of games from this company.

Happy Slacking! 

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