Students At Home

For Everyone Who Learns at Home

Feeling Tired? Try 9 Quick Energy Boosts!

I don’t know about you, but I get tired every afternoon! My energy level drops, I have trouble concentrating and I just want a nap. But my kids come home from school around 3 every day, and I have to be alert and focused! Usually, I grab a cup of coffee and a cookie, but I know this solution isn’t the healthiest option for me. After doing some research, I found these quick energy boosts.

Eat the right lunch. Ideally, it should be packed with fiber and protein. This combo keeps blood sugar levels – and energy – steady so you can stay focused all afternoon.

Take lots of short breaks. I have tight deadlines on my job, and I’m always tempted to work for long stretches without taking a break. However, several short breaks actually give your body and brain a chance to reboot. I’m going to set a timer and take a five-minute break every hour to stretch, fold laundry, text a friend, clear clutter off a counter or get dinner started.

Go for a walk. Fresh air boosts your concentration and mood. Sounds like a perfect excuse to walk to the mailbox, around the block or through the woods (below is a pic from my morning walk yesterday at Mt. Gretna)! Can’t get outside? Dance, jump rope or vacuum.

june 19 mt gretna

Change the way you snack. My coffee and chocolate snack tastes good and spikes my blood sugar so I feel more energetic right away. But it actually makes me feel more tired in the long run. A smarter snack is high in fiber and  protein like an apple or banana with peanut butter, a handful of nuts with fruit or whole-grain crackers with cheese.

Meditate. Spend five minutes meditating, and you’ll feel more awake and less stressed.

Drink water. When you’re dehydrated, the oxygen levels in your body drop. It’s time to get drinking! Make your water tasty and refreshing with fruit juice, crushed berries or lemon (my favorite water additive!), lime or cucumber slices. (photo courtesy VisitPlano)

water pitcher visitplano

Breathe deeply. A few deep breaths – in through your nose, out through your mouth – slow your heart rate, decrease your blood pressure, increase oxygen in your blood and relax tense muscles. Your brain needs this boost, so relax and breathe.

Brush your hair. Repetitive movements relieve tension and help you relax. Even better, stimulating your scalp boosts your energy and alertness!

Laugh. Your muscles relax and you feel more energized when you laugh. I like listening to comediennes on YouTube, or you can read through a joke book or recall a funny memory. (photo credit unknown)


These tips boost energy and fight fatigue. What other tricks work for you to keep you alert when you’re tired?



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Summer Literacy Ideas


Summer has officially started in my house. That means we get to sleep in, go to the pool and start reading. Every year, our local library hosts a summer reading program, and the kids earn rewards for reading.This year, they can earn an ice cream cone, comic book, admission to the local ice skating rink and bowling.

While my daughter eagerly embraces the challenge, my son is not so enthusiastic. He does not enjoy opening a book and discovering its treasures.

I found this list of alternative reading options for him at

*Closed captioning
*Cereal boxes
*Seed packets

What else would you recommend?

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Journalism is like Parenting

I especially enjoyed this post because I’m up way too early writing…so I can spend time with my little guy — away from work– today.

Plus, it made me smile.  Enjoy!   🙂


Topical Teaching

Liz Kovak has written a very amusing piece which compares parenting with the newsroom:

1. You’re living in a 24-hour cycle.
The news never stops, and neither does parenting. Disaster can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone. Breaking news! Flash pee flood causes two-hour laundry pileup. This just in! A new tooth erupted on the Southern Gum Coast at 3 a.m. Details at 11 — kids on bedtime strike stall negotiations until opposing forces are given chocolate pudding and an American Girl doll. And just think about it — Wolf Blitzer doesn’t live in his “Situation Room” 24 hours a day, but you sure do.

2. Sometimes, you have to throw away the script and wing it.
Every parent knows the best-laid parenting plans are just like that generic footage of pills being spilled out on a formica counter that every local newscast uses for medical reports: out of date…

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A Great Escape

I’ve seen many posts this week from moms who welcome their children home from school.  They either anticipate or dread the next few months of  unlimited time together, and they’re trying to find creative activities that prevent boredom and prevent their children from the infamous summer brain drain.

For all my friends who welcome children home from school this week, happy summer! 

For those of us who homeschool, the summer routine is barely different from the regular school year routine.  At least in my house, we spend so much time learning as we’re living that summer just gives us different activities in warm weather.  

Today, I learned an important lesson in planning time together:  A Great Escape. 

My children need a space where they can escape each other, me and the television.  My son chooses his hideout behind the sofa where he can play with his stuffed friends or Flick Trixs.  My daughter retreats to her bedroom where she reads, writes or plays Barbies.  

I need a space to escape the noise, the arguments and the activity.  My bedroom, behind closed doors, provides a quiet oasis where I can cry, scream, journal or rest my eyes for a minute (or two).   

We all need a personal space where we can retreat when summer days grow too long, nerves fray or activities leave us cranky.  

While one reason I homeschool is so I can enjoy learning with my children, I appreciate and value the time we spend apart.  That being said, I’d love to hear your creative ideas for making sure everyone in your home has a place where they can make A Great Escape.

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I Want to Break Something

No, I’m not angry enough to actually throw something or smash my fist into the wall.  My preferred MO when I’m angry is to give the silent treatment to the object/person who’s the subject of my anger or I stomp around as I clean the house like a madwoman.  (That’s tough to admit, but we all get angry sometimes.)

The break I need today has to do with school subjects that are a bit tougher for my children.  For my daughter, it’s reading long chapter books loaded with words in small print or completing pages of math problems.  My son balks at reading nonsense words or long sentences as he practices Phonics.  I could push them to finish in one sitting, but why fight?  Instead, letting them take breaks means we all accomplish what needs to get done.

I see them enjoy school as they work is small doses with plenty of play breaks or chances to ride the tire swing, do jumping jacks or dance.  They accomplish the task and enjoy it while learning how to read.

There’s no reason to fight with kids to make them do stuff that’s challenging.  While the work needs to be done, it can be fun, entertaining and filled with breaks instead of misery and gloom.  Small chunks make the work go faster and increases productivity and enjoyment. 

With that wisdom in mind, I’m off to break something.  In fact, I think it’s time to take a break and make cookies!  That’s one task we all agree tastes great in one big bite or several small pieces.  🙂

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When Laughing is More Important than School Work

Some days, we just can’t seem to get motivated to finish math worksheets or read literature. 

My children might wake up and decide to play superheroes, race Matchbox cars or paint together.  The latest distraction is the tire swing my son’s occupational therapist assures me will help him burn off excess energy.  Since hubby installed it, my Sonshine has been able to focus more, especially since he knows he gets breaks during his challenging phonics classes.  

I usually don’t worry too much about the kids’ spontaneous play time because we are caught up with school work and have only a few more lessons to complete before summer.  However, some days its easy to wonder if we’re doing enough.

On these days, I remember why I teach my children at home.  We are building relationships, learning how to relate to each other, learning to love our neighbors, completing state requirements, completing house and yard work and having fun together.

My children are affectionate, and they love to laugh.  As much as possible,  I want to laugh with them while they still want to and are able to spend time with me. 

We are not “doing school” at home.  We have a flexible schedule, time to pursue their interests and a variety of  entrepreneurial activities.  In my mind, these activities are as important as learning how to read, write and perform complicated math in their heads.

And quite honestly, we have lots more joy, fun and laughter when we are relaxed and when my students at home have some freedom in deciding our daily schedule.


Why do I need to Rest?

My day is full!  I homeschool, write, keep financial records for the family business, cook, clean, pay bills, drive to doctor’s appointments,  buy groceries, find overdue library books….

You get the picture. 

Does my life looks a lot like yours?

This past weekend, I determined to slow down and rest.  While I was partially successful, I also needed to meet two deadlines.  I’ve never felt better submitting an article!  Yesterday, I actually hung out with my hubby without worrying about work. 

That’s really the desire of my heart.  I long to just relax and be in the moment.  If it’s time to write, sit down and write my heart out.  If my children ask for story time, read and cuddle like there’s no tomorrow.  If hubby’s home, sit with him and cherish the time together.  In addition to the health benefits of rest (weight loss, reduction in risk of developing ulcers, more positive mental outlook), my family needs me to rest and just be with them.  

As soon as I’m finished writing this post, I’m off to scrapbook.  This creative outlet rejuvenates my spirit and makes me feel happy and fulfilled.  Not only will I be crossing an item off my “to-do” list, but I need this break as a new work week starts.

What enjoyable activities do you enjoy?  What makes you feel smiley inside?

May you enjoy your day and all the activities it brings!


How to Handle Transitions

My husband took off work early today so we could travel to a Monster Truck show.  After paying a highway toll, paying to park at the venue and walking half a mile to the entrance, we learned that the cost of purchasing tickets at the location (as opposed to online) were more expensive than we anticipated.  I turned to him and asked, “Are you sure we should do this?”  We stepped out of line and discussed the options.  As a single income family, we try to spend our money wisely.  Would this afternoon show be a wise investment?

After a brief discussion, we decided to pursue a more affordable family activity.  After driving through a local town, we ended up driving back to our hometown where we landed at the miniature golf course.  Hubby instructed our children on the proper stance for hitting the ball and how we need to wait for everyone to finish the hole (somehow, the most impatient person in our family putted first, and Mom was designated to putt last). 

While we missed out on an adventure we were all looking forward to, we found an even greater blessing as we spent quality time together.  I felt proud of my children who willingly agreed to a change in plans.  

Unfortunately, not every plan change goes as well.  I have learned the hard way that my children need advance warning before an unexpected change in plan.  I have to warn them before transitions.  For instance, every school morning, they hear, “Five more minutes until school starts!”  I also try not to plan our day in detail.  I tell them the subjects we need to cover, but I leave plenty of time for unexpected bad moods, play dates, errands, calls from family members or a myriad of other interruptions.     

The timer is a great tool we use throughout the day.  It marks the start of play time, the end of online game time, the start of class time and the end of clean up time.  And we all love the timer that signals cookies are finished baking!

While I cannot guarantee every transition goes smoothly or that every disappointment ends in smiles, I know the personalities of my children.  This knowledge heIps us adjust to unexpected changes and bumps in the road.  With the tools we need to navigate change, my students at home are learning an invaluable life skill that will benefits all of us.  

What techniques have you learned for handling disappointment?  How do you transition your family between activities?  Here’s hoping your transitions go smoothly and your family smiles at every change in plan.

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What can you do in 5 minutes or less?

Last year, a blogging friend suggested her readers look at everything they can accomplish in a short amount of time.  I confess, her challenge made me stop and think.  By nature, I work best when I can concentrate and focus in peace and quiet for an hour every afternoon or at night when everyone in the house is sleeping.  The idea of writing, scrapbooking, blogging or house cleaning in five minute increments makes no sense to me…until I tried it.  Amazingly, I can accomplish more with my limited time by working in five minute increments than I can accomplish in longer time frames.  And quite frankly, every mom realizes that uninterrupted time is unrealistic.  

Here’s a list of items I can cross off my to-do list by working five minutes at a time.  

outline my next article for work

read to my son

wash dishes

fold laundry

sweep the floors

lay out and crop photos on a scrapbook page (My husband blessed me with a corner of the living room where I can keep my current project on the card table for easy access anytime.)

dance, stretch or run around our house for exercise

sort the mail

trim and file my nails

sort coupons for the week

While I could go on and on, I’ll save more ideas for another post.  My five minutes for blogging is over, and I’m off to start dinner.  With my daughter’s help, we might be able to finish the prep work in five minutes and have time to cuddle before it’s time to eat.  🙂

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Flexible Schedules

My children spent time this morning working on school work.  My kindergartener attended his online math class on the desktop computer our cyber school provides.  My second grader practiced her math skills on our family laptop.  Because we plan to take off school tomorrow in order to visit my mom after her recent surgery, I have a list of school items we need to accomplish today.

In the midst of diligent studies, Daddy walked in the door.  Instead of waiting at his auto body shop for parts, he came home to sit with us and eat lunch.  With joy, we welcomed him home and prepared peanut butter and banana sandwiches.  My daughter made her own sandwich while my son counted the pieces of bread Daddy used to create his culinary masterpiece.  I can count lunch preparation as math and fine motor skills.  We will catch up later today or next week on our other curriculum requirements.

While our daily schedule is interrupted today, I find the rewards to be worth the extra work we will need to do later.  In the meantime, I allow my children to enjoy much-needed time with their Daddy.  My students at home benefit from flexible schedules, and we all benefit from the peace and joy we gain as we relax and go with the flow.

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