Time After Time: The Blessings of Homeschooling

Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick,
And think of you
Caught up in circles, confusion
Is nothing new
Flashback – warm nights
Almost left behind
Suitcases of memories
Time after …

~ Cyndi Lauper, Time After Time

Time After Time: Blessings of Homeschooling @EvaVarga.net

Exploring Chinatown in San Francisco

Homeschooling is not easy. There are days I get caught up in circles of confusion – not knowing which direction I should proceed. She wants to learn Chinese? How am I going to do that?!

There are days when I am totally stressed out, irritated beyond words, and I just want to throw in the towel. You haven’t finished your math lesson, why are you still on Minecraft?!

Days when I fear we are falling behind their peers and I feel like a failure as a teacher and as a mom.  There are plenty of moments when I question myself and second guess my decisions.

Time after time, I am asked whether we will continue to homeschool through the middle school and high school years. Despite the obstacles and frustrations, I truly believe that homeschooling is worth all the rough patches.

The suitcases of memories we have made as a homeschooling family will be cherished forever. This life is truly a rich life and we have been blessed in so many ways!

The Blessings of Homeschooling

Time with Family

One of the blessings for which I am most grateful is the opportunity to spend more time with family. We have recently moved back to Oregon and now reside again on the southern coast where both my husband and I grew up. Here, we are surrounded by family and childhood friends.

With family in such close proximity, we are able to include them in our outings. Most recently, we met up with my dad for breakfast and then drove to Dean’s Creek Elk Viewing area, located northeast of Reedsport. Here we spent time watching the elk graze in the meadow and listen to Papa as he shared with us his wisdom.

We are also able to meet their dad at work regularly for lunch dates. When he has business meetings or conferences away from home, we are able to accompany him.

Time After Time: Blessings of Homeschooling @EvaVarga.net

Our excursion to Machu Picchu, Peru

Time to Travel

Not being tied to a school schedule, we are able to travel during the off season. We have thereby made it a tradition of traveling abroad in the fall when rates are lower and crowds are smaller. Last year, we spent three weeks in Ecuador and Perú. The year prior, we were in China. This year, we will be touring the ruins and museums of Italy and Greece.

Time to Explore

We are also able to try new hobbies and experience classes that may not otherwise be available. One of our most enjoyable experiences was a week-long sailing class. This coming year, we look forward to trying our hand at wood carving.

Time to Pursue Passions

When we discover a handcraft or activity we thoroughly enjoy, we are able to pursue our passions with gusto. In a series of guest posts, my daughter shares her first passion project, Fly Tying.

Time to Bless Others

My children and I have been volunteering in a variety of venues since they were toddlers. Homeschooling affords us the time to bless others as we share our skills and talents. Volunteer Opportunities for Kids abound. You just need to know where to look and don’t be afraid to ask.

Time After Time: Blessings of Homeschooling @EvaVarga.net

Accompanying their dad on a business trip in Las Vegas

Time to Connect

Related to time with family, homeschooling also allows us the time to connect with others with shared interests. When my daughter wanted to learn more about fly tying – we sought out local fly fishing enthusiasts. These encounters and relationships open doors.

Time to Reflect

Homeschooling allows each of us to reflect on what we feel is important.  I feel confidant that my son is passionate about playing piano because we have celebrated it in our home. He has never felt he had to stop doing what he loved in order to fit in with others.

Relatedly, my children have been able to take as much time as they need to grasp a difficult math concept. Working at our own pace and not feeling pressure to keep up with the Jones’ is another blessing of homeschooling.

~ ~ ~

Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time is one of my most beloved songs. It has been selected by many in the industry as one of the best love songs of all time. Though it was written about romantic love – the opening stanza reminds me of the joys and tribulations that we face as homeschooling parents.

HomeschoolGiftsThankfulHomeschool Gifts: What I am Thankful For is a link-up sponsored by the iHomeschool Network.

A Day in the Life of an Unschooler

I asked my kiddos to write a short essay reflecting upon a typical homeschool day and they asked if they could collaborate on the article together. This is the result of the assignment. Written by Geneva. Photographs by Jeffrey.

A Day in the Life of an Unschooler @EvaVarga.netA Day in the Life of an Unschooler

The typical life for a homeschooler – and an unschooler at that – is, well extremely hard to explain. One day we might complete as much as we had planned while the very next day we do very little. It is this and the fact that we are not attached to a schedule that we have the ability to learn whatever we most desire. In an attempt to give you an idea about a day in the life of a homeschooler, I will try to summarize a typical day.

Usually I wake up, put together a small breakfast, and play on my phone for a small while – I read my email (my mum and Mandarin teacher send me my assignments), text my friends, and watch a little anime. After about an hour of this I proceed to work on language. I nearly always do it first, because it is one thing I enjoy doing so it doesn’t feel like a chore. It also helps me get motivated to finish the rest of my schoolwork. When I am done with that I either do music or math depending on my mood.

A Day in the Life of an Unschooler @EvaVarga.netFor math, I will sometimes use Khan Academy (which is a website that has videos to help you learn), but mostly I do the next lesson in Life of Fred. If I get frustrated, I might switch and come back to it a little later or ask my mum for help.

I will practice the violin for about 30 minutes, take a break by doing a few chores around the house, and then practice for an additional 15 minutes. Sometimes, though rarely, my brother and I try to play together with some music that we have both been learning.

A Day in the Life of an Unschooler @EvaVarga.netBy now, it is around lunch time. I find something to eat though sometimes mum will fix up a meal. Thereafter, anything that is left I then do to finish up.

I nearly always save writing for last because it is definitely my favorite. It gives me something to look forward to while doing my other schoolwork. On occasion mum will read from a writing book that has an assignment that she wishes us to do, other times I will write a letter. Most often I can write about whatever I please.

Some days we complete history or science together. When mum reads aloud, we often do something quiet to keep us entertained and from falling asleep. I generally draw and my brother sometimes builds Lego.

A Day in the Life of an Unschooler @EvaVarga.netWe have a lot of time to pursue projects that interest us. I love that I have the time to learn what I want to learn.

Hop over to the 7th Annual Not Back to School Blog Hop at iHomeschool Network to see what a typical Day in the Life looks like for other homeschool families. Or, write a post of your own and link up!

Build Your Homeschool Library: Book Sale @EvaVarga.net

Inquiry Science & Postage Stamps: The Big Book & Studio Bundle


Welcome to the The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas Blog Tour where we’re going to be stopping in on the authors of The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas. I hope you have been enjoying the tour. 55 homeschool moms have contributed 103 chapters of homeschool goodness. My contributions were a chapter on How to Use Postage Stamps for Learning and Inquiry Science with Middle School Students. Read on to find out why I wrote these chapters and a glimpse at their content.

The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas Blog Tour

Everyday in the month of October, we’ll meet a new author of The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas. You’ll find out why they contributed their chapter or chapters to the book and why they feel passionate about that particular topic.

How it works:

  • Visit each author on the blog tour and participate in the giveaway they may be hosting.
  • Enter the giveaway for The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas & iHomeschool Studio Bundle below.
  • Purchase the bundle! Don’t worry. If you win the giveaway, you’ll get your money back. Buy now while you can!
  • Click the calendar to see the other authors on the tour and to see their giveaways.
  • Yesterday, Amy Stults from Milk and Cookies, author of the chapters Learning with Maps and Genealogy for Kids, gave away a copy of WonderMaps from Bright Ideas Press.
  • Tomorrow’s giveaway is from Colleen Kessler at Raising Lifelong Learners . Author of the chapter Hands-on ScienceColleen will be giving away Science for Smart Kids: Electricity.

The Bundle Blog Hop

There are so many wonderful contributors to this bundle – come along and get to know each of us a little better. Each day of October we will be highlighting one of the talented women who have helped make the  iHomeschool Studio and Big Book of Homeschool Ideas such a success.


Inquiry Science for Middle School

I am so excited to be a contributing author to the Big Book of Homeschool Ideas.  I love teaching science; my goal is to provide inspiration so you may engage your students in hands-on science and service learning experiences.

Sharing my passion for science reinvigorates me and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to contribute to The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas.

In the article, Inquiry Science with Middle School Students, I define inquiry science for you and break the process of scientific discovery down into smaller components – partial inquiry versus full inquiry.

Teaching science through inquiry is the cornerstone of good teaching.  But what, exactly, is inquiry science?

inquiryscienceScientific inquiry refers to the activities through which students develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, as well as an understanding of how scientists study the natural world.  In many classrooms and homeschool families, students enjoy fun science demonstrations. These hands-on activities help bring the exciting world of science to life.

getting started coverI have written a series of posts, What is Scientific Inquiry, whereby I address the scientific method, science process skills, and science as inquiry. In the series, I address several key misconceptions about science and share with you examples of how to easily modify existing cook-book activities for a more inquiry based instructional approach.

As a special thank you, I have put together a Getting Started with Inquiry Science guidebook that will be available as a free download through the month of October. This bonus eBook is 18 pages providing detailed descriptions of the scientific inquiry process. The different levels are described to give you an idea of where to begin and how to do inquiry science with your students. It also includes many planning pages for student led or open inquiry as well as two guided inquiry labs.

Postage Stamps for Learning

Shortly after we began our homeschool journey, we discovered the joy of collecting postage stamps. In the beginning, we collected with no clear objective in mind. As our collections grew, I began to seek out activities that would provide opportunities to learn about the people featured on the stamps and the places from which they were issued. It wasn’t long thereafter that we were exhibiting at philatelic shows around the country.

I am excited to share with you how we use postage stamps in our homeschool. In the chapter,  How to Use Postage Stamps for Learning, I explain some details and advice regarding using postage stamps for learning such as:

  • What to collect?
  • Where do I find stamps?
  • How do I soak and protect my stamps?
  • How do I display my stamps?
  • What are the educational opportunities available to me?

Postage stamps will be featured more regularly on my blog in the coming months as my kids and I work on developing our new exhibits. Follow along and find out how to use them with confidence in your homeschool.

 The Big Book & Studio Bundle

For a limited time (Oct 1 – Nov 10), get the iHomeschool Studio and Big Book of Homeschool Ideas bundle for just  $15!  The bundle includes 23 MP3s from our spring 2014 webinar and a massive 560+ page eBook for only $15 (regular price $36). This offer won’t last long!

Whether you are new to homeschooling or a seasoned home educator, The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas and the recorded webinar sessions provide a library of resources you could turn to when you have a question in your homeschool.  With this ginormous bundle, you can go beyond the basics of academics and delve into delightful methods like active learning, learning with postage stamps, using LEGOs for learning, teaching on the road, delving into inquiry science, loving living math, discovering your child’s personality type, and more.Studio and Big Book Bundle

A Giveaway, Too!

What is even more exciting is that we are giving away 10 copies of the bundle!!  Don’t wait to see if you are a winner and risk losing out on this incredible sale! If you purchase the bundle and end up winning, we will immediately refund your money.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Homeschool Picture Day

We have never taken the ‘traditional’ school photo – whereby the kids stand on the front porch, backpacks slung over their shoulders, and dressed in their favorite new outfit.  We’ve never gone shopping for new school clothes. In fact, we’ve never registered our kids for school.

While other kids stand outside to await a yellow school bus to rumble to their stop, we are sitting down to breakfast as a family. After our meal, we wish Dad a good day at work, and then head out to a favorite serene area of wilderness.

homeschool picture day

Our Homeschool Picture Day

It is here, surrounded by the wonders of our Earth, that we capture the passage of time with our annual “Not Back-to-School” photo.  Each year, we’ve selected a new location – some new gem that we discovered earlier in the year.

We pack the usual lunches, towels, and swim suits.  We also carry along our nature study bag which includes our journals, a few field guides, pencils, watercolors, and even a water quality testing kit.


2014homeschool pic

We spend the day playing – wading, swimming, exploring. We talk about our plans for the upcoming year. What books we want to read. What excursions we would like to make.

We pull out our sketch books when something captures our interest – perhaps a frog, snake, or mosquito larvae.

homeschool pic2014

Generally, when selecting the location for our Not Back-to-School excursion, the kids choose a river. It is one of our favorite ecosystems – likely because it offers so much. We’ve also spent the day at a lake as well as a beach.


Do you take back to school pictures?

It’s Student Photo Week — check out other bloggers’ homeschool student photos!




Our Homeschool School Room

This is perhaps one of the hardest posts for me to write because we don’t really have a school room or room dedicated to homeschool. We live in a modest sized home and like most homeschool families, our lifestyle of learning is evident in the decor of our home.

our school room

As I will explain more in the near future – we have a very relaxed approach to homeschool. My kids and I also have many interests. As a result, we tend to have projects and activities – in various stages of completion – strung about and on display all the time.

Like most homeschool moms, I also adore books. I regularly scour second hand stores for classic titles and even old textbooks. My shelves are double stacked and there are still piles of books in front of the book cases.

Most of our formal schooling – when we are home – takes place here in the living room. The kids and I stretch out on the couches as I read aloud. We squeeze around the coffee table, sitting criss-cross on the floor, to work on our history timeline or map work. Larger projects are spread out on the floor.


In the center of the photograph, you can see my secretary desk – a gift from my husband when we first began our homeschool journey. It is made from the wood of a black walnut that my dad sawed on his mill. It is the perfect size for the kids’ laptop and for journaling or correspondence.

This photograph doesn’t show it, but the hallway is strewn with posters that correlate to our current studies and a few projects the kids have recently completed.

One of my favorite areas of our home – and the one that elicits the most comments – is our Our Cabinet of Curiosities. This is where we can display our nature collections, field guides, and nature journals.  

Looking for Inspiration?

If you are new to homeschooling or just need a little something new to kick-start the new school year, then check out the Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas!  This amazing, resource-filled e-book download is full of ideas and inspiration for the novice or seasoned homeschool family (including a chapter I authored on Inquiry Science for Middle School) for just $10.99!  Click HERE to buy or for more information.

You can also see how other homeschool families set up their homeschool “rooms” at the Not Back To School Blog Hop from the iHomeschool Network.

Come back often to visit new additions all week this week. Next Monday we will be sharing student photos. Grab a button so your bloggy friends can share their hard work, too.