Evaluating Work and Giving Grades

As the year winds down we are approaching report card season. Just as there are many different approaches to homeschooling there are many different approaches to report cards and how work is evaluated.  Be sure you are familiar with the legalities of documentation regarding homeschooling in your state, providence, or country. It may also depend on if you are an independent homeschooler, with a Private School Satellite Program (Like the Happy Hive) or under a Charter Umbrella.

With that said… even if you are required to keep and record the most traditional of grades and assign report cards, that doesn’t mean you have to show them to your children…but I’ve rushed to the end.

What is the purpose of grades in a school setting? Grades give students feedback about their progress and provide them with motivation. Grades give teachers feedback to plan instruction. It also provided teachers with insight into a student’s strengths and weaknesses.  On an administrative level, Grades provide information about placement and skill level.

I hope we can agree that grades are only one small peek into the whole learner, yet they are given 100% of the decision making weight in a “Traditional School” setting.

These grades get placed onto a report card that then “follows” a learner from grade level to grade level and from school to school.


What is the purpose of a report card? The purpose on the most basic level is to record growth and track a student’s progress. Schools want “proof” of learning. Parents who send their children to school want proof of learning. A report card is a tool that can provide that proof. Parents are not in the classroom all day… but parents ARE in the home school all day… So are grades and report cards needed in a home school setting? You can see the learning and the progress first hand day after day, year after year.

Homeschooling with a PSA here at the Happy Hive, in order to evaluate learning, I asked each child one simple question: Is this your best work? If the answer was yes, I took the work and we moved on. If the answer was no, the work was returned and completed again until it was “best work”. We did not use grades or report cards – ever.

You might wonder what would prompt a child to say no… this isn’t my best work…after all, they  were self evaluating without a word from me as I never contradicted their evaluation even when I was dying on the inside.

This is what I did instead:  “Great sweetheart, what EXACTLY makes this BEST WORK?” Sometimes they take the work back without another word, and other times they find some little thing on the page. Kids are harder on themselves than we would ever be most of the time.

Beginning this from day one was natural. I just told them everything we do, chores, schoolwork, family games, cooking dinner, we always do our best….

Eventually, as they get older, “Best Work” turns into time management and decision making. My children learned to say: “Mom, I didn’t color my picture for History because I really wanted to put extra effort into Science today. I couldn’t do both. But my Science is my best work and I’m really proud of it. I didn’t think my time was best spent just coloring.” – My response was always one laced with positivity, even if I needed to give correction.

For example: “Your Science is in fact Best work, I can tell you are enjoying the study of weather. I also notice you have not submitted a best work sample for History in 3 days. How can I help change that?” (No criticism, just fact based statement, with an offer of help)

Working with a Charter school as your “homeschool” is another legal option of homeschooling. You are however technically enrolled in a public school and that is why they ask for work samples, grades, etc. The funds you receive for curriculum and classes come from the funding Charter schools receive from the state for enrollment. Many who choose this route simply don’t show their learners the report cards that are issued if  that’s not in alignment with their educational style. That’s the beauty of Homeschooling, we get to choose.

If you are under a Private School Satellite Program(PSP), Like the Happy Hive, you will follow their requirements, much like a Charter school. Happy Hive offers Report Cards as an additional service to their program to those families that want them, but they are not required.

You can implement the “best work” strategy at any time. Just at your next learner/teacher meeting, explain you want to try something new, For each item of work turned in you will ask if it is “Best Work” and what makes it Best Work. As the teacher, you only accept BEST WORK…

Or, Summer is a good time with less pressure to make this kind of adjustment. As we head into summer, if you need any support for your schooling, feel free to reach out. The Happy Hive has many options for families.

May your educational Journey Be Blessed!

Mrs. Crabtree

My Best Organization Advice for Busy Families

Tried and true. It has worked for the 16 years I have used it. You see, I had 3 kids in 4 years. I was a baby maker. And if you know me, you’re laughing because I didn’t want kids. I was happy with “my kids” that said meow, and the kids in my classroom every day – so the kind I actually had to change diapers for were not on my to do list.

I needed to be organized. After my 3rd child was born I was blessed to be able to stay home. That did NOT make life easier. I was as busy as ever. Something had to give. I had a newborn, a 1 year old and a 2 year old. I made the best decision of my life, and we still use this method of organization today.

My children are color coded. My oldest is RED, my middle is BLUE and my youngest is GREEN. Sometimes Red gets Pink – and she doesn’t mind. It’s understood that is her stuff. Dishes, towels, school supplies, bed sheets – you name it if it comes in these three colors – I buy it!

These dishes saved my life. It is so easy to organize when the kids are color coded!

Lauren – you towel is in the bathroom, please put it where it belongs. Ok mamma! What can she say? She can’t claim it isn’t hers! It was red! The consequence for using items that are NOT your color are punishable by death. So that never happened. Okay, well, not quite death, but I have to admit – it was so NORMAL – they never tried! I suppose if this system gets put into place with children who need to adapt to it, you would 100% need a meaningful consequence for using items that don’t belong to you.

I remember being upset I couldn’t find Green Pajamas this particular year. But notice the head wear! Spot on!
Even Santa color codes. He doesn’t even use gift tags. They just know.
This was a much Merrier Christmas – all Pajamas fell into proper color categories. Imagine the shear bliss had I found Green Snowflake Pajamas. I would have swooned!
The Easter Baskets are color coded, and if you look – they each have Peeps (the purple were close enough I guess ) – but you get the idea…the idea I’m a bit crazy!

I know homeschool families often have many children, but this would still work.

The most important things to color code are the towels and the dishes. I’m the only crazy who extends it onto pajamas and gift wrap!

The Core of the system is HOUSEHOLD items, dishes, towels – things that get left around. You want those items to be easily identified so they can get back to their rightful owner and the rightful owner can take responsibility for their actions.

This set comes with 9 different colors:

Now that we have outgrown the plastic dishes, I still use the system. I simply leave them notes on the counter with chores using paper in their color. In a pinch I write on white paper using markers in Red, Blue and Green. Same effect.

Feel free to share your tips for organizing with us! We hope your Educational Journey is blessed!

Mrs. Crabtree

Looking to the Future

When schools closed the second week in March, I knew it was my opportunity to continue to work on Happy Hive Homeschooling. There was never enough time to get more than 1 item into my shop a week. My honest to goodness goal is to have a COMPLETE curriculum – something for EVERY DAY! I know that slow and steady win the race, I am comfortable with that…but 365 days finishing only 1 a week — that’s a mighty long race! I could hardly WAIT for summer to come, as I knew I’d have a solid 10 weeks to get a nice jump start. I have been given an extra 10 weeks due to the stay at home order! (I sincerely hope school re-opens in September. I will be working for an alternative education school and basically homeschooling the students that attend – it is right up my alley!)

I want to THANK each and every one of my blog followers, Instagram followers, Facebook Friends, and secret admirers out there cheering me on. When I met my sales goal for April (On April 26th, with plenty of time to spare!) it felt like a lottery win!

I enjoy making videos, helping families get started on their homeschool journey, coaching families while we homeschool together, creating curriculum – ALL of it! If you know someone – friend, family, homeschooler, teacher…that you think would like HomeschoolHoliday – I would love for you to share. I certainly have set a new goal for May and beyond!

11 Interesting Facts about Me

I have a blog follower who writes beautifully. Her words are calm and bring me peace. She follows this blog as well as Gratitude-LittleThings-Contentment, my personal blog, AND my scrapbooking blog Happy Hive Scrapbooking, the one I struggle to keep up with!  Every *Like* encourages me to keep going… especially here at HomeschoolHoliday.com.

You see I had no idea who Neha Nandwana of My World is. She found me somehow, and “her world” has impacted mine in a big way. I don’t think Neha homeschools at all, but I think she is an amazing Human!

Recently Neha was nominated for a blogging award :The Vincent Ehindero Award. It is an award bloggers nominate each other for to spread positivity.

Neha certainly DESERVES this award in my book! She has brought positivity into my world on a weekly basis both through her writing, and by her participation on HomeschoolHoliday.com.

As part of receiving the award Neha had to answer a series of questions and nominate 10-30 other bloggers. Her Nomination was to all her readers to share 11 interesting facts about ourselves. I decided to accept Neha’s challenge in hopes to continue to spread positivity, and as a way to thank her for being a supporter of my blog. So here you go Neha, Here are 11 interesting facts about me:

You can watch the video version, or keep reading below.

  1. I live in my childhood home.
  2. I talk to the animals in my yard as if I were Snow White, and I like to give them little names. Robin the bird, Chatterer the squirrel and Oscar the opossum are the current friends I have. (Man, now I sound completely insane.)
  3. I consume coffee like it is water. Being home now with the stay at home orders, I am drinking a 12 cup pot by myself every day. My husband has his own coffee pot to use. We like different blends.
  4. I enjoy scrapbooking in my spare time and I attend 2- four day scrapbook weekends every year.
  5. I prefer not to drive, and will ask my husband to take me places so I don’t have to.
  6. I collect bees, but only if they are cute, not if they look like a real bee.
  7. I have taught at every grade level K-8 except first and second grades (unless you count my own children when they were homeschooled in those grades).
  8. My favorite book is MANDY by Julie Edwards
  9. I was named after the character Christy in the book by the same name, by Catherine Marshall. Serendipitously she was a teacher and so was I.
  10. My family moved to California from Jew Jersey when I was six. I still consider New Jersey my home.
  11. When I did my DNA testing I found out I was 100% European so I like to pretend I’m somehow royal. (There’s the insanity again!)

I began Happy Hive Homeschool Consulting, and it’s subsidiary, Homeschool Holiday to help people. I sincerely hope the information I post inspires you to learn something new each day. Our educational journey is never over, so whether you are a student, parent or teacher, or just seeking to learn more yourself – I thank you for stopping by. If you are so inclined to share my blog with others, I would love to do the same for you. Kindness begets kindness. Together we can grow and bring kindness to others.

If you are so inclined to support my blog by making a purchase through Amazon, I am an Amazon Affiliate and as such the links I post are affiliate links. You can purchase anything you’d like simply by first visiting Amazon HERE, and then shopping for your own wants and needs:-)

For my full DISCLOSURE go HERE.

May YOUR educational journey be blessed, at whatever phase you are in. Please take some time today to check out my blogging friend Neha and her blog: MY WORLD. I hope she inspires you as much as she has inspired me!

Christy – AKA Mrs. Crabtree

History in the Making….

Each Summer As part of our school work I had the Bugs keep a daily journal. They recounted the activities from the day before. These make EXCELLENT memory books.

It not only records their writing and artistic style, it records the games, books and television programs each child was into at the time.

This activity had me thinking about what mom’s across the world could do that was quick and easy now that they are working with their kids at home.

You can use an extra composition or spiral notebook if you have one on hand. Let a Teen start their own blog…Just get those thoughts on paper.

An assignment like this is NOT the time to worry about Spelling, Mechanics, Punctuation, etc… If your child ASKS for help – go ahead. Otherwise, in a Journal, whatever gets written is PERFECT.

Those of you whose school didn’t get closes (AKA homeschoolers from the start) feel free to share this idea with our new school at home friends.

May your journey continue to be Blessed!

  • Mrs. Crabtree

How to choose the perfect homeschool curriculum

There are a million things to consider when homeschooling. But first things first. What are you going to teach them? This is one question I get all the time.

As a classroom teacher, I was required to use the state standards to guide what I taught my students. Standards have their place, but in my state, as a private school (That’s how you homeschool in California, by establishing your own private school) you are not required to use the standards. (But you certainly CAN – they can offer SOMETHING if you are feeling lost. They can offer topics and you can go from there! Topics are a good thing.)

If you homeschool with a Charter, or independent study program the requirements may be different and you will want to work closely with the school in which you have enrolled, as you are still functioning as part of the public school system. These methods of school-at home offer many benefits.

My focus is going to be on choosing curriculum without the overarching  component of required standards.

Be sure you are compliant within your area.

Curriculum is defined as: lessons and academic content. Simply stated, it is the TOPICS you are covering, the LESSONS you are learning.

Where do you get the topics? In our homeschool curriculum is as simple as living life. Life gives us the topics naturally…

If you plan to homeschool and never send your children to school, family time is the best curriculum. The learning just comes naturally. Laundry, chores, and play were a major facet of our curriculum.

If you have removed your children from school spending time together without the pressure of “school” is just what they will need. Be sure you are ready for curriculum…you might want to consider decompressing first.

If you are ready for curriculum, you can think about the “subject areas” that need to be covered:

Reading

English/Grammar

Spelling

Handwriting

Math

Science

History

Fine Arts

Music

PE

Technology/Computers

Religious Studies

Passion Project (what your child is MOST interested in). I also call this Free Choice Learning.

OR… you can think about the TOPICS that are interesting to your children.

I prefer the latter. By having a TOPIC  driven curriculum, I have engaged learners. Each child learns about what they are most interested in, or you learn as a family about the topics and rotate them.

I talk a lot about Topic Based Curriculum in my video Choosing Homeschool Curriculum.

We were a 1 income homeschool family. I had no charter funding for the curriculum.(many families use charter schools because they provide funding for the curriculum- we did not want to homeschool via that route)  My oldest was very into Pirates, and the Magic Tree House books. We decided to use that series as the basis of our entire curriculum and everything we did each week surrounded the theme of the book. There were more books than we could fit into a year, even though we homeschool year round! If you dive into these topics fully This series could easily last 2 years! Each child completed the learning at their level. I read the book first thing Monday. We discussed vocabulary words (I chose them) and then we did activities that I *invented* for each book.

You might not be so inclined to create a curriculum like this on your own, but never fear… Take the first book for example. The topic is Dinosaurs. A quick internet search for dinosaur curriculum and you will be inundated! Over 10 years have passed since I was inventing this stuff on my own. The amount of free resources available is significant.  Go to the local library and check out as many books on the topic as they will let you. Read them, discuss them. The learning from that activity alone is mind boggling each week.

Our next TOPIC based learning isn’t as nicely packaged, but  was based on individual works of literature. We simply used what one considers the classics to guide our learning. Each month one of us chose the book and we went from there. Charlotte’s Web lead to a deeper study of farming and animals. Journey to the Center of the Earth led us down a very scientific study of what the earth is ACTUALLY made of.

If you would like to see the Happy Hive Book list you can find that HERE

We used a great series called Story of the World to explore history. We dove deep into the time periods most interesting to each of the children. We breezed through others.

Pictured here – Story of the World Volume 1 (There are 4 volumes)

As the bugs (my name for my kids) got older, they dove deeper into math concepts beyond paying for toys with their allowance. Mastering their multiplication tables, and beginning to use their first textbooks was exciting. There was no pressure. They continued to learn through experiences of cooking and paying for things themselves. Games were a fundamental element of our math curriculum.

As I have shared before, the inspiration for this website was our year of holiday based curriculum. Everything we did each day was based on the quirky holiday celebration of the day.

If you are interested in subject by subject curriculum, that is fantastic! There is no wrong way to homeschool! Read more about that HERE.

When choosing curriculum be sure to follow your heart. Trust your instincts. If it’s not working, change it. Ultimately, that’s what homeschooling is…the ability to completely customize education for the individual who is receiving it.

Whatever curriculum you decide to use I hope you will consider incorporating some of the easy to use activities we offer! Be sure to check out our Teachers Pay Teachers store as well as Amped Up Learning! Both have our valuable curriculum as well as free printables you can use for everyday learning and holiday learning!

Thank you for choosing to partner with Happy Hive. If you are looking for curriculum coaching or are interested in joining our Homeschool Satellite Program you can find information about what we offer HERE. Be sure to follow our blog for the latest updates, and sign up for our Newsletter! Signing up for the newsletter gets you EXCLUSIVE Homeschool Holiday products, specials  and subscriber only (password protected) content!

May your educational journey be blessed!

  • Mrs. Crabtree

Subject by Subject Curriculum

Choosing a curriculum isn’t easy. When you have multiple children, in multiple grades, you have to choose a LOT of curriculum. Well meaning friends and family are giving you advice. You are reading article after article trying to decide what to do!

First things first. Are you looking for a subject by subject curriculum where each child has their own “grade level” or ability level materials for every subject (reading, Math, History, Science, etc) or can you group similar ages/abilities by subject depending on the number of children? This would be similar to what schools do with a combination class.  Both of these will work for a subject by subject curriculum option.

If you would like to explore using subject by subject curriculum in your homeschool, this article will help you understand more about how to accomplish that.

I also have FREE lesson planning pages for you to use! (there are also Theme based unit pages in the packet if you prefer a Topic Based Curriculum.)

Let me start by saying, even within subject by subject curriculum you can have a topic based subject. Some call this a genius hour. I like to call it free choice learning. During this time, my children were free to explore any topic of their choosing, or further explore one of the subjects they were studying in more detail. So you don’t have to completely abandon the thoughts of using a Topic Based Curriculum.

The first thing you will need to do is decide what subjects you are required or want to teach based on your homeschool regulations.

Using a classroom model the common subjects are:

READING/LITERATURE

ENGLISH

SPELLING

MATH

SCIENCE

SOCIAL STUDIES / HISTORY

MUSIC

ART

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

COMPUTERS/ TECHNOLOGY

FOREIGN LANGUAGE

Many homeschoolers add:

NATURE STUDIES

LIFE SKILLS

FREE CHOICE TOPIC/PASSION PROJECT

RELIGION

Each child needs books/activities/goals for each subject that aligns with their age/ability level. This sounds overwhelming but it isn’t. If you are with a Charter School, you will be assigned a credentialed teacher to help with material selection.

If you are sailing your own ship, Happy Hive Homeschool Consulting is here to help.

I have put together my tried and true recommendations for each subject. This is the list I give all my clients! The list can be YOURS too!  The recommendations are for K-6th grades.

Sign up HERE  and you will get access to the password protected page outlining the Tried and True Happy Hive Curriculum! You will also be subscribed to the Happy Hive Newsletter and get exclusive content, notifications of upcoming products and subscriber only offers!

I hope your journey is blessed!

If you are interested in having help with Curriculum and you live in California, check out Happy Hive Homeschool Consulting. – I would be happy to partner with you on this journey!

  • Mrs. Crabtree

Topic Driven Curriculum

Choosing a curriculum often causes the most worry. I understand. Not only am I a homeschool Mom, I was also a classroom teacher for many years. I was lucky enough to work at a school the last 6 years of my career that allowed me to use the standards as my base, but I got to decide exactly what curriculum I used each day to present those standards to my students. I fussed over those choices day and night. Because I was bound to the standards, I used a Subject by Subject Curriculum in my classroom.

My homeschool curriculum was a completely different story. I much prefer a topic based curriculum. I believe it lends itself to engagement so much easier. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with a Subject by Subject Curriculum – we used that too, especially when the bugs were in Middle and High School.

A topic based curriculum is simply where my passion is, hence Homeschool Holiday, where everything revolves around the overarching theme of the holiday of the day 🙂 

If you would like to explore using topic based curriculum in your homeschool, this article will help you understand:

What topic based curriculum is

and

What you need to plan a topic based unit

 What IS Topic Based Curriculum?

Topic based curriculum is also known as a unit study, or a “thematic unit” – you can incorporate every subject in your unit or as many as are reasonable. Your length and depth of study can be easy going or elaborate. My mantra is: There is no wrong way to homeschool! It is far better to go for it than to do nothing because your curriculum doesn’t quite measure up to the latest pinterest board.

Everyone in your homeschool studies the same topic, and the level of study and the depth of the work produced is adapted to the child.

You can also have individual children choose to study their own topics – but when doing this, I encourage my clients to work it into their day as a “free choice learning” subject  vs every child learning a different topic all day long. Think of a family with 5 children learning 5 topics… planning for that might get overwhelming. It’s far easier to fit it into your Subject by Subject Curriculum plan as “genius hour” , “special studies”, or my coined term “free choice learning”.

What do I need to plan a topic based curriculum?

The first thing you need are the topics. How many topics you need will depend on how you want to divide your time. I find the best approach to topic based curriculum is to put the topics into time slots. Decide if you want to do one topic per month, one per week, 2 weeks, etc. If you just work on a topic until you are “done” you may never move onto the next topic:-) Structuring time is okay.

Next gather books relating to your topic. Don’t be afraid to use books for all age levels. Big kids learn from picture books and young ones can be read to from longer fact filled chapter books.

You want to find your books before planning activities.  Use the library, what you have on hand, order from amazon and borrow from others you know. This way you know exactly what facet of each topic you have available. For example, if your topic is pirates, but you don’t have any books on pirate ships, you don’t need to plan any activities about ships and rigging, etc. OR this lets you know to FIND a book where there is a major gap in the theme. Perhaps your young one loves ships and not having a book to fit in this theme is going to put a damper on the learning, you can do your best to find it.

After I had my books, I figured out activities/craftivities to go with the books.I looked for videos, hands on activities, printables and always looked for a possible Field Trip.  

Gathering the books first  also allows you to target your activities to the books. Let’s say for example you are compiling a unit on weather. You happen to have the book Thunder Cake by Patricia Polocco on hand, now you can look for activities that coordinate with THIS book.The Figurative Language element onomatopoeia (words that make sounds)  happens to be one example I have used with this book.

You don’t need to gather books/activities  for every topic all at once. You can do this topic by topic or a few topics at a time. Some gather as much as they can over the summer to be ready for the entire school year, and some gather materials each weekend for the week.

My advice is to plan at least 1 month in advance to allow time to gather materials. That way when you find out you are missing an essential piece, you have time for that Amazon order!

Some families do a year round homeschool schedule that accommodates this type of planning. They school for 4 or 5 weeks, then take a week off. You can work on your next set of plans during that week. You just need to be mindful of major holidays when establishing your year plan.

Some would say you should establish learning goals for each topic…you are indeed welcome to do this, especially if you are working with a charter school or in a state that requires work samples. However, I find pre-established goals set expectations that can be limiting to kids. Kids always far exceed anything I could ever outline for them.

To help with planning your themes I created these FREE planning pages: You can download them  and print one for each theme. (There are also Lesson planning pages for subject by subject curriculum in the pack.)

In our homeschool each topic had a Lapbook – these were the place we stored all the “evidence” of learning.After reading a book, watching a video, etc we put our facts onto an appropriate lapbook template and added it to our lapbook.

Because my topics were 2 week topics we used 2 file folders stapled together for each topic. You can see my lapbook video tutorial HERE.

The Happy Hive is proud to provide Lapbook templates for FREE as well as in our Teachers Pay Teachers store.

You can also search Pinterest & Teachers Pay Teachers to help find other resources that go with your topic. Both have plenty of free resources.

The books went into the BOOK BASKET and were always available for free exploration for the duration of the topic.

I know once you dive in you will get the hang of it. Remember – even studying the Holidays can be your theme!

I hope your journey is blessed!

If you are interested in having help with Curriculum and you live in California, check out Happy Hive Homeschool Consulting. – I would be happy to partner with you on this journey!

  • Mrs. Crabtree

Happy Hive Favorite Books

Reading and being read to give warm fuzzies all around. A key part of our Homeschool life was reading. Both family reading time, and independent reading time.

One of my favorite stories as a working homeschool mom occured when I came home from work one day… I asked each of my three bugs how school had gone (they had independent work to do while I was teaching at a private school). All three looked at me like a deer in the headlights…. sorry mom, we didn’t finish school today.

I was about to lose my mind, this had never happened. How on earth could all three of them have gotten into so much mischief that they didn’t finish school and how on earth didn’t Mr. McNutty (their Uncle that lives with us) discover they were so far off task????

I took a deep breath and told them to explain what had gone wrong….

“We were reading” they said in unison. SERIOUSLY??? Yes, all three had spent the ENTIRE day in their pajamas, reading books…. you see just the day before I had brought home the “scholastic book order” items they each ordered from my classroom fliers!

How could I get upset with that!?!

I am an Amazon Affiliate – but genuinely these books are recommended because they are favorites for home and classroom use. If you make a purchase using these links, I will receive a small commission. I sincerely appreciate that!

I have listed them in general age/grade level  – but many are appropriate across ages, especially as Family Read aloud books!

PreSchool/ Kindergarten

Any and all of the Clifford the Big Red Dog books:

All three of my bugs learned to read using the Clifford Phonics Fun books. There are 6 sets in the series. They can be a bit tricky to find, but worth it!

Bernstein Bears were always a great choice for teaching lessons.

First – Second Grades

As your children become emergent readers, books with repeating patterns that they can read to you are always a hit. Some of our favorites were:

A cozy reading area is always in style.

Third – Fifth Grades

I feel the Thorton Burgess Collection deserves a recommendation of it’s own. These stories are TREASURES beyond measure. They make the perfect Nature Studies, Family Reading Stories, Sick day stories… I can not recommend a book higher than these. We were blessed to receive many of them in the mail from a dear friend, then hunted used book stores for as many as we could find to help add to our collection. It was not long before every squirrel we came across was affectionately named “Chatterer” and Blacky the crow was chased away from the yard. If you make one purchase this should be it!

Sixth – Eight Grades

Books were a staple at the table…often the bugs did not want to stop reading and take time to eat.

I believe the Harry Potter Series also deserves it’s own highlight. All of my children have read the books multiple times, with my middle child topping out at 5 times each book. These books can be the reason a non-reader becomes a reader.
The ultimate fan… we went to a local bookstore that released the book at midnight. She began reading in the car on the way home.

High School

When you are choosing curriculum, do not forget that books play an important part in supplementing every subject! They can be the basis for your curriculum in a topic based curriculum, or they can be the backbone to the literature component in a subject by subject curriculum.

I really could go on and on at every level… but these were our FAVORITES. I hope they become favorites for you as well.

May your journey be blessed!

Mrs. Crabtree

Decompressing- taking time off before beginning to homeschool

Congratulations! You are going to homeschool your children! You are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime!

I have a video about the Decompression process if you prefer. It is not a word for word read along version of this blog post, but the two are very similar. I can’t do anything the same twice. 🙂 I’m sure you will find value in both the video and the Blog.


Something has caused you to withdraw from the public school system. Those reasons are yours, and yours alone. Everything will be okay.

Educational facts you can be sure of:

  1. You are qualified to teach. You have been educating your children since birth and now you’re just going to pick up where you left off.
  2. Everything is learning, EVERYTHING. Your children are in a constant state of learning, so even when you *think* they aren’t, they most certainly are!
  3. Everyone one learns differently, this is a beautiful fact to be celebrated. Not all flowers bloom at the same time, nor do we want them to.
  4. Whatever *the reason* you have withdrawn from the public school, is the reason you need time to decompress.
  5. Decompression time is learning time. See #2.
  6. Do not rush into purchasing curriculum.

So what exactly is decompressing in this context? Decompressing after withdrawing from public or private school (even public charter school) and homeschooling is time for a reset. It’s time to relax, focus on family and get to know each other better. It’s time to re-establish your connections-without the outside pressure of “school”, homework and getting to the bus on time…. “School” and all it entails is a big deal. Those pressures have been stressful on everyone. The decompression phase is a detox of sorts.

Quality time together without the need to raise your hand to ask questions or go to the bathroom is a great place to start. Many families begin this time with a shared devotional first thing in the morning. It can be as simple as a quote of the day (like from a calendar or website) or a scripture based program you can do together.

Reading quality literature as a family comes next. Choose a book and read to your children. Snuggle up on the couch, in bean-bag chairs, pillows on the floor, etc and read, read, read. Begin with 3 days a week if that’s what you can fit it, but aim for daily. You can find the Happy Hive favorite books here, but there are many book lists online as well!

Get the house in order. I don’t mean perfection. Far from perfection. Simplify, organize and begin to think about routines. Remove items from your home you don’t need. Think of it as a Spring Cleaning, regardless of the time of year it is. Get the kids involved. Donate items others can use. The less stuff, the less mess and the more comfortable everyone will be at home in their daily routine. If you haven’t already, establish chores as the first “class”. Running the homeschool efficiently is the number 1 job of everyone involved. Giving my children chores and building their responsibility was one of the greatest lessons I ever gave them. Chore charts are a great tool at any age. Focus on praising efforts.

Bug #1 with her favorite cleaning tool!

The quality time, reading and decluttering should also include “fun school” activities like games, field trips (especially to the library or used book store),  time in nature, art, and dance parties!  You can even make a routine trip to the grocery store a scavenger hunt for the items you need. There is nothing wrong with a good movie and discussion either!

Here is a Movie Discussion Guide I created you can download and use!

Be sure to find a support group. This might be a local park day, a homeschool co-op or even an online group.

Our local homeschool group made t-shirts. When we went on field trips together we wore our shirts!

Slowly explore the topics/curriculum  you want to use within your homeschool, but don’t rush into purchases. The fun activities you are engaging in, especially trips to the library should help generate interest by child or as a family. Curriculum is an important topic all on its own. You can see my post on Curriculum HERE.

Lastly, please give up perfection. There is no wrong way to homeschool. Your way is exactly what YOUR family needs. That’s the beauty of it! Homeschooling is fully customizable. If something isn’t working, make a change. Even if that means going through another decompression stage.

One way we customized our homeschool experience at the Happy Hive was with a teacher name for me. I didn’t want them to call me Mom all day. My name  was something we chose as a family because I didn’t want to lose my identity as Mom. I did separate school from parenting, but you certainly don’t have to. When we were done with school for the day, Mrs. Crabtree said goodbye, left the room, and Mom walked back in. When they were really little they would run up and give Mom a hug telling me they missed me. It was precious! You can check out that video below:

Thank you for choosing to partner with Happy Hive. If you are looking for curriculum coaching or are interested in joining our Homeschool Satellite program you can find information about what we offer HERE. Be sure to follow our blog (Subscribe in sidebar to the left) for the latest updates, and sign up for our Newsletter! Signing up for the newsletter gets you EXCLUSIVE Homeschool Holiday products, specials  and subscriber only (password protected) content!

When you are ready for curriculum, I hope you will consider incorporating some of the easy to use activities we offer! Be sure to check out our Teachers Pay Teachers store as well as Amped Up Learning! Both have our valuable curriculum as well as free printables you can use for everyday learning and holiday learning!

May your educational journey be blessed!

  • Mrs. Crabtree