The Homeschool Solutions Show with Pam Barnhill

The best homeschool content on the web streaming straight to your earbuds every Friday. Includes blog posts from Pam Barnhill, Sarah Mackenzie, Brandy Vencel, Mystie Winckler and more.
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The Homeschool Solutions Show with Pam Barnhill




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Now displaying: 2016
Dec 30, 2016

It's the new year and if you are like most homeschool moms, then you are hashing out which New Year's resolutions you want to make.

And while we are deciding to lose another ten pounds and keep our bathroom cabinets organized, another area we might consider resolving about is our homeschools. Unfortunately, so many resolutions are often forgotten by mid-January, lost in an overwhelming sea of good intentions and high-expectations.

I know it has happened to me many times. I begin the year ready to start strong, with no fewer than fourteen new habits on Day 1, and then by January's end, I am exhausted and back where I started December 31.

In an effort to avoid resolution burn-out, here are some tips I am going to try this year to make those resolutions work for me.


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Dec 23, 2016

It’s that time of year. Time to get ready for Christmas. Homeschool moms are making angel costumes, dusting off the Baby Jesus and setting up the nativity. We are hanging our stockings, stirring up some egg nog, and singing “Joy to the World.” And like everyone else, we are making our Christmas list too. I, myself, have been both a bit naughty and a bit nice this year — after

Homeschool moms are making angel costumes, dusting off the Baby Jesus and setting up the nativity. We are hanging our stockings, stirring up some egg nog, and singing “Joy to the World.” And like everyone else, we are making our Christmas list too. I, myself, have been both a bit naughty and a bit nice this year — after

We are hanging our stockings, stirring up some egg nog, and singing “Joy to the World.” And like everyone else, we are making our Christmas list too. I, myself, have been both a bit naughty and a bit nice this year — after

And like everyone else, we are making our Christmas list too. I, myself, have been both a bit naughty and a bit nice this year — after all I am a homeschool mom in need of grace. But I am making my list anyway with

But I am making my list anyway with hope that St. Nicholas will soon be here. Here are a few things that are on it. I’m thinking they might be on yours as well.

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Dec 16, 2016

Have you ever started off your day by watching a movie, turning on the television, mindlessly clicking around Facebook, or skimming your online news feed?

It happens.

Does it affect your mood? We’re fooling ourselves if we say it doesn’t.

I know I am tempted – and often give in to the temptation – of checking my email and “catching up” online first thing in the morning. Even if I get up before the kids and take a walk and read my Bible, if I then open up the laptop and lose myself online while the kids are getting up and having their breakfast, it does not help my mindset.

It does not help me get the day rolling. How we begin our days sets the tone for the whole day. What we put first communicates most to our kids and to ourselves, even unconsciously.

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Dec 9, 2016

Homeschooling. With a toddler. Need I say more? As homeschool families everywhere start back to school, there seems to be an echo across the Internet. “We had a great first day back, but the toddler …” The echoes are reverberating in my soul, and I haven’t even started back to school yet.

Over the summer, we’ve kept a very loose routine because, as I am sure you know, when you’re a mom, there is no such thing as a day “off”. If you don’t provide some form of structure, you end up spending mom energy on household and relationship disasters instead. So we’ve kept our Bible time and some independent math and Latin practice. And even this amount of schedule has just about stretched my big kids + preschoolers + toddler mama-ringmaster capacity.

If you search the Internet, you can find tons of fantastic posts about strategies for keeping toddlers busy while you homeschool. I really liked this one. And if your toddler is the kind who would just eat the busy bag, try this one. I’m not going to spend time on strategies for the toddlers. I want to talk about strategies for you.

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Dec 2, 2016

We have been doing poetry tea parties since the kids were really little.

I stumbled on the concept from Charlotte Mason home educators like Julie Bogart and Elizabeth Foss well before my own kids were school-aged and fell in love with the ideas of pulling out the nice linens, finding a book of poems to read, and sharing time together over a treat in the afternoon.

I know from your emails that tea parties are something people find intimidating, but really they don’t have to be. Here are a few of the tips we use to make them doable and easy.

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Nov 25, 2016

This week has been rough. Last week was off-kilter, too. We are in a season of change. Our homeschool is changing, our therapy schedules changed, and the boys are changing. And there’s been a coup. At least it feels that way.

“Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream. Throw your teacher overboard . . . .”

Yep. That’ a pretty good summation of what our house/homeschool has felt like. Anyone else had that kind of day/week/season? Here are a few tips for homeschooling when your kids try to throw you overboard.

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Nov 18, 2016

I have totally given up on the idea that learning must be made fun for the student. It was an idea that ruled the first two years of our homeschooling and quite frankly, I'm a little bitter about it now.

I feel like in many ways I have short-changed my children and their abilities, because I did not throw the idea over long ago. Fortunately, childhood is forgiving and our recovery is going well.

The reality is, much of learning, especially in skills subjects like reading, writing, and math is just plain hard work.

I am a firm believer in making sure the work we do is developmentally appropriate even if it is not on the same timeline as the schools around us. I am also a proponent of giving a child the time they need to master something.

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Nov 11, 2016

Have you ever had one of these days… There are just some days you want to join the fussy crowd.

You wake up and are feeling confident about the day. Then you walk past your child’s room and say, “Good morning!” The response you receive is less than enthusiastic and you think, maybe she will cheer up before breakfast. She just needs to wake up. Then you sit down to eat. She’s not in a bad mood. She’s not even upset or angry. She’s just rather blah.

The other daughter wakes up in a good mood, snuggles with you for awhile, and is pleasant and cheerful through breakfast. But later in the morning when she is supposed to be practicing her piano lesson she begins by BANGING on the keys in frustration. Your first response is to feel despondent—“Great! Another one of THOSE days.”—and join the grumpy crowd.

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Nov 4, 2016

Homeschooling is such a blessing for our family – I really believe it has created a family bond that we would not have had if we’d chosen another educational route for our daughter. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult!

One of the biggest issues I’ve found is learning just how hard it is to keep up with all the housekeeping chores while we’re homeschooling. Over the years, we’ve discovered a few tips and tricks that help us keep up with those daily housekeeping chores.

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Oct 28, 2016

Is this your first week of homeschooling for the year? It is for me. I always start our new homeschool year the week of my youngest child’s birthday because I really enjoy adding that kind of stress to the first week of school.

Whether the stress in your homeschool week is normal life stuff, like birthdays or long to-do lists, or abnormal life stuff, like surprises and emergencies, the fact remains that homeschooling isn’t always easy. It just isn’t. This is because homeschooling is just like anything else: it’s work, and you have to actually Do It.

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Oct 21, 2016

There's a common misconception by many non-homeschoolers that what homeschoolers do all day is stay tucked inside their houses reading classical literature and practicing for the National Spelling Bee.

This misconception feeds into the whole socialization myth that continues to plague every homeschool mom who ever lived. Typically the reality is much, much different than the perception for most homeschoolers I know.

So we were in good company about late September when I realized that I had filled our schedule for the year with far more activities than I was comfortable squeezing into our week. And yet, I also found myself unable to give up some things due to commitment and totally unwilling to give up all the rest.

Faced with a year of busyness and stress, I started to consciously consider how I might fool myself into thinking I am less busy than I actually am. Or in other words, what is the zen of busy and how can I squeeze it into my life. ;-)

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Oct 14, 2016

We recently had a pool party with a group of Emma’s homeschool co-op friends, and I’ve been told again that I’m a cool mom. I’m not a cool person. I’m kind of nerdy, actually.

So how do I get this label? It’s not merely that I do these things (although they help):

  • make a monster pan of homemade mac-n-cheese and two giant chocolate chip cookies for a pool party
  • let the kids make a crazy fort in the sunroom with every available blanket, bean bag, and pillow
  • take Emma and a friend to an Ed Sheeran concert and crowd in with the rest of the fans

Being a cool mom is a much deeper issue than the money you spend, the time you sacrifice, and the quantities of chocolate and cheese that you buy. It’s a matter of the heart.

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Sep 30, 2016

Don’t show up to a culture war without a culture. — Professor Carol Reynolds

The world is after the hearts of your children.

No, I am not saying that to leave you shaking in fear. Don’t be afraid, mama, because you’ve got chocolate and Jesus and a plan. There is no need to fear.

Instead I just want you to ponder that statement a while. Make no mistake that there is a culture war going on. The world has a myriad of distractions to pull our kids’ attention from the ideas that have shaped our culture.

If we are not giving our children an education in that culture, then they will be ill-equipped to fight the war. We live in a world that delights in the crass over the beautiful, that encourages the easy choice over the good one, and rewards relativism over truth.

But fighting a culture war is hard.

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Sep 23, 2016

Quitting homeschool, that is. And I thought I should tell you that. So often, we homeschoolers make this journey sound like its all roses, all the time.

We have a tendency to talk up the benefits of homeschooling constantly. After all, there are many: improved academic opportunity, better socialization, increased family time, the ability to weave our values all throughout the curriculum…the list goes on (and on).

We talk up homeschooling because we like to talk about it, but we also do it because we are constantly defending our choice to educate at home.

At least I know I am.

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Sep 16, 2016

What does homeschooling REALLY require?

The current trend seems to be hybrid schools, box programs, online schools, or homeschool communities that claim to be the "answer" to a successful homeschool experience.

Granted, all of these things can be great HELPS in homeschooling. I have, however, seen some claim to be all you would need to homeschool your children. I disagree.

A successful homeschool lies within the homeschooling family. Never forget the HOME in homeschool.

In this four part blog series we will delve into COMMITMENT, LOVE, CONSISTENCY, and COURAGE it takes to homeschool our children and homeschool them WELL.

First and foremost, a successful homeschool requires COMMITMENT.

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Sep 9, 2016

“Love is the beginning and end of education, because love is the way we become more human.” — Stratford Caldecott, Beauty in the Word

I’ve heard the advice, and I’m sure you have too. You should always start your day with math.

Kids need to tackle difficult subjects while their brain is fresh.

Kids need to get the hardest thing out of the way first.

Kids need to eat that frog so they don’t procrastinate.


I am all about personal productivity and doing hard things first to get them out of the way, but let me let you in on a little secret: homeschooling has very little to do with personal productivity.

Homeschooling is about relationships.

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Sep 2, 2016

Have I mentioned lately how blessed we are to be a homeschool family? Sure, homeschooling takes work and there are sacrifices to be made. Let’s not forget that our home constantly looks lived in, but the gifts we receive in return are priceless.

Today, we celebrate the gift of homeschool! Here are just a few reasons homeschooling is a gift to our family.


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Aug 26, 2016

I used to dread kindergarten pick-up.

My little guy would board the bus at 7:50 am.  He looked adorable climbing up those big steps with his oversized backpack and book in hand. The book was as oversized as his backpack.

In kindergarten, he read big books: Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, The Hobbit. He didn’t notice that people noticed. I noticed that they noticed, but I was just so thankful he was content at send-off.

Unfortunately, pick-up was another story. I’d get to the pick-up line at around 11:00. I’d spend the next fifteen minutes wondering how pick up would go.

Would the teacher hand me a white slip today?

Would she make a negative comment about his day?

Above all, would there be tears in those big brown eyes?

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Aug 19, 2016

Do you ever have one of those mornings? The kind where nobody wants to get moving (including you). Nobody has a good attitude. Nobody can bear the thought of one more day of long division.

It happens more than I care to admit around here. Which is why I have a secret weapon for starting school days.

No, it’s not coffee (ok, it is just a little bit). Instead it is Morning Time.

Morning Time is a time when everyone in the family can come together for a period of family learning. Most families include some form of the “3Rs” in Morning Time — reading, ritual, and recitation — but no matter what they choose to do, the most important “R” is relationship.

I’ve got ten reasons for you why Morning Time is the perfect addition to your homeschool.

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Aug 12, 2016

Homeschooling has broken me, I think. I didn’t realize it until last week.

That it has broken my brain. That it’s broken the way I think about everything.

But I’ve never been more sure that I’m a homeschooler raising homeschoolers, and I’ve never felt stronger in my convictions.

Like with so many things, I have Dave Grohl to thank. But let me take a step back …

When my son was 6, he expressed an interest in learning piano. And like all parents, we immediately tried to figure out how to move a 1,000-lb piece of history into our living room as cheaply as possible.

I put a thing on Facebook. My friend Jes responded.

It took 4-grown men and a moving truck.

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Aug 5, 2016

It’s been quite the school year, there’s no question about that. We moved across the country, we hung out for five months with family, did school in their basement, house shopped on the weekend, then moved again to another state.

There were many times this year that I questioned everything, but now, looking back, I realize that it’s all ok. Even in the craziest of school years, there’s been lessons learned. Kids will learn, no matter what. It’s like a train you can’t stop. We can’t stop–and we won’t stop.

That’s right, they learn no matter what.

When we moved to Minnesota at the beginning of April, school took an immediate halt. We didn’t do our regular school for a good three weeks. I started to worry about this, as I had only planned on taking a week off and I was feeling like we were slipping farther and farther behind. But some things happened that I didn’t see coming.

They didn’t learn new math concepts or finish memorizing the prepositions, but they did learn other things.


Jul 29, 2016

You know that awkward moment when your best friend asks you what you thought of her book? And you liked it, you really liked it, but the English teacher in you wants to ask, “Are you sure somebody didn’t help you with this?”

Because it’s just that good.

You talk to someone every single day — so much so that your husbands have their eye-rolling synchronized at your antics — and you just never really know what they are capable of do you?

That was me last summer when Sarah released the first edition of Teaching from Rest. My feelings were a combination of proud and awestruck, and I wasn’t the least bit surprised when Classical Academic Press contacted her to publish the print version (though I may have squealed like I was).

That print version is on the shelves, and I am supposed to be writing a review. But now I’ve totally blown my objectivity and can’t gush without you rolling your eyes, so instead I’m going to tell you a little-known secret about this book.

Lean closer.

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Jul 22, 2016

When I was a kid my two favorite things to make where, drawings of the Rice Krispie characters and to create paper balls. When I say paper balls, I don’t mean that I just crumbled a piece of paper into a ball, that would be kind of lame, and not worth writing about. I mean that I soaked strips of paper in water, and carefully laid each piece over the last, forming a 3D paper ball.

While I continued to enjoy art and creating, my confidence in my ability waned, as it does for most students starting at around 3rd grade. I began to believe that I couldn’t draw, and thus, I couldn’t draw. It’s funny how when we tell ourselves enough times that we can’t do something, eventually it becomes true.

While in college, during my sophomore review, the nerve wracking time when you stand in front of a group of professors with your artwork, and they tell you if you’re good enough to continue with your major. One of the professors commented that my drawings were a bit “grungy and messy.” But she didn’t stop there, she continued, why don’t you pay attention to your style, and your voice as an artist, work to bring more of that into your work.

That advice always stayed with me. Because in that moment I knew two things, one, I’d passed and didn’t have to change my major, and two I realized that I could have a voice as an artist, and I remembered that young girl that “invented” paper balls, and I went in search for her.


Jul 15, 2016

The role of recitation and memorization has taken on a deeply personal role for me as a homeschool mom over the last several years. I first began to consider recitation while studying various homeschool methods as a new homeschool mom.

I could see the value of memorization in education, but it didn’t feel like a good fit for my son. His memory was terrible. My daughter on the other hand remembered everything she heard or saw. I figured that memory was something you were either good at or you were not. I decided not to waste my son’s time with recitation since he wasn’t good at it.

Fast forward a few years down the road, and it wasn’t just memorization that seemed to trip up my son. When he couldn’t quite get a handle on reading we gave him time as many suggested. As time went on reading still wasn’t happening. We discovered that he is dyslexic.

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Jul 8, 2016

Anytime you write a book there are bound to be misconceptions. Write a book on homeschool planning and there are SURE to be misconceptions.

After all, the Internet is filled will homeschooling moms, each one an expert on their own home and their own children — as well they should be! These moms have their own ideas of what works and what doesn’t, and they are all exactly right for their families.

Which is why I wrote Plan Your Year: Homeschool Planning for Purpose and Peace with multiple disclaimers that my way is not the only way and there are thousands of way to plan. That is why I put in the samples folder, included the audio and all those links to blog articles, for the reader to see that others do it differently than I do and that is awesome.

Having said that, though, I am about to make a bold assertion and that is this: you need a prepared curriculum.

Listen to the rest or read it at

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