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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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.

Read more or listen at

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.

Read more or listen at:

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.

Listen or read the rest at:

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.


Listen or

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?

Listen or read the rest at:

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.

Listen or read the rest here:

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.

Read the rest or listen here:

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.

Read the rest at

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.

Listen or

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

Jul 1, 2016

I love the Myers-Briggs personality typing. Myers-Briggs – the personality system that gives you four letters – offers a vocabulary for talking about the different ways that people relate to each other and the world around them. It’s been so helpful to me in learning how to understand and value other people’s responses to ideas and situations – including my children’s.

I’ve written before about how personality typing helps me understand my kids, and I’ve written a brief explanation of how the Myers-Briggs system works. Today I want to take this a step further and use the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Temperament Index) categories to help us understand our strengths and weaknesses as homeschool moms. I can’t help myself. I’m an INTJ and so I love systems like this.

When we realize that we’re trying to imitate a type totally opposite our own, we can realize why we feel defeated and beat up. Not only that, we can take a step back, value that other type’s abilities, yet shift our own energies toward what will work for us.

When we know our own type and what that means for us, we can automatically filter out curriculums and opportunities that won’t work for us. We don’t have to try it and crash and burn first. We can see that it’s not going to mesh. We also don’t have to feel bad about what doesn’t work for us, and we can better understand why something works for our friend when it doesn’t work for us.

When we know our personality type we can also see where we need to outsource, where we need to get help, where we’re going to have to budget recovery time and just what kind of recovery time we need. Recovery and refreshment plans for each personality type will be a post all it’s own. :)

Today, let’s look at how our personality types inform us of our homeschool style, strengths, and difficulties.

Listen or read the rest at

Jun 24, 2016

I’m not feeling quite as fly-by-the-seat as I often do because I’ve got a new system for keeping track of school assignments, and it’s rocking my world. I love finding ways to simplify homeschooling, and this method really takes the cake.

I’ll tell you all about it, and then you have every right to say, “Of course, Sarah. Why haven’t you done this all along?” like I said to myself when my friend first showed me how it’s done. :)

Here’s what happened.

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Jun 17, 2016

In this world there are two kinds of people. People who buy any old planner and just use it, and people who buy multiple planning products and never really use any of them.

There’s quite possibly a need for a twelve-step program for that last group. The people in the last group aren’t wishy-washy. Instead they are optimists. They are always sure that a better way has to be out there. So they keep searching.

I can fall into a similar trap in my homeschool planning. (Hello! Raise you hand if you’ve ever clicked “Buy” on a totally new math program on a cold, dark, tear-stained afternoon in mid-November. I can’t be the only one.)

I keep searching and searching for the better way, the path of least resistance, the greener patch of grass, the silver bullet — any number of cliched phrases that will allow me to rest my weary homeschool mom body and my frazzled brain.

Read the rest at

Jun 10, 2016

One of many options is the running of our Academic Year. Traditionally in the US, school runs fall to spring with summers off. This is a wonderful option, one which many homeschoolers follow for their Academic Year. I would like to present another option, which is to align your Academic Year with the calendar.

Jun 3, 2016

Do you know what a curriculum slave is? I’m sure you’ve met one before — perhaps you’ve been one before. (Or perhaps you’re one now, in which case we’ll try to help set you free in the course of this post.) A curriculum slave thinks the curriculum is her master, and she has to follow whatever the curriculum says — to the letter. The curriculum slave doesn’t allow herself to think about what is best for her students — or even for herself as a teacher. Instead, she exists at the curriculum’s beck and call, and when she doesn’t fulfill its requirements, she beats herself up.

Listen to the rest...

May 27, 2016

The search results taunt me. “Creative homeschool: A lot of ideas” “Great homeschool/education ideas” “Using Pinterest as a free homeschool curriculum” (<—- Really!? Isn’t that akin to “Eat homemade ice cream for dinner for 13 years”?)

I give up. I just can’t live up to all the homeschool hype. The mummified chicken. The salt dough maps. The notebooking page for a third grader that has more lines than my kid could fill in a month. He burst into tears over that stupid notebooking page (no, I wasn’t requiring him to write on every line) and honestly I felt like crying with him.

Because homeschooling shouldn’t be this difficult. Because I am supposed to enjoy staying home with my kids each day. Because it’s all my own fault. Listen to hear the rest...

May 26, 2016

I wish I could tell you that I have the formula for the perfect homeschool day, but sadly I do not. All I know for sure is that there are no two homeschool days that are exactly alike and whatever you plan, it will often not go exactly as planned.

Yes, having a plan in place is important. If we don’t, the overwhelming nature of the task before us will paralyze us. So here are my best tips for creating a daily schedule that inspires you to get things done.

May 25, 2016

Can I answer this question with a question? (No, not that question -- another one.) What do you want to accomplish with your homeschool schedule? Which scheduling method you use depends on what you are trying to accomplish in your homeschool, because both types of schedules lend themselves well to accomplishing very different goals. Block scheduling is used to organize your homeschool subjects in such a way that you are doing fewer of them at any given time. This allows you to focus deeper on fewer things throughout the day, have less anxiety because you are tracking less at any given time, and go more deeply by spending more time on a subject. Loop scheduling on the other hand is a way for you to reduce the stress in your homeschool that comes from skipping or missing subjects because they are assigned to specific days. Loop scheduling doesn't really allow you to do more or less in your day -- just not be upset by which thing you should do next. Let's take a look at a few examples of both to see how this plays out. Listen to hear the rest...

May 24, 2016

Recently I took part in an online conversation with homeschool moms about the value of cursive writing and whether it should be taught in a homeschool. It was a polite, but lively conversation and a number of people weighed in on the topic.

The most surprising things about it, was that instead of relying on their own family goals or the latest research on the subject, so many families were basing their decision to teach cursive or not on the whims of the public school.

"They don't learn it any more in the schools in our town" and "My friend who is a teacher says..." were common refrains That got me to pondering. If pressed, many homeschooling families can succinctly spell out why they homeschool.

Homeschooling is tough; it is likely someone won't be homeschooling long past the first few months of eight-year-old math angst, without that knowledge of purpose and conviction.

In addition, most homeschoolers can explain quite well why they follow a specific homeschooling philosophy. Whether they are Charlotte Mason because they believe in a broad, liberal arts education for even the youngest child, or are Unschoolers because they believe you can't learn anything by coercion, they have thought enough about the philosophy before taking it on to know why they wear the label.

Where I see a lack of forethought on the part of homeschoolers is in thinking about the whys of their day-to-day subjects and schedule. Much thought and deliberation goes into the purchase of curriculum, yet how much thought goes into the idea of why even buy curriculum to do a subject in the first place?

Listen for the rest...

May 23, 2016

I see it time and time again. Desperate pleas for help from new homeschool moms come across the feed of our local homeschool group.

"I am pulling my son out of second grade tomorrow, and I don't know where to start."

"We are thinking about homeschooling our kids in the fall, and I need to know what curriculum to buy for a fifth grader?"

"I've got to get my junior out of school -- she is miserable. How can I make sure she gets her Algebra credits?"

You are out there -- moms who have made a decision to homeschool -- and you are not alone. Some of you agonize over it for weeks and months, a few have to make a rush decision because of a bad situation at school.

You may be scared and unsure and wondering if you are going to ruin your kids by doing this. Yeah, let me tell you right now, you are not. But I know that is a hard thing to take at face value. So let me give you five things to keep in mind to help you on your journey...

May 18, 2016

In episode 000 I introduce myself and give you the down-low on what the Homeschool Solutions Show is all about. Each super-short episode is an audio blog of a piece of great homeschooling content previously published online. You can find an index of episodes as we add them each Friday on

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