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The OnlySchoolers Podcast: Helping You Homeschool

The OnlySchoolers Podcast: Helping You Homeschool

By OnlySchoolers
What happens when two homeschool moms, each with an only child, meet at the local ice-skating rink and strike up a friendship?We’re about to find out…We’re Christyn Edwards and Gina Prosch, and we created the OnlySchoolers Podcast and community to share the wisdom and hard-learned lessons of our years homeschooling only children.Our kids spend hours at our local rink each week, and while they skate, we wait…and talk. Our conversation topics range widely, but we always come back to homeschooling.Each of us quickly realized that “onlyschoolers” (our word for home-educating families with just one child) are a small percentage of the homeschool population and while there are plenty of resources for large families, those ideas don’t necessarily translate to the reality of the day-in and day-out of educating just one child.So to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, we are being the change we want to see in the world: a resource for onlyschoolers.But our ideas aren’t just for onlyschoolers. As any homeschooling parent can tell you, each child can require a different approach, so let us help you sort out how that looks in your home, whether you’re teaching one or a dozen. We hope the stories, ideas, and sympathetic ear we bring you on the podcast will help you create unique learning experiences for your own children.More than that, we know that creating a unique education for your child will strengthen your relationship and isn’t that why we’re homeschooling in the first place?The OnlySchoolers Facebook page and Instagram (our handle is @Onlyschoolers) serves as our virtual ice-rink, where we invite you to continue the conversations we begin on the podcast and gain a sense of community. It can be lonely being an only, so join us!
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#QUOTES: The Thing About Teens
Here's the list of the #QUOTES we're talking about during this episode devoted to Teens. “Small children disturb your sleep; big children, your life.” - Yiddish proverb “Little children, headache; big children, heartache.” - Italian proverb. “The average teenager still has all the faults his parents outgrew.” - Unknown “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” - e.e. cummings “That’s what it is to care for a person…if you’re not afraid, you’re not doing it right.” - Jonathan Auxier “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” - Ghandi "If I Should Have a Daughter" - Sarah Kay Listen to our The Thing About Teens playlist on Spotify.
September 15, 2022
#QUOTES: Wanna Go Play?
The OnlySchoolers are talking Early Childhood in this episode, and the quotes we're tackling are: “Play is the work of childhood.” - Jean Piaget “Play is the work of the child.” - Maria Montessori “Play is the work of children. It’s very serious stuff.” - Captain Kangaroo “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.” - Fred Rogers “Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” - Fred Rogers “Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.” - Plato “It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.” - Leo Buscaglia “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
September 01, 2022
#QUOTES: The Cult of Busy
Here are the quotes we'll be talking about during this episode of the podcast. “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” - Socrates “Every man is worth just so much as the things about which he busies himself.” - Marcus Aurelius "It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. What are we busy about?” - Henry David Thoreau “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” - Ghandi Check out the OnlySchoolers Cult of Busy playlist on Spotify.
August 18, 2022
#QUOTES: Setting Boundaries
What #QUOTES are we talking about this episode? “Good fences make good neighbors.” - Robert Frost No is a complete sentence.” - Anne Lamott “Don’t set yourself on fire trying to keep others warm.” - Penny Reid “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.” - G.K. Chesterton “Your personal boundaries protect the inner core of your identity and your right to choices.” - Gerard Manley Hopkins "Not my circus. Not my monkeys." - Polish Proverb
August 04, 2022
#QUOTES: Fearless Homeschooling
Here are the quotes we're looking at during this episode: “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” -- Frederick Buechner “Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.” -- Benjamin Franklin “Beware for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” -- Mary Shelley “The question isn’t about who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” -- Ayn Rand Check out the OnlySchoolers Fearless Homeschooling Playlist on Spotify!
July 21, 2022
#QUOTES: All About the Journey
Quirky and Unusual: the OnlySchoolers Take on Excerpts and Sayings or #QUOTES "Life is a journey, not a destination." --Ralph Waldo Emerson "Throughout the centuries, there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision." -- Ayn Rand "Start by doing what is necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible." St. Francis of Assisi "Not all those who wander are lost." J.R.R. Tolkien Check out the OnlySchoolers Journeying Playlist on Spotify!
July 07, 2022
OnlySchoolers GrabBag: Ownership of Education
Did you guess what this episode was going to be about?  If there's one thing that pretty much sums up the philosophy of the OnlySchoolers, it's Ownership of Education. Find out what it is, why it's so important to our homeschools, and how to make sure your kids are owning their educations, too.
April 21, 2022
OnlySchoolers GrabBag: Sense of Self & Motivation
Can you believe it? Christyn found a couple of essay topics that imply homeschoolers lack a sense of self and motivation!  How crazy is that!? Tune in to see what the OnlySchoolers have to say about them apples!
April 07, 2022
Five Minutes on the Fifth Thursday: 2022 Guiding Word Check-In
Gina & Christyn do a quick check-in on their guiding words for 2022: Ready (Gina's word) and Journey (Christyn's word).
March 31, 2022
OnlySchoolers GrabBag: Tests & Transcripts
The OnlySchoolers are talking tests & transcripts today. Helpful Links*: HSLDA Transcript Service FastTranscript How to Homeschool Today Transcript Creator High School Transcript Template High School GPA Calculator High School GPA Calculator *These links are included for informational purposes only and should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation.
March 17, 2022
OnlySchoolers GrabBag: How Has Homeschooling Changed Us?
Our kids aren't the only ones who are learning something!  In this episode Gina and Christyn talk about how homeschooling has been a tool for learning and growth for each of them. Three questions they consider are: What lessons did they personally learn as educational facilitators for their kids? What growth did they experience? What insights did they gain about themselves and homeschooling? 
March 03, 2022
The OnlySchoolers GrabBag: Books, Books, and MORE Books
Christyn and Gina share some of their all-time favorite reads for readers of all ages.
February 17, 2022
OnlySchoolers GrabBag: The Words We Use
As parents, we're often telling our kids to "Use your words." The words we use and the way we use them are incredibly important for successful communication.  Join Gina and Christyn as they share their experiences with confusing homeschool jargon, and discuss ways to make sure we're using words that invite and reassure, rather than confuse and overwhelm. And here's your link to the homeschool terminology web site we mentioned during the show :
February 03, 2022
OnlySchoolers GrabBag: Failing to Succeed
The OnlySchoolers are kicking off Season 3 with a look at their chosen words for 2022, and then we're moving on to talking about Failing to Succeed....but this episode may not be about what you think it's going to be about :-) "The Journey" (Mary Oliver)
January 20, 2022
Thinking About... Wonder & Zeitgeist
This most wonderful time of the year brings with it the final episode of Season 2! Join Gina and Christyn as they talk about the role of wonder in their homeschools and how embracing and encouraging that sense of exploration and awe opens up so many avenues to learning. And each avenue creates its own zeitgeist — the particular mood and feelings you experience at specific points in your homeschool journey. Each one of those zeitgeist periods bridges to the next one, and they're all paved with a noun and a verb!Links:Gina and Christyn talked about not letting the pursuit of wonder pressure you to keep up in impossible ways with impossible projects and tasks. Their best advice: manage expectations, make a plan, and enjoy the wonder. This episode from Season 1 has some great tips for Homeschooling Through the Holidays...Without Losing Your Mind!Support the show (
December 02, 2021
Thinking About...Being Unafraid & Vulnerable
As homeschoolers, we are used to going our own way and are generally unafraid to do what we know is best for our children — it's the nature of homeschooling! Sometimes, though, these choices leave us vulnerable to criticism from outsiders and surprisingly, vulnerable to our own critical inner voices, as well. Join Gina and Christyn as they talk about the ways in which they've fearlessly homeschooled, and the vulnerabilities they experienced along the way.Support the show (
November 18, 2021
Thinking About... Tradition & Trailblazing
As homeschoolers, we are all blazing a trail with our children...but we are all also creating new traditions as we go. Join Gina and Christyn as they talk about the new paths they've taken, the traditions that have emerged, and the balance they find in between new and old ideas as they homeschool.Support the show (
November 04, 2021
Thinking About... Satisfactory & Substantial
Can something that's "just" satisfying be truly substantial when it comes to homeschooling? Absolutely! Something that is satisfying can be gratifying and exactly right for your kids — and that can lead to substantial learning. Gina and Christyn share how you can have an absolutely satisfactory learning experience and relationship that meets your needs AND is meaningful and significant. Satisfaction guaranteed!Support the show (
October 21, 2021
Thinking About... Rebellion & Regret
Regrets. Just like Frank says in the song, we've all had a few in life and in our homeschools and we can use those regrets to spur change and growth.  And even though it's not part of the song, we've all experienced a bit of rebellion in our homeschools, too. Join Gina and Christyn as they talk about how ownership of education goes a long way toward keeping pushback to a minimum, and a few tips they've picked up over the years to defuse challenging attitudes. Support the show (
October 07, 2021
Thinking About... Paradigms & Perseverance
If a paradigm is an example or practice that constitutes your reality, what do you do when the educational paradigm shifts? Embrace it! That's the best part of homeschooling because it opens up new opportunities for your child to succeed. Join Gina and Christyn as they talk about shifting paradigms in the homeschool and and the perseverance needed to get through the challenges and difficulties that life and homeschool inevitably bring. Support the show (
September 30, 2021
Thinking About... Ordinary & Opportunity
If you look closely, there's a certain magic to an ordinary day, don't you think? Join Gina and Christyn as they explore how "ordinary" is anything but boring — and in fact, can be quite extraordinary! In this episode, they share they use those ordinary days as a moment to realize how wonderful the little moments are. Within those ordinary days, they also show you how to take advantage of all the ways homeschooling opens up fantastic learning opportunities and just simple ways to connect with your kid. If you're feeling boring and predictable lately, don't worry: listen in as they share ways to lean into that feeling and thrive!Christmas Poetry Teatime plannerValentine's Day Poetry Teatime plannerSupport the show (
September 16, 2021
Five Minutes on the First Thursday: Sept 2021 — The Hardest Things About Homeschooling an Only Child
Back in July, Gina and Christyn shared their favorite things about homeschooling an only child. Today, as they flip the script and give you a "Five Minutes on the Fifth Thursday" (but on a First Thursday!), they take a look at the hardest things they've experienced in onlyschooling. From only using a curriculum once to listening to *all* the questions, they share a few of the challenges they've encountered on their homeschool's not always easy, but it's always worth it!Support the show (
September 02, 2021
Thinking About...Narration & Noise
You know about narration as an educational tool, but have you ever thought about applying the tenets of narration to your homeschool story? How would paying attention to the details of your day help you create a more truthful narrative of how your homeschool goals are playing out? Would you see the successes that are sometimes overshadowed by the more difficult moments? Gina and Christyn tackle this theme, as well as discuss how physical and mental/emotional noise can interfere with our days and affect our homeschool narratives.Support the show (
August 19, 2021
Thinking About...Moodiness & Mystery
We've all been there: a moody day can be a challenge as we homeschool. Listen along as Gina and Christyn share their best tips for getting through the broody-moody times and salvage the day — they're here to tell you it's possible! They also chat about the mysteries of homeschool and how following the clues is the best path to solving them.Support the show (
August 05, 2021
Five Minutes on the Fifth Thursday: July 2021
Homeschooling an only child is the only "normal" Gina and Christyn have ever known. Listen in as they discuss their favorite things about onlyschooling.1:50   Allowing child-led experience and ownership of education can be simpler: it's the ultimate private school3:45   Flexibility with curriculum; and if you hit a roadblock in learning, you can just stop for a while5:23   The logistics of extracurricular activities and learning opportunities are easierSupport the show (
July 29, 2021
Thinking About...Labels & Listening
We use labels all the time as a quick shorthand to frame and focus our ideas. But how helpful are labels when it comes to identifying ourselves, our homeschools, and our kids? And how can looking past those labels and listening with all of our senses make a huge difference in our relationships? Join Gina and Christyn as they dive into these homeschool themes and talk about how they use labels and multi-sensory listening.1:35    Gina and Christyn give updates on their 2021 word/phrase3:57   Labels help us frame and focus ideas4:40   Labels can be helpful in communicating as long as we're clear what the labels mean4:55   Why do we label ourselves? How is it helpful?What does labeling myself as a home educator mean? Is it okay for us to label our kids? How can the idea of labels help me communicate with others more clearly?5:30   Christyn discusses why she labels herself: as a form of self-expression and a way to identify the parts that make up the whole6:49   Gina identifies herself with a mix of labels that tell who she is and what she does career-wise7:47   Labels can be helpful in interacting with other people, but just as a starting point, as a quick dip into communication8:55   Christyn uses the example of Loki as someone who is known by one label, but who is so much more9:55   Gina discusses the labels of Wyatt's skating coach and how she identifies which is most important to her, how it helps prioritize information11:30  Discuss what it means to choose home educator as a label16:05  Be careful how we label kids: our words matter. Don't limit them, don't put your kids in a box"I'm Not Good at That: The Myth of Natural Talent"20:01   Let your kids label themselves and grow! The way the label themselves helps us as parents see who they are22:25   Listening is a form of communication; labels can play a part, but it's a lot more23:15   Differences between hearing and listening24:30  Christyn talks about "listening to leftovers"25:55   Listening with all your senses opens up a lot of possibilities for communicating with your kidsSupport the show (
July 15, 2021
Thinking About...Keeping & Kleptomania
It's the time of year when new opportunities and new goals — and maybe new pressures — are everywhere around us! How do you create focus so you don’t get overwhelmed? In simple terms, keep what you need and what you know works and when you need something more, steal ideas and make them your own. Listen in as Gina and Christyn offer their best ideas for being a keeper AND a homeschool kleptomaniac!4:34    When we think of "keeping," we're talking about keeping records, keeping a schedule, and keeping your relationship in a positive place. When we turn to "kleptomania," (and not taking the medical diagnosis lightly at all), we look at the casual cultural use of the word, as in basically taking ideas from wherever you can find them.6:54    Gina talks about keeping schoolwork for a graduating senior, and her methods for saving and purging through the years9:48  Christyn has what she refers to as her "Little Women" shelves of plastic tubs, all neatly labeled with what she's required to keep by state mandate, and what she keeps for sentimental reasons12:30  If you've got a system that works for you,  keep it! Gina talks about the scheduling systems she'd had in the past and how that changed up recently when her son got a job 15:14   Christyn talks about the "two classes then a break" system she's used since the beginning that still works in the high school years — and how the occasional siren call to switch up things for a new idea doesn't always work out!17:00   Once you find your fit for your homeschool style, routine, schedule, whatever, keep to it. Because in the end, that’s going to lead to the most important thing of all to keep: your relationship. 17:48   Gina talks about how prioritizing the relationship made a difference in homeschooling20:44   Christyn talks about a "make it or break it" relationship moment in her homeschool 22:51   Moving to "kleptomania," Christyn shares the ways she took parts of popular homeschooling trends and made them work for her over the years23:58   Gina talks about stealing ideas from herself! She and her husband are self-employed and she realized some of their business practices would work well for homeschooling, too26:55   Look carefully at ALL the options out there, then take all of that information and then make it work FOR YOUR HOUSE27:15   Gina and Christyn talk about how they took ideas to create programs for their homeschool group, such as Geography Fair and co-op — and how, as they transition away from leadership roles in those areas, they fully expect new leaders to keep some ideas and steal other new ideas to keep those programs fresh29:15   As homeschool parents, we're the keepers of everything: documentation, routines, physical and emotional health. It can be hard, so when we see ways to make our job easier, we take them. We figure out how to use them. We keep what works for us. That’s how we homeschool
July 01, 2021
Thinking About...Jealousy & Joy
You've probably heard Theodore Roosevelt's saying that "Comparison is the thief of joy." Join Gina and Christyn as they discuss the challenge of overcoming the green-eyed monster when it shows up in their homeschools. The good news is that just looking for the little joys that come with this lifestyle is enough to overcome the jealousy and keep the focus on the wonder that comes with lifelong learning!2:12    The focus of the OnlySchoolers is to provide a joyful, uplifting show, but we're also honest enough to admit there are hard things about homeschooling: one of those hard things is jealousy3:02   The 11th Commandment in Homeschooling is "Do not covet thy neighbor's homeschool" — and that's a hard one!4:02   When it comes to homeschooling,  there's a tendency to compare ourselves and our kids and our homeschool situation to other families...and come up short5:12   There are three distinct categories when we discuss jealousy in homeschool1) Comparison of homeschool parents/teachers2) Comparison of our children to friends, siblings, cousins3) Comparison of homeschool situation5:47  Gina discusses parent envy of a friend who creates festive occasions  in her homeschool8:14  Christyn discusses parent envy of the "perfect homeschool days" posts on Facebook and envy of homeschool moms who manage get-togethers without their kids10:19  Gina and Christyn discuss jealousies that revolve around having an only child13:00  Homeschool graduation season brings up jealousies about where our kids are relative to other kids. Seeing others' accomplishments can be difficult13:51   In those situations, Christyn gives herself a gentle, mental shake and reminds herself why she's homeschooling14:15  Gina admits jealousy of those who have a dedicated homeschool space16:05  Christyn has a dedicated space, but admits jealousy of those that are perfectly organized (hers is not!!)16:38  Tips and tricks to deal with jealousy when it crops up19:20  Drop the jealousy and find the joy in your homeschool! Take the joy wherever you find it!19:52   Gina discusses her books about actively seeking joy and how it is best cultivated by thinking small20:46   Christyn and Gina talk about some of the little joys they find during the day23:45   Joy not only comes from what happens, but sometimes from what doesn't happen24:48   There's also long-term joy that goes beyond anything we feel any single day: "the slices add up"Support the show (
June 17, 2021
Thinking About...Imagination & Individuality
When we homeschool, we're given creative license to design the education that best suits our children. And that's where Imagination and Individuality come into play! Listen along as we talk about how we've turned expectations upside down and found learning in unexpected places...which perfectly fit our unique kids!Support the show (
June 03, 2021
Thinking About...Human Nature & Humor
We're back...with lots of laughs! Join us as we talk about how accepting our human nature and injecting humor into our days is vital to a happy and productive homeschool!2:22   Gina discusses human nature with a reference to Star Trek: The Next Generation and the Q continuum3:36   Human nature includes eating, drinking, resting, as well as play, curiosity, and communication4:32  When it comes to homeschooling, ignore these things at your own peril! But acknowledging and incorporating them into your day creates wonder and acceptance4:45   We discuss how food, drink, and rest work in our homeschool days7:15   Be sure to include play and curiosity in your day; so much learning revolves around these two simple things10:10  Play can be a curiosity-seeking launchpad! Use it!10:35   Communication is key to human nature...and it includes a lot more than you think!12:41  Remember: communication is a two-way street; as parents and homeschool teachers, a lot of the heavy-lifting of communication falls on us13:48   Keep up with the new jargon, new slang, emojiis, acronyms, whatever — it will help you communicate better with your kids!14:55   Rules of behavior can be complicated and have to be adjusted accordingly18:16  The single most important thing for a homeschool parent to possess is a sense of humor19:02  Gina talks Shakespeare and how his comedies can apply to homeschool: They move from chaos to order, with laughs in between21:08  The best-laid plans are not immune to chaos. Roll with it. Laughter is almost always better than crying21:48   Mark Twain: The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter22:00  We talk about the times that laughter has saved the day in our homeschools25:29   To keep the humor rolling, we incorporate lots of catchphrases in our family interactions, shorthand to diffuse situations or make a personal connection. Shared laughter is a bond that holds us together28:22   Homeschool is about far more than reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic. The fourth "R" — relationship — is far more importantSupport the show (
May 20, 2021
Thinking About...Growth & Grace
It's springtime and the Easter season -- which means it's the perfect time to talk about Growth and Grace. In this episode Gina and Christyn talk about the different types of growth -- delayed growth, unexpected growth, and slow and steady growth -- affect homeschooling. And, when all else fails, they encourage you to give yourself (and your kids) a little grace on your homeschooling adventure.Support the show (
April 15, 2021
Thinking About...Frustration & Faith
Sometimes waiting for spring can be frustrating, especially after a long and cold winter. But spring always comes, doesn't it? It's the same way with homeschooling — we feel frustrated over things we don't have the ability to change, but if we just hold on, those changes eventually happen exactly when they're supposed to. If this is you, settle in and listen to Gina and Christyn discuss how they handle the frustrations that pop up in their lives, and how faith in the process of homeschooling helps them overcome those feelings."Don't Worry" by Mary OliverSupport the show (
April 01, 2021
Thinking About...Empowerment & Encouragement
In this episode, Gina and Christyn talk about what empowers and encourages them as homeschooling parents and how they, in turn, empower and encourage their kids to feel capable and own their education. When you're more confident as a home educator, you become a better learning partners for your kids! 
March 18, 2021
Thinking About...Disappointment & Doubt
Gina and Christyn tackle two common themes for anyone who's homeschooled more than thirty minutes: disappointment and doubt. Every homeschooling family has experienced moments, seasons, or even full school years of doubt or disappointment -- or sometimes both at once! Most often the culprit is unmet expectations -- so listen along to see how they address these issues in their homeschools and strengthen their emotional weightlifting capabilities at the same time.Support the show (
March 04, 2021
Thinking About...Common Sense & Connections
We think you may be able to hear the charms on Gina's necklace  or earrings jingling at a few points in the podcast. Sorry! We'll be sure to go jewelry free next time. :-)  Gina and Christyn take on the themes of Common Sense and Connection in this episode! Laugh along with their anecdotes of developing common sense in their homeschools and hear how making connections -- with learning, with life, with people -- is at the heart of homeschooling.3:58    Discussion of the importance of common sense and connection in homeschooling4:41    Gina's anecdotes about common sense vs being educated7:26    Christyn calls it "street smarts" vs. "book smarts" but it's the same thing9:02    The perfect combination is both! Common sense is knowing when to use your book smarts and when to use your street smarts9:33    Common sense is not an innate ability, but it's a quality that can be developed11:07  Sometimes natural consequences are the best lesson to learn common sense since they stick with us! 11:51  You can develop common sense by engaging in a real way with the real world in real time14:15  Gina says reverse-engineering projects and situations can help develop common sense15:30  Common sense in homeschool means taking a break for a couple of weeks if a project is overwhelming. Don't overcomplicate things. There's nothing wrong with simple; there's nothing inherently better about something just because it's complicated15:58  Common sense in homeschool also means taking into account your homeschool style. You do the homeschool that works for you17:03  Common sense says if there's a problem, then there's an answer18:20  The common sense approach to homeschooling is seeing how interconnected all the learning is18:48  Seemingly random activities can create avenues into learning that we aren't always expecting20:08  Learning outside the traditional school environment allows us to integrate and connect things for our kids22:24   Make those connections because when a kid is interested, a kid is learning!22:40   A good reason to focus on connections in homeschool is that it can help with subjects that might not be a student's favorite23:03   By exploring connections, we can really help our kids see the value in what they're learning23:37   It's common sense to look for connections in education and help your child take ownership of that new knowledge in a meaningful way23:50   Connections between people are also vitally important24:40   Homeschooling is a radical lifestyle and it can be lonely. Find a community in which you can commiserate, kvetch, and celebrate24:56    Maya Angelou, "Alone"Support the show (
February 19, 2021
Thinking About… Bravery and Belonging
With February being the longest month of the homeschool year, there's plenty of time to dive deep into two key themes for home educators: Bravery and Belonging. Join Gina and Christyn as they discuss their big and small moments of brave action in homeschooling, and how the idea of belonging can sometimes be a stumbling block...until you find your people.1:55   Recap of Episode 1 and the new insights into autonomy Christyn and Gina uncovered3:42   Paying attention to to what fulfills us as parents makes us more interesting educational partners for our kids5:16    Gina thinks bravery in homeschool is sometimes just saying out loud "We're homeschooling" because you can never predict the response6:40    When you opt for a different path, you have to have bravery to go along and stay on it7:05   Christyn's idea of bravery comes partly from Sara Bareilles's song "Brave"7:35   The song talks about how disappearing and not showing our brave because we doubt our choices and we don't want to make waves8:30   Committing the act of homeschooling shows our big our brave is!9:00   Gina talks brave moments in her life, including starting this podcast, and putting herself out there on radio interviews and in writing to talk about the positives of homeschooling10:13   Christyn discusses being brave enough to start the homeschooling lifestyle at a time when her life was overshadowed by her husband's death. She took on Joan of Arc's quote as a mantra: "I am not afraid, I was born to do this."12:40   Smaller brave moment for Christyn: waking up and going to the zoo instead of opening the books. The success of that made an impact on how she decided to homeschool going forward14:04   Gina's smaller brave moment was talking up the first day of school, then announcing the only thing on the schedule was to play all day! It's a brave step to announce that the education of your kids belongs to you14:35  Moving to Belonging as a theme, especially in a community sense14:55   Gina finds meeting and greeting the world in general to be a perennial challenge15:30   Christyn doesn't always feel like she belongs in homeschool groups. It's been a stumbling block, but one-on-one dynamics work best16:15   Gina agrees that her best belonging moments are with small groups16:40   Homeschoolers often get caught up in group identities that may create barriers for belonging if you don't fit17:25   Home educating can bring stress so feeling like you have support is key. 19:18   Gina and Christyn both hope that the OnlySchoolers podcast community gives a sense of belonging20:23   Homeschooling is lonely sometimes, and homeschooling an only can be especially lonely. Gina and Christyn talk about how their kids' experience of finding a place to belong24:10   Show us your brave!Support the show (
February 04, 2021
Thinking About… Autonomy and Attention
Gina and Christyn start the new season discussing two themes that help frame the story of their homeschools: autonomy and attention. Join them for a conversation about how they find the ability to act on their own values and beliefs as they home educate, and how attention plays a huge role in their homeschool autonomy.0:50   New OnlySchoolers website:              New Etsy shop:  Gina gives an update on "flourish" for 20214:00   Framing conversations around themes will lead to a deeper understanding of home education, even for veteran homeschoolers. We'll uncover new beliefs and essential ideas, and find new perspectives and different ways of thinking 5:54   Two perfect words to help us frame our homeschool stories are the focus themes today: Autonomy and Attention6:45   AUTONOMY is the ability to act on one's own values and beliefs. In homeschool, this includes me AND my child7:30   Gina talks about how being an only child growing up affected her autonomy and emphasizes that as homeschoolers, we need to create the kind of environment that works for you, even though staying true to yourself can be a bumpy road8:35   It can be hard to maintain autonomy in the homeschool environment. Sometimes there's pressure to fit in; make sure you're making the choices that are best for you10:10  Christyn shares her story of growth in homeschool autonomy, as a widow seeking connection. It's great to seek connection, but don't lose yourself. Hang on to the reasons you chose to home educate: they will guide you as you create your homeschool11:45  Real homeschool autonomy is knowing you have both choices AND the freedom to choose the best ones for yourself12:15  Gina discusses autonomy for her son, who's been encouraged in his autonomy from a young age. Now she has a kid who won't accept things that are unfair or unjust; he is willing to stand up for himself14:20  Christyn wants her daughter to know she always has the freedom to make her own choices and that she's capable of making those choices16:50  The best aspect of homeschooling is being able to help our kids find their own path in their own time17:21   All the autonomy in the world won't matter, though, if we don't pay attention and give ATTENTION where needed17:55  Attention is taking notice, fixing the mind, and taking action. This is critical to homeschoolers, especially this time of year 19:22  Christyn takes notice of where she is in the school year, and takes action by changing up classes a bit, knowing she and her daughter need something fresh in the second semester20:30  This year, it's a self-defense class from The Great Courses: Understanding and Applying Self-Defense Strategies Gina also takes a look at where she is in the school year and this year paid attention to the fact that in about 18 months, her son will graduate. She started giving attention to what needs to happen between now and then22:25  Gina wants to focus on the attention given to her phone and technology, framing her efforts around two questions: Where is my attention? Where should it be?24:52 Don't let random things catch your attention. Pay attention!25:30  Gina and Christyn discuss the myth of only children receiving too much attention27:05  Work to find that balance between autonomy and attention
January 21, 2021
Happy New Year!! With Party Favors
Your intrepid OnlySchoolers are checking in with a brief Happy New Year episode with some party favors2:06    Gina describes how she approaches each new year with a focus word that can be used as a noun and a verb. For 2021, that word is FLOURISH3:35    Christyn approaches each new year with a guiding quote, verse, or poem. For this year, she chose a Jane Austen quote: "Run mad as often as you wish, but do not faint."6:30   A sneak peek at the plans for Season 2, where Gina and Christyn will choose a couple of broad themes each week -- such as doubt, progress, mystery, simplicity, etc. -- and do a deep dive into viewing and understanding homeschool through that lens. In other exciting developments for the OnlySchoolers community, we have a website and Etsy shop!Our new web site is up at www.onlyschoolers.comThe OnlySchoolers Etsy Shoppe is also open, and we've got our OnlySchoolers Homeschool Planner and Transcripts of the show for sale.Support the show (
January 07, 2021
A Few of Our Favorite Things: Christmas with the OnlySchoolers
The holidays are in full swing and that means it's time to pull out favorite movies, bake up delicious treats, dance in the kitchen to Christmas music, and just generally have a whole month of celebration -- made even more special when it includes those special touches that make it meaningful to our families. Join Gina and Christyn as they talk all things holiday at their homes and share recipes and traditions that make this the happiest time of the year for them!1:31   Gina and Christyn talk favorite Christmas recipes, songs, movies, books, gift-giving ideas, and traditions2:12   Christyn’s holiday baking includes cream wafers, chocolate-covered pretzels, peanut brittle, and peppermint popcorn Gina creates maraschino cherry Christmas mice, orangesicles, and peppermint marshmallows and bakes spitzbuben7:45   Gina has a long Christmas playlist which includes Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and the Andrews Sisters, as well as Amy Grant and Mannheim Steamroller Jackie Gleason ‘Tis the Season albumChristyn’s list is eclectic, as well. Favorite Christmas album is Andreas Bocelli’s “My Christmas,” but also loves Elvis, the Chipmunks, and the Polar Express and Home Alone movie soundtracksCeltic Woman, “Christmas Pipes”12:00  Christyn’s favorite movie is “A Christmas Story” while her daughter loves “Home Alone” and “Home Alone 2”Gina likes old movies at Christmas, including “White Christmas” and “The Bishop’s Wife.” Top favorite is “Remember the Night” 15:57   Christyn’s favorite book is A Christmas Carol, and all the traditional picture books. Gina likes short stories, including “The Little Match Girl” and “The Gift of the Magi” 19:12   For Christmas traditions, Christyn always does a Christmas lights scavenger hunt and switches out regular dishes for a Christmas pattern for the month of December. She also has a lot of fun Elf on the Shelf ideas from years pastGina decorates multiple trees,  loves making new ornaments, and includes stargazing in her holiday activities Mary Maxim beaded ornaments26:12   Gina made a conscious decision to keep Christmas small for her son, and follows the 4 Gift rule. They didn’t do Santa because her son figured it out earlyChristyn also does the four gifts, looking for non-traditional ones that are fun and memorable. She did Santa, but he never left “the big gift,” just a doll or game31:02  True confessions: Neither Gina nor Christyn like “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Gina also says no to fruitcake and “A Christmas Carol” while Christyn enjoys fruitcake but says no to the Christmas hamBoth say no to the running and rushing. Plan for quiet afternoons with no obligations. You don’t want to get to the end of the season and realize you didn’t take time to refresh and reflect. Merry Christmas!Support the show (
December 03, 2020
Homeschooling Through the Holidays...Without Losing Your Mind
'Twas the month before Christmas and all through the land, parents are trying to homeschool through the holidays without losing their minds! Okay, that doesn't rhyme, but it's the reality for many homeschooling families this time of year. Join Gina and Christyn as they share their holiday homeschooling plans and outline three easy steps to truly enjoy this most wonderful time of the year.5:04    If you're overextended and exhausted through the holidays, it's that much harder to gear up and get back to school in January5:18    Three basic steps to holiday homeschooling:1)  Manage expectations2)  Make a plan3)  Sit back and enjoy!5:50    Don't try to do some fun and magical and memorable every single day leading up to Christmas. While Christmas is the perfect time to slow down and do some fun extras, be sure to manage your expectations of what that will look like8:15    Real-world life is messay. You'll get tired, kids will get cranky, and there are extra committments and obligations this time of year9:30    Christyn talks about her experience trying to sprinkle Christmas fairy dust on all subjects, rather than sticking with a schooling plan that was working. After two years, she gave that up in favor of planning just one fun thing per week, not per day10:48    Gina emphasizes that real-life holidays don't look like a magazine photo shoot. Rather than striving for that, embrace real life just the way it is12:32    If Christmas is truly about the kids, then we need to keep their best interests in mind13:17    Make a plan as to what you can realistically handle school-wise during the holidays, then get it on the calendar13:40   In discussing Christmas Plans Past, Gina follows one crucial rule: Don't let what you did last year dictate what you'll do this year15:25   Christyn adds fun in some subjects as natural ending points are reached during December17:23    Plan for spontaneous fun, or in other words, leave space for Christmas magic to happen: just make sure you've got a few tricks up your sleeve!17:56    Enjoying the holidays can be simple and easy18:57    Gina encourages saying "No" to some things so the holiday traditions that are important to your family can happen19:50   Enjoying Christmas at Christyn's house usually means a Christmas Poetry Teatime, Grinch Night, and Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt. Head over to the OnlySchoolers Patreon account for these FREE to ALL listeners downloadable PDFs. Support the show (
November 19, 2020
The Attitude of Gratitude: Being at Home with a Grateful Heart
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, Gina and Christyn tackle the topic of cultivating an attitude of gratitude in their homes. From their personal habits to fun ideas for for family "thankfulness" activities, this episode will have you agreeing that "Joy is the simplest form of gratitude." (Karl Barth)1:29   Celebrate Guy Fawkes Day with a fun -- and free! -- poetry teatime download   Gina and Christyn both have a low-key approach to their Thanksgiving traditions5:27   These three main topics will help you keep that thankful feeling going strong in the home1) Tips and Tricks for cultivating the attitude of gratitude in ourselves as parents2) How to avoid entitled kids and instill a sense of gratitude in our children3) Some fun ideas for family activities that stress thankfulness6:07   1) Cultivating daily habits of gratitude is important because our kids model all our behaviors6:37   Christyn talks about finding joy in the middle of grief7:45   Gina discusses #ThisDaysJoy: how it started and how it continues over eight years later through Facebook posts and two books   Christyn talks about the idea of finding joy in grief and the blog she started after her husband's death: Curving Toward Joy  2) Instilling a sense of gratitude in our children12:00  Gina shares a story of entitled young adults14:04  It can be harder to find opportunities for encouraging gratitude in an only child; you have to be more intentional. Christyn shares some of her methods15:00 Teach your child that the act of sharing, the act of being grateful to have something to share, the relationship that comes from sharing is the most important part15:55  Gina's tips for instilling gratitude in an only child include keeping it real by encouraging friendships with senior adults and hearing their stories17:30  3) Some fun activities to cultivate a sense of gratitude in the days leading up to Thanksgiving18:13  Crafts are a great way to reinforce thankfulness, especially in younger children. Be sure to also download the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt for some family fun, and consider a shareable Gratitude Journal and curating a collection of stories, poems, and songs that stress grateful hearts and thanks19:20  Gina reminisces about Wyatt's "thankful tree" made of construction paper handprint leaves20:20  Christyn remembers her daughter's "thankful turkey" with construction paper feathers of thankful thoughts20:55  It's wonderful to see gratefulness through a kid's eyes. There's so much adults miss because it doesn't seem "big enough" to be grateful for   Crafty ideas might not work for teens, so consider slow conversations over hot cocoa or tea; create the Thanksgiving menu together; create a playlist of favorite songs that inspire thankfulness22:01   Writing thank-you notes is a great way to express gratitude23:57  Gratitude and joy and thankfulness are all about making connections with the people we love
November 05, 2020
You've Got Questions....We've Got Answers
Join Gina and Christyn for the first-ever OnlySchoolers Podcast Q & A! With questions ranging from ways to fill the long days to the role of dads and other adults in your homeschool, Gina and Christyn offer helpful hints and answers -- and funny stories about honeybees and ants! 2:01     Question: How do you fill all the hours with an activity-driven child?3:49     Christyn's suggestions include read-alouds, board games, some scheduled activities like walks to the park or library. Have a loose routine and be sure to get out of the house sometimes6:20     Gina schedules at least one thing outside the house per day and encourages having a basic weekly schedule9:10     There are days that are hard and we're exhausted but those days don't last forever10:00   Final answer: Try to plan "outside the house" time, create a loose routine so your kid knows when you're available, and have solo options available to engage the child10:41   Question: What kind of curriculum is recommended?10:55   Gina suggests that when a child is young, the best curriculum is no curriculum at all. Help your child fall in love with learning, read fun books, show them how to develop ownership of education13:20    Answer: The goal isn't to find a perfect curriculum; it's to create an environment that shows the kids that the world is a fascinating place and encourage their curiosity in exploring it14:18    If you're pulling your kid from public/private school, be sure to consider deschooling    OnlySchoolers doesn't recommend any curriculum, but we're always happy to share what works/doesn't work for our kids15:48   Consider the child's learning style, your teaching style, and their future plans. All that will guide you in your choices16:56    Don't feel guilty for getting rid of curriculum that doesn't work18:06    Question: What is the role of dads in homeschool? How does homeschooling as a single parent work?18:22    Christyn addresses single parent homeschooling: Give lots of grace to you and your child and know that it's okay to ask for help. Outsource some classes or activities. Include other adults in your child's education. Create space for each of you to be yourself.19:46    Gina discusses her husband's role in their son's education20:27    It takes a village sometimes, so fill your homeschool village with people who support your child and your goals for lifelong learnin20:43    Question: Do you have book recommendations for kids?21:53    Christyn's philosophy of reading is that there are no requirements for reading outside of class; focus on covering a variety of genres22:54    Gina says life is too short to read bad books. Read what you love -- whatever that happens to be. In reading for school, she tends to focus on classics24:22    Christyn talks Survey of British Lit and some ideas she's tossing around for future literature classes included Marginalized Voices in American Lit, Novels of the Great Depression, and Mystery Writers25:50    Question: How do you teach poetry?26:00    Christyn utilizes a Brave Writer idea of Poetry Teatime, which is eating treats and reading poetry out loud27:40    Gina comes at it from an English teacher background and looks at interpretation, word choices, rhyme, etc.Support the show (
October 15, 2020
Confronting Your Fears: Common Homeschool Worries… and How to Scare Them Away
It's October, but Gina and Christyn have a treat -- no tricks! -- for you: their best ideas on how to quash the worries that all homeschoolers -- even veteran homeschoolers! -- have about themselves, their kids, and their way of educating. They tackle all the fears, from wondering if "Am I enough?" to "Will my kid be weird?" with personal anecdotes and lots of humour!3:25    Common homeschool fears. We've all been there4:16    The worries come in three main categories:1) Worries about me2) Worries about my kids3) Worries about their education6:25    In the first category, our biggest question is "Am I doing it wrong?"7:00   Gina started out homeschooling thinking there must be a "right" way but quickly ended up unschool-y, knowing there's not just one way to homeschool7:28   Christyn's eclectic style was born from that fear, when she finally asked herself "Why do I think I'm the wrong piece here?"9:07   When it comes to the right personality to homeschool or the right organizational methods, there's no one way. As parents, you are exactly who your kids need10:25  Worries of parents with only children: "But this is the only pancake I've got!"11:40  In the second category, the biggest question is "Will my kid be weird?"12:20  Gina and Christyn discuss the Late Middle English definition of "weird" which is "having the power to control destiny"13:12   Christyn talks Avengers in the the context of weirdness14:37  Flip around that idea of weird and remember that the ability to make choices that suit your personality at any time is a gift that homeschool facilitates14:55  Gina talks Henry David Thoreau and The Odyssey: let your kids listen for their own drummer and be the hero of their own life16:41  Be sure to also consider the modern definition of weird and determine your child's comfort level with that definition18:15  We want our kids to be comfortable being themselves and listening for that drumbeat inside and following it18:36  The other looming worry in the second category: "Will the kids be socialized?" Gina answers "Poppycock" to that fear19:35  In the third category, worries about their education: "Did I teach them everything?"19:43   Gina answers, "Of course not," and discusses how she wallows in the fact that responsibility is gradually shifting to her son to be weird and control his own destiny21:42   Christyn discusses finding gaps, filling them in, and knowing everything won't be covered22:30   Our job is to teach our kids the value of learning. With that, they do the rest on their own23:30   Another question in the third category: "Is my kid going to be ready for the real world?" It's up to you to help them grow and flourish and practice real-world skills24:49   The end goal is creating an environment in which your child becomes a competent adult25:09   Homeschool gives us the chance to create a supportive environment where kids grow at their own pace and in their own styleSupport the show (
October 01, 2020
Here’s Looking at You, Kid: Movies and Television As Curriculum
Lights -- Camera -- Action! Join Gina and Christyn as they talk about all the ways that visual media -- television shows, movies, documentaries -- are taking front and center stage in their homeschools. From basic use to total immersion in visual media, they show you how you can incorporate movies and television to create a richer learning experience.3:07   When we use movies and TV as curriculum, which is an under-utilized educational method, we go way beyond the old-school "movie day" concept3:30   You don't have to ADD visual media to the curricululm -- visual media can BE the curriculum. It's an eye-opening concept: using visual media as curricululm with minimal or no text added5:00   Three main steps1) Classic use, i.e. "Read a book, watch the movie"2) Hybrid -- focus on print curriculum, but start sprinkling in visual media3) Total immersion -- visual media IS the curriculum, with readings sprinkled in6:34   The first step, the classic use, is heavily used in literature and history classes because it works well to start forming those compare and contrast concepts7:20  Gina talks about using the classic method for Shakespeare8:40  Christyn talks about using it even younger, with preschoolers and their favorite cartoons with book crossovers10:14  The classic use leads naturally to discussion of compare and contrast and begins to emphasize that idea of finding textual evidence (from the book AND the movie/show) to support your ideas and opinions11:04   The second step: Hybrid option. Have a spine for the class, but start sprinkling in more visual media to supplement and support the text12:15   Christyn talks about how she used it for a US History class she created, particularly with using Ken Burns' "The Dust Bowl" during the section on the Great Depression   Gina discusses her family's use of "Mythbusters" to ramp up science class  Once you're comfortable with the hybrid option, you can kick it up to Next-Level Hybrid where the visual media is essential to the curriculum and is equal to or greater than the print portion. 17:30  Christyn discusses using "The Waltons" for history class and "The Middle" to learn how to write a personal essay20:30  Ask yourself "What am I trying to teach?" and "What movie or TV show can help me illustrate that concept?" Or you could even say, "I love this show -- how can I use for homeschool?" 21:08  Remember: it's okay for learning to be fun.  Our goal is to have our kids WANT to know more about a subject!21:30  Step 3: Total Immersion. Gina talks about how visual media jumps to center stage22:40  Gina discusses creating a class titled "Documenting History: The American Story" using nine or ten of Ken Burns' documentaries and adding a project  Watching a story unfold on the screen is just as meaningful and just as valid and just as educational as reading a bookSupport the show (
September 17, 2020
Happy Labor Day! The Role of Life Skills in a Homeschool Curriculum
It's Labor Day weekend, so Gina and Christyn have work-related stuff on tap, specifically as it relates to teaching life skills in their homeschools. There are so many opportunities in a homeschool environment to practice the life skills that will be necessary long after formal education ends.1:37    There are so many ways to naturally incorporate life skills, also known as practical arts, into homeschool2:06    Life skills include many things you don't necessarily learn in school, but that are so necessary to navigating life2:30    Three types of life skills discussed1) Life skills at home: chores, home repair, cleaning, etc.2) Life skills outside the home: ordering in restaurants, navigating with maps, shopping3) Life skills as they relate to gainful employment4:00    Gina and Christyn don't use chore charts -- kind of irrelevant for their only children! -- but the kids still help around the house because life skills are necessary6:00    Homeschool parents often get caught up in the academic side and forget that life skills are hugely important, as well6:31   Gina talks life skills for Wyatt8:13   Christyn discusses incorporating them in September's day10:24  As the kids get older, the life skills get more complex10:49  In many ways, life skills are just the practical application of a lot of academic skills12:05   Discussion of how to count life skills in the homeschool: until mastered, or every time?14:12  Life skills outside the home might relate to a primary academic subject such as communication, math, geography, social studies16:44   Real life examples of life skills required outside the home19:32   Life skills relating to employment and adulting -- Gina and Christyn assure you that all the bits and pieces of a long expanse of homeschooling time start to pay off, which is gratifying to see25:34   Incorporate some low-key, low stakes situations to help your child develop the necessary skills. Lay the groundwork so the kids are ready when the stakes get higher26:40   Homeschooling has such successful outcomes because school takes place not only in a classroom, but in the real worldSupport the show (
September 03, 2020
Money Can’t Buy Happiness… But School Supplies Are Pretty Close
Can't buy me love...but I'll take a black Ticonderoga pencil! Join Gina and Christyn as they talk school supply shopping with a twist...homeschool-style. From traditional supplies to teacher supplies to those "Are you sure THIS is a school supply?" supplies, they offer their best ideas for this summertime rite of passage that, yes, homeschoolers can have, too.1:25    Gina and Christyn invite you to submit your burning homeschool questions for the October 15 episode2:07    One of Christyn's first questions as a homeschooler was "Do I still get to shop for school supplies?"3:00    Homeschool supplies look different from traditional school supplies3:44  Three categories of supplies1) Traditional supplies2) Teacher supplies3) Untraditional, magic-making supplies4:37    TRADITIONAL SUPPLIES.  Public school supply lists make a good jumping-off point5:22    Add some fun to your homeschool by creating your own supply list, or download the one from the OnlySchoolers Patreon page   Get stuff you and your kids enjoy using, the brands you like, and involve your child as much as possible in getting the homeschool space ready10:05   TEACHER SUPPLIESMake your job as educational facilitataor easy with unique-to-you supplies11:50   Christyn's favorite teacher supplies are staplers, 3-hole punch, printer, and laminator13:01   Gina likes writing utensils: black Ticonderoga pencils, fine-point pens, and a good pencil sharpener14:05   MAGIC-MAKING SUPPLIESThese are untraditional supplies and include anything you want to use to bring delight to your homeschool -- think way outside the box to add these unique supplies15:25   Can include annual zoo memberships, magazine subscriptions, board games, craft or cooking subscription boxes, etc. Just decide what fits and will be good for your homeschool this particular academic year15:45   Christyn thinks this is the most vital category for anyone homeschooling an only because it can be a good way to break up the routine16:20   Gina likes conservation magazines, Highlights, video subscriptions18:12   Christyn's picks (after trying out pretty much everything!) are zoo membership,  Highlights Top Secret Adventure packets, Universal Yums snack boxes, KidStir cooking box, and board games   Board games are a fun way to take a break and continue to build skills. Download Christyn's top picks and a fill-in-the-blank PDF for your own school year fun.   Gina includes Snap Circuits and Lego kits as school supplies   The door is wide open when it comes to homeschool supplies because everything can be a school supply. Each homeschool is an educational experience unique to your child so use anything you can get your hands on!Support the show (
August 20, 2020
Come to the Fair: Finding Your Homeschool Groups
There's nothing like a fair to bring a lot of fun together in a single package. Grab a cotton candy or corndog and join Gina and Christyn as they talk about how homeschool groups and activities can be just like going to the fair -- and be just as much fun!2:04     A fair always has food and drinks for nourishment, games and rides for fun and thrills, and exhibit halls for learning. 2:28    Homeschool groups bring those same elements together to create a rich learning environment for homeschool kids3:47    Organized groups are the "nourishment" for the homeschool fair. Gina talks about how groups work for homeschoolers, and the particular role they serve for onlyschoolers -- those of us homeschooling only children5:03    There are lots of options for homeschool groups: national, local, online. Gina and Christyn talk about the different groups and the benefits and expectations9:17    Homeschool can be overwhelming and it's reassuring to have a group of people to turn to as an easy resource10:25   Find a group that supports you and your beliefs, where you and your children will be comfortable.11:00   Homeschool Activities are the best part of the group -- like the fun and thrill of fair rides12:00   Kids involved in homeschool activities don't miss out on the "traditional" activities afforded to public/private school kids -- we've got all the same stuff!12:25   Gina talks about the local group's Teen Club13:20   Christyn talks about other homeschool activities, outside of a homeschool organization, such as scouting troops and youth choirs14:45   Gina discusses the role community organizations, such as YMCA or Parks & Rec can contribute to homeschool activities, such as ice skating and swim lessons15:27   Homeschool activities are great for providing team opportunities, especially for only children. Gina talks about Wyatt's pairs skating and Christyn discusses September's synchronized skating teams18:15   There are many ways to make the team thing happen for homeschoolers: volleyball, softball, basketball, local theater groups -- or start your own special interest group!19:26   Homeschoolers are in a unique position to see opportunities for groups or teams outside the traditional school setup19:52   After the nourishment of groups, and the fun and thrills of homeschool activities, it's time to take a turn around the Exhibit Hall: which means finding the opportunity for your homeschool child to learn something...and not always from you21:00   Christyn talks about using tutors from local universities for September's French lessons, as well as utilizing online classes for learning23:35   Gina talks about homeschool co-ops, which are a good way to outsource some learning25:35   There's a wide variety in the classes a co-op can offer; you can never predict what a parent might want to teach in a group setting. Co-op classes could include creative writing, dissections, cake decorating, craft upcycling, and first aid certification27:00   Homeschooling is probably the most fun you'll ever have, especially if you do it with a group of friendsSupport the show (
August 06, 2020
Five Minutes on the Fifth Thursday: Book Lists
So...we's really about 7 minutes, but hey -- we were talking about books and book lists! And really, five -- or even seven minutes -- is not nearly long enough to talk books!Take a listen to hear about how we use booklists and which authors/books are not our favorites.1:06    Christyn likes to use bookslists to find new reads, especially when she can't get to the library to browse shelves1:41   Anne Vogel at  "Modern Mrs. Darcy" (blog/podcast) curates awesome lists that Christyn always browses through. Currently, Christyn is reading food memoirs and accompanying food-fiction novels.2:25    Favorite recent memoir read was A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz    Gina likes to look at booklists for new or never-heard-of-before books3:10    Right now, Gina's reading mostly classics that she missed before and some non-fiction3:43    Gina's 10% rule: Read that much of a book and if the story or writing doesn't grab you, stop reading and find something else!4:00   We discuss our least-favorite authors and/or book titles6:22    Links to some of our favorite booklistsBooks in translation: memoirs: Austen-inspired: the show (
July 30, 2020
Permission Granted: Make Your Homeschool Make Sense For You
Join Gina and Christyn for part two of their July series about declaring homeschool independence. In this episode, they invite you to take the next step and embrace the freedom of homeschooling. Make the choices that make sense for YOUR family --- permission granted!1:48   Christyn and Gina talk about the moments they each embraced their freedom as a parent to make the decisions that made sense to them and their children6:25    Three areas of homeschool freedom. You have permission to:1) Decide what classes are best for your children2) Prioritize activities over classes when planning your schedule3) Make homeschool rules that fit your family7:07    Permission Slip 1: Gina reminds us we want our kids to grow into independent adults and letting them choose their classes is a great way to practice that skill8:44    There is no magic cocktail of classes that guarantees educational success9:14    Gina keeps the learning concrete, tied to the real world, and fosters the desire to engage with that world10:08   Christyn helps her daughter take ownership of her education and feel connected to her studies11:10   Two experienced homeschool moms gave Christyn the spark of homeschool freedom and gave her permission to drop an unnecessary subject14:05   Permission Slip 2: Gina explains why sometimes you might need to prioritize outside activities over schoowork and how it works for her son16:00   Christyn gives examples for how it looks for her daughter's schedule17:20   Be mindful of ALL the things that create a unique education for your child17:51   Permission Slip 3: Create the rules that make sense for your homeschool18:25   Some homeschool philosophies come with "rules" but there's not a lot of freedom for individuals there and it can make you feel out of sorts19:39   Christyn talks about her "no rules for screentime" rule21:42   Gina discusses her philosophy about daily reading limits23:00   Gina offers a bonus permission slip: you don't need approval from family or friends for how you manage your homeschool24:15   Embrace the freedom of homeschool but always remember your responsibility to honor the heart and soul of the kids entrusted to your care24:49   You have permission to create an educational environment that nourishes your family and allows them to growSupport the show (
July 16, 2020
Homeschool Independence: Make It Your Own
It's July and that means backyard BBQs, watermelon, and fireworks! Join Gina and Christyn as they explore the idea of homeschool independence and offer a few ideas on how you can take the step to declaring it for your own homeschool. No dumping tea into the harbor necessary!TECHNICAL NOTE: We always work to provide you with a clear listening experience, but because of a weird technical issue, there is a bit of wonky audio from about the 2:41 mark through 3:14 -- we promise it clears up!3:56  Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states; there are just different requirements and levels of state supervision4:23   This is a two-part series with the theme of how declaring homeschool independence and embracing the resulting freedom can transform your homeschool. It's our best advice on how to make your homeschool your own!4:57   We all come to educational independence in different ways and our homeschools reflect that6:17   Consider the following as you declare independence:1) What are your homeschool goals?2) What is your homeschool style?3) What is your homeschool's focus?6:49   Step 1: Gina talks setting homeschool goals and talks about her personal goal of fostering family relationships8:52   Christyn's goal is similar: to prioritize family time and build a family culture, and also includes developing a personalized education that accommodates asynchronous development11:45    In Marvel's "Endgame" there are is only way to win out of over 14 million possibilities. Fortunately, that's not the case in homeschool! Make your own choices from the over 14 million available to you!13:05   Step 2: Think about your homeschool style by setting aside what others are doing and seeing what actually works for you   Christyn discusses how she arrived at her eclectic homeschool style16:27   Gina discusses the road to her unschool-y style18:22   The process of allowing kids to take control of their education is a daunting part of declaring homeschool independence but it's so exciting to watch it unfold18:50  Step 3: What is the focus of your homeschool? 19:28   Christyn's focus: foster the understanding that learning is lifelong21:37   Gina's focus is the same: focus on continuous learning and rise to the challenges that come along. Ignite and nurture that little spark of learning!22:31   How to light an educational sparkler23:25   To declare your homeschool independence, know what you want and what's best for your family, then work toward creating that homeschool
July 02, 2020
How Does Your Garden Grow?: Nurturing a Learning Environment
It’s summertime in our area and gardens are growing! Join Gina and Christyn as they discuss a different kind of garden: the homeschool garden. See how the same things that nurture a plant garden apply to educating your kids, allowing them to flourish. Go on…get your hands dirty! 1:10     Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? Gardening as a metaphor for homeschool 2:06     Homeschool garden basics            1) Determine your garden type            2) Figure out what you’re going to plant             3) Think about what helps it grow             4) Don’t forget about weeds and pests  2:46   Just as there are different gardens, there are different kids. Each is unique and the differences are desirable. In homeschool, the “garden” is your child 4:00    One home might have several different types of gardens.   4:13    There is no one right, perfect garden. Be honest with yourself and accept your child for who s/he is and work with that 4:53    Christyn’s Canterbury Bells experience reminds her of her daughter’s strengths 7:00    Gina embraces her son as a native wildflower garden and watches him flourish 8:00    Love and nurture the “garden” you’ve got. Honor the heart and soul of the garden you’re entrusted with 8:40    In homeschool, the “seeds” are the curriculum and educational activities you choose to plant. There’s a huge variety and you can’t include everything 9:19    Christyn’s homeschool “seeds” that were planted, but didn’t take off 11:22   The homeschool “seeds” that Gina rejected 13:38   The beauty of homeschool is that it lets things bloom in their own time 13:50   Christyn and Gina share examples of right gardens, right seeds, and flourishing kids 15:42   The seeds need water, sunshine, and fertilizer to grow. It’s important to find the balance 16:49   Water as the “work” of learning, necessary to germinate the curriculum seeds 18:10   Sunshine and heat are essential; just balance the intensity so students don’t suffer. Include some downtime for the work of rest 19:20   Add the “fertilizer” – the challenges and hardships that promote long-term growth 22:12   Gina and Christyn talk about the various weeds and pests they’ve encountered in their homeschool gardens 24:39   All the work of gardening leads to that moment after a good round of digging in the dirt where you step back and think, “Oh, yeah. That was worth the wait.”
June 18, 2020
I Love It When A Plan Comes Together: Putting the Final Touches on a New School Year
One school year is winding down…and it’s just about time to start thinking about the next one! In Episode 5, Gina and Christyn help you think about ways to plan your school year. From Big Picture planning to the focus on details to fun tools and supplies, take a listen to see how you, too, can ”love it when a plan comes together.” 1:30        Homeschool planning like the A-Team: “I love it when a plan comes together.” 2:50        Three easy steps: Big Picture Planning, Nuts-and-Bolts focused planning, fun tools and supplies 3:02        Christyn talks about using the “What’s next?” method of Big Picture Planning in elementary and junior high; high school is "What's next?" times four! 4:21        Gina’s planning technique is an organic process 6:41        Two types of planning: 1) Big Picture Planning and 2) Focused Plans 9:00        Plan high school accordingly. There are different needs for college-bound, trade school, or job-hunting 10:45     Reconciling unschooling with structured planning 12:00     When a plan goes differently, but ends up being better than you could have imagined 14:10     When the nuts and bolts come together Christyn’s spiral notebook brain dump gets translated to a weekly planner Gina starts with calendar page print-offs, known dates, and scheduled events 18:00     Plan for the integral parts of what your kid does (ice skating, choir, etc.) 18:30     Planning for breaks gives you something to look forward to 21:35     Tools of the trade: the fun stuff! Christyn: spiral notebook, PDF paper planner, PaperMate click-y pen, Bic Wite-Out Easy Correct tape Gina: Calendars, Me & My Big Ideas calendar planner and sticker, ultra-fine mechanical pencils Don’t forget the black Ticonderoga pencils!  28:33     Planning the Big Picture is good, but only schedule the details for one to two weeks at a time so there’s room for modification and flexibility 30:55     Like all things homeschool, planning is personal and individual 31:31     Planning a year of educating your child can feel incredibly overwhelming. Just take some easy steps to ensure you love the plan that comes together 31:44     Our best advice: 1) Start with the Big Picture Planning 2) Move to smaller, focused bits – fill in the details as you go 3) Find fun tools you’ll actually use – it makes a difference! 32:38     The plan you start with might not be the plan you finish with…but you can love it, anyway    
June 04, 2020
Time to Stop? Maybe…Maybe Not...: Different Approaches to the Homeschool year
In Episode 4, Gina and Christyn discuss the idea of homeschooling year-round…or not…or creating a hybrid calendar that suits your family and lifestyle. So many options! What are the advantages and concerns of year-round homeschooling? Listen in as Gina and Christyn talk about the lifestyle of learning and the delight in taking a refreshing “iced tea break” in your homeschool year. 1:38     We enjoy rich conversations at the rink…until the kids come off the ice for a break 2:12     The idea of homeschooling year-round or finding a spot to take our own refreshment break 3:03     Homeschools are not tied to the traditional public school calendar, so there’s more flexibility in deciding when the homeschool year starts and stops 3:16     “Kinda-sorta” – Gina’s take on year-round homeschooling 4:45     Christyn’s considered it, but ends up doing her own thing instead 5:02     “Is skating season over?” Never – and that’s the same with learning 5:57     There is no end to learning opportunities in life, and that idea is reinforced by  year-round homeschooling 6:32     But sometimes you might need an “iced tea” break; find a natural spot to stop for a bit 7:25     Advantages of year-round homeschooling: consistency/routine; flexibility; avoiding “summer slide” 7:45     Consistency and routine: Gina and Christyn talk about how that works in their homeschools 9:48     Discuss the idea that we’re all Classical Homeschoolers in the fall, Charlotte Mason followers in the winter, and Unschoolers in the spring ( ) 12:10   Flexibility 12:55   Gina discusses “emergency flexibility” – when something comes up and plans suddenly change 13:44   That’s different from “planned flexibility” – when you factor outside commitments into your school year 14:40   Christyn reflects on taking planned breaks that are convenient and being able to use the whole calendar year – all twelve months – when planning a school year 17:26   Avoid “summer slide” – how does that concept look in a homeschool situation? 20:23   Drawbacks of year-round homeschooling; burnout for students AND parents is the biggest concern 21:30   Mrs. Frankweiler suggests that while learning something every day is good, we should also have days where we allow what we learn to swell up and touch everything inside us (From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler) 23:40   William Wordsworth felt that there should be a time of introspection before writing    poetry ( 25:13   In the end, weigh the advantages and concerns and do what makes sense for your family
May 21, 2020
No Report Card? No Problem: A Different Rubric for Measuring Growth
1:35 -- It’s report card time  1:44 -- Gina’s & Christyn's report card memories 4:56 -- Homeschoolers often have a different rubric for measuring growth and a report card might not be necessary 6:00 -- Gina defines rubric in a traditional, classroom sense: strictly judging a student’s work 7:33 -- Albert Einstein and the fish in a tree 8:00 -- Gina’s flower analogy: “flowers bloom when they bloom” 9:35 -- Holding kids to a rigid measure is not realistic and/or desirable; it can lead to faulty judgement about ability 10:48 -- Don’t destroy the growth potential. Compare a student only to him/herself 11:00 -- Christyn discusses the stress-free schooling chapter in “The Happiest Kids in the World” 11:46 -- Boston College professor: students in the US don’t care about competence – they care about grades  12:21 -- Gina discusses that idea and how the resulting mindset limits options 13:35 -- Focusing on grades and exam results means the student misses out on                  everything else that education has to offer 14:37 -- Gina focuses on mastery, with the result that there is no fear of failure. It’s just part of the process  16:30 -- Christyn discusses September’s take on report cards and ownership of her education 19:25 -- Homeschool allows shifting and adjusting and understanding the material before you move on 19:55 -- Christyn’s strategies for measuring success include setting a few yearly goals and employing the Monthly Narrative  24:02 -- Gina’s strategies for measurement includes snapshots/journaling and her “check-box” method  27:00 -- Accountability increases for high school  27:45 -- Gina discusses how that looks for her with math and literature  30:05 -- There is more growing going on than can be captured in a traditional rubric; find the method of measurement that works for your students
May 07, 2020
Five Minutes on the Fifth Thursday - How Do We Unwind
In this bonus episode, Gina and Christyn talk about their favorite ways to unwind. 0:18 - Welcome to the Episode 0:45 - What is Five Minutes on the Fifth Thursday 1:07 - Topic of the Day: How do we unwind? 1:25 - How Gina unwinds 2:25 - What are Christyn's favorite stress busters 3:41 - Links to show notes 4:05 - Take time to unwind in your favorite way Tea Christyn is enjoying right now: Harney & Sons Malachi McCormick Harney & Sons Emerald Isle Books Christyn is reading right now: A Room With A View, E. M. Forster Parenting Beyond the Rules: Raising Teens with confidence and joy, Connie Albers Gina's favorite places for quilting supplies Happy Hands Tatting (Lisbeth thread) Missouri Star Quilt Company (online retailer) Specialty Quilts (favorite LQS - local quilt shop) Prairie Point Junction (the BEST place for wool felt)
April 30, 2020
Will It Count?: Homeschooling Doesn’t Look Like “School” at Home
In Episode Two, co-hosts Gina and Christyn help you figure out how to think outside the box when school moves off the beaten path and it feels like education has taken a back seat. They assure you it hasn’t! By using the two Magic Questions, you can relax, knowing that learning has taken place – you just have to change the context.  1:10 – Will it blend? 2:15 – When homeschool moves off the beaten path, we often question “Will it count?” 3:44 – Education happens around us all the time 4:04 – Gina’s “a-ha!” moment about homeschooling: birdwatching 7:22 – Christyn’s “a-ha!” moment: infectious disease 9:06 – Just because you didn’t plan it doesn’t mean it doesn’t count 9:30 – Differentiating between “school” and “education” 12:18 – The Magic Questions 14:00 – Jotting down all your daily activities gives you a baseline for seeing where the learning happened 15:00 – The craziest thing Christyn counted as homeschool hours: Marvel movies 19:26 – Gina plays “Will it count?” in high school with geocaching and writing 25:03 – Change the context to switch a subject from elective/non-core hours to core subjects 25:40 – Gina’s superpower of making any learning count as core hours helps Christyn switch an elective 30:23 – Asking yourself “Will it count?” opens up all the possibilities   Links from this episode: Will It Blend?: The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel, by Deborah Hopkinson: Crash Course Sociology videos:  Thanks so much for joining us today. If something we’ve said made an impression, please leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher or anyplace you listen to this podcast. Reviews are how we can share about the podcast with others and create a stronger community, so just go to the app and drop us a line. If you’d like to continue the conversation, you can find us on Facebook and Instagram – our handle is OnlySchoolers.
April 16, 2020
Homeschooling Through Chaos: Channeling Goldilocks
In Episode One, co-hosts Gina and Christyn offer up some strategies for Homeschooling Through Chaos, like we’ve experienced worldwide with the COVID-19 pandemic. So what do you do when everything turns sideways? Gina and Christyn have some easy strategies you can put into place. 01:04 - The last two weeks have been quite a ride. 03:28 - Homeschooling through chaos means channeling your inner Goldilocks. 05:05 - Chaos can original from many different places or in different ways. 05:45 - Christyn’s best advice for dealing with a chaotic time in life 07:47 - The biggest plus of having your kids at home? 09:14 - The “just right” for right now 11:27 - Identifying two types of chaos 13:45 - Figuring out priorities for chaotic times 17:50 - Hint: None of those priorities have anything to do with scheduling math or reading. 18:10 - After setting priorities, what comes next? 23:10 - Chaos and new normal 24:00 - Planning for recurring chaotic times 25:45 - What does “normal” even mean? 26:40 - Injecting certainly into uncertain situations 28:50 - Chaos doesn’t have to stop you in your tracks 30:29 - Share a time you were channeling Goldilocks Thanks so much for joining us today. If something we’ve said made an impression, please leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher or anyplace you listen to this podcast. Reviews are how we can share about the podcast with others and create a stronger community, so just go to the app and drop us a line. If you'd like to continue the conversation, you can find us on Facebook and Instagram -- our handle is OnlySchoolers.
April 02, 2020
Episode 0: Welcome to the Rink
In Episode Zero, co-hosts Gina and Christyn are both OnlySchoolers — our word for what we do, which is homeschool our only children. So we’re here, putting our years of experience to work for you. Our goal is to support you on your homeschool journey — to help you foster relationships and create unique learning opportunities for each child in your homeschool. 01:20 - Welcome to the virtual ice rink 03:34 - Falling down means getting back up! 04:55 - Christyn talks about her home school philosophy  08:00 - School like it’s a Starbucks order 08:27 - Gina’s homeschool journey 09:45 - Unschool-y? 10:44 - Gina and Christyn talk about their backgrounds in education 13:35 - What advice would Christyn and Gina give their early homeschooling selves? 17:35 - One take away from today’s episode 18:10 - Learning from our kids Thanks so much for joining us today. If something we’ve said made an impression, please leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher or anyplace you listen to this podcast. Reviews are how we can share about the podcast with others and create a stronger community, so just go to the app and drop us a line. If you'd like to continue the conversation, you can find us on Facebook and Instagram -- our handle is OnlySchoolers. 
March 19, 2020