The Secret Weapon for Your First Time

New Help1

Yesterday I shared with you a bit about our very first day of homeschooling.

I promised you I’d tell you about a little secret something I’d wished I’d had…

After writing So, You Think You Wanna Homeschool?, I realized that the book was just one part of what I wanted to do.

I really wanted to connect with people, to help them.  To just be there for them.

To offer them any support I could, to hopefully help them avoid some of what I went through.

I’m excited to announce that Sam {of Sam’s Noggin} and I have come together to bring you So, You Think You Wanna Homeschool? – The Class!

A Class for ALL Homeschoolers!

While our immediate focus is on new homeschoolers, Sam and I both feel that any homeschooler can benefit from a support system and a fresh perspective.

Homeschooling is always changing and we as homeschoolers love bouncing ideas off of other homeschoolers!

So, what will the class cover?

  • How to find the legal requirements in your area and fulfill those
  • How to find and choose curricula and other resources that work with your values, style, and needs
  • Specific ways to organize your homeschooling materials
  • The secret to successful homeschool planning and goal-setting
  • Stellar record-keeping techniques
  • Where to find your people {how to build your support system}
  • The things nobody tells you to do during your first week of homeschooling

You’ll get a ton from the course:

  • Seven days of written lessons, each including a video, handout, or both
  • Interaction and feedback from Sam and Tiffany, as well as your fellow students, in a private Facebook group
  • Two live chats
  • Access to all content, the Facebook group, and Sam and Tiffany for one full year
  • discount code for Tiffany’s eBook, “So, You Think You Wanna Homeschool?”

We’ve limited the size of each class to keep things intimate, so be sure to register before it’s too late!

We really wanted to make this affordable, and the first course is ultra-affordable!

If you sign up for our first class, you will get everything listed above for just $20! And, you’ll get a free copy of my eBook!

Head to this page to get even more info to help you make your decision and to register today!


The First Time


Do you remember your first time?

Do you remember what you were feeling?

Do you remember who was around?

I’ll never forget our first day of homeschooling.

It was a gorgeous Fall day in Oregon.  We had all the fun boxes of curriculum.  We were stoked.  We were ready.

We took pictures.

We had nifty new binders filled with fun stuff.

 We went outside for art.

We watched as she was carefree and happy.

Turns out, that was probably the best day of the entire year.

A cross-country move followed one month after these pictures were taken.

We lived in a hotel for three months while we waited to close on our house.

We had to move into our new house and wait for our stuff to come out of storage.

In addition to the “outside forces” at work, I had no idea what I was doing, really.

I had no real support system, other than my husband.  I had curriculum and that was about it.

I stumbled along, not quite sure what I should be doing.  What it should look like.

I wish I had a road map, some sort of guide.  Someone to help me navigate all the questions that would come up.

The big ones {This math isn’t working, what do I do?} and the little ones {What type of dinner should I plan when we have a field trip that puts us out all day?}.

Stop back by tomorrow to find out about a little secret something that I wish I’d had…

Homeschool Planning Changes for Next Year – Work in Progress

Warning: This is a slight rambling of my thoughts right now as I sit and begin to plan our homeschool year.  There are some useful resources peppered throughout though.

So I’ve done several posts here on Sweet Phenomena over the past couple of years {yes, in August Sweet Phenomena will be two!!!} about homeschooling planning.

I am not ashamed to tell you {or maybe I am, but either way, I’m going to tell you because I’m gonna keep it real} that I still don’t quite have a system down yet.  Something still falls through the cracks.

Things just aren’t working as smoothly as I know they can.

So it’s the time of year when I start thinking about our next year.

One thing that I know did work this year was our use of Dropbox to do daily schooling and plans.  That is on the road to success; that setup.

Well, I am so stinking thrilled to let you know my initial thoughts on the new My Well Planned Day software!!  It takes our Dropbox concept and puts it on steroids.

I want to note:  This is not a compensated review.  I just paid for this item myself, on a whim, deciding to give it a try.

Oh. Em. Gee.

This thing is awesome.  So.  Flipping.  Awesome.

It’s in beta right now, so you can’t even use all the awesome that will be come August when it’s fully released.

I just watched a recorded Q&A session, though, and they have amazing plans for this software.  They have thought of everything!!

I’ll be able to enter assignments in the software, and Babydoll will be able to log on as a student and access her stuff, same as we did with Dropbox.

They’re working to make assignment completion work with attendance tracking. Pure awesome.

Oh how I love it…

I also found three posts that have helped me immensely.  They’re over at The Planted Trees:

I haven’t delved into the week and day one yet, but the year one was immensely helpful.  I think I have  finally found a way to actually get school done in a simple, flexible way that also works with Vince’s schedule.

Only time will tell whether this works, but opening up the school year to a year-round schedule, marking off the dates that I know we’ll need off {Blissdom next year, camp, etc.}, and using a simple formula that she outlines in that post, I know exactly how many days we need to school a month.

They don’t have to be M-F each week.  I’m just too excited!  Plenty of time built in for goofing off, sick days, and more.

What do you use? What do you love? Do you school year-round?


TOS Sweet Critique: IXL



COST: $9.95/month or $79/year

RECOMMENDED AGES: Pre-K through early high school



IXL is an interactive site designed to help students practice math skills.

It covers Pre-K math through algebra.  Plans are in the works to also offer subjects such as geometry and trigonometry.

IXL Screen Samples

As children progress through each exercise, they earn awards that show up on a virtual game board.

IXL Awards and Games
Parents have access to a parent dashboard where they can view reports such as progress made over time, types of math completed, medals and awards earned, proficiency, and much more.

IXL Family Reports

IXL lists the follow benefits associated with membership in the program:


Babydoll isn’t a math lover.  At all.  So reviewing anything math-related can be a tough task for her.

IXL isn’t designed to be a play-all-the-time math game, it’s designed to be practice.  With any practice in an area you aren’t too fond of, there’s a certain amount of tedium.

Babydoll thought the awards system could use an overhaul.  She prefers to be able to “use” her awards in a system like this: plant a tree, buy a skirt, outfit an avatar.

I guess maybe it feels more gratifying to her after having to sit through math practice!

It may just be an age thing {she’s almost 10}, or perhaps just her personality, but this was her biggest issue with the program.  Uncovering pictures on a game board just wasn’t enough to hook her.

There is definitely an element of surprise on the themed game boards for each level, so other children may absolutely love uncovering items for each theme.

As a parent, I appreciated the parent dashboard.

When you’re using something like IXL, you need to know it’s working.  I need to be able to see proficiency and mastery, among other metrics, and in this IXL delivers.

I also liked it’s bright colors and fun graphics.

Definitely check it out if you’re in need of a more fun way to “drill” your child in math.  This just might do the trick.

They offer the option to practice for free {up to 20 questions per day} so you can see if it’s something that would work for your family before committing to membership.


True Confessions:  I was provided with a membership to this site in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.


TOS Sweet Critique: Pearson Homeschool myWorld Social Studies – Grade 5

Pearson Social Studies Grade 5

Pearson Homeschool LogoWHAT: Pearson Homeschool myWorld Social Studies – Grade 5

COST: $69.99




Pearson Homeschool has tried to provide homeschooling parents with curricula that makes use of a variety of learning methods:  game-like drills, videos, workbooks, and more.

They provide science, reading, language arts, math, and social studies products.

The myWorld social studies products are for Kindergarten through 6th grade, and cover reading maps, how the US came to be, historical figures, and more.  A focus is put on helping the student see how they fit into the communities they are a part of and how events and people are all related.

The myWorld bundle comes with a student worktext, myStory Video DVD-ROM, and Teacher’s Resource Library DVD-ROM.

Students are encouraged to write in the worktext as they circle, underline, write, and more to make the lesson real to them.  In addition, each lesson has a real-life story that relates to the material, making the lesson even more applicable to the student.

Video field trips are featured on the myStory Video and the Teacher’s Resource Library contains lesson plans, hands-on activity ideas, and much more.


Loved it!  Both of us!

This bundle marries everything Babydoll and I love in a curriculum:  workbooks, reading, multimedia learning, and projects.

The Worktext

The worktext is colorful and engaging.  And let’s face it, what child doesn’t like to write in their books?

The first thing the student is asked to do is to draw a picture of themselves and write their name on the cover.  Awesome.


Nine chapters cover aspects of Building Our Country such as The First Americans, Life in the Colonies, The American Revolution, and Civil War and Reconstruction.

Each lesson within a chapter contains the Big Question {or what the student will learn from that chapter}, vocabulary, reading passages, and questions they can answer right in the book.

The text contains a variety of questions as well:  categorization, drawing conclusions, cause and effect, etc.

Also {and one of my favorite parts!}, there are myStory Ideas throughout, and these, my friends, are so cool!  Your child can head to Tikatok and answer these questions, illustrate them, etc., and at the end of the book, if you so choose, you can print out your child’s work.  A year’s worth of stuff in a tidy little book that they’ve illustrated.  Win.

Another cool thing is the Stop! Wait! Go! section at the end of each lesson.  Your child can tell you to stop {because they need help with…}, wait {because they have a question about…}, or go {now they know…}.

And don’t forget the videos.  An icon throughout each lesson will tell you when there is a corresponding video for the lesson.

Each chapter ends with a study guide and review and assessment.

Pearson Social Studies Grade 5

The myStory Video DVD-ROM

The videos on this DVD are engaging and interesting.  Babydoll enjoyed watching them.

We’ve done electronic field trips before and love them.  While they’re not quite the real thing, they’re still really neat to view.

I think she found it a welcome break in the lesson.  She loves to read, but she also isn’t a fan of writing, so I think the videos provided just enough “fun” to keep her hooked.

The Teacher’s Resource Library DVD-ROM

This DVD has pretty much everything you’d need to teach these lessons.  Lesson plans, maps, extra activity ideas, it’s all there.

I’m torn, though.  While I love the idea of a small footprint and the shear magnitude of info on the DVD, I’m also  partial to print teacher’s guides.

Probably not a big deal, because of course I can print the items I need, but I am a workbook lover just like Babydoll

Final Thoughts

We enjoyed this product so much!  I actually can’t wait to take a look at other Crew reviews since some folks got to review things like Pearson’s reading product.

The product itself is a quality product {I can’t stop holding the worktext, there’s just something about it; it’s perfect!}, a wealth of information is covered, and it’s done in a fun, engaging, and relevant way.

My one disappointment was that some of the online activities mentioned within the work text are not available for homeschoolers.  Pearson did mention this in the guide that came with the materials, and I understand needing to be cost efficient.

Babydoll and I, however, are box-checkers, and we really wanted to complete the activities on the site.  I spoke with a Pearson rep and was told I could purchase a license on my own, which I eagerly wanted to do, but the sales rep I talked to didn’t know how to help me.

I’m sure that since this is something new for them, everyone isn’t quite sure what to do with us!


See what other members of the Crew thought about the Pearson products they reviewed by clicking the banner below.


True Confessions:  I was provided with a copy of this product in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  We really did enjoy it though!