Free Homeschool Curriculum for Hurricane Victims

Hurricane Harvey victims who use Seton Homeschool materials or Our Father’s World materials can contact these companies for free replacement materials. Our Father’s World will send free curriculum to anyone who lost ANY curriculum, from ANY publisher!

Please share this with anyone you know who needs this information.

If you would like to donate any of your used curriculum to help hurricane victims, you can also contact the Home School Foundation here. 

The Best Reason to Visit Kentucky

This past July we took a trip to Kentucky, fueled by our eleven-year old’s enthusiasm for all things Breyer. She had wanted to go to the Breyer Horse Festival for years. We figured, why not? We left in July, during the worst heat-wave of the year, and headed north. Our trip consisted of stopping to see the girls’ aunt and uncle in Atlanta on the way, and seeing The Ark Encounter.  On the way back we made a stop in Asheville, and, finally back home again. But this post will be about the Kentucky Horse Park and Old Friends Farm.

We knew we’d have an amazing trip, because this is what we saw before we left.

We left early on Thursday en route to Atlanta to see Aunt M and Uncle B along the way. We stayed the night in Atlanta and left the next morning, headed for Georgetown, KY!

Seeing this sign brought back so many memories for me! I went to college and graduate school not far from Saratoga Raceway, and lived there for ten years before moving to Florida. Every summer you’d find me standing by the rail, watching the horses race. I didn’t bet much, (what college student can afford it?) but I absolutely loved  going up to the track at dawn and having breakfast while watching the exercise jockeys work the horses. I can’t even say how many famous horses I saw run there.

Here we are at the Kentucky Horse Park!

We made it to the Kentucky Horse Park and the Breyer Festival 2016. We followed many cars and minivans in decorated with “Breyer Fest or Bust”. We were excited!

The Breyer Fest was a bit of a disappointment for us. I guess we were expecting more activities, and less spending opportunities, especially since the tickets to get in were not cheap. To this practical-minded mom, I saw it as a big outdoor Breyer store. My girls enjoyed browsing the shopping area, but we could have done that anywhere (or at home online!) The part that we enjoyed most was seeing the retired racehorses. And this led us to visit Old Friends Farm, which, lucky for us, was right down the road!

The sweet boy, Silver Charm

Old Friends Farm is a thoroughbred retirement home and is a beautiful place with a serene and happy energy. We called ahead to book our tour and when we arrived found that our group was very small (they keep them small so that visitors have an intimate experience with the horses). Our tour guide, Laura, was terrific and to our surprise we were joined by Michael, the owner and founder of the farm. The tour took about an hour and a half and we didn’t want it to end (even though we were in a once-in-every-few-decades-heat wave!)

Please read more about Michael Blowen here. If you ever wanted to support an organization, this would be the one!  The information we learned about each horse was incredible and I wish I had kept better records of who we saw, who we got to pet and love and feed. I know I saw some of these guys race at Saratoga years before.

I tried to keep up by making notes on my phone about each horse, but being the horse lover that I am, that quickly feel by the wayside; I didn’t want to miss a moment with these amazing animals, and I was right up front ready to stroke and feed and whisper sweet-nothings to these beauties.

Genuine Reward


Michael and Silver Charm

It was really fun for us to hear Michael’s story about how he got started rescuing these horses, and his love for them was palpable. I think if we lived in Kentucky, we’d definitely volunteer here!

We loved this farm and can’t wait to go back again.

Not Back to School Summit


Diane from the HECOA puts this on every year and it is fantastic! It is an online summit which includes speakers on topics such as teaching fractions, finding scholarships for your college-bound students and much more. Plus it’s FREE! The dates this year are September 6-20. 
Go here to sign up.

The Solar Eclipse – Are You Ready?

I’ve been getting emails from companies who want to sell me solar eclipse viewing glasses for months now, so we’ve been geared up and ready for quite a while. I remember seeing a solar eclipse in 1991 from my front porch in Albany, NY and it feels like yesterday.  Unlike today, all of us made pinhole glasses from paper towel rolls or shoe boxes and didn’t worry about retinal damage, or approved lenses or any other such thing.

There has been a lot of talk on Facebook this week about Amazon pulling glasses, and panic about which glasses are okay and which aren’t.  I bought some from Lowe’s several weeks ago. They were about two dollars a piece and thankfully, when I looked up the company, they are on on the approved list. 

Here’s everything you need to know to have a safe, and memorable homeschooling day!

You can find an approved list of viewing glasses here. 

How to make your own solar eclipse viewer using a shoe box. 

The 2017 Solar Eclipse: When, where and how to see it. 

Teaching Students About the Solar Eclipse – a link to an informative video. 

Free downloads and printables from NASA including maps, posters, fact sheet, safety bulletin and other materials.

Cool “make and take” activities – also from NASA. We love the edible model of the sun!

Dear Matt Walsh,

I had heard of Matt Walsh before, but I really don’t know how or why.  Perhaps because I am Catholic and he is too.  I did not know anything about his blog, nor was I aware of the blog called “The Blaze” until I saw this article of Matt’s in my Facebook feed the other day.  I have a lot to say about this article, and so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts with Matt and with you, dear readers. Feel free to comment, but please, let’s keep it charitable. 

​Dear Matt Walsh,
I want to talk to you about failure as it relates to educators and our public-school system.
I, too, am critical of the public-school system. I agree with you that kids need to be “saved” from it. I homeschool my own children, so that they do not have to be a part of the system, but I am also an educator and have been for almost thirty years.  I have spent time in many different public-school classrooms in two different states in both rural and urban areas, at all levels from elementary school to high school.  I have also taught in a state-funded college.

Over the years, witnessing so much brokenness caused me to consider briefly getting into educational leadership. I always dismissed this idea, because I know that adding another degree or title to my name isn’t going to help me change what needs changing. I do have respect for those who go into educational leadership. I think that they, just like teachers today, live a slave’s life, who have had their autonomy, their perceptions, and their actual cognizance seized by the very system that they labor for each day.

Let’s consider that some school systems actually do allow teachers, and principals and other educational leaders to lead and do what they were trained to do.  Even then, isn’t the term “educational expert” an oxymoron? I don’t ask this with sarcasm.  Let’s think about it: Much like parenting, educating is organic, a constantly flowing and changing activity because there are human people involved. 

As a culture, the debates around education rage, and are filled with judgment toward educators, and most of that judgment is coming from those on the outside. Our culture expects too much from educators. We don’t allow them the space to be vulnerable, to make mistakes. The space around education should be kept vulnerable and open to failure because that is where true learning and change takes place. 

Imagine that your daughter is in her elementary school classroom and is having trouble understanding division. She is trying her best and just can’t get it in the allotted time frame.  She really wants to cry because the rest of the class has finished and she still can’t get it.  She doesn’t cry though, because she looked at the clock and she knows that there isn’t enough time left for her to understand. Her teacher, while trying to help her during the allotted 45- minute time frame, apologizes and announces that time is up, they must move on to Reading because it is 1:40. Your daughter feels as if she has failed. Everyone, including the teacher, feels that she has failed because she “didn’t get it” in time. Your daughter swallows her sadness and continues on to Reading class. No more is said about math today.  Maybe no more will be said about it tomorrow.  This goes on for the entire year, and your daughter learns little. She is judged though.  Oh, is she judged! By herself, her peers, her teacher, her principal, and the entire town, because her ineptitude is counted toward the overall grade of the school.  Now it’s in the newspapers, and your daughter feels responsible for her school’s grade of “B” or “C.”  Your daughter is many kids.  Perhaps most kids who are victims of this system right now.

Unfortunately, her teacher isn’t allowed to show her own vulnerability, so why would your daughter be able to? Would she even know how to?  Success comes from failure. More “enlightened” adults would probably agree with this, however, are these adults putting this into practice in their own lives, their own workplace, their own parenting?  This certainly is not the motto in the public school system right now.

Let’s rewrite this story: Your daughter is having trouble in her elementary school math class today.  She just can’t understand division no matter how many ways her teacher demonstrates it. Her peers know that she is struggling and they all pitch in to help try to explain.  They know that “failure” is the gateway to learning, because their teacher expects failure.  Her teacher has explained that this is what “stretches” the brain, and her students know that this is how learning takes place. In fact, her teacher has told stories of times when she had failed in her schooling and in her career, and how these failures made her a better student and teacher.  Your daughter and her peers know that this is true, because they’ve all failed before and have come through it, unscarred and victorious.
Because your daughter’s teacher has revealed herself, and her vulnerabilities to your daughter and her class before, and because they know what kind of person she is, and trust her, your daughter had a breakthrough with division today.  Yes, the class lasted twenty minutes longer than the allotted forty-five minutes, and time will be stolen from the Reading class today, but your daughter got it. Isn’t that why you send her to school?

Matt, can you suspend the judgement for just a little bit, and consider that perhaps all the “bad” teachers that you talk about are doing the best they can within the parameters they are given? Can you consider that teachers no longer have “time” to create relationships with their students because of the constant need to keep up with the schedule so that the material that will be on the test can be covered? There is no room or time for failure, or for relationship building in any of this.
For a moment, can you consider the idea of working in a profession which does not allow you to fail? And certainly, those under your charge cannot fail.  How does this feel to you?  Can you consider the ramifications of this? Can you consider how it might make these professional people feel to work under such conditions?

I venture to say that most of these “bad” teachers that you know are completely disheartened because they are not allowed to engage in their passion anymore the way that they once were.  Perhaps this may look like apathy, perhaps this may look like “bad teaching”, or perhaps it simply looks like defeat.  These “bad teachers” and the special ones you deem “good” are slugging it out day in and day out trying to do what’s best for kids, while trying to earn a living so that they can do what’s best for their own kids: like feed and clothe them.

I am modifying a quote from Brene’ Brown here: Who we are is a much more accurate predictor about how our students will do than what we know or understand about the science of educating.  I hope that all those in the upper levels of educational leadership remember this when they continue to write their policies which are turning educators into robots, and children into the same.  

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