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Welcome to the Homeschool Better Together Podcast, where we explore building a joyful homeschool experience for your family. In this episode, host Pam Barnhill shares four practical tips that will help you move from feeling overwhelmed to prepared; ensuring your homeschooling days are filled with curiosity, excitement, and wonder. Whether it’s planning amazing field trips, following your kids’ interests with a Wonder Wall, or incorporating morning basket time into your routine, this episode has you covered.

Listen in for practical tips on selecting the best resources, making your homeschool both orderly and enriching and creating an environment tailored to the interests of your children. Let’s step out of the overwhelm and into the joy of learning together!

Pam Barnhill [00:00:01]:
Are you ready for homeschooling to feel joyful again? Do you long for support as you learn alongside your kids? Welcome to Homeschool Better Together, a podcast about building a homeschool experience that works for your family. I’m Pam Barnhill, and it’s time to step out of the overwhelm and into the wonder. Let’s do this. Hey there, friend. Welcome to the podcast today. I don’t know about you, but I am right in the middle of choosing curriculum for the new school year. This is a big thing that I do in May June. So, like, I’m knee deep in doing it right now.

Pam Barnhill [00:00:48]:
Now one of the things that I always like to remember is that choosing curriculum for my school year is actually step number 4 in my planning process. Well, technically, it’s like 3B but there are 3 steps that come before choosing my curriculum for the school year each year. The first step for me is reviewing my homeschool vision. I wrote my homeschool vision over 10 years ago, and so all I have to do each year is review it. So that’s step number 1. Step number 2 is writing goals for each one of my students. What are the very specific things that I want to hone in on for my students to do this year? And then the third step is choosing what classes we’re going to be doing in our homeschool. Because, you know, as homeschoolers, we actually have the freedom to make that choice.

Pam Barnhill [00:01:39]:
We do not have to do what the public school or the private school down the road is doing. So it’s only after I’ve done those three steps that I will actually begin looking at curriculum for my school year. So if you have any questions about any of those 3 steps or the 7 other steps that come after that for putting your home school year on autopilot, check out the link to put your home school year on autopilot in the show notes. Okay. So now I wanna move into today’s topic for the podcast, and we’re going to be talking about how can we add more wonder to our homeschool through the process of homeschool planning. Now if you’ve been listening for very long, you know I am a big proponent of homeschool planning. Planning equals preparedness. We are prepared for the good days, prepared for the days that we get up feeling like we can conquer the world and we wanna do school.

Pam Barnhill [00:02:37]:
We also are prepared for the not so good days. We have something to do prepared when we wake up in the morning, so our days don’t devolve into chaos. Wonder is something that we want in our homeschool. I’m about to define it for you. And planning helps us create these situations where we can have more wonder. There’s a fabulous quote by GK Chesterton. He said, the world will never lack for wonders, but it lacks for wonder. Okay.

Pam Barnhill [00:03:17]:
I paraphrase that. That was a horrible paraphrase of that quote. But, basically, the idea is, you know, there are so many wonders in the world around us, but we fail to wonder at them. So how can we bring more wonder into our lives? And so when we talk about wonder in our homeschool, we’re not talking about the noun. We’re not talking about these big, gasping moments that you kinda have to go seek out or create. We’re talking instead about the verb wonder. Like, how are we gonna create these moments where we are observing and thinking about and wondering about the world around us. And so that’s what we’re trying to do when we talk about adding wonder to our homeschool is this act of wondering that we are doing together with our kids.

Pam Barnhill [00:04:09]:
So I’ve got 4 different ways that creating a homeschool plan and doing some planning is actually going to help you bring more wonder into your homeschool. And the first thing is to get intentional because it’s really good to say, well, we’re just gonna have more wonder in our homeschool next year. Our, you know, our homeschool last year was a little ho It was a little dry. Everybody got a little bored. Like, we’re missing the spark. We’re missing the really great, fabulous, fun, awesome, joyful, wonder filled things that we wanted to homeschool for. So we need more of that. But just saying that is not going to help you get there.

Pam Barnhill [00:04:49]:
You actually to be a little bit intentional or a lot intentional about adding wonder to your homeschool day. So that’s the very first thing. You’re going to want to include wonder in your vision, or you want to include wonder in your goals for the year. Like, we are going to actively seek out and set up situations where we can practice wonder in our homeschool. And so that is part of creating those that vision for yourself or creating those goals that I alluded to earlier. So you’ve got to make it intentional, which means number 2, and this is the second way that planning can help you, is you have to add it to your schedule. So if we’re getting intentional and we’re adding this to our vision and we’re making goals for it, the next step is to actually put it in our schedule for the month, for the week, or on the daily. Right? And so you could set aside time in advance, and you could say, you know what? In order to create more situations where we can experience wonder in our homeschool, we’re gonna take more field trips this year.

Pam Barnhill [00:06:02]:
So sit down in the summer and brainstorm, come up with a list of all the different field trips that you would wanna take, and go ahead and set aside a day very intentionally in your home school each month that you’re going to take this field trip. Now planning people are afraid of planning. They’re like, oh, Pam. I could do that, but, like, something would come up and totally mess up that day. But you’ve still planned the trip. So even if the day gets moved to another day, you’ve got the plans made, and you’re ready to go. You have all the information you need. You know the ticket prices.

Pam Barnhill [00:06:36]:
You know where you’re supposed to go. You know how long it takes to get there, those kinds of things. So go ahead and make the plan. Even if the day gets bumped a little bit, you are still prepared because, remember, planning is preparedness to take that trip. Whereas if you never did the preparation in advance, if the day got bumped, you would probably just say, what Why am I gonna even bother? I’m not even gonna bother to take this trip. But if you’ve prepared ahead of time, you’re more likely to take the trip even if the day gets bumped. So go ahead and look at some different times of the year when it might be good for you to take a field trip. I know here in the south, we like to take field trips in the fall and in the spring and even in the wintertime.

Pam Barnhill [00:07:17]:
And up north, you guys probably like to take them at opposite times a year. So think about things like the weather and whether or not friends could go with you and what kind of different displays are coming to the museums near you that you might want to take in and and all of those different kinds of things. And go ahead and get some of those trips on your calendar. And so that’s how you would work Wunder into your schedule once a month. Another thing that you could do is work wonder into your schedule once a week or once every 2 weeks, so once every other week. And you could do this by taking shorter day trips around your town. You know? Oh, we’re gonna go to the pond every other week and meet friends there, and we’re going to do nature study or look at the pond life. My friend Heather Tully leads a nature walk group in her home in Georgia in the Atlanta area.

Pam Barnhill [00:08:11]:
Actually, she doesn’t lead it in her home. She leads it in all of the different parks and trails around that. And so they meet up once or twice a month and go out and do all of those great things together. So that’s another way that you could work wander into your schedule once a week or once every other week. You could also just have a day in your homeschool, every single week or every other week, where this is the day we’re going to do some of these wonder activities in our homeschool. These are the days that we’re gonna do music or we’re gonna do, bigger art project, or we’re going to follow some of the kids’ interests, and we’re gonna talk more about those in a few minutes. But you could just set aside time being intentional, working it into your schedule, that we are going to make time for wonder once a week or once every other week. And there are a lot of families in our Your Morning Basket Plus program that do that, where they set aside one day a week where they’re working on our monthly explorations topic and just having fun with that topic.

Pam Barnhill [00:09:16]:
Last month, it was India. A few months ago, it was engineering. It was mountains. It was confections. We always do something seasonal around the holidays. And so once a week is a great way to fit those different kinds of interesting studies into your homeschool. And then what if you want to practice wonder daily? That is so easy to do by having a morning basket. And so even if you just do one thing each day to add just a little bit of wonder to your school day, it is so easily scheduled in during your morning basket time.

Pam Barnhill [00:09:56]:
And so we’ve done this by reading math poetry in our morning time. My kids really loved that. Another thing that we do is we get the explorations text from the Your Morning Basket Plus membership. And so every morning, I get a text on my phone, and I just have to follow the link in the text. And we listen to an interesting piece of music, or we look at some fascinating artwork, or we follow the rabbit trail of a video, and it’s just lots of fun for even my teenagers to continue to study those topics and and kind of find out all of that fascinating stuff. Couple of years ago, we read Halliburton’s marvels during our morning time, and that was a way that we added a little bit of wonder to our homeschool day. So scheduling it in either monthly, every other week, weekly, or every day by using a morning basket, those are four different layers of scheduling wonder into your homeschool. But you’ve got to be intentional about it and set aside time for that wonder from the very beginning.

Pam Barnhill [00:11:07]:
So the third tip I have for you is to follow your kids’ interests when it comes to wonder. So one of the things that we would do, I would typically do it in about April or May of each school year, was I would hang up a big piece of butcher paper, and we called it our wonder wall. And what the kids were able to do is then go over the next couple of months and add topics that they wanted to study to the wonder wall. And so I was actually scrolling my phone not too long ago, and a picture of one of our old wonder walls popped up. And one of the things there were things on there like poetry, mythology was on there, and that actually became our major literature topic for the following year. But another thing that was on there was battle practices of the Romans, and I thought that was so funny. That was such a great topic, obviously. I think Thomas was the one who put it on there.

Pam Barnhill [00:12:04]:
And we were just talking about that yesterday. His dad and I took him to lunch, and they were talking about studying military history next year. And the the battle practices of the Romans came up again. And so his dad’s gonna have to help him with that one, or I’m gonna have to get a really good book because I know very little about that topic, but it’s coming up. This is what he would like to study. Mythology got put on there. That was something that Olivia wanted to study. Poetry got put on there.

Pam Barnhill [00:12:33]:
World building got put on there. So just all different kinds of topics. There were probably 20 or 30 different topics written on that sheet. Then what I would do is I would use that piece of paper to inform what we were going to study the next year. And because we had some conversations about mythology and what kind of mythology the kids liked, and everybody was really kind of keen on that topic as a group. That was what we studied in Olivia’s 10th grade year. And so we did a whole study on world mythology. We read some Norse mythology aloud.

Pam Barnhill [00:13:13]:
We read Greek mythology aloud. We read some Roman mythology, and then we studied independently some world mythology and and different kinds of things like that. And that all came out of that wonder wall that I had put up where the kids could write all of their topics on there. Now you might be thinking, well, Pam, I could put that up any time of year and follow my kids’ interests anytime. What does this have to do with planning? And I think the most important part about getting these topic ideas ahead of time in April, May, June, or July, perfect for right now at this time of year, is that then once you know what some of these topics are and you don’t have to do what I did. You don’t have to study mythology for the entire year. You could just say, oh, we’re gonna do October is gonna be mythology month. We’re gonna study mythology for a month or something in our homeschool.

Pam Barnhill [00:14:08]:
Then it allows you the opportunity to go ahead and get the best resources. Because I will tell you, the kinds of books that you choose, the kinds of resources that you choose can make or break your study. I’m a big fan of living books, these books that are really well written, not just going down to the library. I mean, it’s really such a sad state of our public libraries these days that they often do not carry the best books. The books are often shallow and not really well written. And so you kind of have to spend a little bit of extra time and energy perusing book lists, checking out book lists online. We certainly have a lot on our website and finding the best books and the best resources for any particular topic. And so by kind of talking about these ahead of time, it doesn’t mean that you can’t ever be spontaneous, that you can’t ever choose to follow a rabbit trail, but it does give you the time to prepare and get those topics prepared ahead of time and get those resources chosen ahead of time.

Pam Barnhill [00:15:19]:
And I tell you, our moms are so great about this in our homeschool better together community. You often see a mom asking, like, hey. We’re gonna be studying mythology next year. We’re gonna be studying rocks next year. We’re gonna be studying weather next year. What are the best resources? We’re gonna be studying birds, and then other moms will come in and say, oh, there’s this game or there’s this app or there are this series of YouTube videos or you definitely need to check out this book or that book. And so by crowdsourcing like that, we come up with really some of the best, most inspiring, wonder filled resources to use in your homeschool. And so that’s kind of number four.

Pam Barnhill [00:15:58]:
This is why we plan ahead is because we want to get the best books and the best resources about what they are writing about and putting them in touch with authors who are passionate about what they are writing about and putting them in touch with some of the really fun resources that are out there. And that was something that always inspired my kids with Wonder. So there you go. Four things. First of all, get intentional with your wonder. Say, this is the year we’re gonna do it and actually make it a goal for your homeschool year. Move to adding it to your schedule, whether that be monthly, weekly, biweekly, daily. Go ahead and prepare ahead of time.

Pam Barnhill [00:16:45]:
Ask your kids what their interests are. What are the things that they want to learn? And you can make a whole year study out of it. You can make a month study, a two month study. And then finally, because you have done that ahead of time, you’re going to be able to get some of the best books and best resources, videos, games, those kinds of things to use for those studies. And be sure to come into the Homeschool Better Together community and ask about those and crowdsource them. So there you go. That’s how to add more wonder to your homeschool and how homeschool planning can help you do that. Now if you are looking for more homeschool planning help, we actually have a little course called order and wonder, and it is the whole point behind the course is to help you plan out these interest based wonder filled homeschool days while still feeling confident that you are checking all the boxes that you need to check and covering everything that you need to cover for your students.

Pam Barnhill [00:17:47]:
And so we’ll include a link to Order and Wonder for you in the show notes for this episode as well. Alright. We’ll be back again next week to talk about more homeschool planning. Thanks so much for joining me. That’s our show for today. Be sure to follow, resources, and learn even more about the homeschooling better together resources and to join our free community, visit hsbtpodcast.com. Until next week, keep stepping out of the overwhelm and into the wonder.

Links and Resources From Today’s Show

Complete Book Of MarvelsComplete Book Of MarvelsComplete Book Of Marvels

 

Key Ideas About Bringing More Wonder Into Your Homeschool

  • Discover the structured approach to choosing curriculum as the fourth step in homeschooling planning, detailing the prior steps including reviewing the homeschool vision and setting specific student goals.
  • Learn how to incorporate wonder into your homeschool planning, focusing on creating opportunities for children to wonder about the world rather than only experiencing big, awe-inspiring moments.
  • Understand the importance of intentionality in your homeschool vision and goals, specifically how setting specific aims for introducing wonder can transform your educational environment.
  • Explore practical scheduling strategies to include wonder regularly, whether through field trips, weekly or biweekly wonder activities, or daily morning basket routines.
  • Get insights on following your children’s interests by creating a Wonder Wall, allowing them to contribute topics they are curious about and using this input to plan engaging studies.
  • Hear suggestions for preparing ahead to gather the best resources, such as highly-recommended books, videos, and games, ensuring these materials are enriching and inspiring for your children.
  • Learn about the benefits of leveraging the Homeschool Better Together community to crowdsource recommendations, helping you find high-quality educational tools and foster a collaborative learning experience.

Find What You Want to Hear

  • [00:01] Introduction
  • [1:08] Overview of Pam’s planning process
  • [2:03] How Autopilot program can help
  • [2:06] Intro. to podcast topic – Wonder 
  • [4:11] Four different ways to introduce wonder
  • [4:19] Step one – get intentional 
  • [4:29] Step two – add to your schedule 
  • [11:07] Step three – follow your kids’ interests 
  • [15:58] Step four – plan ahead 
  • [17:48] Closing
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