• “Schooling at Home”

    “Schooling at Home”

    Before I was a homeschooler, I was a mother. Motherhood is my first priority, and it took homeschooling for me to realize this. I also realized that homeschooling requires skill sets I have that I don’t use in motherhood and vice versa. 

    When I envisioned what education looked like for my kids, it was a school with a small classroom setting, with bright walls and engaging teachers. Programs and clubs would be easily accessible, and my only worry would be to remember to sign permission slips for field trips and technology. My kids would come home, I would support them with their homework, while cherishing the moments we had dinner as they would fill me in about their day. 

    I would have a great relationship with my children’s teachers and administration and we would be a team in ensuring my child’s academic success. On the weekends we would spend our time as a family enjoying all the things we were interested in. 

    This did not happen. 

    And here we are.

    I joked with my kids that I am now a homeschool educator now and not a homeschool mom and they all very seriously told me that it makes sense. 

    Which got me thinking…

    I need headphones. I need headphones.

    I say this because, when I started this journey I looked to everyone else for advice. I’m new at this,  I didn’t actually know how to do any of this. So, like every person who starts this journey, I typed in “how to homeschool” and the first several articles told me “do not school at home.”

    Researched on social media and it was the same, “deschool, do not school at home.” Do not replicate traditional school in your home. If you do that then you might as well just send them to school. And I listened and read these comments, telling myself that in order to be successful we would need to be the family that instilled education in all of books and every facet of our life. 

    And for the last couple years if I didn’t know anything else, I knew this; homeschooling is the liberation of education and to not replicate school at home, but also do what’s best for your family. 

    And as our journey continued, I kept tweaking at our homeschool, because from the outside looking in we were still trying to replicate school. Even though somewhere somebody is probably screaming “wrong wrong wrong.”

    But why such a bad rap? Why is replicating the education ideology we envisioned for our children seen to be so wrong?

    Here’s the thing. I have OCD/anxiety. I am secretly a Type A person who in a professional setting has excellent time management, communication skills, flexibility and a wonderful personality. My kids are the same. They need to know when we start and when we plan to stop. “What time is it, is it snack time, and what time is lunch?” How many more minutes is this lesson? Will this take all day? They all have planners and their days are outlined to the T.  Not because I forced it on them, but because they requested it. 

     When things are organized, well thought out, and planned, they thrive. If it’s open and shut, they excel. I’ve tried it all and nothing has beaten consistency, rigor, structure, and balance.

    In my home, my kids still explore their interests. We share different experiences. We loved to read and play board games and these things don’t necessarily need to be a part of our homeschool day, if they were already in place. In my home we pour over encyclopedias, excited about the new things we’ve discovered, determined to outdo each other.

    This is my family.

    We don’t need it to fall under a labeled umbrella.

    I’m not worried about whether or not they will learn life skills or if they will get to be children who do children things, because I am their mother.  

    The statistics in regards to education for black and brown people are staggering and heartbreaking. It glares at us every day, and for me and mine, we need to stare this bad boy down. Striving for academic success through structured lesson planning doesn’t mean confinement but a path to freedom. Knowledge IS power. Knowledge IS freedom.

    This does not mean that I do not carry immense respect for the Charlotte Mason’s and Waldorf learners of the world. I’m actually convinced those who understand Waldorf style of learning see in Pantone colors. I value those who fully live in their truth. 

    Now it’s time for me to live in mine. And to not be shamed for it, because that’s not fair. Especially, if I am rooting for you.  I root for all mothers who say “I”m doing this!” and nothing is going to stop me. If you have had the pleasure of chatting with me, you know this to be true. 

    We strive to start at the same time and end at the same time everyday. And it works for us.  And yes it follows a traditional school model. 

    I’m not ashamed.

    At the end of the day, I believe in the education system when it is done right. To me education will alway lead to the path of  freedom. Freedom to be courageous . Freedom to be brave. Freedom of choice. 

    I want the best for my children, and for our homeschool, the best looks like schooling at home.  

    I won’t feel bad about it because the words we tell ourselves matter. And the kindness, knowledge, and power I pour into my kids needs to be excellent if it’s coming from me. It needs to be the best. 

    And baby let me tell you, as a homeschool educator  who does school at home I am wonderful. I am inspiring. I am engaging. The work and research I put into this is starting to pay off. 

    If doing “school at home” works for you and your family, then as far as this community goes, that’s the point. Doing what is best for you and your family. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.

  • Oak Meadow

    Oak Meadow

    What if I told you there is a curriculum that checks all the boxes? Would you believe me?

    The one curriculum to rule them all…

    Click on the pics below to see what I thought of this interesting curriculum.

    Rhythms, Crafts, Songs, Stories and more!
    Preparing your child to living a enriched, fulfilled life.

  • Robby-The Drummer


    Has your child ever dreamed of piloting a giant robot to save the world? Or thought up a fantastic machine that would automate their chores? Maybe a robo-friend to adventure with? The world of robotics isn’t on that level yet, but your son or daughter could be the one to help develop the robots of the future.

    We received a Robby Drummer kit for our son which included all of the parts and tools needed, as well as 3 live online classes with an instructor, conveniently held in the evening, so there was minimal disruption to our daily schedule. Through these courses students learn through hands-on activity that involves both the hardware (building and calibrating the robot) and the software (programming/coding with C++) of robotics.

    If your child takes a shine to the kit, he can manipulate the code from the classes to change how the robot performs, or even purchase more parts and sensors to really take things to a new level. Additional classes to assist are available for purchase.

    As someone who has a limited understanding in robotics, I really appreciated the flow and ease of this program. The instructor Mr. Vinod Agrawal went through each step at a manageable pace with room for questions if you found yourself stuck. He was very patient with us, and the program used was efficient and easy.

    My son loved building Robby and was excited after the third class to show and tell us everything he learned. You can code Robby to make different drum combinations and it’s been a joy watching the gears, no pun intended, working in my son’s head as he tries to be more clever in coming up with different patterns.

    Riding this wave of pride and accomplishment, he just may become the future robotics master who makes that automatic laundry folder he’s been talking up. And I, for one, am all for it, ground-level, early bird, full kickstarter pledge investment!

    To find out more click on the link below!


  • Preschool Play “Seasons of Wonder”

    Preschool Play “Seasons of Wonder”

    Homeschool is a big deal. Maybe you are just getting started, sifting through far too many choices for curriculum, feeling like you’ve just walked into Home Depot because you need a bolt, but you’re really not sure how long it should be, or the diameter or anything. There are so many to choose from, and though they all have a perfectly good use somewhere, it is a mystery as to which one will help you hold your teaching journey together.

    Or, maybe you’ve been at it for a while. You know a good course when you see it, and what’s more, you value a curriculum that effectively reduces your mental load.

    Selecting coursework for a preschool student adds a new, challenging layer that isn’t always present with older children. Yes, you know how to play with your little one, but how do you make that fun productive, enriching, and catered towards preparing her for grade school?

    Oak Meadow effectively solves all of the aforementioned issues. The Seasons of Play curriculum sets you and your child up for success. You’ll find a pleasant variety of activities including stories, recipes, songs and games that will engage young minds and reinforce the themes of “Working Together,” “Caring for One Another,” “Diversity Makes Us Stronger,” “Community,” and “Kindness.” 

    There are no rigid lessons, and you are encouraged to modify the content to better suit your needs based on your family’s culture and time management. 

    Oak Meadow is presented in a way that a novice, or even completely inexperienced teacher, can effortlessly guide a young learner through the curriculum. By the end of the book your child will have grown emotionally, physically, and mentally. You can expect her to be well on her way to being a well-rounded person who is nicely prepared for moving into the next level of learning.

    My four year old has always been fiercely independent, making me long for the days when she was an infant, and depending on me for things. Connection and bonding become immediately sought after when exploring various different pre-k curriculums. I also wanted a curriculum that would continue to encourage her independence by transitioning her into rhythms to be included into our day to day. And of course finding something that encourages her ability to problem solve and expand her imagination through play. 

    My order was large and this curriculum has fit the bill. I find myself looking forward to each lesson as my relationship with my toddler strengthens and grows. Listening to her laughter and watching the gears in her mind turn as she learns is one of the highlights of my day. I love the gentle approach of encouraging your toddlers to create and stick to a schedule that works not just for the toddler but the whole family. Creating beautiful core memories is all any parent wants. This is truly an excellent start to any young child’s educational journey and makes an excellent addition to your homeschool.

  • Saxon Algebra 1/2

    Saxon Algebra 1/2

    By the words of John Saxon, the author of Algebra ½, “algebra is not difficult. Algebra is just different.” So, when you and your child skim this textbook and see what looks like walls of cryptic code like something out of The Matrix, fear not! At first glance, I thought we would be thrown into a cold and dry journey of despair, where we are introduced to a concept and then slog through sample problems. To the contrary, the curriculum is actually a carefully crafted course that incrementally builds upon concepts in order to avoid overwhelming the student.

    There is an understanding that students will make mistakes. To combat this, the problem sets are extensive. As we all know, practice makes perfect, and to ensure that this practice is effective, students can check their work with the odds-only answer key in the back of the textbook. As the instructor, you can further check the work with the full answer book. 

    Be aware, this curriculum is not self-guided. You will need to understand each chapter and concept before attempting to teach your child. 

    The beauty of homeschooling allows us to move at a pace best suited for our children. As someone who loves Algebra, it would be amazing if my daughter was at this level of math, however she is at grade level and we are not yet ready to use this math. Just flipping through the book makes me excited and gives me a bit of nostalgia for learning  these topics all over again. Even though the book is self-guided, everything is pretty straightforward, and efficient.

  • Oak Meadow Civics

    Oak Meadow Civics

    Disclaimer: I received these complimentary products for my honest review.

    The year is 2022. What subjects might you decide are most important for your children to learn? Of course there are the classics: math, science, English… but given the circumstances that we all currently live in, social studies/civics is rising in importance by the day. Regardless of one’s politics, it is inarguably important to be, as this curriculum puts it, an Informed Citizen. In order to make decisions, find one’s place in the world, understand and respect others, and solve problems, a keen comprehension of civics is essential.

    What’s very intriguing about the Civics coursebook is from the beginning this course expects your child to be accountable for time management. She is encouraged to skim the text and assignments in order to understand the length and scope of each lesson. The readings can look overwhelming at times, but even the denser passages are made manageable by means of subdivisions and the Leigh lighting of key words.

    As a parent, my biggest worry for my children is how will they do on their own when they’re adults. I want to believe I’m teaching them all the necessary skills to lead fulfilling lives. Starting these Civic lessons have been a huge help in allowing my daughter to understand real world concepts. I appreciate the lessons on being Independent that include understanding one’s finances as well as the decision making lesson that focuses on how to set goals.

    My daughter is writing out her school goals for the year.

    The coursebook provides a year’s worth of study, and through concise readings, discussion prompts and other activities, the self-guided work should leave the student with the ability to navigate the unique world in which we live. You can expect your child to emerge from this curriculum as a well-rounded person. Students learn about the foundations of government, respect for themselves and others, landmark cases, such as Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. The Board of Education, how to consume media and news in a thoughtful and critical manner, and more.

    Click here for Part 4 Saxon Math Algebra 1/2 Review

    Check out what other members of the squad thought of Oak Meadow by clicking on the banner.
  • Oak Meadow Physical Science

    Oak Meadow Physical Science

    Disclaimer: I received this complimentary product for my honest review.

    You likely understand the importance of your child understanding how the world around them works. Learning all about physics is a perfect way to allow her to discover the answer to so many “Whys?”. But are you prepared to impart this knowledge? Sure, you know the states of matter and how to explain I’ve, water and steam. If you enjoyed science in school you can recite Newton’s three laws of motion. Can you explain why water and oil don’t mix? The laws of thermodynamics? Sound waves. Light waves? Bernoulli’s principle?

    There are so many concepts in physics, some which most of us can teach, some for which we provide guidance, and others which exist in a strange, out-of-reach zone that only specialists have access to. Fear not, though, Oak Meadow has an all encompassing curriculum that covers all the physics that you and your student can wrap your heads around. 

    To be completed over the course of one year, the course book and lab manual (which is sold separately) cover an impressively wide variety of topics, which will surely leave students quite knowledgeable about physics. They are encouraged to think critically and thoroughly, just as a professional scientist would. This is not a course full of fun facts and novel experiments. Rather, it is a full-fledged program that requires focus, time management, and discipline to complete. This is not to say that the experience must be difficult. The coursebook is is written in approachable language, and all technical terms are highlighted to ensure that key concepts receive the attention they require,

    Lessons include labs, activities, critical thinking assignments/questions, tests, and lengthy readings that contain all of the information needed to complete and understand the work. Students are encouraged to skim all of the content of each lesson before they begin, which does indeed help to provide direction and avoid becoming overwhelmed.

    For us, I really wanted to lend as much time as possible to each lesson. I start every lesson by introducing the subject and breaking down the labs and activities throughout the week. I really love how engaged my daughter is when we take our time and dig into the lesson. After we finish her excitement for learning is renewed even with the challenge of these lessons  present.

    This curriculum may be one of the most challenging that encounter during your homeschool journey, but you should feel confident that you and your child will come out on top, wielding a vast array of scientific knowledge that allows for a strong comprehension of the physical world and the ability to apply advanced thought and scientific methods to answer any new question or conundrum encountered.

    Check out Part 3 of Oak Meadow Civics review!

  • Oak Meadow English

    Oak Meadow English

    Disclaimer: I received this complimentary product from Melanated Gold Review Squad in exchange for my honest review.

    Some, myself included, would assert that the very best way for a child to obtain and grow excellent English skills is to focus on reading. And truly, this concept does make perfect sense. Rather than learn from the relatively narrow scope of a single teacher, exposing a child to several skilled authors and their award winning work allows her to learn from the best. Oak Meadow takes this concept and, through a self-guided curriculum, seeks to hone reading and writing skills by means of studying literature, journaling, vocabulary exercises, and more. 

    According to their website Oak Meadow encourages students to become more independent in their learning by “looking inward while also exploring the outer world in greater depth.”

    While the parent may still continue to direct their child through specific lessons, the responsibility of how much work is completed per lesson falls on the child. The coursebook is loaded with an appropriate amount of tools including checklist, planning pages and assessment allowing the child to take accountability for their work.

    Included with the program are two books that add a lot of value to this package. “100 Ways to Improve Your Composition and Creative Writing” is full of exercises that will allow your child to develop strong writing skills by exploring a variety of writing styles and challenging prompts. “The Elements of Style” is a more formal tool. This book serves as a sort of rule book for writing. Much of the content is dedicated to correcting common mistakes to ensure that your student’s writing is clear, concise, and uses the proper words or phrases. I recommend that instructors read through his text as well. You’ll likely discover that you have some mistakes in your speech and writing too. 

    As well as the two books included above, Oak Meadow also offers grade appropriate books with an adequate exposure to supporting a vast vocabulary while building on emotional intelligence through their selection. Each book is meant to engage and really hone in on your child’s critical thinking skills through discussion and supportive graphic organizers to encourage clear concise thoughts. 

    Our journey started with Oak Meadow last year when a friend was kind enough to give their Grade 4 ELA curriculum to us after listening to me vent my frustrations for a gentle but effective approach to writing for my son. I instantly fell in love with how the lessons were not only set-up with scaffolded lessons but also lessons focused on motivating him to look beyond his own world.  As a mom to a gifted ELA learner, I wondered how Oak Meadow would stack up to other curriculums often leaving my child feeling uninspired. When it comes to ELA my daughter has always been ahead of the curve. Her excitement in reading and writing was often overshadowed by the pace of her curriculums not being challenging enough. This along with helping my daughter find a renewed joy in learning is why I immediately jumped on board to review Grade 8. 


    While I certainly wouldn’t recommend the curriculum to be used beyond the grade your child is in, I have been pleasantly surprised with how Oak Meadow’s approach has kept my child engaged, while offering the necessary challenges my daughter desperately needed. Something I have noticed is the amount of writing increases more and more per grade. According to my district my daughter is in Grade 6 so the writing was a bit of a shock for my daughter. However, because the middle school grades allow the child to set the pace, once my daughter got over her initial shock I have been pleased with how she worked to make this curriculum work for her at a pace she is most comfortable with.  Seeing the joy on her face, as she works through her writing opportunities, feels my heart with love. Oak Meadow truly understands the difference between instant gratification and developing a profound joy of learning. For us, the ELA portion of Oak Meadow was meant to be used to confront the issues my daughter has faced with being a gifted ELA learner by using this program biweekly. However, I find my daughter being drawn to this curriculum more and more as the year progresses.

    You can trust that Oak Meadow will serve as a full year’s worth of curriculum that will enrich your students with quality literature and refine their writing skills.

    Click Here to check out Part 2 of Oak Meadow Physical Science Review

    Check out what other squad members think of Oak Meadow, by clicking on the banner!
  • The Power of Trust

    The Power of Trust

    One of the “luxuries” of having a baby is beautiful sleep deprivation. It’s something I forgot after having my fourth child. At night, proceeding every feeding, my daughter would wake up after two hours. As the newborn weeks continued, it felt like getting more than two hours seemed impossible, especially because with my last three kids I supplemented with formula. Doing this allowed me to sleep for 3-4 hours. However, with a formula shortage…


    But three months later, I’m still breastfeeding and my baby is sleeping 5 to 6 hours at night. I trusted the process. 

    So what does this have to with homeschool and motherhood?

    Well, I’ve been reflecting over my journey as a mother and homeschooler these last few years. I would be lying if I didn’t say that among other things, the experience taken away my ability to trust. Trust in humanity, trust in certain relationships, trust in myself, but more importantly trust the process. 

    This distrust has manifested in my homeschool because homeschool in our world isn’t normal. When our kids were going to a brick and mortar, I knew my role as a parent while expecting someone else to know how to educate my children. But with the lack of resources and a pandemic, I decided we would try homeschooling for two years. Now, with this being my third year, I realize how important it is to have trust. 

    A common thread I see in the homeschool community is if something is hard, or our kids don’t instantly take to a curriculum, we immediately toss it. The homeschool motto seems to me to foster the joy of learning, but what if that joy can only be attained through consistency? Not to mention that just as we need to give things time, so do our children. How often do we forget to distinguish their frustration as just a normal human response to being a kid who doesn’t want to learn or try new things in the moment?

    The same can be said in motherhood. It’s hard, but when we continue to doubt our abilities, we open our homes up to no longer being a place of comfort but one of tasks and work. Motherhood can be beautiful, but it can also be riddled with hard moments. I realize those hard moments only define us if we let them. But if we look at it as only a bump in the road, the growth achieve allows us to excel.

    So what is the hold up? If I can wait for a skin regimen to work and make me look 25 again, then I should be able to trust that my children can do hard things- we just have to give it time and trust the process.

  • Living Harmonies

    Living Harmonies

    This is a complimentary review for Melanated Review Squad. I purchased this curriculum with my own money to use in my homeschool.

    If you and your children want to experience a world tour of music discovery, then you had better grab your passport, thousands of dollars for travel expenses, and a team of knowledgeable guides. Or, you can take a more reasonable and measured approach by utilizing Living Harmonies from Thistles and Biscuits. This year-long curriculum covers ten musical genres that span the globe, providing the opportunity to objectively and subjectively experience an exciting variety of music. I can almost promise that you and your students have not been exposed to every type of music presented. In fact, we were not even remotely familiar with several of the genres. But moving through the workbook gives an overview and history of each style, followed by a more in-depth exploration of the instruments and techniques used, rounded out with examples of notable composers and performers. Each of these journeys is supported by a slew of YouTube links so that everyone can better understand what the text is describing. Questions and prompts encourage students to reflect upon and think critically and creatively about what they have learned.

    Overall, this curriculum is enriched with so much culture, which keeps your students engaged the entire time. 

    Homeschooling three kids requires a lot of prep and planning and I love how this curriculum provides various rabbit trails to explore, allowing us to decide how much we want to learn. This year in our homeschool, I really wanted to take our time to explore each genre. I really want to take our time exploring different genres this year.

    What better way to start than with the Jazz era?!

    We used Living Harmonies to first introduce the genre. Using the many links provided, we were immediately transported into the Jazz age, listening to John Coltrane’s arrangements, Thelonious Monk, and more. After we went over the components of Jazz, my kids each selected a musical instrument to research and explore. I then assigned each child with a musician from the Jazz era. 

    As we wrap up our final projects and presentations next week, I am so grateful and appreciative of the work Betsy and her husband have put into this beautiful curriculum. 

    To see what other squad members thought of Living Harmonies click on the banner!

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