homeschool tips


No really, welcome to the greatest adventure in the galaxy. Hold on, because it’s sure to be a wild ride. But I promise it’s not one you’ll regret.


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Hey there! I’m Nichole and I’m so glad that you’ve arrived here. Where is here? Well, it’s my little corner of the internet where I share our homeschool journey and general shenanigans. We’ve been at this for six years already, and it just keeps getting better. The longer we’ve been on this path the more that I’ve realized it’s more like “life-schooling” than homeschooling because it’s impossible to separate homeschool from our daily life. Real world, practical learning opportunities are everywhere, and it won’t be long until your eyes and heart are attuned to notice them too. It’s also about all of the precious time and connection I have gained with my children as a result of our choices. In our homeschool, we believe in spending large amounts of time outside in nature, immersive and hands-on learning experiences, immersing ourselves in great literature, and cherishing the connections we make with our children and the world around us.


homeschool curriculum arkansas crystal vista


What is this then?

So, what’s this post about? It is essentially a list. A long, detailed, list. This is not a “how to homeschool” post because I can’t answer that for you. The other thing I’ve noticed along this journey is just how unique each family’s homeschool can be. What I do may not work best for your family, and that is completely okay. But, maybe it will!  If you’d like to learn more about the “how to” check out my video on Instagram explaining my TOP FIVE tips for getting started with homeschooling, plus a list of the homeschool curriculum we have used. I hope it helps you and brings a little peace of mind for your process.

NOTE – the hallmark of our homeschool is experience based learning. Field trips, road trips, nature hikes, adventures to the woods and waterfalls, to art museums or concert halls. That will look different for us this year, just as the year ahead look different for so many of you. 

NOTE^2 – You don’t need a beautiful space to homeschool in. You don’t need the nature poster or the perfect blackboard. You don’t need the beeswax crayons or the wooden number charts. All your children need is YOU and your willingness to connect with them. It’s about building presence in each other’s life and recognizing the beautiful memories you’re making, in the moments you’re making them. 


homeschool resource list pinterest


The list.

Now, let’s get on with the list, shall we? I’m going to share a year-by-year breakdown of EVERY homeschool curriculum or enrichment item we used for our schooling. This list will be comprehensive, but not so much descriptive. So, if you have further questions about anything listed, please don’t hesitate to ask me. DM via Instagram is the quickest way to reach me. Email is great too.

Before we begin, I encourage you to spend some time doing your research. There are so many books available to help guide you and give wisdom for the journey. The books that had the most profound impact on me can be found HERE. To learn more about different styles of homeschool check out Homegrown Learners (especially their Instagram page) and Cathy Duffy Reviews. Many of my homeschooling resources reflect a Christian worldview. For secular resources, I’d suggest browsing the amazing list put together by The Secular Homeschooler. 


bookshelf homeschool books homeschooling


Pre-school/first year homeschooling.

My son attended a private school for about half a year before we decided to homeschool. Our first year, I followed the recommendations of some veteran homeschoolers in my social circles and used the “big box” homeschool curriculum. It did not go well for us because it went against my teaching style (which I finally figured out our second year of homeschooling). The second part of our first year was more unschooling, lots of time outside, and free play. That said, here is what we used for our first year:

  1. Alpha Omega – Horizons program.
  2. Lots of kid- friendly art supplies. 
  3. Tons of picture books (check out the book lists from Read Aloud Revival).


NOTE – I firmly believe that the business of childhood is PLAY and play based learning is the best thing for children aged 6 and under. Lots of time outside, creating in various forms, and reading great picture books (in my opinion) is all that’s needed in those very early education years. 


first day of homeschool


Second year.

This year my son started kindergarten (age 5) and I was just trying to keep my daughter busy (she was 2). For our second year homeschooling, I ditched an organized homeschool curriculum, instead I focused on creating a few of my own unit studies and unschooling. Some of our unit studies were: Space, the ocean, insects, dogs, and how many times could I read Dragons Love Tacos without losing my mind. To be honest, it was a tough year. I was floundering to find my footing. But, we found a rhythm eventually and here are a few of the things we used for our second year:

  1. Teachers Pay Teachers – this website is GOLD. These are curriculum made by teachers, for teachers. Many are free and some are paid. I used many of those printables to create “busy bags” for my daughter to keep her occupied while I worked with my son. There’s more about those in a “Homeschool” highlight story on my Instagram page.
  2. A laminator – trust me. This is a homeschool family’s rite of passage. Laminate all the things. You’ll use it often. Eventually it will a) break or b) you’ll forget about it. I used it to laminate sheets for both of my kids to draw on with dry erase markers – handwriting practice, tracing, silly faces, doodles, mazes, etc. I bought workbooks and laminated the pages so I could re-use them with my daughter when she was old enough.
  3. These wooden sets from Hobby Lobby.
  4. These “Welcome to the Museum” series of books. They are beautiful and I’ll treasure them forever.
  5. Pinterest. I’m not even going to link anything here. There’s so much there. Just search whatever topic you want to learn about and you’ll find TONS of resources.
  6. Star Wars Workbooks – These are available in different subjects and age levels, they’re great for any Star Wars loving child. (disclaimer: our son didn’t actually see Star Wars until he turned 8).
  7. Busy bags and logic puzzles. Some I bought, some that I made – see a list HERE.
  8. LOTS of NASA live broadcasts and all the space books we could get our hands on.


NOTE – The busy bags, logic puzzles, plus a few toys and games were put away in bins to be used ONLY during school time. That helped to differentiate “school time” for my youngest. Plus, it helped keep their interest fresh when they got to play with toys that were not readily available every day. 


homeschool room preschool easel


Third year.

At the end of our second year, I discovered Wild + Free. I walked into my first conference that fall, not knowing anyone there, and left with not only tons of new friends (I see you Mississippi crew) , but also renewed passion for the journey we were on. Funny story – a week before the conference we had a little Mom’s night out talent night back at home. Naturally, I rapped “Ice Ice Baby” in it’s entirety, as one does. So, you can see why I lost my mind when Tina Ingold took to the stage in gold hammer pants and rapped the very same song. I knew I’d found my place. Back to homeschooling, spending time learning my teaching style and my children’s learning style led me to Ambleside Online (along with listening to the old At Home podcast which must be archived somewhere). For our third year, this is the homeschool curriculum I used (my children were 6 and 3, and my daughter followed along):

  1. Ambleside Online – Year 1 – visit their website for a complete book list
  2. Beautiful Feet Books – Geography Pack – we culminated our study with a trip to visit where the Paddle to the Sea story began! Read about it HERE
  3. Elementary composition books for notebooking and narration
  4. Math-U-See from Demme Learning
  5. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
  6. Easy Reader Books – THIS one was a favorite (remember to check used book stores for these!)
  7. Star Wars – supplemental workbooks. These were the “fun” math after the regular math was done
  8. Kumon workbooks – these worked great to keep my daughter busy during school time, full list HERE
  9. Star Wars Science – science fair type projects involving Star Wars, because why not?

NOTE – There are books within the Ambleside curriculum that have racist themes and are problematic. I’m not going to tell you to throw them out. However, I would encourage you to read them. Then, spend some time discussing those themes with the help of some more diverse and inclusive curriculum. Browse my big resource list below to find inclusive and diverse homeschool curriculum, or checkout my friend Betsy’s Instagram page and look at her “Diverse Schooling” highlight. Also check out Woke Homeschooling and Here We Read

NOTE ^2 – Used book stores, library book sales, flea markets, thrift stores, friends getting rid of books, FB marketplace, Thrift Books and Abebooks will be your best friend. You do not need to buy all of the books new. In fact, you may not even need to buy all of them. Remember to check your library and get creative. 


ambleside year 1 book stack


Fourth year.

Our fourth year of homeschooling was very much a continuation of the previous year, we moved on to Ambleside Year 2. My daughter followed along with our lessons because the “one-room schoolhouse” approach worked well for me. Here is what I used (my son was 7 and my daughter was 4):

  1. Ambleside OnlineYear 2 – visit website for complete book list
  2. Beautiful Feet Books – Geography and map set – we ended that year with a trip to Santa Fe to experience some of the places we studied about in Tree in the Trail, read about that trip HERE
  3. Math-U-See from Demme Learning
  4. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
  5. Lots of good books, a weekly nature hike (just my kids and I), Poetry Tea Time, and family adventures


homeschool room preschool

Fifth year.

Last year, I made a few changes to what we were doing because I saw a need to. That’s one of my favorite things about homeschooling, and tip number four of my TOP FIVE tips for getting started. Commit to flexibility. It’s really wonderful to have the freedom and flexibility to change as I need to. Remember – you are not married to your curriculum! I decided to include Early American History in place of the Ambleside history timeline. Last year was also the first year we had a drop-off co-op available to us in our city. My children attended two days a week, for four hours. It served a wonderful purpose in our lives, getting them time with friends and getting me a bit of alone time (the first in eight years!). For our fifth year, here is the homeschool curriculum that I used (my son was 8 and my daughter was 5):

  1. Ambleside OnlineYear 3 – visit website for complete book list.
  2. Beautiful Feet BooksEarly American History
  3. The Good and the BeautifulHandwriting
  4. The Good and the BeautifulArthropods
  5. Math-U-See from Demme Learning
  6. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
  7. Our local co-op.
  8. Lots of Friday Fun field trips of my own planning


homeschool flat lay

Sixth year.

That brings us to now! We school year round, because it fits our life well and the summers are just too hot to take a long break. I prefer taking our longer breaks when the weather is nicer. Our “summer” term is a bit different this year because I am adding in a new study, really just to mix things up a little. The list below is everything that we will be using for this homeschool year, with the “Oceans” study taking the place of our first term. For this year (meaning the entire next year) this is the homeschool curriculum we will use (my son is 9 and my daughter is 6):

  1. Gather Round HomeschoolOceans and Government
  2. Ambleside OnlineYear 3 – visit website for complete book list.
  3. Beautiful Feet BooksEarly American History
  4. The Good and the BeautifulHandwriting
  5. Math-U-See from Demme Learning
  6. Wildcraft Study – from Jodi Mockabee
  7. Native Peoples – from Jodi Mockabee
  8. Beast Academy Math OR Teaching Textbooks (for my son)
  9. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (for my daughter)
  10. Oh, Freedom from Woke Homeschooling


homeschool school room

More curriculum.

There are SO many homeschool curriculum options out there now. Here are a few that I’ve come across (and liked, but haven’t utilized).

  1. The Peaceful Press
  2. Classical Conversations
  3. The Homegrown Preschooler
  4. My Father’s World
  5. Sonlight
  6. A Gentle Feast
  7. For SECULAR resources check out The Secular Homeschooler resource guide
  8. For inspiration please check out some of these amazing homeschoolers: Farmhouse Schoolhouse, Little Women Farmhouse, Leslie Martino, Robyn Robertson, Amy Hughes, Susan Wise Bauer and Well Trained Mind, Julie Bogart and Brave Writer, Terri Woods, Sally Clarkson, and SO many more. There are many voices in this community. Take them in, browse, be inspired, but please do not be overwhelmed. You’ve got this.


NOTE – one of my favorite resources are our local homeschool groups. There are at least four that I know of in our mid-sized city. I would encourage you to look for a Wild + Free group in your area, or connect to any sort of homeschool group that works well for you. The camaraderie is worth it, so are the field trip and meet up opportunities. 

homeschool adventure club

Additional resources.

The list above sums up the main homeschool curriculum we have used on our journey so far, but we have certainly supplemented with others. One of the amazing things about modern technology, is that it has expanded the (often free) resources available to the general public, and to homeschoolers! I promise to try and organize these better at some point. However, I present to you, in no particular order or arrangement – my GREAT, BIG LIST of resources.


  1. Everything NASA – spend some time poking around their website and you’ll find a wealth of information to use for your schooling. Pro tip – pay attention to their Facebook page or YouTube channel to watch LIVE launches and spacewalks. One of my favorite memories is a morning when we gathered our space books and enjoyed watching a launch, all while eating pancakes. Technology is incredible. Here is NASA’s education page
  2. Outschool – online classes of all topics. Click HERE to get $20 off your first class. (my son LOVED his coding class)
  3. NOAA Education website
  4. Civil Air Patrol – this is a wonderful program, my husband uses these projects for “Saturday school” with Dad
  5. Wild + Free – my favorite homeschool community
  6. Wild Explorers Club – a kids adventure program
  7. Wonder Club Explorers – Adventure merit patch program
  8. National Geographic Kids – tons of great education resources
  9. Wild Math Curriculum
  10. The Smithsonian Institute website – plus an entire Distance Learning resource library
  11. The Smithsonian National Zoo – Online learning website
  12. National ParksJunior Ranger program – many parks offer online learning options
  13. Monterey Bay Aquarium 
  14. Chicago’s Field Museum
  15. Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
  16. Tinkergarten
  17. 1000 Hours Outside
  18. Tanglewood Hollow – beautiful nature toys, curriculum, and printables
  19. Run Wild My Child
  20. Forest Academy from Domtar (requires Flash player)
  21. Cathy Duffy Reviews – Curriculum Reviews
  22. PBS and PBS Kids
  23. Read Aloud Revival
  24. All About Learning Press – All About Reading and All About Spelling
  25. Spelling-U-See – by Demme Learning
  26. Brave Writer – Julie Bogart’s Instagram page is FULL of inspiration
  27. MOMA – Museum of Modern Art – research and learning website
  28. Here We Read – diverse and inclusive literature
  29. Blossom and Root – Secular, Nature-based homeschooling
  30. Torchlight – secular, literature based homeschool curriculum
  31. The Story of the World – by Susan Wise Bauer
  32. Wonder Here – family style curriculum
  33. Little Women Farmhouse – Inclusive American History curriculum
  34. Homegrown Learners – a great resources for learning about your homeschool style
  35. Zinn Education Project – teaching people’s history
  36. Modern Miss Mason – Charlotte Mason education with the lovely Leah Boden
  37. Five in a Row
  38. Waseca Biomes – Montessori approach to geography, biomes, reading and art
  39. Earthschooling – Waldorf homeschool program
  40. Alpha Omega Academy – online and at home curriculums k-12
  41. ASTC Member museums – Shhh! This is one of my favorite tips. We have a museum pass to one of these member museums, and they offer FREE general admission at other member museums. It’s especially great if you travel!
  42. Citizen Scientist projects
  43. SciStarter – citizen powered research
  44. Zooniverse – people powered research
  45. iNaturalist
  46. Veritas Press – Self paced Omnibus suggested for highschool by my friend Lindsay of Laneslesstraveled
  47. Masterbooks
  48. Homeschooling by Heart – Wisdom from the wonderful Toni Weber, homeschool Mama who recently graduated her youngest child.
  49. American Science and Surplus – if you ever get a chance to go to one of their stores in Chicago, GO! And read the displays labels, they’re hilarious. We go once a year when passing through and stock up on science supplies.
  50. SUPPORT LOCAL – Look around you and see how creative you can be! City and State parks, local libraries and museums, local zoo or aquarium, gardens and botanical centers, National parks and wildlife refuges, nature centers, cafes, coffee shops, your local newspaper press, a local artist or art gallery, pottery or ceramics center, your local county extension office, 4-H, your local master gardeners organization, etc. This list could go on and on. Think outside the box and see what you can come up with! More often than not, I have found that people are generally excited to share and enjoy the opportunity to help teach the next generation.


homeschool water color online class


A note about costs.

You do not need to spend hundreds of dollars to homeschool. It requires some creative thinking but there’s a way to do it, affordably. Think about:

  • Do you have a smartphone with an internet connection? GREAT! You have access to TONS of information and learning resources.
  • Do you have a library? Wonderful! There are tons of free resources available there as well!
  • Do you have a co-op or homeschool group in your town? Homeschool families are always buying/selling/swapping homeschool curriculum, books, or other various resources.
  • What about all the supplies? I sourced our desks, chairs, globes, a bunch of books, and math manipulatives from a Craigslist warehouse sale (but maybe take your husband with you if you go, luckily I ended up at a warehouse sale of someone who bought the things schools were selling off and not some super shady establishment). I spent $8 on the desks and $20 on the rest. My husband built our bookshelves and I stalked Hobby Lobby for when the office supplies (white boards) went on a 50% off sale.


NOTE – When we decided to homeschool we started adding homeschool curriculum and resources to our gift lists for birthdays and holidays. Instead of a gift for me, my Mom buys us a museum pass every Christmas. We usually add one or two “school type” ideas to gift wish lists for the kids. Museum passes, zoo passes, books, logic games, movie passes, gift cards for online classes at Outschool, etc. Think outside the box a bit and you’ll come up with some fun ideas. (My amazing in-laws are going to be on to me now because I know they’re reading this). 


crystal bridges art museum

Seek wisdom.

There are many wonderful women and families who have walked this path before us, paving the way for all of the incredible freedom and resources we have now for homeschooling. I’d encourage you to seek them out. Have coffee with a Mom in your community who has graduated homeschool students. Talk to a Mom who has children slightly older than yours. Seek out a homeschool mentor or coach who can help you navigate these waters if you feel that it’s too much to do alone.


Friends, you CAN do this. What you do is up to you and I encourage you to seek out the homeschool curriculum or combination of curriculum that work best for your family. You can’t figure this all out in one day, one week, one month or even on year. But yes, indeed, I’ll be there for you. Always. May the force be with you.


star wars coffee and smoothies Thanks for reading this far! You can see a snippet of our homeschooling on the hashtag #luckeywanderers (on Instagram) And as always, our adventures are on #luckeywanderers. If you’d like to get a little window into how I incorporate adventures into our schooling, check out THIS post about our Paddle to the Sea experience. Follow me on Instagram for all of our shenanigans. Please feel free to share this with anyone who is feeling concern about the upcoming school year. Email or message anytime.