It’s My Blog Birthday! Welcome to the Buffet!

Looking back on a year of blogging and thinking about where I've been, where I'm going ... and what's my purpose in all this!

Today marks the one-year anniversary of hswotrainingwheels.com. Wow. What do you think when you read that? Do you think (like I do) “A whole year already?” or do you think, “Only a year? Does this girl even know what she’s doing?”Β A valid question! Let’s chat a minute.

Looking back on a year of blogging and thinking about where I've been, where I'm going ... and what's my purpose in all this!

For years, I pushed aside the idea of writing a homeschool blog. I had nothing against those who wrote them, but I knew myself. I was afraid that if I started a blog, it would only be as a way to validate myself – to prove to the world that I was doing something worthwhile.

I imagined that I’d put pressure on myself to have Pinterest-worthy craft projects (and take fantastic pictures of them) to go on life-changing field trips and to have a super organized schedule, with everything in a washi-tape adorned planner.

Since that just isn’t my style, I worried that writing a homeschool blog would make me into some kind of a fake or a hypocrite. What actually developed, however, was far different!

Have you considered getting your homeschool students Kindle Fire tablets? You might be surprised at they ways they can be used as tools in the homeschool!

Losing the Training Wheels

As I’ve shared before, the 2015-2016 school year was a killer oneΒ for a number of reasons, mostly my health and the number of kiddos who had reached school age in our homeschool. I was at a breaking point and something had to change. I had to step away from some of the “traditional” methods we were using (especially for math).

I justified the changes I was making as valid because we were in survival mode. I started writing about them on a free blog mostly so I could share with a few family members who could give me some feedback. One day a friend asked if I could tell her some about how I was doing math these days, so I pointed her to the blog. And she told a friend.

Even as my health improved and life returned to some sort of equilibrium, I realized that what we had going was actually a pretty great fit for us. It had taken extreme circumstances to give me the impetus to “de-school” a bit. But on the other side, we found ourselves in a much freer, much more flexible place.

The Buffet of Ideas

I began to realize that what I had to offer in terms of a homeschool blog wasn’t an expert opinion on the way to homeschool, but rather just another voice about a way that homeschooling could happen. Come to find out, that’s really what most homeschool mom blogs offer – each of us is sharing her own personal flavor. You, the reader, get to go down the buffet line and choose – a la carte – what fits your family.

My friend Shelly wrote a really interesting post last week called “What Exactly IS a Homeschool Expert” about her experiencing writing an article on homeschooling for a parenting magazine and what they considered an “expert source” for her footnotes (don’t get me started). I don’t have a degree in home education. My experience extends only through homeschooling middle school. So I’m not writing as an expert.

But I do have some experience and I’ve found that that experience is worth sharing. I kind of feel like the sample lady at Costco. Because of my role as a blogger, curriculum companies and program developers want me to share their product with my readers. I get to learn about the products, and then offer readers a test-taste to see if it would go with the meals they are crafting for their homeschools.

Who Cares How I Do It?

I remember once watching a Periscope broadcast by a really well-known homeschool mommy-blogger. She was hosting a Q&A session. I knew what question was coming. People always ask “celebrity” homeschoolers one question:

What curriculum do you use?

At that point in my homeschooling life, I was breaking free of restrictions and setting out to chart my own course, and I found the question irritating and irrelevant.

I longed to hear her say something like, “Well, it doesn’t really matter what curriculum I use. There are millions of options out there, and we just picked what works best for us. Each family can do the same.” But she didn’t. She briefly gave an outline of English, math, history and science programs.

In my fledgling break for freedom, I scoffed, thinking that this was a mark of her arrogance – enjoying a measure of authority over other homeschool moms that she shouldn’t have had. I thought she was asking them to follow her blindly, rather than empowering them to trust their own judgement and wisdom.

While some of this may exist in the homeschool blogging world, I now see that wasn’t what she was doing. See, when you start talking about a philosophy of homeschool, a method, an approach, a mindset, inevitably, people begin asking,

“But what does that look like on a day to day basis?”

“How do I go about implementing something like that?”

“What resources have you found helpful to support that way of teaching?”

Some people can discuss theory and then go an make their own application. But for others, it really is most helpful to start out with some training wheels – just long enough for them to get their balance.

And so, that’s how this blog began to evolve. Suggestions. Ideas. Possible tools. A buffet.

But You Don’t Have to Take My Word for It

Each of us is different in temperament. Our backgrounds, histories and homeschool experiences tell different stories. For some of us, ideas are helpful. For others, ideas can be burdensome and oppressive.

I get it. I’m the kind of girl that feels a tiny bit guilty when I taste a sample at Costco and then don’t follow the sample lady’s instructions to find my own box down on the frozen foods isle. But that’s my issue, not hers.

While I can’t necessarily control the reactions of each of my readers, I really do hope to share in a way that allows you to glean what you find helpful and leave what doesn’t work without a shred of guilt.

To be honest, I sometimes feel nervous when someone says, “We switched to doing it the way you wrote about in that post.” Eek! What have I done?

Well, hopefully what I’ve done is given someone a new idea. Something to try. A starting place from which to experiment and adapt their own way. You know, training wheels. Meant to be discarded when they are no longer useful.

Help Me Celebrate?

So, that’s what this year of blogging has looked like in a nutshell. And since I’m celebrating this milestone, it seemed like some gifts would be in order! Let’s do this hobbit style, where I give gifts to you, my guests!

I wish I could give a big gift to everyone, but instead, I have one big gift and a giveaway to win it! I’ve compiled a bunch of things that represent what I’ve shared on the blog recently and things that have been helpful/meaningful to me this year.

Here’s what’s included:

Once you enter your contact information, there are two ways to earn more entries in the giveaway:

  • Leave a comment below, letting me know how you came across this blog or something you’ve found helpful here. (Reader feedback is so important to a blogger and would be a lovely “gift”!)
  • Share this post (using your special link provided in the giveaway) so that other folks can have a chance to check out Homeschooling without Training Wheels, too. (Sharing by word of mouth is also huge for a blogger, so I’ve allowed a lot of possible entries earned for sharing: up to 18!)

Best wishes, everyone! Thanks for coming to my party!
Blog Birthday Giveaway!

82 Replies to “It’s My Blog Birthday! Welcome to the Buffet!”

  1. Christa Gregg says: Reply

    I heard you on the Brave Writer podcast and was inspired by how you live your homeschool life.

    1. Welcome, Christa! I’m a huge Brave Writer fan, but being on the podcast is still on my bucket list. Maybe it was Your Morning Basket with Pam Barnhill? Either way, so glad to have you!

  2. jennifer clary says: Reply

    Happy birthday!!! I get so much info and inspiration from your blog and I can’t wait to see what this next year brings. THANK YOU for all you do.

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! I’m excited to see what the next year holds, too!

  3. I think I found you via a post on your friend Shelly’s blog, talking about your Math experiments from back in April.

    1. Well welcome! So glad you are here!

  4. I’m thankful for how you have pursued a vision for your homeschool that fits *your* family and *your* personality and *your* kids. It’s all of grace, friend!

    1. Thanks, Amy. It IS all of grace – Amen!

  5. I came across your blog through Pam Barnhill’s The Morning Basket while I was searching the net for homeschooling ideas. I am new at homeschooling and very hungry for information, tips and resources to jump start homeschooling my 4 turning 5 year old son. I found your math teaching ideas which you have shared during math month very practical and fun. Looking forward to more interesting tips and ideas from your blog.

    1. Zorah, you are most welcome, friend! How exciting to be starting out on this homeschool journey. I’m so glad you’ve joined us!

  6. Hey I’ve just found your blog recently and my goal this summer is to go back though it and a few others and read and read and read for some ideas and encouragement for the upcoming year! Regardless of the giveaway, I just wanted to comment though about your post…I think it’s awesome that there are so many families sharing their unique ways of doing school at home, through blogs, IG, articles, books, whatever. I think it is so helpful to be inspired to teach our own children in our own way. So thank you for sharing your unique perspective!

    1. Amanda, I completely agree. I spent the first several years of my homeschool journey looking for the “right way” to do it. And, as you can imagine, that is a completely overwhelming and anxiety-producing way to go! It’s now so much more fun to enjoy other people’s posts without feeling guilty or criticized just because what we do is different. To each his own. That’s what makes this homeschool community so interesting and beautiful! Thanks so much for your kind words. πŸ™‚

  7. I can’t remember exactly how I came across your blog and Instagram account. It was probably through another homeschooler via Bravewriter or Pam Barnhill. But I love the post today on why you use training wheels in your title. That is a really great way to explain how to help inspire other homeschool moms! Happy Birthday!

    1. Thanks, Karen, and welcome! Yep – either Brave Writer or Pam Barnhill are definitely places I can be found. 😏

  8. I found you through Pam Barnhill. I’m loving the board game reviews y’all have been doing!!! That is so helpful to see what games other families actually play and enjoy (and if they’re good quality). I have several in my Amazon cart now πŸ™‚ Thanks!

    1. Kristin, that just makes my day! I have LOVED doing those board game videos, so it’s lovely to hear that they are helpful!

  9. I’m not entirely sure how I first discovered you, but I’m so glad I did! I especially appreciate the to each their own viewpoint – it fits so well with my own experiences.

    1. Well I’m glad you did, too! I’m sure that message resonates with a lot of us!

  10. I have really enjoyed reading about using games to help with skill retention!

    1. Great! Glad it was helpful!

  11. Kryste Herring says: Reply

    Happy One Year! I stumbled across your blog (and FB page) when I had hit the point of giving up before I had even really started. Everyone was “use this” or “use that”. I felt like a failure because certain things just don’t work well with my son. Just like one size fits all clothing doesn’t fit everyone the same, neither does curriculum. I love you for the buffet thought and for saying if it isn’t working, try something else πŸ™‚ Thank you for being you and looking forward to another year!

    1. Wow! What a story. So glad to hear that this was helpful to you. That realy means a lot. Keep going, sister! You can do this!

  12. Stephenie Kissinger says: Reply

    I found you through Pam Barnhill during math month.

    1. So nice to have you! 😊

  13. I also found you through Pam Barnhill’s podcast. I love the idea of family math and am trying to figure out how to implement that with the resources we have.

    1. Wonderful! Would love to hear what you discover and find that works for your family!

  14. Krysta Bauer says: Reply

    I am a recent follower, finding you from Pam Barnhill. We do family schooling here, but Math is the one subject that is still done separately. I am here to learn how to do math together.
    I too have thought about starting a blog and felt I wasn’t expert enough. Thanks for the uplifting post.

    1. I think you’re right that math is the trickiest one to do together. Did you see the post on practical ways to do family math? That should help some. ☺ And I really think the question of whether or not to try blogging has mostly to do with your personality, interests, etc. If it’s something you would find stimulating and a good creative outlet, give it a shot!

  15. I can’t believe you’ve only been at this one year. I thought you’d been blogging for years! My blog’s one year anniversary came up at the end of March and I completely forgot about it. Oops. πŸ˜› Happy Anniversary!
    Shelly recently posted…3 Reasons to Avoid Overcompliance with State Homeschool LawsMy Profile

    1. Well, then, happy belated to you, Shelly! Your “overcompliance” post was awesome, by the way!

  16. I found your through Pam Barnhill’s podcast and I’m so glad I did! Thank you for being open to sharing your experiences. πŸ™‚

    1. Lisa, you’re so welcome! Glad you are here!

  17. I can’t remember for sure, but I would imagine I got to this blog through some reference of Pam Barnhill’s!

    1. Yes, I’d say Pam Barnhill is a pretty good guess. She’s a wonderful source of information and inspiration!

  18. Found you through Periscope!!! Happy blogiversary to you!!!

    1. Yay! Homeschool Scopes!

  19. Kathleen P. says: Reply

    I found your birthday blog post on the Hip Homeschool Mom Facebook page.

    1. Oh wonderful! Well thanks for coming over to visit!

  20. Louise O'Neil says: Reply

    Hi, I am fairly new around here, lol! I heard you on Pam Barnhill like a few other newbies πŸ™‚ I’ve enjoyed your site and learned a bunch! The gift basket looks great. I am also a Julie Bogart fan and I’ve got those Kate Snow books in my Amazon cart. My family loves math games too!

    1. Well welcome, Louise! Glad to have you here!

  21. I started really following the blog during math month, but am also enjoying all the game posts too!

    1. Wonderful! Glad you’ve found those both useful. So happy to have you here!

  22. I started following you through Periscope. Love your scopes and blog. πŸ™‚

  23. I don’t remember where I came across your blog to be honest, but very happy to read it from time to time. Good ideas, and content.

  24. Faith Gross says: Reply

    I came accross your blog through instagram. πŸ˜ƒ Happy blog πŸŽ‰ birthday!

    1. Yay! I just love hanging out on Instagram! Thanks for joining us. πŸ™‚

  25. You’re inspiring and I particularly enjoy your ideas on managing multiple ages…..I’m learning from you πŸ˜‰

    1. Well hello there, friend. Thanks for the encouraging words!

  26. I honestly don’t remember how I found your blog. I haven’t been on Instagram too long so I may have started following you from there. I love the inspiration and pictures you share. Happy Blog Birthday!

    1. Thanks so much! Glad to have you here! πŸ™‚

  27. Melissa Meadows says: Reply

    I’m in. Bravewriter fb group with you. πŸ™‚ I LOVE your posts on games – I’m definitely someone who needs training wheels in that area. Happy Blog-Birthday!

    1. Well welcome! So glad you’re here. Mary and I have LOVED sharing about the games, so it’s awesome to know that folks are enjoying them!

  28. I found you on Pam Barnhill’s site regarding math. I love your ideas and your blog! Thanks

    1. Thanks, Erin. Welcome!

  29. I found you through Pam Barnhill. I was drawn in by your post on games.

    1. Welcome! Mary and I have had a lot of fun with board games this month!

  30. Ashley Weaver says: Reply

    I came across this blog for the Brave Writer Gracious Space giveaway!

    1. Oh, good! Now you’ve got a chance at a couple other editions!

  31. Hey friend. Do I get bonus points for having read The Sutherland Adventures prior to this one? I guess that’s how I “found” this blog πŸ™‚

    1. Bonus points in my heart, for sure! πŸ˜‰

  32. Cris Catlett says: Reply

    I came across your sight through the Brave Writer community. I enjoy reading your posts.

    1. Yay for Brave Writer! So glad to have you here! πŸ™‚

  33. I found your blog through Not Before 7 and the game videos you both have been doing this month. We’ve really loved those and have purchased a few games we watched you play!

    1. Oh, good! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed that. I know Mary and I have both had lots of fun sharing them!

  34. Linda LaDuke says: Reply

    I found you via Beth Napoli, Techie Homeschool Mom.

    1. Wonderful! Beth is a great resource for our homeschool, too!

  35. Kristin Dickson says: Reply

    Hi Lynna,

    I found my way to your blog through Pam Barnhill. I love reading your posts, and the ones about math month have particularly spoken to me. After reading them, I have felt empowered to play more games and just enjoy math, finding what works best for my family. Thank you for sharing your family’s journey! I ‘m praying for strength and endurance for your last stretch of pregnancy and a good outcome to your glucose tolerance testing.

    1. Kristen, this makes my heart so happy. I couldn’t wish for anything better than knowing that I’ve encouraged others to embrace the freedom and flexibility available in homeschooling! And thanks for thinking of me as this pregnancy winds down. The end is in sight!

  36. I’m not exactly sure how I came across your blog originally, but I am a huge fan of learning through board games and your posts with game recommendations are great!

    1. Excellent! Well, glad to have you here and definitely share any ideas you’ve got that I haven’t included!

  37. Happy Blog-Birthday, Lynna! I found your blog through the Your Morning Basket podcast and now enjoy getting your emails in my inbox! This giveaway is a very generous way to celebrate, and also has a lot of goodies in it, so thanks for the chance to enter! I have been wanting to read the Gracious Space books, so this would be great! I am a mother of four, and and am in the stage of planning for the next school year, when I will have a fourth grader, a second grader, a four-year-old whom I would like to start on some kindergarten work, and a one-year-old, so blogs like yours are a source of inspiration and encouragement. Blessings on your day!!!

    1. Joanna, what a sweet note! Thanks for telling me a little bit about you and what your family looks like. Yes, summer planning! And I definitely recommend the Gracious Space books. πŸ™‚

  38. Happy blog birthday Lynna!! I’m so glad you are blogging and inspiring us. You are such a blessing! πŸ˜€

    1. Aww, thanks, Ana. You’re too kind!

  39. I came across this blog as a lost, new homeschooling mom. Your affordable resources and advise have definitely helped me and my kids grow!

    1. Oh, Pam, I’m so glad to hear that. Hope you’re growing in confidence and comfort with crafting a homeschool that’s just right for YOUR family!

  40. I found you through Up A Rown Tree. NeW homeschooling parent here! Enjoying learning about all my options

    1. Oh yes! Nadine is a dear friend and another great resource. Welcome!

  41. Rachel Stuart says: Reply

    I appreciate the gadgets you suggest and the humourous posts πŸ™‚ Laughter is really the only thing that gets me through some days!

    1. I completely agree – mamas have to laugh!

  42. I really enjoyed this post! It’s so true that none of us are experts, despite all the blogging advice to write like one. We all have days where we question what we’re doing and why we do what we do. So many of us only experienced traditional school ourselves. We have no experience and no clear road map. We just have our mama instincts and our own education as a guide. Thanks for sharing your experiences and how you homeschool with the world! So encouraged by your blog!
    June recently posted…How to Raise Kids who Love MathMy Profile

    1. June, thanks so much for taking the time to respond and share your thoughts. Love what you said: “We just have our mama instincts and our own education as a guide.” Amen! Also, I just hopped over to check out your post on raising kids who love math. Well done! Couldn’t agree more and great list of resources!!

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