Homeschooling When Life Gets Tough

The reality of homeschooling is that sometimes LIFE gets in the way…

Illnesses overtake your home, loved ones pass away, schedules change, etc. yet we have to figure out how to continue school. After our first year of homeschooling I started purchasing some materials that my children can do on their own during these situations. Our first investment was Rosetta Stone. I purchased all five levels of German and my children have been using it off and on since our second year. This year we made the transition from Singapore Math to Teaching Textbooks. I cannot even begin to explain how much stress Teaching Textbooks has taken off of my shoulders. I love that my children can log onto their accounts and do their math no matter what is going on in our lives!

We also use audiobooks, documentaries, learning apps, and educational websites to help carry us through the tough times in life. Our local library has a wonderful selection of audiobooks, and we just signed up for a free trial with Audible. Although I prefer to do the reading myself, it is nice being able to turn on an audiobook sometimes.

This past year I swear we caught every illness that was going around. We spent many afternoons snuggled up watching Netflix. I was surprised how many good documentaries they have to offer. I really enjoyed Planet Earth and Blue Planet: Natural History of the Oceans. My children also binge watched Brain Games and The Magic School Bus.

By far my favorite resource would have to be Khan Academy. We use Khan Academy all the time for help when my children are struggling with something, but during our tough times I will tell the children to go online and work for a set amount of time. They all love being able to do this because it is a change from their normal materials. My oldest son discovered the “computer programming” section, and loves being able to make his own games.

Something new we added this year was watching SciShow and SciShow Kids channels. I allow my children to choose any video from these channels to watch. After they watch the video they have to send me an email with the video link and a summary of the selection. I originally assigned Kenten and Julia to do this one day when I was sick, but after reading their great summaries I made it part of our regular school week. They had to submit two SciShow summaries a week. We learned all kinds of unique things this year, and as an added bonus Kenten and Julia got a lot of extra writing practice.

At the end of the day your homeschool might not always look how you expected, but your children will continue to learn and grow. Utilize all the amazing resources out there and don’t feel bad when things don’t go as planned!

What to see what curriculum we are using this year when life isn’t so crazy?

Check out my curriculum page.




Singapore Math Review

If you have been homeschooling for awhile, or even if you just started looking into homeschooling chances are you have at the very least heard of Singapore Math. When we started our homeschool journey in 2011, we quickly decided to try out the Primary Mathematics: U.S. Edition from Singapore Math. There were so many good reviews about the program and it was very affordable.

Singapore Math presents concepts in a step-by-step approach which allows children to learn not only how to do math, but why what they are doing is right. The program also uses a lot of mental math and word problems throughout each level. The combination of these methods really helped my children build a great foundation in mathematical skills.

What do I need to teach Singapore Math?

Singapore Math has three books for each level:

  • Home instructor’s guide-This is your teacher’s manual, where you will find daily lesson plans, instructions, answer keys, and helpful tips.
  • Textbook- The textbook presents new concepts to your child. Your child will also have the opportunity to do practice problems with you before moving on to their independent work.
  • Workbook- After the lesson, your child will be assigned a corresponding lesson to complete on his/her own in the workbook.

I have found that it takes about 15-20 minutes to present each lesson to my children. The amount of time to finish the workbook assignment really depends on the lesson and your child. My oldest son who excels at math speeds right through his workbook lessons in just a few minutes, whereas my younger two children usually take at least 20 minutes.

What options does Singapore Math offer?
Singapore Math offers three different versions:

  • U.S. Edition
  • Standards Edition
  • Common Core Edition

Please visit Singapore Math for further information on the differences between each edition.

What level should I start my child in?
Since Singapore Math is more advanced than some curriculum I highly recommend you have your child take the placement test.

Is Singapore Math for everyone?
Just like any curriculum choice Singapore Math is not a “one size fits all” program. Every child learns differently, and you need to make a decision based on his/her abilities and learning style. Singapore Math may NOT be the right fit for your family if:

  • You do not have time to give individual math instructions to each of your children.
  • Your child needs a lot of extra review to fully master a new math concept.
  • If you (the instructor) struggle with math and do not have time to preview each lesson ahead of time.

Homework and Horseplay’s final thoughts…

Until this year Singapore Math has been a wonderful fit for our family. My oldest son was able to work through all the levels provided in the Primary Mathematics U.S. Edition, but for my daughter we started to face some difficulties. Although my daughter has excellent grades in math, she needs a little more help than her older brother. Once we hit level 5A we were constantly looking for supplemental or alternative lessons online to help her understand new concepts better. We made the executive decision to switch her into a new program halfway through the year, and we couldn’t be happier with our new math curriculum.

I highly recommend Singapore Math’s Primary Mathematics: U.S. Edition through level 4B. This program has provided my children with a good mathematical foundation that they will have to fall back on throughout their entire lives.

Disclaimer- I am in no way affiliated with Singapore Math, nor am I being compensated in any way for this post.  The review provided is simply my honest opinion of a product we use in our homeschool.

Want to read more of my reviews?

Head to my Review page.

Why I Homeschool

Everyone homeschools for a different reason. Want to know why I homeschool?

Ryan and I decided to homeschool our children six years ago. Our two older children had just completed their first year of school in North Carolina, and we were preparing for the upcoming school year when I realized I didn’t want to go through another school year… At least not through the public school system! 

After sending my children away for eight plus hours every day they had to come home and do two to three hours of homework every night. They were only in kindergarten and second grade! By the time we completed homework, ate dinner, and got cleaned up it was already bed time. It broke my heart to see how exhausted my daughter was each day as she got off the bus. It angered me to listen to a teacher tell me my son couldn’t read his favorite books because they were not his “grade level” (they were three levels higher). All of it was just exhausting. I knew there was no way our youngest son was ready to be put in that situation. We decided to give homeschooling a chance, and if it wasn’t the right fit for our family we could always put them back in public school.

We officially started homeschooling a few weeks later, and it was AMAZING! I loved seeing all three of my kiddos learning and playing together again. It was easy to see that we had made the right decision. We have had a few bumps along the way and I am sure we will hit many more before we are done, but I wouldn’t change this for anything! So it’s that simple–That’s why I homeschool!

Why do you homeschool?

Please comment below. I would love to hear your story! To hear more about the Raiche family head on over to my About page or connect with me on Facebook.




Unconventional Book Choices

Do you still do reading time with your older children?

Even though all my children have hit the preteen or teenage years, I still read outloud to them daily during our school day. When they were younger I tried to stick with just the classics, but this year I decided to branch out more with unconventional book choices since my oldest son was not happy with a lot of our previous selections. Right before starting our two week mini summer break we finished the Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children trilogy.

This trilogy was a far different selection for our reading time, but my children LOVED it. Some of the language and content may be off-putting for some, but we try to expose our children to all different types of materials (within reason). They all know that just because you hear something it doesn’t mean you have to repeat it. I am so happy that we branched out and tried something completely new. It has been a long time since I have seen my oldest son so engaged in a story. His interest was more than enough reason for me to look past some of the language, and I plan to find some more exciting selections to use this summer before we start our next curriculum packages.

Do you use unconventional book selections for your reading time?

Year Round School

Are you done with school for summer now?

I have lost track of home many times I have been asked this question over the last few weeks. We follow a year round school schedule, so we do not take summers off from. We have tried following a traditional school year in the past, but found that our youngest son has a hard time retaining materials from the previous school year. In addition to not retaining the materials they already learned, all of our children have too much free time.

We do not allow our children to use electronics (with the exception for school work and tv in the evenings) during the week, so during the summer they have more time to “geek out” as we call it. When our children were younger this wasn’t a problem, but as they get older if we left it up to them they would “geek out” all day all summer long. We are currently on a two week break from school so the children can have a mini break. This allows our children to enjoy the beginning of summer with their friends, but we will resume school on June 26th.

What does our summer school schedule look like?

We do not do a full workload during the summer months. We limit our instruction to math, language arts, and reading time. So our summer school day is usually only an hour or two long. This is just enough to help our children to continue to thrive and to break up the day some.

An added bonus to a year round school schedule is that we have more flexibility to take off time whenever we want or need to without feeling guilty. I never feel like we are behind because we are continuously learning and covering our materials.

Do you school year round?

Comment below! I would love to connect with you. 

Would you like to know more about the Raiche clan?

Head on over to my About page.

Secular Homeschool

Here at Homework and Horseplay we are a secular homeschool family. What does this mean?

A secular homeschool is a homeschooling family that does NOT homeschool for a religious reason, but because it is the right choice for their family.

It is a common belief that all homeschoolers have chosen to homeschool for a relgious reason. This belief is as far from the truth as possible with our family. We started our homeschool journey in 2011 after moving to North Carolina. We purchased a home in a desired school district, but after my two oldest children attended their first year there we knew it was not the right fit. On top of being unhappy with our school district, our youngest son was just reaching preschool age. He was diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS: Autism Spectrum), Dyspraxia, and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). I knew back then that he was not ready to be in a public school system that I was already dissatisfied with, so we treaded into unknown territory and began our homeschooling journey.

So how is our homeschool different from a nonsecular home?

The main difference for us is that we teach with an evolution based science curriculum, and do not focus on any one religion. The only time we cover religious materials is in history. We look at it as a part of history, not absolute truth. Our approach may not work for everyone, but that is the true beauty of homeschooling. We all homeschool in our own way for our own reasons.

Are you a secular homeschool family?

We would love to connect with you. Please comment below, so we can get to know each other more!

Would you like to know more about our family?

Head on over to my About page and connect with me on Instagram.



Literature Units

In our home we take a literature based approach for a large portion of our language arts program.

As an avid reader it is very important to me to share my passion for reading with my children, and I feel by continuing to read outloud I have been able to do that. Sometimes I simply read a book to my children, but many times I plan literature units to go with the book.

In the upcoming school year I have the opportunity to teach at our local homeschool partnership. I will be teaching “Learning Through Cinema- Elementary” and “Learning Through Cinema- Middle School”. I am so excited to be able to share our approach with the homeschool community. Below I have listed the units we will be covering during the 2017-2018 school year.

Learning Through Cinema- Elementary

  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  • The BFG by Roald Dahl
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
  • The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
  • Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Learning Through Cinema- Middle School

  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Wonder by Raquel J. Palacio
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Holes by Louis Sachar

Welcome to Homework and Horseplay

This is my very first blog post here at Homework and Horseplay!

My name is Roxanne and this blog is the online home of Raiche Academy, our homeschool in Iron Mountain, Michigan. I am a mama to three children ages 10 to 13. I never thought that I would homeschool my children, but that is exactly what I have been doing since 2011. Although it has been a difficult journey at times, I am so thankful for this opportunity.


Connect with me on social media!

Want to know more about the Raiche family? Head on over to my About page.