Join us as we host Pam Barnhill, award-winning educator and homeschool mom of three awesome kids. A recovering public school teacher, Pam is the creative force behind Your Morning Basket, an essential resource for your homeschool journey. Pam will share insights about breaking down big tasks into small, manageable steps and helping you set yourself up for success in planning for your next exciting homeschool year.
Gretchen Roe: 00:00:04.879
Welcome to the Demme Learning Show, our mission here is to help families stay in the learning journey, wherever it takes them. This bonus episode was previously recorded as a webinar and was not created with the audio listener in mind. We hope you will find value in today’s episode.
Gretchen Roe: 00:00:23.946
Hi, everybody. Welcome this afternoon to this very special opportunity to spend the next hour with one of my favorite people on the planet. I am so delighted to welcome Pam Barnhill to this time together and she’s got a wealth of information to share with you all. My name is Gretchen Rowe, and I am our community outreach coordinator here at Demme Learning. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to welcome Pam. We have lots of things to share with you today and so many of you registered for this event. Many of you asked questions and we’re going to do our best to answer those questions today. And now I’d like Pam to introduce herself and then we’ll get into the meat of our conversation.
Pam Barnhill: 00:01:05.590
Hey there, Gretchen. Thank you so much for the welcome. It’s great to be here this afternoon. I am Pam Barnhill and I have a website at pambarnhill.com. And on there we just talk about all things homeschooling. We mostly focus on morning baskets. I have a podcast called the Your Morning Basket podcast. We’ve got over 100 episodes, where we’ve talked about this wonderful time in the day where your entire family can come together and really lean into what homeschooling is all about, which is building those relationships and, actually, doing a portion of your learning together in the day. And I’m sure we’ll talk more about that. And then I also have the Ten Minutes to a Better Homeschool podcast, which is just short little snippets of homeschooling advice. And right now during the summer, we are all about homeschool planning. I have Put your Homeschool Year on Autopilot, which kind of teaches you the planning process from start to finish. So that’s me in a nutshell. Oh, I have kids and a husband. [laughter] So I have three children. They’re pretty good. They’re at VBS right now. They’re volunteering. So they’re really good on days when they go volunteer. And 16– no. She just turned 17. 17, 15, and 12 and a half, and then I’ve been married to Matt for 28 years. We have two canine companions. And we live in Alabama.
Gretchen Roe: 00:02:27.791
And I have to tell you all that I have had the greatest pleasure in preparing for this event with Pam because I feel like I have spent so much time with her. I have gone through now, almost all of her podcasts, and it is so worth your while. Let me tell you all, if you haven’t had the opportunity to listen to Pam, you need to take the time to listen to Pam. Pam Barnhill: 00:02:52.331
Gretchen Roe: 00:02:53.002
She’s a terrific encourager and– she’ll really make a tremendous difference in your day. And she’s just got lots of terrific advice. And I think where I want to start, Pam, is tell me more about your morning basket. First of all, I guess what I really want to ask is, tell us your homeschool journey. Did you always want to homeschool or– I know that you were once upon a time an educator and so tell us how we got to here.
Pam Barnhill: 00:03:22.014
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I still am an educator. [laughter] But once upon a time, I was a public school educator, and I like to say, “I’m a recovering public school educator.” I taught high school journalism for seven years in Florida and, actually, enjoyed my time doing that. And then I kind of got hired away to do yearbooks professionally, which is kind of an odd job. But I used to tell people, “Every job I ever had came from the skills that I learned in yearbook class when I was in high school.” Because I ended up advising yearbooks and then working for the yearbook company, and then I became a mom. And we knew, fairly, early on that we wanted to homeschool because I had spent so much time in the teacher’s lounge and listening to other teachers, who had been in the system for a long time, talk about how the system was changing and talk about how frustrated they were that all they ever seemed to get to do anymore was teach to the test, how they couldn’t teach the things they wanted to the kids, and they felt like the kids’ education was lacking because they were having to spend so much time preparing for this test. And I didn’t want that for my kids. I didn’t want their entire life to be about, “Let’s teach to this test, so we can get a decent enough score that our school gets a good grade so that we get federal funding.” That’s not what education is about. And so we decided when my daughter was a baby that we were going to homeschool, and we started. I was an over ambitious preschool homeschooler, like I think a lot of people are, and just was really excited to be doing it and get into it. We joined our first homeschool group when she was four years old, which was a great choice because we really needed to build those relationships with other homeschoolers. I think that’s still an important thing to do. And then we added the other kids as we went along. And I knew in my head going into this because I am a planner and I do look forward. And when she was three, I had the whole spreadsheet mapped out of everything we were going to study and every curriculum we were going to use until she graduated. And I threw that away probably about the time we were halfway through kindergarten, right? But the process was important. It was an important process to follow. It was a good thing to do to think about all of these things because that’s when I started formulating what education meant to me and why it was important for us to do certain things in our homeschool. And so that was like the tiny kernel that was the start of my homeschool vision. And then I knew that I wanted something different. I knew that I wanted to focus on art and music. I knew that I wanted a lot of time for us to spend time together. And I wanted for us to memorize poems and have time to read Shakespeare and sing songs together. But when we started homeschooling, that’s not what it ended up doing. I would schedule those things throughout my day and pepper my day with those kinds of activities, and we just never got around to those things. What we did was the checklist. What we did was the phonics. And then we kind of determined that we had one who was struggling to learn to read, and so we spent more time on phonics. And what we did was the math. Whatever we did, we had to get the math page done. And so that was where we were spending our time. And I was checking things off the list, but I wasn’t homeschooling the way I wanted to. And then I was introduced to a lady named Cindy Rollins on the Internet. Not personally yet, but on the Internet. And she had done something at that point for 24 years in her homeschool called Morning Time. And it was where she brought all of her kids together, and they all learned together, and that was where she put the beautiful things. And so I started doing that. I started pulling my kids together in the morning and all of us doing the same thing and putting those wonderful, beautiful things in that time of day, and it gave them more weight, and they actually got done. And we started our day that way. And that was kind of where the idea of– as more and more moms started asking questions, “How do you do this? How do you do this?” that was where the idea of starting a podcast came from.
Gretchen Roe: 00:07:43.090
Well, I’m really grateful that you did. And I’m grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to get to know each other. We both attend homeschool conferences and get the opportunity to speak to homeschool families. And what I love about the way that you approach your homeschooling is that you’re organized, but you present it in a casual way that’s very encouraging and embracing to families. And I think, particularly in this day and age, homeschool moms feel more pressure than ever. We’ve got to deliver. We’ve got to perform. We’ve got to prove something. And I remember trying to prove stuff back in the day when you didn’t even take your kids out, and people would say, “Well, how come you guys aren’t in school today?” And they had learned to say, “Field trip.” We didn’t even disclose that we were homeschoolers back in the day. And the world of homeschooling has changed, and I love how you have created a framework to help a new homeschool mom, or a veteran homeschool mom who is looking to refill her cup, frame that cup affirmatively. And so, Pam, tell me, what does a productive Morning Time look like in your world now, now that you have experience?
Pam Barnhill: 00:09:00.624
Well, and now that I have teens. I mean, it certainly– it has changed so much through the years. And I think that’s one of the things about Morning Time is what it looks like today is not what it’s going to look like nine years down the road because that’s about how long we’ve been doing it now. And so right now, Morning Time looks very different than what it did before. It normally doesn’t start until about 10 o’clock at my house. I mean, I have kids who want to sleep in the morning. I mean, I’ve got one that’s just about a teenager, but he’s been acting like it for– because he’s the youngest. So we don’t start till 10 o’clock, and they’re laying on the couch. I have these grumpy bodies spread across the couch, and we start with current events. That’s what gets them interested, gets them in there. So we start with Carl Azuz and CNN 10 first thing in the morning, and that’s kind of our call to Morning Time. And then, after we get done with current events– after current events, then you got to pray, right? And so we take a little bit of time to pray after that and fill our spiritual selves up, maybe we have some spiritual reading, maybe we read some scripture, different things like that. And then, we move into our history. So because my kids are closer in age, there is a portion of these content area subjects that we do together, and history is one of them. I read some history to them. Then we work on our memory work. So we spend just about 15 or 20 minutes, reciting our memory work together. This is something they enjoy doing. We might sing a song at this point. A couple years ago, we went through this big sea shanty phase where we were constantly singing sea shanties. My husband wanted to know why my kids were singing about a drunken sailor, and I’m like, “It’s fun. That’s why we’re doing it.” So we do that, and then we end up with some other kind of reading. And the other kind of reading that we do varies. Last year we read a couple different things. We did a book of math poems in two voices. That was something we did for part of the year. We read Richard Halliburton’s Book of Marvels, which was geography. And then we also spent some time reading through a number of books in the Narnia series.
Gretchen Roe: 00:11:21.738
And so, do you– how does this work? Does Pam decide what you’re going to do as far as history, or is this a collaborative as far as somebody has an interest in World War II or something like that?
Pam Barnhill: 00:11:37.552
Well, so a lot of times I’ll go to my oldest, and I’ll say, “What’s your interest? What do you really want to study?” And then, I’ll see how it plays with the other two. And so, so far with history, we’ve kind of stayed together. With science, we’ve split apart a little more because they’re varying interests in science. But unfortunately, none of my kids are interested enough in history to have a strong opinion. I will say last year we did the American Revolution because of Hamilton. Everybody was all about Hamilton and so that was the spark right there. And so we spent a year doing the American Revolution. The year before that, everything was all mythology. They wanted a huge mythology year. And so we spent a lot of time studying Greek, Norse, and Egyptian mythology, and we did ancient history because of that. So mostly focusing on ancient Greece and Rome. So it varies. I always try to get their input, but from there, I kind of build out from there, so.
Gretchen Roe: 00:12:47.835
I remember well the years that we did mythology. My kids absolutely loved it. And we studied it year over year and then like you, we took it into– we studied Indian mythology and then we studied some of the mythology around Ireland and Scotland and England. And it was so much fun. And my kids– my adult kids still have fond memories of that. So you’re long into this journey but still have longer to go. So how are you guiding them differently now than when you began? So you’ve got a 17-year-old. She’s staring down the gun barrel of her last year of school. What is changing in your household?
Pam Barnhill: 00:13:40.551
Oh, please don’t remind me. [laughter]
Gretchen Roe: 00:13:44.011
Hey, I got the same thing. Remember?
Pam Barnhill: 00:13:45.998
Gretchen Roe: 00:13:46.910
But my last one– my very last one is also staring down the gun barrel of his last year of high school, so.
Pam Barnhill: 00:13:53.198
Well, it’s certainly been a journey where when they were little, I was very much the one who was picking and choosing all the things. And then, as they’ve gotten older, I’ve started talking to them more about what they want to learn. And so I had a kid go to Space Camp. He got a scholarship to Space Camp earlier this summer. I thought he wanted to do some kind of physics and engineering next year, but he came home and he’s like, “Mom, I want to do space.” So I go start searching at the astronomy course. But as we’ve gotten closer, what I’ve really tried to get from my daughter is, “Where do you want to go next?” Because education is just all about preparing them for the next step on their journey. Right? And so I kind of need to have some kind of idea of where she wants to go next so I can prepare her for that part of the journey. And I think we’ve decided that we’re going to start at the local community college. And so we are choosing classes. We’re choosing things that we’re doing based on that idea. So we’re not necessarily going to go out and take the ACT or the SAT. So that means that we can take that set of stuff and put it over here and instead focus on what are the things and the skills we need to make us successful at community college, maybe with some dual enrollment or something like that. For a while, we thought she might go the entrepreneurial route, in which case we were going to do the standard diploma instead of the college prep diploma and spend a year doing kind of an entrepreneurial project next year, but she decided against that. So we’re going with the college diploma. So it’s just year after year and having these conversations with them and it’s all about, “How do I prepare you best to meet the next part of your journey?” Because quite frankly, I don’t care about checking the boxes that anybody else is wanting to check. I want to take my child and say, “Where do you want to go next? And how do we best prepare you for that?”
Gretchen Roe: 00:15:53.894
I think one of the things that I said to Pam as we were preparing to start today is that flexibility is a sign of intelligence. And if my five college graduates have taught me anything, it’s that where they think they want to go and where they end can be two entirely different things, and you as a parent need to hold that loosely and be willing to flex with them. My youngest just got back from a three-week internship and for a number of years, he has expressed an ardent interest in perhaps going to law school. And this internship was invaluable because now he knows he doesn’t want to do that. And I think knowing that you don’t want to do something is as valuable as thinking that you do. I have a good question for you here. Pam from Elba, she says, “Is the Morning Basket a way to help get the energy up to the day and help it get started well?” I think that’s a great question.
Pam Barnhill: 00:16:54.472
That is a great question. And I will tell you that a Morning Basket can have a number of different purposes. But if you are doing it at the beginning of your school day, then the answer is yes. What I like to say is you want to pour into your kids before you ask them to produce for you. So if they walk into the room and you’re like, “Okay, let’s get started with school. Sit down and we’re going to do something really hard and taxing right now.” Something where maybe you’ve got to write me an essay. Or you’ve got to do this page of algebra problems. And you’re asking them to immediately flip that switch and start producing something for you. I mean, that can be hard. That can be hard for the best of us. But instead, by bringing them into this situation where you’re all learning together and you’re pouring into them, all of these wonderful subjects, then it does kind of prime the pump for the day and allows them to get ready to produce that output later on.
Gretchen Roe: 00:17:55.381
I know when we were preparing for this, you and I had talked about that age-old wisdom of you have to eat a frog every day so you should start the day with the thing you don’t want to do, get it out of the way, and that kind of stuff. And you had brought up a terrific observation of how that’s not really the most productive way to accomplish successfully with your kids the academic experience. And I wonder if you could speak about that again.
Pam Barnhill: 00:18:22.572
Yeah. So that’s actually a Mark Twain saying. So his saying was if you eat a live frog in the morning, then everything else you do for the rest of the day will be better, which I concur, right? And so I mean, there have been productivity books written about this everywhere that you need to eat your live frog first thing. And I do this as a person who’s organized and productive. I like to get up in the morning and eat my frog, check it off. I have this great feeling of accomplishment. It’s all about productivity. And so I think homeschool families kind of get into that feeling too. If we just get the hardest thing done, then the rest of the day is going to be better. But homeschooling is not so much about productivity as it is about relationships. And I like to tell homeschool moms like, “You’re not in productivity. You’re not in operations. You’re really in sales and marketing. And so you’re trying to get these kids to– you’re trying to motivate them to do the thing that needs to be done next.” And so often homeschool families will start with the hardest thing first. And for a lot of families that’s math. And so I like to tell families, “Don’t start your homeschool day with math, just don’t, unless math is something you and your children absolutely love and enjoy doing together.” And then if it’s not, you need to start your day with something else. And morning time is just a wonderful delightful way to start the day. If you take away nothing else though, if you’re like, “I’m not going to do this morning time thing,” at least start your day with something that you enjoy and they enjoy.
Gretchen Roe: 00:20:02.795
Absolutely lately. And I think the important takeaway there is reading your children. Being able to be a student of your child creates the best homeschool environment. And I’m always astonished when I say to parents, “You know your child best. What motivates them?” And sometimes parents will say, “I don’t know.” And that’s when you need to have that conversation, I think. Now you have three kids all who have different ways in which they learn. So how did you observe them to figure out who was motivated by what?
Pam Barnhill: 00:20:48.585
And so this kind of comes into the whole idea of a lot of times families will say to me, well, everybody doesn’t like everything that’s in our morning basket. And I think that’s okay. What you have to do is put one thing in your morning basket for each child. So what is something that appeals to each of your children and make sure that there’s something in there for them? And when you’re starting a morning basket, and I always tell people the real persnickety ones are 11-year-old boys. They’re the ones that are just– well, and older too, if you have older boys, especially. But like they’re the ones that are just not going to want to do this. This is silly. You’re asking me to do extra stuff on top of my regular work. Why? And put something in there for them. Put something in there that they’re really going to enjoy that’s really going to hook them. And sometimes as the mom, you’re like, “Oh, I’m going to do all these beautiful things in my morning time.” But first, you actually have to do something for this kid, something for this kid, something for this kid. And then you get to put in activity in there that you enjoy last, because that’s what we do as moms. Moms eat last.
Gretchen Roe: 00:22:04.711
But I think that is such valuable advice because saying that you’re in sales and marketing is really so true. It’s up to us to keep our kids engaged in the process. Do you ever have conflict in your household with people who don’t get along? And I have seen our social media, Demme has blown up in the last week with parents saying, “How do you handle kids who don’t get along?” So how does that work in the Barnhill household?
Pam Barnhill: 00:22:38.778
We have a lot of conflict in the Barnhill household. I mean, and it’s not just conflict between them, but they push back against me too. And so it’s a matter of separating. It’s a matter of having conversations about what’s appropriate, what’s not appropriate. It’s a matter of having conversations about how we treat each other based on– we have different ways we treat each other based on our faith. And so that comes in as part of the conversation. And so you want to bring in these little nuggets and say it to them without lecturing because they totally shut off and turn it down, but you want to say it just shortly and succinct enough. Even with teenagers, you have to kind of redirect, separate, make the comment, pray for each other. Those kinds of things. We always pray for each other in the morning. And sometimes it comes across as a little snarky. And so I have to remind them that’s not why this is for. You’re not asking for prayers for your brother because he’s annoying you. So praying for each other. One of my favorite resources for sibling relationship stuff, there’s a girl named Lynna Sutherland and actually, she’s a mom of eight. She’s not a girl. Lady named Lynna Sutherland. She has the Sibling Relationship Lab Podcast. And and that is a really fabulous resource.
Gretchen Roe: 00:24:06.570
That sounds great. That’s a resource I’m not familiar with but that would definitely be worth the families who have posted in the last week saying that they’re really struggling with those kinds of things. One of my favorites is the Calm Parenting Podcast and I just think that that is such a– it’s called Celebrate Calm. And man, sometimes I just need to go listen to that so I can figure out where I’m coming from. I have another question is, how do you do– Heather asked – now this is a great question, so – how would you do a morning basket with eight kids of varying ages?
Pam Barnhill: 00:24:53.001
Yeah. So I have a book that recently came out called Gather and it’s all about morning baskets. And my co-author in that book – her name is Heather Tully – she has 10 kids. Her youngest is 4 and her oldest is 22 at this point– 21 or 22 at this point. And she has done morning time in her home school for 18 years. So she has done it when she just had Patricia who was three or four years old, all the way up to now Patricia’s graduated from college. And they’ve done it the entire time. And so of course, it’s changed as they’ve gone on from when she had just four or five really little kids. But what she does now is she gears the morning time towards the older children. So we’re hitting that middle teen to higher teenage and a lot of our content and what we’re doing when we’re all together. And the little ones are there. They’re participating. If you look at the pictures in our book they’re laying on the floor, they’re sitting next to Heather, and she’s got her hand on them. One of the older teens is walking the baby around the table. So there’s those kinds of things going on but they are there and they are listening and they are taking part. And then she does something separate for them at a different time of day for the littlest kids. But she really does gear it towards those older kids in the family and the little ones just pick up what they will from it. And she says you’ll be surprised at what they pick up.
Gretchen Roe: 00:26:29.973
I think that’s a terrific idea and particularly gearing it to the oldest children. Sometimes I often– well, often I have conversations with parents and they’re talking about their plans because they have a kindergartner who’s going to learn to read and then they have a middle schooler and they have a high schooler. And sometimes they’re surprised when I say plan your academics around your oldest child because you have the least amount of time left with them. [crosstalk] that makes a tremendous amount of difference. Well, we had some great questions so I wanted to turn my attention to those questions because I thought they were so awesome. How do you keep plans simple? How do you keep it from getting over complicated? I love this question because what the mom said was, “I overanalyze and overcomplicate and then nothing gets done.” And I see myself in that because I’m so good at making lists and plans but execution maybe not so great, so
Pam Barnhill: 00:27:30.710
So the first thing I would say is you want to start your homeschool planning with your vision and your goals. So your vision is what is important to us in the big picture of homeschooling. And your vision for homeschooling and education for your children is going to be different than my vision for homeschooling and education. And so this becomes, I call it, the wall for your homeschool spaghetti. You can start throwing things up against it and is it sticking against this vision? Does it stick or does it fall off because it [doesn’t?] go with what I’m doing here. So that’s the first thing, everybody needs to start with a vision. And then the second thing is for every year, you’re going to want to write goals for your kids. And you’re going to want to look at that child– Gretchen was saying earlier, evaluate and observe your child. What is it that this child needs this year because maybe they’re lacking in some skills? Or because they have an interest. So I always encourage to write three to five goals per child and make one of those goals about an interest or a strength this child has. And what these goals do, these are the things that are not going to get dropped. When all of your plates are spinning, these are the plates that are not going to fall down. Because if you have four or five kids, and each of those children are doing 6 subjects in school, you’ve got 24 to 30 subjects to monitor, right? But if you say, this year, this child, he’s doing okay in math, but he really, really needs to learn how to write a sentence in a paragraph. So I’m going to make a goal around him being able to write a sentence in a paragraph. Math is not going on the goals. That doesn’t mean you’re not doing math, but it means when something happens and things often will. And you have to kind of let stuff go for a few weeks. The thing that you’re not forgetting is the writing because that’s where the goal is. You’re not forgetting, you’re not pushing aside, you’re not letting fall the things that you’ve written the goals for. And then when things cycle back around again, you pick up everything else and you keep moving on. Having the goals, having the vision, that’s the thing that keeps you from planning way too much and not being able to get it all done.
Gretchen Roe: 00:29:58.583
So Eleni asks a great question. She said, “Are all of the goals that you set academic?”
Pam Barnhill: 00:30:03.854
They don’t have to be. Because sometimes our kids need more training in character and virtue than they need in academics. And so, no, sometimes that is the greatest need, and we’re educating whole persons here. And so sometimes it’s not necessarily academic.
Gretchen Roe: 00:30:22.825
I remember writing a goal for one of my daughters who is now 27. And that goal was that she would learn to ask a question instead of just being directive at everything. That she would learn the skill of listening through querying others because she had an opinion, and if she wanted to tell you what her opinion was, that was right. And that was the only way for it to go, and I think she was 11 or 12. And that was the single goal I had for her that year. And I think I had it three or four more years before we made any progress with it. So I think that’s– so here’s another question that I think follows into that and the things we’ve been talking about the eldest student. The high school and morning basket, how do you continue and use that time wisely and yet record it for a transcript?
Pam Barnhill: 00:31:27.630
Yeah. And so that is the thing about high school is you want to make sure that you’re honoring their time with that morning basket. And so if you do have kids, mine are fairly close in age together. So we’re going to be able to keep moving along together. And I tell you what I did last year was we read some things. So last year, my youngest was 6th grade, and then I had a 9th grader and an 11th grader. And so we read some things together for history and morning basket. And that was it. That was all my 6th grader did all day long for history. But then I had additional parts of the day, where my oldest two came back and had another history book that they were doing and they were using. And so their history looked a little bit different than what his did. But I still took into account all of the books that we read, and all of the time we spent doing history in the morning basket when I tallied up their hours. So–
Gretchen Roe: 00:32:25.614
I think that’s good advice. And it hadn’t occurred to me until having had that question to ask. So that transcript construction for you– you’ve got two going on right now for that. Are you the arbiter of the transcript? Or is that a collaborative effort? You and them together.
Pam Barnhill: 00:32:47.010
Okay. True confession time. The transcripts all right here right now. [laughter] I mean, I know what we’ve done. I know what credits I’m going to give. I just haven’t put it on paper yet. It’s a goal for the summer. But right now, it’s me. I mean, right now it’s largely me. And so I know what we’ve done each year. I have my records of what we’ve done each year. So it’s just a matter of transferring it over to the transcript form.
Gretchen Roe: 00:33:13.188
Sure. And keeping those records, I think, is a valuable part of the equation as well.
Pam Barnhill: 00:33:18.729
Gretchen Roe: 00:33:20.958
Because we don’t remember as well as we think we’re going to. We love to think we’re going to remember all the things that are important. But sometimes just a cheap $2 notebook is a really valuable portion for you to download that stuff for your brain that you’re not going to remember. Reyna has asked a great question, And it’s, how do you help your child follow special interests that you don’t know about? And her example is a 12-year-old son who is interested in computer game development and design. So I think her question is, how would she help that child pursue that interest when that’s something that she doesn’t have experience with?
Pam Barnhill: 00:34:04.926
Yeah. So for me, it starts with a lot of open tabs on Google. So if I have a kid who’s interested in something, I don’t necessarily want to learn the topic myself, but I want to figure out what is the best way to help this child learn this topic. And so I start searching for the most appropriate places to connect him with. So for example, I have one who is interested in cooking. And so next year, we’re going to do kind of a culinary arts elective. And so I have spent probably a good hour now with a bunch of different tabs open. And it all started with the Google search for online cooking schools. And I found some free options. I found some paid options. I found some monthly subscription options. And I even spent a quite a bit of time searching YouTube to see like, is there just anything available on YouTube that I feel like is appropriate for him and free. That was where my search started. And so fortunately, I found a great free resource that has 20 different lessons. And the way that the lessons were created, is they were created like you get one a day. I think they made it during the pandemic when you had a lot of adults stuck at home, who were young adults and who are like, “Well, now I need to learn how to cook something because it’s really hard to go out and eat,” right?
Gretchen Roe: 00:35:28.209
Pam Barnhill: 00:35:29.141
Yeah. So it was like 20 lessons to be delivered over 20 days. I’m going to take those 20 lessons and make what I call a procedure list for them. And so a procedure list is just, every time he studies cooking, what are the things that he’s going to do? So the first thing he’s going to do is he’s going to watch the video in the lesson. The second thing he’s going to do is read the accompanying blog post. Then he’s going to look through his recipe resources and choose a recipe to make that reflects the skills that he’s learned in that lesson. Then he’s got to make a grocery list and then he’s got to actually make the recipe. So I’m going to take those 20 lessons and stretch them over 20 weeks to make almost a full year’s course in the culinary arts for him. And then we’ll probably take the last– I’ve got some time to find the last few weeks, or I’ll let him choose. Okay, the BBC has a great database of things. And I know that he’s been interested in making homemade pasta and stuff like that. And those things are on there. So I’ll probably let him go in for the last 8 weeks or so and choose which things from the BBC he wants to do but still follow the same procedure list that I set up at the beginning of the year.
Gretchen Roe: 00:36:49.293
And one of the things that I think it’s important for parents to take away from that example is, you’re incorporating more than just culinary arts there. You’re incorporating financial management. You’re incorporating math. You’re incorporating fractions. You’re incorporating a life skillset that is huge for him. And that is so valuable. I have said for years, one of the best blessings I ever did is all six of my children cook and cook very well. And, man, that’s amazing because you want to make it into history? Then take one of those weeks and study Indian cuisine and take another week and study Chinese cuisine. And the ideas are endless, and Mother Google is a wonderful source of information.
Pam Barnhill: 00:37:43.320
It really is.
Gretchen Roe: 00:37:44.071
So here, Kelly has asked a question that’s ancillary to that that I think is good. So how would you calculate hours for the transcript for that? She says she’s new and has a freshman she’s going to be homeschooling. So in your culinary course, how are you going to calculate the hours that he invests, as far as time?
Pam Barnhill: 00:38:03.066
I’m probably just going to watch it the first couple of weeks and see how long it takes. Because I can make an estimate. I can make a prediction of how long I think it would take. And maybe I’ll do that too. But it’s really just going to be a matter of watching him and seeing about how long it takes, based against my estimate, and then does it become a half-credit course or does it become a full credit course based on that?
Gretchen Roe: 00:38:27.714
Right. I mean–
Pam Barnhill: 00:38:28.826
He also works in a food truck. So I think I could pretty much do a full-credit in culinary arts, so.
Gretchen Roe: 00:38:34.476
I think you could. That sounds like a terrific idea. And I think one of the important things to know is, we have over 35 people here with us live and we had close to 200 people register. You need to know how many hours connotes a credit in your state.
Pam Barnhill: 00:38:53.657
Gretchen Roe: 00:38:54.325
And it’s not the same in every state. So it would be important for you to be able to figure that out. So–
Pam Barnhill: 00:39:02.446
Gretchen Roe: 00:39:04.313
[crosstalk] wants to know where you found that free cooking class on YouTube because she thinks it says [crosstalk]–
Pam Barnhill: 00:39:09.145
Well, it’s not on YouTube; it’s on a website. And I do want to say – this is the other point I wanted to make – when you find out how many hours are a credit, don’t just count the hours that he’s been doing the cooking class. Any other hours that he spends cooking can count towards those hours, right? Because he is practicing that skill. And so there was a homeschool mom – I can’t remember who it was – but she kept a composition book of, I believe it was, graph paper. She drew the squares or something like that in there, and each square was 15 minutes. And so a couple of times a week, they would go in. So there would be a page, and this page would be maybe science, and the next page would be history, and the next page would be cooking class. And they would go in a couple of times a week and record how many 15-minute segments they had done by coloring in the squares, and then they could keep track of it.
Gretchen Roe: 00:40:08.444
And I think that’s a really easy way to be able to do that. A little bit of it is thinking proactively, but I have a coworker who has eight children, and she has said that she is very careful when she counts those hours to look at the whole of the child and where the child’s intention was as well. So I think, as a parent, you have a lot of latitude to be able to figure out what that looks like. I am reminded that my middle daughter– when she was turning 12, I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, and she said a pet rat. Said, “Over my dead body.” And I thought I was going to do the perfect homeschool thing, and I sent her to the library to read every book on Pocket Pets that she could possibly do. And I was convinced that she wouldn’t get to the end of that task before she lost interest. I lost, and we’ve had pet rats for 20 years, and I will tell you now that she’s a research biologist–
Pam Barnhill: 00:41:11.809
Gretchen Roe: 00:41:11.219
–who knew that that open-ended kind of assignment was going to lead to that kind of skill as an adult. So I think it’s important for us to recognize that as parents, as well.
Pam Barnhill: 00:41:25.080
Yeah. And okay, so the cooking school is K-I-T-C-H-N, no E, okay. So Kitchn Cooking School was where I found it. So if you Google that, it should pull up the website, and there’s a video and a blog post for each lesson. And the other thing is, someone else had explained to me at one point that you may do a quarter credit– let’s just pretend economics. So you’re doing morning time and every year in morning time, you read an economics book. It’s not enough for any one full year of economics. Maybe it’s only worth a quarter credit of economics. In ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade, you can still give your child a year’s worth of economics credits. So you can let it add up over the course of the four-year education.
Gretchen Roe: 00:42:23.389
I think that’s a really good observation that probably hadn’t occurred to me because you are looking at something that is cumulative. So how do you handle resistance to what is planned? Or what do you say to encourage your students for the plans you’ve made?
Pam Barnhill: 00:42:44.866
“Suck it up, buttercup.” [laughter] So a couple of things– I mean, first of all, I do ask them. I do have conversations with them ahead of time. And so just this weekend, I found an astronomy course, and so I pulled the kid over, and I said, “Okay, look, here it is. It’s like largely PowerPoints that you read. There’s no video lectures to sit through” – because he doesn’t like that – “it’s not textbook-based” – because he doesn’t like that – “this is what it looks like. Here are some of the activities.” And so he has given me the okay. He has given me the green light on that astronomy course. And so he has made that choice, knowing all of the information going into it. So now he gets to do that. So he can take it alone–
Gretchen Roe: 00:43:36.233
That’s a two edged sword. He gets to do that; he will be expected to do that as well. I will tell you that two of my boys have done astronomy courses, one independently and one through the community college, and probably the best hundred bucks I’ve spent was the most popular telescope on Amazon.
Pam Barnhill: 00:44:00.553
Gretchen Roe: 00:44:01.354
And last weekend my 23-year-old son who did an astronomy course independently, three weeks ago, he showed me a picture he had taken of the full moon through the telescope. And then Sunday we all got together to have dinner, and he was like, “Look, mom, I labeled all the things on this moon.” And see, this is what it means to have a lifelong learner is you create kids that have a love for something and it follows them into adulthood.
Pam Barnhill: 00:44:33.639
Yeah. Yeah. Can I say one other thing about pushback though?
Gretchen Roe: 00:44:37.766
Pam Barnhill: 00:44:39.070
So once we’ve had this conversation, what do we want to learn? Okay, here are the options. I’ve presented it to them. I’ve gotten some buy-in on how we’re going to do this and everything. Then I find that the number one thing that helps with pushback during the school year is consistency. If I start getting a lot of pushback from the kids, 9 times out of 10 it’s because I have gotten sloppy. I’ve gotten sloppy with our start times. I’ve gotten sloppy with being consistent, my homeschool. It used to be a problem for me when the kids were little. And I had constant pushback from them about this. And then I kind of, once I realized what the issue was and got myself straight and like, you know what? The way to make homeschooling happier around here is just to simply be more consistent with it. Then things really changed. And it’s lasted–
Gretchen Roe: 00:45:31.207
You gave me a quote when we were planning that I thought was absolutely terrific about consistency.
Pam Barnhill: 00:45:38.387
No, I can’t remember it.
Gretchen Roe: 00:45:39.815
Oh, well, you keep talking. I’ll find it.
Pam Barnhill: 00:45:45.568
But even as teenagers, when I get sloppy, and even sometimes it’s not because I’m lazy or slacking off. It’s because life has gotten really crazy. And one of the places where we kind of struggle getting started is after I’ve gone for a couple of weeks to speak and dad’s been in charge of school and it’s not always quite as checked up on as mom does. And in the nicest way.
Gretchen Roe: 00:46:13.641
It was Lincoln Chafee’s quote you said that trust is built on consistency. And I thought that was so what a valuable observation to recognize that your kids need to trust you and your consistency is going to build that trust. Can you talk a little bit about procedure lists? Because I thought this was so fascinating and I got this out of one of your podcasts and we talked about it last week. And I think this is really a valuable thing for a parent to understand how to build a procedure list and why you would do that.
Pam Barnhill: 00:46:47.771
Yeah. So I alluded to it earlier when I was talking about the cooking school. And so, and that’s the great thing about a procedure list is you can take any resource or any group of resources out there or any curriculum that has a lot of moving parts and is overwhelming. And you can make a procedure list for it. And simply, the procedure list is every time, like the example before, every time we do a cooking lesson, these are the things we’re going to do. This is what it’s going to look like. So I’ve taken a free resource online and I’ve made it into an open-and-go curriculum in my homeschool by making this procedure list. And I can hand that to my son because he’s old enough, but I also make procedure lists just for me. So every time we study history, these are the things that we’re going to do. And so the example I like to give is back in the day when my kids were really little, we used Story of the World Volume 1. It was the ancients. And so if you look at that activity guide, it’s this big. It’s huge. And it has so many options in there. And so if a homeschool mom opens that up on a Sunday afternoon and says, “I’m going to plan history for the week. She’s going to be there for a while. Right? You’re going to miss a lot of time with your family. And so what I decided was, “This is the basics. Every time we do a history chapter, these are the five or six things we’re going to do every single time.” And so it was listen to the chapter on the audio, have the kids narrate using the questions, do the coloring page, do the map activity, and– I don’t know. There was a fifth one. I can’t remember what it was. That was years ago. But these are the things we’re going to do. And so I would type it up, print it out, and keep it next to me, and every time open it up and look at that list and say, “These are the things we’re going to do next.” If I wanted to add in an optional fun activity like mummifying a chicken, I could still do that, but I didn’t have to. I already had my plan in place.
Gretchen Roe: 00:48:57.365
And I think that helps you stay on task as well so you don’t get buried in the details, because as a homeschool mom, it’s easy for me to get buried in the details too.
Pam Barnhill: 00:49:08.600
Oh, totally. And when Tuesday morning rolls around, and the toddler’s screaming and pulling at your leg because he doesn’t feel well, and the dog’s gotten out of the gate again, and everything’s just a little bit chaos, and now you’ve got to calm everyone and start school, the last thing you want to do is open up the science book and say, “Where were we supposed to start? What were we supposed to do first?” Whereas, if you have your procedure list, you can just do the next thing.
Gretchen Roe: 00:49:35.824
I think that’s very valuable. So Elba has asked another question. How would you maintain consistency if you are working full time?
Pam Barnhill: 00:49:44.055
That’s really tough, and I think it depends. You’ve got to look at what your schedule is, things like that. Now, there is something that we call a minimum viable day. And so the minimum viable day is the least amount of school that you can do in a day and still feel good about having done school. And the way you use this tool is you ask yourself, “Do I need my minimum viable day to be something that the kids can do without me so that they feel like they’re consistently doing school every day?” And so in your case, when you’re working, what I would do is I would come up with maybe three, maybe four things that your kids can do without you that could still be schooly, be school-like. Right? And if you have– let’s say you have a five-year-old or a six-year-old. Maybe they can do one page out of Explode the Code or one of those Rod and Staff preschool workbooks. Maybe they could do one of those by themselves, and then maybe they could listen to an audiobook. And then maybe they could play a math game on the iPad. Right? So there are three things right there. You tell them, “This is your school for the day, and every day we do school. Some days we do this school. Some days we do big school because Mom’s here. But every day we do school.”
Gretchen Roe: 00:51:13.312
I think that’s very valuable advice. You have so many irons in the fire as a speaker, a blogger, a podcaster. How do you recharge? What do you do to recharge Pam?
Pam Barnhill: 00:51:28.480
I binge-watch TV shows with my daughter. [laughter] I mean, that’s one thing that I like to do. I like to sit out on the front porch and have coffee with my husband and my dog in the morning. And I have a prayer app that I use and listen to, and that’s kind of my meditation and kind of a quiet time. I love to read books in the bubble bath. So I have my bubble bath books that I absolutely love to read. So that’s another way that I recharge. Those are probably my main ways right there.
Gretchen Roe: 00:52:03.547
I think those are good suggestions. So when you plan a week or a semester, how do you know if it’s too much?
Pam Barnhill: 00:52:11.717
I think time helps with that, right? But I don’t plan– okay, so I don’t plan and say like– planning is simply being prepared with a list of possibilities, right? And so if you think about a school, they’re going to have a textbook and the teacher is going to make lesson plans based on that textbook and she’s not necessarily going to use the whole thing. So when I look at planning for history for next year, I’ve got this list of possibilities, all of these lessons sitting and waiting for me that we could do, and our goal is to get to as many of them as possible. But if there are 5 or 10 left undone at the end of the year, I don’t lose any sleep over it. I don’t worry about gaps in my kids’ education because if you really are honest and you think back to when you graduated high school or when you graduated college, you didn’t know everything there was to know in the world. Right? And so–
Gretchen Roe: 00:53:15.496
That’s true. Although I thought I did. [laughter]
Pam Barnhill: 00:53:17.347
Oh, yeah. We totally thought we did, right? Smartest person in the world, that’s me. No. But you didn’t. I mean, actually, the older you get, the more you realize you didn’t know. You didn’t know way more than you did know when you graduated. And so I’m not worried about filling in all of those gaps for my kids. They have a lifetime. My friend Sarah McKinsey says that gaps are a gift that you give your kids because then they have so much more to learn when they leave your homeschool. And I think we’ve got to get out of our head this mindset that education ends at 18 or education ends at 22. At this point, we’ve just given them the tools they need to go forward and keep learning.
Gretchen Roe: 00:54:00.828
I think that’s a very true statement and I love it. Well, we have five minutes left, but Hannah’s asked a good question because I want to know the answer to it too. I know what I binge watch with my youngest daughter, which is cooking shows. [laughter] We’re working our way through the Great British baking show and MasterChef and another one. But her question is, what– Hannah has an 11-year-old and is looking for shows to binge watch with her daughter. And I know your daughter is 17 so those are probably [crosstalk].
Pam Barnhill: 00:54:37.500
That’s a little different. [laughter] Yeah. It’s a little different when they’re 17 and 11. One thing I will recommend is All Creatures Great and Small. The reboot on PBS has been excellent. Absolutely excellent and the kids enjoyed it and perfect for an 11-year-old. Can totally watch that.
Gretchen Roe: 00:54:59.822
Pam Barnhill: 00:55:00.642
So that’s one I would recomend.
Gretchen Roe: 00:55:01.374
So Pam in these last four minutes, what would you tell parents so that they would be able to walk away feeling like they have gotten your best advice?
Pam Barnhill: 00:55:12.501
Just prepare. I mean, that’s the thing. My friend Brandy Vencel has a quote that says, “We don’t have any control over bad days but we have a lot of control over what normal looks like.” And so prepare your normal and be ready with the normal for the days that go well so you know what you’re doing each and every day. And get off the grid. Planning is not about what we’re going to be doing at 9:30 on September 24th. That’s not it. Have your list of possibilities prepared and then be ready to go with them when the good days hit.
Gretchen Roe: 00:55:54.266
I think that’s really terrific advice because kids don’t wait. And if you’re not prepared, it’s real hard to retrieve them once you’ve lost their attention and once you’ve lost their focus. I have to say, Pam, thank you so much for spending this hour with me. My heart is full because you have so much to share and so much to give. In the last couple of minutes, can you give people your website again? And I know you have a class that incorporates all of this. So can you talk a little bit about that as well?
Pam Barnhill: 00:56:28.766
Yeah. We’re at pambarnhill.com. And the class is at pambarnhill.com/autopilot. Will get you to the put your homeschool year on autopilot planning course, which you get a year of our finishers club where you get to come in with our mentors for planning every week during the summer and every month during the school year. And then right now, we have our bonus through July 1st. So we’re offering like three extra goodies if you purchase the course between now and July 1st. So it’s all at pambarnhill.com/autopilot.
Gretchen Roe: 00:57:02.908
I think it would be well worth your time as a follow-up to go check that out. Thank you all so much. Good question from Heather before we conclude, where is the blog? Go to demmelearning.com/blog and you can find every webinar that we have produced in the last year posted there. And I think you’ll fill your cup. If you’re looking for something to recharge, that would be a great place to go. And let me also encourage you that Pam’s podcasts are absolutely excellent and worth your time. Pam, can you tell us those one more time?
Pam Barnhill: 00:57:37.009
Yeah, thanks, Gretchen. Your Morning Basket podcast and then Ten Minutes to a Better Homeschool podcast. And you can find them on all the little podcast places and YouTube, so.
Gretchen Roe: 00:57:47.508
I found them on Pocket Casts. And Pam has spent every morning with me the last week. While I’m on my hour walk, I’m with Pam, and it’s been terrific. Take care, everyone. Pam, thanks for the time. I look forward to seeing you in Texas in a few weeks. Pam Barnhill: 00:58:02.310
Thanks, Gretchen. Yeah, no, not a few weeks, next week.
Gretchen Roe: 00:58:05.889
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, a few weeks.
Pam Barnhill: 00:58:08.228
Gretchen Roe: 00:58:08.919
It’s easier if I say it that way.
Pam Barnhill: 00:58:12.120
All right. Thank you so much.
Gretchen Roe: 00:58:13.949
Take care. Have a wonderful 4th of July, everyone. Take care. Bye-bye. This is Gretchen Roe for the Demme Learning Show. Thanks for joining us. You can access the show notes and watch a recording at demmelearning.com/show or go on our YouTube channel. Be sure to rate, review, follow, or subscribe wherever you may be hearing this, especially if you really enjoyed it.
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Find homeschooling resources on Pam’s website.
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