Archive for the ‘Homeschooling’ Category

Family Devotional for Lent

Since today is the first day of Lent, I got out our book, Family Celebrations at Easter, by Ann Hibbard.  I highly recommend this book, as it appeals to many ages and more than one learning style, and focuses on the gospel.

Each devotional begins with a short present-day story or situation, then moves to a Bible reading (not very long) pertaining to Lent.  Then come discussion questions, and I usually start with the youngest child and work my way around the table of kids, asking the provided questions and making up a few of my own.  I can quickly think of easy questions for the younger kids, and the more thought-provoking questions often launch my older kids into a meaningful discussion of the topic at hand.

The devotional ends with a short prayer and a suggested hymn, and then instructions about which symbol* to hang on our Lent tree.  The kids have fun guessing which symbol it is, based on that day’s reading.

*We copied the symbols (from the back of the book) a few years ago onto card stock, cut them out, colored them, and tied pretty yarn to each of them.  Also, we don’t have a tree; one year we just tied the symbols to a crocheted string hung across our fireplace mantel.


Homeschooling Experiment

I’ve always been a little stressed out about doing only school in the morning and leaving everything else (like laundry, cleaning, etc.) for the afternoon.  What normally happens is, I’m too tired after lunch to begin (let alone finish) the “physical labor” involved in housekeeping.  And it just seems so much more right/wholesome/even biblical to get up and get my hard work done in the morning.

So…we’re going to try a little experiment to “free up” my mornings.  My goal is to spend three hours “doing school” in the afternoon.  (I know some of you are gasping about that short amount of time, but I just can’t spend my whole day doing school!  And we do go year-round, which relieves some of the pressure to do everything all at the same time.)  Also, instead of doing school Monday through Thursday, I think we’ll do Tuesday through Thursday, with half-days on Monday and Friday.  That way, I can focus on most of the laundry on Monday morning, most of the house cleaning on Friday morning, and other weekly and monthy chores Tuesday throught Thursday.

My older kids can begin their school work in the morning, with the goal of having only “group school” remaining–and/or work with which they need my help. 

We’ll see how it goes, but wouldn’t you know, my plan will be “messed up” right from the get-go because this Monday is Labor Day!  :{

“Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.”  (Proverbs 16:3)


“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro, throughout the whole earth TO GIVE STRONG SUPPORT to those whose hearts are blameless toward Him.” (2 Chron 16:9a)

As a homeschooling mom with seven children, my life sometimes feels REALLY complicated and overwhelming, and I need STRONG SUPPORT!  God is LOOKING for people to help!  I’m so glad that this verse does not say that the Lord is looking to give strong support to those who “show potential” or are already “successful.”  All I need to do is have a “blameless” heart…

I hope that this at least partially means feeling helpless and DEPENDING on God alone for everything—everything from salvation to putting one foot in front of the other when I don’t feel like it! And even though I don’t like the feeling of helplessness (because I feel like I must be doing something wrong; maybe I bit off more than I could chew), I think that the more helpless I feel, and therefore the more DEPENDENT I am on God, the more He will give me strong support and work through me.

But I don’t think we moms always see God’s power at work in us because we’re so in-the-thick-of-it (—and we still feel so overwhelmed!)

Also, it simplifies my life and alleviates some anxiety to remember that God can do more for my children (IF I DEPEND ON HIM through prayer and obedience) than I could ever do on my own—even if I had all the time in the world!

  • “Every new duty calls for more grace than I now possess, but not more than is found in thee… May [I] honor thee by my entire dependency and the greatness of my expectation.” (Valley of Vision)

Book Review – The Organized Homeschooler by Vicki Caruana

I really liked this book!  This is from the Introduction . . .

“When we decided to bring our children home to school, I was suddenly faced with more organizational challenges than ever before.  At first I tried to order things the way I did when I had my own classroom as a public school teacher.  The more I tried to make our homeschool look and feel like  a classroom, the more frustrated and disappointed I became.  There was a definite flaw in my system . . . My [new] goal was to have what we needed when we needed it and to have my children just as able to maintain that order as I.”

I can attest to the fact that this is VERY important!

From Chapter 1 . . .

“The premise of this book is that becoming more organized is a matter of the heart . . . The second premise is that you can  become a more organized homeschooler, even if you are already quite discouraged.  You can because you can do all things through Him who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13) . . . Your desire to become a more organized homeschooler is one that is pleasing to God.”

She goes on to discuss the heart of organization and its purpose, then organizing your thoughts, time, space, supplies, paperwork and family.  She also discusses habits, nuts and bolts, a workable filing system and master lists.  Every chapter ends with a short list that basically summarizes the chapter. 

What I Liked:  I really liked Chapter 11, The Nuts and Bolts of an Organized Homeschool.  ( I even looked the author up online to see if she had a website.  Sadly, no.)  She talks about almost every system out there and their pros and cons.  She recommends color-coding your students supplies, which is VERY helpful; we’ve been doing that for awhile.   (Our only problem is we can’t always find orange AND purple in addtion to the standard colors, since we now need seven colors.) 

What I Didn’t Like:  The only thing I didn’t like was her mild emphasis on how much TIME you should spend doing school.  In the Chapter “Organize Your Time,” she writes, “if you homeschool and say you are always done before noon, I might…raise an eyebrow.”  When my kids were younger, I sure WAS done before noon–at least before a late lunch!  (My BRAIN was done, whether I wanted to be or not!)  Even today, most of my interaction with my kids about school is done before lunch.  After that, they’re on their own.  Now, the author does say that creating a balance is key, so maybe she just has a different idea of balance than I do.  (She does have only two kids, not seven!)

Other than that, I thought the book was very helpful, and I have implimented a few of her ideas, and hope to try more as time and money allow!  I think the biggest concept I came away with was, if it isn’t easy to get or use or put away, it’s not a good system, because nobody (especially a child) wants to go out of their way to put things away properly.  I’d have to say that one of our biggest problems (and time-waster) is not being able to find things when we need them!

Note:  I should add then when I first read the title, I thought it was a book for STUDENTS, but no, it’s for the MOM!

Diligence – Sometimes Things Don’t Go As Planned

I just happened across this post today, probably because I was looking up “diligence” (one of my favorite words) online.  “Our Simple Joy” appears to be the blog of a like-minded mom, so I thought I would link to her post about teaching (and learning) diligence.

After a children’s lesson on diligence that incorporated gardening into the activities, she said,

“I think God was teaching me diligence in this day also.  I have to say when the little pots started to blow away, my kids eyes were filled with flower seed, and Ella tripped on her journey for water,  I wanted to wave my white flag and give up.  Sometimes things don’t go as planned, children don’t cooperate, and unexpected delays happen.  I learned today that I have to be diligent in all I do too!!”  (Bold mine)

It’s the keeping-on-going in the face of what looks like a disaster (sometimes with a fake smile) that not only leads to eventual “success,” but also teaches our children that to not give up is a very valuable skill–especially if it’s undergirded with prayer and biblical principles!

“Home Ec” Friday – Strawberry Shortcake Squares in May

I mentioned in an earlier post that we homeschool year round, and one of the benefits of that is having time to do non-textbook-activities every week, since we do our regular school-work Monday through Thursday.  Today, for example, we are getting ready to have our small group at our house in the evening, and we are making strawberry shortcake. 

So my kids are learning how to cut in butter to make shortcake dough (basically biscuit dough),

. . . and roll it out and cut it.

We used this recipe, but instead of rolling out the dough and then cutting out circles, which would require re-rolling and cutting (and then those biscuits are a little tougher), I learned from a friend (thanks, Nina!) that you can do this: 

Here’s how they turned out:

Later, we will top them with sliced and sugared strawberries and whipped cream, and it should look like the above picture!  I hope!

Why We Homeschool Year-round

Around this time of year, since we homeschool, we often get the question, “When will you be done with school?”  And I reply, “Oh, we homeschool year-round.”  This is when the other person probably feels really sorry for my kids (and me), but I actually love it!  (And the kids don’t know this, but they like it, too.  Have you ever tried to take a week off, but stay at home?  The kids are bored by Wednesday!) 

So why do we like it?

    • First, we regularly do school Monday through Thursday, which means we get one day off every week.  (And you can’t get bored in one day.)    So Friday is cleaning and/or project day.
    • Also, on that “day off,” the kids don’t get bored.  I get much less done when my kids are bored.  Enough said. 
    • I don’t feel guilty taking days off for special occasions year-round, like birthdays, Holy Week, traveling, preparing for Christmas, helping out at church, etc.  (I would even call a nice day in Minnesota (in May) a special occasion!) 
    • Learning is not a bad thing, so we shouldn’t need a three-month “break” from it. 
    • Book-learning (school) is only a part of our day, but everything seems to go out the window when we take a break from “school.”  So basically, it keeps us spending our time wisely year round.
    • I don’t want to spend the month of September reviewing—that means four months off.
    • Summer vacation is not real life for most people in the world, nor will it be for my kids in 6 to 16 years, so I don’t want them to “live” for time-off.  (Why can’t we enjoy a lifestyle that includes work?)

Did I miss any?  Happy work-day!