Monday, February 28, 2011

Our School Room

We are so blessed this year to have an actual school room!  Last year the 3 little students had to share the corner of a dining room and one table. It worked well for us, but it was a little cramped....

(I promise Ellie loves making strange faces while I photograph, she really isn't frightened)

This year......we have a whole room to call our school room!
We were immensely blessed this year to have a dear friend give us these desks for free!!! I know it looks a little stiff, but they love their desks. They spend hours at them~mostly when we aren't doing school! And they get their own little spaces under the desks to house their mess and clutter special items.

 The tall white drawers house the kids activities and work. We loosely follow Sue Patrick's workbox system.
Gracia's activities (blocks, magnatiles, puzzles, play dough....) are in the colored baskets to the left.

We were also blessed with a computer for the kids (my parents made a school donation). I can bookmark all their websites, games, links and they can play or learn at will! They love having a little cove and their very own computer!

Just so you didn't think I was a total neat freak....this is what this area looks like today. Yup, it's a mess.

And so is the rest of the room. It's hard to keep such a dynamic area neat. The kids help out a little but....well this is reality.

We start out the day here:
Of course it's not that neat right now. But we read books, do Character training, do Calendar Time activities. It's a nice place to use during the day!

So this is where you'll find us much of the day. Of course we also use the counters and tables throughout the house when we want to spread out.

My next addition I would love would be a huge Bulletin Board! I would absolutely love a place to decorate with themes as well a put up the kids art work for all to see!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Facebook invite

Just wanted to share a link to my facebook group Homeschool Finds ! I love sharing things I find around the web and don't always get a chance to post them in the blog. But if you'd like to get updates on Freebies and Fabulous ideas or websites....follow along with us!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

New Zealand Relief Bundle

If you are looking for a great way to donate money to the relief efforts in New Zealand visit Currclick for an amazing deal!

They are offering a Bundle of downloads worth $254.23 for only $20! All to be donated to the Red Cross!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Featured Photo!

SO exciting!
Come visit! A photograph of mine is featured over at the Homeschool Post today!

Making your own Sidewalk Chalk!

Last year for Valentine's Day giveaways I made crayons out of well....crayons. I know creative right? Okay so if you missed that post you can catch up on the idea here {and no, I didn't come up with the idea, I just bought a cookie pan with the fun shapes to melt them in. Anyway, they turned out great and were a big hit.

So this year I sprouted another idea. Something fun without the sugar and allergy warnings! Plus spreading a little creativity along the way!

So this year we are making.......

Homemade sidewalk chalk! 
And let me tell you it's way easier than pealing all those crayons! Especially the ones you hadn't even used yet! You need a few simple ingredients and you are on your way to some sidewalk art fun!

Gather your indredients: Plaster of Paris, Powder tempera paint (liquid would work, but powder works  the best for vibrant consistent colors), cookie tins or muffin tins (I bought girl shapes and boy shapes at Target), a tuperware bowl or disposable paper bowl, measuring cups and spoons. 

Chalk recipe: 2 cups of plaster to 1 cup water , 1-2 T of powder tempera paint.
A few notes about the recipe: You ratio of plaster to water may be different than mine. The thicker it is the faster it will set BUT the harder it is to pour, you have to find a middle ground. You can use liquid tempera paint but your colors will be very muted, if you do that add the paint to the plaster first and then add water. Since you are adding a liquid you'll add less water than the 1st recipe called for. The best results we had were with powder Tempera. There is a lot of wiggle room, you can always add water or plaster if it doesn't seem right. If you have disposable bowls and mixing spoons I'd use those....
 Measure your water first, add the plaster and paint and mix......
 and mix.......
and mix some more!

Pour your concotion into the molds and wait! It takes about an hour (sometimes longer) for the plaster to harden and dry enough on the outside. They are pretty hard to get out of the mold so don't be afraid to wack the tin against the counter or tap the back of the mold itself. We didn't have any chalk break and I was pretty rough!
Cute huh? And of course we tried them out and they work great and wash right off! You have to wait about 24 hours after they are out of the mold for the inside of the plaster to fully dry, but have fun. 
These make great gifts for Birthdays, goodie bags, for a class or Co-op!

Homeschool Mother's Journal - 2

In my life this week...

We have started preparing for my sister to return home with her husband and their 2 children! That means a little more organizing and shifting of rooms and boxes! Not an easy task, but one I look forward to!
In our homeschool this week...

We started learning about the Skeletal system and I actually saved bones from our dinner to look at! Not exactly what I had in mind when I started Homeschooling! But very fascinating!
We are also preparing to add Bella (K4) to our Homeschooling classroom! Trying to get another desk, figuring out where her workboxes will go.
Places we're going and people we're seeing...
We are hoping to spend some time with friends that were visiting Cali for a few weeks. That is code for (we are breaking out the smoker and throwing in some ribs!)
My favorite thing this week was...
On a trip to Costco late one evening, all four kids in tow,  I was witness to the pure joy of my children for no other reason, except life. I threw the usual task of trying to keep reigns on them and let them run, jump and giggle through the isles. Yes, a few innocent customers may have been horrified in the process, however no one was injured. In the parking lot, while I was lagging behind, Liora in sling, I was able to witness the singing and hand motions of Jonah and Ellie of a new song they had learned in Children's Worship. I could not keep from smiling and giggling myself. How wonderful it must feel to dance and jive in the middle of a parking lot without a second thought about who is watching........
What's working/not working for us...
Planning did NOT happen this week at all! I fell off that wagon with such a busy weekend last weekend. But we trucked right along anyway! What did work was our Science and History Units again! What fun we had watching videos on the San People of the Kalahari Desert in Africa. We'll be cooking up Fried Plantains and Papaya Fried Rice next week to taste some African dishes!
Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...
Reading "The Schools our Children Deserve" is incredibly thought provoking. I'm questioning a lot of what we do and how we do it in our Homeschool setting. It seems so much of what I believed to be a healthy learning environment, may not be! Gonna keep reading though........and sharing! 
A photo, video, link, or quote to share...
David Perkins (on memorizing random facts and dates in school)

~"Over and over again, studies have demonstrated that we memorize best when we analyze what we are learning, find patterns in it, and relate it to knowledge we already have. In other words, when we think about it."

There has to be a connection between what we are learning and ourselves, if not students simply memorize facts until they need them for a test, and then mind dump them! If we want learning to make an impact our children need time to digest and connect with the information!And that takes...well.....time!

If you enjoyed this post and would like to join in the Journal, head on over to Homeschool Chick and link up! Thanks for reading!

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Week-long Holiday

Another fabulous reason I love can take a Holiday, turn it into a theme and make last the whole week long!

That's what we did last week for Valentine's Day!

We took Love and talked about it all week long.....

We memorized and discussed John 3:16
And did a craft using my favorite Stamp Pads from Lakeshore Learning(they are incredibly washable!)

We talked about 1 Corinthians 13 and what Love really looks like...
FREE Copywork Printable

We used candies as counters, making patterns, and sorting!

Even Gracie got in the action when she wasn't munching on the sorters!

I found a Math game on Kidssoup that had the kids counting, sorting and adding! Each child had a "grocery list" of candies to buy from the store!
They played with this for quite a while.

I love being able to expand a subject or Holiday and stretch it out. We had a fun week eating chocolate fondue, lots of strawberries, breakfasts and lunches cut into heart shapes. Making "learning" fun and memorable makes the day so much sweeter!

What kinds of thing do you do around Holidays to make them special for your Homeschooler?

Lapbooking Mania!

So I wanted to share a little more about what we are doing this school year for Gracia...and they are centered around LAPBOOKS! I am just loving this idea the more I find and make them! I've made 4 of them now...and printed off enough materials for a few more! Here are some photos of one of them to give you an idea of what it looks like::

     On the Farm
This is the cover, a regular file folder opened, and re-folded so the opening is in the center.
 Activity pockets are attatched on either side of  the file folder, and filled with various activities!

This particular folder had a lot included! I didn't add anything to it! Everything tucks away neatly into it's own pockets!

Activities like sequencing, matching, coloring, puzzles and more!

Because I LOVE my laminator so much I even laminated the coloring sheets! You can have your child color on the laminated sheets with dry erase markers OR.....
Cool huh? Found em at Toys R Us but I'm sure you can find them else where! They even come with a little eraser mit! So I have those stashed away for Gracia to try out!

I've tried this lapbook out with Gracia and here is what I can tell you to help you along the road:

  • For her age (she JUST turned 2) you'll have to do a lot of working along side her. As she gets a little older she'll be able to do the activities on her own.
  • Laminate EVERYTHING! Little hands are NOT gentle with the parts to the lapbook!
  • Break down the activities into smaller activities. For instance, for with the head and tails matching I would have 1 head and give her a choice of 3 tails to choose from, too many options seemed to overwhelm her.
  • Some of the activities have a lot of cards that go with them, it gives you a bit more room to use a larger envelope for the holder and past the title on the envelope. That way the lamination doesn't pull away from the file folder::

 This folder has 2 alphabet pockets with 26 letter each, that makes for a lot of cards for one little pocket!

I found great bold colored business sized envelopes at Office Max, sealed them, cut the end off and glued it open side up to the file folder, then when you laminate over it, take sharp scissors or a razor blade and gently  cut the lamination right about the envelope to make it a pocket!
  • I would also Book rings (found at Office Max) to keep the letter and color books together. I've seen some lapbooks with them staples but, being a Mom of 4 kids and knowing that ALL 4 are going to want to flip through these, I think the rings will make them more user friendly for a longer time!

  • Use your older kids to "teach" the younger! Within each school day I have time set aside for each child to work (or play!) together. It's a time they really look forward to as a treat! Using a lap book with an older child would be a great way to reinforce what the older child knows already as well as create a bond with the younger!
  • Don't forget those older kids! They love lap books and file folder games as well and Homeschool Share has lapbooks for ALL ages! You can look on their Scope and Sequence for science, phonics, history (anything!!) and surprise them with a lapbook all of their own!
  • Using your publisher program (or windows) you can spend some time and make your OWN lapbook! I've got a few in my head floating around that if I get around to them I'll be glad to share the pdf's for!
  • Bible Lapbooking can be found here! Follow the links and you'll find many more ideas!
  • many MORE very cute Lapbook/Totbook ideas found here!
So get started on those lapbooks! They are very easy to make if you can print, cut and glue you are on your way!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This is great.....

I came across this, I thought it was so great considering these are the questions many homeschooling families get along the way.....

Homeschooling Conversation from the Future

Monday, February 21, 2011

Unschooling Experiment {Observation 1}

Okay so it wasn't planned as such, but I had a lot to do one Friday {affectionately names our Science-History-Art Day} and so I sat back and let the kids do what they wanted. The following is a list of learning and exploring on a day I did nothing to foster it, I only allowed it.

  • The kids all watched some Brain Pop videos on animal Camoflage and Vincent Van Gogh. (science and art history)
  • They wanted to paint, all of them experimented with color mixing, line and shapes. Ellie made a self portrait and a landscape and then some abstract art. Gracia did a self portrait that looked like abstract art. (art)
  • Jonah played with his Batman computer, Math games dealing with addition, subtraction, division and multiplication (which we haven't even covered yet) (math)
  • Jonah read a book on Greek Myths to the girls (history and reading)
  • Ellie read some pages from her Hooked On Phonics book, only a page away from reading book 2 on her own! (reading)
  • Ellie did some coloring and "map drawing", a little crafting as well. (fine motor skills/ geography)
  • All the kids played outside trying to build traps and forts like Bear Grylls. (PE/engineering/life skills)
  • Jonah and Ellie scoped out the Science experiment book and tried to make a soda can float like a submarine.(science)
  • They had some social interaction with kids from Church (socializing)
  • Worked on fine motor skills while coloring after a Bible lesson. (fine motor skills)
  • Jonah read his Bible reader after lights out (reading)
I'm a little embarrassed to admit on a day I didn't "do school" with them, they covered many more subjects than we do in a day and were self directed as they did it. This was literally the first time I just sat back and recorded exactly what they did all day, while I allowed them to do as they please. I even said no to a few things because of what I need to accomplish on that day, but if we had more time, we would have added to that list as well!

So learning and curiosity are there.....and they do have interests in learning even when I'm not forcing it on them......this is something interesting. Very interesting....

Homeschool Mother's Journal - 1

In my life this week~
I struggled with motivation to get things done. Some weeks are just like that. It seems one week I'm superwoman and another....I'm just me! I read a lot of encouraging blogs and different aspects of Homeschooling which was inspiring!
Dave and I were able to attend a Marriage conference at our church which as also so encouraging and eye opening!

In my Homeschooling week~
I started doing a little research about unschooing and different educational philosophies, which at some point I will discuss further. I am very interested in the ideas behind some of these philosophies! I even did a little observation of my own and was honestly astounded at what I found!  That is for tomorrow!

Places we are going and People we are seeing~
We are praying about a possible missions trip this summer to Wyumi. It's a missions camp in VA designed to give High Schoolers exposure to the missions field! 

My favorite thing this week~
Was sitting in sessions with my husband at the marriage conference! And having conversations with people I normally don't get a chance to! (I'm a talker!) With a Momma's girl 9 month Old, I haven't been able to sit through many church services so I was blessed this weekend to be able to attend nearly ALL of them!!!!

Also we did a whole week on LOVE instead of just celebrating on Monday. We made heart shaped pink pancakes and sandwiches and talked about John 3:16 as well as 1 Corinthians 13....what a great week!

What's working/not working for us~
Our Friday schedule of doing Science.History.Art is the BOMB. We all look forward to Fridays for many reasons. It's a day of true exploration, it's a day to start us relaxing for the weekend! And the kids are learning so much on their own time and interests!

Homeschool thoughts/questions~
I am really looking into the idea of unschooling. I'm not sure at all where it will lead, but I love learning and this is an area I know little about! Requested about 100 books from the public library!

A video,link or quote~
I found this great article on Homeschooling, it's humorous but so true. I see so much truth in it as well!
Homeschooling Conversations   


Saturday, February 19, 2011

What I know now vs. then

When we started Homeschooling (this is our 2nd formal year, 3rd year if you include some home pre-schooling) it was for many reasons.

1) I love teaching and missed it!
2) Jonah showed a real interest in knowledge and wanted to learn, he loved our school time together!
3) I thought I had to do something with him to keep him "caught up" with the other kids who were getting the "benefit" of a preschool enviornment
4) The schools around us were not safe for him nor were they great schools (in my opinion).
5) We had (and still have) Philosophical differences on the Worldview Public schools present.

Now I can add to that list.....

1) I know I am my child's best teacher.  I know my child better than any one, care about them more deeply than anyone. I know what helps interest them and motivate them, what frustrates them and bores them as well.

2) With me they get an IEP, an Individualized Educational Plan. We can work at their pace, we can spend more or less time on things they struggle with and master quickly. We have freedom and ease to explore what interests them, not just what's on the schedule! We can try new ways of learning a concept, change directions, try something different.

3) We have freedom. Freedom from time frames and schedules, freedom from philosophies and negative peer pressure. Freedom to decide what and when and where. To take time off, change our minds, take a break learn a little longer. Stop for a snack ,take a walk, play.......breathe.

What I knew then had very little to do about the education and more about me. My fears of him being behind, getting hurt at school, etc.

Now we homeschool because it's best for them. It does mean my time is cut short, my house is a mess, my stress level is higher some days. But I wouldn't trade it for what I know now....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

FREE 30 day Trial

Get a FREE 30 day trial of using this code: EDUCBMF30

If you are a parent of a Middle School or High School aged student this is a great resource! Find lectures and help for the following subjects:

Math (Basic Math-AP Statistics)
Computer Science 

Literally Hundreds of hours of lectures and lessons by Professors and Professionals designed to help YOUR CHILD! 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Baby {IS} the Lesson!

I recently found this amazing article, The Baby IS the Lesson By Diane Hopkins. It hit really close to home with me. Teaching Jonah and Ellie is a privileged and a wonderful experience for me. Often times though, my frustration is with disruptions from either Gracia (2) and the Baby (9months). It's hard enough to get the kids to focus on a single task without Gracia trying to tackle on (or both) of them and the baby crying! Some times I just get them started and I'm needed somewhere else.

I forget so easily though, that real life IS the homeschooling lesson! It's NOT just about reading and Math and the Great Wall of China. Yes those are important, YES they are learning those. But my response in ALL situations is a lesson worth learning far more importantly than others.

I fret about the examples and lessons they might learn in different school settings....but honestly is my response what I want them to learn? Am I really being that light and witness I want for them? Not always.

If you have the time, read the article, because the baby really is the lesson.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

{FREE} Planner Printables!

Pre-printed planners are nice, the are. But so is a Laminator and a Binding machine with THESE FREEBIES!

With this site you can totally customize your planner! Punch some holes in them and throw them in a binder for flexibility, or Make your own cover, laminate it and use your Binding machine to make your very own Homeschool Planner! (Just a little side note, owning a Laminator and a Binding machine are GREAT but not necessary homeschool tools~but I sure do love both of them!)

It's February, I know planning typically takes place in the summer or winter, but I am constantly asking how I can do things better, more efficiently. And sometimes that means making a change! Or at least drooling over all the lovely planning sheets!

What do you use to plan your Homeschool days?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

{Love} Link up!

Valentine's Day is right around the.....WAIT! It's TOMORROW!

Did it sneak up on you!? That's okay. I've been collecting some great ideas for you to work on TODAY! These take little or no planning, some might take a quick trip to the store. Heart we go!

Free Printables offered by Rubber Punkin

Easy Valentine's Snack we'll be trying out!

A last minute gift for a Sunday School Teacher or Co-Op friend!

A fun Sticky Hands craft with supplies you already have at home!

Getting the littles involved with this one! Or put the parts in a bag covered in hearts for your Valentine to do!

Try a Sugar~Free way to enjoy the day!

Put the ART in heart by recycling those broken crayons!

A FREE Lollipop printout as well as a FREE tutorial for Picnik!

Hopefully you'll find something here to make Valentine's Day a little more fun with  the kids!

Oh....and since this is Homeschooling Blog, I'll add a few educational links so you don't feel so guilty for enjoying the day of hearts and love!

Starfall has a cute Valentine

A variety of Crosswords and word plays for older kids

A little History of Valentine's Day

Wait until the day after Valentine's Day, pick up a few heart shaped boxes and some Clearance cards for next year! go eat some Chocolate!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Spring Cleaning {CURRICULUM} Giveaway!

This is HUGE.....wait.....ENORMOUS

Want to win free curriculum? Join in the Spring Cleaning Blog Hop!
Have curriculum taking up precious room on your shelves? Join in the giveaway and Bless another family!

 Visit this link to learn more about the giveaway, locate MORE giveaways and visit new blogs!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Gong Hei Fatt Choy! {Links!}

Happy New Year!
(in Cantonese)

This week's unit from Story of the World (Volume 1) was Ancient China. And how cool is it that our learning about China corresponded with the Chinese New Year? Yup, that's how God has worked in our Homeschooling throughout the year. A friend of ours (not knowing what we were studying) invited us to see her son be a part of a Dragon Parade at the Elementary school so we trucked on over an let the kids see what that was all about! HOW COOL! (I think I was more excited about the coincidence than the kids!) Here are some other fun things you can do to teach about Ancient China and Chinese New Year!

Some fun facts about Chinese New Year

And some free Power point slide shows from Mr. Donn (this site is amazing and has GREAT links for games, activities and projects!)

Online Tangrams! From PBS also this great site for more Tangram activities

We get a lot less cookies baked this way.....
Oh so yummy Almond Cookies

Choose from a variety of easy, cheap Crafts

We even Ordered Chinese Food and practiced using Chopsticks!

 Played with Felt food (easy sew-free tutorial!)

We had a fun-ducational day! It's important to remember when doing mini Unit studies (like these) you have to be picky about what you are learning and what activities you'll do. The first few times I tried to cram in way too many things and not enough time to just explore and enjoy the learning! You can always expand the unit to last more than a week! 

I also like to include other things for the kids to work on throughout the week that the kids can work on independently. So when I need to sneak a way to put Liora to sleep or take care of something, they know what they can work on without stopping school!

{Fun}day Fridays

So you've read we've been changing things up, and we did. And it was fabulous!! I think I am really going to love doing this each week. It makes Fridays so much more fun, relaxed and educational as well! (Gotta stick that in there right!?)

Our First Unit was on the Arctic/Antarctic Regions~ learning about the animals and the Inuit People who live in these regions! I'll include some fun links and activities I found for this week.

Videos:: (my kids love the addition of videos in our learning)
Nat Geo has great links, photos and activities. This one was short and great for some basic info:

Answers in Genesis has one of the Ice Age which talks a little about how the Ice got there (from a creationist view point: 

What to know How to Build an Igloo??? This 10 minute video shows you.....seriously I never knew.....

Fun Links:: (photos, games, slide shows)

Critter Cam Arctic Game 

Explore this Website for Great info on the Tundra and other regions! 

Photo Slide show with info about How Arctic Animals Camouflage themselves!  

FREE Powerpoint presentations on the Inuit Tribes plus this site has all sorts of activities and links! 

Hands On Activities:: (this makes every lesson more fun!)

  • Make your own Inuksuk
  • Polar Bear Painting: Blue Construction paper, Bear shape, cotton balls, white paint.

Resources and Activities::

FREE Lesson Plans! Look around this site and download all sorts of free activities and games!

Kidssoup This is a really great resource and SO affordable at $2.15 a month. I use it all the time! There are Activities, Games (printable file folder), Activites AND Resources for Bulletin Boards, felt stories etc. New units are added every month!

SeaWorld FREE downloadable lesson

ABCteach tons of freebies, you can become a member, but I just use what is free!

Worksheets included in their Unit Folders:
  • Sonlight curriculum
  • Map of the Arctic Tundra (color and lable)
  • Color the Igloo
  • “My Book about the Inuit People”
  • Polar Bear Crossword puzzle (Jonah)
  • AA writing practice (Ellie)
  • AA Coloring page
  • Arctic Report, KWL Chart (Jonah)
 So How did it go???

Well it didn't run perfectly of course. But it was great. We had a nice relaxed paced day, watched videos, read books, learned a LOT.....and the best part is their unit activities can be worked on throughout the week. They can color, play a file folder game, work on the Igloo, write a report (only Jonah and more like a few sentences about Arctic Animals and People). I'm excited to see how the week looks.......and now off to build the next Unit on Ocean Animals! (that should be hard huh?living in Hawaii and all!)

I may be loading our unit find each week. I find so many cool free things, and I love sharing......

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chinese New Year {Teaser}

I dropped everything I was supposed to do this afternoon [namely laundry] to make some felt Chinese food for our Chinese New Year Party tomorrow......stay tuned!

Stone Soup

There is an old Swedish Folk Tail titled Stone Soup where a hungry traveler tricks a whole village into giving him the ingredients to make a pot of soup. All because he called it stone soup, and threw a stone in a big pot of water. We read that story today, the kids enjoyed it.

When it was time to throw something together for dinner, I was planning on using the left over meatballs from yesterdays dinner and throwing them over pasta and calling it a meal. But I remembered Dave had asked when I was going to use my new Stone Rectangle Baker.....and soup sounded good today.

So we made stone soup today! Though I must warn you if you have a reader in the house, hide the box of Barley before they come in the kitchen! It gives it all away when you are telling them we are adding stones to the soup, and your son blurts out, "But the Box says 'BARLEY'!!!" Thanks Hooked on Phonics!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Organizing and scheduling your day and activities can be a tricky thing, especially if you've never done it before. As a new homeschooling Mom, it was something I struggled with for quite a while. I was used to responding to the needs of my children when they arose and arranging the cooking, cleaning and other things around that. But when you place a responsibility as huge as homeschooling into the mix, I found I needed to make time to actually educate, otherwise it ended up lower on the priority list. I've also found myself on the other end of the spectrum with the schooling day taking so long I literally didn't have enough time to keep up with the essentials of housekeeping (and I am NOT talking about having a perfect house either). Finding the balance in both worlds is both tricky and necessary.

What helped me, might help you.....

1. Making a list, checking it twice (or 3 times if you are mathematically challenged)
Yup, recording everything you do during the day and where you spend (or-let's be honest) waste time. There is no use in pretending you take 5 minute showers if you really take 20 minutes! Or that it'll take you 15 minutes to get out of the house with 4 kids if it takes an hour! So write it down for a few days, even a week. And be honest, it's YOUR schedule, your life. You may find the hour you spend reading magazines isn't worth it, or you may find you need an hour somewhere to have some downtime! But be honest and true to you and your family.

2. Your Goals
Maybe this seems obvious, but sometimes a well planned day looks fabulous on paper, but really isn't accomplishing what you would like the day to look like. Adding in 2 hours for crafts isn't going to work if your goal is to spend more one on one time with each of your children. Or teaching for 6 hours straight (or even 1 hour!) depending on the ages of your children. But deciding what your goals are, what you want your day to look like and be like and what is realistic, is very important if you want your schedules to succeed. Prioritize what is important for your school day as well as your household. I used to have one day a week that I cleaned the entire house, now that isn't even remotely possible! It's still a priority to have a clean house, but we have different days to accomplish those tasks, it's more realistic for us to clean the floors on one day, the bathroom on another and so on.

3. Your set responsibilities
There are items in everyday that can't budge, they are meals and nursing babies, picking up kids, taking them to sports, so consider them when planning things around those items. Again on paper sometimes it looks like you may have a great chunk of time when in reality you don't. An example is on the days I take the 2 older kids to MBTA, we don't leave the house until around 11:45, I see that chunk and think, "That is almost 3 hours I can fit a few lessons!" When in reality, getting the kids school supplies, homework, clothing, shoes etc ready will take a good hour. Then give myself a little time that is another 30 minutes. Give myself an extra 30 minutes for mishaps and I'm down to an hour, so maybe on a good morning, the kids can get out their science and history units and work on them for a while! That is realistic, not cramming in a full day of school before leaving for their class!

4.Epic Fail or Grand Success  
If the goal is a schedule that works than identifying what is working and what isn't is important. Chances are you've got routines that really are working for you. Keep them! But don't be afraid to admit when something just isn't working. I've changed our school schedule 4 times since the beginning of the year. Because when I try something for a month and it just doesn't work, it's not that I'm giving up, I'm being flexible to make things work. If I keep plugging away at what doesn't work, that isn't helping me or the kids, it's making us pretty miserable!   

5. Down Time
Don't over do it (in my opinion). Make sure there is time in there to throw in a batch of cookies when your little one bats those eyes and wants to bake with you. I found when I tried to have every second accounted for it was almost as overwhelming as not knowing what to do next! You have to leave room for creativity and spontaneity even if that isn't in your natural personality! As much as I need to get things done each day, I don't want to be a slave to a piece of paper that is telling me it's time to do XYZ when I really want to sit and read a book with my kids. This isn't an excuse to be lazy, it really isn't, there is room for rest! 

6.No Cheating    
It's tempting to try and look into another family and copy what they are doing, but don't! You are in a different season of life than someone else. While I think mentors and advice is great, is helpful and beneficial! Make sure you aren't just copy and pasting what works for someone else. Make it work for you and your family! If you aren't a morning person, don't schedule school to start at 7am! Maybe your kids are better focused and work harder after a little free time, so start school after lunch and plan your housekeeping for in the mornings! There are days I declare "Backwards Day" and do school after lunch, it's okay!

7.Give it Up 
Giving it all up to God and asking Him for guidance is of great importance. Maybe He is pointing you in a direction you wouldn't normally take, maybe He is asking for your time in other ways or for you to give up a certain role or responsibility. You won't know that unless you ask Him to reveal it to you! He'll guide you, He will. And He will let you know how you can do it better!

8. Tryouts  
After all is said and done, try it out. But keep in mind two things....the first is that change can be difficult, so give yourself time to adapt. Don't quit after the first day and redo your whole schedule (unless you really messed up!) On the same token don't be afraid to tweak things that really aren't working. Seasons in life are ever changing. 9 Months ago our schedule looked very different with all of my time of nursing and caring for a newborn than it does now. You are allowed to change things as life's really okay! ( I needed to learn this myself~the hard way!)

What tips or steps do you have to helping make a schedule or routine? Please share with us so we can all learn together! 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Blog-Hop extraveganza

 Heart of the Matter is hosting an incredible blog hop with some of the biggest bloggy~names around the globe! If you are in need of encouragement or information, link up to the blogs below for the next few weeks!

10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk & Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of organization | Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori | Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool | Delightful Learning