And So… We Begin Again

Yesterday we returned to our “regularly scheduled program”; meaning school. Books were pulled out of the homeschool cupboard, pencils were sharpened, and lessons were learned.

For some, the first day of school can be a little bit overwhelming and sometimes even scary! Over the years, there are a couple of tips I have incorporated into our routine to make this first week run more smoothly.

I start the day a little earlier than our kids. Once my kids are up, it feels like the starting line at the Olympics, “And their off!” Getting up even a half an hour earlier than my kids, allows me time to take things easy and enjoy a cup of coffee before madness begins.

I pray, pray, pray. I want to make sure that the Lord is the center of our day. Starting the day off with prayer sets the right pace and tone for our home.

I make sure I read my Bible. Praying is important, talking to God always is, but I want to make sure I am hearing from him as well. Whether from a devotional or reading straight from the Word, I want to make sure I get in some good reading time.

I wake my babies with a cheerful “good morning” and a silly song. I try to wake the kids with something light and cheerful. This helps all of us look at the day in a good light. I usually walk in singing, “Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!” They laugh, half asleep, and beg for five more minutes. This is usually met with a swift “nope” from me and a quick announcement. They are told they get one hour to get dressed, clean their room, eat, and  be ready to learn.

We start our learning with Bible time. Once the kids are finished with their morning routine, we gather at the kitchen table and tackle the most important subject together as a team. This sets the mood for the rest of their learning.

We start off nice and easy. The first week of school, I try to keep things nice and light. The work is mostly all review, with very few pages to be completed. This eases the kids back into a more formal routine and affords me the time and opportunity to readjust as needed.

We don’t cover all subjects on the first day. Jumping into more formal work can be a daunting task. Going from an easy summer load to a full fall load, all in one day, is like going from 0 to 60 in about 2.5 seconds; I prefer to ease them into it.

The first day of school, we cover just the basics; penmanship, spelling, language arts, oral reading, and “rotations”. Because of our curriculum layout, we won’t even start arithmetic until Thursday! Science and History will not begin until next week.

Starting off “light” gives me an opportunity to monitor how much time those first subjects are taking and adjust accordingly. It also means I have an opportunity to work around our chores and see if our routine is working for us.

We finish the day early. The first week back to school, I want to make sure they aren’t sitting too long. We try to take a few breaks in-between subjects and we try to finish up our learning time as early as possible. With plenty of breaks and free time, the kids are less likely to complain about the return of a formal routine and they grow accustomed to longer periods of learning.

With all of these tips to help us out, our return to learning went fairly well. There were a few hiccups, but we will work those out. With much prayer and patience, we are getting back into our routine.

Time to Chime In: What tips help you make “back to school” more easy? I would love to learn how you “return to your regularly scheduled program”!

Here We Go Again!

Bookshelf_Feb2010Well, here we go again… Another summer has come and gone; it is time to once again hit the books. (Not that we ever really stop, mind you. It just lightens up a little bit.) Starting this morning, our learning year is now in session!

Everything is ready to go, materials are all in place, and the kiddos are ready to tackle this year’s projects. It’s time to put all that planning, organizing, and prep to good use. We are very excited to see what this coming year brings. Each year holds something special for us and tons of memories to look back on.

Our prayers and thoughts go out to all of you who will be starting your year soon. May the Lord guide you in your planning and show you His path for your family’s learning. May you be filled with His peace, wisdom, and joy. We look forward to reading about all of your exciting homeschooling adventures, projects, and outings.

May the Lord use all of us mightily in this coming year!

Time to Chime In: When does your learning year begin?

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

Homeschooling 101, Revisited

Homeschooling101We’ve been homeschooling over ten years now! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot and discovered ways to keep our routine running smoothly. I wish I knew half of what I know now from the get-go! For all those new to homeschooling, perhaps you can learn a little from our previous mistakes and how we managed to come up with a solution. 

Homeschooling 101

Fail to Plan, Plain to Fail: Part Five

Fail-to-planPart Five, and the final portion of this series written a few years ago, was intended to help us form a ‘master plan'; combining all our previous organization into one agenda which will guide us in our day-to-day activities. No plan is fail proof, but… if you fail to plan, you most certainly plan to fail! 

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part Five

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part Four, Revisited

Fail-to-planPart Four of this series, written a few years ago, was intended to better help us organize all of life’s activities into one routine. With a little thought and care, our lives can be less stressful, more productive, and even a lot of fun!

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part Four

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part Three, Revisited

Fail-to-planI wrote this article a few years back in order to help families who might be struggling with time management. Life can get a bit busy; sometimes, just downright crazy! Here are a few tips which might help!

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part Three

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part Two, Revisited

Fail-to-planI wrote this article a few years back in order to help those new to homeschooling better establish a budget for their home. Managing a home on one income is certainly not easy, but it can be done!

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part Two

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part One, Revisited

Fail-to-planI wrote this article a few years back in order to help those new to homeschooling better establish a routine for their home. It is my heartfelt desire to see more families successfully navigate the world of home education and be confident in their choice. 

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part One

How ‘Pinteresting': The World is Flat

One ‘pin’ a week; that is the goal. Nothing too fancy, nothing too far-fetched; just a good opportunity to finally test out a few of those Pinterest ideas and see which ones really work! Join along and chime in; let us know which projects you’ve been working on and how they’ve turned out!


Summer_PinterestHere it is… the last ‘pin’ of the summer! Something that will tie our geography lessons in with our crafting and Pinterest boards. Three jobs in one!

When I was a child we were required to make these as part of our lessons on California History, along with a California mission. (I made my mission out of lasagna noodles, but that’s a story for another day.) I remember having to carefully reconstruct the state of California, making sure to get all the topographical details absolutely correct. Then, we had to paint it accordingly. What a project!

Let’s inflict the same pain fun on our own children. It’s actually pretty easy and you might already have the materials on hand!

Salt Map

Click on the image above to be taken to the original Pinterest link.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Clay (either homemade or store-bought)
Heavy Cardboard
Paints & Brushes

The project is fairly simple. On cardboard (or any other heavy-duty, disposable, flat surface), shape a mound of clay into your geographic location of choice. I would suggest modeling a current country you are learning about or your home state. If you’ve completed a lesson on world geography, perhaps you could allow your children to pick their country of choice. Once you have the location properly modeled to the best of your ability, allow it to dry for at least 24 hours. Once dry, paint your map accordingly.

See how easy that is?! The hard part is deciding what to do with all of these maps once they are complete… Hmmm… Either way, salt mapping is tons of fun and provides several valuable lessons in the learning process.


Time to Chime In: What is your favorite at-home recipe for modeling clay? Please share!

Work Hard, Play Harder: The Play’s the Thing

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” (Ecc. 3:1) Join us as we explore a season of fun and family! Help us discover new ways to enjoy family time and build lasting memories.


Summer_work-playThis is our last week of summer. (Well, technically, we have next week off too, but that week is specifically reserved for the coming year’s prep.) We thought we’d end our summer fun with a bang, filled with tons of family fun and memories to boot!

Just how do we plan to do this? With a play!

Last summer, my husband’s tía treated us to Pinocchio. It was held locally and acted out by the most talented group of young people I have seen in ages. The event was truly memorable. This year, we are once again invited to enjoy an end of summer play. This year, we will be seeing Snow White.

Our kiddos are so excited and so am I. This event is attended not only by us, but my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law, my husband’s aunt and uncle, and a bunch of our cousins. Talk about family fun!

Pinocchio #7

There will be food, drinks, treats, and probably a few mementos as well. Last year, we walked away with hats just like Pinocchio and wands/crowns like the Blue Fairy. Who knows what they will come up with this year; one can only guess!

I was trying to think of something cute to make for the kiddos to enjoy during the performance. I think I might do chocolate covered apples! Doesn’t that sound fun? (I might just have to do a few for the adults as well!) Yummy!

No matter when your summer of fun ends, consider going out with a ‘bang’! Find a local playhouse and treat yourselves to a night of fun. For those brave enough, consider joining the company itself and be a part of the action! It will make for some incredible memories!

Time to Chime In: What was the last play you saw?