Series Review: If You Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

Fail-to-planI am huge on planning. Without a “vision” for my day, or my year for that matter, I can quickly lose balance of what needs to be accomplished and get overwhelmed by the surmounting tasks of the day-to-day. In order to help me make sense of life and to prioritize the multitude of tasks that fill my routine, I decided to write down a “master plan”. A guideline to help me better manage both my household and my homeschooling.

Let me be the first to remind you, this is not a hard-line which cannot be crossed. Rather, consider these as they were intended, guidelines. They are a starting point which can be changed and manipulated at any given point.

Part I:   Prioritizing Life
Part II:  Managing the Budget
Part III: Adding Events
Part IV: Planning the Homeschool Year
Part V:  Putting it all Together

What works for me, might not work for you. Please feel free to read with discretion; pray about what you are hearing and then decide for yourself where the Lord is leading.

May these ideas help you as much as they help me!
Cristina

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Interrupting School For Activity

Interrupting School For ActivityI’m sure if my children had it their way, everyday would find us learning in the field. Often, literally. While I would love to accommodate them, the sad fact is book work needs to be done. Geometry concepts require pen to paper, and diagraming sentences doesn’t work well in the sand. We’re trying to find balance, but just how often can we keep interrupting school for activity?

We’re probably not the first family to discover this dilemma, nor will we be the last. It helps – or hurts, depending on your perspective – that we live in an area where homeschooling abounds and there is never a shortage of activities available. How do we determine which to include and how often?

In our learning routine, we try to include one outside activity per week. This is fairly easy, as our PSP has weekly activities. However, our PSP is not the only group we’re associated with. Our nature groups also meet once a week. Then there is library involvement, volunteer work at the kitten hospital, personal field trips, and more. Pretty quickly, we could be spending everyday learning in the field and getting little to no book work done. Narrowing down our choices is a challenge, a hard one. We want to do it all!

  • Which activities do you think warrant a change in schedule?
  • Do you prefer to plan these activities or be open to spontaneity?
  • How many days of the week do you spend away from book work?
  • Are certain days of the week better than others for activity?
  • Is there a time-slot you prefer for activity (mornings/afternoons)?
  • How early is too early; how late is too late?
  • How do you know when you’re too busy and need to hit the books?

Trying to find balance can be tough. Our kids would gladly drop their books for sunshine and walks by the beach any day of the week. Mom needs to rein in their adventurous natures, and lay foundations in learning. On the other hand, too much book work is also a danger. Getting outdoors is vital.

Through the leading of the Spirit, we’re making the most of both our book time and exploration of the fabulous world God has created. We’re daily inspired to make the most of our time together and enjoy this adventure called homeschooling.

“Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.”
Psalm 37:5

Your Turn!: Share your thoughts with us on how you determine when to interrupt school for activity.

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Before Over-Booking Gets Out of Hand

before_over-booking_gets_out_of_handIt’s coming; I can feel it. Once the learning year gets underway, things start moving along at a faster pace. Then the holidays hit, and chaos begins. We go from just a few activities a month to activities several times a week. We jump from one event to the next, trying to fill our days with fun and fond memories for our kiddos. In all the planning, sometimes we bite off a little more than we can chew.

One of the dangers in being a parent is over-planning. Now, add homeschooling to the mix and you have one crazy household! Not only are we planning our learning routines, but we are adding in sports events, field trips, visits with friends, play dates, swim days, crafting opportunities, and more. Before you know it our calendar can be overbooked.

Perhaps I’m not the only one to notice this strange phenomena and all the challenges which come with it? Our intentions are well-meaning and our hearts are in the right place, but, next thing you know, the kids are getting cranky and you are all tired of running in high gear. Slowly, but surely, you become overwhelmed.

Might I make a humble suggestion, to myself as well as everyone else? Instead of over-booking our lives with event after event, let’s save time for things which really matter and events which benefit our families the most. Not every opportunity needs to be taken, and not every event needs to be attended. We need to learn the fine art of saying, “No!”

Just looking at our current calendar, I can already tell we are starting to hit our limit. Before bite off more than I can chew, it’s time to start saying, “No!”

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to [His disciples], ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’”
~Mark 6:31

📢 Chime In!: How is your currently calendar looking? Is the coming month starting to look overbooked?

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Planning to Avoid Failure

Fail-to-planI am huge on planning. Without a “vision” for my day, or my year for that matter, I can quickly lose balance of what needs to be accomplished and get overwhelmed by the surmounting tasks of the day-to-day.

In order to help me make sense of life and to prioritize the multitude of tasks that fill my routine, I decided to write down a “master plan”. A guideline to help me better manage both my household and my homeschooling.

Let me be the first to remind you, this is not a hard-line which cannot be crossed. Rather, consider these as they were intended, guidelines. They are a starting point which can be changed and manipulated at any given point.

What works for me, might not work for you. Please feel free to read with discretion, pray about what you are hearing, and then decide for yourself where the Lord is leading.

Part I:   Prioritizing Life
Part II:  Managing the Budget
Part III: Adding Events
Part IV: Planning the Homeschool Year
Part V:  Putting it all Together

May these ideas help you as much as they help me!
Cristina

📢 Chime In!: Are you a planner or a procrastinator?

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagramTwitter&  Pinterest!

Coincidence? I Think Not!

CoincidenceHere I sit, our astronomy textbook in hand, organizing the year to come, and God meets me where I am, reminding me He is in control. For the –nth year in a row (because I don’t know how many years He has been doing this now), God has completely taken our homeschooling year and fit it according to His purposes.

Every term I bow my head in prayer, asking the Lord’s will in our homeschooling year. I don’t want to drudge through curriculum He has not given, nor forcefully push through lessons for my own sake. I want the Lord to be the center of all we do, and that starts with planning our year to come.

God never ceases to amaze me. No matter how I proceed with our planning, the Lord always orchestrates so everything comes together.

For the past several years, I have sat down and created lesson plans for science. I lay out which lessons will be covered each week, and bookmark coordinating activities. Once this is complete and finished (this is key!), I then sit down to tackle history. No sooner do I begin laying out our history lessons, in the same fashion, when I begin to see a parallel with our science. Lessons align, topics come together; blending perfectly and harmonizing with one another.

While this might seem probable for those using a boxed curriculum or purchasing all materials from the same company, what makes our situation unique is that we’re eclectic homeschoolers. Very few of our textbooks come from the same company. Yet, year after year, the Lord continues to show His hand in our planning.

I have even gone so far as to re-organize our textbooks, switching chapters; yet God still aligns. I have used curriculum from different grade levels. God perfectly fits them together. Field trips have been known to come together, which I could not have foreseen. Books will be given to us by people who have no idea what we’re studying. Literature I did not plan at the beginning of our year corresponds to our lessons. Language arts, and even spelling, have been known to supply details – not mere general subject headings – uniting our learning.

Let me be clear, these are all things I do not plan into our year. Yet, year after year, God does this. This is not a coincidence. This is not a one-time happening. God is constantly showing Himself to us, even in these little details. And it blows my mind.

I love how God chooses to show Himself to us in the tiny details. I do not plan for our history and science to harmonize, but God does! I could not have foreseen a spelling lesson to perfectly align with our reading selection, but God knew. Things I do not think of, details I do not plan… Yet God is in control.

When it comes to our homeschooling, nothing is a coincidence. When we allow God to take charge of our children’s learning, everything comes together perfectly. And the best part is that we don’t even need to try. He does it all in His own power, and often without our help. Coincidence? I think not. This is ALL God!

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
~ Proverbs 19:21

📢 Chime In!: Share how God has brought plans together, showing evidence of His hand in your learning!

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Planning Another Year

School-PlanningIt’s that time again. The year is ending in just a few short weeks, and another is quickly coming round the bend. Before the days get away from me, I need to start planning another homeschool year!

While we don’t have to be on the curb at the crack of dawn or make sure our children have their lunch money, we do need to plan out our year of homeschooling.

Just where do we start? When do we start?! How many school days am I required to complete? Should I stick to a routine or plan out a detailed schedule? All these questions and more fill the mind when planning out our homeschooling year.

Enjoy this fun series designed to help take the stress out of homeschooling planning! Let’s get moving!

Planning Your Year
Planning Your Day
Building a Family Plan
What Do I Need?
Counting the Cost
Portfolios
Field Trip Fun, Part I
Field Trip Fun, Part II
Finding Friends
Finding Sanity

📢 Chime In!: When do you plan the upcoming school year?

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Customized Curriculum

Customized_CurriculumThere have been times in our learning adventure when our curriculum choices have not always worked. For whatever reason, the curriculum began to grow tedious or lacked enough hands-on application. In extreme circumstances, we’ve even needed to rearrange the entire book to fit our needs. Thank goodness we have the freedom to customize our curriculum!

Just recently, a friend and I were talking about our homeschool curriculum. We’re a little over halfway through our learning year and still making much-needed changes to our routine. While you’d think our schedule would be fairly established at this point, we’re constantly changing because life is constantly changing!

My friend started out the year in her own home, now they are living with family. They started out with certain resources, but God had another plan. We started out with a particular routine in mind, but my children’s learning styles have dictated change. Our budget has been cut significantly and timing has become an issue.

While life certainly can hand us a solid curve ball every now and again, it’s comforting to know we don’t have to break under the stress of sticking to the books. We have the freedom to adjust, dismiss, and build upon our curriculum, making it into something better.

In the past, I’ve customized our curriculum in several ways. I’ve dismissed teachers’ guides, choosing to work through texts at a preferred pace. Other times, I’ve added hands-on activities, side studies, and learning expeditions to enhance a lesson. At one point, I even rearranged chapters in a science book to help my children better work through the text. We’ve skipped tests, added writing assignments, and opted out of reading work for video lessons.

My friend has currently decided to skip science and history altogether, choosing to focus on The Three R’s. With two little ones running around while attempting to school three older ones, scheduling can be a bit rough. She’ll return their focus on science and history over the summer, when life is a little less busy.

Customizing our curriculum is a blessing. We aren’t locked into anyone else’s idea of what learning should look like, and can tailor our lessons to each child’s needs. May we be open to God’s leading, wherever that path may take us.

“An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”
Proverbs 18:15

🔔Time to Chime In: To what extreme have you customized your curriculum?

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The Christmas Countdown Has Begun!

Book-Review_logoIt’s almost Christmas time! You’ve starting planning right? Wait… you haven’t? You mean you don’t have your presents purchased, ready to be wrapped? No meal plans set for your Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s get-together? But, you have thought about it, right?

If you’re like most of us, planning for the holidays can be just a tad stressful. That is, unless you have a workable plan of attack! Don’t have one in action yet? Then I have just the resource you need.

Back with her second edition of Christine’s Christmas Countdown, Christine Ida Harrington is offering help and encouragement for making the most of your holiday season! Inside, you will find a detailed breakdown to help you get a head start on the holiday madness.

Starting early, Christine helps us get a jump-start onChristine's Christmas Countdown our goals and vision. Do we need to make any home repairs before hoards of company arrive on our doorstep? Are there bulbs we need to start buying for the coming festivities? Perhaps you’re looking to set a few personal goals in order to better enjoy the season? It’s never too early to start planning!

What follows are breakdowns for the months leading up to December; giving us tips on organizing our outfits (hooray!) and special events. Helpful lists have been included for us to better plan our gift giving and menu choices. Each month has something new for us to consider and learn.

I’ve found this book to be a valuable resource for keeping the Christmas season fun and organized. I loved how far in advance Christine starts preparing. I appreciated how thorough and detailed she was in her ideas, planning all the way down to flowers being planted in our gardens and outfits being worn to particular events. This is a woman after my own heart. The included lists were very helpful and well thought out.

This book is a perfect fit for your handbag while running all your Christmas errands. Be prepared and don’t leave home without it!

🔔Time to Chime In: Is there one particular aspect of holiday planning which always seems to cause stress? Share how you’re going about solving this holiday dilemma!

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Curriculum 101: Bible

Curriculum101One of the biggest struggles homeschooling families battle is which curriculum is best for their children. We become overwhelmed by the amount of curriculum available, struggle to find the right fit for each of our children, proceed to doubt each choice made for at least the first several weeks, and continue to search for new ways of teaching well after we’ve already begun our year.

To this end, we thought we’d spend the month of September launching discussions on all things curriculum.

…..

I cannot begin to stress the importance of Bible time during our learning day. In fact, if you don’t start your learning day in God’s Word, may I be the first to recommend it. Acknowledging the Lord’s dominion over our time, our children’s education, and our homes is key.

That said, how do we go about encouraging our children to sit at the feet of God? Is there a particular book of the Bible we should start with? Must we read from the Bible itself? How do we keep our children engaged and make sure they understand what they are hearing?

Start Young – As early as possible, make a practice of sitting down daily with your babies and reading devotions with them. It could be as short as five minutes or as long as an hour. No matter the amount of time, make a point of opening the Bible and sharing with your children.

Include Worship – Do not dismiss the power of worship. Whether you start a CD, listen to the radio, or play your own instruments, take time to praise the Lord with your voices. Worship sets a gracious mood for your home.

Read From the Word – While we’ve used devotionals over the years, I would always recommend actually opening your Bibles and reading straight from the Word. Look up the Bible verse mentioned and show your children how to find the verse. Read it straight from the Bible itself. Start this practice young and help your children memorize where verses can be found.

Make It Hands-On – As often as possible, try to make Bible time hands-on. If there is an activity which will better help your children understand the story being told or concept being taught, go for it.

Oldies, But Goodies – It’s time to build on that earlier foundation. While younger children are content with Bible stories, older children ought to be ready for a little more ‘meat’. Encourage them to complete a Bible study or work through lessons in apologetics.

Memorization is Key – With each passing session, plan for your children to memorize Scripture. Start with simple, easy passages and build from there.

Start Here – If you’re not sure how to get started, may I humbly suggest reading through the gospel of John. If you’re looking for a great devotional, try your local Christian bookstore and ask to see their children’s selections. There are many to choose from!

Include Prayer Time – Don’t shy away from prayer time in your learning day. Allow your children to pray over their learning and your home. Encourage them to speak to God throughout their day and lay their requests before Him. Teach them how to pray. (Not using fancy words, but speaking from the heart. You could also teach them ACTS: acknowledge Him; confession of sin; thankfulness for all He provides; and supplication.) It doesn’t matter if they stumble over their words, pray for two seconds, or pray the same prayer each day; allow your children be a part of this important time and be in communication with God.

Starting our day off on the right foot should always include spending time in God’s Word and in prayer. We pray you make this a vital part of your day, choosing to put God before everything else. May He be given all glory, honor, and praise!

🔔Time to Chime In: How many times have you read the entire Bible?

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Planning The Homeschool Year: Reality, Religion, and Socialization

School-PlanningWith the close of this month, we put to rest our series, ‘Planning the Homeschool Year’! It’s been fun exploring incredible ways to organize our learning routines and better meet our family’s needs.

For those who have been following the series, thank you for stopping in and joining the fun. We appreciated hearing your feedback and learning from your life experiences. It has been wonderful sharing thoughts with you and getting to know you better.

Before we sign off for the week, and end this series, we’d like to leave you with a few posts which help in keeping our homeschooling in perspective. All were written from a homeschooling father’s perspective, my man!

Reality, Religion, and Socialization

Forcing Religion on Your Children
And They Will Not Depart From It
Homeschooled Kids Are Not Socialized and Other Stupid Myths
The Village School System
Reality: A Multiple-Choice Quiz

As the school year is just getting under way, we pray the Lord blesses each and every one of you. We pray He graces you with patience, wisdom, and an enthusiasm to continue with the adventure called homeschooling. May your year be blessed!

If you, or someone you know, is in need of a little more encouragement or help in their homeschooling adventure, please check out our various series we feature which include Homeschooling 101; Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail; and A Simplified Life.

🔔Time to Chime In: What are you most looking forward to during the coming learning year?

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