Archive for the ‘Organization’ Category

5 Ways to Homeschool Without Stress

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

homeschool-without-stress

What are some ways to homeschool without stress, or to at least reduce the amount of stress we experience as homeschool moms? Today we are going to cover 5 simple things you can do to make your homeschooling a lot more pleasant and a lot less stressful.

5 Ways to Homeschool Without Stress

This is a collaboration with other homeschool moms who can be found in the playlist under this YouTube video:

Here are the top 5 ways to homeschool without stress:

1. Pray about what you are supposed to be doing, and drop anything you’re not supposed to be doing. The best time to do this is in the summer before the new school year. Make sure you also focus on character qualities that will make your homeschooling easier, and ask God how to grow in those areas. Ask Him what you should be teaching your kids, or if you need to switch programs with a specific kid who is struggling.

2. Prioritize what has to be done, so that you are doing those first each day, so that everything after that point is gravy. That might mean doing at least a math lesson before being done for the day on hard days. Other important things might include listening to Scripture on audio while eating breakfast, so that you at least accomplished something during the day. This gives a sense of satisfaction that you are not a failure, but that you’ve cut back just for the day, so that you can rest and be refreshed to do better the next day.

3. Have a time during the day that is quiet. If you have babies and toddlers, you can put them down for a nap. If not, have silent reading time or a quiet activity for the kids to do on their beds. All kids can learn to be quiet for an hour or an hour and a half. Noise pollution drains everyone, especially parents, and we re-charge with silence.

4. Simplify other areas of your life, like meal planning. Make simple meals. Make two meals at one time and then freeze one of them, or swap a meal with another family to not have to cook the next night. Simplify other chores like doing a load of laundry each day at a certain time, or clean bathrooms on Fridays so you don’t have to wonder how long it’s been since you’ve cleaned the bathroom.

5. Do more homeschooling outdoors to de-stress. There is something relaxing about the outdoors.

Hopefully by applying these tips, you will reduce the amount of stress in your homeschool.

The End Game: Long-Term Goals for Children

Monday, January 11th, 2021

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Years ago, back when my kids were tiny, I saw an article in a homeschool magazine that stressed the importance of setting long-term goals for our children if we wanted to see them accomplish everything we consider important. The magazine article broke the long-term goals into different subject headings, so I tweaked and brainstormed what kinds of skills and knowledge I wanted my kids to have acquired before leaving home as adults. Because I knew what my end game was, I knew that I needed to break those goals down into incremental steps over the years, to achieve those goals with my kids.

I brainstormed not only skills and knowledge in different subject areas that I wanted my kids to know, but also areas of character. As a result of those goals, I knew where I was headed, and I focused on the things that mattered rather than on frivolous things. Over the years my kids were able to advance in so many ways, far beyond where I was at their ages, even in their character.

Here is a workshop I delivered recently about goal-setting, where I go into more detail in each subject area, and why we stressed some areas more than others:

If you want to see the full list of goals I wrote so many years ago, here they are:

The skill areas encompass reading, writing, and math, as well as other practical skills such as swimming, cooking, sewing, hand-eye coordination through basic sports skills, driving, etc. For example, I wanted my kids to be able to swim, at least to tread water and get back to shore if a boat was capsized. This skill was important for my kids to have before they left home.

Knowledge areas include science, history, geography, literature, etc. For example, my children learned how to identify over 50 plants and trees based on leaves and other features of the plants. We also read a lot of classical literature, which helped my kids expand their vocabulary so that they could read on a higher lever.

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Experiences also affect learning. When you experience something, you are more likely to master it or retain the information. This is why I have valued hands-on learning all the way through my children’s upbringing. We experienced a different culture by traveling to Guatemala to see my childhood stomping grounds. We experienced a medieval feast and a Renaissance fair to get into those historical time periods. We went on numerous field trips to see and experience the most out of life that our tight budgets would allow.

The character of my children was the most important area that I stressed, and I’m glad I did. Not only are my kids honest and kind, but they are eager to help other people, they are funny, and they are deep thinkers. I love who they are turning out to be. And we have had so many experiences as a family that have bonded us together in unity, to give my children a sense of identity. They know who they are.

This is why I highly recommend setting some long-range goals for your kids. When we plan long-term goals for our children, we are more likely to achieve those goals, and we can have great experiences along the way.

Have a Restful, Refreshing Year

Wednesday, January 1st, 2020

restful-refreshing-year

How would you like to have the most restful, refreshing year you’ve ever had? You can make changes to your life that will result in less stress and more satisfaction with the life you have.

Unless God has specifically led you to do something, don’t do it, especially if it is stressful or draining. Make up your own list of things that refresh you. Doing more of what you love will cause endorphins to be released, which will help you have a sense of well-being so you can thrive rather than just survive.

Pay attention to activities that give you energy. Make your own list. Here’s mine:

Things that Relax & Refresh Me

  1. Nature (ocean, lake, river, mountain, beautiful garden with flowers, waterfall, sunset, star gazing, cloud watching)
  2. Art (painting, coloring doodle books, watercolor, mixed media)
  3. Talking to friends (phoning/visiting family and close friends, talking about things that matter)
  4. Reading refreshing books (non-fiction self-help in fun areas like gardening, Christian books that uplift rather than drag down)
  5. Going to yard sales and resale shops (clothing that fits and is feminine, fun activities/homeschool stuff, gifts to give the people I love, how God has provided for me all these years)
  6. Brainstorming fun blog posts & YouTube videos
  7. Writing poetry
  8. Planning something (the homeschool year, date nights/weekends away, the garden/backyard, one of my kid’s themed birthday parties)
  9. Organizing things (seeing orderly rooms, drawers, shelves is satisfying)
  10. Watching YouTube videos (building my learning in different areas)
  11. Going on field trips with my family (adventures, family bonding time, hands-on learning)
  12. A fire in the fireplace (s’mores in the fire pit outside, candles lit in the living room or dining room)
  13. A hot bath (Epsom salt, bubble bath)
  14. Writing from my heart (do more 10-minute writing prompts for the sheer joy of writing)

More Ideas for Making Your Life Less Stressful

Fatigue, studies suggest, often has its source in emotional rather than muscular or cardiovascular exhaustion…” – Richard A Swenson, author of Margin. Find out how to create margin (space) in your life so that you are not always tired:

Make sure you get enough quality sleep:

Find a form of exercise that you enjoy (mine is Zumba), and do it several times a week. You will feel way better and think with a crisper mind and not feel bogged down. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Have more fun with your spouse:

If spending time with friends energizes you, work that into your week. But if being around people all the time drains you, reduce the amount of time spent with people. You can still invest in the lives of others by writing encouraging notes to the people you love instead. Most people I know keep every encouraging note they’ve ever received, and often you minister more to people with something tangible.

Don’t feel bad if you have to drastically reduce the amount of time you spend with groups of people that drain you rather than refresh you. Ask God how you can thrive given the limits of your personality.

I’ve been reading a book called Psychology Through the Eyes of Faith, and one of the chapters talked about ways to bring about more happiness in our lives:

  1. Break the cycle of negative thinking.
  2. Compare ourselves with those less fortunate.
  3. Take pleasure in the moment.
  4. Focus beyond self.
  5. Exercise, sleep, and silence create a sound body.
  6. Give priority to close relationships.
  7. Take care of the soul.

Have a More Restful Homeschool (+ Giveaway!)

Many of you who homeschool feel pressured to do more and more activities. One of the homeschool blogger friends I met at the 2:1 Conference this year (Aimee Smith) wrote a book called The Restful Homeschool Resolution. I’m giving away a copy of her book.

The-Restful-Homeschool-Resolution

Here is a blurb from the back of the book: With personal stories, spiritual insight, and practical next steps, The Restful Homeschool Resolution helps you discover deep soul rest as you learn to trust God’s perfect plan for your family’s homeschool. Your resolution to seek Jesus first will transform your homeschool as your own heart grows more restful.

Along with this new book, I will also throw in two gently used books to go along with this restful theme: Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives and The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life.

Finally, to start the new year, I am giving away two refreshing audios to everyone who signs up for my monthly newsletter below: “Overcoming Burnout” and “Relieving Stress & Tension.”

Overcoming Burnout: Do you wonder why you never have any energy? Do you feel guilty for not being able to give more to your husband and children because of tiredness? Leave the guilt behind while listening to this refreshing one-hour audio, which gives three examples from Scripture of people who were exhausted, why they were exhausted, and how they overcame their exhaustion. I also give practical ideas from my own life, to help you avoid burnout in the future.

Relieving Stress and Tension: This one-hour audio workshop will show you:

  1. How to get immediate relief from tension by pressing trigger points, minimizing noise, and other simple tactics.
  2. How to get long-term relief from tension by trusting God, nurturing your marriage, and connecting with your children. Practical ideas to accomplish these. This section includes a short talk about intimacy.
  3. How to build rest into your day, your week, and even your year, so that you don’t feel constantly depleted.

If you would like the gift of these two audios at no cost to you, sign up for our refreshing newsletter below!

Homeschool Survival Essentials

Monday, September 9th, 2019

homeschool-survival-essentials

What are your homeschool survival essentials? My friend Ingrid from Mommy & Mia Homeschool Chronicles asked some homeschooling YouTubers what they must have in order to homeschool. She made up a list of 10 questions for us to answer for a more full picture of what is needed in every homeschooler’s home. So here we go…

Homeschool Survival Essentials

1. What are your top 3 favorite mom things?

  • Time alone.
  • Mom’s night out.
  • Mom’s night in.

2. What are the 3 homeschool must haves no matter what?

  • Black & white card stock paper
  • Binders with a clear pocket in the front
  • Prismacolor pencils

3. Share 3 new things that will be added to your homeschool this year.

  • Physics
  • Geography
  • Civil Air Patrol

4. Share a minimum of 3 things you will be changing in your homeschool.

  • Adding to Teaching Textbooks for my daughter for Albebra 2, including Khan Academy and Math-U-See DVD’s.
  • While filming homeschooling this year (we’ve filmed our homeschooling for the past 10 years, which you can find in the Unit Study Treasure Vault!), my son will be filming just the physics experiments without a person in the screen.
  • As long as they finish what they need to do for the school week, they can arrange their school days however they want. No rigid schedule this year.

5. Share 3 things in your survival homeschool kit. (These are destressors that will help you survive the day/week.)

  • Spending time with my mom, my sisters, my friends
  • A hot bath at the end of the day
  • Time alone to decompress

homeschool-survival-must-haves

6. 3 must-read homeschool books (for homeschool help)

  • The Well-trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
  • A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola (If you want to know more about Charlotte Mason, I have a 6-part blog series that starts here.)
  • Educating the WholeHearted Child by Sally Clarkson

7. 3 favorite subjects to teach in order please

  • Bible
  • literature/writing
  • history

8. When is the best time for you to do your planning

  • Long-range plans for the school year are done in the summer.
  • On the weekends, if I need materials for an experiment the next week.
  • For math, they do one lesson per day. That doesn’t need a lesson plan.

9. Share your favorite planner and supplies.

  • I don’t like planners, so I don’t use them. I use paper and pencil when needed.

10. Share a minimum of 3 field trips you are planning to do this new homeschool year.

So those are my homeschool essentials. What are yours?