How to Plan a Year of Memory Work Your Kids Will Love

You found lots of resources, now it's time to plan memory work, and not just learn about it. You've got to do what's best for your family. Let's work on that together.

Take all the materials from the past 4 days and put them together to plan memory work that will be effective and your kids will love and look forward to doing! Easy plan, step by step, walks you through to customize for your homeschool.

Start to plan memory work

There are some things you going to need to know before you get started.

What you're going to do. When and how you'll do it. Plus, you'll also want to know what you're going to work on at any one time.

Will you do one category for a month straight, a semester? Will you work on a different type of item each day? Will you work on 4 different items for one week straight?

Where will you store your memory work materials? How will you use them?

Since we've got lots of questions to answer, let's get started right now!

Gather Materials

I've given you 4 days of materials to use quickly and easily. All you need to do is copy each item and paste it into a word document for quick access.

Have them all in one place, separated by category.

If you're using videos for some of your memory work, be sure to write the title and url on the document for quick reference.

This may take you some time up front, but you'll be glad you did it when it comes time to use it.

 

You can do a whole year's worth all at once, or just do terms, semesters, or months at a time. Do what is going to work best for you.

Do you like to be flexible? Then do a month or two at a time.

Do you like a plan, but not too rigid? Then do it by term or semester.

Do you want to do it once and not have to think about it again? Plan the entire year in one go.

Scheduling

Okay, here's where it might get tricky.

Do you have all your materials together? Are they broken up into categories? Good.

Look through them. How often do you want to cover each category?

Here's the categories from the 4 posts in this series: Scripture, hymns, doctrines, poems, quotes, history, science, math, language arts, and extra materials.

Now, let's decide how you'll go through each category.

Wait, did you pick the categories you want to do? I'm doing all of them, personally.

Do you want to work on one category for a specific amount of time? Work on a few each day? Work on one each day, but of varied categories?

Here's what I mean.

Monthly:

  • Sept - Poems
  • Oct - Quotes
  • Nov - Scriptures
  • Dec - History
  • Jan - Language Arts
  • Feb - Poems
  • March - Quotes
  • April - Hymns
  • May - Math
  • June - Science
  • July - Doctrine
  • Aug - Extra

Multiple a day:

Each day work on:

  • Religious (either scripture, hymn, or doctrine)
  • a poem
  • a quote
  • one educational (LA, math, science, history, etc) item

Go through each until they're memorized before adding a new item from each category.

One a day:

  • Mon - religious
  • Tues - poem
  • Wed - quote
  • Thurs - educational
  • Fri - religious
  • continue the pattern

When & how long?

For my family, the ideal time to do memory work is during our Morning Time. We do a lot of our group work together in the morning to set the tone for our day, including memorization.

You can do this during a group work block, during lunch, after lunch, after dinner, or at the end of your school day.

If your schedule is hodge-podged throughout the day, then pick the time that will work WITH your schedule and not when you think you should be doing memory work.

The length of time devoted to memory work is up to you and your schedule. We do at least 5 minutes, or if we're doing multiple items, we devote 5 minutes to each category and then stop when the timer goes off.

We're switching to 5 minutes with new material and 5 minutes of reviewing older material.

 

If you want longer, do longer. You can start out doing the time you want. Give it a week for everyone to get used to it and then adjust where you see the need. Longer? Shorter?

You'd be surprised. My children love memory work and beg to work on it for longer periods of time, especially songs. I was shocked outside my mind when we started it.

 Setting it all up

There's a few different ways you can do this. We'll explore your two options (and you may come up with a different one altogether) before you get started organizing it all.

Index Cards

We started off with index cards.

You get an index card box, dividers, and index cards. We used different colors for different categories.

You can put your items on your index cards like so:

  • Hand write each passage to be memorized
  • Type it out and print it onto the index cards (can be tricky)
  • Type it out, print it on paper, cut and glue onto index cards

You'll label the dividers as DAILY, SUN-SAT (or MON-FRI), EVEN & ODD, 1-31.

Memory Binder

You can also skip the index cards and use a memory work binder.

Print out each passage on its own piece of paper.

You'll need a binder, dividers, page protectors (optional), and paper with each printed passage.

Label the dividers: DAILY, MON-FRI (or SUN-SAT), EVEN & ODD, 1-31

OR you can label them like this:

DAILY, POEMS, QUOTES, SCRIPTURES, DOCTRINE, etc of the categories you'll use. You can put the EXTRA as one category, or break it down into math, science, history, etc.

Learn & review

Now, for the DOING part of it all.

If you use the index cards or the binder here is how you learn and review.

Pull out the passage.

Read it aloud, or have a child read it aloud.

Break it up into sections and start with the first. Add the next section. Go until you think that's enough for the day or your time runs out.

We generally set aside 5 minutes to learn a new passage and then 5 minutes to review the old passages.

Now. Add this new passage to the DAILY section.

Pull out the other passages under the DAILY section. Review them for 7 days, or until they're memorized fully (even if it takes longer or shorter).

Once you've reviewed it for 7 days move it to the EVEN or ODD tab (depending on what day it is). If it's January 15th, put it under ODD. If it's the 16th, move it behind EVEN.

Now, on even days, be sure to review those behind the DAILY and EVEN tab and visa versa for odd days.

Once you're done with that for another 7 days of review (7 times with even or 7 days with odd) move it to the day of the week that it is.

Now, you'll review: DAILY, EVEN/ODD, and whatever day of the week it is. You do this for a month.

Then you move the passage behind the number day it is. If it's February 23, put it behind 23. If it's the 2nd, move it behind the 2.

Now you'll review: DAILY, EVEN/ODD, day of the week, and Day #.

You leave the passage behind the number for 12 months (you'll review it 12 times). Then move it out into another box for all the passages you've finished. You can leave them there forever, or review them as you wish to.

 

If you put it in the binder or index cards with the label DAILY and then categories here's how you do it:

Review under DAILY tab for 7 days (or until it's completely memorized). Then move it behind the category it belongs to.

Each day review one passage from each category. Mark with a bookmark, post it note, or some other method where you left off.

 

You could also do a varied version of this:

DAILY, EVEN/ODD, and then categories.

This way you'd get a bit more review with each passage before moving it to the category section.

Okay, this is all sounding super complicated, and I apologize. If you're ready to shake me until I take it all back, I don't blame you.

 

Here's a quick synopsis to hopefully explain it much better and more simply.

Pick a storage system:

A: index cards

B: memory binder (we're switching to the binder)

 

Pick a schedule system:

A. one focus at a time

B. one category a day

C. each category a day

 

Pick a "learn & review" method

A. Daily, even/odd, weekly, monthly

B. Daily, 1 from each category (daily)

C. Daily, even/odd, 1 from each category (daily)

Add it all up and you've got your final plan.

Take all the materials from the past 4 days and put them together to plan memory work that will be effective and your kids will love and look forward to doing! Easy plan, step by step, walks you through to customize for your homeschool.

Other review methods

We're pretty simple and boring and just do verbal recitation and singing. Nothing fancy. Because of this I'm going to look to some other creative geniuses and send you to them to get even better ideas.

I am planning on adding the popsicle stick review method for sure.

  1. You write actions and funny voices on each popsicle stick.
  2. A kid draws a popsicle stick before each passage to be recited.
  3. You will all do the voice or action on the stick.

So fun! Volcano voice, mouse voice, march in place, etc. I love it. It would be super fun to come up with new ideas every once in a while to add to the collection.

Solagratiamom has a great list of ideas that she's used.

I think my favorite is #12- Emotional Wreck. You have them recite their memory work while they act out an emotion. For instance, sobbing, laughing, surprised, scared, worried, etc.

Another is they get to catch a super squishy toy and squeeze and pull on it while they recite. Great for those that love to be doing things with their hands while they work.

 

Half a Hundred Acre Wood has a ton of practice ideas.

Including, write it on the dry erase board and erase a word at a time, hand motions, hide and seek and more. She has ideas broken up by category-- even better!

Brandy has even more review games for teams, co-ops, or larger families. They look like so much fun !

 

That's it!

Okay, we've been through a lot together these past 5 days. I just want to end with one last thought.

Plan Memory Work time with things that will be of great value and use to your children. Don't memorize things just for the sake of memorization.

Memorize that which teaches, inspires, uplifts, encourages, and is beautiful. Really sit and think about what you want your children to gain and know and work backwards from there.

If there's something they're struggling with start there first.

Always always always make it work FOR you. Do what you need done in your home and not what someone else (including me) tells you to do.

 

I certainly enjoyed these past 5 days and know our own memory time has vastly improved because of it. I hope it blesses you similarly.

 

Parting gift

If you haven't already....

Grab the ASL Memory Work packet

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and join the challenge!

50 IN 5 challenge

 

Catch up

Main: The Best Step-by-Step Guide to Memory Work

Day 1: Improve Your Child's Relationship to God with Memory Work

Day 2: 75 Quotes for Memory Work

Day 3: Phenomenal Poems to Rock Your Memory Work

Day 4: Brilliant Memory Work Hacks to Make Your Morning Time Transformative

 

Your Turn

Tell me your plans for memory work!!

Mwah

 

 

 

 

 

Click the picture to access the other 5-day posts!

5 Day Hopscotch iHN 2016

Essential Back-to-School Shopping List for Homeschool Families

It's that time again, back to homeschool shopping. To be honest, when these days roll back around I think, this is why I'm homeschooling. School supplies!!

Can I get an amen?

When I was still in school, each year, I got so excited for the new school year. I would get new supplies, new clothes, and a new start. This was the year I'd stay organized, on top of my school work, and be student of the year.

Ha!

I still feel this way, but at least I now have the skills to make most of my organizing efforts stick. Small victories matter.

 

Back-to-homeschool shopping, planning, preparing, and scheduling is the real New Year.

 

It's time for back to homeschool shopping! Here's a list of the essential school supplies you need in levels of most important to that'd-be-nice-to-have. Super helpful and great resource-- totally check it out!

There are affiliate links in this post, they help run this blog and do not change the price for you.

 

Today, I'm going to share with you the 3 different levels of essential school supplies each homeschool family needs.

We'll start with the absolute most essential, then add to that the next level of essential.

Then we'll add on some great things you'll want. Then, our final level will be great things to have, but totally not necessary, but can seem essential.

Does that last one make sense? It didn't for me either, and yet, at the same time, it does.

Last, I'll talk about what didn't work for us and back to homeschool shopping for clothes.

 

 

Absolute most essential homeschool supplies

You probably have some of these on your list already, but just in case, you don't, add them in.

Take advantage of the sales as much as you can. It'll be cheaper in the long run, unless you're like our family and our budget is always the tightest right when school starts.

This is usually why we don't buy any new curriculum until October or so. I try as much as possible to take advantage of sales, but if it's not going to work for your family, it's just not. Don't stress it, don't push it, just move on.

Whew, now that that's out of the way, let's get back to business.

  1. Printer
  2. Paper and/or composition notebooks
  3. Pencils
  4. Folders
  5. Library card
  6. Books
  7. Crate (or place to store children's work)

Printer

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 10.55.19 PM

I have the HP LaserJet Pro 200 M251nw (here's the updated version of the same laser printer).

This is my favorite favorite supply.

The day could go to heck, things can go wrong, but I've got my trusty printer to get me through. Melodramatic, yes, but that's how I roll.

 

Since I'm super duper cheap I buy super duper cheap ink refills and they are wonderful! They last forever and the ink is the same quality as the HP brand's.

 

When this printer dies I will replace it with a laser printer with a copier. I don't know why I didn't think I'd need the copier function. Doh!

Paper & pencils

 

Composition notebooks

You can't not have them, unless you hate convenience and life.

 

Composition notebooks are used as

  • yearly journals
  • scripture study journals
  • spelling words
  • math notes
  • history
  • science
  • just for fun

In my home I have to guard the paper with a pit bull.

Since we don't have a pit bull, they are always stealing paper out of the printer, out of the supply cabinet, out of their binders, and out of my notebooks!

They even tore up their sketchbooks!

Yes, I almost fainted when I saw what they'd done.

Worse, they tore pages out of MY sketchbook. MINE!

Pages that I had drawn on.

I won't say there wasn't gnashing of teeth going on when I found my drawings covered with basketball team names, a green stick person, and cut into game pieces.

flme

Having an abundance of composition notebooks and blank paper for them to use for fun is vital for their safety my sanity. It also helps to cut the paper clutter down.

I do recycle their notebooks (after tearing out select pages for keeping) to cut down on tree deaths.

Crate

I organize each kids' completed work into the crate.

 

I have hanging folders for each kid and term.

Inside each kid's term are the subjects broken down into color-coded file folders. I check a paper and then walk over to the crate, drop it in and done. It's off my desk, and out of my life.

 

Next essentials for your homeschool shopping list

 

Dictionary and thesaurus

In Robinson Curriculum, vocabulary is huge. Using the most accurate dictionary and thesaurus is also huge.

I found some great dictionaries in a few antique stores. My next task is to find an old thesaurus instead of using the online one.

 

It's time for back to homeschool shopping! Here's a list of the essential school supplies you need in levels of most important to that'd-be-nice-to-have. Super helpful and great resource-- totally check it out!

Regardless of your curriculum choice, pick up an older copy of the dictionary.

 

Reference books

We are on our way to collecting some fantastic reference books.

Bookshelves

We have 4 bookshelves in our schoolroom.

  1. Filled with fabric buckets full of books grouped by theme and age.
  2. Our preschool-toddler area.
  3. Houses our printer, morning basket, and daily work bins.
  4. Holds our curricula, reference books, strictly educational books (that I don't want little hands on), and extra supplies.

Oh! I have a storage cabinet that I store our crate in, and it will house our desk carousel.

Not essential homeschool supplies, but it sure feels like it

Laminator

Oh this is a beauty. I use this for my preschool and kindergarten items, but not as much for my older kids' stuff. A laminator is vital for younger kids.

 

 

I use these super cheap laminating sheets. They are thin, but they get the job done. If I want to make sure a certain page is sturdy I print it on card stock paper and it's perfect.

** Skip the laminator if you don't homeschool youngsters. Just find a friend with one or go to a copy shop and have them do it.

Binders

Each kid has their own binder and cute dividers.

We are going to be notebooking more this year, and use the binders for this rather than the crate. I'll find a way to bind them at the end of the year and store them in the crate, or keep them on our shelves for reference.

Index card box & cards

We use the card box, dividers, and cards for our memory work during Morning Time.

We have poems, folk songs, hymns, and scripture verses written on color-coded cards and organized into our memorization system.

Pencil sharpener

This is a definite must (contradicting myself, aren't I?)

We use this one:

I like it a lot, except that when it falls on the ground the trap door pops off and shavings get everywhere. Staining my carpet gray. No bueno.

The solution would be to duct tape the trap door closed, or get a new one, or new kids that stop dropping the dang sharpener.

We used the duct tape and kept the kids.

White board

We love our white board. We have ours mounted on the wall with velcro strips, that make it easy to take down and use in a different part of the house and then hang back up when we're done.

I keep hoping that I'll run into an awesomely gigantic one someday.

 

Desk Carousel

I ordered this beauty a few days ago. I can't wait for it to get here! I'll update this post after we use it with a picture of it in action and my thoughts.

It's time for back to homeschool shopping! Here's a list of the essential school supplies you need in levels of most important to that'd-be-nice-to-have. Super helpful and great resource-- totally check it out!

Kindle Reader

We own 2 kindle readers. They're held in these great padded cases.

It's time for back to homeschool shopping! Here's a list of the essential school supplies you need in levels of most important to that'd-be-nice-to-have. Super helpful and great resource-- totally check it out!

 

I was really hesitant to get a kindle, I know I prefer actual books, and they're better, but honestly, I didn't have the room to print all the books (Robinson Curriculum) and I had too many mess ups when I was printing them (user error) that I was going through paper and ink too fast. Which was costing lots of money.

In the end, the sweet deal of a price I got on them won me over in combination of the cost and time needed for printing.

Pros:

  • The kids like the novelty of their kindles.
  • They enjoy reading on them.
  • Saves time
  • Saves money
  • Tons of parental controls that locks out access to the internet.

Cons:

  • It's easy for them to say they're done reading without being able to verify. I have to rely on their book tests and integrity a bit more than I feel comfortable.
  • Upfront cost.

*** I really wanted to add this to the 2nd essential list, because it feels so vital to our school, and yet, if you have access to the most essential items, you don't need them.

Baskets and Bins

We use a collection of baskets and bins from the dollar spot in Target, the Dollar Tree, Walmart, and any random thing that showed up in our house one day.

I'm always changing what they're used for, and sometimes they turn into more work than they're worth.

For the most part, they are very efficient and helpful. I don't like stuff scattered about and get overwhelmed easily if it's all up in my grill.

I get bins and baskets that aren't see-through to help cut the visual clutter and store them behind doors or in bookshelves to provide containment.

 

Maps

I have two big maps, a US and a world map. They are HUGE. Much bigger than I realized when I ordered them, though if I had paid attention I would order them again. They are pretty heavy and have gotten torn on the corners from coming off the wall.

It's time for back to homeschool shopping! Here's a list of the essential school supplies you need in levels of most important to that'd-be-nice-to-have. Super helpful and great resource-- totally check it out!

 

I'm going to try using this mavalus tape to see if it holds up better.

I moved them to the hallway to the school room for easier access to them and to keep the school room walls free for other goodies I want to put up. Plus, there's not much room on the walls with all the lovely windows in there

Rolls of paper

These rolls are perfect for history, science, art, and really anything you can dream of. I'm dreaming of a beautiful mural for this year. It's totally happening.

Your homeschool wish list

 

Supplies that didn't work for us

That cart everyone uses.

We had 2. I tried it 2 stinking times and they both were rickety and heaven forbid you put anything heavy in them (workbook) and the tray slipped. They eventually broke and I say good riddance.

Pocket charts.

I liked the pocket chart for our tiny space that we used to live in. I had a tiny under the stairs closet to fit everything in. It was hard.

I used the wall with pocket charts. It worked and it didn't. The pockets sagged, things got lost in there, or were just too heavy for the pocket. The kids had problems putting things back away inside them.

 

Back to school clothes

These really aren't necessary for us homeschoolers and I love that. I don't have to drop a billion dollars on "cool" clothes.

2 years ago, I did buy uniforms for the kids. These were their homeschool clothes.

Each child had:

  • A church outfit
  • Pajamas
  • 2-3 play outfits
  • 4-5 school uniforms

It was awesome. They were adorable.

It's time for back to homeschool shopping! Here's a list of the essential school supplies you need in levels of most important to that'd-be-nice-to-have. Super helpful and great resource-- totally check it out!

 

Pros: 

  • Laundry was a breeze
  • No trying to match clothes
  • Put them in the school mindset
  • Affordable

Cons: 

  • White shirts got stained easily (I have the black thumb of laundry)
  • Took time to hunt down the best deals
  • Making sure they changed outfits before playing

If I do it again, I'll have navy tops and khaki bottoms to help with stains.

Here's what I got:

 

Homeschool shopping wrap up

#1 Don't get things that work for my homeschool. Get things that work for YOU, your children, and your method.

#2 Get the most important things first, and save up for the rest. Don't compare, don't stress.

#3 Don't buy everything all at once; you want to make sure they work for you.

You can buy a dollar store version and test out bins for a certain area. If it works, eventually buy a sturdier version. If it doesn't, you're not out $50 and stuck using it out of guilt.

#4 Evaluate quarterly.

 

#5 Be sure to buy something super fun as well! Maybe some stickers, cute erasers, a new poster, or binder.

Have the Homeschool Fairy deliver it the night before school starts for an extra flair of back to school fun.

 

I wish you the best of luck and hope that this resource helps make your homeschool shopping adventure totally doable.

Your turn

What is your absolute favorite homeschool supply?

Mwah

 

 

 

 

Looking for more help with homeschool planning?

Homeschool: How to Get Started

Homeschool: How do I Plan?

120 Ideas for Back to Homeschool

Easy Plan for Your Not Back to School Party!

10 Signs You Need Homeschool Organization Help immediately

 

More school supply help?

Life-Changing-Supplies-700x700-94403

 

10 Signs You Need Homeschool Organization Help Immediately

This post may contain affiliate links. This does not change the price for you. :-) Whew. When do you know it's time to up your homeschool organization game? I've got 10 clear signs to share with you that will leave you with little doubt.

If you stick with me through all 10 signs, I've got an easy solution for you. Because, what would be the point of showing you all 10 signs and not giving you a way out of this mess?! There wouldn't be any.

 

It'd just make you sink into a pit of despair to wallow in for months and months only to come out smelling of old rotting soccer socks and a few more un-plucked whiskers on your chin.

Ew.

 

When do you know it's time to up your homeschool organization game? Here's 10 clear signs that will leave you with little doubt + an easy solution.

 

10. You're using books as your homeschool furniture

If you're using stacks of books in place of chairs, boxes of books for your desks, then it's safe to say you have a problem.

It may be time to re-think the storage of your books, or even *shudder* get rid of some.

9. You can't find the dustpan under all those cereal crumbs

If chore time is haphazard, frantic, ineffective, and the last thing you and your kids are able to get done. It just seems easier some days to shove the paper confetti your 3-year-old made out of her craft under the couch than it is to vacuum it up.

It may be time to re-do your chore systems and how you handle your day to day upkeep.

8. Your library fines are larger than your student loans

If you just found a library book that you checked out 4 months ago and are saving up each month to pay off your current library fine. If you spend all day at the library because you can't check any books out due to your overdue fine, you're going to want to establish something, anything, to save your wallet.

Homeschool Organization Sign No. 8

7. You had craft paper in your dinner last night

If there's a landfill's worth of paper on your kitchen table and no place to set your plate during dinner, then it's about time you sent half your paperwork to the burn pile, and organize the rest.

 

When do you know it's time to up your homeschool organization game? Here's 10 clear signs that will leave you with little doubt + an easy solution.

6. You accidentally threw away your child's work for this year's homeschool portfolio

If you did this... then holy crow, I'll cry with you. If your state requires a portfolio to be turned in and evaluated each year and you threw it all away by accident...

It's time to move! ;-)

5. You are considering animal sacrifice to meet this year's homeschooling goals

If your goals for each child just seem like distant dreams, if it looks like you'll never get your child to read, subtract, write his name legibly, or even flush the toilet, we're in the same boat.

You may need to re-evaluate your homeschool goals and the way you approach completing them. Or... maybe you need to set them in the first place. Whoops.

4. Your walk across the schoolroom floor always leaves a counting bear embedded in your foot

If you loathe counting bears, all types of manipulatives, and especially Lego because of all the foot injuries you've encountered over the last year, it may be time to throw them all away.

I kid.

It is time to sort them, store them, and regulate their usage in an easier manner.

3. You do school outside, not because you want to, but because there's no place to sit

If you've got a giant salt dough map on the table, a dioramas sitting on the chairs, laundry and library books on the couch, last week's projects and papers on the floor, and you're currently sprawled out on a picnic blanket on the muddy ground in your backyard... you know it's time.

Time to shove all that stuff under a match.

xspld

2. You bought the same homeschool curriculum 3 times

If you just unearthed the science curriculum that seems really familiar and then your daughter runs up to ask you a question holding the same workbook, and then... ding dong the UPS guy shows up delivering you a box of... that same science curriculum your bank account may be hurting.

You may need to do an inventory of what you have and what you need. And then... get some help on your memory loss problems.

Homeschool Organization Sign No. 2

1. You are stressed, overwhelmed, overworked, lost, burnt out, and your husband (and you) are fed up

If you're just. done. with the stress and overwhelm, but aren't sure what's wrong or what to do, and you want to give up, but you really don't want to give up, it's time for you to get some help, guidance, and support.

Homeschool Organization signs


It's way past time for you to get your homeschool organization under control

Now, I don't want you to feel bad.

I am not telling you all this as an anal-retentive organized cyborg. I am telling you this as a fellow disorganized person.

Hence the need to poke fun at myself (and you) with the exaggerated list. Well, the library fine one is pretty accurate.

 

If you're anything like me you want change, results, and you want it to be easy and as painless as possible.

The Solution

 

When do you know it's time to up your homeschool organization game? Here's 10 clear signs that will leave you with little doubt + an easy solution.

 

The Organized Homeschool Life

Let me tell you WHY it's the solution I need and then let you decide.

  1. I love Melanie Wilson. She's like totes amaze, or whatever the cool kids are saying these days. For real though, she's the real deal, genuine, and has been there (she wasn't born an organized robot, she worked at it -- minus the robot bit).
  2. It's broken up into months, then weeks, and then tasks to spread out each week.
  3. Each task is manageable, straightforward, and relevant.
  4. Each week has a theme, or area to concentrate on.
  5. Melanie encourages you to start where you need to and want to and to never feel a slave to the book. You'll never be behind.
  6. There's an awesome calendar, a month-at-a-glance printable, for you to keep close by so you never forget what's next.
  7. It's not just your actual homeschool room that's covered, but your entire homeschool life, which is really life. Your chores, schedule, marriage, goals, computer, curriculum, and more.
  8. The ideas, tips, and tricks in the book are fantastic! They are the best organization ideas in one book, with easy and simple directions to get you through each task. I think I said that already.
  9. Melanie has created extra freebies to help you even more than what's included in the book.
  10. It is working for me!

I just did a major overhaul of our homeschool room. We literally weren't even using it. We were downstairs, on the couch, floor, and kitchen table.

There's nothing wrong with that, it's just things were getting lost, crumpled, and our focus wasn't the best. Especially MY focus.

Now the room has turned into sweet sweet heavenly bliss. At least, for me. The kids are super excited to start using it this way, and I have dreams of peaceful homeschool days ahead. Well, organized homeschool days ahead. I gotta be realistic.

I would definitely encourage you to buy this book and see how it helps you get your homeschool organization under control and your life as well.

 

Mwah

 

 

 

 

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The Dirty Truth of The Time Required to Homeschool

This post may contain affiliate links. This does not effect pricing for you. At all. 

 

How much time is actually required to homeschool?

Nearly every time I mention I homeschool someone asks me a variation of this question.

When friends come to work with me to figure out how to get started homeschooling, this is one of their biggest concerns and questions.

 

The underlying fear:

Is this going to eat up my entire day?? Will this mean I can't do anything for myself? What if I don't have my day last long enough and ruin my children's lives? What if it's too long and I not only ruin their lives, but mine, and we'll hate homeschooling?

 

Dude. These are all valid fears and concerns.

 

How much time does homeschool really need to take? How much time do you spend worrying that you're not doing enough or you're doing too much? Let's get down to the real truth so you can get some peace. Pin this to help others in your same boat.

 

When I think of homeschooling, I probably think of it in a different way than would-be homeschoolers, new homeschoolers, and those that don't think about homeschooling other than to think of "those homeschoolers."

 

Homeschooling = life. Life-schooling.

 

How much time does homeschool really need to take? How much time do you spend worrying that you're not doing enough or you're doing too much? Let's get down to the real truth so you can get some peace. Pin this to help others in your same boat.

 

Sometimes, it's hard to separate homeschooling from life. You can have blocks of schooling, you can have bursts of schooling, but you know how life works.

 

Got a doctor or dentist appointment? Well, you go to that, and sometimes have to rearrange your routine or schedule to get it done.

 

Garbage! You don't have any food in the house except that expired can of tuna and some stale crackers. Well, you'd better hit the store before you all perish or get botulism.

 

Kids acting up? Someone wrote all over the walls, one kid dumped laundry detergent all over the floor... again. Another kid is in tears over times tables, and another is clamoring for some help with reading.

 

It happens, to everyone.

 

Do you see why I say it's nearly impossible to separate homeschool from life?

 

When you ask, how long does it really take, my answer will typically by, "oh, not long."  That's really just for those that aren't asking for application purposes.

 

Well, I may woo you into loving homeschool by telling you that it won't take long, or that it'll take as long as you'd like it to. Both aren't lies. They just don't involve the typical day-to-day road bumps.

WAIT!

Before you click out of here in a huff of disgust and disappointment, let me break down for you dirty truth of our homeschool day/life and let you see just how much time homeschooling takes for the Barlow family.

 

time to homeschool tweet 1

The BIG Breakdown of Time:

First, you need to know what curriculum we use, as it is a MAJOR factor in our day-to-day operations. My day will look completely different than someone else's day that doesn't use our curriculum.

We use Robinson Curriculum. It's pretty different than a lot of the stuff you'll see out there.

It's self-taught, simple, rigorous, and effective, with a very set schedule.

 

Time Doing Actual Homeschooling

 

Our day looks like this (in an ideal world):

7:00--  Wake up (breakfast, morning routine, quick clean up)

7:30 - 12:30-- School block (1 hour of writing, 2 hours math, 2 hours reading, 30 minutes of play/exercise)

12:30-- Lunch (eat, clean up, and a tiny bit of free time. Put down Teddy Bear for a nap)

1:30--  1 - 2 extra school items (Science, Tea Time, Geography/History, ASL, or Spanish). Done with Mama.

2:30-- The kids are encouraged to learn, explore, and do things on their own. There are no electronics (unless needed for their learning) allowed at this time.

There's also no cap or requirement to the time spent on this. I encourage them to do something. I may give them some free time first and then move back to this time allotment. However, that's dangerous because I may not always get them back on task.

 

For instance:

The Captain has a geography workbook and encyclopedia that he loves. He is obsessed with maps, and so he uses this to work on his map skills and learn all he can about them and reads his encyclopedia over and over again.

 

With RC they encourage you to do school on Saturday as well. At the very least, 2 hours of math. We haven't done this consistently, even less so since I've been so exhausted from pregnancy. We'll be picking this back up soon.

 

We have homeschool co-op once a week, that goes from 9:30 - 2:10, so that does take a whole day away from RC, so I think that I really need to do school on Saturday to make up for that entire day.  I do try to have them do an hour of math and an hour of reading after co-op, but sometimes, I just let them run around with scissors and matches instead.

 

time to homeschool tweet 2

 

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Time Spent Parenting

Isn't this really an all-day thing for every parent? Parenting is never done, unless we're all asleep and dreaming peacefully. Then, perhaps, we're taking a parenting break. Until someone decides to throw up all over their bed...

We dedicate 4 times a day to chores. Whoa Nelly! Four times!?!

Let me explain.

We have 15 minutes of chores after breakfast and lunch. Before dinner (really, before Mr. Barlow gets home) we do family chores. After dinner, we do the last bit of chores for the day.

How much time does homeschool really need to take? How much time do you spend worrying that you're not doing enough or you're doing too much? Let's get down to the real truth so you can get some peace. Pin this to help others in your same boat.

 

This way, there's not a ton of work to be done all at once and I'm not throwing death threats around just to get someone (Sweet Cheeks) to actually pick up that stinking toy after asking 8 times. Hypothetically.

Saturday is "Saturday Cleaning Day." Not my favorite. We'll wake up in the morning, and get to deep cleaning. If all goes well, we'll have it finished in 2 hours.

At least we are listening to music while we're at it!

 

Each Monday we have Family Home Evening. This is where we have a gospel lesson and activity and treat.

Each Sunday we try to have Family Council. This addresses any scheduling, any conflicts that have come up, and any behavioral work we'd like to focus on for that week.

Throughout the week we aim to spend one-on-one time with at least two kids.

Sundays we also make cookies or treats together. Sometimes we eat them and sometimes we share them with others.

Once a month we have a family activity we have picked to do. We'll either do this on a weekend or Monday night.

Discipline issues: I have been using the Love and Logic methodology for years and have loved it. I'm not always consistent, but when I am, life is sweet.

I've recently been introduced to The Absolute Quickest Way to Help Your Child Change, which is written by the man who wrote our writing curriculum, and also uses RC. I love this man and his wife. They're real, kind, loving, intelligent parents and educators. I'm in the middle of reading Fred's book and am really liking it. I'll let y'all know how it goes.

For discipline, my husband and I are take-no-nonsense kind of parents. We have high expectations for our children and believe they can live up to them. We teach them to be responsible, kind, respectful, conscientious, polite, reverent, and to work hard.

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How much time planning takes

The beauty of RC is that I don't have to plan. Practically at all. We have the books printed out (or as ebooks), the math curriculum ready to go, and lots of paper and pencils.

 

Each day they grab their math books (we use Math-U-See for now) or their flashcards and they get to work. They teach themselves and they correct their own work. Anything they miss they correct.

They can write based on the curriculum we use, The Writing Course, or they do copywork (youngers), or write whatever they feel like. They hand it to me and I make some edits on the papers. I hand it back to them and they fix them.

Reading is two-fold. They work on their vocabulary/spelling from their readings and they also read. There's a huge list of books they are to read. They're printed out and I have them on our readers and tablets. They read them. We talk about them at dinner. If there's a test that goes along with the book, they take that test.

 

Anything else we do, the extra stuff is the part that takes planning.

We are using Apologia Science: Flying Creatures this year, along with the Notebook and the Junior Notebook.

We also are using their Around the World in 180 Days and workbook. This means, I need to make sure we have the supplies for the experiments and the books and resources from the library.

For art, I just need to make sure we have supplies and ideas. I'll pop over to my Pinterest art board, grab a book from the library or bookstore, or use our drawing book.

Tea Time happens once a week. I just grab a family read aloud, a poetry book, and a picture of a piece of art. It doesn't really matter which ones, I just grab it and go.

ASL, since I teach this already, I go ahead and teach it. I sometimes use my own videos, or I just sit them down and work on it.

Spanish, we are trying out a new curriculum this year, since my kids begged me to learn Spanish as well. I'm pretty excited about it, and I'll tell you all about how it's going for us really really soon! (Look forward to that post!)

Seriously, it couldn't be easier and more stress-free. It probably takes me around 20 minutes total to go through each subject for the week and write down what we need.

I try not to plan much in terms of what we'll be doing, I just focus on moving to the next part so I don't get caught up in planning since planning makes me feel like I'm choking on a hippo.

 

That's a real thing.

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Time in Outside Activities

The Captain and Little Miss are in a Homeschool Co-op. They meet once a week, it does take up a whole day (9 - 2), but it's been great for them to make friends.

Little Miss is in dance, that's once a week, for an hour.

The Captain is in basketball and that's twice a week, with a game once a week. The great thing is, Mr Barlow is his coach!

The Animal will be starting soccer next month and that's once a week practice with a game once a week as well.

The Captain wanted to be in gymnastics again this year, but I don't know why we never enrolled him. I'm not sure what to do now. If we enroll him once basketball is over (this month), will it be worth it if we can't keep it up over the summer? Summertime is usually our tight-budget time since my transcription work is only during the school year.

We don't have any other outside activities beyond that. I'll be teaching them piano (just need to paint and bring it out of the garage), and I would like to have them learn a string instrument (I know piano is a string), but goodness, the money!

My goal: each kid in a sport and musical instrument. With 6 kids, I'm going to need to start doing something illegal to make that happen!

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The BIG Summary (but not really big, big):

You can see that our time spent homeschooling technically takes up 6 hours of our day. However, add in all the other goodness, and it's your whole day.

I do have a part-time job (early in the mornings, 5 - 9 am), I blog, and I run an ASL course. I am also a volunteer at my church, working with adult women. I am always doing something with or for them each week and hold a monthly activity as well.

I have a loving husband that I try to spend as much time with as possible. I am also pregnant with #6, and that zaps my energy, along with the hashimotos and adrenal fatigue I deal with.

It's possible to homeschool AND...

  • Be YOU and pursue your goals and dreams
  • Take naps
  • For your days to be shorter than mine
  • Work
  • Cope with various health issues
  • Have a crazy life
  • Have a new baby
  • Be pregnant and throwing up constantly
  • Enjoy life

 

The dirty truth:

How much time does homeschool really need to take? How much time do you spend worrying that you're not doing enough or you're doing too much? Let's get down to the real truth so you can get some peace. Pin this to help others in your same boat.

 

How long does homeschooling take your family? What is your ideal day?

 

time to homeschool tweet 3

 

HomeschoolingTimeTakes

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Can't Keep Up? 12 Ways to Simplify Your Homeschool Day

This post may contain affiliate links. This doesn't change the price for you at all. 

 

I'm all about keeping homeschool simple.

Well, I should say, I am NOW all about keeping homeschool simple.

When I first started many moons ago, I pretty much made it as complicated as can be. Unfortunately, that seems to be my natural inclination.

I plan, plan, plan some more, and then over-plan on top of that. I dream big, plan big, and then fail big.

I'll get exhausted from planning, preparing, buying the materials, prepping and organizing them that when it comes to Get-It-Done-Day I'm tapped out and taking a nap. For a month.

 

Then I feel like a failure and the cycle begins again.

No bueno. No bueno at all.

 

Now, I keep it simple and my life has never been easier and happier. In fact, sometimes it feels too easy and I get that panic feeling deep inside until I remind myself that no... this is right. Let go of that need to try and be all and do all and plan all.

 

When we find ourselves worn out, exhausted, and tapped out when it comes to homeschool, something has to change. Here's 12 ways to simplify so you can breathe and enjoy homeschooling once again. Click through to find easy actionable steps for you to take

The 12 Ways to Simplify Your Homeschool

I want the same thing for you. Let me share with you 12 simple tips to keep it simple and let go of the homeschool day bloat and planning overwhelm.

1-- Get Real

Don't lie to yourself. Don't self-sabatoge, don't set such ridiculous expectations on yourself that you can't possibly succeed. That's not fair.

Get real. What can you do today? What isn't going to happen? Tackle today and then move on to the next tomorrow.

If you find yourself regularly having to ditch some things it's time to re-evaluate.

  • Is there a way to make things easier? Brainstorm some solutions and implement one at a time.
  • Is there something that needs to be dropped? Drop it and don't look back.
  • Is there something that you need to make sure happens that's not? Look at what's keeping you from accomplishing that item. Try a new approach.
  • Is it that you need to prep ahead of time?
  • Do you not have money in the budget or time to buy all those little supplies you need (this was me with Unit Studies... good grief, that was a lot of little stuff, feathers, walnut shells, sand shakers??)?
  • Do you lack motivation?
  • Are you trying to cram too much in one day?
  • Are you trying to do it at a time where you're worn out, burnt out, hungry, or tired? Pick a different time to do it at.
  • Do you just hate that subject?
  • Is there someone else that can help you tackle it?

Take an honest look at your days, evaluate and get real.

 

Drop the idea that you're going to be Wonder Woman + Mrs Beaver + Mrs Brady + Batman + Albert Einstein + Emily Dickinson + Vermeer + Bach + Inspector Gadget all rolled into one.

I've already filled that position: it's not up for grabs.

I kid, I kid. I know, it wasn't funny. It was a lame joke, but hey, that's what happens when your only audience is a bunch of children who think everything is funny. Your comedy routine suffers.

But at least they think I'm funny. My mom gave up on me years ago.

2-- Focus Up

 

When we find ourselves worn out, exhausted, and tapped out when it comes to homeschool, something has to change. Here's 12 ways to simplify so you can breathe and enjoy homeschooling once again. Click through to find easy actionable steps for you to take

 

Sure, you may have found amazing things to do with your kids. Those crafts, those experiments, those projects, those printables, those games, those those those those those... brain explosions.

xspld

 

What is it you want for your child? For yourself? For your home? Really think about it. Drill down to the most important things (use a paper and pen) and cross off those things that would sure be nice, but aren't really fitting in to the main idea.

Whenever you are making a decision about your schedule, curricula, plans, and extras pull out that list. Does it fit the big picture? If so, do it, or plan a time to do it at another date. If not, drop it and don't look back.

DON'T look back.

3-- Stop Looking

We Homeschool Mamas have a major weakness: looking for new things to use to teach our children.

We look at what Suzie, Joanna, Amy, and Trina are doing and what their kids are accomplishing and think... "maybe my kids would do XYZ if they had LMNOP too."

We think to ourselves, "sheesh, they're really struggling with math, what other resources are out there to help me help them?"

This quickly snowballs and all of a sudden we've got a new set of books, several sets of manipulatives, more extras, and a membership to a practice site.

 

Stick with what you've got. Give it a good solid go for a good length of time. If something is not working, first, look to see how you can use what you have, either in the actual curriculum or with the materials you have laying around your house.

After a good college try (more than a week) with that goodness, if you don't have success, then start to look at other resources.

Just set a limit before you begin to research.

 

Find a different approach to the problem and use what you have at hand. Don't let curriculum hunting be your hobby.

When we find ourselves worn out, exhausted, and tapped out when it comes to homeschool, something has to change. Here's 12 ways to simplify so you can breathe and enjoy homeschooling once again. Click through to find easy actionable steps for you to take

 

4-- Keep looking*

Okay, I just said *don't* look for a new curriculum. I may or may not have lied to you.

Well, I didn't really. You do need to stop shopping (I see you clicking around over there).

However, our homeschool life changed when we found a ultra-simple yet ultra-effective curriculum. It fit our lifestyle, it fit my homeschool priorities, it was quality, it was self-teaching, and it was super duper simple.

Like, I can wake up and not have to think about what we're going to do every day. It's just there, ready to go, always.

*If you can find a similar solution for yourself, do it. Otherwise, put the internet away and get back to homeschooling.

5-- Cull Your Schedule

Take an honest look at your schedule. Make it work around your family's natural rhythms and not someone else's.

 

I love Confessions of a Homeschooler, but I really really can't do their schedule no matter how hard I tried at first. Not that Erica advocates for us to use her schedule. I just really wanted to be her. Or at least have her homeschool.

Set a designated time for your school. How long do you want your day to last?

We use Robinson Curriculum, so we have a very set schedule that really really works for us: 2 hours of math, 1 hour of writing, 2 hours of reading. Then they have the rest of the day for chores, play, and extra learning they're interested in.

This way of doing school has really been freeing for me and the kids. We get our boundaries and our flexibility. We have a routine and schedule without feeling like we're set in cement and dying.

 

Oh... wait, that's just me.

frg

 

Find what works for you, then for your kids. Then cull the rest. Keep your schedule simple. Don't over schedule yourself; don't micromanage yourself.

You don't need to assign every minute a task. Especially if you're a person like me that loves the idea of a schedule but dies inside the minute she has to live it. Then you rebel and the guilt/shame cycle renews. But hey, you're free now.

Here's a way to schedule if you need some ideas on where to start. 

6-- Drop the Excess Planning

You're a planning maniac that has literally turned into a literal maniac. Why are you creating extra work for yourself when all you really need to do is just not... do that?

ngry

Can we just take a second to point out how freaky her eyes are? Yikes! Make it stop.

 

Is what you're using currently helping you or is it causing more stress/anxiety/work? If so, let's find a new method.

Look at #8 and use the same thing for yourself. Find a planner that speaks to you. I've used the Weekly Homeschool Planner with great success.

I love that it is blank, customizable, and there's no distracting colors. I love cute things, but gosh, they clutter my brain fast.

I can change that planner to be anything I want it to be and only print out what I need.

I also write in pencil and use post-its on it so I can move things around without stressing myself out.

Now that I use RC I don't really need this whole planner anymore. I just do our 5 hours, add in a few extras here and there and call it good. It's beautiful and thorough.

7-- Clean it Up

Make your chore time simple. Here's a chart I recently made that we're trying out:

When we find ourselves worn out, exhausted, and tapped out when it comes to homeschool, something has to change. Here's 12 ways to simplify so you can breathe and enjoy homeschooling once again. Click through to find easy actionable steps for you to take

(TC 9yo, LM 8yo, TA 6yo, SC 4yo)

It seems complicated, but it's really not. I've broken up the chores into different times of the day to spread out the workload and have chore time faster. What used to be overwhelming to the kids at the end of the day is now manageable and a lot less painful. It makes for a simpler day because of its ease, speed, and a lot less tantrums (myself included, of course).

 

Make sure you realize I said we're TRYING it out. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work and we move on. I expended 20 minutes of time making that schedule and hanging it up on the fridge. I didn't even use colored ink.

8-- Spirals

Ditch the cute checklists, the over-thought, over-complicated ways of giving assignments. Pull out a spiral notebook for each child, write their assignments in it the night before and they check it off as they complete each assignment. They can also retrieve their own materials.

Here's some great information on how to pull this off

 9-- Ditch It

I tried workboxes. I hated them. I felt like it was a ton more work for myself, plus, half of my stuff wouldn't fit in the daggum things. Annoying much?!

If I forgot to fill them, it just ruined my day or delayed my day, which could very well ruin our homeschool day if I let it. Some days, I did let it.

 

I tried different systems and I found one that semi-worked for us.

I wound up, in the end, just having a magazine holder for each kid and putting their stuff in it. They also had a locker basket with some of their supplies in it. Each was color coordinated to match a child. They grabbed their stuff needed and did what matched their spiral notebook assignments, materials at the ready.

 

So basically, not workboxes.

 

If you find that workboxes don't work for you, don't despair. Here's an interesting solution that actually combines the spiral notebooks with the workboxes. I thought you might like it.

 

When we find ourselves worn out, exhausted, and tapped out when it comes to homeschool, something has to change. Here's 12 ways to simplify so you can breathe and enjoy homeschooling once again. Click through to find easy actionable steps for you to take

 

Otherwise, find or make up your own solution, or ditch it all together. Some people find workboxes simplify their day, and some don't. No biggie.

10-- Pre-Make

You've heard of breakfast stations right? Or making ahead your lunches so they're ready to go? Now, this takes some pre-planning and prep work, but in the thick of the day, it can save your bacon (I totally said that cliche on purpose).

If your baby is extra fussy and needs some lovin', your kids can head to the kitchen and grab their own breakfasts. Then they can get going with their day without waiting for mom to feed them before they starve to death... meanwhile, said baby is breaking the sound barrier with her cries of agony from an unknown origin.

Lunch time rolls around and you're caught up helping a kid with his reading and you don't want to stop the momentum you have to feed the rest of the kids.

Does that sound really mean? Whoops.

They can head to the kitchen, grab the pre-made lunch and wham-o, problem solved. Kids are fed and CPS isn't banging on your door for not feeding your kids lunch at the right time. Not that they do that... but still... you never know nowadays.

Here are some resources you may find helpful:

10 Make Ahead Lunches Done the Lazy Way

Make Ahead Cold Lunches (A Week's Worth in a Day)

Make Ahead Lunches

Self-Serve Healthy Snacks for Kids

DIY Breakfast Station

       Follow Rochelle Barlow's board School Lunches and Snacks on Pinterest.

 

11-- Create Procedures

Dude, Pam is a genius. She came up with a procedure list idea to plan how to use her various curricula. She takes the resource, lists out the steps to use it and in the order of operation. Now, each time she pulls out that resource she knows exactly what to do without having to re-think the process out each time. What a great use of brain power and time. I'm all about efficiency.

Pam breaks it down even more for you, if you're interested, along with a great example.

12 -- Just the Essentials, Ma'am

Did I say this one already? Whoops. But not really.

What is it you want your children to learn? List them in order of priority. Do the essentials, cut the rest. Or at the very least, keep the non-essentials at a manageable, simplified version.

Related: 11 Tips For a Peaceful First Homeschool Year

Can't Keep Up? 12 Ways to Simplify Your Homeschool Day

Can't keep up? 12 Ways to Simplify Your Homeschool Day

Can't Keep Up? 12 Ways to Simplify Your Homeschool Day

Your challenge:

That's a wrap for our 12 ways to simplify your homeschool day! I would really love two things.

1) For you to pick one of these and use it in your homeschool. Don't let it stress or freak you out, just give it a whirl.

2) I'd absolutely love to hear your ideas on how to simplify your homeschool day. I may be all those amazing people rolled into one (har har), but I still don't know everything. Where I have found to simplify my day, that's great, but there are other areas that probably could use simplifying that I hadn't thought of yet.

Share and share away!!

Mwah

 

 

 

 

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Easy Plan For Your Not Back To School Party!

Let's celebrate! It's time for NOT back to school.

As homeschoolers we have the greatest freedom and flexibility in our days. We've got to take advantage of this great gift and use it for a day of fun!

 

That means, a (Home) school party!

not back to school party

Let's throw a Not Back to School Party!

I've posted some questions for you to consider as you plan your party. It can really be anything that fits you.

 

What do you want from your celebration?

  • Pump your children (and yourself) up for the coming school year
  • Have a day of fun
  • Celebrate your reasons for homeschooling
  • Set the stage for your school year
  • Etc.

When will you hold your party?

  • The week (or more) before
  • The day before
  • The night before
  • The day of
  • The night of your first day

Who is coming to the party?

  • Just your family
  • Your other Homeschool friends
  • Your family
  • Your Homeschool club or co-op

What age of people is this party for?

  • All ages
  • Littles
  • Middles
  • Olders
  • Parents

What's your budget?

  • Free
  • Mostly free
  • Small budget
  • Medium
  • Extravaganza-type

How complicated?

Your budget may impact your complication. Though, it is possible to have a very involved party without spending lots of money.

  • You want a simple party
  • Somewhat involved party
  • Very involved party

Location

  • Home
  • Park
  • Community Center
  • Outdoor location
  • Museum
  • Etc

Here's an invitation for you to use

blank invite

 

Click on the picture and it'll open in a new tab. Right-click and click Save As. Next, upload it to PicMonkey to edit it and add text of your choosing. Print or email to your friends and family to invite them to your Not Back To School Party!

Activities

Large Groups

  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Water Kickball
  • Hike
  • Swim party
  • Flour tag
  • Party Games
  • Picnic

Smaller Groups

  • Party Games
  • Time capsule
  • Decorate your own journal/notebook
  • Wrap a pen/pencil
  • School photos
  • Treasure hunt
  • Hike
  • Picnic
  • Swim in the river/lake/pool
  • Painting
  • Water games

Yummy stuff to eat

  • Cookies and milk
  • Apple buffet
  • Ice cream sundae bar
  • Burgers and hotdogs
  • Chili cheese fries
  • Pizza
  • Family's favorite meal
  • Breakfast
  • Apple Pie Cupcakes
  • Confidence Cookies
  • Rice Krispie apples
  • Chocolate Kiss Pencils

Goodies

A treat to give away is always fun

  • A visit from the Homeschool Fairy (fresh fun school supplies)
  • Edible Glue
  • Lucky Charms goodie Bag
  • Gumball Ruler
  • Pencil cases
  • Snazzy notebooks
  • Membership to a museum or zoo
  • A new book (or a set of books)
  • A fun printable full of encouragement, framed

not back to school pin

Let's put it all together into two options

Party option #1

Who: Family Party

Where: Backyard

When: Afternoon/Evening of the first day

Have a few simple decorations

Red, yellow, and blue streamers, a couple grouping of balloons, and 3 mason jars filled with fresh new pencils, crayons, and colored pencils for a centerpiece.

Food

Have an apple buffet:

Apples with caramel sauce in a bowl (melt caramels with some milk/cream). Have bowls of toppings to sprinkle on your caramel apples. Can slice the apples up to make it easier to eat.

Have apple rice krispie treats, apple cupcakes, and apple juice. Lay out some savory treats as well to counter balance all the sweets: fresh veggies, chips and salsa, cheese and crackers, a favorite dip, etc.

Activities

Have a treasure hunt, draw a vague map. Have them stop at several locations within the house and backyard. Have a clue at each stop. Have a prize at the end -- a box of fun art supplies or science experiment.

Decorate your own composition notebook with glue, paints, paper, and anything else you love and can find.

OR decorate your own library bag with fabric markers and paint. What Homeschooler doesn't love the library?

Each person (even the parents) fill out a survey for the year.

Make a sign displaying their grade (if you use grade levels) and take a picture and have mom take a picture holding each sign for the children's grade levels. Make sure and take a family photo as well.

Play relay races.

Make a picnic dinner together, pack it up, go to a park, on a hike, or to the backyard and eat out under the sky.

Tell each kid what you love about them, what you think their strengths are, and your hopes for them this year. Ask them what their hopes are for this school year are.

Be sure to record them either at the picnic or when you get home.

Goodies

These are the treasure they find, the things they decorate, and the centerpieces for them to keep.

[Tweet "Plan your #notbacktoschool party here! "]
Party option #2

Who: Homeschol Group

Where: Lake

When: Weekend before school starts

Food

Everybody brings their own picnic lunch

Have fun treats: pencil cupcakes, chips and dip, cut up watermelon, Rice Krispie treat apples.

Activities

Ultimate Frisbee

Water Games

  • Mattress surfing: blow up a queen-sized mattress, push it out into the water. Everyone takes turns seeing how long they can stand up in the middle of it. Longest time wins!
  • Mattress wrestling: get on that same queen-sized mattress and have two people kneel on the mattress, facing each other. Place your hands on the other person's shoulders and try to push the other one off without getting knocked off.

Make sure those that are weaker swimmers have life jackets on. If in a pool, may need help to keep the mattress away from the sides.

Swimming

Easy party games for the younger kiddos.

Goodies

A small treat bag with a few fun art supplies: tube of paint, paint brush, pencil, and mini canvas or a list of art prompts.

Confidence cookies

Thought

Optional: Have an opening or closing "speech" to welcome everyone and to give some words of encouragement for the new school year. The confidence cookies thought is a great thing to share.

 

Looking for more resources and ideas for your Not Back to School traditions and celebrations? You're in the right place!

 

[wc_row][wc_column size="one-third" position="first"]

120 ideas

[/wc_column][wc_column size="two-third" position="last"]

Here is a post I curated for you, my lovely friend. There's a ton of not back to school party ideas, treats, gifts, and photo ideas in this post. In fact, there's 120 different ideas. Get excited.

[/wc_column][/wc_row]

Keep an eye out for more ideas headed your way! And to see what we do for our own NOT Back to School Party.

The Homeschool Omnibus is here! Grab the 90 Creative Resources to Refresh Your Homeschool

10 Tools Every Homeschool Needs For Success 

We all want to be successful in homeschooling. There’s more pressure on us Homeschool parents to be successful in our children’s education.

10 Tools Every Homeschool Needs For Success

The world puts pressure on us.

What are you teaching? Are you qualified? What about socialization? What about…? What about…? What about…?

We put pressure on ourselves.

What if I can’t teach something? What if they can’t get into college? What if they don’t make friends? What if I mess them up? What if…? What if…? What if…?

Our children put pressure on us.

Why is learning to read so hard? Why are they not good at spelling? Why can’t they remember their multiplication tables? Why…? Why…? Why…?

 

We look around and see all these other moms and think, gosh, they have it all together, why don’t I?

Or we look around and say, hey, that mama’s house is just as filthy as mine, and don’t lift a finger.

Both of these trains of thoughts are wrong.

Comparison is wrong. No one wins with comparing. No one. We also can’t use other people’s weaknesses as validation for our own.

It does us no good to say, hey, you know what, I’m an inconsistent homeschooler, and leave it at that. Ummmm… no. You acknowledge it, you make peace with it, and then you [wc_highlight color="yellow"]WORK[/wc_highlight] on it.

On to the tools.

 

There are a gazillion wonderful amazing posts on the tools you need to homeschool. Things you can’t live without, things that make life easier, things that organize you, prepare you, and get you where you want to go.

I love those posts. I’m addicted to those posts. I even have a few of them myself. (Planning, Scheduling)

Before you click away because you just realized that this is not about what’s the best stapler or printer to use (I have that post coming soon - minus the stapler), [wc_highlight color="yellow"]promise me you'll give this a good thorough skim[/wc_highlight]

1. Look at these tools and see which ones you have and give yourself a treat. Maybe a cookie. Have some for me because I can’t eat them anymore.

Better make it brownies, fresh from the oven, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate sauce and caramel.

2. Go through this list and look closer at the ones you don’t have. Pick one that really just hits you right in the feels and focus on that one. Once you got that, come back and work on another one.

I’m the queen of trying to work on everything all at once. If only I’d just taken one baby step at a time, I probably would be the master of a clean house by now. Maybe even have my own TV show.

Believe me, I understand trying to tackle it all at once. Don't do it, but I won't judge if you do.

What are the tools, you ask?

[Tweet "What are the 10 Tools Every #Homeschool Needs For Success? I'm about to find out!"]

 

10 Tools Every Homeschool Needs For Success | RochelleBarlow.com

1. Conviction

Be fully committed to homeschooling. It’s okay to say, let’s try this out for a year, or six months. It’s not okay for during that trial period you on give it half effort. If you’re in, you’re in. Let’s do this.

2. Intention

I realize you have probably had this beat into you, but it’s for a reason. It’s the small and simple things that bring about great things.

I go over how to know your why in this post  and I relate to you an experience I had because I forgot my purpose.

3. Support

You have got to have a good support system. That doesn’t mean you can’t homeschool and have your whole family against you. That does mean you deserve lots of respect and hugs, and perhaps donations. $$$

Go find a great support group, in a homeschool group that you mesh well with, in a co-op that has similar intentions as you, and in several online communities.

I am in several Facebook groups that have made all the difference in my life. They may have one for your local area as well. Do a quick search.

Here are a two you may love:

Hip Homeschool Moms

Christian Homeschooling Moms

4. Trusted Resources

Find people that have been there and done that. Find people that not only have been there and done that, but do it in a way similar to you, or in a way that resonates with you.

Don’t close off everyone else, just be selective. If you look at what everyone is doing you’ll change so much that you’ll either run out of money or you’ll have zero consistency and have big education gaps.

Follow the blogs that really give you what you need and turn to them for help. I am a part of iHomeschool Network. The ladies in this network are freaking amazing. I feel so supported, so energized, and am given such fabulous ideas daily.

5. Plan

You have got to have a plan. In the words of every self-help, planning, time management guru “Fail to have a plan and you plan to fail.”

Who has a wooden spoon I can gag on?

Goshdarnit, it’s true though. Why do you think there are so many gazillion planning and scheduling and organizing posts? Because these steps are the ones that can make all the difference.

Make a plan that works for you and stick to it.

6. Flexibility

Gotcha! 

Yes, make a plan and stick to it, but no, not until the death. You’ll burn yourself out, you’ll burn your homeschool curriculums, and you’ll burn your house down.

Be flexible, let your expectations go, and just chill.

7. Be Realistic

This goes along with flexibility. Perhaps that’s why they’re next to each other. So clever.

What screws us up the most in homeschool

Don’t set these impossible expectations for yourself.

No, you probably won’t bake bread and have fresh milk (from your cow/goat) and warm cookies every day for a after homeschool snack. You probably won’t have children creating science experiments that have MIT knocking on your door, and art galleries from all over the world taking down their Picasso paintings to display your daughter’s paintings, and no, your children may not all go on to earn PhD’s at the age of 18.

You may not have this classic school room with maps, portraits, globes, chalkboards, desks, lab equipment, easels, an extra kitchen, a timeline that covers your huge wall that is both educational and classy in appearance. You may not have it all.

But you do.

10 Tools Every Homeschool Needs For Success

 

Know your limitations, your weaknesses, and your strengths. Realize what you're capable of. Being recently diagnosed with Hashimotos and adrenal fatigue I've had to learn this. And don't think I wasn't breaking glass and throwing it in a fit of tantrum along the way (I need tool #8)!

No matter how much you want to teach that Adult Skills Class (Rochelle...), if it's beyond your physical and emotional limitations, just let it go and be okay with that.

This isn't the time to heap on excuses.

The other side to reality is to realize when you aren't pushing yourself hard enough, you aren't doing as much as you can. Evaluate your reality and set reasonable expectations that will help you grow.

8. Attitude

A bad attitude is like rotten fruit. It stinks. I just made that up, can you tell?

Or... it’s like raw chicken that’s been left on your counter, put away, but no one cleaned the counter properly and then made PB&J sandwiches right on top of that spot.

Dangerous, deadly, and disgusting.

Kick that rotten or the [wc_fa icon="arrow-circle-o-up" margin_left="" margin_right=""][/wc_fa] "3 D’s of attitude" out of here. Drop a hammer on it. Thor’s hammer.

You have got to be realistic, but you don’t have to be a martyr, nor do you have to be negative. “If only I had lab equipment my Fabio too could be a mad scientist.”

Wrong.

If only I had a better attitude, then I could feel happier and accomplish my goals easier.

Yes.

Now get to work on that.

Here are two tips:

  1.  Smile.
  2. Show gratitude.
  3. Serve.
  4. Learn to count.

9. Determination

  • Get it done.
  • Do your best.
  • Have a good attitude.
  • Be understanding and forgiving, but [wc_highlight color="yellow"]do not to take any lip[/wc_highlight] from yourself, nay-sayers, or your children that are whining and rolling on the floor because you asked them to ________ and they wanted to _________ instead.
Determination will get you everywhere.

10. Stick-to-it-iveness

With your powers combined…! I am Stick-to-it-iveness!!

This is not the same as determination. I know; I checked.

Consistency in homeschooling can be the hardest bit.

You have to hold yourself accountable.

You have to have loads of self discipline.

You can’t just stop doing math because you’re tired of drilling addition already. Or end your day early because you deserve it.

  • Help yourself be consistent.
  • Make a plan that works for you.
  • Set realistic goals.
  • Have reasonable expectations for yourself, have a good attitude, get phenomenal support, use fantastic resources, and take it a little at a time.
  • Set it up in chunks and give yourself small rewards for getting it done. A 5 minute breather, a chapter in the book you’re trying to read, or a nice walk around the neighborhood. Something that will relax you, rejuvenate you, and not take you off your plan/schedule.

[Tweet "10 Tools Every #Homeschool Needs For Success. I laughed, I cried, I ate brownies."]

Holy smokin' guns...

Is your brain cramping yet? Nah, mine isn't either...

There really isn't one tool better than the other. They all work together, like Captain Planet.

Pick the one that you know in your heart you can work on and buckle down. If you need some tips, some help, some support, I'm right here. I may not have it all together... in fact, I don't. But, I do make some pretty great funny faces, and I know some people who know some people.

If you liked these tools, or perhaps even one of them, would you share this post? You'd make a grown woman (who is still breaking out like a teenager) cry tears of joy.

Mwah

 

 

 

 

The Homeschool Omnibus is here! Grab the 90 Creative Resources to Refresh Your Homeschool

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs. Traditional Schedule

  In the first edition of HOMESCHOOL WARS we have an epic battle.

hs war year round vs trad

 

Epic may be a little strong, but it's a battle, nonetheless.

Which is better? Which is right for you? Let's see the two fight to the death and see which one survives. Mwahahahahaha

 

That is so therapeutic.

Here are the Homeschool War Guidelines:

  1. They'll each have three rounds to prove themselves. That's it. If they're knocked out early, they're knocked out early and they dead. Dead dead dead.
  2. I'll leave the declaration of the winner up to you! You each get a chance to vote for the winner at the bottom of the post. The winner will be announced at a later date (TBD).

Let's not sit around anymore, let's do some stretches, wipe the sweat from our brow, guzzle some water, and get the bandaids ready.

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs. Traditional

Round One: Benefits

Year Round Homeschooling:

  • Avoid forgetting school material over the summer
  • Move ahead faster
  • More practice for struggling learners
  • More breaks (flexibility) for life
  • Avoid burn out by having longer set breaks throughout the year + more prep time
  • Not worrying about falling behind or catching up

Traditional Schedule Homeschooling

  • Coincide with public school siblings and friends
  • Easy to schedule
  • Long summer break
  • Long time in the summer to prepare for the coming school year
  • Distinct grade/level changes

 

Whew... things are getting serious 'round here. Are you getting scared? Pumped? Who are you rooting for?

Now now... you've got to be unbiased!

 

[Tweet "Watch this epic #homeschoolwars battle unfold! Year Round v Traditional Scheduling. Who will win? "]

 

Round Two: Drawbacks

Year Round Homeschooling:

  • Tricky to schedule
  • Doesn't go along with public school friends and family
  • Smaller summer break
  • Harder to figure out grade/level changes

Traditional Schedule Homeschooling:

  • Less flexibility
  • Easy to fall behind, harder to catch up
  • Summer Slump = forgetting over the summer = more review time
  • Can get burnt out easily

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs Traditional

 

This is it... don't get scared now.  - Kevin M.

Round Three: Final Argument

Year Round Homeschooling:

I give you FLEXIBILITY!!!!

Traditional Schedule Homeschooling:

I give you EASE!!!!

Bonus Round: How To

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs. Traditional

Year Round Homeschooling:

Let's set up the schedule. You've got a multitude of options.

On = Doing school

Off = Break

Option #1:

Have 6 terms with each term consisting of 6 weeks on /1 week off (aka Sabbath Schooling, that's what the cool kids call it). You have a remainder of 10 weeks left to take breaks, no more than 2 - 3 week at a time.

Option #2

12 Terms with 3 weeks on/1 week off with 5 extra weeks to scatter around the year.

Options #3 - #5

  • Do 45 days on/15 days off
  • 45 days on/10 days off (more available for summer)
  • 60 days on/20 days off

I could go on and on and on... but then you'd want to do battle with ME. I don't like getting punched.

This is the tricky part: you have to pick which schedule will work with you and your family.

Now what?

#1  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Bust out your good ole friend, the calendar.[/wc_highlight] Grab some highlighters, a pencil with a good eraser on it, and some blank paper.

I like to have a blank calendar in front of me with the whole year in mini version with just the numbers, no boxes. I need as little clutter as possible to be able to think it through.

#2  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Grab your[/wc_highlight] family, work, and any other  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]calendars[/wc_highlight] you need and use.

#3 On that mini calendar [wc_highlight color="yellow"]mark with highlighter the dates[/wc_highlight] that are already designated holidays and vacations that you will take off from school.

#4 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]I mark the time period[/wc_highlight] that I usually get [wc_highlight color="yellow"]burnt out[/wc_highlight] from homeschooling. I just put a little dot in pencil by those dates.

No, you can't mark the whole thing with a burnout dot.

#5  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Pick your routine.[/wc_highlight] 6 weeks on 1 week off? 3 or 4 weeks on 1 week off?

You’ll be able to place those extra weeks in as you go, but first, let’s get a loose skeleton going.

#6 Then I kind of  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]pick a start date[/wc_highlight] that I might like and work towards the first holiday.

Are you starting now? Next week? Mid-August, first week in September? First of January? It doesn’t matter when you start, just so long as you start and that works for you.

If you started out your year with the traditional school year calendar it doesn’t mean that you can’t switch to year-round homeschooling until the next school year. You can start right away.

I want two weeks off for Christmas, so I try to make my schedule meet up so I can have that break then. It may help to work backwards.

Use pencil!!

#7 Play around with the dates. [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Sprinkle in your break weeks[/wc_highlight]  here and there.

Make sure to schedule your vacation weeks. For instance, a week off for Thanksgiving, or two for Christmas. A vacation planned for the summer, or the holidays, sports camps, or summer camps.Plan around these times.

You may want to save up some of your extra weeks for the summer and have a month off if you need to.

You’ll have 10 extra weeks to work with (if you did 6w/1w). I recommend that you don’t schedule all of those 10 weeks right away. Maybe leave yourself an extra week or two to plug in here and there where you need them.

You can move things around. What if your whole family gets wiped out with the flu in the middle of your 6 weeks? Well, no worries, that was your week off and now you can pick up where you left off and use that sick week as your off week.

Admittedly, that’s not really a fun way to spend your break. That’s why I suggested to leave an extra week or two for those what-ifs.

You may get sick for a few days. You may need an extra break. You may have a vacation or work trip come up unexpectedly. You may want to join the circus. It’s really just whatever you want to do with it. But you’ve always got that cushion.

If you don’t use it during the school year, you’ve got a few extra weeks of vacation before you start up again. Or heck, just roll right through them and save them up for next year. It’s like rollover minutes before those became obsolete.

Finished!

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs Traditional

Traditional Schedule Homeschooling:

It's time to figure out your schedule.

#1 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Go to your local school district's website.[/wc_highlight] Go clickety-click on their calendar for the upcoming school year. Print it out if you can, or make notes on the important dates.

What are the important dates?

First day of school, last day of school, holidays and breaks, teacher work days, etc.

#2 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Grab that mini calendar[/wc_highlight] I was telling you about, your highlighters, your pencil and eraser. Maybe some scratch paper.

#3 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Mark the dates[/wc_highlight] the school year begins and ends. Mark the holidays and vacations you will be taking off.

#4 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Decide[/wc_highlight] now if you'll take the [wc_highlight color="yellow"]school vacations[/wc_highlight] with them: teacher inservice days, random holidays, or half days.

In Oregon they are super weird and every Wednesday is a half day. And every other Monday is off. I think it was due to budget cuts and the still fudging the required number of days. That's another post for another time.

Mark the dates you'll be taking off with them. Leave the ones you will keep schooling unmarked.

#5 Next, you need to [wc_highlight color="yellow"]fill in any dates[/wc_highlight] you know ahead of time that [wc_highlight color="yellow"]you will be not doing school work[/wc_highlight]. Pre-planned vacations, conferences, work commitments, etc.

#6 Figure out [wc_highlight color="yellow"]how you will make up for them.[/wc_highlight] Are you going to add an extra day for each missed? Will you double up on school work on the days before and/or after the missed days? Will you skip some planned breaks, add on extra time at the end of the school year, or will you just ignore those missed days and forge ahead?

Don't forget to decide what you'll do for your sick days as well.

#7 Get it all [wc_highlight color="yellow"]in your calendar[/wc_highlight], pencil it in, just in case, and that's it.

You're all set and ready to go into your next phase of planning: adding in curriculum plans.

To sum it all up

No matter which one you choose, the most important thing to remember is that the schedule should work FOR you. YOU are not working for the schedule.

If you want to try Year Round Homeschooling but find that it's just lame-sauce, then scrap it and switch back to Traditional Scheduling. If you try Traditional Scheduling, but want to give Year Round Homeschooling a whirl, then start. You can make that switch at any time.

I do not recommend switching methods every other week, or month. Sorry, Charlie. I'll give you a pass for two times a school year.

What screws us up the most in homeschool

Two last things

#1 Are there any benefits or drawbacks that I missed? Share them in the comments!

#2 Vote. It takes two seconds to pick the winner. After a certain period of time... I don't have all the answers, people, I will announce the winner! So you've got to vote.

Don't worry, no one is going to hold you to your answer. You can change your mind later.

P.S. What do you want to see battle it out in the next HOMESCHOOL WARS??

Vote by clicking one of these fun tweets!

[Tweet "The #homeschoolwar is over. Year Round Homeschooling is the winner, no contest! "]

[Tweet "The #homeschoolwar is over. Traditional Scheduling is the clear winner! Take that!"]

 

The Homeschool Omnibus is here! Grab the 90 Creative Resources to Refresh Your Homeschool

60 Homeschooling Tips From 60 Years + Giveaway

Holy crap. I'm going to screw up my children forever. They're never going to learn to read, they'll never be able to do simple math, much less calculus.

They're going to never have friends, be bullied in college, if they even make it into college. They're going to never find a spouse unless they're equally out-casta-able.

They won't get into college. They won't be able to do any of those stupid standardized tests. I'll be that "mother" you know, the one that everyone says "oh she homeschools -- yeah right -- that's just her excuse to stay home and do nothing."

They won't ever understand a single thing they're learning. They won't understand all those quirky things you can't find in a curriculum, but necessary life skills.

I won't ever be able to cover enough. I'm dooming my children to failure. Not just academically, but in every freakin' stinkin' blinkin' area of their miserable little lives. All because I'm homeschooling them. What a selfish beast I am.

Have you ever felt this way?

How to Schedule Without Screaming

You know that dirty word? Schedule.

Don't you just want to slap someone (maybe me) when they say in a nasally condescending voice, "you need to have a schedule, Shelly."

I didn't say it.

 

How are you going to schedule your days?

It's not as tricky as you might think.

It's not wax-your-nether-regions painful either. (Yes, I did just say that Mama, sorry).

schedule without scream

 

Okay, you might be doing a bit of juggling and some hard-core thinking. We're in it together! *whistles kumbaya*

 

Are you a routine or a schedule type of person?  I'm a bit of a combination of the two. I'll show you what I mean in a minute, but first we've gotta get to the nitty gritty.

 

1. List Priorities

List out the things that are most important to you. Then put them in order of importance. Keep that handy when you're blocking out your time.

 

2. List Scheduled Activities

Co-op classes, club meetings, sports, music lessons, dance lessons, family items, etc.

 

3. List Out Curriculum Frequencies

Remember in our planning we said to figure out how often you're going to be doing your lessons. Are you doing spelling 2 or 3 times a week? Math 4 or 5 times a week? And on and on.

 

How many days of the week are you going to do school? 4 days or 5 days?

 

4. Get Your Work Schedule Out

Do you work outside the home? In your home?

What is your work schedule? Do you work certain days of the week? Certain times of the day?

 

5. List Outside Commitments

What are your outside commitments? What do you have going on each week? Each month? Do you have exercise classes? Training for a marathon? Book club? etc.

 

Get out a piece of paper and write time out in 30 minute increments. Use pencil!

sched 2

 

6. Fill in Items From Steps 1 - 5

Fill in all that stuff. Dance Tuesdays at 3:30, Cello lessons Friday at 1:00, Lego Club Friday at 2:00, Book Club 3rd Thursday at 7:00 PM. You get the idea.

For the once or twice a month items I will fill it in a spot at either the top or the bottom of the day of the week it happens on. So I'd put Book Club at the top of Thursday that said 3rd Thursday at 7 PM. Then later I can fill in my calendar as needed.

Don't forget to schedule in travel time!!

 

7. Best Times

Is your family early risers? Late risers? What time of day do y'all work best at?

Put the harder subjects, reading and math at the freshest times of the day. Whenever those times are for you and your child.

 

8. Meal Times and Cleanup

When do y'all eat? When do y'all want to get chores done?

 

9. Chunk Your Day

This is how I work in my routine. I put the 3 R's for the morning time. We do it in the order we feel like that day, but we do it in the morning when the kids are alert and fresh. When I am motivated and fresh. Then in the afternoon we do our remaining subjects, whatever those may be for that day. We have a checklist of things that need to be done after lunch. School, chores, exercise, cooking, dinner, free time, practice, family time, etc.

 

If you're not a routine type of person then you just schedule in when you want to do each subject.

 

10. Be Realistic

You've got to be real with yourself. How long does it take to do each item/subject? Schedule breaks, schedule free time. You can't be going going going all. day. long. or you'll crack. Don't stuff your day to bursting. You can't do everything in one day. Schedule in time for real life.

 

Be flexible. Don't be a slave to your schedule. If it's not working change it. Re-evaluate at regular intervals. Check back in with yourself maybe once a quarter or once a semester. Again -- be flexible!!

 

Now that you've got your schedule sketched out fill in your official schedule.

Here's a printable I found that I liked -- It's from DuoParadigms.com

 

Here's my schedule from last year:

schedule 1

 

We haven't officially signed up for sports and I am not sure on club meetings this year. When we get our official schedule lined up I'll do a post on it.  But my tentative schedule is as follows:

 

5 AM - 9 AM: Work (TW Transcribing, TW, Blog, Write)

8:30 AM: Kids up and getting ready on own.

9 AM: Breakfast and morning school work (Calendar, Spiritual stuff)

10 AM - 12 PM: School (the 3 R's)

12 PM - 1 PM: Lunch

1 PM - 4 PM: School and outside commitments

5 PM: Chores and Free time

6 PM: Dinner

7 PM: Chores and Free time

8 PM: Bed time for kids

9 PM - 10 PM: Work (TW, Blog, Write)

Sometime around 10 or 11 go to bed (ha!)

 

This is just our basic skeleton of a schedule, and not including scheduled activities and such. Plus, as the first few weeks unfold I'll probably tweak it a bit. I'll know more about how much time I need for each activity.

 

Do you have any scheduling tips?

Share away my friends, I love to learn from others!

♥ Rochelle

 

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Homeschool: How to Get Started :: How Do I Plan?

HS get started  

Okay, you've done all the hard work.

 

You've picked your method, your curriculum, you've gotten your budget together, and set up your space. What now?

 

You've got to plan out your year.

 

You know what they say, fail to plan and you plan to fail. *forehead slap*

 

8

 

Let's hop to it!

 

Materials You Need:

  • Calendar
  • Schedule (holidays, vacations, special occasions, appointments, etc)
  • Curriculum
  • Pencil and pen
  • Highlighter
  • Paper/notebook
  • Planner
  • Something to munch on

 

How will you be schooling?

  • Year round
  • Along with the public school schedule
  • Some other variation (i.e. 6 weeks on 2 weeks off, 3 months on 1 month off)

 

Decide how much you're going to plan at once. The whole year, one semester, one month, or just one week.

 

I personally do a combination of all of these. I love to plan. That is written with all seriousness. I could just plan stuff and then never do it, but I feel fulfilled because I planned it. I'm sick in the head. I've mentioned that, right?

 

I get a general plan for the year. Then I fill it in more for the semester. After that I get very detailed for 1 - 1 1/2 months out. If I get too detailed further out I'll inevitably wind up changing it due to something that messed up my plans. Then my whole semester is erased and rewritten. I don't like to create more work for myself.

 

Step 1

Photo source: Dwayne Blee http://www.sxc.hu/profile/dwayno

 

  • Fill in your calendar with your days off of school.
  • Make sure the appointments and commitments that you know about at this time are filled in.
  • Extracurricular activities filled in.

 

Step 2

What grades are you teaching this year? What are some of the goals and objectives you have for the grade levels?

 

Step 3

What are the goals you have for each of your children? What do they need to work on? What are their weaknesses and strengths?  Their interests?

Write the goals down for each child and keep them in mind when  you're planning. As the year progresses you want to look at them and see how y'all are progressing with their goals.

 

 

Step 4

Look at your curriculum.

What is the frequency of the subjects you'll be teaching? Will you teach math everyday? Will science be everyday, or just two or three times a week? And so forth.

How many lessons are in your curriculum? Does your spelling curriculum just have 30 lessons? That may mean you do one lesson per week, spreading it out through the week or all in one shot.

Don't get locked in with the time though. Your child may whiz through it, or may need more time on each lesson. Embrace this flexibility -- this is one of the best perks of homeschooling!

 

Step 5

Lists and notes!!

You'll want a list for the books and subjects to check out at the library.

Also make a note to pay your library fine! (Anyone want to pay mine?)

Do you need to start collecting cardboard for a project? A stethoscope?

Need to call your dentist friend to see if she has some materials you can borrow or use? Maybe those red capsules that show plaque.

Call the butcher shop to set up a field trip.

Need some pastels and charcoals for your art lessons? It's better to know in advance so you can be on the look out for the best deals, or maybe you know someone that has some to give you or lend you. Facebook has some groups you can join for such things. Maybe you only need to use that stethoscope once and you could just borrow one rather than buy one. If you wait until the day of or the day before the lesson you may find yourself spending unnecessary money.

Be better than a boy scout (be prepared... a lot).

 

Step 6

Use your homeschool planner to its fullest. If your planner doesn't have what you need, do a quick Google and you'll be able to find something. There's tons of free and cheap printables. Most especially in the homeschool world. It's a beautiful and dangerous thing.

 

I use the Weekly Homeschool Planner and I couldn't be happier with it!

Weekly Homeschool Planner

 

It's an editable PDF that I can use year after year. I can fill in each page and print off as much or as little as I want. Or I can leave it on my computer and not print a thing. It's the most flexible planner I've found. It works for any type of method - unit studies, classical, etc, etc. Love love it! Click here to visit Homeschool Creations.*

 

Now, go, be wild and free! Frolic in the land of planning!

 

Oh, and use pencil.

 

Have any questions? Did I leave something out?

 

♥ Rochelle

* affiliate link -- which means if you purchase it I get a tiny bonus. Your price isn't increased at all. You will just be helping me replace all those blasted pencils the kids keep losing.

Homeschool: How To Get Started :: Where, Oh Where?

HS get started  

 

I can see you now.

 

You're psyched and stoked and tubular-to-the-maximum-ed out for homeschooling. Yes, I just said that. No, I'm not ashamed.

 

Well, okay, but wait. Where am I supposed to homeschool my children? Yeah, yeah, your home. But where exactly in your home? Let's work through it together!

 

7

 

 

We all live in a different home in different circumstances. They all can work!

 

What is your home like?

 

I know people that homeschool while driving their 18-wheeler. Some people live in an RV on the road and homeschool as well. Your space or lack-of space can and will work. You just have to be creative.

 

Your brain won't explode. Well... it might just a little, but I'll shove the bits back in and help you get your stuff worked out.

 

What's your available space?

  • Do you have a spare room?
  • A spare part of a room?
  • A closet?
  • A shelf?

Any or all of these will work.

 

 

 

 

If you're one of those jerks lucky people that have a room you can dedicate to homeschooling then I'll do what I can to not be envious and bitter. I'll get there someday. :)

 

Here are some rooms you could use:

  • dining room
  • formal living room
  • study/deny/office
  • play room/game room
  • bedroom
  • garage (that's prepped for heat and a/c)

 

 

 

If you can't dedicate the whole area to homeschool alone, you can still use these rooms. They'll just have multiple purposes.

 

For instance, you could use the dining room table for your work area and maybe you could store your materials in your buffet, a cabinet, bookshelves, or a nearby closet.

 

 

 

You have a small space you can use a closet, a cabinet, shelves (various ones throughout your home), and/or a cart. Or if you're into carschooling then in the back of your car.

 

 

Let me use myself as an example. We live in a 1200 sq ft townhouse.

 

Yes, 7 people live in 1200 sq feet. I'm sure people in major cities have it worse off than we do.

 

Our living room and dining room are one room. Oh, and it also has our computer in it, so I guess you could say it was an office as well.

 

Thankfully, we have an under-the-stairs walk-in closet (the only walk-in closet in our place) that we call our school closet. I have bookshelves filled with curriculum and materials needed. I have different organizers in there as well -- but that's for another post.

 

We do school at our dining table, on the couch, and on the floor.

 

Where you want your child to do their actual school work? Think about how your child works best.

 

  • Do they need a desk or table?
  • Do they need a comfy chair or a hard backed chair?
  • Would they do better on the couch or the floor?
  • What about lights and the cleanliness of the area?
  • How are they effected by their surroundings?

 

For some of your children you may not have to stress over these things as much. There are some children that just do not do well with distractions, noises, bad lighting, etc. You know your child best.

 

↑ That phrase always freaks me out, to be honest. All of a sudden I'm stressing because I actually don't know the answer and feel like a failure. ↑

 

So, in honor of those that may be just like me -- if you don't know, just ask them. If neither of you know, you can experiment.

6

We're all over the place

My kids prefer the couch or floor. When I'm working with them at the same time I'll have them at the table. When they really need to concentrate I'll put them at the table. I know I can't read books to my kids while they're on the couch because they'll fall asleep. I sit on the couch (because I'm the mother and that's my right) and they plop on the floor.

 

We need lots of light in our family! I think The Captain needs to get his eyes checked, so I have to make sure we have good lighting for him while he reads. I don't know what it is, but my thinking ability improves with lights.

 

I've got a Pinterest board that has different ideas of setting up your homeschool room. There are some that just make you drool and drool.

 

Follow Rochelle Barlow's board Homeschool Room + Organization on Pinterest. 

Words of advice

 Don't try to recreate the school classroom. Don't try to get your room perfect right now. Don't put off actually homeschooling until you have it all set up. Don't get overwhelmed with all of this at once. You can start with just the curriculum and some pencils and paper. You can set up your homeschooling area as you go.   I've had several different set ups in the last few years. Your set up will evolve with you.  

 

What do I actually need?

  • Surface for school work (desk, table, tray, lap, floor)
  • Place to sit
  • Area to put curriculum, notebooks, and books
  • Container(s) for materials needed
  • Some type of lighting

 

 That's it!

 

It's up to you on the types of containers and such that you use.  You can use what you have, recycle materials, or buy.  

 

I do recommend using what you have or what you can find at a cheap price at the beginning to see what works for you.

You may think having the colored pencils out in a can may work for you. Then after the 50th time of picking them up off the floor or replacing them because your children smuggle them away (I think they bury them in the backyard) you may realize that you need them in a box in the closet. Ahem. Not that I know what that's like...  

 

Be flexible and relaxed in your approach! Then build your own wishlist and Pinterest board (make sure you share it with me) When you've got it figured out set that baby up and send me pictures!!  

 

Some Pinterest boards you may find helpful and inspirational:

 

Homeschool Belle

Laura Berry

Tiffany Scott

Jen

Danika Cooley

 

Feel free to leave a link to your homeschool room board!

 

♥ Rochelle

    Follow Rochelle Barlow's board Homeschool Room + Organization on Pinterest.

Homeschool: How To Get Started :: What's My Budget?

HS get started  

 

I know, I know. No one really likes to talk about money. Well, maybe the IRS, the bank, and accountants.

 

I like it when I have it. It's just not as much fun when you have to budget it. It almost feels like a naughty word you have to whisper. We're going to make a budget...shhh.

No no. Budgets are a fabulous tool, no matter your financial situation! But we're not going to go down that road right now. Just believe me when I say a homeschool budget is your friend.

 

Okay, so you're intelligent and you already knew that. *High Five*

 

5

 

 

Since we've established (in a weird way) that a homeschool budget is necessary (even if you're filthy rich), let's get on with it. No dilly dallying.

 

The First Questions To Ask Yourself

 

  1. How many children will I be homeschooling?
  2. How much money is at my disposal?

 

#1 should be fairly easy to answer. #2 is kind of an eye-roll inducing question.

 

 

Duh, Rochelle, isn't that why I'm here?

Let me break it down for ya (I feel a rap coming on).

 

Go through your finances and your current budget. What can be allocated for homeschooling? You will need some for upfront costs and then some along the way as the school year goes on.

 

Now is the time for the next step.

 

Finding $$$

 

You could dig under the couch cushions -- that's never worked for me. I only find toys, pencils, cereal, and garbage.

 

A better idea is to look elsewhere.

 

You can look at your budget and see where you can cut back. Still meet your obligations, of course, but there is money being spent that's not as important as you once thought.

 

→ Remember, you put homeschool on your priority list. Is that more important than going out to eat once a week or that huge vacation you have planned? Yes, I think it is. Can you cancel your magazine subscriptions? Or switch to an educational one instead?  You know what you spend your money on. You decide.

 

As you switch to or start homeschooling there may be things you no longer have to pay for that you once did. Back to school clothes shopping? Not really needed. Just buy your new clothes when your kids actually need them. Teacher gifts? Not needed. Well, I say you give yourself a gift on teacher appreciation day, after all, you're a kickin' teacher!

 

Are there items that you own that you could sell in a yard sale, on Craigslist, Facebook, varagesale.com, Amazon, or on Ebay?  Do you have some awesome talent that you could make and sell some handmade items? Can you pick up a weekend shift or work at home a few hours a day?

 

Are you good at safe cracking and security systems? ;)

 

 

Needs vs. Wants

 

As you go through the items that you will be buying for homeschooling you're going to write it all down.

 

What is it with me and writing things down? I don't know, it's an obsession, I suppose.

 

Write. It. Down. And stop whining.

 

On your paper write this:

Curriculum    Cost

Leave some lines to fill in all the curriculum you're looking at.

Supplies & Resources  Cost 

More lines.

Classes and Misc.  Cost

Lines!

Total

 

Tomorrow we'll start looking at curriculum and the next few days will be talking about items that you may want and need for homeschooling.

 

As you go through it all you'll want to write down the curriculum that you like and the cost. You'll want to write down the supplies you need and want and the cost.

 

Then you need to go through with a red pen and a dose of brutal honesty and ask, "what do I really need? What do I just want?"

 

I look around at other homeschoolers and think, good night, I want their homeschool room! Or look at how many freaking manipulatives these people have! They have an arsenal of art and craft supplies that could outfit 20 families. Their kids each have their own desk, plus 500 books, 10 high-quality bookshelves, and educational posters plastered everywhere.

 

 

Remember when I said don't compare yourself to other homeschooling families? This is what I meant.

 

Do I need a homeschool room? No, I don't. I have a room we use for homeschooling, but it's a room that we use for pretty much everything else. Do I need 5 different kinds of counting manipulatives? No, those cubes will work just fine. I don't need bears, dinosaurs, beads, discs, and cubes.

 

The point is, there are items we'll NEED -- math books, spelling curriculum, and all those curriculum goodies. There are things we'll WANT.

 

Cover your needs first. Then add in your wants. Start with the most important wants when you do.

 

When looking at curriculum you will want to make sure it's curriculum you need/want and not something that looks cool, shiny, and new. Make sure it will serve its purpose.  Reviews are your friends when it comes to whittling your list down to necessities. We'll go more into choosing a curriculum, I promise.

 

Use What You Have & Get Creative

 

You need a math manipulative? There are many out there for counting (bears, cubes, discs, etc). You know what? You can use dried beans. You can use toothpicks. You can use popsicle sticks, or the baby carrots you're going to eat as a snack after math time is over.

 

You need flashcards? Make your own dang flashcards.

 

If you haven't discovered Pinterest, or if you avoid it so you don't get sucked into the black vortex, now is the time to get in there. My Pinterest advice: go in there with something specific in mind and don't look anywhere else!

 

Look for ways to make your own school materials and resources.

 

You probably already own some books, right? What can they be used to teach? Make yourself a challenge to use what you have in your home and I bet you'll find some things you wouldn't have thought of otherwise that turn out to be amazing.

 

Free Kindle books baby!

 

Try It First

 

Do you have homeschool friends? Not yet, huh. Okay, have you joined a homeschool group? Get on it! Now, ask around and see what items they have that you are contemplating purchasing and ask if you can try it out or at least go over to their house and check it out.

Cheap & Free Resources

 

There are hundreds of places to go for cheap, free, and nearly-free resources.  You just have to know where to look.

 

Well, here's where you look:

 

 

Free Homeschool Deals -- a homeschool mom that posts free and frugal homeschool curriculum and resources every day!

Homeschool Creations -- has a curriculum clean out once a year, free lap books, free unit studies, and other printables.

Money Saving Mom -- has lots of deals every week, but on Friday she posts a big list of homeschool freebies!

1+1+1=1 -- tons of free printables, lap books, unit studies, and more!

Homeschool Buyers Co-op -- has curriculum to purchase at bulk prices.

Currclick -- has free and frugal curriculum. My advice here is that some are hit and miss: read the reviews!

Curriculum Share -- you offer up something for free (but charge for actual shipping costs), then you can get something for free (plus shipping). You have to give to receive.

Homeschool Share -- free lap books and unit studies.

Homeschool Freebie of the Day -- Just like it sounds.

Confessions of a Homeschooler -- has great curriculum for free and also for cheap for pre-k to elementary aged students.

Bible Based Homeschooling -- freebies and links to other freebies.

Gricefully Homeschooling -- Freebie Friday once a month where bloggers link up to share their freebies. (No, I didn't misspell the blog name)

Homeschool Giveaways -- weekly giveaways of homeschool goodies!

Lapbook Lessons -- just like it says!

Homeschool Classifieds -- it's like craiglist, but for homeschoolers.

Educents -- a daily deal site with lots of goodies!

Notebooking Pages -- has freebies and samples. Also you can purchase notebooking pages at a low cost.

Yellow House Book Rental -- rent or purchase used your curriculum. The ones I have looked at haven't been much different in price than to purchase new, but hey, I might be looking at the wrong stuff!

Rainbow Resource -- nothing free here, just able to find TONS of curriculum at a lower price. I mean tons. Their free catalog is as big as a phone book.

Amazon -- I check out the curriculum here always before I buy it anywhere else.  A lot of times you can find it used, at a great discount, or an alternative that's cheaper.

Ebay -- Again, go here before you buy it anywhere else.

Facebook -- There are homeschool resale groups everywhere. Check your local area for groups as well as groups that will ship. This is also a great place to find people that will let you try out the curriculum so you can decide if you'd like to purchase it.

Pinterest -- Tons of free printables and ideas here!

 

Combine

Are some of your kids close enough in age that they can use the same curriculum together?

 

Can you find a curriculum you love that does well at combining ages?

 

The best part of homeschooling -- passing on your curriculum down to the next child.  Plus, you can always sell it once you're done with it and use your profit for the next purchase.

 

Recap

  • Figure out how much money you have to spend up front and throughout the school year.
  • Find ways to find more (if you need to find more).
  • Use what you have.
  • Buy your needs first, then your wants as you have funds.
  • Borrow where you can.
  • Try it out first!
  • Use free and frugal options.
  • Get creative!

 

I hope you have a good idea of where you are and where you need to get. Don't fret if you are really strapped for cash. I know you can homeschool on a very small budget.

 

[Tweet "Need help with your homeschool budget?"]

 

 

 

 

Feel confused and overwhelmed like Woody? Got any questions? Ask away my friends, ask away!

 

Rochelle 

 

Next up -- Curriculum time!