Thursday, August 17, 2017

Habits, Homeschool Planning, and Good Books

Wow, it seems like much longer than just over one week ago since I last posted!  I'm happy to say that I'm feeling less overwhelmed with things now, and have been able to mull over some things and actually have time to write some stuff down on paper (the way I process things best).  I thought it would be fun to share a bit in a post, in the hopes that it may help someone else, too!

First of all, a dear older friend of mine took time out of her busy life to sit down with me and talk through some strategies and ideas for the coming school year.  We discussed ways to streamline things like laundry, schoolwork, meal planning, blogging, etc, and it was really helpful.  But what she encouraged me to focus on was what I wanted to happen in the 30 minutes before we start school each day.   And that would be....everyone needs to have breakfast, complete their chicken chores (which only takes a few minutes, usually), be dressed and ready for the day.  I'd also want to have a load of laundry started, dishes loaded in the dishwasher or sink, and a plan for supper that night.  Obviously, I want to be up and ready myself long before then, but this is a place to focus my attention of what needs to happen before we jump into school.  After that, we will focus on the rest of our morning...the school things we can do together (which is a lot of stuff, this year, as I am changing some things), a short break, and then more schoolwork till lunch.

Just a day after that brainstorming session, a Kindle freebie popped up in my FB feed, and I immediately went and snapped it up. It's a little book called Life Management for the Busy Homeschooling Mother.   And let me tell you, if you are a homeschooling mom and struggle with the life management part like I do, you NEED to get this book.  Seriously...go right over there and grab it!!!  As of this posting, it's still free for Kindle (and you can read Kindle books on other devices, too.)
I'm only a little way into it so far, but what I've read makes so much sense to me and is exactly what I need at this moment.  One thing I've struggled with, with other home/life management books, is that many of the authors are not homeschooling moms.  They have those 8 or so hours during the day while their kids are at school to accomplish daily chores and grocery shopping, etc. (unless they work outside the home, of course.)  This lady is a homeschooling mom of six, and she gets it!  The whole first section is all about the importance of building habits, and then she goes into the whole morning routine thing.  Now, you may not find anything "new" or "earth-shattering" in this little book, BUT it may be just the boost you need to help you build some good habits.  One thing I have especially struggled with since having Ari is getting to bed way too late (because she was not a great sleeper for so long), which was "easy" for me in some ways since I'm naturally wired to be a night owl.  However, it's really become apparent that to get our homeschool days off to a good start, I need to become less of a night owl and more of an early bird. ;)  My days run so much smoother when I am up and ready for the day before the kids!  So, Habit #1 for me is going to have to be getting up early and starting my day off on a good note.  I  may need lots of coffee to accomplish this...we shall see. ;)

I hope to post more another day about my plans for the coming school year.  There are some things we're continuing from last year, math books that we haven't finished yet, etc.  There are also a few new things we'll be trying, and this year I am FINALLY going to get my act together and use the Brave Writer program as our guide for language arts (for all of the big kids).  I've watched a bunch of videos, listened to podcasts, even attended a summer "camp" seminar with helpful info, and I'm excited.  I think we can do it this year, and make it fun!  We dabbled in it before, but I was trying to do too many other language arts programs along with it.  This year we are ditching most of those (aside from a little extra grammar for Josiah, who hasn't had as much as Sam and Julia) and focusing solely on the BW program.  

And finally, here are a few other good book recommendations...  One book I got last year was Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace, by Sarah Mackenzie.  
LOVE this one!!  I will note that she writes from a Catholic point of view, but other than a few quotes from people past or present, there is no Catholic theology in the book.  It is a hugely helpful, encouraging, soul-filling little book and well worth the investment.  I plan on it being a yearly read prior to beginning a new school year.  Or even a mid-school year read!

{On a similar note, Sarah Beals at Joy-filled Days has a wonderful post about planning for fall...she references Teaching from Rest, as well.  I've met Sarah in real life and she is a Godly woman who has a true gift for mentoring younger moms through her blog!  If you're not already reading there, check it out...I think you'll be encouraged!}

I'm also slowly working my way through For the Children's Sake, by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.  So far I'm loving it, though I haven't had time to read far yet (too many books, not enough time!).  
Over the past few years, I've come to realize that I lean much more Charlotte Mason-ish than classical in my homeschooling philosophies, and I believe this book will be really helpful as I continue to work out what my goals and desires are for my children's education.  It's hit me this summer as I plan, that Sam is going into 8th grade, and after that (gulp!) I'll only have four more years of school with him.  So I really want/need to solidify my goals for how and what to teach.  

Another great little book I finished just this week was a birthday gift, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full, by Gloria Furman.  This is not a homeschooling book, but a wonderful resource for pointing moms back to the Gospel and our need for it in our day-to-day living.
Yes, my birthday was in early April and I just finished it. ;)  But not because it was hard to read...I just took my time!  There were so many good nuggets of truth in this book, and I look forward to reading more by this author!

Finally, a "bonus" which isn't a book...but I can't say enough good things about Pam Barnhill's Plan Your Year homeschool planning kit.  If you use a complete open-and-go curriculum that is already all scheduled for you, then you probably don't need this system (and that's great)!  But if you're like me and you're using several different things and trying to figure out how to make all the pieces fit together into one schedule, trying to keep track of which resources you're getting from different companies, etc....I'd highly recommend it.  I bought it several years ago when it was a bit cheaper, but the great thing about Plan Your Year is that you get lifetime access to the materials when you purchase.  Every year Pam updates the calendars for the new school year, and she often adds new forms for various other things, so there is a bunch of useful stuff to choose from!   Besides school planning forms, there are also some household forms and other stuff just for moms, and all of it is so pretty.  Plus, it's not just the forms...there is a whole planning guide ebook that you can print out to walk you through how to plan your school year.  I'm working my way through Step 7 right now, and I've found it really helpful.  Anyway, just wanted to share...I know most of you guys probably already have your plans made and ready to go, but maybe someone out there would find this useful, so I wanted to talk about it a bit! :)

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