Tag: homeschool planning

Organizing: Do NOT Plan Or Schedule One More Thing Until You Do This FIRST

Priority Scheduling and Planning - How to Organize ones day, life, homeschool, etc... Using a Priority Based Planning Method.

How many days a week do you ACTUALLY get everything done on your schedule?

How often to your plans get changed or go awry? And do you ever sit (or stand if you put it on the fridge like me) before your schedule and wonder WHY? Why did I do it that way? Why isn’t everything getting done? And why don’t I feel satisfied?

If you are planning for the sake of planning, putting stuff on a schedule because you know you need to do something like that, or simply living week to week based on the the latest needs and emergency, then you are missing the KEY to planning! You are missing the FOUNDATION to build on.

I know, because this is what I have been doing for far too long and God has shown me a better way.

Priority Scheduling and Planning - How to Organize ones day, life, homeschool, etc... Using a Priority Based Planning Method.

The Key To Good Planning

I have been planning without purpose. Oh, I have some goals: get the house clean, homeschool the children, make sure errands are getting done… but I am not putting before me each week WHY. Why does the house need to be clean? Yes, I know there are lots of good reasons, but what is MY FOUNDATIONL reason?

The key to change my haphazard daily and weekly planning was that I FIRST needed to define PURPOSEFUL goals for my current season of life.

I needed to know what my priorities for my life (and my families life) were and then I could proceed to make a useful, working schedule for myself and my family.

Start With A Simple Daily Schedule

Blank Schedule
Blank Schedule

Here we have an empty weekly schedule. Notice how simple it is (the name of my site IS A Simple Life Too). Notice that it is not defined in an hourly fashion. I am a fairly organized person, but I am simply unable to stick to an hour by hour schedule. Outside of maybe one miracle day per month, it NEVER goes according the the schedule… so then I have to start erasing and moving stuff… crying a little as I am wasting more time doing that instead of the task… and feeling like a failure because I could not stick to the exact schedule.

Therefore, I do a daily task list instead. I keep it as close to the order the tasks and events should occur and I DO write down a time if there is an appointment. This way, if we don’t start “on time” or if a task takes longer or if we have to adapt and add something to the day, we can still be on track.

If something does not get done, I circle it and refer back to it the next day to see where I can fit it in.

How Priority Based Scheduling Works

Before I start entering ANYTHING into my weekly schedule, I write down my priorities on the bottom or top of the page. Some of them are the same for many weeks, even for years. Some are week, month or season specific. Theses priorities, in order, dictate what I then put on the schedule for that week.

For example, my first priority is a life priority, I have chosen to follow Jesus. My priority is to become more like Him and serve Him.

In a practical sense, this means the first thing I schedule each week it my time with God, my time to do devotionals with my children, any service the Lord has asked of me, church (and church events), and Bible Study.

Schedule With First Priority Tasks
Schedule With First Priority Tasks

My second priority is to take care of my family. This means time with my husband, homeschool, healthcare for the children (we have had a LOT of that lately), and some time for self care.

This results in me adding homeschool tasks, any doctor’s appointments, any outings with the family, children or husband, plus my every other week outings with myself or lady friends.

My third priority is a deeper teaching for my children. I have been reading the book of Titus over and over again for the past couple of months in our Tue night Bible study and the section on what older women should teach the younger has been a guidepost for me:

Titus 2: 4 – 5: so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

I am especially honing in on the “workers at home” part. So I am teaching my children to how to cook, how to clean, how to decorate, how to host, and much more. This dictates how I fill in most of the rest of the schedule with housework, who cooks what, time for our home based business, creative pursuits, etc…

The next priority can sometimes end up higher then the second or third. These are seasonal and holiday priorities. For example, we just had the Hanukkah / Christmas season. Since we were off of school for a couple of weeks and we had lots of holiday activities to do, this took precedence over everything except for devotionals, church and doctor’s visits. Yes, it even took a priority over housecleaning!

Final Schedule
Final Schedule

If other things come up, I evaluate them against those first sets of priorities, decide if they fit, if they bump out other things, or if they have to wait until there is a slot. I create a little list on the bottom of my chart called “to be scheduled” to keep track of them.

I sincerely hope you find this useful and that you find your weekly schedules having more purpose going forward. I am open to any thoughts or feedback you may have.

Feel free to use my Super Simple Homeschool Planning Worksheet. It takes about 1 minute to type the framework into your favorite spreadsheet program. Then you can update it on the computer or pencil stuff in (which is what I usually do) or you can get some great planners on Amazon!

 


Super Simple Homeschooling: 5 Books To Help You With Your Homeschool Vision and Planning

Top 5 Homeschool Books

I don’t know about you, but when I first started thinking about homeschooling my children, I went on the hunt for as much information about homeschooling as I could get. I mostly found myself being given books by friends, checking a few out from the library, and purchasing a couple. I also started to look over homeschool magazines, catalogs, and websites.

The following list is my top 5 books that helped me get started homeschooling and continue to help me plan my homeschool each year.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

1 – Mary Pride’s Complete Guide To Getting Started Homeschooling – Although a little outdated, this “tome” of everything homeschooling answers all the questions of a new homeschool parent and gives lots of resources useful for annual homeschool planning. It is still on our bookshelf and I will probably keep it as long as I homeschool.

2 – The Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola – After getting an overview of the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling from Mary’s book (see #1), I wanted to know more and this book, The Charlotte Mason Companion gave me the deeper understanding I wanted. Although our homeschool is eclectic vs. just Charlotte Mason style, this book was still useful to give me a foundation of what a quality home education could look like.

3 – Cathy Duffy 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum – Cathy Duffy helps you walk through a process of evaluating your family and children for vision, learning styles, etc… then helps you select curriculum based on those factors. Our family really needs to get a copy of this book for our permanent homeschool bookshelf as we re-evaluate our homeschool each year.

4 – Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach – As our family has an interest in Hebrew Roots of our faith and a desire to make our homeschool Bible-centric, a friend of ours shared this book. It is a philosophy of a Hebraic approach to homeschooling (which looks a lot like Charlotte Mason meets Unit Studies) and a how to create your own studies using the Bible and living books. Unfortunately, I am have not been in a position to create my own studies to date, so this book mostly just helped us create our homeschool philosophy. However, if you want to create your own delight directed or Biblical based unit studies, I recommend it!

5 – The Old Schoolhouse Annual Print Magazine – I understand, this is a magazine and not a book, but the fact that it only comes out once per year in print format and that it is nearly 300 pages in length, I consider it a book. A very current and useful book, full of articles to encourage and instruct, and lots of ads of new and old curriculum and other resources. We get a copy every year.

What is your favorite and/or most useful homeschool book? Or, if you are new to homeschoolig, what is one pressing question you need to have answered?

Super Simple Homeschooling: Homeschooling From The Bottom 10%

If I can encourage one person in their homeschooling today...
If I can encourage one person in their homeschooling today…

Do you face any challenges with your homeschool? Are you not sure you even CAN homeschool? Are your challenges physical issues? Financial? Do you feel you lack the education or simply don’t have the personality to homeschool? Maybe you have child with special needs?

I am here to share with you that if I can homeschool through all of our families challenges, you probably can to!

Homeschooling From The Bottom 10%

I recently read an article in the 2015 print edition of the Old Schoolhouse Magazine – “Getting Started: Light A Fire”. In the article, Dr. Heather W. Allen uses some statistics from NCES – the National Center For Education Statistics, including Gross Family Income of Homeschool families. Guess what? Our family’s income was in the bottom 10% of all homeschoolers. Or to be clear, 90% of homeschool families make more money / have more income per year than our family. And yet here I am, paying for my children’s homeschool, staying home instead of working outside of the home, and somehow still living decently off of our meager income.

Now, do I love being in the bottom 10%? Not really. Do I wish we did have some of the things that most others have, like more choices in curriculum or a second car to go do more field trips and activities? Yes! Will I stop homeschooling to have more money? NO WAY.

God convicted me to homeschool, God promised to provide at least the basics of what we need, and He has made good on His promises. And so I continue on, even though it isn’t easy.

Homeschooling From a Broken Background

Unfortunately, I come from another “bottom” group, although you won’t find this one in the statistics article. This is my background. There seems to be this thought out there that homeschoolers must come from happy, well adjusted, Christian homes to be able to do what they do. I did not. I came from a completely broken background  – abuse, divorce, no encouragement, public school bullying and teasing, addiction, and more. I come from a place where most people would never consider that I could turn out to be someone who follows God and who homeschools.

I am not a woman of patience, an encouraging attitude, perseverance, discipline, gentleness, etc… And yet, God has been instilling these things in me throughout this process. He has been working them out in me by homeschooling. I literally change month by month, year by year, as I commit to the course.

I really am a story of Beauty From Ashes. When once, many years ago I did not even WANT children, I now find myself delighting in teaching them, spending time with them, growing them, and seeing them get to do and experience a better life than I ever did.

All Is Certainly Not Perfect

I still have much growing to do. We are still in our first years of homeschooling (4 so far) and I know there is much for ME to learn and change. I have encountered some serious challenges the past two years, mainly physical with a miscarriage and now a challenging pregnancy, but also a relational and spiritual setback.

My patience is a little “soft” right now and I have to repent and try again daily. I have seen that I have not been encouraging the children as well as I could and have been negative towards them at times. Again, I have to repent daily and try again. I have wanted to give up so many times, but I can’t and I won’t. So sometimes, we lighten the load and sometimes, we take a week off.  Sometime mom just needs a day to do something different. We do whatever it takes and still make forward progress.

Even with our imperfection and struggles, we still get complimented out in public at how well behaved (not great, but better than average) our children are, how happy they seem, how sharp they are, and how quick they are to make friends with those who they meet.

No, not perfect, but worth keeping on for.

If anything I said resonated with you, please let me know.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Hip Homeschooling

Super Simple Homeschool: Homeschool Planning With My Favorite Homeschool Catalogs

Super_Simple_Homeschool_Favorite_Catalogs
Super Simple Homeschool Planning Time: My Favorite Homeschool Catalogs.


It is that time of year – homeschool catalogs start appearing in the mail and we all dream of the homeschool we would love to do, have, afford. Then, we get down to reality and start analyzing and comparing and figure out the homeschool that we ACTUALLY can have and afford:-)

This brought me to the idea that I would share with the homeschool community my favorite homeschool catalogs, why they I get them, and how I plan my homeschool year with them.

  1. A Beka – Although I had heard about A Beka for a few years, I feel like I just discovered them this last year. Somehow, I ended up with one of their catalogs, but I don’t remember if I requested it or not. However I received it, I am glad for it. Their homeschool catalog is easy to use and I could see how well a couple of their products, that were affordable to me, would be used in our school. Some of their products are very colorful and at or ahead of state standards.
  2. YWAM  – I love to support missions and YWAM makes is easy by providing great books for sale, with the proceeds going to the missions. Their catalog is a bit easier to read and use than the website (for me) and gives me the entire list of books on missionaries and their history series, along with the available unit study guides. There is also a large set of books for older students and adults. We try to order a set or two per year when we take a break from regular curriculum and do a special missions study.
  3. Christian Light Publishing – Christian Light Publishing is one of two providers of curriculum that we use that comes from the Anabaptists (i.e. Mennonites and Amish). Their catalog is so easy to use, easy to see the Christian influence, and see each grade’s curriculum, along with a few examples and support materials. We use their Bible Curriculum.
  4. Rod and Staff – Although there is now an independent business supplying Rod and Staff curriculum online, their main business comes through their catalogs (they are the other Anabaptist publisher and their business does not use the internet). To order their catalog, find their address online and write to them to order it. Their products are great in their simplicity, purity, and is completely Christian. We love their Kindergarten series.
  5. Queen Publishing – If you have ever been interested in a Charlotte Mason style curriculum, then you should check out Queen Publishing’s catalog. They have curriculum for every subject and lots, and lots of copywork! We use their Language Lessons series.
  6. Sonlight – I want to be transparent here, I didn’t actually get the Sonlight catalog last year because I did not order anything. Sonlight is more of a dream homeschool and unfortunately, out of my budget. I did consider asking Sonlight if I could purchase a catalog from them so I could have the book lists from each grade:-) But to be clear, I don’t want to take from them, so I would offer to pay for it unless I thought I would order at least a couple of books.
  7. Christian Books – The Christian Books Annual Homeschool catalog is like the uber catalog of homeschooling, which is why I get it. They have a lot of the titles from the previous publishers I mentioned, plus many, many more. I love to see all the options before I make my annual homeschool planning decisions. And since I do order through them a few times a year (i.e. if I need on title from one publisher and another title from a different publisher, CBD makes so much sense because I can save on the shipping and only ship from one place) I automatically get the catalog every year.
  8. Timberdoodle – I saved my very favorite for last. Timberdoodle is my dream homeschool. It is the most creative package of homeschool curriculum and resources, and I know my children would stay much busier if it was our homeschool. It is also one of the most expensive homeschool options. Unlike Sonlight, I do order a couple of items every year, mostly supplemental learning toys, to supplement our homeschool and give some more hands on / interactive learning. This is usually a holiday or birthday gift.

Disclosure: Some of these links may be affiliate links. Actually, I wish I had affiliate links for all my favorite providers, but alas, some simply do not do affiliate programs. If you would like to support my blog, you could order your books through Christian Book Distributors, which I do have an affiliation with.
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Language Lessons - Charlotte Mason Style Language Arts
Sonlight Curriculum