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The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine


Keeping It Simple                               January 19, 2010 

Greetings!Nancy Carter Picture

It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.

Laura Ingalls Wilder 

This week, our writers all have some wonderful encouragement for you on keeping things simple. Actually, their words were a blessing to me too!


I love knowing that I'm not the only one who overcomplicates things.


I love the reminder to pay attention to which tasks make me smile.


I love what Ruth Beechick and Debbie Strayer have to say about not making homeschool so schoolish.


And I love Molly's links to so many great resources.

So what else can I say? In the wise words of Nike, "Just do it."

Enjoy every minute,

~Nancy Carter

Nancy Carter
THM Editor


P.S. Our ticket sales for the May Schoolhouse Expo start next week! Join our Schoolhouse Expo Facebook page to hear all about our speakers, free gifts, and door prizes, and to chat with other homeschool moms and dads! Plus, we'll be giving all of our fans a John Taylor Gatto WeE-book when we reach 1,000 fans!


End of Your Rope Sale


Homekeepers . . . keep it SIMPLE! Take care of your family's health, simplify, and find frugal helps for your family budget! Easily create your own natural cleaners! Come on over to Homestead Originals! Our new E-Book, Homestead Simplicity: Natural Clean.

is here! Learn to make natural, non-toxic, homemade cleaners for your homestead!


Deborah WuehlerMercy Every Minute
Deborah Wuehler, TOS Senior Editor

It has taken me many years to learn the art of simple. In fact, I have been known to complicate most things. You know, things have to be "just right" in order for me to continue or to think that things went well. With each child God has added to our family, I've had to let go of what is "just right" to me and be satisfied with what is "just enough" or just right in God's eyes. To not only keep my sanity, but also to purposely live more simply, here are things I don't have to do:


I don't have to do what every other homeschooler is doing right now with her children, be it baking their own bread or making their own clothes or building their own house or even leading a ministry. I can keep it simple by focusing on the ministry that is going on in my own homeschool.


I don't have to go to every park day, field trip, art class, writing class, chess tournament, band lesson, drama team, choir group, debate team, or co-op that is available. I can keep it simple by going to only those things that will further what is already happening in each child and where they are either encouraged the most in their strengths or helped the most in their weaknesses.


I don't have to teach that special bells-and-whistles math or history program because six other ladies I know are using it. I can keep it simple by continuing to do what is working for us.

I don't have to look like the fashionable "in" ladies I know or the ladies who look very homeschoolish. I can keep it simple and look just right by wearing what looks and feels right to me (in modesty, of course).


I don't have to have a home like our neighbors' that is so clean it doesn't look lived-in-they really aren't home to mess things up, but we are. Our houses should have some things out of place and look hurriedly cleaned as we live and learn with each other all day and night long. Hospitality is more than a clean house, it's a welcome, open house.


I don't have to and shouldn't compare myself or how I homeschool with anyone else. God has made me unique and my children unique as well. We all need His wisdom and guidance for each one.


Now, I wouldn't be honest if I said that I don't still fall into the trap of overdoing things. Today was co-op (which I was teaching-stressful preparation time), then taking one daughter there, three children over there, and bringing another friend home with the rest of us. I did overdo it today, but days like today are the exception and not the rule now. With that, I need to go get my children from all over town and deposit others, so I'll keep it simple and stop here.


For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.                    2 Corinthians 10:12

~ Deborah




Schoolhouse ExpoOur next Schoolhouse Expo is coming up 

May 16-20, 2011.

Be watching for details on how you can buy your ticket at the LOWEST price on January 26th!

Todd Wilson The Familyman
Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries


Okay, we've been together long enough for you to know that I'm not going to offer any kind of organizational advice-I don't do neat, tidy, or organized. So about the only advice I can add to the topic of keeping it simple is . . . to keep it simple . . . today.


For most of you, your life is way beyond simple. If there were a homeschool reality show equivalent to Hoarders, you'd all be the stars. Somehow, you've managed to fill your day to the brim with all kinds of . . . stuff.


I'm thinking that a total keep-it-simple makeover might be a little daunting, so how about a keep-it-simple-today makeover?


Start by making a mental list of all the things you've got going today (include school subjects, co-ops/meetings, doctor appointments, playing games with your children, reading aloud together, laughing together, snuggling with your husband after the kids are in bed-anything else you can think of).


Now, "don't do" anything on the list that doesn't really matter. So, you might need to cancel that appointment, skip math for your child who is already ahead, read a book that isn't on the list just for fun, bake cookies just because, or watch a video in the middle of the day.


Need help in knowing what matters today? If you think about doing it and you sigh deeply, then it doesn't really matter. If you think about doing it and smile, then that matters.


Be real,


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It's Just Common Sense
Ruth Beechick, Curriculum Specialist
Debbie Strayer, Homeschool Consultant

"Teaching children at home does not have to be as difficult as people make it by trying to follow too much of the world's schooling system that has developed layer upon layer over the years. We can peel away excess layers by the one great principle of viewing language learning as different from the content subjects. Language includes speaking, reading, writing, listening, and thinking. These are skills to use for learning Bible and all other content. Children improve these skills by using them in their content subjects. That is more effective and more efficient than adding layers of skill classes."

Excerpted from A Biblical Home Education by Dr. Ruth Beechick


When my children were young, Dr. Beechick taught me this principle. Since I came from a teaching background, it was hard to free myself from schoolishness, but I started to see the truth and power of her words. Using copywork and dictation passages from the literature and content we were already reading and learning about freed us to focus on the stuff the children were eager to learn. It took more effort than filling in blanks, but it also taught my children more about language, often without them realizing it.


Simplifying our homeschooling often amounts to nothing more than getting rid of the school in us.

~ Debbie

Read more from Debbie at


Molly GreenHomeschool Freebies
Molly Green, Econobusters

One of the best ways to keep things simple is to just say no! I know that's easier said than done. Just because something is simple doesn't mean it is easy. However, if you want to live a life with God, marriage, family, and church as your priorities, you'll have to be pointed in learning to say no. The world will constantly be stepping in with "wonderful" opportunities to knock you off track.


EHow has some good, constructive tips to help you get your schedule back on track, and SitePoint helps you identify whether you're overscheduled and offers tips for taking control of your time.


For a practical exercise in time management, download my January Digest and complete the Tightwad Training Camp lesson for yourself. Yes, it's meant for kids, but it works for moms too! The results can be eye-opening. If you don't have my January Digest, you can receive it free by signing up for my free weekly newsletter at You'll receive a link to the free download in your welcome email.


Now that you have all your priorities in line, you might want to download a free printable calendar to help keep you on track. You can even choose your color and style preference. If you like an online option, many people like Google Calendar, but I'm especially fond of the look and feel of the Cozi family calendar. Both are free. I love this post detailing how to use Google Calendar to make a meal plan.

~Molly Green


While every effort is made to ensure that the recommended sites are family-friendly, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and its writers do not own the sites recommended. Content and advertising can change without notice. Please exercise caution when viewing websites and review all websites before allowing your children to visit them.


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Calling All Cooks!

As a mom, do you find yourself getting bored with seeing the "same old, same old" on your dining room table? Although it is comforting to know exactly how to prepare those old faithfuls, do you ever wish for something new and different?

Meal preparation is something most of us are responsible for daily, and the TOS team thought it would be fun to include a menu (plus recipes for each entree) in a new column titled Lunchroom! The "same old" to you could be "new and different" to someone else! Therefore, would you share your menu idea with us?

You're not limited to lunch ideas; a simple menu for breakfast, lunch, or dinner would be welcomed enthusiastically. Ideally, we'd love to have an excellent photograph of the prepared dishes or at least one photograph of your favorite dish among the items within the submitted menu, but that is not absolutely essential.

What is absolutely essential is a generous heart (yours) and an investment of 15 to 30 minutes to type up the menu, ingredient lists, and instructions and send them to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's managing editor at this email address We will be waiting eagerly to receive your menus so that all of us can discover fresh ideas for the new year!

Contest Central

January, 2011

For the month of January


Whizizzle Phonics 1-2-3 and 4-5-6


Whizizzle Phonics, from Wiggity Bang Games, LLC, is a fun card game that helps to teach and reinforce phonics to your child. Two different sets are available with three decks of cards per set. Each deck covers a different phonics concept. The first set, 1-2-3, covers short vowels sounds in consonant-vowel-consonant words, long vowel sounds and silent e, and beginning blends. Set two, 4-5-6, covers ending blends, vowel brothers and the y vowel sound, and digraphs. You can buy one set for $12.95 or both for $19.95. 


The game is for 2-8 players, ages 4 and up. Similar in play to UNO, the game involves matching (by sound) a card in your hand to the card that is face up in the discard pile. You can match the beginning, middle, or ending sound of the words. Once you've decided which card to play, you have to say the sound you are matching and the word on the card. There are also action cards, including Draw One, Leap Frog, Turn Around, and Change the Vowel. The person to discard all his cards first wins.


Read the rest of the review here. Win this set for your family!



Email Deb with your name and mailing address and the subject, "Whizizzle Phonics" for a chance to win*  these games!


Homestead Blogger
*Disclaimer and Legal Notice:
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC ("Company") is sponsoring the January Contest Central contest running from January 1, 2010, to January 31, 2011. You must be 18 years of age or older and follow all rules to participate. Entering the contest constitutes full and complete acceptance of, and a warranty that the entrant has read, understands and agrees to, all contest terms and conditions, including without limitation all of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC Contest Rules ("Official Rules") and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Writer Guidelines
 and Terms and Conditions for Submitting Queries. All Official Rules apply. Entry also constitutes full consent and unlimited permission for Company to print, publish, broadcast and use all intellectual property and personal information submitted as part of the Contest entry on the Internet and in any and all Company publications in accordance with the Rules. Entries become the sole property of Company and will not be returned. Employees and independent contractors of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, Contest sponsors, individuals or entities furnishing Contest prizes and their family members may not participate in this contest. Company reserves the sole, discretionary right to determine contest winners and to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the contest or the Rules at any time with or without notice or cause, subject to applicable law. See Official Rules for details.
No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law.

For a full copy of the Official Rules, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine: Official Rules Request, PO Box 8426, Gray, TN 37615