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The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Too many activities?                                May 18, 2011


Nancy Carter Picture  

Too many activities? Some families thrive on a bustling schedule, while others are exhausted by the thought of too many activities. You probably know which category suits you the most. The trick is figuring out how to adjust that schedule if you find yourself (or your family) wearing thin.

It's not easy, I know. I blogged about when my husband told our boys that we needed to
take a break from sports a few years back. And now, I'm making another hard decision. This one isn't about activities for the boys. It's about activities for me.

I'm taking a break from The Homeschool Minute.

I think a lot of you have noticed that I've been struggling more and more with
my health the past year. I have started feeling like I can barely even string sentences together for my entries. And even though I enjoy writing for THM and reading your feedback each week, it's time for me to cut back. I hope that by taking some time away, I can regain my strength, do lots of fun things with the boys when I'm feeling up to it, get things better organized for our homeschool this fall, and maybe rejoin the THM Team later.

I'd still love to hear from you all. Feel free to contact me at my personal email address: or sign up for email updates when I post on my blog, I haven't updated there in quite a while, but I hope to get back to it and to continue trying to encourage others who struggle.

Don't feel like you (or your kids) have to do it all. Your value is not in what you do but in Whose you are. Y'all remind me of that from time to time, if you don't mind. Okay? I've
been through this lesson before, but God is faithful to give me a refresher course when I need it! He'll do the same for you, but save yourself a lot of trouble and just try not to stretch yourself so thin.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28




Nancy Carter 

Lessons Learned on the Farm   



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Deborah WuehlerMercy Every Minute
Deborah Wuehler, TOS Senior Editor

We have always exposed our children to a variety of extracurricular activities. From city soccer teams to homeschool drama; from jump rope classes to creation clubs-I can't say we've tried it all, but we've come pretty close. Many of those activities have been a direct answer to prayer for specific needs of specific children. Some have been time wasters.


The balancing act in all of this is learning what to decline and when to add another activity. We try to evaluate the benefit of the activity before just adding another thing to our schedule. We also check our schedule to make sure we still have time for our schoolwork. Before adding an activity, you may want to ask yourself a few questions:


  • Does my child have a bent for this activity already and would it benefit him further?
  • Would it improve his skills or just use his skills?
  • Would it be an outlet for cooped-up energy?
  • Could we find a way to do the same thing at home?
  • Can more than one child participate, or can the whole family participate?
  • Does it incorporate ministry or evangelism? (A huge plus!)
  • Does it give the child glory or God glory?
  • Are parents and siblings welcome?
  • Does it fit with our educational themes and goals this year, or can it wait?
  • Do we really have the time/energy to make this commitment?

Because we have a large family, we try to incorporate as many children as we can in any extracurricular activity, or we focus on one or two children per year.


Whatever you choose, make sure your husband is in full agreement, as many activities take up precious and sometimes limited family time. And not only must Dad agree, we need to make sure we've prayed and asked for God's guidance and wisdom. He says He offers it freely to all who will just ask!


"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." James 1:5



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Gena Suarez

Hey from Gena

Gena Suarez, Publisher of TOS   


Too many activities. That's the topic this time around, and boy can I relate with that one. Sometimes it'll be Friday and I'll be amazed. It's Friday? What . . . how . . . no way. Surely it's only Tuesday. But they zip on by, week after week, turning into months and then years. That's what having too much going on does to a family. Everything becomes a blur. I know I need to slow down once in a while, and I believe a lot of other homeschool moms feel the same way, but it's hard. What activities should one give up? And while a canceled activity makes one kid shrug his shoulders, another kid has a meltdown over it. What gives? How do we determine what goes and what stays? Or what can be finished out this year but needs to be dropped for future years?


I guess the best thing would be to sit down with Hubby and talk things over privately first. It's not a democracy; the kids need to follow the direction of their parents, and Dad's at the helm here. So first, get on the same page as your husband. Be in full agreement before announcing to the family which activities are going and which ones didn't get slashed. Explain the reasoning and try to get the kids on the same page, together (again-husband and wife fully in agreement-the united front is key). You might have to put up with some temporary wailing and tears (from the kids, NOT you, heh heh), but in the end it's for the best, and the family gets to breathe again. Don't you want to breathe again? Wouldn't that be nice? Try it right now. Breathe. Imagine doing that more often, huh? Okay, so tonight-talk to Hubby. Find out what's going to be phased out over time and what might need to go even as of tomorrow. Get back to the basics of playing with the kids, cooking more and eating out less, and meeting your husband at the door with a grin. That's some advice for ME as well as for you. Have an awesome week (and a good chat tonight).





Make Learning To Read Fun

MCP "Plaid" Phonics goes beyond drills to inspire critical thinking, fluency, and comprehension. Learn more about MCP "Plaid" Phonics, one of Cathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. Grades K-6.


Todd Wilson The Familyman
Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries


This is the perfect time to give my annual "take a summer vacation" plea on behalf of children all across the globe. Now you may be the type who does school year-round. You work a few weeks and then take a break for a couple of weeks. If that is your pattern and bent, that's fine . . . just be sure you're giving your kids and their mother a break.


But if you're the type who just works all the time and refuses to stop for summer vacation UNTIL the work is done . . . forget that idea and take a summer vacation, even if the work isn't done.


Nothing personal, but who cares if they don't finish all their work? Do you think for one moment that "real" schoolteachers always finish their lesson plans? They don't! And guess what? They don't feel a tinge of guilt for letting their students leave for the summer.


Besides, the first two months of next year's curriculum is mostly review. Your kids will be just fine. In fact, I would bet the farm that both you and they will be better off for taking a couple months of that relaxing elixir called summer vacation.


Dad, can I talk to you a minute? I know full well that some of our wives get a little weak in the knees and balk at doing what they KNOW to be true. That's where you need to flex your fatherly authority and say, "Honey, you've done a great job with the kids, and I'm so proud of all that you've done. I know you think you need to do more . . . but as the head of our house and school, I proclaim this school year done."


As I've said so many times to the dads around me, "You 'da dad." This is where she needs you most.


You've got about a week left (if you haven't stopped already), so enjoy the last week with your kids doing something fun and special.


You can thank me later.


Be real,



P.S. Still haven't gotten your husband the greatest Father's Day gift ever? Then check out this Familyman Father's Day Special.


P.P.S. I'll be in Fort Wayne, Indiana, this weekend at a homeschool convention. First one to my booth who can tell me what legendary person is buried near the convention site gets a free book.


Excellence in Writing

IEW invites you to transform your reluctant writers into competent communicators, results guaranteed! Sharon says, "As my 15 year old was doing a writing assignment, he was actually chuckling to himself! He said, 'I can't believe this is fun!' "


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It's Just Common Sense

Ruth Beechick, Curriculum Specialist 


Debbie Strayer, Homeschool Consultant 


Every family has a pace, or style, that develops over time. The best way to know what is right for your family is to be guided by peace. When you sense that peace, or absence of strife, then you will know that you have found your family's pace. This will probably look different for every household.


As a family, we loved sports. Making room in our schedule for baseball games and swim meets was a joy and delight to us all. Rather than being an interruption, it was something we all looked forward to. We would wait with eager anticipation for things like the Olympics or the World Series and watch as many games or events together as possible. These sporting activities were not a cause of stress for us, but rather a time of unity.


Though my children enjoyed time with their friends at park day, they always preferred to learn together at home. We participated in co-op classes only for enrichment such as art or drama. This gave us plenty of time at home to think, talk, rest, and connect over great literature or projects. It also released us from the academic pressure felt by so many, because there was no homework to be done for others. That was our pace, our style, and it worked well. The pressure to learn in groups often reminds me of my days of school teaching, when keeping up with all the requirements could produce great stress.


Find your pace. Look at what creates stress for you and your children and consider making changes. Don't succumb to the idea that every homeschooled child must be a part of classes outside the home, but rather find what refreshes and resupplies you and your children with grace.

~ Ruth and Debbie


Read more from Debbie at





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Contest Central  

For the month of May, 2011   


The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education


Leigh Bortins, the founder of Classical Conversations, a classical homeschool teaching community, has written this new book, a thorough look at how all parents and educators can apply classical methods to their students' educations.


The Core is composed of two main parts. Part One discusses the merits of classical teaching in today's society in three chapters titled "What's Wrong With Education Today," "Why We Need Classical Education," and "How Classical Education Can Help You."


The lack of meaningful relationships between student and teacher, government replacing community as the force behind education, discarding memorization (with repetition) as the main tool of learning, declining literacy rates, and therefore leaving today's children out of the "great discussion" are the problems with today's education system: "We have rejected the historically successful model of rigorous, classical education in favor of entertainment and job training."


Part Two describes the classical method for the grammar-stage child as it applies to reading, writing, math, geography, history, science, and the fine arts. How parents or teachers of various kinds (single, double-income, after-schoolers, non-classical educators, and homeschoolers) can apply these ideas makes up the last chapter. (...)


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



Email Deb with your name and mailing address and the subject "The Core" for a chance to win* this book!


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*Disclaimer and Legal Notice:
The Old Schoolhouse
Magazine, LLC ("Company") is sponsoring the May Contest Central contest running from May 1, 2011, to May 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
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