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Cleaning out Clutter                                July 13, 2011  



Deborah's  Picture  

I had a goal and a time limit. My friend's treadmill was coming to my bedroom in two days. My bedroom was full of clutter. Because my goal was to make a space for the new treadmill, my priority became cleaning out the clutter. This is how it works for me most of the time. The clutter stays until I have a set goal to work toward.


I have a goal of starting a new history timeline with the younger kids this coming year, as well as teaching them cursive writing. In order to do that, I have to clear out some clutter-not necessarily in things, but in my daily calendar. For my goal to succeed, I know I have to have a time period set aside to do it. It needs to be made a priority on the calendar, or life will happen and it will never get done (I had the same goals for this past year, but I failed because I failed to put it on the calendar. I let my calendar get "cluttered" with other things).


So, before you can clear out the clutter from this past school year, it's good to have a goal of what you'd like for this next year. Then, set up a timeframe for getting it done. Maybe you want to concentrate on science this year but don't know how you'll fit it into the daily schedule. This is a time to rethink what needs to be done daily, weekly, or monthly. If you can't fit that science in every day, give it a couple of hours one day a week and forgo other subjects. Maybe you want to get involved in a history co-op once a month to reach a goal of concentrating on history next year. Whatever it is, set a goal, plan the time, and clear out whatever is cluttering things up.


What about junk around the house? I can either just sit there and get depressed by all the clutter around me, or I can pray for strength to "do the next thing." Write down what needs to be done and take advantage of every 15-minute break to work on one. Instead of spending those 15 on Facebook, check off one item on your list and you will feel much better.


Cleaning out the clutter is also applicable to spiritual things. Our hearts and minds are cluttered with too much junk and not enough of the good things of the Lord and His Word. Choose to read that chapter in your Bible rather than that chapter in any other book; this de-clutters your mind. Choose to pray for 10 minutes rather than get on the phone or email; this de-clutters your soul. Choose to teach your children about order and discipline, rather than yell at them when it all piles up. Choose to sit at Jesus' feet, and then you will have the strength to get up and do the next thing. 


Do a little bit every day, make better choices, and pray for strength and direction to get up and do it. You don't need a maid; you need to be made wise. Ask God, and He will give you wisdom on how to de-clutter your house and your heart for His glory.



TOS Senior Editor 


Here is an "oldie but goodie" on the subject:


Dust in the Temple 


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In place of Gena this week:

Cleaning Out Clutter    

by Malia Russell   


The beginning of a new school year is a great time to eliminate the old year's clutter in preparation. Many homeschool moms amass a large amount of materials that are intended to create a rich and varied learning environment. It can be hard at times to tell the difference between enriching and cluttering. If you need help in this area, use the following guideline:

If something is not special enough to have its own "home," where it is accessible and usable, it is just clutter. Establish a place for it or let it go.


Here are some quick and simple steps to get ready for the new year:

  1. Make a short list of the supplies you want for each child for the next year. This may include things like:
    • Art supplies
    • Organizational supplies
    • Curriculum
    • Planner
  1. Next, decide how much space you have for these items. Do you have a shelf/drawer/backpack for each child? Or do you keep some things (like art supplies) in a common area?
  2. Examine supplies to see what you are not using or what you can use for one more year.
  3. Donate extra supplies in good condition to a co-op, church, or preschool. Throw away any that are junky and unusable.
  4. Pare down work from prior year(s). Keep whatever is required by law but put it neatly into a folder or large envelope and store it safely away. 
  5. For additional work, discard anything you or your children do not love. Teach the children who are old enough to organize whatever still remains and keep it in a binder or give the child his or her own filing box or drawer. 

Remember: If you do not love it, use it, and put it away in its own special home, it is just clutter. Clutter at its very best just gives you more work to do, and at its worst can become dangerous and disruptive to the peaceful running of your homeschool. For a whole house de-cluttering day, you may want to try a "De-cluttering Challenge." To read more about that, you can see our article.


~ Malia Russell

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Todd Wilson The Familyman
Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries

Regarding cleaning out clutter, I have two thoughts: 1) I'm a slob and don't do well at cleaning out clutter in my own life, so I don't have a lot of advice to offer except: Utilize your neat kids or spouse. Point them in the right direction and let them have at it.
Thought 2: The subtopic given me was: tips for getting rid of old materials to prepare for this school year. My thoughts on this are: Why are you getting ready for the school year now?!! It's summer, and you're supposed to be enjoying your kids, not frittering it away on planning for next year. You've got plenty of time for that in August (middle to late August). Quit thinking about school and have fun. Have I made myself clear?
Thought 3: Want to plan something? I'm planning a fall speaking tour down South, and I'd love to speak to your homeschool group or church. The plan is to head south through the Panhandle of Florida and make a loop all the way down to Naples and Fort Lauderdale. So if you live around Gulf Shores, Ala., Pensacola, Venice, Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, or anywhere between Nashville and Florida, contact me ASAP. Our time together will be practical, encouraging, and just plain fun.
Those are all my thoughts for today.
Be real,

Is your child gifted? The correct answer is, "Yes!" According to the Bible, all children are gifted by the Lord. Are you homeschooling based on your child's giftings? Find out how in an info-packed E-Book and give your child the best tools for biblical success.



It's Just Common Sense

Ruth Beechick, Curriculum Specialist 


Debbie Strayer, Homeschool Consultant 


I recently discovered a great way to manage clutter. This is how. First, I worked on cleaning out a pile of stuff. The cluttery stuff in my house is mostly paper, but my system should work for any kind of mess. From that pile I threw out many papers. I put some where they belonged, in files and so forth. And I put some in a pile to take care of later. 

Sound organized? Well, for the moment it was at least working toward organization. I didn't tackle more piles just then. One was enough.

Then came my discovery. I noticed that when new papers came my way, I immediately threw a lot of them out. My memory told me that they'd eventually get thrown out anyway, so why wait? This new pattern of thinking did not completely solve the clutter problem, but diminished it.


~ Ruth 

One idea that teachers have right is pre- and post-planning. Time is set aside to finish the work of one year, to reflect on what worked well, and to think about what needs to be changed. Though I didn't get to do this in large measure as a teacher (usually I was busy doing paperwork and boxing up books), I loved the concept. It's one that homeschoolers would do well to implement more.


We usually just add planning to our busy schedule, without giving ourselves the time and freedom to focus on that task alone, while not schooling.  


How does this relate to clutter? Without the time to think about what has truly worked, we tend to keep things that may not fit our family. I always had a tendency to keep too much, so this review process was essential for me to be able to let go of things in my schoolroom or closet. Working with a friend was also a great help to me. She would help me sort through my stuff, then I would help her sort through hers. It wasn't the cleaning that was taxing, it was the decision-making, so having another brain to share the task was a big help!


Whenever my youngest child finished with something, I would also try to decide if it was something I wanted to keep for grandchildren or just for "someday." I usually kept games, books, and puzzles, while curriculum might be loaned to others. The children and I also went through their papers and used an accordion file to keep what we wanted for our portfolio. Artwork, writing samples, and math workbooks were often kept, along with reading lists and projects. For many years, the children and I would look at the previous year's work and marvel over their progress. When I run across an old picture or card they made, I still sit and remember when. I guess I didn't clear out all the clutter I thought I did!  


~ Debbie



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Contest Central  

For the month of July, 2011   


Huge Sounds Like Learning Phonics Pack

(CDs, DVD, Letter Fun Lotto, and Short Vowel Fun)


The preschool years are delightful years of discovery and play. Barbara Milne has used her experience and training in early childhood education and children's music to create many products to aid the young child in learning through music and games. She developed the Sounds Like Phonics and the Sounds Like Learning series for Discovery Toys, though some are also available at, where she sells additional products.


Fingerplays and Fun is a charming CD that contains 14 bright and cheerful songs for toddlers and preschoolers. These songs include 13 action songs and fingerplays, as well as an alphabet song. Many of the songs are traditional children's songs, but this CD also includes six original songs written by Barbara Milne, who also provides the singing voice for the music. The Fingerplays and Fun CD comes with a lyrics sheet that includes the actions for each song as well as an alphabet poster that shows both uppercase and lowercase letters with picture cues that help the child remember the letter sounds. ( . . . )


Sounds Like Learning is a musical CD designed for babies, toddlers, and preschool children. Fourteen of the 20 songs are written by Barbara Milne, who sings all the songs on the recording. The quiet, soothing songs introduce beginning learning concepts, such as opposites, counting, months of the year, and letter sounds. The CD comes with a lyrics sheet as well as a poster that introduces the alphabet and its phonemic sounds.


Sounds Like Learning can be used in the home, a daycare, or the church nursery. It provides a peaceful background for napping or playing. When I played it as background music, my 4-year-old skipped to the music and sang along with the tunes she recognized. It didn't take her long to learn the other songs, just as Mrs. Milne intended. Although the CD appealed to my younger children, my older children quickly grew tired of it. It is very gentle and soothing, which helped to keep my younger children calm during school hours. ( . . . )


Read the rest of the review on all the products in the phonics gift pack here. Win this phonics gift pack for your family!



Email Deb with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line "Phonics Pack" for a chance to win* this set!


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