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|The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine|
January 23, 2013
Organize your homeschool!
Deborah Wuehler and family
After people meet our family and do the head count of all the kids, they always remark that I must be very organized. I always laugh when people say that because I think about my state of affairs at present, and I can't remember a time when I have ever been perfectly organized.
I have always thought that if I only had everything organized that life would be easier. But life doesn't always cooperate. We get sick, we help friends, children make messes, we lose our keys or our cell phones, kids bring home friends, the dog runs away, we have to move, our husband becomes unemployed . . . these are things you can't organize. Life can be a series of seemingly disorganized events. So, what are we to do? Here's my advice:
- Have a framework of order while maintaining a spirit of flexibility! Just keep doing those daily routines as much as possible, but when you have to deviate from the plan, have a spirit of grace and an anticipation of God's divine appointments added to your schedule.
- I try to practice this advice from Elisabeth Elliot, when she was overwhelmed after her husband died and she was left alone with a baby in the middle of the jungle. An old poem helped her tremendously and its simple advice was this: "do the next thing."
- Homeschooling and organization are both necessary and both take time. Sometimes we have to put aside the one to do the other, and each should be given the time they deserve.
- Don't stress the messy days. There are seasons of life where disorganization will rule the day. But don't worry, you can take a day off here and there and get things in order when necessary. That's the beauty and flexibility of homeschooling.
- Don't waste time or become lazy and idle. Put away the distraction and time wasters. Stand up and do the next thing.
- Clear the chaos and clutter out of your house and your calendar.
- Get help from family and friends for those areas that are really bugging you. Or take several days off and have the kids help you get caught up or get organized. They will learn from you an essential skill for life.
Organization is a skill to be learned and one of these days, I will learn the art myself. I believe that as I get to know my Father better, I will learn more of His highly organized ways. I do hope to become more like Him in all I do, and I pray the same for my children.
"As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him" (Psalm 18:30).
"She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates" (Proverbs 31:27 - 31).
TOS Senior Editor
Confessions of an obsessive organizer. No, I don't alphabetize my sock drawer, but I do like lists. I love lists. I write them every day, everywhere. I once found myself at a store without a pad of paper--a situation that I quickly remedied by purchasing a tiny tablet.
And Post-it notes! I don't think I can live without them. My family is fond of pointing out that they were invented the same year I was born. For this, I am thankful, for I'm not sure what a world without Post-it notes would look like, but I shudder at the thought!
Thankfully, SchoolhouseTeachers.com brings you not only great new lessons and daily activities every month; it also brings you a handy way to keep them organized with our monthly Course Checklists. Every month, you'll find new checklists, each designed to spotlight the classes and dailies we offer. They are divided by grade level and filled with information. You'll find course descriptions, news, and more. There's even a Skills Covered page at the end for all your note-taking needs, and a list of the courses that you can find in our archives.
Let SchoolhouseTeachers.com help make your organizational dreams a reality with our monthly Course Checklists.
Come, do your homework--and your organizing--with us. It's as easy as Point. Click. Teach.
Join during our membership sale and have access to all our organizational tools--including the Schoolhouse Planners--for only $49. Plus you'll get a free tote bag, just the right size for organizing supplies for a picnic, a library outing, or almost anything else you can imagine. You'll also receive the 2013 Annual Print Book!
Bonnie Rose Hudson
Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries
The king of organization, I'm not. In fact, I could probably get some kind of government money for being organizationally challenged. But I did clean my office and desk off about two weeks ago . . . and it wasn't that bad. Actually, I feel a little better just by working in a clean environment.
This is just a thought, but maybe you would [feel better] too. Maybe instead of school today, you should spend a little while getting organized. I said instead of school because I think organizing, tagged onto doing school or regular stuff, can seem overwhelming. After all, who has time to get organized?
BUT if you could forgo school in order to organize, now that sounds doable. I wouldn't tackle your whole life of clutter and disorganization . . . just take a whack at that one area that's been especially bugging you. It might be the school room, your bookshelves, your bedroom closet, or the kids' dressers.
Pick one and cross it off the list. Make sure you involve the kids as well because that's an important lesson--as important as regular "school."
I'm not sure, but I think you're going to feel better. Will it stay organized from that point on? Dream ON!! But it will be nice to start fresh.
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Can we define terms here?
I ask that question first because, frankly, when I read the title for today's topic, I instantly felt defeated. One of the most challenging parts of homeschooling for me was getting laundry off the table to get dinner on the table, while at the same time teaching math and reading and history and . . . Laundry was my personal nemesis, because it seemed that no matter how hard I tried to keep everyone decently clothed and in their right minds, socks would invariably go AWOL or mountains of freshly laundered shirts would get tossed into piles (which would then require ironing). I asked one homeschooling friend, who was calm, cool, collected, and clothed just how she did it. She looked at me, somewhat surprised, and said, "Well, Diana, I never start a load of laundry until I have the time to wash, dry, fold, and put it away."
Hmmm. If I had made that my standard, we would never have had ANY clean clothes.
But I digress.
So, what does "organize your homeschool" mean, anyway? You, dear homeschooling mom, are carrying a larger load than most any other professional on the planet. Shall I expand that statement a bit more? Okay.
On a regular basis, you:
- handle finances
- handle maintenance issues
- oversee scheduling conflicts
- oversee car traffic control
- offer counseling to spouse, children, neighbors, friends
- offer kindness, gentleness, nurturing even when you're exhausted
- read volumes on curriculum, homeschooling, parenting, organizing
- read God's word to discover God's heart for this journey
- provide meals regularly and economically
- provide clean clothes, mend clothes, buy clothes, make clothes
- teach your kids to do chores with diligence and a good attitude
- teach your kids everything else
- live your life loving the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, strength
- live your life loving your neighbor as yourself.
So, I think we've established that you are doing a massive job, a fabulous job--regardless of your organizational skills. That means that you can let go of the guilt right now.
Okay. So, the real question I want to ask you is one I heard at the Mid-Winter conference this weekend in Michigan. One of my dear friends, Monte Swan, asked this question:
If you knew you had only one year of life left, one year left to homeschool your beloved children, what would you do? How would you spend this gift of one year?
Take some time right now to answer that question. As we each begin to consider what is most important, we'll see more clearly how to toss those unimportant and trivial things that have cluttered up our lives and schedules, so that our priorities can have the full measure of time and energy they deserve. Knowing your priorities will enable you to organize in a refreshing and personally-tailored way.
Remember, stay relational!
P.S. I recently wrote a blog where I talked about making room in your homeschool for what you really love, taking tips I learned from a professional organizer and applying them to our real lives! Interested? Read here.
HomeSchool Tool is more than just an app--it's a complete homeschool management software program! Designed for the mobility of the iPhone/iPad, this brand new app makes it easy to log class hours, track student performance, and much more! For more information visit www.scholarsinresidence.net
Raising Real Men
Hal & Melanie Young
If you could look around our house today, you might not want to hear anything we have to say on getting organized! We just got back from a conference in California and things are a bit, um, well, let's just get on with the topic!
This weekend we spoke at a conference for those exploring the idea of homeschooling. One mother asked Melanie how in the world she was going to get her housework done. Melanie suggested assigning chores to the children--since the mother was now spending much of her day teaching and the children would have lots more free time, it only made sense! That mom just stared blankly at her. It had never occurred to her! If your children are over eight or so and not doing major chores around the house, like cooking, cleaning, and laundry, you are going to have a tough time ever getting organized! Homeschooling is hard work and having children home all day, though an incredible blessing, means the house is even more of a challenge!
Organization needs to extend to school, too. We're not those who file every paper and grade every assignment to record for posterity, but some basic organization will simplify homeschooling and make it easier:
Find a place for school books and hold your children accountable if you find them elsewhere. We're not going to tell you how many copies of certain schoolbooks we (or rather, our children) have bought over the years because of losing them. One poor son bought himself a new math book (under coercion :)) only to find his old one a few days later at the bottom of a basket of laundry he'd been supposed to put away. Lost schoolbooks mean wasted time and stress!
Take the time a couple of times a year to plan what you want to accomplish in each subject over the next few months. Sometimes you need to reassess or change horses or double up on work to get it done well. Better to know now than when it's too late. This is a good time of year to do that.
Find a spot for school supplies. Every time we talk to another homeschool family and they need to write something down, no one can find a pen or a pencil. We finally put all ours up high where the preschoolers and toddlers couldn't reach them and found them much easier to keep track of.
Pretty basic stuff, but it continues to be a challenge for us and perhaps some of you, too. It's okay!
Yours in the battle,
Hal & Melanie
Would you like to hear us speak? Check out this map of our cross-country trip this summer and let us know if you are somewhere near (like a hundred miles or so!) and would like us to stop in your area--we would love to! Click here to find out more.
Coming in February 2013
Being Married to a Homeschool Mom
with Todd Wilson
Todd Wilson, author of Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe, Help! I'm Married to a Homeschooling Mom, and The Official Book of Homeschooling Cartoons, is a dad, writer, conference speaker, and former pastor. Todd's humor and gut-honest realness have made him a favorite speaker at homeschool conventions across the country and a guest on Focus on the Family.
As founder of Familyman Ministries, his passion and mission are to remind dads and moms of what's most important through a weekly email for dads, seminars, and books that encourage parents.
Todd, and his wife Debbie, homeschool their eight children in northern Indiana and travel around America in the Familyman Mobile. You can visit Familyman Ministries at www.familymanweb.com
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"Scientists in Australia have reported finding a large number of dinosaur tracks that [they] say is evidence of a stampede." Read more in the article Stampeding Dinosaurs and the Genesis Flood.
How about some great ideas for homeschooling on a budget!
Read this article
in the latest issue of
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.
For the month of January, 2013
The Crossmaker DVD
This DVD features a grandfather telling his grandchildren stories about Jesus. The backdrop for the stories is a marvelous artist doing chalk drawings of Jesus and scenes from the stories. There are two stories: The Crossmaker and Jesus Loves the Children. The Crossmaker is about a little boy whose family makes crosses. He delivers the one to be used for Jesus and witnesses the crucifixion. He is crushed by guilt for his part, but he meets the resurrected Jesus on the road and finds forgiveness and love. Jesus Loves the Children is the familiar Bible story about the disciples telling the children to leave Jesus alone, but Jesus tells them to let the children come to Him.
The background music is wonderful, and the chalk illustrations are spectacular. But there is much more on this DVD! There are more chalk drawing demonstrations and even a teaching session showing children step-by-step how to make their own chalk drawings.
Read the rest of this review here.
Email Heather with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with "Crossmaker" as the subject line for a chance to win* the DVD for your homeschool!