goals · Mommas · organizing

Scriptures on Planning and Priorities *free printable*

I have been reading scriptures about planning and priorities.  I have been somewhat amazed to see how important it is, actually!

But, as I suspected, God is a God of order and planning!

This realization reappeared time and time again as I went through the Word.  His plan for the Israelites, for the arrival of Jesus, and even for the way we live our daily lives.

Check out this free PDF of Scriptures about Planning and Priorities. I hope you allow it to shape how YOU plan and prioritize your own life.  🙂

Jenny

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curriculum · future · goals · homeschool solutions · homeschooling

What is a Student’s ‘Best Effort’ in Homeschooling Look Like?

Do you ever feel like your kids give video games, television, playing, sorts, their hobbies (add your own thing) their best effort, but when it comes to school they try to quickly hurry through, doing as little as possible, with as little effort as possible?

First, in order to avoid the trap of perfectionism, let’s define what best effort isn’t.

It is not:

  • Never making a mistake
  • Always doing things correctly
  • Never taking chances
  • Never trying new things
  • Berating yourself for not doing it all, all the time
  • “topping” your highest score

So, for our purposes, what is homeschooling’s “best effort”?

A student’s best effort can be more adequately defined as:

  • Effort not limited by prior knowledge.
  • Being a willing learner.
  • An attitude of “I am willing to try.”
  • A persevering spirit to follow it through to completion.

*Important*: best effort should be defined within the students’ appropriate developmental age and personality style.  Learning disabilities also need to be considered.

For example, I have a perfectionist. When he is approaching a new math subject, he puts in the effort, he is willing to learn and try, BUT he often quits at the first sign of confusion.  

His issue is that he does not have a persevering spirit. He is used to “getting” things quickly and when he has to push harder to understand, he gets frustrated and quits.

My other student, who by the way has dysgraphia, will see a new subject and say “I don’t know what this is about. It looks confusing. I don’t want to try.”  He has an issue with being a willing learner and being willing to at least try.

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What about your child?  In which are do they need to grow so that they can achieve their best effort?

Effort not Limited by Prior Knowledge
This student sees a new topic and is willing to learn about it. They are not frightened and say “I have no idea about this topic,” or may have limited knowledge but be open to adjusting their current understanding.

Being a Willing Learner
This student has a desire to understand his world better. He is humble in his approach and not frightened of learning new information which may be challenging.

“I am Willing to Try” Attitude
This student acknowledges a lack of understand or exposure to a new topic, but doesn’t allow that to prevent him/her from absorbing it into his/her mindset.

A Persevering Spirit to Follow it Through to Completion
This student, when faced with new information or learning something for the first time, doesn’t give up.  He/she sticks with the new information until a natural end.

It is my belief that in order for your student to achieve his/her personal best, the weakest area needs to be identified.

It is said, that you can only know where you’re going, if you know where you have been. Likewise, a student cannot perform at his/her personal best until you take and evaluate your current status and where you need to grow.

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If your child struggles with one of these areas, don’t panic. Every child does.  It would be a rare child indeed that could do them all perfectly. 

These issues may, in fact, appear even when they are doing their favorite activities (like video games or drawing), but they are more willing to persevere through them because there is a higher reward of joy, satisfaction or fun.  With schoolwork, though, the reward isn’t very obvious..and let’s be honest, it just isn’t as fun!

So, the next time your child is giving you less than his/her best, evaluate which concept they are wrestling with and make a plan.

Solutions…

Some ideas for turning around one of these areas of work struggles include:

One-on-one learning with a parent (even sitting next to them if needed)
Taking a break from said topic and approaching it with a new, fresh mind/attitude
Trying a new curriculum that teaches it differently
Adding more hands-on work to the topic
Asking another homeschool parent to help teach the topic
Utilizing a group learning environment (through a co-op or group) to teach the topic
Utilizing a tutor

Hope this helps and I am right there with you!

Jenny

 

 

 

 

 

chores · clutter · declutter · goals · homemaking · Mommas · organizing · Uncategorized

What Does Decluttering Mean Exactly? (And Why You Should Do it)

It’s January, so naturally, the whole world is talking about decluttering their homes.  The stores have gone from being stocked with Christmas decorations to being filled to the brim with plastic totes, drawers, and bins.

Everyone is decluttering.

What does this mean exactly?

Decluttering if the act of going through one’s home to remove items which are unused and unneeded. It may be sorting out your tightly packed bedroom closet, cleaning out your garage or donating things that you think you will probably never use again.

So why do folks do this? 

There are many different reasons. 

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Many people say their motivation is to bring more peace into their home. 
While others say they feel that they are owned by their belongings – and that they have so many, they cannot manage them all.
Some feel that they are anxious and depressed in their own living spaces.

But…

An ever growing population of declutterers are moms of young children who have been overwhelmed by piles and piles of plastic toys and tiny bits and pieces that cannot be easily maintained.

Whatever the motivation, people are looking for change, and they are starting with their living environments.

It is a proven fact that living in a cluttered home actually causes mental health issues. There are endless articles online that will tell you why being surrounded by clutter increases anxiety and depression, and causes the person involved to lose focus and become unable to make choices.

I have felt all those feelings.

“Things themselves don’t make us happy, it’s the emotions and memories we attach to them that make them hard to part with.”

In my own home, we have too many toys, too many unfinished projects, piles of things older family members have either gifted to us and/or passed down to us, and then the other stuff that we actually really like.

It’s a big mess a lot of the time.

I had an a-ha moment recently when I said to myself, “Why can’t I keep the house clean?” Now, I am not an inspired cleaner, but I clean everyday. And I often find myself stuck putting things away… more than actually cleaning. 

I realized that we have too much stuff

There is just too much to manage.

So we have begun to declutter.

Today we put 12 boxes in the garage to be donated.

It feels great. And it’s just the beginning.

I am learning that:

  • Things themselves don’t make us happy, it’s the emotions and memories we attach to them that make them hard to part with.
  • Being surrounded by things actually decreases my ability to think clearly and causes anxiety and sadness.
  • Being surrounded by things doesn’t make me feel satisfied or filled up.
  • The quantity of things I have in my home actually decrease my general sense of happiness and control over my space.
  • Things don’t have feelings.  They don’t care if they stay or go.  It’s us that have to deal with our feelings of attachment and perceived loss.

Is decluttering one of your goals for 2018?  How is it going?

  • Jenny

 

Photo credit: Eric Didier and Markus Spiske

 

 

 

future · goals · homemaking · Mommas

A Letter to Yourself for 2018

What if you could sit down and write yourself a letter about how you would like your year to go? Assuming that would not open it until December of 2018, it will be like giving yourself a gift of things to be grateful for, to acknowledge success in and to continue reaching for.

What would it say?

A dear friend of mine did that this week, and I thought: “What a great, uplifting idea!”

This isn’t your typical list of things you want to change or letter telling about the joys or disappointments that happened in the previous 365 days.

It’s a letter of hope, of intention, of desire and anticipation!

What could a letter like this include?

Mine would include something about how I kept up with the dishes on a daily basis and managed to get rid of a hundred bags of clutter.

Perhaps you would write about the relationships you plan to make steps to heal or the personal accomplishments you hope to achieve by March and then again by June.

Consider these ideas:

Relationships you would like to see grow closer or repair.
Do you have people in your life that you will like reconnect with? Friendships that have grown cold or maybe relatives you have lost touch with?  Tell your future self the names and how you would like to reconnect with these special people.

Young Women Travel Together Concept

Personal goals you would like to see achieved. Do you have a hobby you want to send more time on or are you trying to grow a small business? Are you looking to open an Etsy shop or to get business cards printed? Tell your future self in what month you would like to see this goal accomplished.

Spiritual pursuits which have been on your mind.  Do you feel you need to increase your Bible knowledge, ramp up your prayer life or memorize scripture?  Get yourself a reading plan and praise your future self for having had 30 days in a row of prayer and scripture reading.  You can do it!

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Physical aspirations that you have been wanting to achieve.  Tell your future self how proud you are that you lost 15 pounds or that you joined that local yoga class.

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Bad habits you want to break.  What bad habits would you like to make history for your future self?  Smoking? Emotional-eating? Lack of exercise? Wouldn’t it be great to tell your future self how accomplished she is for going 30, 60, or 90 days without a cigarette or having stuck it out through a whole exercise class?

Things you would like to have happen with your children or in your marriage.  If you have been desiring to have more special time with your kids, this could be the year.  Or if you and your spouse need to make time for monthly dates or alone time.  Tell your future self about some of the fun times you had together.

I hope this have sparked some ideas for you.  I hope that your New Year will be filled with blessings and you will be able to achieve all the great things you hope to!

Jenny

 

 

 

 

chores · cleaning · clutter · goals · homemaking · Mommas · stay home or not? · Uncategorized

To All the Mommas Doin’ it All

mommasstressedandtired.jpgThis time of year there is a lot to do. Mommas do it all.  This one is for you.  Remember, what they really want is YOU.

I see you Momma. You’re tired.  You have no makeup on, yesterdays jeans, and you could really use a coffee delivery person.

I know you didn’t sleep well last night. Your little sweety was sick, or teething, or afraid of the dark.  You back hurts from sleeping crooked and fitting your grown-up frame into 6-inches of mattress.

I know you are aching for 20 minutes by yourself to think your own thoughts. To just have ONE THOUGHT from start to finish. Maybe to make a phone call, read a book that is not found in the children’s section or say a prayer and ask your Creator to give you peace and direction.

Laundry? It’s clean, but it’s all piled up on the couch.

Dishes? I think there is one clean spoon.

Dust?  I can’t remember the last time I did that.

I see you Momma. Wrestling that toddler in the grocery store.  The one who is begging for a toy or grabbing all the sugary cereals off the shelf. The one who isn’t thrilled your passing up the potato chips for apples and the ice cream for yogurt.

I know your budget is tight.  I know there is no room for a special nicety like a bottle of nail polish, or a new hairbrush, or a sharp razor for your oh-so hairy legs.

I know you see those Pinterest pictures of freshly baked bread and feel guilty that your kids are eating Goldfish crackers for breakfast….again.

I know you think you should be making “me time,” and that’s just another thing that tells you that you maybe aren’t living your “best” life.

Workout? Maybe.
Veggies? Sometimes.
8 glasses of water? Never.

I know you have a secret desire to write a book, to sing a song, to paint a picture, to go for a run.

I know you had a career before the babies came.

I know you have some regrets, but the babies aren’t them.

Momma.

Do you know how valuable you are?  Not for cleaning and cooking. Not for changing dirty diapers, not for clipping toenails.

But valuable.

Do you know that you provide security, peace and gentleness in a world that is very unpredictable, chaotic and angry.

You answer the questions.
Calm the fears.
Acknowledge the accomplishments.

You laugh at the silliness.
You give affection.
You teach right from wrong.

Don’t worry about the dust, the unbaked bread, the pile of clothes.

They really aren’t looking.  They don’t care.

They just want you to run the car down the ramp, one more time.
To turn on the music loud and dance silly.
To let them play with bubbles in the sink.
Or make a craft, or jump on the bed, or….

Momma.  They love you.  Just the way you are.
And that’s enough for today.

 

goals · homeschool solutions · homeschooling · secrets · Uncategorized

Secrets Homeschool Moms Keep

Shhhh!

Every homeschool mom has a secret…or two. You know, things she doesn’t talk about in normal conversation and especially NOT with people who don’t homeschool for fear they would not understand, or even worse, judge.

I do. You do.

Things we are a little bit ashamed of about our homeschooling journey.  I have experienced or felt all of the things we are about to discuss at some point during my homeschool journey (6 years).

The purpose of writing about it here is so that we can bring things out in the open and remind ourselves to not be ashamed of things we don’t need to be.  Also, by sharing our feelings, moms, we can get help!

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My kids sometimes act like they hate school

I have said this before…I thought when I began to homeschool, my kids would be so appreciative of my efforts on a daily basis, that they would sit down, ready for school each morning with smiles on their faces.

Ha!

I know. It sounds silly.

They don’t. They still complain about school, give me a hard time, whine and resist doing work.  No every lesson is a winner.

I had to realize…they are KIDS. Kids do that.  It’s not your fault.  It happens.  What matters is how you handle it. But don’t be surprised when it happens. They have shifting moods, just like we do, so each day may be a new box of candy (to quote Forest Gump).

Sometimes I don’t feel like doing school… for like for a week or two

I get tired of the school routine.  I am a bit of a wander-lust, so after 2 or 3 months of the same routines and expectations…I get really bored. I need something different and interesting.   That’s who I am . That’s not wrong.  You, after all, are HUMAN, mom. You have needs too.

I have learned that if I go “school-lite” for a few days it helps tremendously. I make sure I get refreshed, it gives me new perspective and the kids can a break too.

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My kids can be a little ‘weird’ sometimes

My kids get excited about some non-mainstream things.  Like Mario and Minecraft, like the latest Youtube video they have seen about the “Secrets of Cats”, like designing their own Dungeons and Dragons game.

They want to talk about it. A lot.  It can be off-putting to me…as well as their public-school friends.  Because, not surprisingly, their friends have other interests.

My older son is also completely capable of holding a debate (politics!) or discussion (the merits of all the game systems since the 1980’s) with any adult.  Adults can be a little weirded-out by this.

It’s actually a GREAT thing that he has this skill. And I always appreciate the adult who engages him and reacts with pleasure.

Your kids may have interests too that their public-school peers don’t even know about (and, of course, visa-versa). It’s ok!

“If you have spent ANY time at all homeschooling,
you have regrets and wishes.”

I have regrets about homeschooling and sometimes I feel like a failure

I wish that had done more outside stuff when they were young.  I wish that I had spent more time in the Bible. I wish that I had focused more on writing.

If you have spent ANY time at all homeschooling, you have regrets and wishes.  Things I wish I had done more or better or longer or more ….. the list goes on.

All homeschool moms have this list.

I have felt like a failure…in many areas, mathematics, discipline, diligence… the list goes on.

But when I look back I try to focus on the things we DID accomplish.  The trips we have taken, the artistic creations that have made, and yes, even the math and language arts concepts we have pushed through.

If you need help…ask for it.  There are so many moms out there that have surmounted the same challenges you are struggling with whether it’s writing, division, reading, science, and daily routines.

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“Sometimes when my husband comes home from work,
I literally run away because I need to out of the house!”

Sometimes I am lonely or sometimes I get sick of being at home all-the-time

Being at home with your kids all day long can lose it’s appeal when you really need some grown-up time.

It also takes dedicated to work to keep up friendships. You have needs, and it’s perfectly understandable to express them and seek out ways to meet them.

Sometimes when my husband comes home from work, I literally run away (to Target) because I need to out of the house! Just to SEE something different from my four walls lightens my mood and refreshes me.  Maybe for you it’s a long walk, or working out, or listening to music  or going for a long drive.

We need friendships. We need friends who homeschool and who don’t.  We need women to talk to about our parenting challenges, to say “Am I crazy??” to and to receive support from.  Don’t isolate!

I have really found some nice friends at the children’s section in the the local library when I was there with the kids. I also am part of several support-type groups online. And then I have a group who I go out with.

Secrets.

We don’t mean to keep secrets.  But we feel ashamed or disappointed about some things. Don’t worry, you are in good company – every homeschooler has these thoughts and feelings.  You are not alone.

Jenny

 

curriculum · goals · homeschooling · Uncategorized

Evaluating Your School Year

We have FOUR MORE WEEKS of school left (I know!) and I am shifting into the mode of wrapping up subject matter and thinking about how the year went. In general, I think the year went well.

This is our 5th year schooling from home, and to be honest, I never thought we would get this far. It took me so long to decide to homeschool, and then, after I began, one of things that gave me comfort was the thought that “I can stop at anytime.”  There were days where I thought: “What am I doing?” and even this year I have considered throwing in the towel. But here I am.

This is a great time for you to evaluate how your year went.

Let’s go back to the beginning of the year.

I have started making goals for both of my boys at the beginning of each year. This helps me have loose (and I like them really loose) expectations for them.

For my both my 4th and 7th graders, I set personal goals, spiritual and academic goals at the beginning of the year and about three weeks ago, I took a look to make sure we did some of them.

Let’s talk about them in further detail.

Academically speaking, I wanted my 7th grader to strengthen his skills in the areas of division, fractions and decimal work.  We were able to get to the first two in earnest, but just touch on the last one.  I also felt strongly that I needed to start exposing him to engineering science and until about 3 weeks ago, I had no idea how we were going to get there. Then a fellow homeschooler invited my boys to participate in this program run through the Department of Defense called Starbase. Both of my boys had a week-long experience using Computer Aided Drafting and Design applications and learning about the engineering design process.

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For my 4th grader, I wanted him to improve his writing skills. He has dysgraphia, so writing in general is super tough and exhausting.  I employed a tutor one time a week this year to help him answer comprehension questions and write.  He has done a lot more this year than he would have with me alone.  And to my shagrin, he writes a lot more with her, than me.  At least it’s getting done.  She does use CANDY as a reward.

I also wanted him to start writing cursive and we just began that about 4 weeks ago.

Spiritually speaking, I wanted the younger to start praying out loud and I wanted my 7th grader to start having his own, individual time with God. He now reads every night before he starts his nighttime routine.

Some things that didn’t happen…and yes, there are definitely a few…

I wanted my 7th grader to write a biographical paper. We started to…but I don’t think we will finish it in time.

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One side note, is that although we didn’t set it as a goal, we read A LOT this year. We pushed through a ton of books and audio books.  Insert happy face.

Time to evaluate! How do you feel like your kids did?  What did they improve in? What do they need to make continual progress in?

 

 

 

curriculum · first time · future · goals · homeschool solutions · homeschooling

Getting Started in Homeschooling: Writing a Mission Statement

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This is for all you Mama’s who are just getting started.

Recently I conducted a workshop for parents new to homeschooling.  Trying to be thorough, we covered a lot of different subjects:
-the legalities of homeschooling
-different curricula that is available
-the option of using classes or co-op’s to enhance your teaching
-the truth behind socialization (they get plenty by the way…).

But, the more we talked, the more I saw the moms and dads’ eyes WIDEN in disbelief.

Hopefully this post will help start you on your path to homeschooling without feeling too overwhelmed.

In order to reach any new destination you need a road map. When you walk out your door to go somewhere you have never been before, don’t you pull out your phone and type in the address so you can have directions easily accessible?

Why would we approach something as monumental as educating our children without some sort of map?

Granted, not all of us are good at planning ahead.  (Me too.)

After six years of homeschooling though, and making the mistake of wasting my time on some classes and groups I should never have participated in, I see the mission statement’s resounding value.

Let’s jump in.

Using my mission statement worksheet, spend some time thinking about/writing down why you have chosen to homeschool. 

  • Is your child unhappy in school?
  • Are they falling behind?
  • Do they have problems with bullying?

I began to homeschool because I was concerned my older, extremely inquisitive child would be dulled and bored by the public school routine.  I wanted to offer him adventure, hence the name of our school: Adventure School!

Next, think about the things/write down the things that are important to your family.

  • Is it important to you that your children read a lot?
  • Do you want them to be able to explore their artistic interests?
  • Do you feel a spiritual component is essential to your family life?
  • Do you want to make sure that they spend an ample amount of time out in nature?

Now, spend some time thinking about/writing out the things you feel you will be happy to leave behind once you start homeschooling.

  • Does your child hate getting up early?
  • Does your child despise workbooks?
  • Does you child need the flexibility to do work at his/her own pace?

When I began, although I didn’t have a mission statement, I knew it was important to me that I had time in the Bible with my boys, that we got out in nature and that school would be varied and interesting. I wanted to keep them involved in peer-appropriate activities and to teach them important life skills.

My mission statement for this school year reads as follows:

“Our family will homeschool in order to make sure that our children have enough time to foster their relationship with God as well as their interests and passions. By homeschooling, we will not only pursue academics, we will have new and varied experiences and have balanced, memorable lives. By homeschooling, we will surround our children with positive influences, maintain the home as the central hub of of their lives and teach them practical life skills.”

Here is the MISSION STATEMENT template again.

Good luck writing your mission statement and let me know how it goes!