Happy September Raising Arrows Families! I just love fall - the smells of cinnamon and vanilla, the tastes of all things pumpkin, simple meals of homemade soups and breads, and the comforts of sweaters, blankets, and fires. Fall on a homeschool front is a season to get into good routines and patterns and push to get in a lot of great learning before the holiday season starts.
Raising Arrows has some exciting things coming up this month and I want to make sure you don’t miss anything!
We’ve got 2 Facebook lives this month. Here are the details:
- Sept. 11th 8:00 pm PT Ben and I will be doing a live together! We will be talking on intentionality in our homes and with our kids. Ben will be sharing some highlights from the homeschool father son retreat he just attended. Don’t miss this live it’s going to be good!
- Sept. 25th 8:00 pm PT I’ll be doing this Facebook live. We had a great conversation about hymns on our Raising Arrows Facebook page a few weeks ago. I thought I’d dig into this topic a bit more and do a Facebook live about hymns in our home and homeschool
On Raising Arrows Private Facebook page we are doing short q & a video posts. We will cover one question a week. Last week we talked about the littles and what to do with them while teaching our big kids. Upcoming topics we will be covering will be: how to encouraging the reluctant writer, how to make sure school doesn’t take all day, how to find social opportunities for your kids, is it bad that your kids are with their siblings all day, and a few more questions too! If you haven’t joined the Raising Arrows Private Facebook Page Click Here to join so you don’t miss out on these or our Facebook Lives!! Also if you have a good Q & A send us an email!
I’m a big fan of celebrating anything and everything in our home. Memories are built upon celebrations and traditions. I just love a silly holiday to add into our homeschool week to keep the day fresh and fun. Here are a few fun national holidays you might want to celebrate with your family too!
- September 6th: National Read a Book Day. This is a holiday every homeschool family should get on board with! Maybe pick a new family read aloud to start together, or have an extended time of reading at the park, or pick up a few fun picture books and read one every hour during the school day. Here are 6 of my favorite silly read a loud picture books. Have you read any of these?
September 26th: Johnny’s Appleseed Day. We love celebrating this day any excuse to make a Dutch apple pie! It’s also a great holiday to study apples, seeds, and the history of the pioneers and Johnny Appleseed whose real name was John Chapman. If you are looking for a great book on the history of James Chapman this one by Will Moses (he illustrated it too) is by far my favorite!
September 29th: National Coffee Day: I know all my fellow Raising Arrows homeschooling coffee loving parents are always on the look out for an excuse for an extra cup of coffee and this national day is our day friends!!! Raising Arrows will be giving away a few Starbucks gift cards to celebrate this day so don't miss those on our private facebook page!
Alright I think this officially keeps you in the loop on all the upcoming for the month of September. Blessed to walk this amazing gift the Lord has given us of homeschooling along side each of you. Please reach out if you have questions or are needing encouragement on your homeschool journey. This is why we are here!
Ben and Jenny
Over on our Facebook page we opened up some Q & A’s. We are answering each of these questions in a recorded post, but I thought it would be worth writing up each of these questions in a blog post too! If you haven’t joined our Facebook page yet Click Here to join. We would love to have you come be apart of the conversation and community!
Several people brought up questions about homeschooling big kids when the littles are around. I hear this question a lot and I’m in the thick of it with both a 16 month old and a 3 year old! Here are a few thoughts and tips that I can offer.
1. The first thing I’m going to say might not be the most popular but I need you to check your own attitude. These littles will become the kids you are homeschooling in just a few short years. You don’t want their view of school to be tainted because they are always being ignored and told to be quiet during school hours.
2. Your big kids are learning some great life skills and lessons on patience as they have to handle the interruptions from littles. Dealing with the interruptions with grace and gentleness teachers your big kids so much. Never underestimate what they are learning just by watching you. Not everything we learn comes from a text book and homeschool life is real life learning all the time.
3. Include the littles. Let them sit on your lap while you teach. Print coloring pages that pertain to what the big kids are learning. Act like they are a part of things and let them learn right along with your big kids. They will swell with pride as they hold that pencil in their cute chubby hand and work hard “writing” just like the big kids are. We want to be parents who cause our children to rise and I believe in schooling this is a simple way to help them rise.
4. Have “special” toys or activities that are reserved for only school time. Make sure these toys and activities are quiet and self play toys where you don’t have to micromanage or get involved. Preferably these toys will also be things that your littles can do while sitting at the same table as everyone else.
5. Nap or quiet time is another great time you can get some uninterrupted schooling done with your bigs. Quiet time resets kids and makes the day go so much better. Use this time wisely.
6. Outdoor time. My littles can play outdoors for so long and will play happily while we do school work. Often we will bring a blanket outside and do our reading on the grass while the littles play in a water table, sand box, slide, sensory bins, and with a ball in the grass. Bonus - we all just love doing school outside
7. Start your morning with some undivided time with your littles before starting school with the bigs. Even if it’s just 30 minutes I’ve found when they get mom all to themselves for a bit in the morning then they are much happier to share throughout the day!
Feel free to share your favorite activities to keep your littles happy while doing school with your bigs. We’d love to see everyone’s ideas and don’t forget to join the conversation on Facebook.
Stay tuned for more Q & A’s in the coming weeks. Have a question you would like to ask, feel free to email me!
Traditions are an important aspect of our homes and our homeschools. Traditions conjure emotions and memories comforts and a feeling of belonging. I love this quote from Karen Andreola
Traditions don’t have to be complicated and some can even be helpful to you. Like taco Tuesday for example! We have some form of Mexican food every Tuesday. Everyone in my family knows Tuesday’s mean guacamole, homemade salsa, and some yummy main dish. This makes meal planning for the week simpler cause I don’t have to think about Tuesdays ever.
I thought today I’d share one of our favorite “taco Tuesday” meals - Taco Chili!
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 1/2 yellow onion diced
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 1 can of each: black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans strained and rinsed
- 1 box (4 cups) vegetable broth
- 2 cans of tomato sauce
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
-1/2 tsp paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- toppings: guacamole, cheese, chives, and cilantro are a few of our favorites!
1. Sauté onions bell pepper and garlic. Add ground beef and cook till meat is done and most of the fat has cooked off.
2. add vegetable broth and spices and simmer
3. add tomato sauce and beans bring to a boil and simmer till ready to eat
4. serve with your favorite toppings: cheese, crunched up chips, guacamole, chives, and cilantro
* I make this in bulk and freeze it. This is a great soup to have on hand to deliver to a family who have just had a baby or makes dinner a snap for you!
* often I will finish step 1 then throw all the ingredients in a crock pot and let it simmer all day on low. Turns out great every time!
I’ll share some of our other taco Tuesday meals in coming weeks!
Our homeschool year is just about to begin and I’m looking forward to getting back to routine and normalcy again. This is my 10th year homeschooling and my last year homeschooling my oldest daughter - a senior 😭😍 I’ve made a few mistakes along the way and learned a bunch over these last ten years and I’m still learning all the time.
If there is one single piece of advice I could give you on how to have a successful homeschool year it would simply be this: figure out what is your most important (subject, chore, or lesson) and always do whatever that is FIRST - and always before lunch!
I’ve found that if I don’t get my core lessons done with my kids before lunch often they don’t happen. I get distracted or they get busy doing their own independent school work, then I’m putting a baby down for a nap and before I know it, it’s time to cook dinner.
Many years ago I decided to make my mornings sacred. I NEVER schedule play dates or dentist appointments or even answer my phone or texts (if I can help it) till after lunch and I use my mornings to be as intentional with my kids as I can. I found when I dedicated this time to be focused we could get more done in a few short hours than we could get done all day when we were all distracted. I also found if the homeschool day went south after lunch there was a lot of peace in knowing I’d already finished the core school work with my kids.
Take time to figure out what you need to do each morning to have a successful school year. Though some things changes between years these are the basics I do every morning:
1. Coffee: keeping it real friends 😂
2. Jesus: I don’t want any subject to take be more important than time with the Lord and the Bible so we spend time practicing a memory verse, reading a Psalm or Proverb and praying over our day. It doesn’t take a lot of time but it’s worth every minute we spend.
3. Artist Study/ Hymn Study/Poetry Study/Music Study: we only Study one of these a day rotating through the week. Monday- artist study, Tuesday - hymn study and so on
4. Chapter book: we are always reading a chapter book usually pertaining to the period of history we are in. I read the assigned pages for the day.
If I have any extra tone I’ll spend it on individual kids working on English or writing.
The rest gets done after lunch most days, but if not I know I’ve already gotten a lot done and making up the rest won’t be hard. This is generally how our mornings go, but it has varied over the years and ages of my kids and I would guess your mornings will look different too! Perhaps you have a child learning to read this might be the most important thing to do first thing in the morning or if you have a child struggling in a subject the mornings could be a great time to work with him or her. I’ve also used mornings as a time to catch up on a subject that we have fallen behind on (cause that sure does happen sometimes doesn’t it 🤦♂️😂)
There it is, super simple advice. First things First! Take time to figure out what’s most important and do those in the morning. It’s a simple
way to set up your homeschool for a great year.
Friends, I was reading through Proverb 24 last week and verse 6 smacked me loud and clear as a homeschool verse. Ive never thought of this verse in regards to homeschooling before so I thought I would share it with you all today.
The beginning of this verse is so applicable to what we are all doing homeschooling our children. We are in a war, every day. The war for our children’s souls. One of the main reasons I believe most of us have chosen to homeschool is so that we can disciple our children, building their foundation firmly on the rock of Christ. This is in complete opposition to the world. Satan is on the attack, looking to tear apart the homeschool family, looking to break the solid foundation we are building. We are in a war and we need to face it as such. Pick up our sword daily, do not let it drop and walk head first in the battle for our children’s souls. Fight the hard fights, point them back to Christ again and again and again. We must not grow tired in doing good.
The second piece of this verse is equally important for the homeschool family. If you read the verses surrounding this verse they are covered in seeking wisdom. We as homeschool families need a multitude of wise counselors as we fight the battle for our children’s soul. Bring in wise counsel, seek it out to help direct and encourage you when the going gets tough - because we all know there are hard days. But let me plead with you a bit of caution here too. Be careful who your wise counsel is. Look for those who have walked this road of Christian homeschooling before you, look for those with older children who are still walking with Christ, fill your time reading the Word of God (as there is no better place to get counsel) and be aware of worldly philosophies that are entering your home verses Godly wisdom. Ask the Lord to cause red flags in your spirit when you hear wisdom that doesn’t line up with His heart, ask Him to bring you those who will walk this path and encourage you as you fight daily.
We are in a war and the damage that can be caused if we don’t take the battle seriously can have lasting consequences.
I want to encourage each of you to join together arm in arm with those families here in Raising Arrows. Let us be wise counsel for each other, be each other’s greatest cheerleaders and point each other back to Christ as needed. This is the heart of Raising Arrows - a community of likeminded homeschool Christians families striving together to not let the enemy take any ground in our marriages or the lives of our children. Thankful for each of you, your passion for homeschooling, your love for the Lord, and your daily faithfulness to your children. Keep on the good fight my friends!
And just like that August is half way over and summer is almost done. Have you already started your homeschool year or are you enjoying every last drop of summer?
We just moved and I’m still unpacking boxes so I don’t plan on starting for at least another week, maybe two. Though I won’t be starting this week I am prepping now - and I’m not just talking lesson plans. I’m prepping my kids.
Summer is filled with staying up late and waking up later, chores get left undone and meal times aren’t consistent. These last couple weeks before I start school I’ll use to get us back into normal routines. We will be waking up earlier, making sure we are getting to sleep earlier too. Chores and consistent meals are happening again too.
No, it’s not the most exciting way to spend our last couple weeks of summer. I’ve learned over the years that being intentional before starting school makes a huge difference in those first couple weeks of school. And so I know it’s worth it. Before the school work comes the life work, the work that makes our days run smooth, takes pressure and unnecessary stress off my plate and brings peace to my home. School work will come soon but first the real life work must begin again.
A few things you might want to think about adding into your summer days before your homeschool year begins could be:
- consistent bedtimes
- consistent wake up times
- habits that need to be done before the school day begins (like brushing teeth, making the bed, and specific chores)
- meal planning: don’t wait till it’s 5 pm to plan dinner for the night otherwise it’ll be pb & j again! At a minimum plan in the morning what you are cooking that day or even better plan for the entire week. Write it down and then the kids can see what the meal plan is too!
- meal prep: precook your meals for the first week of school so you don’t have to juggle cooking and school week 1 (trust me this is a saving grace the first week of school)
- consistent meal times: this creates a routine and pattern your kids know to expect. Then you don’t have kids coming to you all day saying “mom I’m hungry when are we going to eat?”
- consistent snack time: especially if you have littles. Witching hour can be tough for the homeschool mom and I’ve found a consistent snack time helps the witching hour dramatically!
- some basic routine for yourself : are you waking up before the kids, when are you reading your Bible each day, showering, taking a five minute breather during the day. Make a plan for your self care during the day.
- nap schedule or quiet time schedule: this time is so important to the function of your day. Whether you are using this time to teach an older child or this is your time to shower or spend with the Lord - a small 20 minute quiet time does wonders to reset the house
- 5/10 minute clean ups: These save my bacon and keep my OCD issues in check. Right after lunch, right after dinner, and after the littles go to bed we have a quick clean and everyone pitches in. We turn on fun music and clean as much as quick as we can. It keeps down the clutter and then toys don’t get out of control. It also frees me up to clean things that have been bugging me (like the dust on that ceiling fan) rather than wasting time on basic clean up all day long.
Those are a few things to get you started. What other things do you do to prep for the start of the school year? I’d love to hear!
Happy August 1st everyone! This month is usually crunch month for the homeschool family. Planning, picking curriculum and scheduling out the school year.
We have 2 Facebook Lives coming this month:
- August 8th: In this Facebook Live I will be talking about scheduling our homeschool year. I’ve got a few thoughts to share with you that I’ve learned over the years of homeschooling that I can’t wait to share with you all. Bring your questions too I’d love to answer any you have!
- August 29th: In this Facebook Live I’ll be given you some blessing prayer and encouragement as you walk into your school year.
If you would like to join either of these Facebook Lives you must be a member of the private Raising Arrows homeschool page.
Click here to join!
These are the books I’m planning on reading in the month of August. I’ll be posting updates as I read them.
Follow along on the Facebook page to hear updates on these books plus more I’ll read this month. We will have an active thread called “August Reads” where everyone can share what they have been reading during the month. I’m looking forward to hearing what your family is reading too!
We will also have active feeds for “August Podcasts” “August Music” and “August Projects” these will all be open for everyone to share what music, podcasts or projects your using in your homeschool! Should be a really fun way to engage with each other!
Looking forward to another great month doing this crazy thing called homeschooling together.
This year marks my 10th year homeschooling and I have made it a standard practice during the summer before each school year to pick out a verse/theme for each school year to focus on.
We’ve had the year of diligence - where I really needed them working on school work without me asking to get it done. I had a baby that year and needed them to work hard without my supervision. The verse we used that year was - “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest.” Proverbs 6:6-8 . If you were in my home that year you would have heard me often remind my children to “Be the Ant!” when I saw them get off course for the school day.
There was the year of mouth correction. Bad habits of words like shut up, what the heck, and stupid had crept into our vocabulary, along with just yucky, unkind speech between siblings. Our verse for that year was “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24. That year you would have heard me say “Sticky Sticky Sticky” as a simple correction when selfish speech and unkind words started to bubble up.
There was the year of rest. We had come out of a really hard, traumatic season in our family that particular year and we just needed to rest, be together, and look for the goodness of God. That year our verse was “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30 We loved the part of this verse that says “learn from me” so in that year we claimed Jesus as the teacher of our homeschool year and we looked for and watched His hand all over the year as we simplified life, our school schedule and our social life. We let the Lord run this year and we saw Him move in powerful ways. We also had thankful journals that year where we all reflected on the goodness of the Lord on a daily basis as we saw His hand around us.
This year our verse of the year is “Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.”Psalms 1:1-3 We will be doing a Foundations class for Bible this year and we are really focusing on our children knowing the truth of scripture rather than hearing the world. Truth has become relative even in the church and I want to know that this year my kids foundation is solid in the word of God. I’m sure this year I’ll say “fruit or wither” often as we study history and biographies of those from the past we will see who produced fruit or withered. I purchased some botanical tree art prints (I’m a sucker for botanical prints) that I plan on adding our verse to and sticking up around the house to remind us daily to be a strong tree for the Lord.
Do you pick a theme or verse for each year? I’d love to hear what you have picked for this year! If you haven’t ever picked a theme or verse here are a couple suggestions to get you started.
1. Pray and ask the Lord to make obvious a word, verse or theme. If you watch He will bring a verse or word up many times in random places but you must be listening for Him to speak.
2. Discuss with your husband. These better halves of ours often have keen insight that we don’t see because we are in the thick of day in day out schooling and don’t have the overhead perspective they have.
3. Talk with your kids. I’ve had a couple themes come from ideas the kids have mentioned wanting to grow in.
4. Here are a few words to get you thinking: patience, wisdom, diligence, forgiveness, courage, peacemakers, encouragement, trust, and reputation. Make your own list of words and see which ones you are drawn to.
Cant wait to hear what verses you select for this upcoming school year!
I know, I know, the last thing you want to think about right now is a schedule. Summer is here and it's time to take a break right?!? Well, yes a break is good. But come the middle of June when you are sobbing at the kitchen table wondering how the crazy monkeys running around the house could possibly be your children we might want to think about some sort of summer schedule. To avoid a possible emotional meltdown here are a couple of thoughts:
1. Take a couple weeks off with no schedule at all! Thats good, you have worked so hard this year and you survived - hopefully even thrived in this year. Take a bit of time to just relax you've earned it homeschool moms!
2. Be spontaneous! Pour those root beer floats 5 minutes before bedtime, head to a drive in movie, stop the ice cream man and buy popsicles that cost way too much, fill those water balloons and ambush dad when he comes home from work. During the school year we don't always have the flexibility to be as spontaneous as we want because routines and schedules half to happen. But in the summer we can play and be a bit more flexible with our time so have some fun! And if you happen to be a bit on the OCD side it's ok to schedule spontaneous! (just don't tell the kids - surprise them)
3. Bible Time! Just cause it's summer does not mean we want to slack on reading scripture with our children. In fact when summer is here and our kids aren't learning states and capitols is the perfect time to work on bigger passages of scripture to memorize together or memorizing the books of the Bible. During the summer is a great time to work on spiritual character traits that need to be worked on when we have more time to focus on character and less time that has to be focused on curriculum is exactly the time to work on speaking sweetly, patience, stopping the eye rolling - you know those things that are driving you nuts during the year!
4. Pick a fun family read a loud that has nothing to do with school. Nothing brings a family together like a silly book. My family was camping just a couple weekends ago reading The Good Master by Kate Seredy and even my 2 year old was cracking up laughing (not sure how much she was understanding or how much she was just laughing along with the family) but either way it was sweet memory around the fire! A few of my favorite fun read a loud would be The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall, The Moffats by Eleanor Estes, or The Railway Children by E. Nesbit. All of these are a series and can keep you busy and laughing all summer long!
5. Pick a book for each of your children to read that you wouldn't assign during the school year. For example with my kids this summer my son is reading a biography on Billy Sunday, one daughter is reading Kisses for Katie and my other daughter just read Do Hard Things and has now moved on to a biography on Amy Carmichael. None of these books have to do with curriculum we are using and I probably wouldn't assign them during the school year but since our schedule is calmer it's the perfect time to read a different kind of book!
5. Habits: Summer is the perfect time to work on kids learning a new habits and chores or correcting those that have slipped. Schedule chores to be the first thing done in the morning after breakfast and Bible time. Habits can be everything from chores to quiet times, reading a chapter a day or picking up a bedroom. Make a list of the habits you feel would aid your school year the most and work on those first! Create routines and repetition!
6. Art: I am so guilty here friends. If there is one thing that always gets pushed to the end (oh who am I kidding it gets pushed to - never happening!!!) its art. I'm not good at it, it makes a huge mess, and it takes time that I could be doing language arts with my kids so often during the school year it gets pushed to the side. The summer is perfect time to add in a few art projects - but these won't happen if you don't plan. Pick a few dates on the calendar, what the art project is and purchase the materials now so that you will actually succeed at these projects.
7. Subject that your kids need a bit more help in. If there are areas that your children are struggling do a bit of extra work during the summer one on one so that they are set up for success come next school year. Maybe it's times tables, handwriting, or spelling. Whatever the weakest area - that's the subject you should work on during the summer. You will thank yourself come next school year when your child is soaring in an area they were previously struggling in.
Other than that fill you summer days with fun, swimming, lots of ice-cream, hot dogs, and burgers, friends and family and camping (of course). Hope your summer is packed with memories. Make the most of this summer my friends!