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!
I get asked the question all the time “at what age can my child read Charlottes Web, Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables, Call is the Wild?” And the list of classic books goes on and on. Many families in homeschool communities have advanced readers. This means at the age of 7 they are capable of reading a 5th grade level book.
However, just because they can read the book by reading skill level doesn’t mean they should read it.
Before I go any further in this thought I would also like to caution those who use audio books for listening to stories this is another way your children can “read” (listen) to books above their age level. Again I would say just because they can listen and it holds their attention doesn’t mean they should read it.
I completely get wanting to rush to let your children read classic books that you loved as a child. It’s so fun to watch them experience these same lives, meet characters that shaped your childhood, and enjoy these same stories. We want our kids to be yelling “get em Dan get em” as they dream of a dog like Dan from Where the Red Fern Grows, laugh till they cry at the silly situations Anne with an E gets herself into. These are sweet moments that every child should experience.
However just because they they can read it doesn’t mean it’s the right time! You can only read a book for the first time once.
Let me say this again: you can only read a book for the first time once!!!
Yes, your child might have the skill to read or listen to the audio book at a much younger age, but until their emotional make up is advenaced enough, humor has developed enough, processing skills have formed they miss it. They miss learning the skill of reading and processing well. They also miss the opportunity to learn to write like their favorite authors because they lack the writing skill. And this is always my encouragement to parents with advanced readers - gear what they read more to their writing capabilities then the child’s reading capabilities in younger early elementary years. Though at 9 your daughter is capable of reading Pride and Prejudice - don’t steal from her the joy of falling in love with Mr. Darcy because she’s to young to process romance. Wait till she’s a teen and she’ll be dreaming of her own Mr. Darcy!
Just wait! Save some of the really great classics until the age it’s recommended to read. I promise there are plenty of great reads that will hold your children’s attention in and around their current age and writing skill level.
If you are looking for recommendations on books for your children to read I’d love to suggest Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt or Honey for a Teen’s Heart. Her books are packed with the best of reading lists! Use her books as a guide for what and when your children should read. You won’t run out of book ideas using Gladys Hunt books!
Planning for the upcoming homeschool year? This can be exciting and sometimes overwhelming. It’s important to walk into your purchasing of new or used (new to you) curriculum with a good game plan. Here are a few tips and tricks to make sure you are ready!
Before purchasing or planning anything for the new homeschool year take time to pray. Our homeschool foundation should be built on the Lord. Keeping our homeschool in the center of His will is so important. Ask the Lord for direction, wisdom and above all that what you plan will cause you and your children to grow closer to Him.
No one knows you like your spouse! I can’t tell you how many times my husband has talked me out of an unwise homeschool decision due to time or style of curriculum not working with a child. Having your spouse to bounce these decisions around with puts you on the same team and helps keep you accountable.
What is or isn’t working right now in this school year. Write
it down so you remember in the summer what you were or weren’t liking about each curriculum. Don’t change curriculums just for the sake of change. If something is working great and everyone is loving it then leave it alone. If a curriculum isn’t working well, try to figure out why so that when you look for a new curriculum you have a better idea of what you do or don’t want.
Yes, we have homework too! When researching curriculums
you are interested in buying ask around. Who do you know that uses it, get their opinion. See samples. Most curriculums have a sample
online but touching the curriculum is so helpful so try to see it in person! I believe this is one of the most important reasons you can go to a homeschool convention - they have tons of vendors available so you can see all the curriculum options available and touch and feel it all. My favorite homeschool conference is Teach Them Diligently CLICK HERE to see their website.
Research the curriculum and determine style of curriculum. Is the curriculum written from a classical bent and you don’t like classical - then the curriculum probably isn’t going to be a good fit for you. If you don’t know a lot about styles of curriculum CLICK HERE to read a bit more on this topic.
Who is the author of the curriculum? Curriculums is NEVER neutral, authors will write with a bent - faith, teaching style, and personal beliefs all play into what they write. Make sure your money is supporting someone that aligns with you and your faith. If you are getting all secular curriculum from a charter school this is different - in which case be diligent to be aware of things that conflict with our faith to point out to your children. But, if you are financially supporting- by purchasing with your own money curriculum please
do your homework on who these authors are and what their faith is. Wouldn’t you rather purchase a curriculum written by a Christian homeschool family, supporting another brother and sister in Christ?
I can’t stress this one enough. Be realistic with yourself! If you are struggling to keep up this school year don’t add 3 subjects next year. If science isn’t a strong subject for you to teach don’t pick a labor intensive science program. If you have a baby or a big change coming in your next school year then keep the year simple! The last thing you need is to start your year discouraged because you were too ambitious with yourself.
Know your children too. Don’t pick something you know they will hate. Chose wisely your year literally depends on it!
These are just a few things to get you thinking about this up coming school year. If you are wanting to see a few of Raising Arrows favorite curriculums that we recommend check out the Resource Page or CLICK HERE. Hoping these thoughts will set you up for success in your upcoming school year. The Lord has equipped and prepared you for this upcoming year. Bring it before His throne regularly and rest in Him!
Here is a quick and simple resource for you - a blank attendance tracker you can use. Keep track of your school year or use this before the school year to plan out the year. You can simply X each day or you can add more complication like H for holiday F for field trip. You make this what you need it to be!