Easy Classical

Helpful Homeschool HInts

Helpful Homeschool Advice
This section includes helpful advice, ideas, and suggestions to help you along in your homeschool journey.

Standardized Tests
        Many homeschool families are gearing up to make arrangements for their kids to take standardized tests.  About half the states in our nation require some sort of end of the year evaluation.  Many homeschool families, however, have questions about standardized tests: Are they a valid or accurate evaluation of my child's progress?  Are the tests really a measure of my ability to homeschool? Should I take the time to get my child ready for the test? How do I interpret the results?  What do I do if my child does poorly on the test?
     Taking time to think through the answers to these questions will serve to guide you through the testing process. Here's the first question: Are standardized tests a valid evaluation of my child's progress?  This question has a yes and no answer.  When it comes to math, grammar, spelling, reading and writing, a standardized test will give you an accurate picture of how your child is doing in comparison with other kids his age.  The test scores will help you determine if your child is ahead, behind or right on track with other kids his age.  When it comes to history and science, especially for the classically educated child, the standardized tests may prove to be an inaccurate representation of the child's progress.  The classically educated child who studies history from the beginning of time to the present, may not be able to answer many of the questions about American history in first or second grade because he has not studied that material yet.  The child may be in the same situation when it comes to the science questions on the test.  As they progress through the history and science material throughout their elementary years, this will be less and less of an issue.
     Are the tests really a measure of my ability to homeschool?  This question gets a yes and no answer as well.  If your child does poorly because you are having trouble getting to math each day, or because you hate grammar and skip it pretty frequently, then it is a measure of your ability to school your child.  But if your child has a developmental delay, or if the curriculum you are using is not teaching what your child needs to know, than the tests aren't a reflection on your ability to teach.  
     Should I take the time to get my child ready for the test?  This answer depends on who will be looking at your test scores and why you are testing.  If your state requires standardized tests at the end of the year, and your ability to continue homeschooling hinges on the results of the test, then it would be advantageous for you to prepare your child for the test.  If you use the test to determine where your child is academically, then preparing them for the test will give you an inaccurate picture of your child's ability in relation to the curriculum and teaching methods being used.
     How do I interpret the results, and what should I do if my child does poorly on the test?  If your child scores in the 50th percentile or higher you know that he is right on par with most kids his age.  If he scores in the 80th percentile or higher you know that your child is more advanced than 80% of the kids in his age group.  If his percentile score is less than 50th, it would be a good time to either look at a different curriculum or determine if your child has some developmental delays.  Most of the time a curriculum switch is all that is warranted. Sometimes simply reorganizing your schedule in order to give your child more focused attention is all that is necessary.  You may need to switch math programs, or add an additional component to your school.  One year one of my kids scored low on reading comprehension.  The following year he used Critical Thinking Press' Reading Detective software program.  His reading comprehension scores improved significantly on his next test.  The test therefore proved to identify a weak area, and we were able to see improvements the next year by making a minor adjustment.
     Standardized test may be an aggravation, but in the end they are a useful tool for fine tuning the quality of your schooling.  Take the time to think through the answers to these questions, and let the standardized test work to your benefit.

Help! The School Year is About to Start

If you are like me this time of year holds a lot of excitement along with a dose of fear and uneasiness.  I love ordering curriculum, organizing the school room, and buying school supplies.  I tell myself, “This year is going to be the best year yet.”  But in the back of my mind I have the  nagging feeling that I am not going to measure up to the task.  My kids are going to hate everything that I have ordered for them, and this year is going to be a miserable failure.  I wonder if I am doing enough...Are my kids in all the right activities?  Am I adequately preparing them for college?  Are they being socialized enough?  I know I am missing some important aspect of their education...what is it?

A couple of things help me to gain a more healthy perspective.  When I take time to commit my year to the Lord, sincerely seeking his guidance, placing my plans in His hands, I gain peace.  Our family has been presented with a myriad of wonderful activities in which to involve our kids.  When I sign my kids up for everything that we are presented with (without consulting my husband and without laying it before the Lord), I get overwhelmed and spend my time rushing my kids through their school work so we can make it to the next activity.  When I ask my husband's advice and commit our schedule to the Lord, I take it slow and only sign up for a few things, leaving time for unexpected opportunities that may present themselves throughout the year.  This way we have time to take a meal to a sick friend, or take a day off and go to the beach. We have time to plant a garden and watch butterflies lay eggs on our parsley.  We can enjoy the sweet moments of childhood and savor the joy of a lazy fall afternoon.  Life is peaceful and so is my fearful heart.

When I stop comparing myself to my friends and the choices they are making in their lives, I have a more healthy perspective.  One of the best verses that gives me peace as I am get those nagging feelings of inadequacy is I Timothy 6:6-7 "For godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out of it."  If I am content with the life that God has given me, with the house, car, friends, children, gifts, abilities, and the list goes on, than I will have great gain.  If I am forever comparing myself to others, wishing I had their life and getting angry with God for giving me the life I have I will have great loss.  I will lose precious time fretting over the things that I don't have, not realizing the great blessings I do have.  You may say, "That's easy for you to say...your husband is a lawyer, you live in a great house, your kids are wonderful...it's easy for you to be content."  My response is, it doesn't matter how much you have, someone always has more, someone's life always seems better.  The key is contentment in where God has you.

So take time to commit your plans to the Lord and focus on all his many blessings.  The fear and uneasiness will seem to vanish away.

Is Handwriting Necessary in the Computer Age?

With more kids spending time typing out papers and shooting emails to friends, is taking the time to learn handwriting skills really necessary?  Many experts agree that it is.  Although perfect penmanship is no longer the goal, in this computer age, handwriting still provides benefits that facilitate learning. Handwriting is a fine motor skill that encourages the development of hand-eye coordination.  As the child develops hand-eye coordination, with the repetitive motion of forming letters, "muscle-memory" is established.  The child thinks "A" and his hand writes an "A." If the child is able to automatically form letters on a page his brain can focus on the process of composing thoughts on paper.

The repetitive practice of handwriting also helps in letter recognition.  As the child begins to sound out letters on a page, if he writes those letters in a legible format, he will cement the shape and sound of the letter in his brain. As a result letter recognition will improve.  As the child begins to spell, read, and write, handwriting becomes an important component of reading fluency.

Handwriting also helps as the child gets older.  Without legible writing it is more difficult to take notes in lectures or in an assigned book or when taking a phone message. Many colleges are now requiring the writing component of the ACT or SAT for college admission.  If the child cannot write legibly they are more likely to receive a low score on the writing component of these tests, simply because the person grading the test can not read what was written.  

Although perfect penmanship is no longer the goal of handwriting, it is an important aspect of the child's learning.  Taking a small amount of time each day to practice the formation of letters, develops fine motor skills, letter recognition and increased legibility for future achievement.

Managing Busy Lives

Do you find yourself hurrying from one activity to the next, missing dinner, or eating fast food more than you would like to admit?  Do you always feel like you are rushing your kids, badgering them to finish a task so you can meet your next appointment?  Are your kids involved in dance, soccer, violin, drama, and you-name-it?  Do you feel like you are never accomplishing anything, or doing anything well?  Are you or your kids irritable or short-tempered? These are just a few symptoms of the stress of over-commitment. There are so many neat opportunities that present themselves to the homeschool family.  It is hard to decide which ones are right for your family.  If you decide to participate in every good thing that comes along, you will find you and your family exhausted and not truly benefiting from any of the activities.

Some important things to consider:
1.  Is your family regularly eating dinner together?  A recent Columbia University survey suggest that a family that eats dinner together (at least five nights or more a week) will have kids that are 42% less likely to drink alcohol, 66% less likely to try marijuana, 59% less likely to smoke, and 40% more likely to get A's and B's in school.
2.  Are you choosing activities that your kids want to participate in?  It is especially tough for a homeschool family to weed out the activities because of the constant pressure to provide "socialization" opportunities for our kids.  So, ask your kids if they really want to participate in an activity or is it merely pressure that you are feeling?
3.  Do you feel pressure to have the smartest, most talented kids?  This is a huge one for homeschoolers.  We are teaching our kids and others are watching. If our kids aren't on top, it may make us feel like we are doing an inadequate job.  Often times the pressure we feel is transferred to our kids.  Our kids need to know they are loved not because of what they have achieved, but because of our unconditional love for them.
4.  Do you have time to add one more activity (plus all the extra tasks that you will have to accomplish because of this new activity)?  Take the time to consider how much extra time it is going to take to do an activity well.  My girls play viola.  We have one lesson that takes 1 hour each week.  But the teacher requires 30 minutes of practice each day.  So this activity doesn't take one hour a week...it takes 6-8 hours each week.  How about participating in a sport?  You may only have games once a week, but how many practices, factor in laundering uniforms, buying snacks and keeping up with schedule changes.
5.  How often do you get a chance to have a date with your spouse?  If you are not spending regular time with your spouse because you are too busy rushing from one activity to another, then your marriage will suffer.  Kids need their parents to have a good, strong, healthy marriage more than they need one more activity.
6.  What is the goal of participating in this activity?  Do you think your child will be a professional athlete? Only 1% of college athletes actually "go pro". You may not be consciously thinking you want your child to go pro, but the amount of stress you place on an activity may be an indication of what you really think. Constantly evaluate the emphasis that you are placing on an activity in light of the goals that you have for your child. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the activity and the pressure you feel to enable your child to succeed, that you take your eyes off what is important.

So, the next time a neat opportunity presents itself, take the time to ask yourself these six questions.  You might find your family thanks you for it.

Favorite Christmas Traditions

With the Christmas season quickly approaching, I thought it would be fun to share our favorite Christmas traditions.  Here are the top ten Christmas traditions from Easy Classical customers.  Hopefully you will find ones that you can incorporate into your celebrations that will build lasting memories.  

1.  I will go first with a new tradition that I hope to incorporate this year: Christmas Caroling. This past summer we moved into a new neighborhood.  I would like a chance to get to know our neighbors, so this is the idea:  I am going to invite the folks in our neighborhood to go caroling with us, or if they are not up for singing to listen to our caroling and then join us at our house afterwards for hot chocolate and Christmas cookies.  I think this would be a great way for all of us to get to know each other, it will be low stress and fun for kids and adults alike.  Thanks to my good friend Gwendolyn for this wonderful idea.

2.  This is from Tina B:  "One tradition we have is the putting up of the Nativity Scene. We review the role that each figurine represents. Of course, they get moved around a lot as the children play through the Christmas Story. I found a nice ceramic set at Wal-mart several years ago and it is a good size for them to hold. I don't have to panic if the pieces break because it was not that expensive and can easily be replaced. This allows them to interact with the story and I don't mind them handling the figures."

3.  This is from Amy R: "On Christmas Eve day, we bake and decorate sugar cookies.  It’s at least a 2 hour (messy) process but the kids LOVE it.  Then, we have our Christmas Eve dinner which is always homemade lasagna.  My husband and I grew up with the traditional Christmas meals of turkey and ham, but we thought it was neat to start our own tradition with our kids."

4.  This is from Wendy B: "Our favorite holiday traditions include baking cookies with the kids’ uncle and aunt. Also, the kids love helping bake Jesus’ birthday cake."

5.  Here's another one from Tina B: "Over the years we have bought one ornament for each child that they unwrap the night we put our tree up. Sometimes we let them pick the ornament out. Other times I surprise  them with one that as a special meaning related to something that happened that year. One year we bought a Teddy Bear Soldier with an American Flag to  remember 9/11 and The War against Terror. Other  years we found a small violin for our daughter when she began Suzuki Violin. By the way, a neat idea her teacher has is to hang ornaments from a tree in her studio for her students to find and take home. She writes the name of the piece they are working on as well as the date. This has been a nice reminder of the progress that is being made as well as a neat keepsake for her."

6.  This from Lisa L.: "Last year we started a new tradition of decorating gingerbread houses.  We got the cousins together and decorated the pre-made gingerbread houses you can buy at Sam's.  The kids spent more time eating the candy then they did decorating the houses, but they had a lot of fun and enjoyed displaying their houses for all to see.  

7.  This from Catherine M.: "We enjoy making gifts for friends and neighbors.  We have made several different gifts ranging from a plate of cookies, to M&M cookie mix in a mason jar, to infused oils and vinegars, to wire Christmas ornaments.  My kids love ringing our neighbors door bell and giving them the gift."

8.  This from Karen B: "Each year we fill a Christmas Child Box (for Samaritan's Purse). We started doing this before our kids were born.  Now that they are old enough to understand, we hope to instill in them the gift of giving."

9.  This from Sara M.: "We have a decorating the Christmas tree party with hot chocolate and our favorite Christmas music.  When we had really little kids the bottom third of the tree was covered with ornaments and candy canes when they went to bed and when they awoke, the ornaments were magically spread throughout the rest of the tree."

10. This from Susan T: On Christmas Eve we go to Christmas Eve service at our church.  When we come home we have heavy hors d' hoverers, Christmas cookies, and apple cider.  We then open one present (usually a small stocking stuffer).    

Enjoy making memories this Christmas!

Organizing Your Schoolroom

One of the struggles a homeschooling mom faces during the day is locating the supplies that are needed when they are needed. There is nothing worse than deciding to do a math lesson and come to find out that the math book is missing. After ten or fifteen minutes of searching, realizing the book was placed binding side in on the shelf in the kids room or worse yet hidden behind a book shelf in hopes that we will never find it;  There are some days when it literally takes 5 minutes to locate a pencil that has both a sharpened point and an eraser. It is so frustrating to finally carve out the time necessary to do a science experiment only to realize that the key ingredient is missing? All these events build leading to a sense of a lack of accomplishment. One of the best ways to combat this problem is organization. Here are some practical steps to take to begin organizing the

1.  Set up a filing system:
-Provide shelf space for your kids to place finished papers.  This can help to avoid misplaced papers during the week when you or your child doesn't have time to file them.
-Label 3 inch 3 ring binders, to file completed papers, with the subject being studied (ie. math, history, science, spelling, writing, reading, etc.)
-Encourage your kids to placed finished papers on their shelf as soon as they are finished with them.  At the end of each week encourage them to hole-punch and file their papers in their 3-ring binders.

2.  Organize your supplies:
-Purchase clear boxes for your supplies.  Label the boxes so that you can locate the item you need quickly, and so that other family members can quickly identify which box the item should be returned to when you are
finished with the project.  Boxes may include science supplies, art supplies, math manipulatives, etc.
-Purchase plastic drawers for pencils, crayons, markers, glue, colored pencils, scissors, or other office supplies.

3.  CD player
-Place your CD player in a location that is easily accessible.
-Place headphones near the CD player
-It is more likely that you will actually have your kids review their Latin chants every day or listen to their Geography Songs if the CD player doesn't have to be located and set up before use.

4.  3-in-1 Copier, Printer, Scanner:
-These are reasonably priced and help to cut down on the frustration of realizing you forgot to copy a worksheet for an assignment when you were at the copy shop.
-Make sure you have reams of copy paper on hand.
-Make sure you have extra printer cartridges on hand so when the ink runs out you can easily replace it without missing a beat.

The more you and your kids can keep your school room organized, the more smoothly your day will run.  You cut down on your frustrations and end up getting more accomplished during your day.


Teaching a child to read can be an intimidating process.  When it is your own child the task can feel pretty daunting.  If the child isn't quite ready to read the homeschool mom often starts to hear her critics in the back of her head saying, "See, you should have put that child in 'real' school."  Her nagging feelings of inadequacy motivate her to put pressure on her child during the phonics lessons.  Then comes the tears and the feelings of great frustration.  Having a clear understanding of what you should expect will help you to avoid tears and frustration.  The best place to start is to determine if your child is ready to read.  Here are a few simple questions you can ask:

*Does your child enjoy looking at books?
*Does he memorize the books you have read to him?
*Can he recite the words as he looks at the pages?
*Does she ask what a specific word is?  
*Does she recognize letters and the sounds associated with them?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions your child is most likely ready to begin learning to read. If you have answered no, take this time to encourage a love for reading. Read a variety of books aloud that hold your child's attention.  Take trips to the library, allowing him to pick out the books he wants to read. Keep a variety of books available to your child.

If you have determined your child is ready to read, you then have the task of choosing a phonics program that will be easy to teach and fun for your child. There are a variety of programs out there for you to choose from.  The programs range from a single workbook to a whole program with puzzles, games, a CD, workbooks, and more.  My philosophy on phonics instruction is that the material you use is not as important as your approach.  As long as the material is phonics based it doesn't matter how many bells and whistles the program has as much as the attention you pay to your child's readiness for reading.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is a great place to start.  When your child shows reading readiness (which may be as young as 3 and as old as 6 or 7) start with this book.  The best approach is to do a lesson a day until the attention span of the child is too short for the length of the reading selection.  You can determine this by how long the lesson takes.  If your child is between the ages of 3 and 5 the lesson shouldn't last more than 10 minutes. Any longer, and the child and you will get frustrated.  Once you reach a reading selection that takes more than 10 minutes, go back and review the previous lessons.  If your child gets frustrated with reviewing, put the phonics book away for a couple of weeks or a month.  After a rest, start back with a very easy lesson.  Then progress as far as the child can without frustration.  Many kids reach lesson 60 or 70 in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and begin reading fluently.  Other kids begin to get frustrated with the length of the lessons when they reach lesson 60. The words are too hard to sound out and the time it takes to get through a passage is overwhelming (this generally occurs with kids in kindergarten).  What seems to work for these kids is to switch to a new phonics program.  Phonics Pathways is a great choice at this point.  Start at the very beginning reviewing letter sounds and short 3 letter words. You can generally progress rapidly through these lessons.  Then begin working through the rest of the book at your child's pace.  It may take your child until the end of first grade or the beginning of second grade to read fluently. What a joy it is for the child and parent when fluency occurs!

The Basic Phonics Skills series and Spelling Workout series are books that we use to complement Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and Phonics Pathways.  Basic Phonics Skills helps the child put into practice what he is learning about phonics.  It is a workbook that encourages phonics reading with writing, coloring, cutting and pasting.  Spelling Workout teaches reading through spelling.  We start Spelling Workout A in kindergarten.  This is a stretch for many kindergarteners, but if you persevere through the year, taking each lesson slowly, you will see benefits in the child's reading and subsequent spelling.

The process of teaching a child to read may be daunting, but with the right approach and a lot of patience the rewards are great.  Have fun developing a love for reading in your children!

Learning to Set Priorities

Have you heard the saying, “The key is not to prioritize what is on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”  If we don’t plan, set goals and decide what is important to us in life, we end up spending our days meandering, wondering what it was we wanted to accomplish. What is it you want to accomplish?

One of the best ways to determine what is most important in your daily life is by committing your plans to the Lord. Ask him to lead and guide you as you set your priorities.   If we are honest, we will admit that often times homeschooling takes priority in our lives.  Our kids education is on our shoulders and we want to do an excellent job, but should our kids and their schooling be first?  I would argue there are far more important priorities than our children's schooling.

As a homeschool mother our priorities should fall in this order: God should be our highest priority, then our husband, then our family and schooling, then church.  We should avoid all other opportunities and commitments until adequate time is spent with God, our husbands, our family and our schooling.  For many of us, we pay lip service to this being our order of priorities, but if we take a closer look, our priorities may actually be quite different.

Take time to take a closer look at how you spend your day.  Do you spend regular time praying and in God's Word?  Do you make it a priority to fellowship with other believers?  Where do you turn when big decisions need to be made?  Who do you ask for help when there's a problem?  Take an assessment of your life...is God your top priority?

Is your husband second?  Do you take time to connect with each other each day?  Do you have a regular date night, with candles, and romantic music?  Do you make it a priority to get away with your spouse regularly (alone...without the kids!)?  Making your husband second on your priority list will not only strengthen the marriage vows you made, but it will also strengthen your home.  Your kids will see a great role model for their future marriages.  They will feel apart of a loving environment, and they will feel secure in their family life.  When the kids are grown and you are no longer a homeschool mother, you will have a great relationship with your husband that you can continue to build for the rest of your years.

Is your school third?  Do you make schooling your children a priority?  Have you learned to say "no" to opportunities (no matter how enticing) in order to preserve the time you need to spend on school?  Activities, committees and service projects are great and can greatly enhance the learning of your children. But when the activities and projects overshadow the meat of the schooling that needs to get done, you are doing your children a disservice.  Are your children consistently behind in their school work?  Are you children's standardized test scores below average?  Do you feel rushed and stressed all of the time?  Are you exhausted?  Are your kids exhausted?  Do you have time to pray?  Do you have time for your husband?  These are some important questions you need to ask yourself when you are tempted to sign up for one more activity.  

Spend time this spring in prayer, asking God to lead and guide you as you plan for the coming year.  Ask him to help you to make wise choices.  As you are setting your priorities make sure you only schedule into your days the activities and commitments that are going to allow you to keep your priorities in order. Be encouraged God has exciting plans for you and for your children...

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you.'"   Jeremiah 28:11

Determining Your Child's Learning Style

Determining the learning style of your child is helpful in determining the best way to successfully teach your child the necessary skill of learning.  Once you determine the way your child learns, you can adapt your teaching methods to more successfully teach your child.  The first thing you need to do is evaluate how your child learns.  One great evaluation tool is found on the agelesslearner.com. Depending on the age of your child, you can either have your child answer the questions, or you can determine the answers to the questions by evaluating your child as he plays and learns.

Visual Learner:
Aids to learning: When teaching a subject add colorful pictures, videos, and diagrams. Have your child describe the pictures they "see" while you are teaching a subject.
Areas to work on: The visual learner has a hard time listening for too long.  Take time to teach your visual learner to sit and listen to a story, and then tell the story back to you.  Start out with a short story and over time increase the time they are required to sit and listen.  Encourage them to read more difficult words phonetically, listening to how they sound.  The Suzuki method of teaching music helps visual learners to develop listening skills.

Auditory Learner:
Aids to learning: When teaching a subject add read-alouds, books on tape, and other verbal instruction.  Reading the science or history readings aloud to this child will enhance retention of the subject.
Areas to work on: Most of today's educational materials are geared toward the Auditory learner.  This child generally does very well in school.  The Auditory learner should be encouraged to go outside and play.  This child often times is awkward socially.  Encourage this child to spend more and more time with other kids coaching them privately on how to best interact with others.

Kinesthetic Learner:
Aids to learning: When teaching a subject add projects of all kinds.  Science experiments, history projects, crafts, etc.  Allow your child to take frequent breaks during the day.  I have scheduled a 10:00 Physical Education break in the morning.  The kids do sit ups, push-ups, etc. to get the wiggles out after doing math and other subjects that require a bit of concentration.
Areas to work on: The kinesthetic learner will need to spend concentrated time during the day listening.  Schedule 15-30 minutes for you to read-aloud to your child.  Ask reading comprehension questions after the reading time to encourage concentration.  Schedule 10-15 minutes for your child to read aloud to you.  Encourage your child to concentrate on reading the actual words that are on the page and not just what she thinks are there.  Kinesthetic learners tend to make up the words that are on the page instead of actually reading the words that are there.  It takes extra effort to teach a kinesthetic learner, but be encouraged, these learners tend to become inventors, or creators, or engineers.

Homeschooling More than One Child

Psalm 127:3-5a   "Lo, children are a heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb his reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!  He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."  

Homeschooling is a big undertaking.  You have to be willing to spend your days researching, purchasing, planning and teaching.  When more than one child is added to the mix, many become stressed and frazzled, by the multitude of tasks that need to be accomplished by the end of the day.  Not only are you adding different levels of curriculum, different learning styles, and different attention spans, you are also adding different personalities.  Some children are eager to learn and compliant, but many will fight you each and every step of the way. Whether you have compliant children or strong-willed children, having a plan and learning how to execute this plan will save you hours of frustration and give you the ability to accomplish most of what needs to get done during the day. There are several key ingredients to planning and organizing your school year.  Here is a list some helpful hints that will make teaching multiple children more manageable.

1.  Pray through goals for your school year:  Take time to pray for God's wisdom concerning each of your children.  Ask Him for guidance in determining the most pressing learning needs of each of your children (i.e. learn to read, memorize math facts, improve writing skills, etc.).  Make a plan for how you will meet these needs.  Set these plans before the Lord praying for His guidance as you make decisions.

2.  Schedule your year: Break down the curriculum you purchase into 36 weeks or 180 days.  This will help you to keep track of where you are and where you need to be by the end of the year.  Then plan activities to encourage retention of the material you are studying (science experiments, field trips, history projects, etc.).  If you use our schedules this is already done for you.  Make sure you let your schedule be your guide, not a master over you.  Be flexible, allowing your schedule to keep you on task, but do not feel you have to accomplish everything on
the schedule.

3.  Schedule your days: Take time to think through the best time of day to accomplish the subjects you plan to complete during a particular day.  Some suggestions are as follows:
-Determine which subject or subjects you feel will be more difficult for your child to complete.  Do these subjects first thing in the morning when minds are sharp.  Or you may decide to do the more difficult subjects when the toddler is napping.  
-Schedule read aloud time or some other less thinking intensive activity right after lunch.
-Schedule a 15 minute break at about 10:00 a.m.  Our kids do sit ups, push up, etc. to get their blood start flowing and get the wigglies out.

4.  Combine tasks: try not to repeat yourself.  Teach the same science and history program to all of your children.  Require more papers and in-depth study from your older children.  Allow your younger children to do more hands-on projects.

5.  Involve your children in the teaching: Have your older children read to your younger children.  Your older children will gain practice reading aloud and your younger children will have a variety of great stories read to them. Also have your older children drill your younger children (Latin drills, vocabulary drills, spelling lists).  I will often times have my older children give my younger children their spelling tests.  This ends up being such a blessing because it keeps two or more children occupied, and it allows me to have one-on-one time with another child.

6.  Involve your children in doing chores: teach your children how to do chores around the house, and then assign them specific chores each day.  The key is to teach them first.  You and they will get frustrated if you expect them to do a chore a certain way, but you don't tell them what you expect.  Make a system where they are responsible for doing the chore without nagging them.

7.  Be realistic about what you can accomplish during the day:  Don't feel like you have to do everything that others are doing.  Also, don't feel like you have to use every teaching tool to get across the concept you are trying to teach.  If your child gets it move on.  In our schedules we give you a variety of projects and assignments to meet the needs of different learning styles.  You will get frustrated if you try to accomplish them all.

8. Take time for your husband and for yourself:  It is important that you take time to do what you love to do (besides being with your kids).  It is equally important that you take time to work on your relationship with your husband.  Make time to catch up with your husband regularly.  Schedule a date night once a week.  Make time to get away for a weekend as often as you can.  Your kids will benefit when your relationship is strong and united.

My prayer for you, as you undertake the awesome responsibility of educating your children, is that you will be filled with grace and reminded of the truths of Psalm 127.  Your children are a blessing, your great reward!






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