Pour a Cup of Tea and Take in the Encouragement!

From Good to Great: 7 Elements of a Great Day

by Amy Koons


How can a good day become a great one?


Some days are about coping.  I get that.  On these days, I am happy that we got through school, some form of dinner appeared on the table at some point, and I kept the kids alive!  But then there are days where I need to challenge the mental rut I’m in, be more intentional, and stop simply going through the motions.


Marcia Ramsland’s book Simplify Your Life has a section that challenged me to ask myself if there are any opportunities in my week to turn good days into great ones.


Here are seven elements of a Great Day to think about.


1) Preparation the Night Before – Have you ever taken a few minutes at the end of the day to plan out the next one?  “To avoid last-minute stress, it is important to prepare the night before, even if it means just glancing at what is ahead and setting the alarm to get up early enough to accomplish it,” says Ramsland.  “It might also mean gathering items needed for the next day, confirming appointments, or doing one last ‘sweep’ to put things away.”


I find myself wanting to relax at the end of the day and feeling like I definitely deserve it!  (Let’s face it: I usually do.)  But building just ten minutes into my evening routine to look ahead, re-order my to-do list, and set my alarm accordingly always pays huge dividends.


2) Start of the Day – What does it mean to you, personally, to start your day well?  Does it mean a hot shower, coffee and the paper, exercise, devotions and prayer time, a family breakfast, everyone making beds and starting their school work quickly?  With a little bit of thought, determination, and effort, we can reshape our mornings—or at least some of them—to get our days off to a better start.

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Optimal Illusions

by Rose Focht


Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.


While this aphorism represents some good advice for those seeking balance in their lives, it hasn’t ever really been a challenge for me to heed, because I’m not naturally inclined to perfectionism. I like things to be nice and tidy, of course, but I’m fond of shortcuts and simplification. So generally I’m perfectly fine making peace with “good enough.”


Where I do struggle in setting goals and boundaries, though, is in knowing when I’ve hit “good enough.” It often seems that a better way is just over the horizon, and I find myself searching for it like an optimistic prospector who suspects that a lode of gold is just beyond the next hill. I may not be driven by the need to strike it rich, but I figure that any scope for improvement is surely a goal worth striving for.


For instance, some of the ways I see this mindset at work in everyday life include the following:

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5 Things I Wish I had Known as a New Homeschooler

by Sara Jones


Dear Homeschooling Parent,


As I think back to the day I sat down with my oldest daughter and opened our first real schoolbook, there are a few things I wish I'd known:


1. Do things your way. We're surrounded by voices telling us the best way to "do" homeschooling. But what's best for someone else isn't necessarily best for your family. Want to finish all school before noon and devote the rest of the afternoon to creativity and extra stuff? Great! Or maybe you'd rather start later in the morning, do some subjects over lunch, and finish them after supper? A lot of teenagers would be up for that (mine are). One of the perks of homeschooling is its flexibility. Enjoy it!


2.Pace yourself. While you might feel like you have to cram in as much as you possibly can during your school time, I'm here to say . . . Pause. Breathe. Slow and steady gets you where you need to be. 


3. Make room for yourself. Being a parent is an intense job. Being an educator is an intense job. Put the two together, and your life is intense-squared! I highly encourage you to cultivate outside, non-school interests for you and your family. Home-based education lets you make space for family relationships that last long after the schoolwork is done. 


4. Don't try to do it all yourself. Directing your child's education is a big job, and you can't do it all on your own. From the very beginning, seek out people to help you in this journey. Involve your spouse or partner in the homeschooling process. Find support groups, co-ops, tutors, counselors, and friends. Be intentional about building a community to make this homeschooling journey the best it can be. 


5. Your kids won't always love school. I think this was my biggest mental adjustment. Homeschooling doesn't guarantee that your kids will be engaged every moment. Kid's will cry, complain, or dismiss the entirety of earth science as "boring." When this happens, you aren't failing; you're just living real life. And every now and then you will see that blaze of excitement and love of learning. Homeschooling lets you be there for these moments. 


As the new year begins, you've got a lot of discoveries, challenges, and joys ahead of you. HSLDA is here to support you at every stage of your new journey. Best wishes from a veteran mom— and if you're new, welcome to the homeschooling community. 


Used by Permission: Originally Published at HSLDA 


Sara Roberts Jones grew up in Mississippi and married a Canadian; they compromised and live in Virginia. In among homeschooling their four children, Sara writes, visits friends, takes long drives, and finds stuff to laugh at.

Covering Maine Studies Using HOME's Unit Studies

By Raylene M. Hunt


So, it’s that time.  Your students have reached the sixth grade (or higher) and you have to cover Maine Studies.  But how, and with what will you accomplish this?  After all, your student just isn’t a textbook kid, right?  You need something more hands-on, more interactive or more engaging.  Well, it turns out that HOME is here to help.  For the past six years, HOME leaders have been researching and writing unit studies.  When used alone or combined, these studies can form a Maine Studies curriculum that is tailor made for your student.


Let’s take a walk through the currently available titles, and I’ll give you some ideas on how you can mix and match them to cover Maine Studies.  But first, let’s take a look at what a state study might cover.  While learning about the state you live in, you can explore the geography, history, economy, natural resources, tourism, government and famous individuals from or residing in the state.  With this in mind, let’s explore HOME’s unit studies to see how they can help you create an individualized Maine Studies program.

Remember - every HOME unit study is designed in a way that illustrates how a subject of interest to your student can be explored in a manner that will cover most, if not all, of the required subject areas.  With this in mind, you will find that most unit studies include a Maine Studies section.  You can use one unit study or a combination of units to suit your own needs and goals.


The following headings help to break down areas of study and corresponding units.

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Nudging Them Forward:Facillitating Independence

by Rebecca Keliher


All of my children resemble me in some way.


The resemblance may be visible in our eyes, our smile, our manner of speech, our interests and talents, or a combination of these features and others. But we are also each unique. None of my children is just like me. That means that they need to explore their own strengths, discover their own weaknesses, nurture their own talents, and develop their own skills.


As homeschoolers, facilitating opportunities for our children comprises a large portion of our responsibility. We spend hours exploring the best curriculum options, searching out field trip adventures, and seeking opportunities to help our children explore sports or the arts. We curl up on the couch for read-aloud time so they are exposed to great literature from an early age. We walk them through difficult concepts to ensure that they truly grasp what they need to learn.


There is an additional component to learning, however, that much of our facilitation tends to neglect: the intentional nurturing of independent learning.


In a way, independent learning occurs naturally among homeschoolers because one child learns how to teach herself while Mom works with another child. Or our bend toward encouraging our children to explore their own interests nudges them toward independent exploration and experimentation.


At some point, though, our children’s growth toward independence maxes out as long as we remain their facilitators.




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