Pour a Cup of Tea and Take in the Encouragement!

Do I Have to Plan?

By Rebecca Keliher


For some homeschoolers, the best part of the year comes when they are surrounded by books, instructor’s guides, notebooks, and planners – both digital and paper, because, hey, it’s planners!


Then there are those who feel claustrophobic at the mere mention of a plan. “Is it really necessary to plan, especially when we know we won’t stick to the plan?” I hate to say it, but yes, it is.


But I have good news! Planning for you does not have to look like planning for a Type A personality who never gets enough of planners, calendars, to-do lists, and schedules! Planning is less about those specific resources and more about creating a framework that keeps you on track, allowing you to ensure that your children are right where they need to be.



Here are some thoughts that might help put your mind at ease and get you started on the “not-a-planner” planning road.



The first step to planning is to realize its purpose. Planning, when done properly, provides a flexible structure that gives you breathing room while keeping you on track. It provides a goal – finish this subject or this section by this date – then allows you to then create a rhythm of life between now and that date. You have a goal in mind, and setting dates helps you stay accountable as you proceed toward that goal.


For some, this means creating a schedule and checking off boxes. For others, it simply means setting goals to ensure progress.

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Five Minute Lessons

by Connie Overlock


Let's face it, how many of you can remember what you learned in school? Beyond the reading, writing, and arithmetic, what do you remember? I'm sure there are those who remember more than most, but realistically, do you?


In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue...

One bright day in the middle of the night....

My very excellent mother just served us nine pizzas.


These three things are what come to mind when I think of the things I learned.


What do these things have in common? They were taught using rhyme, mnemonic devices, or were just plain quick and easy to learn. 


I was thinking about that this week as I was taking care of a 6 year-old and a 4 year-old. We had just finished reading The Boxcar Children, Book 2. Grandfather Alden was sending a crew to dig artifacts from a cave that the children had found. I asked the kids if they new what a person is called that digs up artifacts. They did not. I explained that these people were called archaeologists.


We went from reading that to reading The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs. Therefore, I explained that paleontologists dig for dinosaurs. Then I was able to explain what the two words have in common. It took all of five minutes, without taking away from the reading of the book. It was a quick yet simple science lesson that they are more likely to remember because it was taught in context with something else they were interested in, and it was taught without  a lot of other facts all at once.  


Kids are more apt to remember the things that interest them, the things they use or repeat regularly, or things they learn in rhyme or song. Let's be careful about overloading our children's brains, and allow them to learn in a more natural way, the way they learn to talk, by hearing, seeing and doing. 

Poetry With Kids Might Not Be As Hard To Do As You Think It Is

by Sara Jones


Let’s get started with a confession: I don’t like poetry. Even though I’m married to a man who loves it, who would read it to me on rainy nights over a glass of wine…I just don’t enjoy it.


But poetry can express ideas and emotions in a way that prose can’t. So over the years, as I’ve worked with my children on creative writing, I’ve also made an effort to include poetry.


I don’t particularly care if they write good poetry. I simply want to introduce the art form so they aren’t intimidated by it, just in case they turn out to love it later in life. So when I’m guiding children in writing a poem, I start with this liberating truth:


Poems don’t have to rhyme. This fact is usually a revelation, since our normal exposure to poetry is in songs and nursery rhymes. When I found out about acrostics, anagrams, cinquains, free verse, haiku, and other forms that didn’t require rhyming, I was more willing to try my hand at it. The poems come out a little less trite, even with children.

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It's Okay to Just Have Fun!

by Connie Overlock


It's been hard keeping my son motivated this year. He is a sophomore in high school. Up until this year, he always wanted a list of assignments to complete. "Just tell me what to do so I can get it done and move on to the things I want to do." This year, not so much. I'm not sure why the change, other than he is 15 and with that comes so many changes.


Anyway, biology just wasn't interesting him, so I have been looking for ways to cover biology without the whole textbook approach. My daughter used Biology 101, which is a video-based course but also has a guidebook to help you build it into a 1-year credit. One of the assignments was to take a field trip out to dinner and use taxonomy to classify your meal. On the way, I was joking with him about how I was going to add egg to my salad just so he would have to classify a chicken. He, in turn, said, "why do you have to ruin all the fun."


This wasn't the first time one of my children has said that to me. When my older son was about 10, we were playing a game of monopoly and I had him act as banker just so he could get used to making change. He got frustrated and said, "you ruin all the fun." In retrospect, I should have just counted the money back, the way I wanted him to just so he could hear it being done.


The lesson I learned was that even though everything can be a lesson, it doesn't always have to be, or doesn't have to be an obvious lesson to the students. It's okay to just have fun. Play the games without the forced instruction. As you play, if there is a lesson to be learned, and they are ready to learn it, they will.


Go for walks, and point out the wonder of creation. If they have a desire to learn more about something they saw, they will ask questions and you can pursue the answers together. Encourage them with questions of your own. (I wonder why that frog's spots look different?) Watching their reaction to the things you are doing to have fun can be the catalyst for more lessons later on. But sometimes they simply need Mom or Dad, not Teacher.

13 Tips and Tricks for Occupying the Littles

by Stacey Wolking


We always start off the year with wonderful plans and high ideals.


And then reality sets in. What am I going to do with the baby? How can I keep the toddler contained? How can I give my undivided attention to an older child?


With a bit of preplanning, training, and a stash of set-aside supplies, you will find that your toddler-through-preschool little one can, in fact, occupy himself.


First, and this is really important, spend time with your littles before you try to get school started.


Fill up their little love tank with cuddles, snuggles, giggles, and wiggles. You could make their bed with them, do a short devotional cuddled up on the couch, and clean up breakfast together. Then they will probably be ready to play on their own for a bit while you get the older kids started on school.


Start out being very clear with your littles on what they are allowed to do and where in the house they are allowed to be during school time. And thenconsistently enforce those boundaries because you don’t want to spend the next 8 hours cleaning up a Desitin and baby powder mess.


Also, littles handle daily life much better with a familiar schedule and consistent nap-times, so try to stick with a routine.


Below are some suggestions for keeping your littles occupied while you are teaching.

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