Monday, June 01, 2015

My Favorite Homeschool Planner

My favorite homeschool planner is not a "homeschool" planner.  It is this one from House of Doolittle, and it costs $5.47 on Amazon right now.  This is very similar to the planner my mom used, so maybe it just feels "right" to me because of that, but there are so many things I love about this planner.  Let me count the ways!

First, I love the Subject column.  There is no list of subjects in the left-hand column, so I can write my own list there, and if one week's subjects are different from the next week, it's okay!  For the most part, my subject list has remained the same, but I did figure out about half way through the year that I could consolidate a couple of subjects, and I use the extra squares for "Life Skills" and "Character Traits." 

Second, I love the space for notes on the right-hand column.  Here is what it looks like up close.

I am very visual, and love to color-code things, so each day of the week has a color, and I mark some things so that I can easily find what needs to be done on which days.  Also, each child of mine has a color.  Griffin is green, Sammy is blue, Oliver is orange and Duncan is red. This color applies to rubber bands that go around their drinking   glasses, any school supplies that are purchased for them, and the little highlighted marks that you see in the planner.  When they see their color, it is their job to do that assignment and mark it off when it is completed.  This way I am not writing the same assignments multiple times.  I think my future self will thank me for simplifying the process once I have 4 children in my planner!

Third, I love this planner because it is simple.  It is about 1/2 inch thick, and doesn't have monthly or weekly planning pages, or tabs, or pretty designs, or Bible verses, or a fancy cover, or any of the other things that drew me to other planners that I have used in the past.  Any fanciness has to come from my hand.

I have used this planner (Well Planned Day) in the past:

At first, I loved the colors and designs, and I happily used this planner for about 3 years.  As the boys got older, and we added more subjects, I began to be irritated by the fact that the subjects were already filled in, and one of them (English) wasn't one that I used (language arts is tough to label sometimes!), so I had to mark it off every week and re-write that one, plus add a few more subjects in the spaces below it.

Next, I purchased this one (A Simple Plan) from Mardel.

I wondered when I purchased A Simple Plan if I would be annoyed by the gray and white lines, but I did like the fact that I could write in my own subjects, even if I did have to write them sideways.  I must be really easily annoyed, because even that bothered me!  And yes, I was right.  I would just about go cross-eyed every week when I would sit down to do my planning, because of those gray and white lines.  They were highly distracting, and made it hard for my eyes to focus on parts of the page.

Fourth, I love that this planner isn't dated.  I love not having blank weeks when we take school off, and having to cross off big sections when we take a month off.  Even after taking time off, I just flip to the next week, write the dates in, and go!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Conference and Catalog Season

Just a reminder (for me as well; I am still learning these lessons!) as we head into Conference and Catalog Season: Trust in the Lord to lead your family in the way that you should go. God has plans for you and your children that no one else might know about yet. Not even you!

Don't fall into the trap of lusting after the curriculum in the pages of those glossy catalogs, with all of the smiling, clean children and ultra-confident, non-yoga-pant-wearing, took-a-shower-this-morning moms. Those catalogs and companies have a product to sell. They may be wonderful products, and they might actually help your family achieve greater things than you ever imagined possible. Or, they might enslave you because you feel like you can't follow the leading of the Holy Spirit because you spent so much good money on all of these great books and curriculum, and they were put together by experts, who clearly have more knowledge than you do. Been there, purchased that, regretted that, re-sold that!

As you walk around at a homeschool conference, you may feel pressured to purchase certain (shiny) books or curriculum that claim that they have figured out the very best way to teach your children, and they can show you how to do it. There are so many wonderful choices out there today, many of which will actually provide your children with an excellent education. But what is driving us to purchase that curriculum? Is it fear? Peer pressure (no matter how positive)? Or is it our desire to follow God's leading? When a newer, "better," shinier curriculum comes along, will we ditch what we are currently using and chase after that one as well? {My husband *might* have just spoken those very words to me last week.}

Jeremiah 17:5-10
"Cursed is the man who trusts in man
And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the Lord.

For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes,
But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is in the Lord.

For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?

I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings."

Did you catch all of that? You might want to read it again, just to be sure. It's SO good.

Remember, we can lead our children to and through education, but we can't make them learn. That is up to them, and God. And, my Mama taught me that one of the best ways to teach is with consistency. It can be hard for a child to take in new information when he is constantly having to learn new methods and get used to new curriculums with different rules. Gulp. I have had to learn not to let my children's whining and/or complaining affect my decision-making. That's hard!

{{{Story: I had felt strongly led to use a certain math curriculum a few years ago, and after using it for half a school year I let my son's daily whining about the lessons persuade me to start considering other options, even though he had been learning well and progressing at an amazing rate. Now, my husband and I have decided to go back to that curriculum after 2 years of pushing through a different curriculum that is top rated, but that I never felt at peace about. What does my son have to say? "Oh, that's awesome, Mom! I really loved that curriculum, and I was sad when we stopped using it." He tells me 2 years later. Don't be led around by the whims of your children! Let God, in His infinite wisdom, guide you.}}}

Proverbs 3:1-8
"My son, do not forget my law,
But let your heart keep my commands;
For length of days and long life
And peace they will add to you.

Let not mercy and truth forsake you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart,
And so find favor and high esteem
In the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.

It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones."

Also, I need to remember to not neglect the Scriptures as the very best curriculum there is, or ever will be.

2 Timothy 3:17-18
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Thursday, March 05, 2015


Pictures.  Because I have been facebooking my life and not blogging it!  Shame on me!

Life Dirt

As I swept the floor this morning, and my dirt (Lego, mud clot, dart-gun bullet) pile quickly accumulated, the thought came once again (as it often does lately during these days of Young Man Restlessness and Deep Masculine Thoughts from my oldest) -- one day soon, my dirt pile won't be quite so interesting as it is now.  I am excited at the possibility of only sweeping once a week instead of every day or two, don't get me wrong.  But my little brood of... well, I guess I can't call these hens, as we are a house full of Little Roosters, with one Mother Hen trying to tame them all... The Rooster Crew won't be here forever, and one day there will just be Mama and Papa Dirt to clean up.  I sure hope it is half as interesting as my Rooster Crew dirt pile is!