How do you people do it all? – Hyacinth

Brain Trust,

I need to know how veteran homeschool mamas do it all: schooling, groceries, house chores, keep order, and still have energy past 3pm? Help!

Needing a nap,
Tired


 

Hyacinth:
Dear Tired,
Oh, this is an easy one……here’s the good news: we’re not doing it all!For me, I’ve maintained my sanity by letting my standards slide a bit. Try it – it’s liberating! In general, I never shortchange the schoolwork, but I’ll let the dust bunnies run amok (I’m building strong immune systems around here). I have a few non-negotiable priorities that help me maintain my sanity: I like to keep the kitchen and bathrooms clean, my bed made, and the dining room table clear. If those things are done, the house doesn’t seem like a complete disaster.Though I have my kids do a few chores around the house, I’m not very systematic, I must confess.
It’s an area in which I could use some help, so I’m going to stay tuned for this week’s posts myself. The other members of Dear Brain Trust run well-oiled machines – weigh in, Brain Trust!

Looking for more answers????

My children fight from sun up to sun down and it’s driving me crazy! Help!!

What advice can you give a new homeschooling mom to help me navigate this first intimidating year?

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

Typical Homeschool Day – Doodle

Typical Homeschool Day – Doodle

Brain Trust,

Dear Braintrust,

I’m curious….what does a typical day look like in your home-school?

~ Curious in Columbia


 

Doodle:

Dear Curious,

Ahh….the mother of all questions! This answer is going to be more varied than the ice cream flavors at Baskin Robbins! But, I admit that I like to learn from others homeschool families. I have found that each family has to get their rhythm and their days of homeschooling take on a vibe that fits them and their family. What is Dad’s work schedule? What are the ages of your children? Do you do coops or outside activities? All of this factors into what your “typical” day looks like. I have found though, that for us, routine and schedule is important even though, I would like to be more fluid and relaxed. But, for me, I need a daily schedule.

The beauty of it is this: “my” schedule serves “my” purpose. I am not chained to it, but I do treat it fairly seriously. Here is a sample schedule for my elementary children:

8am – Kids wake and I whip up a simple breakfast. Kids listen to memory work.
8:30am – We get ready for the day and do some light chores (make beds, start laundry, clean kitchen etc)
9am- Bible and devotions
9:15am – Handwriting, cursive
9:30am – Math
10:30am – English Grammar/phonics
11:15am – History readers, Science
Noon – quick lunch break
12:30p- writing and finish up morning work
1:30p – individual readers
2p – piano practice

Love,
Dood

Looking for more answers????

Quick and Dirty Tips from the Brain Trust

My children fight from sun up to sun down and it’s driving me crazy! Help!!

What advice can you give a new homeschooling mom to help me navigate this first intimidating year?

Quick and Dirty Tips from the Brain Trust – Bull

Quick and Dirty Tips from the Brain Trust – Bull

Quick and Dirty Tips from the Brain Trust – Hyacinth

Bull:

Dear Readers,

I am offering a response to Hy’s post from yesterday….

In my defense, I offered our more sensitive readers the synonym “sinners” to replace the perfectly good noun “jerks” if they preferred. And my inquiry into the details of the alleged “punch,” was nothing more than good detective work. The details matter, people!

Let’s say the future prizefighter executed a sucker punch. Oh my! Just typing the words “sucker punch” causes a chill to resonate down my spine. I mean, that’s dirty. The “precious baby” possesses some serious skills. Something you just can’t teach in a kid. But, that’s another post. In Bull’s Book of Parental Punishments, the consequence for such a filthy assault is not even in the same chapter as a punch the recipient knew was coming. I mean, a punch thrown in the heat of anger, preceded by a primal war whoop to alert the victim of impending danger, is still wrong of course and yet different. It perhaps merits a 3-paragraph essay, while the former warrants an essay the size and scale of a doctoral thesis.

Now, as to location, I was merely trying to visualize the scene… take it all in, if you will, so that I could empathize with my pal, Hy. I’m just not one to rush to judgment, folks. I like to have all the facts before dishing out the just desserts. The possibility that I might have been slightly entertained by such a visualization is irrelevant — I can’t successfully strategize without all the gory details.

For what it’s worth, I like the creativity of Hy’s imposed sentence. Not only was it punitive, but edifying. Good work, comrade!

Bull

Looking for more answers????

My children fight from sun up to sun down and it’s driving me crazy! Help!!

What advice can you give a new homeschooling mom to help me navigate this first intimidating year?

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

Siblings Fighting – Doodle

Siblings Fighting – Doodle

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

My children fight from sun up to sun down and it’s driving me crazy! Help!!

~ Losing it in Louisville


 

Doodle:

Dear (Not) Losing it,

You’re in good company! This problem of sibling “fighting” can be traced back to the beginning with Cain and Abel. That doesn’t give us much hope that we will be exempt, does it? But I do believe we can hope for better. Hy is right, we must be aggressive and ready to deal! The tools you give your children to handle conflict with their siblings will be one of the greatest gifts you give them! We must put on our big “girl/boy” pants to face these issues!

I have four sons and one daughter. The competition, the wrestling, the one-liners and the sheer physical presence of that much testosterone is amazing. So, each morning I put on my game face. Yep, I am like a hawk waiting for their first move, and it doesn’t take long before one of my lovelies is throwing out “signs” that a conflict is brewing.

So this is how it works in our home: I watch for attitudes. A glare. A snarled lip. A comment that slights. A huffy response. These all reveal positions of the heart. An attitude, or a thought, gives way to action. I spend much of my energy and effort training attitudes. I find that if my work thwarts a sour or grumpy attitude, many times that will curb the inevitable, full-blown fight. Yep. I am attitude-buster. I don’t wait for the fight. Here is a scripture that fortifies my position from Proverbs 17:14, “The start of a quarrel is like a leak in a dam, so stop it before it bursts.”

So, my recommendation is to look for the “start” of a quarrel and let training begin there. Teach forgiveness and how to turn a cheek. Train your children on how to serve the brother and sister when they don’t feel like it. Give them examples through scriptures, as well as personal and historical examples to fortify their hearts. Love always wins. Getting along with people is not an easy business, but this gift you are giving your children will live long past their time in your home.

Love,

Dood (not sporting a “tude”)

Looking for more answers????

What advice can you give a new homeschooling mom to help me navigate this first intimidating year?

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

Advice for Newbie

Advice for Newbie

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I’ve decided to take the plunge – now what? What advice can you give a new homeschooling mom to help me navigate this first intimidating year?

With fear and trembling,
Intimidated in Indiana


 

Doodle:

Dear Newbie,

My encouragement when you first start homeschooling is to make a list of goals. What do you want to accomplish your first year of homeschooling? Educationally? Responsibility-wise? Character-wise? I tend to be over-zealous and want to do it all. A girl can dream, can’t she? But, this is where I get in trouble and get exasperated if my ideals are too lofty.

Second, keep your first year simple. Get your core subjects worked out: math, english, history, science and reading. Most of us try and do it all in the first year. We don’t know where to stop, and this can quickly wear out a homeschool parent. Go simple. For your first year, use a tried-and-true curriculum; no need to try to invent a curriculum!

Third, attach yourself to some experienced homeschool moms. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and lots of them. There is a plethora of resources available, so don’t get overwhelmed, but do your research. Learn homeschooling philosophies, and read, read, read.

Fourth, relax! Please know that it takes time to hit your homeschool stride. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will your child be completely educated in a year. Education is a life-time process, and fostering a love of learning is the goal, and that love will develop over time .

Love,
Dood

Hyacinth:

Dear Intimidated,

I believe there are two main goals for the first year: 1.) Establishing your authority and the discipline that accompanies that. 2.) Helping your kids “buy in” to the idea of homeschooling. It’s a tricky balance, to say the least. Some moms tend to think that if they make homeschooling a boatload of fun, then their kids will love homeschooling, and they’ll be all set. Unfortunately, though, some moms equate “fun” with “undisciplined,” and that’s a recipe for future heartache. Your kids must obey you when it comes to doing their work, otherwise the schoolroom will become a battleground, and at some point, you won’t be able to withstand it.

Obviously, your kids will be doing some subjects that are challenging and require discipline, and they may complain that it’s not “fun.” Keep doing it. Daily. Don’t allow complaints. But, also work in daily at least one activity that helps you connect with each other, preferably something that they wouldn’t be doing in “regular” school. For us, that activity is a read-aloud; we love to snuggle in with each other and read a great book! Some artsy families do art projects; some families play with Legos; some play outdoor games. Just find something that you all enjoy – it will nourish your souls!

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth

Snow:

Dear Intimidated,

I look back and chuckle at my first year. I was a deer in headlights! AND we survived! I honestly had NO IDEA what I was doing, but I learned. I spent the year pushing through a curriculum I wasn’t crazy about and learning what I did like. I talked to other parents on the same journey who were a few steps ahead of me and picked their brains. I visited their homes to look at their school space and check out different curriculum. I read books about education and learned about things that I thought were only meant for professional educators. It was a year of learning, inspiration, and perseverance.

Give yourself some room the first year. There will be things you don’t like. There will be lessons to learn about how much to commit to and what curriculum makes you want to pull out your hair. There will be moments of discouragement and moments of great triumph!

My one fail-safe piece of advice is to make sure you have a community of other families around you for support. We were created to thrive in community. Community offers you encouragement, accountability, and refinement. I adore my children, but I’m pretty sure if they only had me and I only had them day in and day out, we would all get pretty bored!

Grace & Peace,
Snow

Bull:

Intimidated:

I’m with Hyacinth: establish your authority! Your children know you as their parent, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to respect for you as their teacher. Your first order of business is to establish your expectations and instill the discipline of a daily routine. While it doesn’t take long to develop these goals and an accompanying game plan on paper, it’s likely to take a wee bit longer to implement the system. Let me remind you that those angels you will soon call students are not your ally. The moment you expect math facts over nature study they will turn on you like a loaf of unpreserved bread. So, set your rules and consistently enforce them — everyone will benefit!

Bull

Looking for more answers????

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

My kids are close in age and I have a million of them. Am I setting myself up for failure to try and homeschool?

I have kids far apart, how do I teach them all?

Advice for Newbie – Bull

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I’ve decided to take the plunge – now what? What advice can you give a new homeschooling mom to help me navigate this first intimidating year?

With fear and trembling,
Intimidated in Indiana


 

Advice for Newbie – Doodle

Advice for Newbie – Hyacinth

Advice for Newbie – Snow

Bull:

Intimidated:

I’m with Hyacinth: establish your authority! Your children know you as their parent, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to respect for you as their teacher. Your first order of business is to establish your expectations and instill the discipline of a daily routine. While it doesn’t take long to develop these goals and an accompanying game plan on paper, it’s likely to take a wee bit longer to implement the system. Let me remind you that those angels you will soon call students are not your ally. The moment you expect math facts over nature study they will turn on you like a loaf of unpreserved bread. So, set your rules and consistently enforce them — everyone will benefit!

Bull

Looking for more answers????

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

Advice for Newbie – Hyacinth

Advice for Newbie – Hyacinth

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I’ve decided to take the plunge – now what? What advice can you give a new homeschooling mom to help me navigate this first intimidating year?

With fear and trembling,
Intimidated in Indiana


 

Advice for Newbie – Doodle

Hyacinth:

Dear Intimidated,

I believe there are two main goals for the first year: 1.) Establishing your authority and the discipline that accompanies that. 2.) Helping your kids “buy in” to the idea of homeschooling. It’s a tricky balance, to say the least. Some moms tend to think that if they make homeschooling a boatload of fun, then their kids will love homeschooling, and they’ll be all set. Unfortunately, though, some moms equate “fun” with “undisciplined,” and that’s a recipe for future heartache. Your kids must obey you when it comes to doing their work, otherwise the schoolroom will become a battleground, and at some point, you won’t be able to withstand it.

Obviously, your kids will be doing some subjects that are challenging and require discipline, and they may complain that it’s not “fun.” Keep doing it. Daily. Don’t allow complaints. But, also work in daily at least one activity that helps you connect with each other, preferably something that they wouldn’t be doing in “regular” school. For us, that activity is a read-aloud; we love to snuggle in with each other and read a great book! Some artsy families do art projects; some families play with Legos; some play outdoor games. Just find something that you all enjoy – it will nourish your souls!

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth

Looking for more answers????

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

Responsibility – Bull

Responsibility – Bull

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

Love,

Concerned


 

Bull:

Dear Concerned,

First, we model it. Get up at the same time every morning. Brush your teeth, face and hair. Require your children to do the same. Set a time for breakfast and keep it. Go about your daily life demonstrating the qualities of a responsible human being and when your kids ask , “Why?” which they will, because God wouldn’t have given me the only children to incessantly ask, “Why mommy, why?” you tell them, “We brush our teeth so our pretty , little teeth don’t fall out of our heads and we eat breakfast so we grow big and strong, etc. Second, we give it. Scary, I know,but we give our children things, tasks, and so forth in increasing importance and we allow them plenty of space to flub it up when it doesn’t really matter so that when it does, they will be less likely to do so. Practice. Lots of it. Requires patience. Pray for patience.

Bull

Stay tuned everyday this week as the rest of the Braintrust weighs in…

Looking for more answers????

I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

My kids are close in age and I have a million of them. Am I setting myself up for failure to try and homeschool?

Burnout – Doodle

Burnout – Doodle

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I have home-schooled forever and I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

Love,
Embers


 
Burnout – Bull

Burnout – Snow

Burnout – Hyacinth

Doodle:

Dearest Embers,

Great advice BT! Homeschooling is not a sprint but a marathon. The strategies for each of those races are completely different. I just finished my 15th year of homeschooling, and I can’t believe I am still here! Here are a couple of pointers that have given me stamina and helped me pace myself in this homeschool track:

1. Keep pure motives: Burn out for me comes when I am pursuing selfish ambitions. I know that sounds crazy, but I get bored pretty quickly when it’s only about me and mine. There is nothing like finding some people to help serve to get my heart pumping with life again and renew my energy to homeschool. So make your homeschooling about something bigger than just you and your family.

2. Run unencumbered: I watch for those activities that distract or wear me down. Strive for those things that breathe life and keep guard for those activities that deplete. A walk in the park, a bike ride around the block or breakfast on the patio can do wonders for a soul.

3. Keep your eyes on the prize: What kind of human beings do you want to send into the world? What virtues do I want them to have? With the cultural issues of today, I go back in history and look at the attributes of those who changed the world. It takes work to keep great ideas and thoughts within your sights and in your heart. Remind yourself of what is really important and stay focused on that. Nothing like a good dose of vision to keep my nose pointed in the right direction and wind in my sail.

4. Find like-minded friends: Sometimes I need a soft place to land and other times I need a kick in the “rear-end.” Like-minded, friends make the world go round and are a large reason why I am still here. The road of homeschooling does not need to be lonely. Work to be that friend to others and your friends won’t let you quit.

Embers, don’t give up! One day you’ll find yourself jogging over that finish line. You’ll be so amazed at God’s provision for your race and the prize that awaits you!

Love,
Dood

Close in Age

Close in Age

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

My kids are close in age and I have a million of them. Am I setting myself up for failure to try and homeschool?

Love,
Dubious in Denver


 

Snow:
Dear Dubious,

I cannot speak from experience on this one. I only have 2 kids plus one on the way, and they are fairly far apart in age… What I can say is that I see families doing it and doing it well! These families have a common thread running through them… They have a vision for homeschooling! They have a plan and a purpose. They have committed themselves and their family to something that they believe in 100%. I greatly admire each of them!

Grace & Peace,
Snow

Hyacinth:

Dear Dubious,
This is a common situation with homeschooling families, so you’re not alone. As I mentioned in last week’s post, our own school experience can paralyze us a bit. We need to hearken back to the one-room schoolhouse, which none of us know about except through Little House on the Prairie. Here are a few ideas of how it works:

Grammar – we do a lot of dictation of sentences, and we start with a basic subject/verb sentence. My second grader can identify and/or diagram the basic parts of speech, and my fifth grade student adds clauses and modifiers and diagrams them. This also can serve as a handwriting exercise with the older students using cursive while the younger students print.

History – We like the Story of the World series, and I’ll read the narrative aloud to all the children, and the younger students can answer the most basic comprehension questions; the older students answer more in-depth questions. The older students can write a summary; the younger students can draw a picture and write a simple caption to summarize. I try to find
books at their level to correlate with the history we’re studying.

Science – all students can participate in a science experiment, and the older students can write up lab reports and research the scientific principles of the experiment. Younger students can dictate their results to their mom, and she can write down their findings, and they could even use this for copy work.

Dubious, you can do this!

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth

Doodle:

Dearest Dubious,

I think the most overwhelming aspect of homeschooling is looking at the range the educational needs in your own home and wondering how you, the parent, can possibly serve each of your child’s specific needs. Part of the problem for me is that I am looking at modern education and using that as my model. While there are some great advancements made in education, parents have been educating their children since the beginning of time and the modern segregation by grades is a fairly new idea. Actually, it was birthed from the desire to bring education to the masses. Think: small “mom and pops” business to “corporation.” While more and more people grew in their desire to have their children educated, the sheer population of those needing education grew, which created the problem of “how to educate the masses.” Even though this was good problem to face, it does not mean that the old “style” of home education or the “one room school house” was a broken one. It just was not serving the masses, thus the breakdown of education by age.

I have five kids, but I have friends who homeschool with their 10 or 12 kids. Teaching a range of kids takes some creativity and patience. But, I actually feel that home education is more of an organic and natural approach to education. Our little “homeschool” gives my older children a chance to be reviewed on subject matter that may appear “beneath” them, but it offers them reinforcement on core elements that have become familiar, yet are essentials. My younger children overhear discussions on subjects that have not yet been introduced, but it provides them a beginning vocabulary that will eventually give way to understanding. My younger children are often reviewed by my older and sometimes my younger children review my older with vocabulary flashcards. So there is this natural flow of introduction, repetition and review.

I like to think of it this way: I can run my family through McDonalds or I can spend a little extra time, energy and focus to make them a home-cooked meal. While there is a valid need for a McDonalds style education in our fast paced world, I have chosen a home-catered education that is full of life-giving substance that gives way to a long-satisfying healthy education.

Love,
Dood

Bull:

Dubious,

I don’t think I can say it any better than Dood, so I’ll just summarize her key points in Bull lingo:

1) Don’t compare apples to oranges. Your school will be different than the factory model. It will look and function differently. And that’s good, because I doubt your true goal is to recreate the public school system at home. So, I think the first thing you need to do is determine, “What are your goals?”

2) Then, establish a routine and stick with it. With a little forethought and preparation, productivity abounds. Without it, days can be lost to good intentions. In the early stages of home-schooling, it’s easy to get excited about the possibilities: uber-smart, obedient children, well-disciplined teens brimming with maturity, and young adults filled with the character to choose wisely. All of these accomplishments are possible, but not without a lot of hard work on your part. Your part comes first, so focus on it first.

3) Recognize and accept that there are sacrifices. We’ve talked about this before, but you can’t maintain a model showroom home, cook every meal from scratch, linger over long lunches with friends, indulge in weekly mani-pedi’s AND oversee a high functioning home-school. Educating your children is a job and should be treated as such. You wouldn’t keep any job for long that you only attended to occasionally. Give it your best — it’s a deserving profession.

I hope you’ll choose home-cooked over McDonald’s. I’m certain you can and that it will be the most satisfying “meal” you’ll ever choose. Bon appetit!

Bull