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Room Organization

13 Oct

Our girls switched bedrooms recently and this past weekend, we finally completed the clothes swap.  I assumed that they could complete the chore alone.  My mistake.  Everything – socks, pants, shorts, t-shirts, nightgowns –  were stuffed into dresser drawers.  Some drawers were crammed so full that they didn’t shut while others lay empty.

I took a deep breath (or two), grabbed my label-maker and demonstrated how I wanted the girls to organize their clothes.  While it took time, we heaved a sigh of relief and contentment once the job was over.  Nothing is better than a neatly organized bedroom!

My youngest two daughters now share a small, 11 x 12 bedroom.  It’s essential that they keep the dresser drawers straightened or all the clothes won’t fit.


I typed my daughter’s name and the type of clothing on each label.  I placed the label on the inside frame of the drawer.  When the drawer is closed, the label is hidden.

Labels affixed to wardrobe shelves. 

To my amazement, my oldest (who is almost ten) wanted labels for her dresser as well.

I’d love to report that the girls have kept the drawers as neat as the day I finished organizing them.  Not in my house!  Yet if I begin to notice the old habits returning – and the bulging, messy, clump of clothes oozing from dressers –  I’ll simply tuck these photos into the drawers as a gentle reminder.  Diligence on my part will reap benefits for them as adults.


Free Stuff to Share

24 Sep

I want to pass along a few terrific links – all provide FREE STUFF!

If you’re new to homeschooling, need support or encouragement, or desire alternative, fresh ideas, check out this free digital download courtesy of The Old Schoolhouse.  The digital supplement introduces the basics to homeschooling, offers planning tips and covers topics for all grades – PreK through high school.

Homeschooling 101 Digital Supplement

The next link I discovered on Face Book.  All content is free.  Because curriculum can get expensive for four children, I appreciate the free, easily accessible activities.


Lastly, I wanted to post two web sites that offer Spanish for free.  Warning!  I haven’t spent a lot of time on these two sites, so I cannot say if either is truly helpful.  However, I’ve priced foreign language curriculum and I breathed a sigh of relief when my oldest didn’t seem very interested in learning yet!


learn Spanish today
Enjoy and happy weekend!

Review: Homeschool Tracker Basic Edition

22 Sep

I’ve been using the Homeschool Tracker Basic Edition tool for almost three weeks.  I love it! 

Before I downloaded the free version of Homeschool Tracker Basic, I’d print a blank schedule and hand-write each assignment.  Unfortunately, I began to drown in papers and preferred a software planner.

I use Homeschool Tracker Basic to record our weekly assignments, attendance, extra-curricular activities and field trip notes.

The main menu displays the school name and address, the student names, and days present or sick.  Homeschool Tracker Basic permits the user to record hours and grades, however, right now I only use the hourly feature for field trips, recess, reading and extra-curricular items.

There are eight additional tabs at the top of the planner window:

OVERVIEW– A snapshot of each student’s total days/hours per subject.

ASSIGNMENTS – I spend the majority of my planning time here.  I can browse by individual student or by the group.  I can also use the filter to view past due or future assignments.


  • The subjects can be customized.  While typing in the daily assignment, the user can specify the student, subject, resources and materials, time allotted, points to be earned and lesson information in the directions and notes fields. 
  • A copy feature enables the assignment to be scheduled for another student or used as a template for a future date.  This saves time and typing! 
  • Each assignment has a completion date and the ability to reschedule the task to a different date.
  • My first grader loves to read beginner chapter books to me, so I add a reading assignment for her and record the book title and author.  The assignment feature also gives the option to tag the book as borrowed material! 

ATTENDANCE – A monthly attendance calendar by student.  A single click allows the user to choose “present”, “sick” or “holiday”.

READING LOG – Track the student’s reading assignments.

FIELD TRIPS  – Add/Edit field includes the trip description, date, time spent, subject and a large note section.

DAILY JOURNAL – Automatically opens a new window for the current date.  Offers generous space for note-taking.

MAINTENANCE – Allows the administrator to change different tables such as: school info, activities, resource types, subjects, etc.

REPORTS – Choose a report type and date parameters.  I don’t know if I’ll use this feature during our school year or if I’ll wait to print specific reports to use as a permanent record at the conclusion of our learning levels.  Either way, I’ll share a sample report in a future posting.

Homeschool Tracker Basic Edition is easy to use, contains all the pertinent information in one tool and eliminates the need for a bulky binder and paper.  Best of all, Homeschool Tracker Basic is FREE!  I still spend approximately two hours each night prepping for the following school day (sigh) but Homeschool Tracker Basic certainly keeps my sanity in check.

Three Saves

21 Sep

As soon as I brought my son downstairs for breakfast, our day began to crash and burn.  He didn’t want to cooperate; he preferred to be held.  If I put him down to prepare toast or cereal, he started to scream and fuss.  Nobody could console him, only me.  Obviously this isn’t a practical solution; especially not in a homeschool environment.

Praise God that a quick answer came to me.  I made an impromptu decision to scrap our original plans and take the kids on a nature hunt.  I could incorporate several topics and lessons that my girls were learning such as counting, sorting, the changing seasons, the sun and cells in plants and animals.  Phew!

Since all of our subject bases were accounted for, we gathered water cups, three Ziploc bags and headed for the door. 

Despite the heat, we collected birds’ feathers, different types of tree leaves, acorns, a torn butterfly wing and a super snake-skin!

Unfortunately, my son’s demeanor didn’t improve after lunch and I was at my wit’s end.  God saved me a second time when the postman placed Homeschooling Today into our mailbox.  I read “A Tree Planted by the Waters” by the magazine’s publisher, Steve Murphy.  His description of two trees – a perfectly manicured and fast-growing pear tree versus a very slow-growing oak tree lightened my heart (and my load).  I loved how Mr. Murphy compared the strong root system of the oak to children learning steadily and faithfully towards Christian maturity and outlasting the numerous worldly temptations or storms.  My favorite passage is this one:

“He enjoys his childhood and knows that the lessons he learns will be invaluable when storm winds blow.  His branches will not grow in perfect uniformity and at the same rate as the others because the beauty of his uniqueness glorifies God as he reflects God’s creative image.  The storm winds move his branches but do not break them.  He will not only survive but also shield others around him with his strength.”

Alas, my tale doesn’t end there.  My son awoke from his nap, caught sight of me and resumed his tantrum.  Could God help me find peace again?  Indeed!

Tonight, I had the pleasure and honor of registering for two free Webinars.  “How and Why Homeschooling Works” featured Dr. Jay Wile.  Perfectly timed for he discussed the documented benefits (and above average statistics) of homeschooled children.  To my surprise, the longer a child is homeschooled – specifically grades 6 – 12, the greater the success and the higher the standards of learning compared to private and publicly schooled children.  I truly needed to hear these statistics on a day like today when the barrage of doubts flooded my mind and threatened my confidence.

The second Webinar “Harvard or Heaven” by Voddie Baucham was very insightful and informative.  I learned about a new resource for college-bound children – College Plus.  College Plus is a unique, out-of-the-box approach to higher education.  Although my oldest is barely ten, I bookmarked the website and will place the idea on my mental back-burner.

All in all, the day was poor.  But God provided me sustenance in unconventional ways.  No fairy god-mother magically appeared on my front porch and relieved me of my responsibilities, however He did deliver some very thought-provoking messages.  These words gave me peace and reiterated the importance of homeschooling.  As Dr. Wile pointed out, the child may not appreciate the efforts of her homeschooling parents right now, but there’s no doubt that her parents will be the best role model for demonstrating the power of sacrificial love.  To that, I thank all of my three saves.

“Why you SHOULDN’T Teach your Homeschoolers!” by Lee Binz

20 Sep

I usually take homeschool one day at a time; if I think too far into the future, I panic.  If I dare to envision teaching high schoolers, my throat closes up and I freeze.  I know in my heart that God will provide for me when the time comes, but right now, I choose to dig a nice-sized hole and plop my head in!

So, when I read the blog entitled, “Why you SHOULDN’T Teach your Homeschoolers!” by Lee Binz, I wanted to share it immediately.  She offers wonderful – and saving – insight into homeschooling older children.  Enjoy and know you are not alone in your feelings!

As homeschool parents, our goal is NOT to teach something. Our goal is for the kids to LEARN. I could have taught my kids “at grade level” and they would have not learned a thing. Instead, I gave them curriculum at their ability level, and then they had to learn something that they didn’t already know.  

I believe that older teens MUST learn how to teach themselves. If they go to college, they will be expected to learn all the textbook material on their own. College lectures are most often supplemental to the textbook – not the same. If they don’t go to college, they will still have to teach themselves some computer skills, or online banking, or how to buy a car – whatever.

My kids taught themselves Advanced Math (pre-Calculus) and Calculus. They taught themselves physics. I know they knew the material because I gave them the tests. I didn’t know what the calculus symbols meant, but I knew that my kids answers matched the answers on the key! I could have taught them Biology and Chemistry (because I’m an RN and I know that stuff) but they actually taught themselves that as well. It just worked out better for us when they were teaching themselves, while I just checked up on them from time to time. Alex taught himself economics, and is now doing graduate level work in economic thought (we’ve been told by his professor.) He even taught himself psychology and business law, because he got fabulous grades on the college level CLEP exams in those subject.

Here’s my point: kids will teach themselves something when they are interested in it. It’s fine for kids to do that, and it works out great for kids that are working on an intensely academic, college-prep curriculum as well as for kids that are in a relaxed homeschool environment.

I have seen SO many notes about “getting it all done” that I just want to put in a plug for mom having prayer and quiet time. I found that when I was consistent with those things I could “get it all done” and when I wasn’t consistent with those things I got frustrated. Either I was expecting too much, or was frustrated too easily. When I spent time with God, then things went much more smoothly in our homeschooling.

What do you think?


To follow Lee Binz’s blog, click HERE.