Updates about our life of learning!

Archive for July, 2008

Another Great Article–Psst! A Secret to Scheduling Success!

Psst! A Secret to Scheduling Success!
by Cindy Rushton
Back to School Blast 2008–check it out!

Want to know one of my biggest secrets to homeschooling the easy way? Want to know one of my biggest secrets to scheduling success? This one secret can make your daily schedule finally fit. It can end your scheduling frustrations forever.

I am not a “schedule by the minute” type of person. (GRIN)  I fail with schedules like that. They don’t meet my needs. My life includes too many areas that have different needs daily. Timed schedules just do not work for me.

So, what has worked for me? Setting up a framework to my day. This is one incredibly powerful tip. It can make a HUGE difference in your day as well. It just might be the secret that has alluded you through the years.

Wondering what I mean by a “framework” for your day? By framework, I mean a general flow to each day that includes all of the areas of my life that I juggle. But, how do I do that? Here are some quick tips:

1. Decide what should be included in your daily schedule. Look at what you are all about. Look at your goals, activities, values, priorities. Look at your husband’s schedule–wrap everything around him. Look at what you need to include in your day to get everything done–quiet times, lessons, homemaking, read alouds, work, etc. This is important. Otherwise, you will include things in your schedule that may not be the very best choices. And…one big risk…you may never get around to the things that matter the most. Decide what really needs to be a part of each and every day for your day to be successful.

2. Decide the best time for the tasks you need to complete each day. This will help you get a good flow to your day. For me, quiet times are just best at the beginning of the day. Chores are great right after them–I need them completed so my brain can focus on the table time.  Our business work and errands need to be done in the early afternoon. Read alouds are best before bedtime.  You get the picture. When I tried to read aloud over lunch, we had so many distractions that we could never fit it in. Trying to work the business in the morning would never work…and of course, we couldn’t take care of business errands at night. See how important it is to really look at the best time to get tasks done. Look at the best time for all of the tasks that need to be done. Look at the best flow to get everything done easily each day. You may not get this right at the beginning, but you will get closer and closer each day. You will love it!

3. Balance your day. Don’t let any one area of your life get out of balance. Everything that we do in our day has a tendency to grow into a big time thief–homeschooling, homemaking, home business. Those important aspects of our life can easily grow out of their boundaries. While I love each of them, they can get rather exhausting if we don’t keep them in balance with the other things that we have to do. The best way for me to stay balanced is to be reasonable about what I expect for each day, keep things simplified and easy, and keep everything inside of its time of the day. I don’t mind those days that we want to dig deeper in a topic that we are studying. I also don’t mind those days that we tackle a messy room. I don’t even mind those days that we have a special business project that needs more time. But, if those areas were demanding extra time every day, it would be easy to get burned-out, frustrated and battle with our time each day. Want to make it work? Find a balance for your day.

4. Set up routines. Talk about a HUGE help for me. Without routines, things can get so frustrating every day–there are constant decisions, there is more strife in the family, there is no consistency. Routines help us to make things go faster, without the strife and struggle of figuring things out DAILY. Routines reduce the stress of making decisions daily. Routines help our children to know what to expect so they can move through all of the things that they need to do each day. Routines are crucial. They assure a smooth ride. They keep us on track. They keep us out of the ruts. They take us in the direction that we want to go. One of the toughest things I ever did was develop routines in my home. However, one of the most rewarding things that I ever did was develop routines in my home. When I got very, very sick, everything kept going. During those times that I have been stretched, things kept on going. All because of routines. Set up routines. Then, your children will know what to expect. They will learn what is next and next and next. The decisions will be made for you. They will be able to “just do it” with or without you. Set up routines for your family. Develop one set of routines at a time–look for the time of day that things go haywire. If it is morning, for example, look at all that needs to be done. Brainstorm. Make a to-do list for that routine. Write it out. Work it as a checklist until it becomes a habit. If you see other things that need to be added into that set of routines, add them. Tweak it until it is smooth. Then, move to the next troublespot. Do this for all of the times of your day. Watch to see how much it helps!

5. Prune anything that is not necessary. Truth is, we cannot do everything. What we do in our day keeps us from doing other things. It zaps our time, energy, strength. We need to be picky about what we add to our day. Every single thing that we do costs us something. We need to constantly prune those things that are not necessary. Prune anything that hinders, distracts. Be honest. Be ruthless. Prune. Even the good things! Go for the best!

6. Take the squeeze out of your schedule. Watch out for the squeeze in your schedule. Don’t fill every minute of your day with something to do. Why? Because there are always going to be crisis situations, interruptions, melt-downs, delays. If we have our schedule maxed out, we will constantly be overwhelmed, overworked, and squeezed. Find ways to take the squeeze out of your daily schedule–cut out extra running, watch out for time thieves, prioritize your daily to-do’s (and eliminate any that make the day too tight), cut out extras that are unnecessary, keep the day simple and easy. Keep a relaxed atmosphere. Constantly, take the squeeze out of your daily schedule.

7. Stay flexible! Stay adaptable! Actually, one of the reasons that we really want to develop a framework to our day is so we have more flexibility, so we have more “space” in our day to be adaptable. We want to be able to seize opportunities that come our way. We want to be able to slow down and enjoy our children. We don’t want to miss teachable moments. These days just go by too fast. We want to enjoy every second. We want to make sweet, sweet memories. This requires that we stay flexible and adaptable. So, take the time to develop your own framework to your day. Do the tough work. Get your plans together. Work on these suggestions. Then, stay flexible. Stay adaptable. Grasp on to all that God has in store for you!

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About Cindy Rushton…

Cindy Rushton is the hostess of the Back to School Blast, her annual back to school fling for homeschool mothers around the world. She is recording Preview Chats for the Back to School Blast RIGHT NOW! Join her wonderful guests FREE for the next weeks as they count down to the Back to School Blast (August 8-9–BUT! NEVER ENDING because it is an ONLINE seminar!). Get your ticket NOW and receive her awesome A Quick Start for Notebooking Mini-Set FREE today! Check out all of the details here:

Back to School Blast 2008–click here for tickets!

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Busy Summer!

Well, we did start back to some official school a few weeks ago, but then we got sidetracked with a bunch of summer fun….and recovery from that summer fun! That is what happens when you go to the beach, have a great time in the sun for 4 hours and then realize on the way home that you are severely sunburned! So much so that by the time you are home….you are very ill and can’t move!

The beach was great, but the aftermath wasn’t so much!

So we have enjoyed hanging out with friends and have still continued music and ballet lessons. Plus my oldest in now in a Praise Band with out local homeschool group. So that has added another weekly “outing”! The kids are doing so great though and are loving it!

Here are a few pictures from our fun day! I will post more later on my personal blog!

The kids being silly for their group shot!

The boys enjoying the sand on the beach!

A couple of the many pelicans that were flying around us!

Easy Record-Keeping for the Reluctant Homeschool Mom! By Cindy Rushton

Here is another great article by Cindy Rushton (posted with permission) and an exciting offer on a new set on Organization!

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Easy Record-Keeping for the Reluctant Homeschool Mom!
By Cindy Rushton

New Organized Mom Super Set–click here!

Record-keeping!  Does your hair stand up when you think of record-keeping? Do you begin to grind your teeth?  Did you feel like skipping this article just because it seems impossible for “EASY” and “Record-keeping” to ever go together??

Relax.  I know that there is not a “one size fits all.” I know that in spite of how hard we may search, there is not a perfect system for every mom!  That is OK! My prayer is that if you are in need of some ideas to make a couple areas a little easier or if you have no idea of where to begin, that you will find a few ideas as you come home with us to see how simple record-keeping CAN be.  Ready for some quick tips??? Here we go…

–> Find what is mandatory. Every state and school district has differing requirements. Find other homeschool families in your area and see how each of them manages their homeschool records. Find the easiest way possible to meet the requirements. Make it as DOABLE as possible!

–> Choose what works for YOU. Every mom has her favorite method that works JUST for them whether a planner with reproducible pages… a ready to use planner… a simple spiral notebook… binders… a filing cabinet… computer… etc, etc, etc!  Before you consider anything else, look at who you are.  What makes you feel more comfortable? What helps you to feel more accomplishment?  Whether formal or informal… detailed or not even written down… YOUR way is the best way!  Decide what works best for you!

–> Document daily! Don’t let it build up. Jot it down throughout the day. When my children were little, I kept one journal for everything. I kept it out on my desk so I could just jot down what we were doing as we did it. It was amazing how much easier that was than even waiting till the end of the day. As they got older, I transferred this process to them. I had always made it easy. So, transferring it to them did not overwhelm them. I began this process by letting them keep up with their reading log. The rest was easy after that. They now keep their records just like I used to. At the end of the month and again at the end of the semester I go through making sure that everything is on target and also look to see how well they are keeping up with my overall schedule. Without good records, this would be impossible.

–> Keep all of their work in Notebooks. We keep ALL of our written work in a binder of some sort.  Then, we take it further… we keep ANYTHING that can be pressed in binders.  Anything left?? Yes! Then, we take pictures and keep THEM in the binders! (Hehe!)  ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that can be studied can also be kept in Notebooks in some way.  We keep anything that would expand a study and build a great collection of information on topics we study… great quotes, definitions about a subject being studied, diagrams, character sketches, pictures, coloring sheets, art prints, poems, Bible verses, narrations, Bible word studies, on and on!  Our main reason for Notebooking in this way is that if our children are going to spend their time DOING something, it ought to be worthwhile enough for us to KEEP IT.  This teaches them to value their work, do a great job on all they do, and that ALL areas of life are truly educational.

–> Scrapbook events, activities, fun studies, and projects! Scrapbooks/Yearbooks for what are REALLY doing throughout our school year is not only fun, but it helps to preserve the memories of ALL that we are doing in our family.  There are just some things that our children are learning that are impossible to document without scrapbooking! Get out of the old “school” box and really document your family’s education. You won’t be sorry!

–> Use planning sheets designed JUST for homeschooling. Don’t let commercial record-keepers keep you from homeschooling with a lifestyle of learning! Look for printable pages that are designed just for the homeschool mom. You can find great options everywhere!

–> Buy resources that are designed just for you. We have an entire line of resources that we now have available through our bookstore. Check out our Make Your Own Brain-in-a-Binder Printables. It is designed specifically for the homeschool mom who wants pages designed for every area that must be balanced in the busy homeschool family. Also, check out other great resources by homeschool writers and even pages that are included in many homeschool books (we always try to include pages that we use in our books).  Now, you may be like me. You may prefer to make your own planning pages. That is perfectly fine! You can tailor your pages to fit exactly with your family needs. Just be sure to use what works for you!

–> At the end of the school year, file all records together. This may seem to be a mute point, however this will save your brain! At the end of our school year, I gather everything together and add them into one big binder. I date the binder and store it away for my children’s permanent file. Be sure to pull all of your records together into a set and safe place. When you get discouraged along the way, just look back and see how far you have come—it will be a HUGE blessing!

Ok…So, Are You Ready?

So, what about you?  Still scared about Record-keeping?  Why not think through YOUR OWN way?  Try your spin.  Use what is easy, simple, and will give you more time with your little ones while helping to keep things in place for you.  Most of all, find a way that can capture all of these precious memories of these days for you so you will have them to look back upon tomorrow!  Have fun! EVEN with Record-keeping!

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Need MORE Help?

Check out Cindy’s New Organized Mom Super Set! It is full of great ebooks and audios that will help take you by the hand and plan the best homeschool year ever! Plus! When you purchase your set you get MORE help with record-keeping, organization, and setting up your home to learn–you also get access to Cindy’s Organization 911 Seminar Set and her newest Seminar Set, Let’s Get Organized for the New School Year.

Yep! Both! Complimentary!  Get your set here:

New Organized Mom Super Set–click here!

Worm Composting

Well, at our local homeschool convention in May, I purchased this “kit” to set up a small composting box that can be kept indoors. Especially made for those of us with no yard or no desire to have a huge compost pile to deal with! I came home with a tote, torn up newspaper, a piece of burlap and a bag of about 500 worms! I also purchased several books to help us learn more about the worms and projects we can do with them! Here are the links:

Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System

Worms Eat Our Garbage: Classroom Activities for a Better Environment

Here is the company I bought the kit from at our local homeschool fair:

American Basics

I will explain a bit of the process we have gone through over the past month and a half with the pictures I have been taking of our progress! Basically,  you have to feed the worms daily or at least on a regular basis. You have to make sure they stay moist (hence the burlap that must be moistened daily that goes over the top). Then, after about 2 months, your number of worms should have doubled and  your ability to compost will also double–the more worms you have, the more they can “eat” and the more wonderful “dirt” they will make!

The type of worms we have are called Tiger worms or redworms. They are best suited for composting because they thrive on decaying material and “eat” the most kinds of organic material.

This first set are all from the first day of set up on 5-18-08.

Here we have the raw materials of the kit–brown bag with worms, plastic tote, shredded newspaper.

Here is the extra newspaper and the piece of burlap.

This is the bin with the now moistened shredded newspaper–you have to moisten and “fluff” each piece of newspaper so their will be room for the worms to move around!

Here are the worms (and dirt) dumped on top of the newspapers. You don’t mix it in…you just let them go where they want.

This is a close up of the worms.

Here is the completed set up with the moistened burlap cloth on top.

This is a view of what is under the burlap.

Another close up of the worms.

Here are pictures from a follow up day of adding new items to the bin on 5-23-08:

We’ve been adding coffee grounds and filters, paper towel roll–torn up, dying flowers, etc.

Here is the most recent update of what things look like now on 7-8-08:

There are more worms and they are much BIGGER also!

Here we have just added more coffee grounds, coffee filter and egg shells.

If you are interested in learning more about how this all works, check out the links below for books that I purchased with my kit so we will be able to additional activities and learn more about the different types of worms and what they eat, etc.

Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System

Worms Eat Our Garbage: Classroom Activities for a Better Environment

Updating finally!!

Just a note that I will be adding several posts today….I will put them in the correct order, so make sure to scroll down to see all the new posts!

Sorry I haven’t been updating as I should. I am planning to get better at keeping up with everything!