Tag Archives: home education

Barb Shelton in Portland, August 20!

Barb Shelton, author of Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+La, will be speaking in Portland, OR on August 20. The event runs from 8:30am to 5:30pm.

The theme for the day is “Refreshment, Re-focus, and Equipping.”

Find all the details here:

Registering is an easy process:

Read the info, print out the registration form (click the link under
“How to Register”), and mail to Barb. There are three ways to pay:
– Paypal (click the Paypal button)
– Check or Credit Card (click the Order button)

The seminar is at Western Seminary. From I-84 go south on 39th to
Hawthorne (there’s a Fred Meyer on the corner). Turn left on Hawthorne
(east). Turn left on 55th and then the first right (Madison) to get to
the chapel parking lot.

Get directions from Mapquest or Google Maps with this address:

5511 NE Hawthorne Street, Portland, OR 97215

Registration deadline is August 17th, and space is limited, so
register early. Cost is $25 per mom (dads and teens come free).

Tell your friends! Hope to see you there!

Wisdom in Science Education

We’re just about finished with the Chemistry unit in our homeschool science class. Tonight was the unit review game, in a Jeopardy-like format where the students were divided into three teams and the parents cheered them all on.

One of the remarkable features of this class is that it is solidly based on Biblical principles. In our science explorations, we’re viewing Creation through the lens of Scripture. Part of the classtime and homework is devoted to Bible and character studies, and part is devoted to learning science, and the two go hand in hand.

Take chemistry, for example. The theme for the unit was “Ye are the salt of the earth.” We learned about all sorts of uses for and properties of salt (along with lots of other info, like memorizing the elements and their symbols, the order of the Periodic Table and properties of the different periods and groups, energy shells, ionization, atomic and molecular bonding, acid-base reactions, and more).

The “final Jeopardy” question asked the teams to name three properties of salt, and apply a spiritual analogy to each, and then to state how to “shine your light before all men.” The answers from all three teams were amazing, and showed that the students had learned a lot, both about the chemical properties of salt, and about the spiritual application of the lessons throughout the unit.

More about this later, if you’d like to hear more. (Just let me know in a comment.) It’s nearly midnight and I need to head off to bed. I’d been managing a regular bedtime, the past few days, but the coffee I drank tonight sort of threw me off.

Back from Camping

Well, actually we got back Friday evening, but it’s been catch-up time ever since. I think I just have one load of laundry from the campout left, and there’s still a stray sleeping bag that didn’t get put away in the garage with the others, but we’ll get it stowed away today and then camping is over for the year.

We did some schoolwork yesterday, just Bible reading and listening to the first Gileskirk Antiquities lecture for this year’s studies in moral philosophy (a thumbnail description might be history-literature-worldview; if Middlest were here she could give me the definition to give you, but she’s in the kitchen feeding the poor, starving dog at the moment).

Eldest was shaking her head at the end of the lecture, discouraged that she didn’t have any notes to speak of, worrying about the 200-word summary she was supposed to write. He talked so fast, she complained. I couldn’t get a thing.

We talked a little. I mentioned a couple of key phrases I’d heard, and asked her if she remembered them. She started discussing the matter with her dad (who hadn’t heard the lecture, so all the input was from her side), and somehow the juices started flowing. She went from not recalling any of the lecture, to writing down some good highlights for her summary.


Oh, yes, and in the evening we had a few chapters of The Golden Goblet, read aloud by a master reader.

As they say at the races, And… we’re… off!

Planning: Calendar Year Overview

Getting started with planning!
(if the fonts are wacky, I apologize ahead of time. I’m still learning how to use wordpress)

Glad to see you! Did you print out your calendar and bring it with you? Good!

(If you’re just joining us, you’ll need a 2008-2009 at-a-glance calendar today. You can print out pages 8-9 from the Schoolhouse Planner, or print one from an online calendar creator if you like. See previous post to this one for links to the Schoolhouse Planner and a calendar creator website.)

Now just put it down for a few moments, for we’re going try to do things in order… and the first thing to do is to consider what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it. Helps with motivation.

Webster’s 1828 defines “plan” as “a scheme devised; a project; the form of something to be done existing in the mind, with the several parts adjusted in idea, expressed in words or committed to writing.”

Wow! Committed to writing!

Part of planning is goal-setting. Do you find that a scary word?

But slow down, take a deep breath, and do the next thing, which is actually the *first* thing!

You have two assignments today, one is to get an overview of planning, and the other is to start to plan.

First things first! Let’s stop to pray! Consider these scriptures as you begin:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10)

Consider also:
Proverbs 3:5-6
Proverbs 16:1-3,9
Psalm 39:4
Ephesians 5:15-16

(I’m not advocating taking verses out of context. It’s good to read the surrounding context as you consider the verse.)


Have you prayed? Have you submitted your plans to the Lord? I’m asking Him right now for wisdom, for you and for me, and for clarity and guidance and relief from fear and anxiety for you if you find planning a daunting task.

For the rest of the day I’d like you to consider your target. If your children are arrows in your quiver, what is your aim? What kind of arrows should they be when released? Think about the kind of adults you want them to be. That’s your goal, and you’ll be working backward from there to determine the steps you’ll be taking between now and then.


Now for a bit of concrete planning. We’ll ease into things, don’t worry, but this is important to establish your plan. Remember that calendar for 2008-2009. It’s time to get it out. Also take a piece of paper divided into twelve boxes, write your “start” month in the first box, and follow it with the rest of the months in your academic year. On this piece of paper you’re going to write the important events that happen each month. If a baby’s due, put it down! For our family, I’d put birthdays, our anniversary, our local homeschool convention, Outdoor School, camping, county fair, the months when our co-op is in session, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Even if I don’t have the date, I know our homeschool science class has Outdoor School the last part of May or first part of June, and that we want to go camping sometime in July. This is part of your framework.

Many states consider a school year to be 180 days. (I remember our school year in the Midwest was longer, because of snow days. We get snow days here in the Pacific NW not because our family can’t get to school–it’s right at home, after all–but because we want to play in the snow while it lasts! It’s also a great time to snuggle under a blanket together, read aloud, and sip hot cider or hot chocolate. But I digress.)

Think about this. If you were to take two weeks off and have a four-day academic week the rest of the year, that would make 200 days!

Mark off obvious holidays. (Um. We do academics on some holidays when the government schools are out. We observe some holidays that the institutional schools don’t. You have flexibility here.) Do you have a regular family vacation? Block that out.

You can have a four-day week, with a fifth day for errands and outside activities, or you can have a five-day or even a six-day week. You don’t even have to limit yourself to “only” 180 academic days a year. I know at least one family that has “school” six days a week, year round, with a month off for Christmas and several scattered weeks off the rest of the year for hunting, camping, and county and state fair. I know another family that takes a week off at the end of every month to catch up on domestic affairs and tackle special projects.

When you think about it, learning is going on *all* the time if you’re trying to maintain an atmosphere of learning or learning lifestyle. But bureaucrats require schedules, and schedules can also keep you on track, making sure you’re deliberate about your children’s learning.

With an eye on your “framework” try to sketch out a schedule of days when you’re committed to do some sort of formal academics. Some families are more structured than others, and I expect these won’t have too much trouble knocking out a school calendar. I know some families that have their days scheduled from dawn until bedtime, and they probably aren’t reading this! Many homeschoolers of my acquaintance, including our family, do at least math and phonics lessons, set aside time for writing and musical instrument practice, and read aloud together in addition to independent reading on the part of older students.

Even during a time when I was very ill and we were for all practical purposes unschooling, having the knowledge it was a “school day” kept my children from running wild and goofing off all day–the words “school day” made them feel as if they ought to pursue something productive, to have something to show for the day.

When you’re done with this pencil-and-paper exercise, you’ll have a “school year schedule” and an idea of seasons and interruptions.

See you next time! (As the Lord allows.)

For extra credit:
Let’s sit down and consider a few questions. It might be good to write out the answers to help clarify your thoughts. I get intimidated when faced with writing things down, so I do it in pencil (I’m giving myself permission not to let perfectionism get in the way. I can erase!).

What are you planning? (academics, meals, daily schedule, fitting it all in, etc.)
Why are you planning? (Possible answers range from: “I like planning!” –you probably have it all done already! to “I hate planning, but last year was a disaster.”)
Why should we plan? (You could list a lot of answers to this question. Search in a concordance for Bible references to “plan” for a start.)

Schoolhouse Planner = easy homeschool planning

Are you a planner? Are you a wanna-be? You have *got* to check out the new Schoolhouse Planner from Old Schoolhouse Magazine.

(You can get a sneak peek of the Planner, including the full Table of Contents and sample pages, at The Schoolhouse Store, http://www.theoldschoolhousestore.com/.)

The first thing I noticed when I opened up the PDF file was the little message at the top that told me I could “add comments and markups to this document.” I was grinning with delight when I realized what it meant–I can personalize the pages before printing them out! (I just now typed my brother’s name and address into the address pages, and… it worked!)

That works so well for our visual learners! They hate a printed form with handwritten adjustments. Sometimes I’ll print a form off the Internet and then re-create it in Word or Publisher just to have it personalized and all in the same font so as not to drive Certain People to distraction! (Names withheld in the interest of peace.)

The second thing that struck me was the sheer size of the document. 247 pages!

(For those feeling overwhelmed right about now: Don’t panic! It doesn’t take 247 pages of work to get organized! *g* Remember that a planner is your helper, not your taskmaster!)

I scrolled through the Table of Contents and my grin grew. There are so many wonderful resources here, tailored to the homeschooling life and beautifully organized for practical use.

You see, the Schoolhouse Planner is organized like a calendar, with lots of resources added. In brief, you’ll find…
– calendar pages
– helpful and informative articles about homeschooling, both learning and life
– recipes
– resource lists (These aren’t like the bibliography in a book where you have to write down the information and then chase down the resource you’re looking for–instead you have clickable links that take you to where you can get the resource!)
– reference charts you can use in your home and homeschool
– even historical documents!

Month by month, from now until June 2009, you’ll find all these gems. It’s sort of like having a calendar and almanac rolled into one.

But wait! (the children chime in. they have seen entirely too much television this summer.) There’s more!

Following the calendar/almanac are two sections of planning and organizing forms, one for your homeschool and one for running your household.

It looks to me like a bunch of homeschooling veterans got together and brainstormed every form that might come in handy for a homeschooling family, and then they designed the forms to be useful and friendly, and included them here. There are forms for planning, for recording information, even forms for your students to use (science labs, for example, and nature notebooks, and more)!

The variety of forms is eclectic in nature; that is, there are forms suited to unschooling, literature-based studies, unit studies, textbook-based learning and probably more than I can think of, what with my mug of tea empty. (Cars run on gasoline, most of them… I run on tea. And sometimes chocolate. If it’s a challenging day, maybe both together.)

You probably won’t need every form here, but there’s a nice selection to choose from, to let you tailor this planning resource to your family’s style and needs. From the first stages of planning your curriculum to the end result, or recording test scores and evaluating your students, with stops along the way for field trips, nature journaling, experiments and activities (just to name a few), you’ll find inspiration and homeschool help at the click of a mouse.

Then there are the household forms!

Here you’ll find just about everything you could think of needed to keep the home fires burning. (In my case, more than I’d thought of. I kept looking through the forms, exclaiming to myself, “Hey, that’s a great idea!” and “Wow.” Just, “Wow,” and a thoughtful nod of the head, or a rueful shake of the head, thinking of things that might have been, if we’d been a little more deliberate in our living.)

I could take a couple of hundred words or more, here, to list all the forms available, from menu-planning to gardening, organizing chores, budgeting… Let’s just say that you’ll find an amazing variety of forms for managing home and homeschool.

There are cute forms with illustrations suited to your very young family members along with the more grown-up forms (*sigh* I still remember when our youngest insisted she was too grown up for pictures on her chore sheet.)

There’s even a plan for reading through the Bible in a year. It starts in July, but don’t worry. It’s never too late to start. You can either jump in at today’s date, or just start checking off Bible readings as you go through them.

I’ll tell you one thing I’m going to do: I’m going to use some of these household forms to train our dc in life skills. There are some great resources here, home maintenance and gardening and budgeting, as I mentioned.

I love the versatility of the Schoolhouse Planner. You can print out all the pages and put them in a binder, writing on them as you see fit, or you can customize pages right on your computer and then print them out, or you can print individual pages as you need them.

In days to come, we’ll be walking through the steps of planning our homeschool year. For now, get a year-at-a-glance calendar that covers August 2008 through July 2009 (you can do this on the Internet, at a site that lets you customize and print free calendars such as http://www.printablecalendar.ca/ — or just print out pages 8 and 9 from The Schoolhouse Planner) and meet me here tomorrow.

(As the Lord allows, of course.)

Contest: Free Schoolhouse Planner!

Ready to roll up your sleeves? The adventure of a lifetime is looming on the horizon.

There’s an overused expression hovering in the back of my brain, a cliche perhaps, but true for all that.

Today is the first day…

(…can you finish it with me? Let’s all say it together!)

of the rest of your life!

Who wants to join me?

(Of course, for all I know, you all are weeks ahead of me in this. I’ve had this feeling of the school year creeping up on me, and a glance at the calendar tells me it’s nearly here. All the planning that I’ve been *thinking* about doing is going to have to get done in the next two weeks if I’m going to meet my original start-by date, set last June when we embarked on a glorious summer of (mostly) vacation.)

Just to help establish the right mood, I’m offering a free copy of the new Schoolhouse Planner! All you have to do is comment on this post, and next Monday we’ll draw a name for a winner!

Let your friends know–as they say, “the more the merrier,” after all!

Everyone who joins in to plan and organize for the new school year is a winner, actually! Think about it! How many applicable aphorisms–“aphorisms” sounds so much nicer than “cliches”–can you come up with? Here’s one to start: “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”

Who’s with me?

Let’s get organized!


The new school year is around the corner! I don’t know about you, but I need to get my plans in order!

A lot of us must be thinking about this topic right about now. I just got notice of the Charlotte Mason blog carnival in my email box this morning, and what do you think the topic is?

You guessed it. Getting organized for the new school year.

Many homeschoolers have the option of starting their academic year at any time on the calendar. Of course, in states that require a certain number of hours during the school year, it might be a little more restricted, especially if you have paperwork deadlines.

That said, I know one local family that starts their school year on January 2, another that starts in October (after the harvesting of their large garden, and the canning), and yet another that starts at the beginning of August. I know a family in the hot South that “schools” through the summer when it’s too hot to play outside, most days, and they take their major breaks in spring and fall.

Most of the home educating families I know will be starting their homeschool on about the same schedule as the government schools. Some of it may be the convenience of their friends going off to school.

We often use that same convenience (the “school kids” going off to school) to take our annual camping trip. The campground isn’t crowded, the weather is still good, and it’s a celebration of our not being chained to the same schedule.

We try to take the whole month of December off, and other than that we take off a few days here and a few days there, depending on camping trips, visits from the favorite aunt, and Outdoor School. We don’t usually take the whole summer off, though we did this year. I wonder how hard it’ll be to round them up and head them back on the academic trail. They’ve been learning all along, just not in any sort of organized way.

How about you? How do you plan your calendar year?

(We can talk about details and planners next time. True confession time: I’m something of a planner junkie, and always struggling against the force of entropy. If you don’t remember “entropy” from high school or college science, look at http://physics.about.com/od/glossary/g/entropy.htm)

By the way, that link to the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival can be found here:

Happy New Year!
(throwing confetti with words, until I can figure out how to paste a sparkly animation here. How would I find out how to do that?)