~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
Never a dull moment, not even in routine moments, when there are five children spanning 8 years to coordinate. Well, no. I’m on my fifth two-year-old, I know better: Never a dull moment, not even in routine moments, when there’s a two-year-old in the house.
Yes. Yes, I believe that’s the truth.
Two-year-olds bring life to the house, giggles to the family, and attention to the present moment. Because if you aren’t paying attention to the toddler, you’ll regret it one way or another.
~Pretty Routine ~
I have been working on being better about getting hair done and faces washed in addition to baby changed and dressed before we start Circle Time. I’m a bit spoiled after two boys and then a girl who had a cute chin-length bob for years; now I have to do girl hair daily or it’s just a mess. So I’m trying to build that into my morning routine.
And, yes, this includes mom’s hair, too.
~ Happy Routine ~
After years of Circle Time and refining our memory work binders, Circle Time now runs fairly smoothly – sometimes even happily – especially when there’s coffee to sip while the kids recite.
~ Funny Routine ~
The two younger readers want in on more of the recitation since we’ve resumed in 2015. It’s a good thing. I tell myself that. It is true. But it also means that Circle Time instead of moving at a brisk clip and being done in 45 minutes now includes awkward pauses and painful sound-it-out-ing that means it takes 60-70 minutes.
It’s worth it. And having that coffee to sip helps, again.
~ Real Routine ~
Unfortunately, it’s becoming rather routine for the toddler to not make it through Circle Time. We see a lot of this face (and the accompanying sound effects).
We shall see it through. We have before and we will again. Before long, she’s going to be pestering for her own binder so she can follow along, too.
Our virtue is certain because it is provided, not ginned up.
This is certain, that unless virtue is provided from heaven each new moment, because we are fallen we would be ruined a thousand times over. Whomever God elects, He supports with an unconquerable fortitude for perseverance.
To know that the strength I need is not my own, but given to me, is a true comfort. God is much more reliable – not to mention strong! – than I am.
I thought The Secret Providences of God was a great book, briefly and clearly demonstrating that God orchestrates all things without Himself being implicated in His creatures’ wickedness. Providence truly is a comforting doctrine – we are in the hands of One Who knows what He’s doing and does all things well. As Doug Wilson puts it, God draws straight with crooked lines.
They keep like things together. They corral messes. They make things easy to grab and go.
When you homeschool across the whole house (and sometimes out of doors!), storing things in bins makes life easier and lesson time smoother. Keeping things corralled and together makes it simpler to put it away out of sight and to move it to wherever work is being done.
Homeschool bins for papers
Using plastic filing containers with hanging folders is a great way to keep a stock of various sorts of papers at hand. They can also be used for filing completed work away or for holding work for the coming week or term.
A bin can be pulled from a high shelf and replaced easily – much more easily than paper in their plastic wrap.
Homeschool bins for blocks of time
My favorite way to organize bins is by “blocks of time.” There’s a bin for our twice-a-week “elementary lessons” in the afternoon with the books and supplies we use then. There’s a bin for the Kindergarten & 1st grader’s lessons that happen 3x a week or so. There’s a bin for the 6th grader to contain his materials and another one for the 4th grader. There’s the crate with a hanging folder for each student’s math workbooks and drill pages.
When I dedicate a chunk of time in our school day to a particular set of lessons
Homeschool bins for out-of-rotation books
Bins, of course, are great for storage. We have a lot of books in our house, and one coping strategy I have is to box up (or bin up) the books on the periods of history we are not currently studying. This way, about 100 books are kept out of rotation and are fresh and exciting again when I pull them out.
Links about particular homeschool bins I use
I’ve written before about particular bins I have set up, and you can see more pictures and detail in those specific posts:
~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
A fun thing you don’t want to miss this week is the launch of Pam Barnhill’s podcast, Homeschool Snapshot Podcast. She kicked off her launch week with an episode every day this week, and I’m the guest of episode 3, titled, “Organization is like laundry.” We had a great time chatting, despite my nervousness because she didn’t tell me all the questions ahead of time. She insists it’s better for the spontaneity. You listen and decide. :)
In other news, Sarah and I had so much fun with the last live chat that we’re going to do it again Monday afternoon! Stay tuned for details. If you don’t already read her blog (which you should), you’ll definitely want to check out her current Saturday series where she’s writing about working through my course. Lots of good thoughts and conversation going on over there!
Now to jump into the snapshots of our typical homeschool days now that we’ve found our new-year, post-Christmas groove.
~ Pretty Selfies ~
Couch time: phonics, Bible story, and poems before moving to the table for spelling.
And then just fun time:
~ Happy Jumping ~
I think this small indoor trampoline might have been my best purchase ever. Seriously useful for children to bounce out their wiggles without tearing through the house.
~ Funny Fitbit Fad ~
Self-directed “handicrafts” this week included the 7yo & 4yo crafting their own Fitbits with paper and tape, so they could be just like Mom. Ilse even made her own Fitbit dashboard iPod with an index card. Ilse had to have one in order to really play mommy with her dolls and baby sister. Pretty funny.
~ Real Moments ~
What I like about snapping quick photos with my iPod Touch is that though in the moment the day might feel crazy and loud and pulled-in-a-million-directions, seeing the still (and silent) photo makes me see the moments for what they really are: joyous life lived together.
Homeschooling can be exhausting, but oh so worth it.
But this is the one I finished this week, and you wanted a review. So here you have it.
Life takes work and intentional choices.
The book is a good overview of time-management and intentional-living basics. If you feel lost and don’t know where to start, her outlines would be a great resource. If you already know what you should be doing or you’ve already been immersed in the productivity or time-management or goal-setting genre, then this book would be a retread. It’s a newbie-level book for those who know they have a problem but don’t know how to get out.
She covers goal-setting, making a workable plan, setting a budget, and working on self-discipline.
My favorite part of the book was when she told about a time their basement flooded. The sump pump smelled funny and sounded wrong, so she unplugged it, intending to tell her husband about it when he got home. She forgot. Nothing happened until one day it rained heavily. When she went downstairs, she found the back room waterlogged, 2 inches deep.
The sump pump being unplugged was only a solution until it actually rained.
So much of our exhaustion and burnout are the result of not being plugged in. We think we’re capable of handling life without constantly renewing our power supplies. It might work out fine so long as life is sailing smoothly. But when the rains of stress, change, sickness, or upheaval come pouring down upon us, we quickly start drowning.
I thought that was a great analogy, especially because she followed it up with truth about what being “plugged in” really is: God’s Word and prayer are the places we receive refreshment. Spa days or coffee shops are nice, but they aren’t what we need at the deepest level. They will only be treating the surface unless our foundations are secure.
If you don’t have at least a few blocks of time per week that are both predictable and uninterrupted, where you can prayerfully get your priorities in order, you are in survival mode.
Just having a definition for it goes a long way toward realizing how to fix the root problem, and I think she nailed the root of the feeling right there. And, in my own life, that’s why getting up before the kids is so vital to my sanity.
The thing about homeschooling without a schoolroom is that I don’t want my house to look like we are a homeschooling household.
I’m not at all embarrassed to be a homeschooler, but I want a house that looks welcoming and inviting and calming, not one that has timelines in the entry way or schoolish posters in the dining room.
I decorate with books, but I don’t want to decorate like a kindergarten classroom or like homeschooling is our primary identity, the thing that takes over not only our days, but even our walls.
During school hours it does take over all our surface areas, it seems, but I want to be able to EHAP& and have the house look reasonably “normal.”
Homeschooling Without a School Room
The real trick about having a tidy or organized house is for everything to have a home. Things without homes are clutter. Things with homes can be put away, leaving space for life to happen. Mid-day, the house might look chaotic, but by evening, if everything has a place to go, it can look decently in order again: like my kitchen counter day-in-the-life post shows.
When finding homes for homeschooling materials, consider how often they are used and who needs to access them. If something is used daily, it has to be easily accessible. If something is accessed by children, it has to be simple to get out and put back.
So, our Circle Time binders are on the bottom shelf of a bookshelf in the kitchen eat-in area where we do our memory work and singing time every morning. Everyone can grab their own binder and, more importantly, put their own binder away when we’re done. The row of colorful binders along the bottom shelf doesn’t bother me like a timeline across the dining room wall would.
This spring I purchased two IKEA cupboards. When closed, they look like furniture providing a decorative surface in a transition space between our dining and living rooms (which are open to each other). When open, and during school times, they provide storage and useful space for our stuff to live, closed off and uncluttered-looking (when the doors are closed, anyway).
I’m a fan of doors that can be closed on a oft-used space.
After all, this space does get used and it does show.
For items I only use once a week or less, and that I am the one to access, I have a bookshelf in the basement to store them. I can’t show you a picture of that right now, because the basement space is in flux; my husband is building me more shelf space!
Because our primary education materials are books, having bookshelf space is essential. Books are in nearly every room of our house and kids have wide and free access to most of them.
The great thing about using mostly books is that books are never clutter. No, they aren’t ever. Books on shelves look normal and nice and necessary.