Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Joy of Making a Plan Day 3 – Subjects/Course/Resources

Today is the day! Today we are going to decide what subjects and courses you will teach next school year. Isn’t that exciting and overwhelming at the same time? And of course you will then need to find the all the resources and materials you will need for your curriculum plan.

So in the effort of trying to stay one day ahead of my blog posts, I spent last night researching until the very wee hours of the morning. (But…I was loving every moment!)




Alternatively, you can make all your notes and research in a digital file. I like to use a spreadsheet I can update with links and plans.

Step One: Think about what subjects you will teach for all your children and which subjects you will teach separately. This is a huge time saver both in the planning and teaching. Then decide what subjects and courses your will be teaching next year. Make a list.

Here is my working list:

11th Grade Courses

Algebra 2

American Literature Honors

American Literature Comp

World Civilizations

American Government Honors

Political Science

Exodus Law vs. Constitutional Law

Advanced Biology w/ Lab Honors

Advanced Jewelry Making

Sewing – Garment Construction

Cake Baking and Decorating

9th Grade Courses

Algebra 1

English 1 Compositions/Poetry/Drama

Classic Literature

American History

Bible Study

Biology Honors

Drama 2


Sewing – Garment Construction

Cake Baking and Decorating

I am still in the stages of choosing our resources for some of these classes. I have a few resources already chosen, as I already own these items or will be purchasing them. I will post my resource list tomorrow.

Step Two: Take each course and develop the list of resources (books, dvds, texts, outside classes) that you will use in order to teach your child.

If you are having trouble finding resources you can always email me at justamom at tampabay dot rr do com. But I want to stress the importance of being a member of a homeschool support group. This iiis your “go to” place for guidance, support and friendships. Remember, fellowship with like-minded people enhances your homeschooling journey!

These blog posts are actually part of my book Curriculum Workshop: a guide to writing homeschool curriculum. You can purchase it here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Joy of Making a Plan Day 2 – Examine Your Student

Today is day two of our planning week. How did yesterday go? Did you get a general plan for when you will start and finish? I know it is difficult not knowing what the co-op schedule or the practice schedule will be come fall or even next spring. But reality is this: we can’t wait! If we used the excuse that we were waiting on this schedule or that schedule in order to make our own schedule then we would be waiting a long time! The beauty of making this schedule is that once you have a plan it is so much easier to be flexible, because you now know if you can or cannot do an activity. You know exactly when your scheduled times off will happen and yet, you can easily move a week around here or there.

I have my calendar completed with all the school days noted, vacations circled and holidays marked with happy faces. I know I have about a 4 week give or take on my schedule. This allows me such freedom to move things as needed. When I have a family emergency, I can easily take off that time without fear that we need to be completing school work. Instead we can focus on the matter at hand.

I had a friend that gave herself 5 personal days each school year. She used index cards. I use yellow sticky notes. I wrote “personal day” on each of my five sticky notes. I placed them on my calendar sheet. I allowed myself the freedom to use any one of my five personal days at anytime throughout the school year for any reason. These were not sick days nor were they field trip days. These were my personal days to use to allow myself a day off from teaching. Sometimes my wonderful husband would teach that day or we would simply take that day off for any reason whatsoever. It was like a little surprise I knew I could use at any time. This year, I am using them all at once – for the very last week of school. But…don’t tell my kiddos!

On to our assignment.


Student Assessment Sheet (Print one for each of your students)


This assignment will actually take a bit longer than just a day. You will use this sheet for probably a week as you consider each of your student’s strengths and weaknesses. Now, I want to caution you here. This sheet is for your use as you see fit. It is not something I have shared with my children when they were younger, but as they matured they each began to complete a copy in addition to my assessment.

I want you to think about your child’s strengths. What does your child enjoy doing? These strengths encompass all aspects of their precious lives. So include everything from “likes to organize toys” to “reading” to “public speaking” and “serving”. There is so much to include here that I want you to really spend some time thinking about each of your children as individuals. You might want to even ask your student what they think they are best or good at. You can write down their answers too.

Then I want you to think about the areas he or she needs to work on. Don’t we all have to work on something? God is trying to teach me something new every day! So consider all aspects of your child. Don’t make a list of things you want to “fix” this year. Merely see your child and address the things that need addressing and guide them.

While this might seem like a silly or unwarranted task, it is so important to address your child’s needs. This is so much more about parenting than simply homeschooling. Be honest with yourself. Don’t try to make your child the next “perfect homeschool student”. Enjoy your child right where they are, doing just what they are doing. Remember, this is your worksheet. Use this tool to your advantage.

And as a final reminder, I want to share with you the dangers of comparing our children to Susie Perfect’s children. Chip Ingram says that when we begin to make comparisons we have only two choices: superiority or inferiority. Neither of which are pleasing to God.

Enjoy your week of intense planning. I’ll be back tomorrow with another post and update you on our plans! You can always email me any questions you might have or post a comment.

Happy Planning!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Joy of Making A Plan....A Week of Lesson Plans

Okay, I need to get myself together and prepare for next year.  I began this process back on February 1st. So in order to keep myself on the task at hand, I am doing this in a week of intense planning.  Want to join me?

First things first. You will find a supply list at the beginning of each post and an assignment.  So here is your chance to get some coaching with your plan this week!  So let's get started:

Day 1
Supply List
Year at a Glance Calendar (I like the ones at
Schedules (work, support group, sports)

Assignment: Prepare a yearly calendar noting your school days.

Step 1
Look at the yearly calendar.  (I use this calendar.)
Cross off all days you are not going to school.  For us, that means all weekends.  I am crossing off the days I know my son will be home from college (this may change).  I am crossing off all holidays.  Of course your holiday breaks may be different from mine.  But for us, that means 2-3 weeks at Christmas and a whole week at Thanksgiving.  Cross off vacation days/weeks.

Step 2
Decide your schedule:
5 day/4 day weeks
6 weeks on, 1 week break
9 week quarters
2 semesters
Check with your state as to what your requirements are for attendance.  In Florida, homeschoolers that are registered with their county do not have any attendance requirements. Although, I plan for 36 weeks of school within two semesters.  The semester break is at Christmastime.

When do you want to begin school?  I have a dear friend that begins school 6 weeks prior to Labor Day.  So she then takes that week off.  Seems everyone is in school and vacation deals can be had!  So that is definitely something to ponder.

This year we are beginning school much earlier than I have planned in recent years.  But, once again, I know myself and my children.  We get Spring fever.  So knowing that, I make sure we done with school by May 1. That also means we can begin earlier in the hot Florida summer earlier!  (Yes, my teens are not real excited about this, but they will singing a different tune when our Christmas break is longer than usual!)

 Step 3
Set a goal for your first day of school.  Mark that date on your calendar.  I circle this date.  Then I use a highlighter to note all school days.  Make sure you mark a realistic amount of school days.  The reality is you probably do not want to run from late summer to Thanksgiving with no breaks.  You need a break and so do your kiddos!

Make this calendar work for you!  Do not allow this "plan" to rule you!

Tomorrow we are going to think about our kids!  I'll even have a worksheet for you to print!

Post any questions you have or email me at justamom at tampabay dot rr dot com.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Joy of Finding Your Passion

We have always taught our children to "think outside the box".  As a homeschool family, we are anything but traditional.  We saw homeschooling as a way of opening up the possibilites for education outside the traditional classroom setting.  Now, here we are 14 years later and our oldest child is graduating in just a very few short weeks from now.  We have taught our children to be non-conformists.  We have taught them to seek out their passions- the ones God gave them and seek God's will while fulfilling your dreams.  It never hurts to try something new! Now, wouldn't it be grand if we could find a college or university that truly taught that message as well?

Today we had the honor of being part of an Open House event at the university where our son will be attending in the Fall.  It was incredible to hear from faculty and staff on numerous occassions that the key to success in college and furthermore in life is following your passion.  It was nice to see that this message will continue with our son as he pursues his filmmaking career. 

So what is your passion?  For many years my passion has revolved around the homeschooling arena.  Being a conference speaker, homeschool author, co-op teacher and support group leader has used my passion in different ways.  I often talk of my cup being filled.  My cup is filled when I am doing something that uses my passions, my strengths.  Sometimes as stay at home moms we loose that passion for something. We become something else entirely. Don't get lost in the expectations of what you "should" be doing.  Embrace a passion, a hobby, a place of service and be an example of success to your children!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Joy of Friday Afternoons

Friday afternoons mean so much at our home.  It is the end of a school week.  It is an afternoon reserved for fun activities, or creative adventures. It is a beginning of a weekend!  At our home, weekends are full of fun, worship time at church and projects.  My Friday afternoon has been filled with a project.  I am working on a special album for my son, Nick.  This is the first  of this type of album I am making.  See, I am a chronological scrapper.  Yes, I know....I need help!  No, seriously, I have found amazing Photo Freedom.  Literally, I have found an amazing amount of freedom from Stacy Julian's Photo Freedom.  I am learning to scrap in a more meaningful way to me. Stacy has been an incredible source of inspiration to my scrapbooking.  You should really check out her website: Stacy Julian.

While Photo Freedom is definitely difficult to find right now, Stacy has other books that are equally inspiring.  One of the most affordable books I am looking at now is over at Ella Publishing.  And one of my new friends on Facebook shared this link today for a free Ella E-Book. (Thanks Katie!!!)

(credit: Ella Publishing)

So in my effort to scrapbook in a more authentic manner, I am working on this scrapbook, and telling my story of my amazing son, Nick.  I am sharing what I see and what I have felt in order to tell the story of Nick.

So here's where I need your help.  I need manly, masculine paper and supplies.  I am on the hunt....can you help?  Leave me a comment with your suggestions.  I'll write more on Monday with what products I find.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Joy of Trying Something New

I love being creative.  I enjoy scrapbooking as one of my creative outlets.  The act of creating a book or project that chronicles our life together as a family just fills my cup!  I love documenting our journey as a family.  So in the interest of trying something new, I decided to become an Independent MemoryWorks Consultant!  Do not worry about this blog turning into a sales pitch! I just need to support my addiction, I mean hobby!  I have so many reasons why I chose this company, but I will share that on another day.  Today I just want to share with you the product that made me want to try this new venture.

The Simple Stories blog will give you all the details of Simple Stories Life Documented.  It is a simple kit that lets you document an entire year in your album so quickly and easily.  So here's the deal: I wanted this kit after reading about it on the blog.  But, I had to order through a MemoryWorks Independent Consultant.  I didn't know one or have one in my area.  After a great deal of research, I am now a MemoryWorks Independent Consultant!  I'll share more about this amazing company another day.  But if you want more information on getting discounts for your own scrapbooking supplies or starting your own business you can email me at justamom at tampabay dot rr dot com. (Gotta keep that spam outta my inbox!)

Right now, my only reason for becoming a MemoryWorks Independent Consultant was to get a discount on products I was already ordering for my hobby.  From Basic Grey to American Crafts cardstock, this company offers more than my local scrapbook store ever has in stock. 

I am so excited about this new product, that I want to share it with you! I am placing my first order next week and I am offering 10% off all Simple Stories kits ordered by March 22nd.  Of course you can order anything from the amazing new catalog as well. (The links are noted below.) And an added bonus, if you live in the Riverview area, I will give you free shipping on this order! 

I am so excited, can you tell?  You can view the catalog online at the links noted below.  The catalog is in sections to help you find exactly what you need!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Joy of Sharing Creativity!

In an effort to be more creative, I am going to share my creativity!  I am hosting a workshop for Lapbooks/Questbooks at my home on March 18th.  All homeschooling moms are invited to come and learn all about Lapbooks/Questbooks.  You will even get to make your very own Lapbook/Questbook!

You can email me to get the address and all the details.  This is a free workshop and all the supplies are included!  Can't wait to share this creativity with fellow homeschool moms!

I'll post more about Lapbooks/Questbooks soon!  If you want more informaiton now, visit ExcellentQuests.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Joy of Making my House a Home

This week I am trying to be more creative.  Now I didn't create this item this week, but I did make a digi scrapbook page about it.  But rather than posting another digi layout I'll post the picture.

I used my digital cutter, a Quickutz Silhouette, to cut the large P out of brown vinyl and the rest from while vinyl laying them on the red wall.  This is high on a 10 foot wall above a large mirror in our formal dining room.  You can see it as you enter the front door of our home.  I think it shows how much a cherish our marriage and our home.  We have been blessed!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Joy of Documenting a Journey

It is obvious that I enjoy scrapbooking. I follow scrapbooking blogs and find inspiration from many different types of scrapbooking.  One of my favorite scrapbook artists is Stacy Julian.  She is author of Photo Freedom.  Of course she can inspire a person on so many different levels, but for me it was the freedom from being an "event" scrapbooker.  Of course I will still scrapbook our birthdays and vacations and holidays, but no longer will I negate the every day.  I could not believe that my scrapbooks had failed to show one of the most life filling acitivities in our home: homeschooling. And you can see that we have homeschooled for many years!  I am trying this year to tell more of our/my story.  I find scrapbooking to be my outlet for telling this story.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Creative Joy

Here is my creative venture for today!  Two months from today, Nick, our oldest child will graduate from all his years of homeschooling.  I am so proud to know him.  He is such a wonderful young man with an unwavering faith.  It is a joy to be his mama!  Such a sweet gift from the Lord!

The Joy of Monday Musings

Mondays are like a reset button for me.  I can begin fresh with a  new week, new ideas and new goals.  Before I begin any of these "new" things I begin with my thoughts on my Bible Study.  Aside from my Bible reading I enjoy reading a good book.  Presently, I am reading Good to Great in God's Eyes: 10 Practices Great Christians Have in Common by Chip Ingram.  To tell you that I have been reading this for over a month and am just now getting to the second chapter is even a surprise for me!  Mr. Ingram writes in a manner that invites you to come along on a journey to see yourself in a new light. 

Ingram walks you through ten life changing practices.  The first chapter dealt with thinking good thoughts. It took me over a month of prayer and study just to digest all that was included in that chapter.  There were many life application ideas as well.  Today I began chapter two: Read Great Books.  While Ingram lists books that were life changing for him, you and I may come up with a completely different list.  As a homeschool mom, a wife and even being a woman may define or lead you to find books specific to you and your life. 

So this week I am building my book list of books I want to read.  I have a list on this blog of books I am currently reading.  Yet, I wanted to make a list of books to read.  And then set a GOAL to read so many books or a specific amount of time each and every week.  Chip Ingram asks an interesting question:  What things in my life can I replace with reading great books that strengthen my walk with the Lord? 

So are you a list maker or a goal setter?  Not everyone works well with lists.  Lists can be motivators or defeat your good intentions.  Set a goal for this week.  My goal is to be more creative this week!