img_1617.jpgWhile we may be cooped up inside during these cold winter days, there are lots of ways to help the kids stay active outside- whether hot or cold. Here’s some ideas- see what works for your family!

  • Biking- take advantage of local trails, throw the bikes in the car and head to a local or state park, mountain bike, etc.
  • Walking and Hiking- again, take advantage of local trails, take a stroll through your neighborhood, or head to a local scenic destination
  • Geocaching- find an app on your smart phone, pop the kids in the car, and head out for a 21st century scavenger hunt. Don’t forget to bring a few small baubles with you to replace anything you take on your little adventure.
  • Tennis- lots of area parks will have tennis courts you can take advantage of. Bring your rackets and a set of balls and enjoy hitting some back and forth. You can look up the rules of the game online (if you don’t already know) and learn how to properly score.
  • Football
  • Baseball- again, many area parks will have local diamonds you can take advantage of. Call some friends and have a pick-up game! Or you can play catch and practice hitting on your own.
  • Take your kids to a local playground for some unscheduled playtime.
  • Disc/frisbee golf- though you can play with any frisbee, there are specific discs made for driving and putting that can be purchased at your local sporting goods store. Look up the rules online and locate a local course (again, found in many local parks) and enjoy a leisurely family round.
  • Frisbee- pass the frisbee around in your own yard, look up tricks online and try to recreate them
  • Ultimate Frisbee- much like the game of football, this frisbee game is high energy and requires teams. Look up the rules online and invite your friends to a pick up game, where they can join in the fun!
  • Jump rope- jump ropes can be purchased almost anywhere and this is a great cardiovascular activity. If you have multiple kids, you can give Double Dutch a try and even some tricks! If you find your kids to enjoy this, look up local jump rope clubs.
  • Sledding
  • Snow shoeing
  • Cross country skiing
  • Ice Skating
  • Rollerblading
  • Broom ball- in frozen weather, gather some pals to create two teams and head to a local ice rink. Players will need brooms and a ball to play this game of hockey in their tennis shoes!
  • Swimming
  • Kayaking/canoeing

If you’d like to see some of the ways that our family stays active, click here to watch my latest You Tube video: Homeschool PE Ideas What other activities has your family used for PE? PLEASE, share them below! We look forward to hearing some great ideas from you!!

Keeping Doing Life Deliberately!

Trisha

I remember when it dawned on me that teaching my kids to be resourceful was a necessity. We were in the school room and all four kids wanted something from me at the same time: “Mom, I need help!” “Mom, can I get a snack?” “Mom, how do you spell ‘airplane’?” “Can I go to the bathroom?!?!”

Now, if you don’t know me well, I am a visual learner and an abundance of noise quickly has me overstimulated. The inundation of questions and demand for my attention from every kid made me feel like I was about to lose my ever-lovin’ mind.

I had to come up with a solution to my quandary- and fast.

Like most things with kids, my solution wasn’t a quick fix. But rather a teachable moment that would come again and again. I needed to teach my kids to be resourceful- to find other ways to solve their problems rather than coming straight to mom for the answer.

Don’t get me wrong. I want my kids to go to their dad or me for help. But there is something to be said for being a problem-solver and looking for other ways to solve a problem FIRST, before coming to mom and dad. Also, just like any school room teacher, there has to be a method for approaching a teacher when she is helping other students, to maintain order in the schoolroom. So here is the process we came up with:

  1. If you don’t understand something in the lesson you are working on, re-read or re-listen to the lesson and see if that helps to bring clarity.

  2. If you still don’t understand, is there another textbook you can look at?

  3. Is there an older sibling you can ask?

  4. Try again.

  5. Use a dictionary, look at another book, consult an encyclopedia, or google it (with permission).

  6. Ask mom or dad when all other resources have been exhausted.

What about your family? How do you handle classroom chaos? Do you have other tips for teaching your kids to be resourceful?? PLEASE, share your thoughts with the Doing Life Deliberately community so that we can all learn and be blessed!

Keep Doing Life Deliberately, friends!

Trisha

So you are the mom of an infant, toddler, and/or preschooler.

(Let me stop right now to give you a cyber hug!!!)

I did not realize until my kids were grown beyond these stages and I was hanging out with my sister’s kids (which are 8 months, 2 years and 4 years) just how very physically and emotionally exhausting this stage of parenting is! I think when you are in the thick of it, and have no previous experience to compare it to, you just take it day to day and do your best to get through the day. But now that our kids are older and quite self-sufficient, I am reminded of what a sleep-deprived, survival-mode time of life that stage really is.

That being said, homeschooling with such small children is a CHALLENGE. But it is also a HUGE privilege. There are few things more satisfying, in my experience, than teaching kids to read and write. What a feeling to hold your child on your lap and hear them sound out letters and put together their first words. What a delight to study butterflies with your 5 year old, observing all of their body parts with a magnifying glass and watching the caterpillars you purchased through the mail form a chrysalis, and emerge days later as a beautiful butterfly. The joy that comes with reading scripture with your child and hearing them ask questions about God’s Word and ponder who Jesus is that He would leave heaven, take on the form of a man, live a perfect life, die and rise again so that we could walk in relationship with the Heavenly Father forever- priceless!! So yes, homeschooling with little ones is hard, but OH SO WORTH IT!

A little field trip fun with my youngest and her two young cousins :-)

In my opinion, success in homeschooling small children means having fun and making learning exciting. If you can succeed at that, then your kids will look forward to school and learning.

Having right expectations- both of yourself and of them- is really important. School should be something that you all look forward to- not dread. For example, if mom is a slave driver with her five year old, and succumbs to a frustrated tone with her kids when they don’t understand a concept right away, the child is not going to want to do school (I say this from a place of personal experience, unfortunately, and still struggle at times).

One of the great blessings of starting homeschool at 4, 5 or 6 years old, is that you can ‘grow into” homeschool. Some different ways that can look are:

  • Starting with just a small amount of time- 30 minutes to an hour (maybe even less time if your child is not accustomed to sitting still for that long). Add 5 minutes every other day until you’ve reached an ideal time frame to work with your child.
  • Focusing your energies on the main subjects: reading, writing, and arithmetic. You have plenty of time to add in extra subjects as you create a comfortable routine.
  • Using hands on crafts, manipulative and activities to teach that are exciting and fun. Personally, I am not the creative type to make up games and activities on the fly. But that’s the beauty of websites like Pinterest where you can search a topic (phonics games, for example) and get tons of creative ideas from teachers and moms alike.
  • Adapting your school day around the needs of other kids- whether baby’s naps and feeding times or your teenager’s basketball schedule
  • Having your older kids help occupy little ones (by playing with them, reading a story, taking care of their needs, etc.) while you sit one on one with your youngest students.
  • Having older siblings “teach” younger siblings while you briefly tend to your little people. Teaching younger siblings often helps older sibling to solidify concepts in their own minds.

So how about you, Moms and Dads? What wrong expectations have you caught yourself in? How did you adapt? What tips do you have for other parents who are homeschooling with infants, toddlers and preschoolers? PLEASE, leave your encouraging comments below and be a blessing to other Doing Life Deliberately readers!

Keep Doing Life Deliberately, friends!!

Trisha

There are lots of challenges when it comes to homeschooling: kids’ bad attitudes, keeping learning fun/interesting, assessing various learning styles, being patient as a teacher, choosing curriculum, etc. I could go on and on. But something that has taken me by surprise is just how difficult it can be to stay on top of checking the kids’ assignments. I have found that as the kids get older, it becomes increasingly time consuming to check the kids’ schoolwork, tutor them through the corrections (because they often need help) and recheck their corrections. Our oldest two children are in 7th and 9th grades, and with each passing year their homework is more time consuming and challenging.

To see the system we use to keep track of assignments and hold our kids accountable to getting their work done, watch my video: How to Manage Homeschool Assignment Books

This was a big struggle for me last year. After a couple weeks of school this past fall, I recognized that this was going to be an even greater struggle this year. So I took my concerns to Principal Martinez (aka, my husband, Joe). Our mutually agreed upon solution: to divide and conquer. Joe would check the older two girl’s schoolwork and I would check the younger kids’ schoolwork. Now is it a perfect system?  It rarely ever is. Do we do it faithfully? No. Some weeks we are more on top of things than others. Ideally, we would like to be checking the kids’ work daily. It takes less time that way, rather than letting it all build up for us to check. It is also less overwhelming to the kids to correct one day’s worth of work rather than five days work. So this is what we aim for.

How about you? Have you run into any unexpected challenges? If you haven’t begun homeschooling, what challenges do you anticipate? Write in the comments below! We’re sure to have some great dialogue and helps as we discuss!

Keep doing life deliberately,

Trisha

If you watched my YouTube video on How To Lesson Plan for Homeschool , you know that I opt to plan many weeks at a time. We have four kids, so lesson planning takes a significant amount of time. I, for one, would rather shove thorns under all my fingernails than have to lesson plan every week, because of the time consuming process that it is. Therefore, I plan 6-8 weeks at a time.

“Why is it such a chore,” you ask? With having four kids, there is a ton of books to reference in order to complete their assignment sheets. I am most productive with lesson planning if I am removed from the kids, which generally means hanging out at Starbucks to lesson plan. Can you imagine hauling 30 textbooks (because they are all in different grades) to Starbucks every single week? Uh, no. Once every 6-8 weeks will do nicely, thank you.

That being said, I would like to share with you some other benefits to creating long term lesson plans. Homeschooling has made me a planner, because if I did not plan ahead, I would constantly be scrambling from one child to another, one household chore to another, one meal to another. In summary, I would be a basket case. Ok, I’d be more of a basket case than I already am. (Just keeping it real, folks.)

Benefits:

  • It really only takes an hour or two more to plan for multiple weeks than it does for one week. You already have the books out, ready to go- so why not?
  • Planning 6-8 weeks at a time allows for life to happen: illness, accidents, late nights, busy schedules, etc. It’s easy to change the date at the top of the page if you need to put things off a day or two. Having things planned ahead is one less stress when life throws you a curve ball.
  • Lesson planning can be a time consuming venture, largely depending on how you approach homeschooling (unschooling vs. hyper scheduled). But planning in large chunks allows time daily for other time consuming responsibilities, like correcting completed school work, making meals, taking kids to activities, etc.
  • Long term planning reduces stress, eliminating that awful feeling that one is always behind.
  • Having daily planning off your plate means that you are able to focus on others more: your family, your friends, your neighbors. Preplanning creates margin and freedom to be attentive to the needs of others (for example, now you can bring a meal to a sick friend or play that board game your daughter has been wanting you to play).

How about you? How do you approach lesson planning? Do you have any tips and tricks that could help others? Share your comments and questions below- I look forward to learning from you and responding!

Keep doing life deliberately!

Trisha

School is so different from when I was a kid- in large part to the boom in technology. I remember typing English lit papers on our dinosaur computer (even by standards then, it was a dinosaur) with the spindled printer paper. The computer lab at my small-town highschool was fairly new, and I didn’t have the foresight to see how important taking a computer class would be for my future. Fortunately, I was a kid and a quick learner. My college years grew my skills immensely- from using email to word processors to the internet. My young married years quickly acquainted me with social media, and now, here I am, writing a blog and posting videos to YouTube (click HERE for a tour of our homeschool room!).

Fast forward to 2018, and here I am, a parent, and my kids can work remotes, video games and Minecraft in circles around me. Trying to navigate their technology usage is not only a challenge, but a chore. And yet, in some ways it is a beautiful blessing. Here are three thoughts that I have regarding technology in the home/homeschool classroom:

Benefits

As our kids are getting older, we find ourselves teaching more difficult subjects, checking more assignments, and recording completed work. For this reason, I have come to appreciate the technological resources available to us more and more. We have taken advantage of CD-ROM teaching cd’s: a Spanish program to guide the kids through learning a foreign language, and even entire math curriculums for our oldest girls. We did this: one, because they were struggling at the upper levels with their former curriculum; two, because it was far more captivating and rewarding to use the computer program; and three, because it automatically graded their day’s work, saving mom and dad a ton of time! As a bonus, the kids look forward to using the computer interspersed between their other subjects. It’s a nice break from textbook learning.

Accountability

If our kids are going to have access to the internet, they MUST have accountability. There are tons of ways to go about this, but some of my favorites are:

  • Kindle Fire Tablets: These tablets are inexpensive and have easy-to-use parental controls. You can set a curfew for your kids and control what hours of day they have the ability to use the tablet. You can easily limit what kind of access they have to the internet, videos, apps, shopping, books, music, etc. You create a parental control password and enter it to change any of the settings at any time. While this is not a perfect system for keeping kids safe or out of trouble, it definitely goes a long way.
  • Covenant Eyes: This is a web based company that can filter all your technology, as well as send emails to accountability partners of your choice, highlighting websites of concern. This allows parents to see and visit websites their kids are visiting and discuss with them the wisdom of their choices (or lack thereof). This is great accountability for parents, too.

Boundaries

There are a lot of great reasons to limit the amount of time that kids are in front of screens: increasing physical activity, the addiction factor (the addiction factor of screen time has been compared to the addictiveness of some illegal drugs- you can Google it), the radiation concerns of people being in proximity to tablets, phones, lap tops, etc. for hours a day and the concern for a link to cancer and disease, the lack of social interaction with others sitting right next to them, and the list can go ON, and ON, and ON… Even at our kids’ annual checkup this week at the doctor, the information sheets sent home with them recommended no more than 1-2 hours a day of screen time. So, that being said, there is good reason for creating limits for the use of technology. Some ideas we have employed are:

  • We have a designated hour each day when the kids can use tablets or computers. This includes video games, email, video chat, etc. This way we can easily keep track of when they are on technology and not taking advantage of our inattentiveness.
  • Before the kids can utilize their hour for technology, they must complete all of the day’s assignments, do their daily chore, practice their piano homework, and read silently. If they fulfill their responsibilities, they get their hour or so. (They can and will take advantage of mom and dad’s failure to hold them accountable- so I have to be diligent to check over their schoolwork. This is an area we are constantly working on.)
  • Extra hard work in school will gladly be rewarded with a bit of extra time on technology. For example, our son is extremely self motivated to finish work quickly so that he can have more time on the tablet. We are happy to oblige a bit more time if he has worked hard, worked well (quality work) and with a good attitude!

So there you have it. We are learning and growing right with the kids. What benefits, boundaries and accountability tools have you used in your home with technology?PLEASE, comment below! Your thoughts and experiences are of value to us and can be a blessing to others.

Keep Doing Life Deliberately!

Trisha

Our culture is so ridiculously busy. We have gone from an attitude of “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop” to lives that are too busy to be concerned with anyone else but me. The tendency toward a packed schedule has been my life story. Even as a child, I was a extremely active: afterschool jobs, sports, music lessons, speech, drama, band, 4H, and church activities. There was rarely a day that I did not have an event to go to. And though I was busy and managed to stay out of trouble, looking back I can see that there was not a ton of quality family time. I was pretty consumed by me: what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go. I think that my crazy pace (though it was filled with many, many “good” things), enabled me to become very self-centered.

I am not advocating dropping all extracurriculars, afterschool jobs, and the like. We don’t want to be creating a generation of lazy bums. But I wonder if there is a happy medium to be had: a schedule that allows for kids explore their interests, but not at the cost of quality and quantity family time. Is there a sweet spot that allows our children to be active, but also creates space in their lives to appreciate rest and give of their time to others?

I think one of the serious dangers of not creating margin in our families is that we are not only being selfish with our own time, but we are also leading (by example) our children to be selfish with their time. Time is precious. Time is fleeting. And when we fill our schedules so full of activities that we have no flexibility to meet the needs of others, we have severely limited how God can use us to be a blessing in the lives of others. We have no space/availability to be about our Father’s business.

I think there are a few questions we can ask ourselves to evaluate whether or not we have entered the camp of “too busy, no margin”;

  • Do we have a day where we rest together as a family, with no commitments (a day of Sabbath)?

  • Do we regularly (not every day, but frequently) sit down at the dinner table and eat together as a family?

  • Are we spending more than an hour a day in the car driving to school or extracurricular activities?

  • Do we have evenings available in a week where we can show hospitality to others, either by opening our home or meeting people elsewhere for fellowship?

  • Do we have enough time in our day to bring a meal to someone in need, pray as a family for someone who is hurting, help someone move, or another random act of kindness?

I am absolutely convinced that when our kids are adults, they will not remember the gifts they received, or the trophies, medals and ribbons they earned. Those things will all collect dust somewhere and fade from memory. But the things they will treasure, that will stay with them forever, are the experiences they had with their family and friends. I want to make space for my children (who like me are sinful and selfish by nature) to learn to open their eyes to observe the needs of those around them, to use their minds and hearts to consider how they can meet those needs, and to use their time and abilities to meet those needs. But if I let my kids’ schedules get too full with no margin, there will literally be no space for our kids to learn that selflessness and practice sacrificial love. I can’t make my kids selfless, but I can create an environment in our daily lives that creates space for those opportunities to learn and practice selflessness, kindness, and rest.

If you want to see more about how I schedule our homeschool days, click on the link: How I Schedule Our Homeschool

What challenges does your family face in creating space for margin and rest in your home? Do you have any insights or tools that you can share with other Doing Life Deliberately readers so that they can have success in this area? PLEASE, share your thoughts below!! We’d love to hear from you!!

Until next time, keep Doing Life Deliberately!

~Trisha

That’s a big title, I know. And I bet you didn’t know that God requires that His people homeschool their kids. But it’s there. Just look at Deuteronomy 6:4-9~

4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Ok, so He’s not talking necessarily about academically educating your children at home. BUT, He is talking about educating your children at home. Our faith in Jesus Christ is not to be a one day a week experience. God commands parents to not only walk with Him themselves, but to teach their children to walk with Him, as well. It is NOT the Church’s primary responsibility to disciple your children- it is primarily the parents’ responsibility to train up their children to know and love the Lord. There is so much rich instruction given in these verses. God does not require that our kids go through a formal curriculum or that they go through a confirmation class- though those things are good and worthy of our time. But God desires for Christian parents to saturate their homes with talk of His goodness, His love, His instructions, His promises. Above all, He wants parents to teach their kids not to be good people, but to be people who can’t help but do good things because they are so consumed by their love of God which permeates every aspect of their being: their heart, soul and might.

It is our conviction, that one of the best ways to convey this love is by home educating our children. This is our strongest motivator for homeschooling. The public school system is certainly NOT going to teach our kids to love the Lord. Their peers at school (on the whole) are not going to teach them to love the Lord. But if we educate them at home, for better or for worse, we (their parent’s) get to be their biggest influencers. And you better believe, we feel the weight of that responsibility.

The curriculum used public schools (and most private schools, for that matter) will not teach them to love the Lord. When homeschooling, we get to choose what curriculum we use. We opt to use Christ-centered curriculum that points our children to the truths of God’s Word- whether we examine the character and choices of men throughout history, examine science through the lens of scripture, marvel at God’s orderly character through math, or read literature examining the worldview and choices of characters.

Finally and most importantly, we can open up God’s Word every day together, pray, discuss what the Word means and how it applies to our lives (and your kids don’t have to be academically educated at home to do that!). It is our greatest delight to intercede for others with our children, to hear them ask questions about God’s Word and to see them choose to seek Him on their own. But these beautiful jewels of love for the Lord and character growth are not accidents. They are also not works that we can fabricate or magically produce as parents. They are gifts of grace from God- a beautiful blessing as we pour the love of God into our kids and watch Him grow them from the inside out.

Our kids are not perfect. They are as flawed and sinful as their mom and dad. Homeschooling is not perfect. Every homeschooling family struggles in different ways. But it is a gift from God to spend quantity and quality time with our kids, influencing them to love and follow hard after the Lord who loves them so much, “He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

If you would like to hear more about WHY we chose to homeschool, click on this link to see my latest video: The Top 10 Reasons Why We Chose to Homeschool

How do YOU deliberately influence your kids to follow Christ? We’d love to hear what that looks like in your family, so PLEASE, share in the comments below!!

Until next time, keep doing life deliberately,

Trisha