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

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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

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

Everyone has a different mental image of what homeschool is like. I’ve seen several amusing memes on Facebook and Pinterest. People who don’t homeschool often make assumptions about what it looks like- I definitely did. I was not homeschooled as a child- I attended public school for all of my education. My husband attended parochial school for all of his elementary and secondary education, so neither of us had any experience with homeschool prior to trying it ourselves. I envisioned a relaxed family reading books in their pajamas, with lots of freedom in their daily schedule to go and do as they pleased. My preconceived notions have proven both right and wrong in our own family.

If you are interested in homeschooling, but have never done it before, it can be difficult to picture what it actually looks like to homeschool.  And even if you are an experienced homeschool family, it can still be fun to see what others are doing and gather ideas. You might find yourself wishing you could be a fly on the wall in someone else’s homeschool classroom.  I sure felt that way before we got started.  So today, I am inviting you to join our family for a typical homeschool day. Not all (or even most) homeschools look like ours.  Each family’s homeschool takes on the personality of it’s teacher/principal/family: organized or spontaneous, orderly or messy, a room set aside for schooling or a kitchen table, a web-based program or a stack of library books, home-made curriculum or purchased lesson plans.  How one runs their homeschool can look a thousand different ways- none of which is right or wrong- to meet the needs of their family.  So… with that in mind, join us for a brief day in the life!

Day in the Life of our Homeschool

Post your questions and comments below- we look forward to hearing from you!

One of the things I found myself wondering early on in homeschooling, was how did other families schedule their time?  So today, I am sharing with you how we schedule our time (no need to wonder anymore)!  😉

7:30- Family Bible time

8am- PE

8:45- Xtra math (Hannah and Sarah), math assignment (Gideon and Izzy)

9am- Everyone works on math assignment

9:30- Math assignment (Hannah and Sarah), Xtra Math (Gideon and Izzy)

10am- Science (Botany- Gideon and Izzy), General Science (Sarah), Biology (Hannah)

10:30- History, vocabulary and read aloud

11:30- Writing (Gideon and Sarah), Writing and Grammar with Mom (Izzy)

12pm- Lunch

Our afternoons consist of piano practice, Spanish on the computer, quiet reading, and finishing up any remaining school work and chores.  We held pretty tightly to this schedule for the first few weeks of school.  But it didn’t take long for Gideon to figure out that if he worked ahead, he could have more free time during the day.  He is generally up around 6am and gets to work on his assignments around 6:30 or 7am most days. (What can I say? He’s an easy student!)

Our schedule always changes a bit from year to year as I evaluate what worked well the previous year, and what needs tweaking.  But this seems to work well for us now.  We start the day off by giving the first part of our day to the Lord.  It seems to work well to have PE next because we burn a little energy and then we can focus on the harder subjects of the day: math and science.  This worked a little more neatly at the beginning of the year when I held everyone to the schedule, but now it’s a lot more flex.

If you want to see what a day in the life of our homeschool looks like, view our YouTube video by clicking on this link: A Day in the Life of Our Homeschool

So how about you?  If you are currently homeschooling, how do you schedule your time?  I would love to hear what works well for you!!

Keep Doing Life Deliberately,

Trisha

Who doesn’t want a grateful kid?  Every parent longs for their child to show appreciation for the kindness extended to them- whether by friend, family or stranger.

But a thankful heart is not something that happens by accident.  It takes teaching, nurturing and consistent practice. When Thanksgiving rolls around, we’re prone to reflect on the good gifts that God has given us.  Below are some considerations of how you can practice showing gratitude with your children and train them to have thankful hearts:

  • consistently teach toddlers and preschoolers to say thank you whenever a kindness is done to them.
  • when praying together (at meals, bedtimes, etc.), make it a priority to thank God for His kindnesses shown to you that day
  • create a poster, visible to everyone, where each member of the family can write down why they are grateful.  Make it colorful- even your smallest children will enjoy listing off and drawing things that they are thankful for.
  • make it a regular practice to write thank you notes to people who show you a kindness- whether a gift or service.  One mom even suggested not allowing kids to play with new toys until the thank you note is written!! (Way to go, Mom!)
  • be quick to draw attention to answered prayers and God’s provision.  Keep a list in a journal for yourself and/or a visible list or poster for the family to celebrate together.
  • praise God in the moment when you- mom or dad- are thankful for God’s activity in your life.  Impromptu praises show your kids that God is at work all the time and not just within the walls of a church or at certain times.
  • memorize bible verses that talk about giving thanks, such as Psalm 9:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, or 1 Chronicles 16:34
  • most importantly, regularly express your gratitude to God in front of your kids for God’s work of salvation through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ!

As Mom and Dad exemplify gratitude to their kids and give them opportunities to join in the blessings of a thankful heart, children will rise to the occasion and learn to be grateful, too.  November is a great time to purposefully up our thankfulness game and deliberately practice thanksgiving.

What are some ways your family practices gratitude?  Please, share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions in the comments below!

This morning started off with a bang. Well, not literally, but close. Our missions team to Mexico boarded our plane only to find out 45 minutes later that our radio transmitter is broken and either needs to be repaired OR we will have to board another plane. Either way, we will most likely miss our connecting flight. We’ll see. 😬

On the upside of things, I have the great privilege of going to Mexico with 14 outstanding individuals- one of which is my daughter, Hannah. The last time she was on an airplane she was 10 months old. And this is her first international experience and missions trip. We are all kinds of excited over here! I have literally dreamed of taking our children on missions trips since before they were born.  My various experiences on short term missions trips have had such a profound impact on my life: learning about other cultures, stepping out of my comfort zone to share the Gospel, doing things I would never do at home, deepening relationships with people from our home church as we share a cross cultural experience, worshiping God in a different language, etc.  I want my kids to see that God is not an American God. He is active and present throughout the entire world. His Son, Jesus Christ, came to be a savior for ALL people of every nation, language and skin color.  I want them to see real need and understand how much we have both been entrusted with and have excess of .  I want them to get a glimpse of God’s purpose for their lives- which somehow seems to gain clarity when one is removed from the distractions of our American materialism. I want them to see that this life is not about them- it is about Jesus Christ and living to be useful to Him in whatever vocations or contexts He gives us.

So… if you think about us this week, will you please say a prayer for our team? We have many young people on our team. Pray that:

  • this trip would have a profound impact on their lives
  • we would have hearts to see the physical and spiritual needs of others and a quickness to serve
  • we would bond tightly as a team- laugh, cry and be authentic with one another
  • we would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and respond to His promptings
  • we would have safe travels and logistics for our disrupted flights would be worked out
  • we would have great personal times in the Word and as a team
  • our families with be protected from harm, illness and attack in our absence

Thank you so much for your prayers- they are the greatest blessing to us as a team!! Stay tuned for more updates here through the week.