How are you doing with your homeschool paperwork?

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
Do you have your school records for the year up to date? Do you have a high school student who needs to look into colleges or testing? Do you have to do a yearly portfolio?
Sometimes, you put things on our list to do, and these things just languish because you don’t want to do them. You put them off. Today is the day I want you to start checking on the status of your homeschool paperwork that you are required to have by your state laws.
If you have a high school junior or senior, you need to check their records post haste. There is nothing worse for me that to hear from a parent of a high school senior in the spring because they needed a transcript.
Your homeschool graduate will need a transcript even if they go to a community college. If they want to apply for scholarships, they will need information from you.
Even if you do not have high schoolers, you still have school paperwork of some sort to keep up with for your students. You need to have a regular time in your weekly schedule to purge and file school papers. Update any records you are required to keep. It is a lot easier to do your school paperwork a little at a time versus doing it at the end of the school year.
As an aside, I am loving the online program we are using this year. It keeps track of everything. I just check it daily to see the boys’ progress and grades. I can tell immediately if they have not completed their work. While it has not always worked for us to use an online program exclusively, this was a great decision for our family this year.
This is a good time of year to evaluate how your children are doing with their curriculum. You may have a student who is going through books faster than you anticipate, and you will need to have the next book or level ready for them soon. You may have a student who is struggling with a subject, and you may need to order some supplemental books for them.
Some of you will be attending homeschool conferences this spring, and working on your paperwork now will help you make curriculum decisions for next year.
If your state requires end of year or standardized testing, start checking dates and get it scheduled. Each state has different requirements, so I am just making some suggestions for common things that many of us have to do.
Your Zone Mission today is to clean out the fridge.
Your Home Blessing for today is to wipe windows and mirrors.
My menu plan for Wednesday is spaghetti and a salad.
Have a blessed day!

Are you homeschooling a range of ages?

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
Once a year or so, I pull up this article that I wrote about homeschooling with little ones. When I start getting emails about balancing the needs of homeschooling an age range of children, I know it’s time to pull this article back out for you.
Since I have been homeschooling for more than 15 years, I get lots of questions from people about homeschooling. One question I get often has to do with homeschooling older children while having preschoolers and/or toddlers in the house. I thought it would help if I put together some things I have done over the years that helped me juggle the needs of school-age children and my little ones.
When I am planning lessons for my older children, I try to find simple ways to include my younger ones. For instance, when my older children learned about flight and the physics behind flying, I read picture books about flight to my little ones. We made paper airplanes. I would provide simple craft supplies for preschoolers to make picture while talking to the older children about flight. I also found that it helped if I had “stations” for the baby to play safely in different parts of the house.
Fortunately, there is not a rule that you have to do school in one place in the house. We move around the house doing school, and the baby is more entertained by a change of scenery from room-to-room. By using the hands-on method of learning, I can plan activities for a very large age range.
When the older children studied the Boston Tea Party, we included the younger ones in the craft part of making the “tea” boxes. The baby was also included in our “tea party.” I found so many easy to read picture books for the American Revolution time period. Of course, we read and acted out Paul Revere’s Ride by Longfellow.
Reading to babies and toddlers is foundational to their communication skills. It is so easy to include them during the homeschool day with easy-to-read books. If you have children who still read out loud to you each day, the babies and toddlers can be a part of that time of your day, too. There is no such thing as too much reading to babies and toddlers.
Other ways to engage learning in young children while older ones are working on school is dependent on the age and skill level of the toddler or preschooler. As soon as my children are past the stage of putting everything in their mouths, I provide tactile activities for them. A little one can sit in his/her high chair beside of you and work on fine motor skills by eating or playing with toys.
I kept a pack-n-play near our school area for the little one to have a place to move about and play while we work on school work. I didn’t want to always contain them in a high chair or by holding them because I wanted them to be able to move around and learn skills.
As my toddlers grew into preschoolers, I would provide matching games, sorting blocks, salt dough, chunky crayons, and other age-appropriate craft materials. If I didn’t mind a mess, I would give them non-toxic paints or paint-with-water books.
Toddlers and preschoolers also need large muscle play time. Often, the older children would take short breaks from school work to play with the little ones. This is such a beneficial time to build relationships with siblings. Babies and toddlers should never be made to feel like they are in the way of your school day.
Don’t be afraid to let your little ones experience arts and crafts. You need to provide lots of opportunities for them to be creative and learn how things work.
Field trips are another great way to involve little ones in what the older children are studying. Some of our favorite homeschool memories have come from field trips. It amazes me what my children remember from these trips.
I realize that you also need one-on-one teaching times with older students.
One year I had from preschool through 12th grade, so I know this fact very well. What I can tell you that I learned is that you can be creative in where you fit in the one-on-one time for each student. As a homeschooler, you are not constrained to doing school work between the hours of 8:00 am and 3:00 pm.
If your high school student needs you to help with algebra or writing, then work that time in during nap time for the little ones. You might have to work with your older students on difficult subjects when your husband is home and can help.
One year, we had some “night school” times when I focused on teaching the older children difficult concepts while my husband played with the baby. It is not ideal to do it that way because I think Moms need a break in the evenings from school work when possible, but you have to find a way to works for your family.
Schedules and routines are very important for children, especially young children. I tried to keep our outside of the house activities to a minimum when I had a lot of little ones in the house.
We had certain times of the day where everyone knew what was supposed to be going on. We were not slaves to the clock. But we had regular times to get up, eat, do household tasks, do school work, rest, and play. It helped everyone to know what was coming up next. Of course, there were days when we really needed a change of scenery, and we would pack up and go to the park, library, or science center. Sometimes we just needed an outing.
There are lots of other ways that people have successfully balanced homeschooling older children while also having little ones in the house. I welcome comments and questions.
Your Zone Mission today is to declutter unnecessary items from the silverware drawer and wash the tray that organizes your utensils.
Your Home Blessing for today is to dust and vacuum.
My menu plan for Tuesday is hamburgers and a salad.
Have a great day!

Taking the road less traveled

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
The second week of the month is my favorite week for our zone missions. The kitchen is where we nourish ourselves and our families. It is the hub of our home, and it needs a little love and detail cleaning each month. Shining your sink daily helps, but there are other little things that we just do not do very often.
Here are you missions for the week:
Zone 1 Missions: The Kitchen
Monday – Clean the stove top (If you have time, wipe out the microwave, too.)
Tuesday – Declutter unnecessary items and clean the silverware holder.
Wednesday – Clean out the leftovers from the fridge. Start and the top and work your way down quickly.
Thursday – Declutter empty plastic wrap boxes, etc.
Friday – Check the cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink.
Set your timers for 15 minutes and then take a break when it goes off!
Weekly Menu Plan
Monday – Beef stroganoff
Tuesday – Hamburgers and tator tots
Wednesday - Spaghetti and Salad
Thursday – Chicken and Salad
Friday – Take out
Enjoy your week! Keep your routines simple.
Recently, I have been reading articles about young adult homeschool graduates taking the road less traveled and not going to college after graduation. I wanted to encourage you that your young adult children can be successful without a four-year degree.
How do you know the best way to choose a high school curriculum when you don’t know what the Lord has in store for your child once they graduate and are ready to launch out of the nest.
As my children started their high school years, I kept their classes general in their freshman and sophomore years. Their electives were chosen with care to help them find something they enjoyed doing. For some of my children it was art lessons, music lessons, or small engine repair classes.
In their junior and senior years, we focused more on their strengths and passions with sensitivity to what they felt God was calling them to do.
Our oldest did not take any college credit classes in her junior and senior years. She focused on her basics in English, math, science, and history. Her electives were music and art oriented. She did service projects, and she helped me run the household. She went to cosmetology school and has an associate’s degree. She has worked as a stylist for 8 years.
Our next child wanted to be a plumber from a young age, and he was a plumber’s apprentice during his junior and senior years. In his freshman and sophomore years, we focused on science and math. He also took guitar lessons.
Our third child wanted to do something hands-on, and he did some work as a landscaper in his junior and senior years. He found that was not something he wanted as a career, but he learned a lot of good skills. He had some big life changes following high school, but he is married and works for a Heating and Air company.
Our fourth child is also handy with working on things, and he is an amazing chef at home. He is a senior this year and is working in Heating and Air with his brother. We have focused on math and science with him during high school with a lot of time cooking and creating in the kitchen. He is by far the best chef in the house.
Our fifth child is a sophomore this year, and he is extremely good at taking things apart and fixing them. We do a lot of math along with the other core subjects. I encourage him to work on things around the house. He maintains all of our yard equipment. He is also a master organizer and cleaner. The next two years, we will work together to combine education and the things he loves to do.
All children are not cut out for four year colleges, and it can be a big waste of time and money if they are forced to go. Explore other options with them. Help them find their gifts throughout their high school careers.
Tell me about your homeschool graduates!
Your Home Blessing for today is to wash the sheets.
Your Zone Mission for Monday is to clean the stove top (wipe out the microwave if you have time).
My menu plan for Monday is beef stroganoff and a salad.
Have a blessed day!

Are you ready to work on your decluttering habit?

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
Happy February 1st! We start a new Habit of the Month today. We are going to declutter daily. The FlyLady has been doing her daily videos, and she is challenging you to get rid of a small bag of clutter daily. This could be things to throw away or give away.
Let’s talk for a minute about the giveaway part because some of you are struggling greatly with this. When I am decluttering, I use boxes that I take directly to my car, or I use a black trash bag. If you leave the box or bag in the house or garage, your family will take things back out of it.
Some of you are stuck on finding just the right place to donate your items. Here is my best suggestion — donate at the place you drive by the most often when doing your errands. Don’t wait to go to the out of the way place because you think it is a “better” place to donate.
When you put off donating because it is not conveniently located, it will either ride around in your car for months, or it ends up back in your home. So pick a place that you pass by frequently, and that is your “go to” place for donating.
If you are struggling with paper clutter, you can make it your mission this month to get rid of paper daily. I would suggest you pick a number of pieces of paper to get rid of, like 27 (27 fling boogie), or I would suggest you give yourself a small bag to fill from the shredder daily. Either way, spend time each day in February purging paper!
If your laundry is out of control, spend time each day purging clothes. Start with one drawer or one basket and get rid of the excess clothing!
Whatever your clutter struggle is, I want you to practice the habit of decluttering something daily, and at the end of the month, you will be surprised at how much you are able to clear out.
Your Zone Mission today is in Zone 1. You can either spend 5 minutes each on the Front Porch, Entryway, and Dining Room, or you can spend 15 minutes in one of those areas. It depends on what you need to do!
Today’s Zone Mission is to declutter in Zone 1.
Your Home Blessing for today is to empty the trash, sweep, and mop.
My menu plan for Friday is take out.
Send me pictures of your progress this week in zone 5!

Being Proactive with Your Family’s Health

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
This year colds, the flu, and stomach bugs are being spread quickly and easily. You can be proactive in caring for your home and family. The number one defense in preventing the spread of germs is to wash your hands with soap and water.
You can use cleaning wipes for commonly touched surfaces. I use bleach wipes from a pop up container to wipe door knobs, light switches, bathroom surfaces, and kitchen counters during the winter.
We are not sick in our home right now, but any time we go out, we can be exposed to different germs. When we get home from an outing, I ask everyone to wash their hands as soon as we walk into the house. I also keep hand sanitizer in my purse to use while we are out.
Some of the most known places to spread germs are church and shopping cart handles. I have been known to keep my gloves on my hands to keep from touching the handle of the cart.
The flu is quite bad this year, and I want to be proactive with our health. We take vitamins, drink water, eat healthy, and get adequate rest.
Even with these precautions in the past, we have gotten sick. I have protocols for that as well. Frequent hand washing helps contain the spread of germs. If someone has been ill, I replace their toothbrush when they are better. I use washcloths in place of hand towels in the bathroom.
Teach your children how to cough or sneeze into a tissue or into the crook of their elbow. That helps keep them from spreading germs from their hands to everything they touch.
A great way to show them how many germs are on their hands is to have them wipe their unwashed hands on a piece of bread and put the break in a zipper bag. Write the date on it and see how fast it grows bacteria.
The FlyLady has a great article on dealing with a stomach bug. Take a minute to read it today. You can be prepared in case the stomach bug does come to your house. I pray that it doesn’t!
What do you do to stay healthy and keep the germs at bay?
Today’s Zone Mission is to go sofa and chair diving.
Your Home Blessing for today is to declutter paper and magazines.
My menu plan for Thursday is chicken and a salad.
Have a great day!

Let’s Have Fun with a 27 Fling Boogie

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
Thank you for the emails I received from yesterday’s article. I am so happy that it helped you to stop beating yourself up when you start comparing yourself to others. Remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and you are uniquely chosen for your family.
Your zone mission today is to have a 27 Fling Boogie in the Living Room or Family Room. I want you to make this a game with your children. Use your timer for 5 minutes. Tell them to gather anything that needs to go into the trash. You can have the trash bag handy, so you can see what they toss.
Then, set the timer for 5 minutes again and ask them to find things that need to be put away. As they are putting things away, you can use the next 5 minutes to look for things in the Living Room or Family Room that need to be given away.
From my years of mentoring ladies in decluttering and organizing, I know that some of you might have some Christmas gifts or decorations still in the Living Room or Family Room. Use this opportunity to finish putting things away today. If your children still have toys that need to be put away, help them find a place for their things.
If you have homeschool materials overtaking your home, declutter and organize. Teach your children where their book go, and if you find homeschool things around the house, remind them to pick up behind themselves daily. Textbooks and papers can quickly mount up if they are not put away daily.
Remember that the first step in starting something is the hardest step. Take a step today on something you have been putting off. Do it early in the day, so you feel like you conquered the world for the rest of the day!
How are your Home Blessings coming along? If you are following the suggestions I have for you each day, you should have washed your sheets, dusted, and vacuumed already this week. If you have not done these yet, set aside 30 minutes and do them quickly.
You do not have to do these perfectly. You just need to start and do what you can. Dust around the items on the flat surfaces and vacuum the middles and high traffic areas of your home.
You can do it!
Your Zone Mission today is to do a 27 Fling Boogie in the Living Room or Family Room. Find things to throw away, put away, and give away.
Your Home Blessing for today is to wipe windows and mirrors.
My menu plan for Wednesday is soup and sandwiches.
Have a blessed day!

Are you stuck in the trap of comparing yourself?

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
Have you fallen into the trap of comparing yourself to others? I have be seeing several posts from ladies who feel like they are not doing enough or have decluttered enough when they compare themselves to others.
This hurts my heart! My goal for each of you is to progress in the way that works with your family and does not cause you pain or burn out. My wish is that you find peace and joy in decluttering and blessing your home. Use the tools I share with you — timer, throw away, put away, and give away.
Your Home Blessings are also a tool to help you bless yourself and your family with a clean home without perfectionism holding you hostage. Are you having a hard time just vacuuming the middles of the room or just dusting around items on your flat surfaces? Remember that you WILL do the detail stuff during your zone missions.
If you are one of the ones who is beating yourself up, I want you to stop right now. Your journey is different from the ones you see on social media and blogs. You are unique, and your family is unique.
Things change within your family as time goes on. Before you know it, you will have children who are grown and on their own. So enjoy the sloppy kisses and little messes they make. It’s ok. You can give them the tools they need by teaching them routines and picking up behind themselves.
If you grew up in a home where messes were not permitted, you might find yourself on the opposite side of the spectrum. Or you may have grown up in a messy, chaotic house, and you are militant about cleaning. You need to find the balance between these two things. I like to say that my house is messy enough that you know a family lives here and love is in abundance.
Share your successes with decluttering and reclaiming areas of your home, but don’t let this become the guiding force in your decluttering missions. Your goal is to have a home that you and your family love and enjoy being together and having others over to visit. You don’t want to live in CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) or live in a museum.
Love your perfectly imperfect life and stop comparing yourself to the pictures you see on social media!
Your Zone Mission today is to detail vacuum the Living Room. Get help with moving the furniture.
Your Home Blessing for today is to dust and vacuum.
My menu plan for Tuesday is chicken and a salad.
Have a great day!

How does 15 minutes at a time work on a big project?

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
Can you believe we are entering the last week of January? This month has gone by quickly for me. It’s been filled with fun family time, homeschool time, working time, taking care of me time, and rest! We will start the week off in the Living Room (or Family Room), and we will end the week in Zone 1.
Here are you missions for the week:
Zone 5 Missions: The Living Room (Family Room)
Monday – Hot Spot Fire Drill in the Living Room (Toss. Donate. Put Away.)
Tuesday – Detail vacuum the Living Room (Enlist help to move the furniture.)
Wednesday – 27 Fling Boogie in Living Room.
Thursday – Go Sofa and Chair Diving.
Friday – Declutter in Zone 1 (Front Porch, Entryway, and Dining Room)
Set your timers for 15 minutes and then take a break when it goes off!
Weekly Menu Plan
Monday – Taco Soup
Tuesday – Chicken
Wednesday – Soup and Sandwiches
Thursday – Chicken
Friday – Take out
Enjoy your week! Keep your routines simple.
A reader asked me to talk about how to deal with a big project that comes along your way and has a deadline or series or deadlines. One project might be a home renovation project or a big painting project.
Several years ago, we had a pipe burst in the bathroom wall. In the few minutes that water poured from the pipe, enough water got under our flooring and destroyed flooring and baseboards in 5 rooms of our home. This was not a 15 minute and done project. (smile) But what I did do in the subsequent days is use the 15 minutes to guide me along in the process.
We had to call our insurance company. They contracted someone to come out to assess the damage. This turned into a 3-day process of trying to drying things out. During those three days, I packed items and moved items because we had to continue to assess the water damage. I did this 15 minutes at a time and took breaks.
We eventually had to pull up flooring in 5 rooms and pull the baseboards up. This led to the need to paint the walls because of replacing the baseboards. Over the course of 30 days, I did project management of various sub-contractors who came in to do different parts of the repair.
While it seemed like my home was in chaos, I knew where most things were. I learned to adapt our schedule to accommodate the workers who came and went daily. I picked up a lot of take out during that time because my kitchen was out of commission for three weeks.
Since that time, we have redone our kitchen counters, and we have painted and done flooring in one of the bedrooms. I kept our basic routines in place as much as possible, and when we could not do something that was a part of our routine, we just moved to the next thing we could do. (It’s hard to shine a kitchen sink when you don’t have one! LOL)
No matter what the scope of your project, you can break it down into steps and use your timer for 15 minutes.
Your Home Blessing for today is to wash the sheets.
Your Zone Mission for Monday is to have a Hot Spot Fire Drill in the Living Room (or Family Room).
Mymenu plan

for Monday is taco soup and salad.
Have a blessed day!

Baby Steps are Building Blocks to Routines

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
Congratulations! This is the last day of your Zone Missions in the Master Bedroom for this month. A reader shared her progress with me yesterday of her nightstand Before she decluttered and After. She is so pleased with the results and is looking forward to enjoying this peaceful area beside of her bed.
If you did not accomplish all that you wanted to do in your bedroom, don’t lose hope! We will be back to the zone again next month. You also have flexibility in week 3 each month to work in any area of your choosing and the Main bathroom.
It takes time if you have accumulated clutter, and what you will find as you go through the process of getting rid of items in small steps is that you maintain your areas much better. If you paid someone to declutter for you, you would not establish the habit of decluttering. You would find yourself back in the same situation.
If you did the big purge in day or a weekend, you would be burned out of decluttering, and it would be months or years before you decluttered again. The small steps lead to routines, and that is what will stay with you.
As we are getting close to the end of the month, check on your monthly maintenance. Do you need to change the air filters on your home? Have you cleaned the dryer lint filter and exhaust vent? Have you checked the batteries on your fire detector?
Put these things on your calendar to be done monthly. You are more apt to remember to do it, if you pick the beginning of the month or the end of the month. Find a way that works best for your family. Put it on your paper calendar and on your digital calendar.
On Friday, I do my menu planning for the next week, and I grocery shop. This has worked well for my schedule for quite a number of years. Have you found a good routine for your menu planning and grocery shopping? This one routines saves you stress, time, and money, and I hear from readers every week who struggle with menu planning.
If this is an area you have difficulty doing, let me know. I am happy to answer any questions you have about it/
Today’s Zone Mission is to wash your bedding and make your bed.
Your Home Blessing for today is to empty the trash, sweep, and mop.
My menu plan for Friday is take out.
Send me pictures of your progress this week in zone 4!

Decluttering and Maintaining

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
Thank you for your emails and comments this week as we have been making a difference in the Master Bedroom. The missions have been quick ones, and they make a big impact.
Today your mission is to declutter items from the top of your dresser. For some of you, this is a landmine of things. You tend to stack things on your dresser. You might have clothes there that you are not sure what you need to do with them.
Your family may have given you clothes that need to be repaired. When you walk by these piled, you have feelings of guilt. Today spend 15 minutes on these items and make a decision. Do you just need to donate some of them?
Set aside some time one evening to work on the repairs. For me, it is usually buttons that need to be sewn back onto an item.
This mission is a great one for your children to do as well. Children have the tendency to pile their treasures on their dresser tops (or any flat surface in their bedroom). Give them a trash bag for any trash they can collect from the tops of the flat surfaces, and then ask them to put away the items they want to keep.
After the flat surfaces in the bedroom have been decluttered, make it a point to maintain them throughout the month. Before you put something on your dresser, take the few extra minutes to put the item away.
How is your homeschool year going? January can be a hard month in the homeschool year. Take time this week to evaluate where you are with your curriculum. Are you on target? Do you need to make adjustments?
It’s time to look at the big picture for a few minutes. We get caught up in the day to day part of homeschooling, and we often overlook the big picture. Giving my children a love a learning and the knowledge of how to find the answers to their questions is important to me.
Today’s Zone Mission is to declutter the items from the top of your dresser and dust..
Your Home Blessing for today is to declutter paper and magazines.
My menu plan for Thursday is chicken and a salad.
Have a great day!