Gearing Up for School



Looks like it’s that time again. In spite of the fact that it is the dead heat of summer, you can’t miss the school supplies sales in the stores and the shut down of the local swimming pool. I wish summer lasted a little longer!

Since all the neighbor children are going back to school, it’s time to think about this year’s homeschool. The first thing I do is make a plan for each child, entitled “Educational Goals.” This is the master plan that I work from all year long. On the left hand side of a paper, I write down the school subjects I feel are important for this child for this coming school year. On the right hand side, I list the resources we’ve chosen to do the job. I list the textbooks but also jot down any experiences, trips, mentors, hands-on projects that come to mind. This “spiritual creation” really helps me focus on what is important for this child to know, and how I am going to help him learn it. I also ask my student about what he wants to learn, what he is interested in and consider his personality and talents when choosing curriculum.  The books/resources you use can either “make or break” your child’s interest in a subject, so I am looking for the very best!

Next, I look at the months of school on a calendar and jot down an overview. For example, for math, my son will practice Math-it at the beginning of every school day and then go on to do one Saxon math lesson. I can divide the table of contents between the school year and know where we will be in a month, 3 months, and by the end of the school year. In real life, my son will progress at his own pace. If it’s too hard or too much, we will do only a half of a lesson. If he already knows several chapters, we skip them. But having an overview gives us a general plan so that we don’t lose our focus and wind up coasting through much of the year without accomplishing our goals. It also helps me look ahead at which resources I will need to buy, and what field trips or projects we will want to do.  It gives me a plan!

We do homeschool in the morning hours and I keep that time free from all interruptions (including phone and doorbell). After noon is the time that we schedule extra activities such as Children’s Drama class, music lessons, jobs, or taking a class at the local high school. I try to stick with this schedule as I find it nearly impossible to do homeschool in the afternoon (I’m too tired!), and if I allow children to come and go on different schedules, nothing seems to get accomplished.

sharingfun_l&m I’ve never met a teenager that wanted to go back to public school for any other reason than social life. Friends are important! Just think of “Social Life” as another subject in homeschool, because it deserves your attention just as much. I plan activities where the children will get social contact right along with our academic plans. Even just getting your children together with other homeschool families one day a week helps fill that need. A co-op school is ideal! A support group with regular activities has always been a vitally important part of our homeschooling.

Once you get your educational goals set and your plan for the first month written out, turn to organizing your school room or area. Even if you only have one shelf to operate out of, each child can have his name on a piece of masking tape stuck to a section of shelf where his books can be placed. When I first started homeschool, I picked up 6 identical small cardboard cookie boxes from the grocery store (free) and labeled each with a name. My children’s planners, textbooks, and a pouch for pens, etc. all fit into the box and they worked from it. Sure beats stacks of school books all over the family room! Nobody had to wander off in search of a book or pencil. Everything was stored in the bin, and handy.

I stock up at the back-to-school sales on paper, spiral notebooks, art supplies, pens, glue, scissors, etc.— buying enough for the entire year, and putting them all together in one place. If you have room, it is handy to gather resources by subject. All our art supplies are on one shelf. I have a shelf for math that holds math games and manipulatives for all ages. Stacking bins or even cardboard boxes will also work. Don’t forget to make a bin or low shelf for the little ones so they can get out puzzles, games and coloring books on their own.

"All Set for School" Curriculum Kits

“All Set for School” Curriculum Kits

This is the time to weed through all the books you’ve accumulated and pass judgment on them. I have come to view any book that has “just one good chapter” as an enemy: it just takes up space, is hard to remember to use, and clutters up my life. With the exception of readers before 1950 (when they were still phonetic), most everything that I ever dragged home from the public school cast-off sales, I have not used. Many of those books are slanted with an agenda, or so out-dated as to not be interesting or true. There are exceptional books being produced for the homeschool market that are wonderful to use. If you are stumped where to start when choosing curriculum, take a look at my “All Set for School” Kits. These were created after years of counseling new homeschoolers on how to get started.

Above all, gearing up for school means recommitting yourself to this infinitely great work of teaching and sharing yourself with your children. I think all of us entertain (perhaps very briefly) the idea of putting our children back in school each fall. It takes work and devotion to teach homeschool! But I so enjoy being with my children and helping them learn! Be assured that no one can do it better than you can, no matter how educated and talented they are, because no one cares about your child’s success as much as you do!


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Begin with the End in Mind

lovetosave1Ever feel like you are bumbling around amidst a three-ring circus in your attempts to homeschool? There is nothing like a new baby to restore a teacher/mother’s humility in the face of her own inadequacies! For our homeschool, this chaos repeats itself every few years with the advent of a precious new “student.” I have homeschooled in my robe nursing my baby while I have tried to teach math, correct papers and read stories:
“Mom, can’t you hold the book still? I can’t see the pictures.”
“Sorry, honey, the baby needs to be rocked.”

Guilt inevitably settles in as I imagine the public school superintendent dropping by for a surprise visit: “This is school?!”
Any of this sound familiar?

However, there is something about persevering with the matter of learning every day that convinces me that homeschooling is the right choice, even when it is far from perfection. Maybe it is not so far from perfection as we perceive it to be. What could be the perfect Unit Study if it is not watching your own mother morning-sick, uncomfortable, growing, waiting, and preparing, and seeing your own father helping, praying constantly for the well-being of the mother and child, serving tirelessly, taking on Mother’s workload—all in the anticipation of a new family member’s arrival after a tenuous 9-month journey? Our older children were able to see their baby brother’s delivery, and what awestruck expressions they had on their faces! Even though they were only present for the last few moments of his birth, they got a taste of the sacrifice required, the pain involved and also the joyous miracle of a new life! Then came the meals, letters, flowers, gifts, calls of concern, help of friends and neighbors: what an outpouring of love, and what an impression it made upon my children! “Lots of people care about us!” they said. It caused us all to recommit to helping people when they need us because it made such a wonderful difference to our family.

The time I spent recovering laying in bed listening to my children was quite a revelation! What a time to assess how well I have taught my children to be self-sufficient: to cook a meal, do the laundry, care for the little ones, be patient, etc. Here’s the real report card! If they can’t take care of day-to-day living, it really doesn’t matter very much if they know how to divide fractions, now does it? First things first.

grandbaby_Oct2010Oh, the sweet vulnerability of babies! How dependent these little children are upon us, their parents, to teach them things of importance as they grow to the age of accountability. Seeing my little babe’s helplessness instills a great desire in my heart to carefully consider how I invest my children’s learning hours. Every homeschooler knows the frustration of “there is so much I want to teach them!” and time seems so limited. School year seems to flow into school year, and when I stop and consider what we’ve done, it doesn’t all seem as vital as I hoped it would.

So, with this new baby, I am taking the opportunity to see with new eyes what is really of value and how I can best teach it. I am setting some goals for what I want them to know when they leave my tutelage and just how we will arrive at that envied destination. The motto “Begin with the end in mind” is crucial to homeschool. With every-day crises, it is very easy to just survive instead of living your plan. Yet the years keep on circling around, and the moment is lost if we are not vigilant in aligning our activities with our goals.

Here are the goals that I have prayerfully arrived at:

  • Teach my children to love the Lord and to know Him as their personal Savior, their help in time of need and their model of what to grow to be like.
  • Teach them to love the Constitution and their freedom more than their lives.
  • Teach them that each has a gift to give to mankind and that it is their responsibility to discover their gift, their life’s mission, and to make it their life’s work to give it to the world.
  • Teach them that they can be a far more useful instrument in the Lord’s hands if they are clear-thinking and articulate.
  • Teach them to be self-sufficient and live providently.

It is amazing how little this has to do with square roots and diagramming sentences, although those are necessary and have their proper priority.

After mapping my goals, I search for the best books and teaching tools and try to commit myself to what I will use with each child that year and to exactly what we hope to accomplish. Of course, this is subject to change, as are all the best of plans, but at least it points us in the right direction. Reviewing my goals regularly keeps me on track (and also helps me see how easy it is to get waylaid!).

I know one mother who is going to begin homeschooling “as soon as she gets organized and prepared.” She has been “preparing” for 6 years now! Preparation is really a spiritual matter. You are prepared enough if you can answer “yes” to these questions:

  1. Do I want to do the will of the Lord in educating my children, whatever it may be?
  2. Do I have my child’s best interest at heart?
  3. Am I teachable—willing to be learn, accept, flex, be inspired?
  4. Am I dedicated?

trail-352284_1280It takes time and effort to homeschool. Those hours must come from somewhere, which means less time for Mom to do what she wants.

“When you take the very first step on the road, you also take the last.” Take the time to make sure you are on the right road so when you’ve been retired from homeschooling, you can look back on your years with your children and feel confident that you’ve taught them the things that really matter!


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Setting Up a Family Schedule


Some of my kids at Arches National Park

As much as I hate to be confined to a schedule, I have to admit that it is very liberating to the whole family to know what to expect. If I don’t follow a schedule, life goes somewhat like this: get up late, work on something that is high priority (in my nightgown), get waylaid on a long phone call while the kids wreck havoc, fix breakfast when the complaining gets too loud, get dressed because it’s too late to exercise now, try to pull homeschool together late and unorganized, fix a quick (rather than nutritious) lunch when the complaining gets too loud (about 2:00 p.m.), feel discouraged because I’m so far behind, etc. Get the picture? It is a downward spiral because you get to bed late because you are so far behind on fixing dinner, and so you are off to a worse start the next day.

Reality is that I never exactly meet my own time schedule. It does serve to keep order in our home, however. If school is scheduled to start at 8:45 a.m. and I see that my watch says 8:30 a.m. while I am still in my nightgown, I really pick up my feet and move. A schedule is not to make your life miserable as much as it is to motivate you to carry out your own good intentions.

Here is our current (ever-changing) schedule for the school year. In the summertime, we have a family work time in the garden during the first hour of homeschool. Then I only require personal scripture study and journal writing, a math lesson, and some reading (the 3 Rs). I always have several boxes of library books. We try to flow with the seasons since we live in an extreme climate, so we begin our summer schedule as soon as the weather warms up enough to be outside. We sometimes don’t begin full-time school in the fall until the first serious storms force us back inside and back to the books. Here is our schedule for the school year:


6:15     Wake up, personal prayers
6:20     Family scripture study
7:00     Chores
7:45     Breakfast
8:15     Personal grooming, bedrooms in order
9:00    Homeschool until noon
11:45    Mom checks that all schoolwork is done
12:00   Lunch preparation (assigned child helps)
12:30   Lunch
1:15      Lunch cleanup
1:30     Quiet reading (or listening to tapes) for children
Naps for Mom and little ones
2:00    Free time  (Can do jobs for $, play with friends, etc.)
5:15     Dinner preparation (assigned child helps)
6:00    Dinner
6:45    Dinner cleanup, dishwashing
7:30    Family Prayer, prepare little ones for bed
8:00   Children up to 10 years old go to bed
9:00   Children 11–15 years go to bed
9:45    Teens 16+ go to bed, Mom and Dad talk
10:30  Mom and Dad go to bed


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The "1/3 Plan" for Kids

onethird_plan_smallWhen I first began homeschooling many years ago, I heard an elderly educator give her “One Third Plan” for how to plan a child’s day. I was intrigued!

Once I took my children out of public school into homeschooling, I really wondered what I was supposed to be doing with them all day long. I wanted with all my heart to raise them right and to teach them what they would need to be happy, faithful, upright people who benefited the world in which they lived. I couldn’t keep them busy in homeschool from dawn to dusk, but I didn’t want them free playing all the time either. I thought long and hard about it, so when I heard the “One Third Plan”, I was all ears!

According to this dear speaker, a child’s “workday” (aside from grooming, eating, sleeping, devotional), was to be divided into 3 parts:


This was homeschool—reading, studying, learning, experiments, writing, doing projects, practicing music, and other mind-developing pursuits. This can be the most fun part of the day. When my boys were young, they always begged to do home school instead of outside work on a hot day!


Another 1/3 of a child’s day was to be spent doing for others: helping those in need, doing chores for the family, working in the garden (to sustain the family and share with others), serving neighbors, friends, and community. This is the hallmark of a true Christian, and it is essential children learn to serve others while they are young. Talk about who needs help at the dinner table, brainstorm what to do, and then engage them in your efforts to do for others, and they will learn at your side.


The last 1/3 of the child’s “workday” is to be devoted to developing his own little business, and working for his own money. We spend our adult lives daily dealing with money, and meeting our needs through working, producing and purchasing. Learning to work and learning money handling skills as a child is vital. When a child can see the fruits of his own labor and knows the freedom of spending his money as he wishes (even wasting it and learning the hard way), a whole new dimension of accountability and confidence settles over his personality and there is tremendous growth!

My children have had a host of little businesses, from selling eggs, to growing pumpkins, making jewelry, running clubs, and teaching classes or lessons. They have done simple assembly work, house-sitting, taking care of pets and more. They have also babysat and weeded and had other hourly jobs, teaching them the necessity of discovering what you love to do, rather than trading your time for something you find dreary. Hourly jobs also taught them that education was going to make a big difference in their future lifestyle as an adult.

Late afternoons, when the workday is done, there is time for friends and free time. Evenings when Daddy comes home—it is time to eat dinner together, visit with each other, read aloud, play games, crochet, listen to music together, draw, build legos, and enjoy relaxing.

The culture we live in is one in which kids are seriously over-entertained, and isolated from conversation with family members. Pop in a DVD. Play X-Box. Listen to your i-pod. Text your friends on your cell phone. While I haven’t always followed it, I have often thought of the “One Third Plan” over my years of raising children. It wouldn’t hurt American children, even a little bit!


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Adrift on a Sea of “To-Do’s”?


When we have little ones in our home, or are homeschooling our children, it can feel like we don’t have much time to call our own. Sometimes I feel like a ship adrift, being tossed around on the waves of all the things I have to do. I can’t ever get to the end, no matter how frantically I paddle. Have you ever felt this way?

Throw an anchor overboard! It can stop the tossing tide from making your life crazy.

There are anchors in every day. They can be mealtimes, or baby’s nap, the time your husband comes home, or when your teenager leaves for work. These are pretty stable, even if they don’t follow a specific clock time. Even when your day is unpredictable, those anchors nearly always happen and they can help keep you on course. Here’s some of mine:

Family scripture study

Moms are hard-pressed to work on a punctual time schedule, but we can use those anchors to get control of our time. I have decided that between our early morning family scripture study (my first anchor) and lunch (my second anchor of the day), I need to exercise and I want to teach homeschool. Those are my top priorities. I have a very long to-do list that tries to wiggle its way into that time . . . making phone calls, checking email, helping my husband with the business, grocery shopping, doing dishes or laundry, mending, church work, going to dental/medical appointments, reading the book I am interested in, etc. But if I focus on those two priorities during that time slot—exercise and homeschool—and accomplish nothing more, I will have had a very successful morning!

As each day passes by, if we focus on the most important “to-do’s”, all the extraneous and less important time-consumers just end up falling away. There is no time for them. Even though I enjoy several of those activities, or feel obligated or pressed to do all those things on my endless “to-do” list, my priorities cannot— they must not—take the place of what is truly important in my life. Besides, doing lesser things does not give the satisfaction that comes from making progress on the things you value most.

It helps to get a clear perspective on what really matters. I ask myself questions like this: “If I were to die in 2 weeks, what would I want to do with my final days?” It also helps to pray about priorities, getting another viewpoint than our own. Heaven’s light shed upon our plans makes us think clearer. Another consideration is that some things can only be done once in life, and you cannot go back and re-do them. Such things as marrying the right person, having children during your childbearing years, giving your children a happy childhood, teaching good habits to your kids, training them to love God and be good Christians, etc. are one-shot deals, and should receive top priority.

Did you notice that bedtime is not on my list of anchors? That is because it needs working on at my house! But, it should be the most important anchor of the day, because it determines how you are going to feel the next day! If you have young children, it is crucial to set a bedtime as an anchor that you can depend on. Even the most loving mother can turn into a witch as the hour gets late and too-tired, accident-prone, crying children are still running around. If you can set a bedtime, both for yourself and your children, life gets in control much faster!

Jot down your anchors on a piece of paper, creating a time block between them, and you will have a great guide for each day. Reality sets in when you can see on paper that if you do your priorities, you can’t stretch yourself much thinner! The page you create could be a template for a daily calendar. If you can’t fit something in without bumping out your priorities, it probably isn’t realistic to say “yes” to that time commitment.

Here’s how it looks:



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Simplify Your Homeschool: Subject of the Day


Ammon at Mesa Verde

Does homeschooling feel overwhelming to you? So many subjects to teach . . . so many different age levels . . . such a frantic rush to get it all in?

If you are feeling this way, you may want to try the “Subject of the Day”. This plan is simply to choose one subject per day of the school week. I like to alternate fun subjects with more intense subjects, ending with a social activity or field trip on Friday. Plan it however you like, but post it on your fridge or wall, so that everyone has a sense of order.

Here’s one plan to give you an idea:

Monday: History
Tuesday: Literature Discussion
Wednesday: Science
Thursday: Fine Arts (music appreciation, art appreciation, drama)
Friday: field trips, or socializing with other homeschoolers

Each day, you know where you are headed, and that alone is a huge accomplishment.Teach all your children the same “Subject of the Day” as a group lesson, varying assignment difficulty according to each child’s abilities.

There will still be studies that are done daily like phonics, math, music practice, and journal writing. But, all-in-all, just having one teaching topic for mom to focus on each day reduces the overload feeling quickly! This group time can last from 45 minutes to a few hours and can include discussion of reading assignments, giving reports, looking at pictures in books together, watching a video clip, reading aloud, and doing projects, or experiments. Having just one subject allows in-depth study, and time to really absorb and explore the topic together and enjoy!

Recently, in my homeschool, we studied the topic of Weathering on our Science Day. We are following an Earth Science course. You can teach the same topic to all age levels at the same time with just a little modification. We read about and discussed the effects of the elements on the earth: how wind and water wear away and crack rocks, and reduce rock eventually into sand and soil. We studied pictures in textbooks and library books. We saw photos on the internet of how statues have had their details worn down by weathering. We talked about the Delicate Arch formation created by weathering. We searched for examples around our own neighborhood: flaking bricks, cracks where plants have grown in a sidewalk, potholes in a road, root pry from a tree breaking up a fence. We could visit the cemetery and look at the details on old graves, how their engraving is being worn away by the weather. This is fun!

It takes just the same amount of teacher preparation to teach all the kids as it does one child. Older children can be assigned more in-depth reading and reports. Young ones can do easy projects. The whole family can learn together and it really does take the pressure off mom with the “Subject of the Day”!


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Worn Out from Teaching


I have been homeschooling for four years, most of which have been enjoyable. I have four children, 14 months to 11 years old. This year the children complained of mother’s “grumpies” and not having the one-on-one time they were used to before the baby. Lately, rather than being a joy, the day seems more of a struggle to get everything done (school work, practice, etc) around the baby’s schedule.

I loved your goal of setting limits to children’s demands. It sounds wonderful. How do you limit your teaching from 9:00 – noon? I feel like I’m wearing this hat from morning ’til night. Perhaps I need more organization to my day, but how does this work in a practical sense?


Oh dear, it happens to all of us at one time or another, and I do firmly believe it is a balance problem. Everything has to be kept in a good balance and when Mom is wearing the hat from sun up to sun down, you better believe she is not feeling refreshed and happy to get up and do another day of homeschooling!

Keeping school from 9 to noon means just that. You start at 9:00, even if it means you didn’t get a shower, and you just threw on a your clothes at 8:55 AM and gathered your kids together. Kids come on time with their binders (student planners). And you start. Forget the phone, the laundry, the dishes, the appointments. and all. School’s gotta be priority.

I start by leading the children in some quick stretching exercises, running in place, chin-ups on the chin-up bar hanging in the doorway, and even having the kids run around the house once or twice (even on snow with bare feet!) so there is some fun and energy to start with and quickly draws them in. That takes a total of 5 minutes. Then we have the pledge, song, calendar, and “what’s up today” discussion, which takes another 5-10 minutes. Then I begin right off with read aloud in whatever spellbinding adventure book we are reading, usually related to our history studies. So far, we are having fun, fun, fun! Everyone is enjoying, including myself. Dump some quiet type toys, stacking pegs, etc. for the baby nearby (but not right in the middle of the family circle) so baby is next to you but not the focus of attention. When you finish your chapter, the children will beg for more. You can read some more if they all came on time and were ready, because you really do have more time if you start promptly. They’ll get the message very soon that they want to come on time, especially if the book is wonderful!

Then I move into the subject of the day which I do as a unit study. On Science day, for example, I read aloud to all ages from the same science textbook, we watch a science video or do some experiment or hands-on things all together. This takes an hour. If you have a baby in your home, take “baby duty” turns when needed. In other words, rotate between the children the job of getting down on the floor and playing with the baby for 15 minutes while they listen to the read aloud or participate in the family discussion as much as possible. Do the best you can. It is not perfect, but it still works well. A lot of the time, baby just wants you to hold him or nurse him, so you get your share of “baby duty”. Keep a couple of bins of attention-keeping toys that are not available everyday, so you can pull out another “bag of tricks” when the baby needs something new to occupy him. A healthy snack helps too.

After your unit study, split the kids into areas where they can quietly focus on their school work and do “rotations”. You rotate around and work with each child individually on things they get stuck on, rotating from child to child, keeping order so they all get a turn for you once or twice before the school day is done. They are to do their math, journal writing, piano practice, memory work, quiet literature reading, spelling practice, vocabulary books, or whatever else you have assigned in their student planner binders. They can do this. Even the youngest ones can have a picture check off list and go through their work independently. They are not allowed to interrupt, but are taught to set aside anything they get stuck on and work on something else until it is their turn. I keep a notebook with a section divider for each child, and jot down reminders while I work with each child. No, things don’t get done that day or even that week, but eventually they do. If baby needs to be nursed to sleep, or changed or has other needs, the children know they are to keep working quietly until you return to the room. Yes, this takes some training, but the children learn quickly! And it keeps order.

When noon arrives, whether or not you got done what you want to do–quit. It is over. School’s out. Time for kids to run and play for 15 min while you make lunch, or they can rotate in, one each day, to help you prepare lunch (a duty they come to look forward to) while another has “baby duty”. After lunch, you and baby nap, you read your scriptures, or do something else that uplifts and refreshes and replenishes you while the children do their quiet reading in individual spots or finish up their math or whatever. When my kids were young and prone to squabbling, I assigned a place that they had to stay (living room couch, family room chair, your bedroom, etc.) where they could not interact. Without my “renewal time”, I wasn’t a very good mom. With it, I felt refreshed and happy.

Then, afternoons, I am mom and homemaker, but not teacher. I tell my children to do what they can on their own to finish up their school work, but the teacher won’t be back to help them until tomorrow. Even still, on only 3 hours of “mom time” per day, my children exceed their public school peers in academic excellence. It takes some time for you to know just how much to assign them so they are challenged but not overwhelmed. Each child works at different levels, and you can’t expect the same from each. You’ll get that figured out before too long. So they work independently if need be to finish up, but at about 3 PM, no matter if they have lollygagged all day long or diligently worked, school is over. Period. Time to do chores, go out and play, have free time, play with the baby, day dream, work on their own project or do whatever they want, but not school work. Children need balance too.

I feel sure that once you get in a good steady pattern, and when your children know there is a start and a finish to it each day, your children will look forward to school. I know I do. It is very fun to read books aloud and discuss them. It is fun to do art projects and learn about history and watch educational videos about amazing animals and learn Spanish and find places on the map. I love home school and enjoy being with my children so very much. They think it is fun. I overhear them answer skeptical adults’ questions of “How do you like homeschooling? Wouldn’t you rather go to school? with answers of “Oh, I love homeschooling! We have a lot of fun!” And that always makes my heart warm!


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Study Schedule


Ammon does his math

As homeschoolers, when do find or make the time to study?

Having a study schedule helps immeasurably  when you are writing up assignments and determining what work needs to be done.  Get a piece of paper and jot out what works for your family. Then post it on the wall and try to adjust it until you get it just right. Knowing what to expect helps everyone off to a good start each day.

I have my children do their Math, Reading and English every single day. I prefer a daily schedule for the 3 R’s because these skills are lost if they are not practiced daily. (Many families start earlier and put their music practice and devotional in the daily block too.) Then, in addition to these daily academics, the rest of the morning is spent on just one subject. I have found that children do much better if they are able to concentrate on one subject, rather than getting a tiny taste of several different subjects daily.

Since their daily work (Math, Reading, English) takes up about 2 hours, this leaves an hour for studying the Subject of the Day. When life is hectic such as after a new baby or in times of illness, we resort to just using textbooks or reference books for assignments. For example, I will assign which pages of their history books to read and perhaps answer questions about. When I have life under better control, I follow an educational plan made up for the year detailing each week or month’s topic of study. If my educational plan says that this week’s geography subject is Africa, then I gather interesting resources to study from. There will be things that each age level can benefit from. Their reading assignment on Africa from their geography book will be assigned, but the fun options may include practicing geography of Africa with a puzzle, or looking at pictures of Africa wildlife in the “National Geographic,” seeing a movie on Africa, or other exciting ways to learn. Usually, I will teach a group lesson at this time on our Subject of the Day, or have an open discussion about our reading. If you are teaching many children, or are teaching a nonreader, you will probably need to prepare for the Subject of the Day the afternoon or evening before.

image-1Since their daily work is pretty well set (such as writing in their journals, doing one math lesson a day), I spend my time rotating between the children to help them with trouble spots and teaching the little ones. When we do science, we spend some of the time doing science experiments. On Fine Arts day, we focus on art and music performance and appreciation. This is the time that we study the great composers and listen to their music, or study the great artists and enjoy their works, and try our hand at their style. Fun art projects are a good Friday activity. When I am really organized, I teach my children music lessons (piano or recorder) on our Fine Arts day.

In planning out each day’s subject, I try to take into account other demands. Mondays can take a more demanding subject than Fridays when everyone is getting weary. I also try to alternate difficult subjects, rather than putting them day after day. Fun topics or favorite subjects can be spaced between harder academic subjects for the Subject of the Day.

I brainstorm with each child at the beginning of the school year about what he’d like to learn. My children’s lists have included: sewing, small engine repair, drawing, typing, composing music, cooking, learning about herbal remedies, first aid, Spanish, computer animation, and more. I help by getting books or materials to further their interest. By leaving space for my children to learn about the things they are interested in, the school week is more exciting. I have been amazed how much my children have taught themselves when given time to delve deeply into a subject of their own choosing. They are motivated!

We are up doing family scripture study at 7:00 A.M., followed by chores and then breakfast. Our goal is to begin school at 9:00 AM and finish up at 12:00 noon to prepare lunch. Then the whole afternoon is free (with the children-532749_1280exception of some household jobs) for my children to follow their interests and work on their hobbies and projects. The older children have jobs in the afternoon, lessons or activities or finish up their research and studies. By afternoon, I welcome some time to play with the little ones, garden, run errands, clean house and do what other mothers do in the morning hours when their children are all away at school!

Every family’s schedule will be unique, and ever-changing, but it really helps to put your study time down in a Study Schedule so that it gets priority!


Here’s a form you can use to jot down a study schedule for your family:

study schedule



May I recommend:

Simplify Your Homeschool

Assignment Chart for Young Homeschoolers

Happy Homeschooling

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