The Living Homeschool

Just another weblog

Combat the Stress of Scheduling!

I’ve been working on a project to streamline my life for the past week or so. I read about the idea on Anne Elliott’s blog and ran with it. I even read the title by Anne Ortlund that she suggested and it was fantastic. You can read my review on it here: Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman. I have the Old Schoolhouse Planner from 2009 and printed out pages that I wanted to include. I chose to divide my notebook into 4 sections: God/goals, home, homeschool and writing, just as Anne Elliott did. In the very front of the notebook I have daily schedule pages that list things to do and appointments.

Since beginning this process I have been more faithful at getting up early for my ‘God-time’ : doing my daily morning prayer and Bible study. I still have my mission statement to write, but I have started it. My goal sheet is also light on substance and I jot things down as I think of them. Why is it that when I have time to sit and work on it I can’t seem to remember my plans? I will eventually write it up too.

My home has a new chore schedule for what we(kids chore chart got revamped too!) need to do and when so that nothing goes unnoticed. Like when you look up at your fan that was accidentally turned off and close your eyes in horror of the dust film looming above your head. Or notice that you have a new experiment growing in a container in the back of the fridge that you don’t remember seeing or even making. Yuck! I use shopping lists to keep track of what we need so I don’t have to make multiple trips to the store. Where I live it’s a 15 minute drive just to go into town and that means I am now saving money on gas. My husband took care of the bills before he switched jobs and now that I have this responsibility I printed out budget sheets and it helps to  keep me on track. I have yet to utilize my dinner menu pages. I have tried to no avail. I am just not a planner when it comes to food. We are an adventurous family and experiment with different dishes on a weekly basis. Maybe in the future I can have better success with menu planning. Maybe not? Hardy-Har-Harr!;)

The homeschool tab has a planning section that I filled with the kid’s courses and curriculum. I have a place for assignments, field trips log and a books read log for our family read-alouds. I don’t have anything in the weekly schedule portion because I have been inputting into an Excel spreadsheet. And I might add, it’s almost done! Whoo-Hoo! I have been fighting the urge to print it out as I am afraid that I will have to make corrections to it. Maybe just do a week or a month at a time? Hummm.

Writing is the the item that I have the least time to persue. I am still working on other areas of my life and this seems to get the least amount of attention. I do, however, write those cute little conversations and sayings down that my children have. You know the ones I’m talking about: when they sound wise beyond their years or say something that doesn’t make any sense, except to them.

I hope that reading this post has you contemplating starting your own notebook. It will assist you in simplifying and prioritizing your life so that you can have more time to do the things that really matters most.

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Summer in full swing!

The weather is HOT! When it rains… it pours. My garden is looking parched and not bearing much fruit. The grass just keeps growing, though(Ugh). Luckily, I have a green thumb neighbor that gives us what she and her husband can’t eat. What a blessing!

I’m slowly finalizing our school year plans. Gathering all the supplies and making a wishlist for what we still need. I’m going to be trying some new things this year. One is going to involve the kids keeping a better track of what they do. To encourage better accountability and independence for those who need it. I will be making cards that will have their subjects and the time or pages they have for each day of the week and a place to mark off(or put a star). My dear friend Joy suggested this to me and I’m going to run with it. I’m also going to have each of  us, myself included, write up some goals to work towards during the schoolyear. Some will be more short term, like before Christmas break. Some will be long term, to finish out the year. As we get these done I will post our goals and the handout that I will make so that another family may be blessed.

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I’ve pulled my kids out of public school, now what?

When the Lord pressed upon me to homeschool my kids I researched all I could about how to do it and what to buy. The idea of homeschooling never crossed my mind before, nor did I know too many people who did it. I found it very overwhelming to start with all of my kids at once. Many homeschoolers started out before their kids were school-aged and others might have had one in school when the decision was made. So I found myself in a wealth of information that didn’t include much help for a mom like me. I prayed that the Lord would give me the strength and knowledge to carry on the journey.

A little bit about the beginning of our journey. I started schooling before the public schools started so I could have plenty of time to get us all acclimated. The Bible is our first lesson of the day. Sometimes we do a devotional and other times we just read from it. Our first purchased curriculum was all-inclusive. I took it one day at a time and started with only a couple of subjects. As the weeks passed I began to incorporate more subjects and life became pretty intense with rebellion. We soon found out that the curriculum that we had bought was not working for our family, me or the kids. We took a break and enjoyed the outdoors, museums and a local theatre. I then began our read-aloud time, for english, and soon found that this was one of the best things that has happened to us. The kids and I truly enjoy this bonding time. I found free online unit studies for history and science, alternating each of these. In my searches I discovered nature study and added it to our learnings. I had never thought of nature as a subject before but we do enjoy the Lord’s creation so it is a good fit for us. The math program that we have has been a blessing because all four kids love it and we can re-use with the youngers.

If  I had to pick one thing to focus on, the number one thing I suggest is to bond with your children. Get to know their likes and dislikes. I have gotten to know my children so much more than I ever have and I thank God for the opportunity to love and teach them. You will soon realize that you teach them much more than you know, just by listening and playing with them.

Many Blessings,

 Vicki B.

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Homeschool Buyers Co-op Is Great!

If you’re in the market for homeschool curriculum you probably do what I do. Look everywhere for the BEST deal! One place that I am sure to check is Homeschool Buyers Co-op. They are a purchasing co-op for homeschoolers. I became a member about a year ago and have not regreted it at all. Membership is free! You can’t beat that…. They have some great offers right now with Explode the Code online, ABC Teach, Rosetta Stone, Switched on Schoolhouse, Mark Kistler online & Meet the Masters just to name a few. Besides getting great deals on curriculum you love, they award points for purchases and you can redeem them for more curriculum!

This is one of those tried and true sites that have been around awhile and you should check it out. So go on over to and let them know I sent you!

Many Blessings,

Vicki Barnes

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FREE Random Acts of Fitness kit

Subway is giving away a free Random Acts of Fitness kit to school and Home School teachers. So go check it out!
Link here:
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Homeschool Magazine Subscription Sale!

Most homeschoolers know about The Old Schoolhouse magazine and it’s great articles, lessons and helps. And if you don’t, I’d suggest you check out their website .  They are having a terrific sale on their subscriptions right now. Just use coupon code FB795. The offer is for a one-year print subscription (US only), good until midnight PST on September 22nd. Don’t wait, order now! I’m already set for 3 more years!

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The New Plan!

This ‘school year’ has been in the planning stages since the beginning of the calendar year. I tend to have a hard time narrowing down what will work for our family and budget. It is a difficult thing to decide on what your children will be learning and what you will use to guide your teachings. After all, you want to give the best to them and want them to succeed. And with all of this weighing on a mother’s heart, it can be a very daunting task. You pray for guidance and answers while hoping your decision is the correct one.

So long story short……We are going to continue to use Horizons for math for all. It went well last year and we will use it until it no longer serves it’s purpose. Kyra is in it’s last year this year and will be ready for Algebra next year. We are  starting to look at programs that will fit our needs for next year. Any suggestions? We’re all EARS!! LOL

The younger two boys are using Learning Language Arts Through Literature, the blue and red books, for their phonics. Kyra and Zach are using Painless Grammar. And we will be utilizing copywork for penmanship for all and grammar reinforcement for the older two.

For Bible studies,we were blessed by another homeschooling family to be able to use their curriculum, Family Bible Lessons.

I ‘stumbled’ upon a GREAT history program called TruthQuest. It is based on HIStory through the ages. It is a wonderful addition to our studies and we plan to use it throughout our homeschooling  journey. Michelle Miller, the writer, has a yahoo group that you can join to ask questions before and/or after purchase of her product. The ladies on there are extremely helpful in answering any questions you might have on scheduling, implementing, etc. Michelle is also a frequent commenter and is very willing to offer help with her first-hand knowledge. I would highly recommend thus curriculum for any type of homeschooler as it can be used with all styles.(Charlotte Mason, Classical, Unit studies, Unschooling, etc.) 

For geography we are going through Ann Voskamp’s: A Child’s Geography, Explore His Earth V1. It is a highly awarded and well received geography course with a Christian emphasis.

And last but not least, we have our science program, Christian Kids Explore Biology. This course presents biology the way God made it. It is user friendly and is laid out by day for you. There is a supplemental booklist in the appendices to help with digging deeper when there is interest. This is a good program for elementary students to get their ‘feet wet’ with science.

Oops! Almost forgot our nature studies. At least one day a week we are going to observe this wonderful world God made for us and expand our thoughts to paper. Sometimes we will draw what we see and label it, be it plant and/or animal. Other times we will do leaf rubbings, dry flowers, planting, crafts, etc. Whatever floats our fancy for that day. There will be days that we just go into our own backyard or maybe the park. And sometimes we will make special trips to zoos, national parks, flower or butterfly gardens, etc.

With all of this we will of course be reading from our Bible daily, along with a ‘free’ read-aloud(we are starting with On The Back of the North Wind) and one for history(We are learning from early explorers to 1800 this year).

I pray that this list will be a blessing for someone out there in cyber-space that has been looking for that ‘perfect’ thing to use in their homeschool. As for our home, we know that wherever the good Lord leads us is where we need to be. And just maybe, He might lead one of you to some of the same things for your family.

Many Blessings,

Vicki B.

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My Splish Booklist

The Old Schoolhouse is having their 2nd annual summer reading program. As most of you know, this was our first year homeschooling. So this will be our first year participating. We are excited to take part of this adventure. I am even getting in on the fun!

Now, to decide what books I want to work on for this summer………

I just finished “Don’t Make Me Count To Three”  by Ginger Plowman-a book that I will find myself reading again and again!

I need to finish Charlotte Mason’s Home Education (about half way through)

Wish List:

Keep The Siblings Lose The Rivalry by Dr. Todd Cartmell

Boundaries With Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

Christy by Catherine Marshall

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Persuasions by Jane Austin

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

The Power Of A Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian

The Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson

These are some wants and wishes and I invoke the right to substitute as needed. LOL

I encourage you and your family to join in the fun at  TOS Summer Readins Splash! Let me know if you are and what you’re reading lists are going to be!

I’ll be getting back to you on what the kids are wanting to read for the summer.


Homeschooling Changes

I have recently purchased The Workbox System book by Sue Patrick. I had been reading everywhere about how great it was and it’s changed their homeschooling so much, etc. Well, I had to try it for myself and WOW! What a difference! We have been getting twice the amount of stuff done.  My kids enjoy having “center time”. They have been listening to audio books on tape, using legos, reading poetry, playing educational games, file folder games, computer time and the list goes on and on and on! They look forward to clocking in and out of school, too.

I have tweaked the system to fit us and use 9 magazine holders per child. Why 9 you ask? Because that is what fits on one shelf.LOL! I made more cards for the things we do, so we don’t need as many holders. For instance, there is a Poetry card that I will put on the strip, they know which bin has the poetry books and they choose what they want to read. This has worked wonders for us!

Here is a picture of our bookshelves that contain the magazine holders:

The bookshelves that contain OUR version of The Workbox System

The bookshelves that contain OUR version of The Workbox System

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