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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Book Review: Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

Most parenting books are either heavy on theology or on life application. This book, however, has an equal portion of both. A definite MUST read for parents or anyone that has influence on children. He takes it all back to the one goal that we should all have, for our children and us alike: to have a heart for Jesus. How simple right? So simple that we often times forget it. We get too busy and just want them to ‘be quiet’ or ‘behave’ (myself included). He references the Bible throughout and has chapters set aside just for life application and he has chapters that are age specific. This book will stay on my bookshelf  for future reference.

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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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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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I’ve finished some books!

Since June 1st I have read Don’t Make Me Count to Three: a Mom’s Look at Heart-Oriented Discipline by Ginger Plowman, Sibling’s Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, Parenting By The Spirit: raising godly children in a godless world by Sally Hohnberger and The Alchemist: a fable about following your dream by Paulo Coelho. And yes, I have been pouring into the parenting books lately.

Sibling’s Without Rivalry described how to get your children to get along in detail. It was written by a mother that counseled parenting  classes and it had many suggestions with plenty of  example stories. She told about some of the things she went through as a mother and followed her class in her writing.Although it did not have a christian influence, the topics were covered so well that I would recommend it for anyone looking to end the tension between siblings.

Don’t Make Me Count to Three was written by a christian mother that describes how to change your child’s heart to want to be obedient. She  described several events that took place in her home life where she applies the Bible’s teachings. She goes through the disciplining process scripturally. There are many references to different passages throughout the book and she even has a chart that has scriptures pertaining to certain issues/traits for a quick look-up. I highly recommend this book! It is one that I will refer back to often. When I get it back that is….it’s already being loaned out to a friend!

Parenting By The Spirit was read after Don’t Make Me Count To Three and I wish I had read it before. It was written “to help you be the parent you need to be” and is a parenting book that works on you first. It is biblically based and written by a christian mother to help you in your journey with parenting. She has multiple examples from her life that help to give you the skills for better parenting. It is a must read for all parents!

Last but not least, The Alchemist. This was my “free read” for the month. LOL! It turns out to be very deep and exciting. I could hardly put it down. This young man goes off in hopes to find out what a dream means and gets told that he will find a treasure near the pyramids. He meets several interesting people and goes to different lands in hopes of finding this treasure. Along the way he realizes important things about love and the world God has made. And in the end………does he get his treasure? the girl? You got to read it and find out! A worthwhile read, even if it is “just for fun”!