Sunday, August 18, 2019

How to Create a Successful Homeschool Schedule

This title may seem a bit premature, as we haven't started school yet, but following the tips I will lay out, has helped me know that my schedule will be successful! How, you might ask? Because, just like homeschool itself, planning for homeschool is completely custamizable and different for each family. There is grace in being able to change things up until what you have works for you! So here are my tips for creating a successful homeschool schedule.

1. Create a Schedule that Works for YOU!

Are you type A that needs every second planned out, or are you more 'go with the flow' where structure freaks you out? I've learned that even though I am more of the latter, kids need structure! What has worked best for us, is to map out the flow of the day, and give each day grace to change or be different than planned. We still get ready in the same order, do morning basket first, then the 'harder' subjects, but if it happens at 2 pm instead of 10 am, it won't be too big of a deal. Our goal will be what's on the paper, but if something happens, we will roll with it!

I also give myself a blank side in in my bullet journal, to change the schedule later, when we've figured out what works and what doesn't. This way I'm not beating myself up every day for something that is simply not working for our family. Once you figure out how you want your day to flow, you figure out how you want to write it out.

2. Create a Mom and Kid Friendly Schedule

If you are artsy, let the creative juices flow when creating your schedule. Make something that is pleasing to look at, and motivates you to tackle each morning. Kids love color and pictures (and it's helpful when they don't know how to read yet!) , so making something interesting for them to look at, also helps them to look forward to each day.

This goes back to what I said before, but even this can vary from person to person on what works and doesn't work. I'll give a few suggestions (and what I am using), but ultimately it's up to you. You may need to try 2 or 3 ways before you figure out what works, but that's okay! The beauty of homeschool is that you can change things up, and customize things to fit your family.

Types of schedules:

Simply writing/typing it out.

This is what I did, and we will see how it works! I am also using the Melissa and Doug Responsibility Chart to keep up with Little Man's Chores. I let Little Man put his favorite stickers on his schedule to decorate it, and although it's still pretty simple, he loves it!

Sticker/Velcro system

This is what my mom used. I am linking something similar, but essentially, she would have a short summery of what the young ones would be doing, plus an activity they could do while the older ones did their school.  She would then draw and laminate the paper with the activities listed, let the kids pick out small stickers and laminate and apply velcro to the backs. When the kids had completed their tasks, they would put the sticker beside it. For her own planner, she would use an actual homeschool planner created for homeschooling several at once (she had 6 children).

Bought system

I love this one by Peaceful Press! Graphics are simple, but cute, and I could see the kids loving this. After doing research for this post I am now wondering if I want to switch and use this! It's only $5, and everything I've bought from them, I've absolutely loved!

3. Implement Your Schedule Early 

My last tip is to start a 'trial' of your schedule a couple of weeks before you start school (don't worry if you've already started! That's what nice about having a schedule that's flexible). The way I did this, this time, is have it start the week my husband went back to work. We had one complete week with him gone, and now we will have one week of me adding my piano lessons (I am a piano teacher) before we start school. This way we can already get a routine flowing before the 'real deal' begins.

Which method works best for you? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Kindergarten Homeschool Space

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The countdown has begun for Kindergarten to start, here at home. Curriculum has been bought, schedule has been created, morning baskets put together, and a colorful preschool room has been transformed into a kindergarten space. Here is the before, of what our preschool room looked like:

As I've gone through to simplify our home, I felt like the preschool room seemed overwhelmingly colorful and cluttered. I appreciated every item that had been donated or given to me, enjoyed each puzzle or book that I had bought, but it soon amounted to just too much. As I got ready to tackle Kindergarten, I decided to go through and see what I needed to change to make the space work for us. 

There are probably a number of books that could be gone through and gotten rid of (you'll see I haven't really simplified in that department! I have a hard time getting rid of books!), but I am very happy with how the space turned out. 

My budget was almost zero, as I wanted all my homeschool budget to go towards homeschool curriculum. I upgraded the baskets we already had for the cubbies, painted the table my son already had, and made sure every item had a place. Upgrading your homeschool space doesn't have to be expensive, or 'Instagram worthy'. If it works for you and your family, then it's perfect! 

Shiplap doesn't make things any more functional. 
(That may or may not be my new motto now!)

Hope you enjoy seeing my homeschool space. If you follow me on Instagram, or Facebook, tag me in your learning space! I would love to see what functions for you!

This rocking chair we already had, makes a perfect spot for morning basket time. Since the front room is my piano studio as well as our learning space, it made sense to combine it!

I love that my son got to help with transforming his red table into a white one, with a chalkboard top. It will be so fun to practice sight words and spelling words on his table. 

I tend to over stuff bins, so I decided to limit myself to 4 bins. One of the cubbies looks messy, as it holds all the awkward shaped games, puzzles and activities. However, these things have a place, so they are staying! Sometimes you have to just do what works best for you. 
I also divided our books into Playful Pioneer recommended books, Kindergarten Curriculum books (Math, Phonics, and more), and educational books. This only holds a very small percentage of the books we own, since, like I said, I can't seem to de-clutter books!

I printed a map, days of the week, and months of the year from Playful Pioneers for the bulletin board, and the room is complete! We are ready for the new school year to start in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned for the rest of the month, as I share schedules, and Morning Basket information. Also, click a link below to check out other back to school related posts!

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Sunday, August 4, 2019

DIY Homeschool Planner:Bullet Journal

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In the past I have enjoyed the creative outlet and organizational help the bullet journal has had to offer (links to past bullet journal entries here). Baby girl came along, and I found I didn't have time to sit and journal as much as I used to. I had done a Disney theme for each month, and it would take several hours to draw, color, and fill in each month. When I found a bullet journal for less than $4 at Lifeway (one of their closing sales) I quickly bought it and set out to make my own lesson planner for my homeschool year.

I am really pleased with how well laid out subjects are with the Playful Pioneers curriculum. Thankfully, Bible, phonics, and math are the only subjects I have to 'plan out' (and I am choosing to plan out Bible-if you choose to follow their suggested reading, you would only need to plan for phonics and math). Here is how I've set up my homeschool bullet journal.

I decided to take a much more minimal approach, with each month having a floral element, but nothing that would 'clutter up' the space. I am only showing the month of August, but I have September and most of October complete. If you want to see the other month's layouts, follow me on Instagram, and keep an eye on my stories! My themes are:

August: Cactus
September: Lavender 
October: Pumpkin and vine
November: Fall leaves
December: Holly
January: simple indoor plants with coffee
February: Roses
March: Clovers
April: Mixed Florals
May: Lemon with leaves

Each page will have at least one of the themed elements, without spending much time on any one drawing. I would call it more 'doodles' than actual drawings. Someone with more drawing skills may want to do more, those with less can take an even more minimal approach, use stickers or stencils.

The Playful Pioneers has a field trip for each week, but realistically, I probably can't do them all. Here I have a spot for the trips we take for school, and the ones we take as a homeschool group. That way I have a record of all the fun things we did during the year!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I recently asked for ideas on Kindergarten goals. This picture was taken before the post, but I wanted to show you the page, anyway. It's a place where I can monitor progress from my son without exams or tests.

This blank page will soon be field with all sorts of books! One of my favorite things about the Playful Pioneer curriculum, is all the books you get to read. Like the field trip tracker, I like the idea of coming back in May and remembering all the wonderful books we experienced throughout the year.

I will be talking about our schedule on another day, but I still wanted to show you what it looks like. It's broken up by 2 routines, M-T and Friday, as we are doing a 4 day schedule.

Now we get to the monthly spread!

I am doing lifestyle goals as well as planning my homeschool year. It's the nice thing about making your own planner, as you can let it function the way you need it to!

Morning basket post coming this month as well! Here I have a spot to put what will be included in our morning time each week/month.

Here I will put weekly goals for the 3 subjects I am planning myself.

I absolutely loved this cactus themed layout! It was so simple to draw and plan. Let me know, do you bullet journal?

Monday, July 29, 2019

Adding a Baby to Your Homeschool Year

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I remember stressing last year, as my belly ever increased in size and the time drew near for Baby girl to be born. How would I juggle the itty bitty newborn-hood and preschooling my 4 year old at the same time? Thankfully my baby has been a very laid back one, and enjoys just watching her big brother. There were moments of difficult transition, but for the most part it went pretty smoothly. Now it's time to plan for an older baby/almost toddler to join our Kindergarten this year! Here is how I plan to do so...

Make them a part of your homeschool

When Baby girl was a newborn, this meant wrapping her up in a moby wrap and letting her nap while I taught my son. Now it is going to mean something different as she gets ready to start walking and discovering things in the school room (yikes!). I am trying to accommodate this by setting a boppy pillow lounger by our morning chair, so she can also be a part of our morning time. She may not last long enough to be involved in math and phonics, but she can join in the Morning Time of hymn singing, Bible reading, and the book we are reading. Here is how I am helping her stay in the room with us:

Have age appropriate items for them to use during 'school'

As she will go from being 9 months-18 months during the school year, I've set aside some items that she should enjoy that can be both entertaining and educational for her. I'm not much into the itty bitty 'school', and she won't be doing any traditional learning for a couple more years, but that doesn't mean she can't do things that will help her develop sensory, verbal, and motor skills! I've set aside a small area of Little Man's cube shelf to accommodate Baby Girl's items. Here are a few of the things that I've included:

Melissa and Doug chunky puzzles

Fisher Price Block sorter

Cloth and touch and feel books

Give yourself grace

Whether having a newborn that needs your undivided attention, or a older baby transitioning to toddlerhood that is having a meltdown-homeschool means that things can be flexible. I remember there were days when we had to wait until the afternoon to finish school, or scrambling to finish a project during nap time. Allow yourself to get out of the routine, if it means that everyone is able to get what they need. We do a 4 day schedule for that very reason! If something happens and we have to call it quits one of the days, there is always Friday to finish up all the things we were unable to do.

I know in a way I have it easy, as I only have the 2 little ones. Let me know, how do you juggle the itty bitty's and homeschool?

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Space Themed Quiet Basket

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If you follow me here, you know I've included quiet time baskets in our Unplugged Summer. If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen these quiet time baskets up close (click on link and then saved stories to see these themed baskets-ocean, space, and vehicles!). This has been great, as my son is 4 and doesn't always take naps anymore. While Baby Girl is napping, he can quietly do a puzzle, look at a book, or do another themed activity. This is intended to be hands off for mom, as well, as we are off for the summer-so this isn't a unit study, just a way for quiet time learning. If you are looking for more space themed learning, click on one of the links in this Timberdoodle blog hop!

This post is on our Space themed basket, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing! I am adding links to everything I put in the basket, but feel free to shop around your own house and find things that fit the theme.

The other night we were coming home from an outing, and my son mentioned something he looked at in one of these books. He can't read yet, but I was very impressed with what he gathered from just looking at the pictures. These quiet baskets have also encouraged him to play with puzzles and activities he perhaps had forgotten about, and gave him independence to do each task himself. Enjoy this look into one of our favorite themed quiet baskets: Space!

Books and Activities: 
God Made Outer Space (Happy Day® Books: Level 3),The Magic School Bus Lost In The Solar System (forgot to add this to the picture, but he loves Magic School Bus books!),On the Space Station (A Shine-A-Light Book )Wipe-Clean Space Activities (Wipe-Clean Activities), Solar System reader (no link).

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

My Amazon Favorites!

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Amazon Prime Day is Monday and Tuesday, and in honor of all those good deals happening, I thought I would share my favorites that I've either been given, or ordered myself.


If you are new to my blog, you may not know that I have a 7 month old baby girl. She is baby #2, so there is a bit of experience under my belt. Here are some things we got through Amazon, that I love during the baby months.

Baby Registry
Shop Amazon - Create an Amazon Baby Registry

The baby registry through Amazon Prime was simple to make, and once I checked off each category, and ordered one thing that was $10 or more ( I just registered for something I had planned to buy for the baby, anyway) I was sent a baby box. It didn't just have samples of baby products, but an entire package of wipes, 2 onesies, a muslin blanket, and much much more!

Aden and Anais Muslin Blankets

This is the set my baby girl was given. I'm not a brand snob for a lot of things, but this brand of Muslin blankets are a must! I've tried at least 3 other brands, and none of the others are as soft or durable as these. You not only use them when they are itty bitty for swaddling, but you can use them as burp cloths, to let them play on, get their diaper changed on, and when they're older, they make great lightweight blankets to sleep with!

Diaper Caddy

This was the product I didn't know I needed, with my son! I have used this as a bedside storage for in the middle of the night diaper changes. It keeps everything together and organized, and allows my nightstand to house more things than just baby items!

Here are some honorable mentions:

Baltic Amber Teething Necklace For Babies (Unisex) (Honey) - Anti Flammatory, Drooling & Teething Pain Reduce Properties - Natural Certificated Oval Baltic Jewelry with the Highest Quality Guaranteed

Hudson Baby Unisex Baby Animal Face Hooded Towel, Pretty Elephant 1-Pack, One Size (these are adorable! Plus great quality.)


Ikea Dinnerware Set

When my son outgrew his baby dinnerware set, this set was the best quality for the price. At less than $30, you get everything-bowls, cups, plates, and serve ware. After 2 years of use, my only complaint is that the forks seem to show a lot of wear. I would still recommend this set for little ones needing to transition into 'big kid' dinnerware.

Paw Patrol Socks

If your house is like mine, socks get eaten by the washer and dryer! I like to get my son a big pack of white socks, so that it is easy to find a match, but my son still loves the character socks. So many times, character clothes are more expensive, and worse quality. These socks here, have held up very well, and less expensive than some in the store.

Other products in the kid category, can be found on previous blog posts.
My favorite travel products for kids
My favorite products for church
My favorite puzzles
My favorite games and activities

Personal Favorites

Now for the adult-y things!
I am only doing these in link format, as the first one is a bit personal. Some of you know that before Baby Girl, I struggled with infertility and loss. Something that helped me conceive were ovulation tests! These can be bought in bulk and cheaply-I have tried 2 brands so far, and these are my favorite. I still use these as natural family planning sources.

PREGMATE 50 Ovulation LH and 20 Pregnancy HCG Test Strips OPK LH Surge Predictor Kit Combo (50 LH + 20 HCG)

This next one is something that is probably old news, but I absolutely love!

Wet Brush Classic Brush, Black

Now that I've typed this out, I'm realizing that I have purchased a lot for my kids, and not so much in the adult category, lol!

I hope you have enjoyed this favorites list! If you don't have Prime, it's a great way to get free shipping, watch shows (They have so many great period dramas-my favorite!), and more!

How to Create a Successful Homeschool Schedule

This title may seem a bit premature, as we haven't started school yet, but following the tips I will lay out, has helped me know that ...