Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Keepers at Home: The Importance of Resting Well

Hey ladies, we need to talk.  First of all, yes, the "Keepers at Home" series is back!  And I am re-kicking it off with a very serious topic for all you stay-at-homes (and even the working types out there).  Ready for it?  TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!!!

Seriously.  There is mounting a din of information out there on this topic but I don't think any of us take it seriously until, as a friend recently put it, we "blow a gasket".  Suddenly all of that pouring out into others leaves us high and dry.  Not just mentally, emotionally, spiritually... but physically too. 

We look at the Proverbs 31 woman and we think we have a lot of catch-up to do.  Or we see the mommy volunteer at church touting baby #x, toddler, pre-schooler and so on, while she looks fabulous holding that perfectly frosted plate of cupcakes.  Or, Mrs. 'So-and-so' whose house is always spotless and husband invariably appears well cared for by her loving hands.  If these women can do it, so can we.  We just want to be all to all.  We think we are Superwomen, even if just in training.

Ladies... STOP.

Even the Proverbs 31 woman rested.  I recently heard a commentator state that her impressive list was actually accomplished over a lifetime (not one day).  I don't know about that, but what I do know is that she paced herself.  The loooong list we give ourselves to maintain is simply not realistic.

Don't get me wrong, I am 110% for being on our game.  For keeping up with all we are given to keep up with and putting our hearts into it.  Absolutely.  IF.

Yes, if.  IF you have the time and schedule.  IF it is the thing(s) God has called you to do.  So many of us get caught up in the river rapids of life, being swept away from next to next to next.  We don't take time to pause, breathe and make sure all the great stuff we are saying "yes" to is what God has on the slate for us right now.  We go...go....go...go and then you know what happens?  We crash.  And believe it or not, in more situations than many women realize, that crash comes as we are sitting in front of our doctor while he explains a pill regiment or surgical procedure or something un-anticipated because we haven't just taxed our time, we have also taxed our bodies.  We want to be Superwomen so bad, we forget the Source of our Power and the need to PAUSE.

But how do you get off the crazy train of life and rest well?  It's the hardest simplest thing actually.

#1 - Put God at the Center
Resting yourself without resting in the Lord could, potentially, produce selfishness.  One phrase I despise in our day and age is "Me Time".  I know the heart behind the statement but it has been hijacked by a me-centric society wanting to justify self-centeredness separate from God.  So first things first: start your day at the feet of the Lord. 

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman 
named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, 
who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. 
She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me 
to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  
but few things are needed—or indeed only one. 
Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
- Luke 10:38-42
Pop quiz: who was commended in Jesus presence:  Mary or Martha?  Yes, Mary. Not to discredit Martha's hard work, but what did Mary do that was better?  That's right, she sat at Jesus' feet and listened.  But Martha was distracted. What does Jesus say Martha is "worried and upset" about?  Yup, many things.  Is any of this hitting a nerve yet?  Cause here is the zinger: What does Jesus say is needed?  Yes, "few" things... no, wait, make that ONLY ONE thing.  And what is needed most?  Correct, back to square one: sitting at Jesus' feet!

I absolutely do not feel like this passage says we shouldn't help others when hosting or work hard.  What I believe it is saying is that there is a time to sit at the feet of Jesus and soak up what he is saying to us.  We do this by opening our Bible each day and praying.  Really listening to the message we see in his Word, how to apply it to our lives and praying it over our lives and those around us.  Let us not be distracted from God's teaching.

If we have started our day in this way we have, first of all, sown the seeds of peace in our hearts and, secondly, set our sites on His direction.  This could mean a change or adjustment to plans ahead in the day which God ordains as better...or simply His strength to follow along the list of to-dos.

Also, as you are tempted to deny yourself moments, not just in the morning, but also throughout the day, to rest, remember: there are plenty of examples in the New Testament of Jesus taking a time of rest in the midst of others needing his help.  And here, with Martha, his message is to quiet ourselves, don't get so wrapped up and worried in the daily or momentary 'dos' that we forget to draw our strength and peace and guidance from the One who set that day in motion!

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

#2 - Schedule Margins
It's hard to rest if you haven't made the time.  After you have scheduled in your morning Bible and prayer time, the need for rest doesn't stop there....

You know that blue lined notebook paper with the red lined margins on the right and left sides of the page popping up in all the back-to-school sale ads right now? What are those red lines on the paper for?  That's right, margins.  What is the point of margins anyway?  SPACE, room to overflow if you have to.  Room to add quick notes and corrections.  Most of all, it makes the writing on the page easier to read and follow. 

Do you write from the very edge of your paper to the other edge? No, you contain it within those margins.... so why do we live life edge to edge?  Probably cupcake lady.  Probably this idea that everything needs to be just.right. even if we have to work to the edge of the paper to make it so.  But working to the edge of notebook paper looks so messy and, if we are honest, so do our lives when we apply this concept there. 

Leave room for living.  To breathe, to go for a walk, to just sit and listen or read or be read to.  One rule for margins: do NOT plan anything serious in that time... better yet, don't plan anything!

#3 - Plan to relax
Ok, so this runs side-by-side with margins and may seem to be almost counter-intuitive at this point, but read on.  While I don't recommend scheduling in the margins, if you are like me, you fear the unknown of un-scheduled time blocks!  As a matter of fact, my "un-scheduled" moments tend to get absorbed if I am not careful.

I don't schedule things to do inside my margins per-se, but I do have ideas of how I can spend them IF nothing else comes up.  Say my margin is the hour before bedtime.  I DON'T schedule chores or have-tos for that slot.  But I might say, 'I could read a magazine, a book, knit, draw, etc.'  As long as it is something I enjoy and relaxes me it can be done in the margin and it can be sorta-planned.  However, if you find your margins constantly hi-jacked (this is especially so with little kids in tow) by hi-octane non-relaxing tidbits, then PLAN an hour at the coffee shop or in another room while dad tends to kiddos for a bit, etc.

Hard truth:  we live in a day and age where planning or scheduling a time to relax is a necessity because if it is not planned or scheduled, it often times will not happen.

#4 - Accept that You are NOT Superwoman
Though I can bet you come close!  Yet, because we are striving so fast and so hard, hoping to please everyone all at once, we often feel guilty taking time to relax ourselves.  The call of life never sleeps for Superwoman.  But that is just it: there will always be SOMEthing that needs to be done.  Not because we are lazy or inefficient, rather, it is the simple constancy of life.  We do NOT have super-human powers to get to it all.

Do you mow the lawn once a year?  No, of course not.
Do you only do dishes on Tuesdays?  Not on your life.
Here's a harder one: If you go to bed leaving tasks undone or take a break or hour to decompress, will the world end?  Surprisingly no.  It keeps right on spinning.

A string of health problems, starting when I was in my early 20s, have led me to a point in life where doctors think I have Fibromyalsia.  I have great days and weeks full of energy... and I have bad ones.  Even on my good weeks I have become acutely aware of a need to pace myself, ask for help, and be OK with things (big and small) going undone.  It is shocking how life does continue on just fine even (and almost especially) when I schedule chores in nibbles instead of gobbles or break every hour for 15 minutes to relax and sometimes read.  My misconception that I had to get EVERYTHING done, all at once, at a break-neck speed has robbed me of so many hours of peace and instead only issued guilt every time I even considered being kinder to me and my body. 

Ladies, when we take care of ourselves, there is actually more of ourselves capable to take care of others.  I know, it doesn't make sense, but trust me, it is true. 

For me; I do have to say "NO" to certain activities I would love to do.  Every time I am tempted to say "YES" to great but not for me things, I am encouraged to remember how quickly it will wear me down and how temperamental I become when I am overtired and overworked.... with or without the added pain.   Consequently, some of that pain is the result of ignoring doctor's orders after a major surgery and pushing to hard too soon.  I had to get that area of the room tidied, I had to be the one to help with that school project... you get the idea.  And now I have permanent damage.

 Perhaps you are in GREAT health and ready to take on the world.... that's stupendous!  Still, don't take the good run for granted.  Start your day well with the Lord, keep margins at the beginning, middle and end of your day.  Schedule periods of restfulness at the very least, once a week, and at most, hinged on daily margins.  Give yourself permission to take time regularly to re-focus (in prayer) and re-energize (drink some water, have a healthy snack, read a book, etc) and then hit back into the day.

One last analogy came to mind, for anyone who knows anything about sports:  whether it is basketball, football, soccer or *fill in the blank... do even the best players stay in the game from beginning to end, non-stop?  No!  Why?  That's right, they begin to fumble and mess up.  They wear down and need a break.  All these sports have time-outs and half times and/or quarters where the team sits down, breathes and re-gathers.  Without those breaks, the team becomes in-effective and their game-play is shot.

I think we get the idea.  It's no joke.  I care about you all too much to keep these thoughts and experiences to myself.  Sound-off if you are realizing this too.  Comment below if you have some added advice for us Superwomen who want to take on the world!  And come back soon.  In a few weeks I will be posting about schedules in honor of the new school year swinging into action... even if you don't have school aged kiddos, I believe the article will take this concept of  resting well and put some action steps to it.

May you find the best rest at the feet of Jesus and find fuel for your day, throughout your day, with His light along your path.


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Friday, August 10, 2018

7 Homeschooling through High School Encouragements and Tips

Another school year is knocking on the door.  My lesson planning is done, books are all ordered and school supplies are stacking up.  It's hard to believe I'm down to ONE homeschooler after so many years of multiples.  I'm going to miss these days when they are gone.

One heart-ache I have found over the years is when my kids have started high school and found themselves saying "goodbye" to homeschool friends who are suddenly leaving the realm of home education behind to be enrolled in public school for the final 4 years of their studies.  The reason?  Almost every single time it is parents saying, "I don't feel capable of homeschooling my child through high school" and assuming public institutions are their best bet.

The fear of Homeschool High School usually has everything to do with the higher level of learning and perceived 'requirements' parents fear they won't be able to meet.  Whether it is reflecting on that "C" they got in high school Algebra disqualifying them from teaching the same subject to their kiddo or the daunting aspect of Biology and Chemistry with experiments to-boot.  Perhaps it is high school level Writing classes, foreign language, or the multitude of electives a parent can't begin to wrap their mind around.  Well, I have news:

You CAN do this.

In high school I let the problems at home leak into my studies.  I only tried at the things I loved, like writing, history and art.  Everything else received my mediocre attention.  I half-hearted prepared for college (back then, college wasn't as big of a deal as it is now).  I took 3 years of math and science, but I didn't have an aptitude for them and, as mentioned, I didn't work very hard at either.  Biology, Chemistry, Algebra I and II, all garnered a solid "D" (I worked just hard enough to avoid "F"s)  It's the truth!  I even ignored foreign language because they didn't have the one I wanted and I wasn't about to 'try' at anything else.

Later in my adult life,when I finally decided to attend college, I naturally tested low in math.  I had to take 098 Algebra before I could move forward.  I also took Spanish.  You know what I figured out?  When I put my mind to it, I could actually get the stuff!  I walked away with A's!

But maybe you are shaking your head... maybe you are saying, "I did try in high school and I couldn't get it."  Don't worry.  I got you covered!

Maybe you are saying, "I didn't go to college, I can't begin to teach my kids at the high school level."  Or maybe you didn't graduate high school at all.

Please, trust me... You CAN do this!


#1  Prepare to learn with your kids.
Remember those "D"s I confessed to?  Well, when it came time to teach the higher levels of math and science, even after doing well on Algebra 1 in college, I was nervous.  So, I found some decent curriculum and sat down with my students.  We walked through the problems together.  When I was really stuck, I looked up YouTube tutorial videos (there are many) and every single time we were able to figure things out.  Kids are surprisingly patient when mom needs to learn with them!  If anything, it teaches them perseverance and appreciation of your investment on their behalf.  Sometimes they figure it out before you, rewarding them with a boost in confidence! 

#2  Enlist help.
Most regions of the country now offer coops with parents gifted in a multitude of subject areas coming together to share their strengths and help fill the gaps of weaknesses.  Why is a coop different, and dare I say 'better', than public school?  Well, the schedule is much more relaxed, often meeting one to three times a week.  Students spend less time in the 'classroom'.  More individualized help is readily available.  Peers are often like minded and carry the positive values most homeschoolers are praised for.  You need not worry about the latest scandalous trends, social pressure and negative values often running a-muck in public/private school.

Also, don't underestimate the power of a friend or family member skilled in a subject area you feel you are not.  They can help tutor/teach/mentor your student. It could be one of the main subjects or an elective like fly fishing, oil painting, car repair, carpentry and so on.

#3  Make use of good Resources
A few years ago a friend turned me onto All In One Homeschool and I have been in love ever since.  I don't use it for ALL our classes but we have enjoyed some of our extracurriculars through the site.  You could, however, plan your entire curriculum, 1st grade through 12th, via this marvelous site.  Oh, did I mention it is FREE?! 

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has a great site, SchoolhouseTeachers.com, which provides amazing resources for parents teaching at all grade levels as well if you go with the "Ultimate" tier.  We used them this past year for Art Appreciation and really enjoyed the well put together lessons.  They do have a nominal monthly fee which you can get down to $9.95 a month by using the coupon code "cow".

Tech classes have you nervous?  Try Lynda.com.  They are a little more pricey, however, it is a worthwhile investment if you have it in the budget ($25-35 per month).  The nice thing is that they are professional grade video classes with downloadable practice documents.  All my kids shared one account and have learned everything from basic Microsoft Word to Stop-Motion Video Making and Photoshop!  If it's techy, chances are Lynda has you covered!

Does foreign language make you break into a cold sweat?  Did you learn Spanish in high school and now your young charge wants to take German?  You don't need to compromise and you certainly don't need to worry.  Whether you choose a program such as Rosetta Stone, pricey but proven, or the FREE Duolingo (which we love for it's ease of use and the fact that it also comes as an app on our phones!), there are a multitude of easy to use programs out there for your student.  The nice thing about these; students can pick almost any language they want (as opposed to the limited selection most public/private schools offer).  They can even practice using their new language skills in pre-approved forums!

We use Duolingo and I require them to log a few modules each day of school if they want credit for the class.  Next week I will be sharing our curriculum for the 2018-19 school year and I will be sure to include how I am switching it up for my daughter's French class this coming school year!

#4  Check out state requirements
As with all of homeschool and making sure you meet the state requirements to home educate, we also checked into what public/private high schoolers were required to have for the state to approve graduation (I believe, technically, that is what we are suppose to do anyway!).  Then, using this form from the very resourceful Donna Young, I filled in subject areas with our state's required info.  For example, our state requires 2 years of math, one of which must be Algebra 1, and 4 years of English.  I slotted the generals in their designated area and then, like public school, I let my kids pick the specific track they wanted for each. 

In the spring we meet, like a guidance counselor and student, and discuss their goals and what classes they would like to take to fulfill needed requirements while equipping them for beyond graduation.  I write down what they are thinking while considering resources we will need for the fall.  If they are required to take English, I might ask what course they would like to take to fulfill that component: Composition?  Poetry? Literature?  Last year we combined Modern History and Literature to knock out two classes at once.  They read quality assigned historical fiction and non-fiction pertaining to the periods we were studying.  Then they would write reaction papers and do other projects related to their reading and history studies.

#5 Consider college
First of all, is your student even remotely interested in college?  If so, proceed with this in mind.  I told all my kids to take all the necessary college prep classes (3 years math and science, 2+ years foreign language) so IF they decided to attend college, they were ready to go.  If they did not attend, no biggy, at least they were prepared if they wanted to.  Now, this isn't to say college is a no-go if they don't prep... community college enrollment is much more laxed on prerequisites than university.  So, even if your student doesn't take college prep in high school, they can always start with a transfer degree at a 2-year institution.

Second, and best for those college-bound students... most colleges are now accepting high school students as early as 11th grade in, what is basically called, a dual credit program.  Different areas have various names for the program but here is how it works:  you enroll your high school student in college, taking classes which can fulfill both high school and college requirements at the same time.  Students earn dual credits working towards both degrees.  It is an affordable way to knock out some college credit because the classes are offered to high school students at a discounted rate, often as much as half the usual price per-credit.  I have heard of many high schoolers graduating with both a high school diploma AND associates degree because they were covering both bases at the same time!

#6  Realize others value your homeschooled-through-high school student
For years there was a certain stigma with homeschoolers which overwhelmed many families and exasperated kids as they tried to 'integrate' into society post-graduation.  This stigma is dying out and the few who perpetuate it, quite honestly, are either jealous or extremely naive to the current trend.

Colleges WANT your hoeschooled student often times more than the public/private schooled peer.  They know that homeschoolers tend to be good self starters, more mature learners, well rounded and very serious about their education.  If given the choice between the local high school's valedictorian and your graduate with good grades, college entry boards would likely scratch their heads for a while before they could decide!  In the same thread, homeschoolers often test higher on college entry exams like the ACT and SAT, proving that mom isn't just writing them an "A" because they like 'em!!  These kids really work hard for and earn what they get.... colleges know this.

Employers WANT your homeschooled student.  First off, many homeschool families allow their kiddos to work jobs during hours their peers are typically in school.  Employers love this!  But even if you stick to evening and weekend hours of availability only (like we did), most homeschoolers have a reputation of being hard workers, taking their jobs more seriously, respecting their bosses and being better socially adjusted across the age spectrum than their peers. 

People really aren't asking to see your kiddo's high school transcript at every turn and doubting their learning capacity.  If anything, most people are intrigued, they ask a lot of questions and often recognize your student's knowledge base and communication abilities as being superior to many others their age.

#7  Don't sweat it!
Homeschooling through high school is really no different then elementary or middle school.  I think, those of us parents who went to public/private school, tend to feel like there is some measure of standards we need to live up to.  But there really aren't.  Labs don't have to be done with a highly polished Bunsen Burner, the kitchen stove can suffice.  Dissections do NOT need to be performed at all, videos and diagrams can meet this standard.  No expensive high-power microscope in your classroom?  Don't fret, we don't have one either, though we do have a hand-held magnifier.  I still taught my kids how to handle a microscope and we then logged into YouTube for some demonstrations of peering through into the microscopic world of various organisms. 

If you are a unit study family... keep at it.  Most high schoolers still love that integrated approach.  Maybe you have always been more Charlotte Mason, don't worry, she has a great way to approach high school as well.  Or perhaps you are a textbook family.  No problem.  There are so many curriculum programs out there who also readily provide support for the overwhelmed parent in charge!

In short, watching your child approach the threshold of high school shouldn't fill you with fear or second thoughts.  It is simply the next natural step in a commitment to give your child the best possible outcome for all of life ahead.  There are so many other areas I could speak into here, to tell you, YOU REALLY DO HAVE THIS!!  But for now, I hope these 7 will encourage you to take that bold step forward!

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to comment below or email.  I'm hoping to have more regular high school themed posts throughout this school year, including 'Why we grade schoolwork' and how we navigate our days.  If you are a homeschooling-through-high school family, drop a line below and share some of your most helpful tips for making it work!

I pray the school year ahead is blessed with every measure of peace and goodness you need, right when you need it!


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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Adventures in Learning: Preschool

We were in a very remote cabin in the far north-western corner of Montana, just a stone's throw from both Idaho and Canada.  It was the kind of place where, if a tree fell in the woods, no one was around to tell you if it made a noise, though we might see the birds scatter in the distance. The crisp air reminded us fall was drifting in through the wood covered mountains and with it the realization my active 3 year old son was more than ready to begin some form of learning.

The tiny town we lived above might have had a brick-and-mortar pre-school but the drive alone, with winter pending, was daunting at best. I knew, looking at my little green '95 Geo Metro fresh out of the box and our staggering elevation, I would be snowed in by December... at the latest.  "How hard is it to teach preschool?" I queried, figuring ABCs and 123s couldn't be too much of a challenge.  So I set to work, a young mom, with very little clue but a whole lot of determination.

Within a week we both battled tears.  I couldn't understand how he was able to recognize the number "8" but he couldn't write a clear looking "a" anywhere near the line I gave him to scribble it on.  I was becoming the worst version of myself, I'm not proud to say.  I would yell, he would cry... then I would cry and apologize and hug him tight.  By the end of that strenuous week we set the papers aside and opted instead to pick up well loved books to read, coloring pages to fill with crayon marks and puzzles to piece together.  We'd bake and go on nature walks and play games.  But the paper with the crooked "a" suspended miles above the line got stuffed to the bottom of a pile and my dreams of teaching my son were stuck there with it.

Fast-forward a whole year and over 300 miles later.  We had moved to a more populated and lower elevated area.  As this new fall approached I enrolled my now 4 year old into Head Start.  A program which (at the time anyway) required a great deal of parental involvement.  'Check'.  I was more-than-ready to be super PTA mom, committee chair, bake sale specialist and classroom mom extraordinaire.  Whatever they needed, I was eagerly waiting to provide... especially my time in the classroom.  Boy did I get that and then some!

During my son's year at Head Start I learned sooooooooo much.  I found where I had gone wrong with my methods in trying to Pre-school him.  I was also encouraged when I realized areas I had actually gone right.  As I observed and helped and asked good questions, the wheels of my mind began to turn.

By the time my first daughter hit Pre-K I knew I wanted to do things a bit different.  At 3 years old I began to experiment with her.  I developed a 'program' to introduce her more gently to those illusive ABCs and 123s.  I recognized how to best approach learning through play at that stage and we had a marvelous go of it.  By the age of 4 I enrolled her in a local Christian pre-school because I was worried I might have missed some vital skill needed for kindergarten in my pre-homeschool stint, in particular, the skill of 'socialization' and behaving in a classroom.  I did the same with her younger siblings as well.

Again, I volunteered often, by this time I was spending much of my days at either the older kids' elementary school or the younger one's pre-school.  I watched how classroom was managed.  I paid close attention to the material taught, how it was taught, asked more good questions and, at the preschool and kindergarten levels, I noticed how there seemed to be a certain redundancy to the academics I had already done at home with them in their 3-year-old year. But I told myself they "needed" this... the socialization and classroom structure stuff... to prepare them for public school.

Then, a funny thing happened.

I was watching my oldest daughter, 2nd grade at this point, as she was practicing volleyball through the youth parks and rec program.  I remember distinctly, as I sat on the cold gym floor thumbing through a book, I had paused to watch the girls knuckle bump the ball back-and-forth.Then I glanced up into the rafters of the school gym where Rec activities were held, I was distracted by my own random thoughts.  Before I could look back down to the open book in my lap, I heard it... a gentle voice... it said, "I want you to teach".  God in the rafters is how I remember the Call.

I sort of chuckled at first.  I had always wanted to be a writer... but I hadn't really thought about full-on teaching.  Surely I didn't 'hear' right.  I mean, I loved working with my kids and serving on the PTA, providing my fair share for bake sales, committee chair for arts and crafts at school fundraisers, writing a Crafting with Kids newsletter for the teachers and teaching some of the lessons while the school looked for a new art teacher, I had even made it to the Room Mom extraordinaire list... but teach, like, teacher-teach.....?!  I thought the wires must be crossed.

Yet, I knew it was God and I knew in that moment and every moment since that it was a Call.  He didn't elaborate, he only told me what he wanted me to do.period.

By that fall I was enrolled back into college.  I was ready to obediently pursue my teaching degree.  As I prayed through details I began to recognize I had a passion for home-education and I wanted to write curriculum to assist stay-at-home moms in teaching their pre-schoolers.  I was already leading workshops on this topic at social services events.  It made sense.  I felt God's approval.

So I studied hard, worked harder and towards the end of my higher education degree process and right in the middle of my student teaching, God steered me further.... He called me to pull my kids out of public school and begin the journey of homeschooling.  He cleared the path to make it possible, all I had to do was walk it.  Starting after Christmas break that year I was educating grades Pre-K, 2nd and 4th (my oldest in 8th was too integrated to pull out).

I'm down to ONE now.  Yup, she is ELEVENTH grade this year, if you can believe that (I know I can't) and through all of our homeschooling adventures, from Pre-K all they way up to handing them their diploma, I've never lost that love and passion to put together Preschool Curriculum for stay-at-home moms who want to have an active part in their child's pre-school learning.  To weave together my experiences (good and bad), the wonderful mentoring I had, and my degree learnings so God might use it all to help and encourage others.

I'm not talking a ton of book work... the mistake I made with my oldest and his mis-shapen floating "a's".  No, I'm talking about interactive FUN activities which are easy to integrated no matter what mom has going on: cooking lunch, teaching older kiddos who are homeschooling, or one-on-one with their darling preschooler.  The activities can be done as self-led or can be tweaked and completed as a more formal parent-hands-on way of learning. 

The concept bouncing around my brain is Adventure and how learning should be an adventure, especially for littles who ought to be led to think of their beginning education as something to look forward to and enjoy (so they might carry that same adventurous attitude into all of their schooling).

If you are subscribed to my newsletter I shared some about this in the most recent issue.  I also promised a more detailed announcement on the matter... and here it is....

Starting in the September newsletter (issuing via email August 30th) I will be providing a special downloadable, printable, newsletter-style attachment.  I'm calling it, "Adventures in Learning" and it is the bare-bones 'beta' version of what will likely become a book I hope to publish within the next year or two.

The newsletter periodical won't have a ton of bells and whistles and fillers yet.  It is intended to, first of all, get me on-track and committed to a course of completing this long-dreamed-about project!  I am also hoping for feedback from readers who decide to either use it or (if they don't have littles anymore) peruse it!

So what will this Adventures in Learning periodical contain?  I'm glad you asked!  Each monthly installment will:
  • Have an article which explores a topic related to Early Childhood Education and how to help or understand the 0-5 crowd better.
  • Monthly themes which can act as a simple point of interest or a spring-board for other monthly activities.  Recipes and crafts will be recommended to accompany some of these themes.
  • We will cover a few Letters of the alphabet each month with printable letter pages which can be used for simple coloring or other suggested activities
  • Math concepts such as shapes (i.e. preschool geometry!) and numbers will be covered in much the same way as letters; with printables for coloring or suggested activity use.
  • Developmental skills such as motor skills and behavior will be discussed along with suggested activities for growth
Did I mention:  all of this is FREE! 

It will all be geared towards families small and large, homeschool and public school (although, I do have a special tendency towards homeschool!!)  It will be especially enjoyed by 3-4 year olds, however, any parent with a child in the process of learning these basic concepts at any age will be able to find use for this curriculum.  It could function on it's own for the basics or as supplemental material for those going with other more focused lesson plans.

Bonus material will make appearances as this project progresses. I'm still working out the details on a scope-and-sequence, planner pages, literacy projects and more.  All to say, you won't want to miss a minute of the new Pre-K addition to the newsletter if you or someone you know is trying to ready a young mind for a life of learning!

Consequently, as I was talking to my youngest about this project and inviting her to help produce some of the material, she remarked wistfully how she remembered doing these activities when she was little.  She always loved them and I know she remembers how pivotal they were not only in teaching her the basics but also in growing her in the love of learning she still enjoys today.

So I know the other question you are shaking your screen to find out right now is probably: HOW do you get this amazing tool?  Well, simple.  Glance to the right side of your screen there.  You may need to scroll up a tad, this article has gotten long!  Do you see that image of a typewriter?  Just below it says, "Subscribe to my newsletter".  Put your cursor in that rectangular box and type in your email address then click, "Subscribe" and viola!  Check your email for a welcome letter from me.  If you don't see it, check your spam folder in case the virtual robots stuck it in the wrong slot (be sure to tell Spam that my newsletters are NOT junk!!)  Next is the hard part: waiting! Every month, on the last Thursday, you will receive my newsletter.  It has an article in each of my main writing categories; Faith, Home, and Homeschool.  It usually comes with additional material as well.  It will also hold the link to your FREE bonus Monthly Preschool Newsletter.

Here is the other GREAT news.... as a subscriber you will not only get early access to this preliminary material before it goes into the full-version book, but you also get the opportunity to provide feedback.  What you like, or don't like...what you would like to see...ideas you have which you have successfully tried with kiddos, and so on.  Great news, right?  It actually gets better: if you provide input and I end up using it in the final book, I will not only give you an honorable mention... I will also give you a FREE copy of the final book!!

Happy schooling!  I hope to see you in the Newsletter group.


By the way.....

*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Plans are in the works for some GREAT bonus material to be included starting soon!  Not to mention the articles on Faith, Home, and Homeschooling you won't even find on the blog!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter"?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!).  Entering your email will do 2 awesome things:

#1 - You are automatically signed up for my newsletter (expect to see your issues around the last Thursday of each month).  Yay!
#2 - It enters you into a drawing for a GREAT prize bundle I will be giving away at the end of the summer (details to come)

Don't worry, if you are already subscribed leave a comment below, say "hi", or whatever else you might like to say.  Be sure to mention you are an existing newsletter subscriber and I will pop your name in my drawing jar!