Blog

Homeschool Requires Consistency

I've saved the best (or worst) in this blog series for last.

Consistency.

Some people are wired for consistency, organization, and all of those other Type A traits. 

Some people are not.  {ahem. Like me}

Some people learn over time, however, that consistency really does aid in so many areas of life -- especially the homeschool life!  

Maybe I saved this post for last because it's the most challenging for me to write - or maybe I was afraid I might get a little push back. Whatever the case - here goes my thoughts on consistency and homeschooling. 

 

Homeschool Requires Consistency

When I think about consistency and our homeschool there are two big categories -- consistency in the little things of every day homeschooling, and consistency in the big things of LIFE.

We must have consistency in our routines and procedures, and we must also have consistency in how we live our lives (I supposed that speaks directly to the commitment required of homeschooling, too).  

Consistency in the BIG and consistency in the LITTLE - two very important things.


Consistency in Your Approach and Commitment

Remain Consistent in Your Homeschool

 

When you commit to homeschool your children you must completely alter your life and put homeschooling on the FRONT burner. Homeschooling won't succeed if you lack commitment. 

I know people say they decide it they are going to homeschool on a "year to year basis" - and to a certain extent I have felt that way in the past. For our family, however, we are in this for the long haul.  Just as some people are firm in their commitment to a traditional school, we are firm in our commitment to homeschool. 

Make a PLAN for your children's homeschool years.  Then, remain CONSISTENT in that plan. 

Yes, I would have a plan for their elementary, middle and high school career (or at least a general idea of where you are headed).

Would you open a business without a plan?  Would you even feed for your family for a month without a plan? 

 

 

{ Then, be prepared to be flexible with that plan and let God do the rest. }

One of my biggest regrets in our homeschool journey is that we jumped around in the first few years and went where the wind blew us. I wasn't consistent with a homeschooling method or approach in my daughter's early years. By the time I had wised up and was homeschooling my son, we had settled on the Classical approach and it has made every difference in the world

(Please don't leave scathing comments about the Classical approach - I realize your can be consistent with ANY homeschool approach. Just BE CONSISTENT!)

This is one of the reasons I recommend all homeschoolers read The Well Trained Mind.  It is probably the best general homeschooling book out there, and it will give you a BIG PICTURE of what consistent homeschool can look like all the way through graduation! 

One of the reasons we left the public school was because of the LACK OF CONSISTENCY from year to year and even from day to day. 

I watched friends with children in public school - the math curriculums kept changing at the high school level and those children paid a price because of the inconsistency in the teaching approach. 

As homeschoolers we can insure our children have a consistent math education.  

They can also have a consistent history education. By learning history in cycles, children gain such understanding and a love of history. 

I can consistently offer my children arts education and not be at the whim of funding being cut in the public schools. 

Do you get the picture? 

I'm not saying there will never come a day when you might put your children back in school, but being consistent in your approach, methods, and goals is going to serve you well in the long run.

As homeschoolers we also fall prey to the "I think there must be something better out there" mentality - which can lead to jumping from curriculum to curriculum or program to program. 

We've schooled through death, illness, job change, puberty (I'm not kidding - puberty can be like the death of one child and the birth of a completely different child!), and more -- but we always knew our commitment to homeschool was firm - the consistency was there. 


We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
— Aristotle

 

 

Consistency in Day to Day Homeschooling

To achieve your long term homeschool goal, however, you need to be consistent in the day to day of homeschooling.

We've always done better with consistency in our homeschool days.  (Believe me, I went a couple of years with very little consistency and it didn't work very well.)

I realize there are seasons when consistency might be very difficult - a new baby is born, a family member is sick, or you're just going through a tough time in general. 

But, I would also argue that consistency sometimes GETS YOU THROUGH those tough seasons, too. And, when your children reach their pre-teen and teen years they are trained to almost school themselves - and THAT is a great feeling. 

GET UP!

I like to sleep as much as the next person, but in our homeschool getting up and moving at a decent hour is important. 

We all wake up to alarms - mine normally goes off at 6 or 6:30 a.m. and the kids' go off around 7:15. 

When the kids were younger they were naturally up early, but as they have entered the teen years getting up is HARD.  (I do sometimes give grace if we've had a very late night or someone isn't feeling well - or it's a particularly cold and dreary morning - but for the most part getting up on time in a non negotiable in our house.)

MAKE BED/GET DRESSED

Simple Morning Time

Friends tease me about this, but I am a compulsive bed maker. My kids need to have their beds made, too. 

My theory is this: if you get up and make your bed you have accomplished one thing at the very beginning of your day - your room looks neat and you are ready to carry that sense of accomplishment throughout your day. (Plus, it won't drive your mother nuts whenever she walks by.)

MORNING TIME

Even when my oldest was in public school we had our own version of morning time. We would gather at the breakfast table at 6:30 a.m. (for the life of me I cannot believe I put my five year old through that early morning routine), have a warm breakfast, read a devotion, and then she would be on the school bus at 7:10. 

Now that we homeschool morning time happens at 8:30. It is a time for us to start the day together with truth, beauty, and goodness.  

THAT ONE HARD THING

I encourage my kids to tackle that one hard subject first, then it's DONE.  

For us it has always been math - and one year it was Latin. 

Then, no matter what else happens in the day you've had your morning time and accomplished the hardest thing in your day. 

Plus... your bed is made! 

With these simple, consistent routines we can accomplish so much by 10 a.m.

And, my children have always known the expectations and really crave the routine. 

QUIET TIME

Quiet time was always a coveted time in our homeschool. 

Our homeschool shut down from 1 - 2 (ish) most days until my kids were in upper elementary school.  

Whether it was taking a nap, listening to a book, or playing quietly in their rooms, quiet time gave all of us a chance to recharge and have some alone time. 

Even now it seems that my house gets very quiet around 2 p.m. -- it's just a natural time of the day where everyone needs a break from each other. 

 

Whatever routines and rituals you value in your home, keep them consistent. 

These are the routines and consistencies that have worked for us -- but the beauty of homeschool is that we can do what works for OUR family. 

It's all up to you, but I believe consistency is KEY. 

 


The Rewards of Homeschool Are Great

With Commitment, Love, Courage, and Consistency, the rewards of homeschool will be GREAT!

I am not telling you it will be easy.

I am not telling you it will always be fun or gratifying. 

And, I am certainly not telling you there won't be days when you will question why in the world you are doing this.

Homeschool Requires Consistency

But, when I look at pictures of my children from that pivotal year when we made the decision to homeschool (2008) , I see so clearly WHY we did what we did.

As we enter 10th and 6th grade life is changing.  I find myself adjusting and changing to meet the needs of my children.

I love, however, that certain things have remained consistent over time, and that is what holds our homeschool together. 

 

Homeschool Requires Consistency

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Simple Morning Basket

The start of our homeschool day matters.  

Beginning each homeschool day with planned time together matters.

And, most importantly, beginning each homeschool day with BEAUTY matters. 

As my children have gotten older this time is even more important.

Even though our studies and interests vary, we still come together to begin our day in a positive, productive way.  When moods change and emotions are all over the map during the middle and high school years, it's even MORE important to keep this time at the beginning of our days a PRIORITY.  

Morning time isn't just a ritual for families with young children. It needs to be done in a homeschool with older children, too! 

Our morning basket reflects the ideals of TRUTH, BEAUTY and GOODNESS in our homeschool. 

And - hopefully it reflects a little bit of silliness and fun, too! 

 

Our Simple Morning Basket

What is Morning Time?

If you've heard all the buzz about morning time, but aren't sure what it is, I encourage you to read what my friend Pam Barnhill has to say on the subject. Pam has created resources for the homeschool community that equip us to have successful morning times - no matter our children's ages. 

Your Morning Basket Guide

In our homeschool, morning time usually happens between 8:00-8:45. We come together at the breakfast table to review memory work, take in fine arts, play math games, and have devotions.

Because I have a 10th grader and a 6th grader, the activities go a bit deeper and can last slightly longer than if I had little ones. But, the beauty of our morning basket is that it could be scaled back to work PERFECTLY for little ones, too!  

I love that morning time is a great way for families with multiple ages of children to begin the day together - and to begin it WELL. 


Contents of Our Morning Basket

This year I really wanted to make our morning basket FUN!  

My daughter's Challenge II year is intense, and my son's year is more intense than last year, so I want to keep some of the fun and wonder alive. The morning basket is a perfect way to do just that! 

I envision each morning time going like this:

  • Devotions
  • Memory Work Review
  • SHORT Latin Lesson
  • Math Games
  • Music or Art Appreciation (Listening, playing, observing, creating)
  • CNN Student News

Obviously we won't be able to get to each of these things each morning, but I could see a core of devotions, memory work, Latin, and student news - with music, art, and math games done on alternating days (or as it strikes my kids' fancies, know what I mean?).

Contents of Our Morning Basket

Devotions:

This year we will be using Best-Loved Passages of the Bible.  I am looking forward to this because it will be good for all of us - including mom and dad.

Memory Work Review:

Using a Cycle 2 memory work review flip chart (I print mine from CC Connected), we will use the memory work review system from My Homeschool Story.

Last year we used this same system, and by the end of the year I had a Memory Master on my hands! I love the simple, methodical review this provides.

And yes, my Challenge student benefits from reviewing the memory work with us. 

Latin:

The goal this year is to prepare my son for his full blown Latin curriculum next year.  My daughter is in her second year of Henle Latin and will be able to teach these simple Latin lessons from Getting Started With Latin each day. 

(I can't wait to get started with this book. It is such a gentle introduction to Latin!)

Math Games:

Confidence with math facts and the ability to play with numbers is the goal for this year. Hopefully we can spend 5-10 minutes playing 24 (this will get adult brains thinking, too!) and also playing with Math Dice

Music Appreciation:

Of course we are including this!  SQUILT Volumes 2 and 3 are on the schedule for this year. In both Foundations AND Challenge II my children will have exposure to great orchestral works. 

Super Quiet UnInterrupted Listening Time is PERFECT for a morning basket because it involves short, scripted music appreciation lessons that set the stage for a peaceful day - and for older children it involves some intricate learning about music.

(Don't worry if you aren't musically inclined, I wrote SQUILT for parents with little to no musical ability - it is 100% scripted and EASY!) 

I cannot imagine starting our days without music! 

We will learn about works by Mozart, Haydn, Brahms, Beethoven, and more! 

(Learn about how to incorporate music into your morning time.)

My children both play the piano, and I will encourage them to each play something to get our days started, as well.

Art Appreciation

On days when we are not doing music appreciation, we will do art appreciation - I'm not exactly sure what this will look like. 

My daughter is doing quite a bit of art appreciation this year in Challenge II, so I want to incorporate works she is studying. 

We have also had a lot of success with the 13 Artists Children Should Know series - and will be working our way through this book. 

Something FUN for Art!

This year I wanted to try something new!  

When my kids were little they loved Ed Emberley's drawing books

Well.... this is so much fun! I've pulled out my old Ed Emberley book and we'll be having fun drawing animals with Sharpies every now and again during morning time!  I think this will keep my kids "little" and allows all of us to have some fun!  

I think these drawings will also go along quite well with the drawing we do in the first semester of Foundations, too!  

Current Events

My kids insist  CNN Student News be a part of our morning time. 

This is a 10 minute program geared towards middle and high school students.  I love the non partisan current events reporting and my kids love the host, Carl Azuz. 

Good stuff. 


I'll keep you posted as we make our way through the year how our Morning Time is coming along.  Obviously all of this in one morning time is ambitious to say the least - so we'll be picking and choosing and hopefully coming up with a good rotation of subjects. 

This 30-45 time chunk at the beginning of our day is the BEST INVESTMENT I could ever make! 

 

I'd love to know if you have a morning time/morning basket in your homeschool and what that looks like!  Leave me a comment below and let me know! 

Our Simple Morning Basket

 

 

Audio Adventures With Jonathan Park

Do you use audio books and adventures in your homeschool?

I'm pleased to be able to share with you one of our very favorite audio series - one that we have been falling in love with this summer (as we've been spending LOADS of time in the car!). 

If you read this blog often you will know that I'm not a huge product endorsement person - we have to use something and truly LOVE IT if I will recommend it to my readers.

Well, the following audio adventures have made the cut!  I hope you enjoy our review, and make sure to read all the way to end for a very special discount code. 


About Jonathan Park Audio Adventures

We've long been fans of audio BOOKS in our homeschool, but Jonathan Park Audio ADVENTURES aren't books at all - they are truly ADVENTURES!

Unlike audio books, the adventures are full fledged dramas - complete with sound effects, music, and  dynamic characters. All of this leads to a vivid picture in your imagination, which you sometimes don't get with audio books. 

We were pleased to receive The Adventure Begins Series Pack.

 

This includes four albums of the first adventure: The Secret of the Hidden Cave, African Safari, Art Heist Adventure, and Mystery at Dead Man's Curve.  Each adventure is broken into three 20-25 minute sections, which makes for manageable listening. 

(Jonathan Park has SEVEN adventures series total - so there is plenty of listening still to be done!)

In my opinion, these dramas are best geared towards elementary and middle grades students. 

Each adventure series pack is $59.99 and is available in digital or physical CD format. 

Jonathan Park action-packed audio adventures are for kids and families. The stories are full of faith-building and educational evidence for a Creator. If your family enjoys imaginative and immersive stories packed with biblical truth, then Jonathan Park is for you!

If your kids have never experienced Jonathan Park faith-building audio adventures, we want to highly encourage you to try these stories. We guarantee that they will ignite their imagination and equip them to defend their faith!
— Jonathan Park website

 

Listen to this short sample and hear for yourself the high quality of these audio adventures: 


Why We Like Jonathan Park Audio Adventures

This summer we have spent A LOT of time in the car. We love to use this time to LEARN rather than to play on devices or just listen to the radio. I am always searching for worthwhile audios to keep my children engaged and learning.

With the Jonathan Park Audio Adventures our time was put to excellent use as my children learned about science concepts:

  • The Evolutionary Tree
  • Convergent Evolution
  • The Laws of Energy
  • Design of the Water Cycle

These science concepts were interwoven with Biblical truths:

  • Returning Good for Evil
  • Showing Kindness
  • Consequences of Sin


More reasons we enjoyed the audio adventures: 

  • The adventures were just that - ADVENTURES!  They kept my 11 year old son interested and engaged - each segment was approximately 20-25 minutes which was the perfect length for our attention span.
  • The adventures equipped my children to defend their faith.  Each adventure presents evidence for Creation. It gives us solid arguments to make when defending our faith and view points. 
  • The adventures taught us a lot about science and how it relates to our faith.  As my children get older I am finding that this is especially important - yes, you can be a person of faith and science at the same time.  They aren't mutually exclusive.
  • The adventures include supplemental activities, found on the Jonathan Park site.  Once we were at home and had some down time, I printed out the coloring pages and word searches for my son to complete. We sat and talked about the adventures while he was working - a casual way to learn and dialog. 

Do you listen to audio dramas in your homeschool?  Does this series look intriguing to you?  I hope so!