Family Read-Aloud Challenge

When you are a Charlotte Mason homeschooler, reading is one of the most important skills that you should teach and learn. But how do you get the kids excited about reading when they are still struggling through the beginning stages? Or if they aren’t old enough to read yet?

You can have a family read-aloud challenge!

read aloud challenge

When Reading Is Not Intentional

I, personally, LOVE to read. You can ask my family and friends (and even ex-classmates at school). I have always had a book around. In fact, I’m even participating in a Back to the Classics reading challenge for myself this year. And one of my greatest dreams was to have a family that felt the same way. When I was pregnant with my first child, I had this vision of us snuggled up on the sofa together, reading. It was so vivid.

And I did everything I could to make that happen. I read to V while she was still incubating. After her birth, I continued to read nightly. And  continued it up until she learned to read by herself at the age of six. By then, I had three other siblings who took a lot of time away from her. I was exhausted after six years of barely sleeping and now had to stay up at night to prepare for V’s schoolwork each day. Reading books at night often took a backseat to all the other chores I needed to keep up with.

Of course, the kids were still given reading time in bed every night before lights out. But now they had to do it alone. I tried to continue reading as often as possible, but it just wasn’t easy. I hadn’t made it a priority so it was often the first thing to go when time was running out at the end of the day. This was made doubly difficult by the fact that we tried to read each night in both French and English.

Read Aloud Revival

This continued for more than a year. It is so easy to put things like this aside. As each child grew older, rather than having more time at night to read, I found that I had less. We started having activities nearly every night. This meant we weren’t getting home until after 6pm. Then it was a quick dinner, and the bedtime routine would begin.

The kids needed to be in bed before 9pm so we had little time to do everything. They could choose between read aloud or read alone. Since read alone time was often needed to calm them enough to sleep, read aloud was out. And it hurt. I went to bed every night regretting that another chapter was left unfinished.

Then I came across a website. Read Aloud Revival. Here was a blog and podcast about a family of six kids, all homeschooled, who made reading aloud a priority. And it was the very vision of the dream I’d had when pregnant. I started believing again that it could be possible.

Even just the free access to the website was enough to put that spark back into my desire to read with my kids.

Eventually I joined the membership because I knew how important it was for us to make this a more consistent practice. And I love the group there. There is always so much going on. And even if we only participate in a fraction of the events, we are still doing more than before.

Read-Aloud Challenge

Which brings me to this month’s challenge.

Though I had started being more intentional with reading aloud to my children on a more regular basis, I was still missing at least half the week. Those late week nights with activities kept sneaking up on me. Even though I knew they were there.

Then we got the word about our yearly inspection to take place just before Christmas. Reading aloud was pushed back again. Worse, I wasn’t even being consistent with listening to my oldest daughter reading. She’s only 8 so she still needs a lot of guidance. Especially with newer and bigger words.

When it was announced that there would be a Read-Aloud Challenge for the month of January, I jumped at the chance to participate. I’m a recovering Type-A personality and I love checking boxes. This was a great opportunity to get back on track and mark a few boxes in the meantime just for fun.

I downloaded the packet and printed a calendar for each child and myself. Then I explained the concept to my kids. I expected a little resistance from the just-beginning-to-read 6yo and the not-yet-reading 5yo. They often compare themselves jealously against the one sister who can read.

The toddler is on board with everything. She just loves to participate in everything we do.

I explained that the pre-reader just had to describe his books to me or tell me whatever story he wanted from the pictures. The new reader could use her reading lessons. The oldest could choose any book she chose. And I would join by reading the nightly devotions and a little story every night. And they didn’t have to read to me. They could read to anyone in the family, including the dog.

read aloud challenge

How It Went

I was pleasantly surprised at the excitement they all displayed. In fact, they woke me early January 1st to get started. This after staying up until midnight to ring in the New Year. Each one had their book all ready and we took off.

Since it was vacation when we started, it was fairly easy to get into the groove. Sometimes we’d read first thing in the morning. Sometimes we’d wait until just before bedtime. I was a bit concerned when their father went back to work on the 7th. But we kept up with it.

And now, halfway through the month, we have yet to miss a day. They are still just as excited each day to read to me.

There have been some unexpected but wonderful surprises to this challenge.

  • The kids only want to read to me. They consider this a special event that they want to share with their mother.
  • It has been a great way for me to have quality alone time with each kid every day. Something that is not easy to do with our busy schedule.
  • The oldest has chosen to read in both English and French (depending on the book she has chosen to read for the day).
  • The just-reading 6yo has gotten more comfortable with her reading skills and I can see her confidence growing every day.
  • The not-yet-reading 5yo is starting to show an excitement to get started on his own reading lessons.
  • The toddler has begun reading to everything and everyone around her in that cute little minion language she uses.
  • And Daddy has unexpectedly gotten on board and started reading every night as well to each child. Even when he has come home late from work and is tired.

This was just the kickstarter we needed to get back on track with our reading aloud. I highly recommend trying a challenge like this if ever you feel like your reading has gotten off track.

It’s a little late if you would like to join in this particular challenge. But that doesn’t mean you are out of luck. On the contrary, you can start anytime. Just grab a calendar, grab a book, and get going.

read aloud challenge

To help you and your family keep track of the books you are reading, I’ve created a Reading Log in both full size and half size. You can find this on the Subscriber Freebies page. Sign up below for the weekly newsletter to get access.

Making SMARTER Goals

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We all need to make goals if we want to progress in life. Whether it is something personal like losing weight or family oriented like buying a new house, we need to take steps if we want to achieve them. Many people have taken to using a method known as the SMART method. But based on past experiences, I think we need to take it two steps further and make it a SMARTER goal.

making smarter goals

S.M.A.R.T

SMART is an acronym for how to set up your goal to make it more attainable.

A goal needs to Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bound. Now what does this actually mean in terms of goal writing?

Let’s take the example of my goal to read more using the Back to the Classics challenge. A classic goal would simply be stated, “I will complete the 2019 Back to the Classics challenge.” This is actually not too bad of a goal. But it can be stated even more clearly and planned out more. By doing this, I will have a better chance of succeeding.

SPECIFIC

First, a goal needs to be specific. What exactly am I trying to achieve through this goal? What category of my life does this fit in? Work, Personal, Family, or Faith? Can I do this alone or do I need others?

This is a personal goal. I want to read all the books for a reading challenge presented on a blog Books and Chocolate. This is so that I can get back to the classics that are often overlooked in my reading. It is a solo project. So I do not need anyone’s assistance.

MEASURABLE

Next, a goal needs to be measurable. How will I know when I’ve achieved this goal? What are the criteria necessary? Is there a time limit? Is there any other limit?

For me that would be easy to answer. I need to read twelve books, one for each category. And I need to have read all these books within twelve months. Or by the end of 2019.

ACTIONABLE

What actions need to made for me to succeed? Can it be broken down into smaller daily or weekly actions?

Another easy answer for this particular goal. Since I need to read twelve books in twelve months, I need to average a book a month. I could count up the total number of pages (4,314 pages) and then figure in the average by month (360 pages per month), week (83 pages per week), or even day (12 pages per day). It all depends on how closely you need to monitor your progress.

REALISTIC

Is this project or goal able to be achieved realistically in the time allotted? Am I able to do this in my normally scheduled day or is it a new skill that may take me more time in the beginning? Is the season of my life amenable to this type of goal?

Since I have always devoured books, this is something that I should easily be able to accomplish. Even in the busiest year of my life with a new homeschooler and a newborn in the house, I was able to read almost 100 books. Granted, those books were all fun and easy. The books on my list are more challenging. Like War & Peace, at 1225 pages. But 12 books should still be doable for a reader such as myself.

TIME-BOUND

How much time do I have to accomplish this goal? Is there a specific end-date? Are there any other rules to limit my time during the year?

This particular goal is exactly one year. It is to be finished by midnight on December 31, 2019. Technically, I can read all day every day should I want to. Realistically, as anyone with children knows, I am looking more at one hour per night. More if I forego sleep.

So now my new SMART goal can be stated, “I will read 12 books averaging 360 pages per month for the Back to the Classics challenge to be completed by midnight December 31, 2019.”

S.M.A.R.T.E.R.

Now, I could stop here. I would probably even succeed. This particular goal is not too difficult. But let’s say that the goal is a little more complicated. And that there are multiple steps that need to be taken at specific times. Like starting a new blog or business. Or buying a new house. Adding on these last two steps may actually increase the likelihood of succeeding. You will want to Evaluate and then Readjust, possibly several times during the year.

Let’s continue with my example of the reading challenge.

EVALUATE

Create a schedule to periodically review your progress. It can be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even just at the half-way point.

I will probably check quarterly to be sure that I have read at least 3 books during the last quarter or averaged a minimum of 1000 pages read. I want to make sure that I’m not leaving War & Peace for the last month and making myself finish over 1000 pages in just one month.

READJUST

Change your plan or schedule as necessary.

By checking occasionally to see what I have already read and what I have left, I can give myself more time to finish or force myself to find more time. I won’t be caught a few weeks before the deadline with half the books to complete and not enough time.

making smarter goals

This method can be used for each and every goal you make. It applies to yearly goals as well as something with a shorter time frame. It may take a little more time to plan and set up. But chances are you will be more successful.

To help you create your own SMARTER goals, I’ve made a chart that you can fill out. There is both a full-size and a half-size (to fit your bullet journal). You can use this in conjunction with the other Goal planning sheet where you can jot your quarterly evaluation results or adjustments. Just sign up below to receive access to the Subscriber Freebie page where all these resources are available.

 

A New Year, Your Best Year 2019 Conference

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. While purchasing from any of these links will not increase the price you pay, I do receive a small commission.

Boy, this year is really ending in a frenzy! Between our homeschool inspection the week before Christmas and all the birthdays in our family, I am overwhelmed. There are so many wonderful things happening between now and the new year that I just can’t seem to keep up! Luckily, one of those things will help me get focused right off the bat. It’s the 2019 Conference A New Year, Your Best Year.

a new year, your best year

This conference is starting just days after the new year. From January 4th until January 10th, you will be able to attend over 175 workshops from more than 90 speakers. The categories for these workshops include:

  • Faith
  • Family Life
  • Finances
  • Goals/ Planning
  • Health/ Fitness
  • Household Organization/ Homemaking
  • Marriage
  • Meal Planning/ Prep
  • Parenting/ Motherhood
  • Planning/ Time Management
  • Self-Care; and
  • Simplification/ Minimalism

So, a little something for everyone.

Who’s speaking?

If you’ve checked out the blogs by some of the more well-known homeschool moms and Christian moms, you will recognize their names immediately. People like Arabah Joy, Tauna Meyer, Heather Bowen (who is hosting this event), Hal & Melanie Young, and many more! You can read more about each of these speakers on the event page A New Year, Your Best Year 2019 Conference for Moms Speakers.

Personally, I could use some help with my time management and homemaking. I saw multiple workshops that could help me out. My favorites include How Busy Moms Can Stay Connected to God by Kerry Beck, How to Ensure You Have the Best Financial Year Ever by Kati Kiefer, Declutter Toys Parts 1 & 2 by Tauna Meyer, and Mothering With Grace, Even Amidst the Chaos by Angela Taylor. There is even a workshop by Monique Boutsiv entitled Bullet Journaling for the Busy Mom! You can get a list of the workshops being offered with a description on the event page A New Year, Your Best Year 2019 Conference Workshop Descriptions.

With so many great topics to choose from, there is no way you could possibly get through all of them during the time of the event. And since we are all so busy, I doubt any of us could get through even a fraction. I know that there is no way I can.

How do I sign up?

The good news is that when you buy a ticket, you will get lifetime access to all these events. So you can watch those you are most interested in now. And those that aren’t relevant for the moment can be saved for a later date. Since I don’t have any teens in my house yet, I won’t be rushing to check out any of those workshops. But based on some of the titles, I’m sure I’ll be glad to have them when my kids get that age.

Early Bird tickets priced at $15 go on sale today, December 26th until January 3rd. After that, the prices will go up to $20.

Included with the lifetime access to all the workshops, you will receive a Swag Bag of freebies and discounts valued at over $800. I can’t wait to see what is included in mine.

a new year, your best year

I’ll be getting my ticket as soon as it opens up for registration. In order to better prepare for the event before it starts on the 4th, please enjoy the free worksheet I’ve created which lists all the speakers and workshops by category. There is even a space for you to mark the dates they are playing (when that information is released) and a place to check off those you’ve seen. Just to help keep you organized.

You can receive this free printable list when you sign up below. You will receive an email with the password to the Subscriber Freebies page where you will have access to all my free resources, including the master list of workshops for the conference A New Year, Your Best Year.

 

Setting Attainable Goals for 2019

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Though you will not pay any more for any product, I may receive a small commission. 

The new year is fast approaching. And I’m starting to think about setting all those goals that I want to accomplish. We used to call them resolutions. But the problem with that is the word “resolution” has taken on a connotation of something we will probably never achieve. So now we say “goals” in the hopes that we will be better able to attain them.

Some of you may have already decided what you want to accomplish. With my busy schedule and recent homeschool inspection, I haven’t really gotten around to it before now. And I have to admit that I’m a bit stuck in terms of finding just one thing to shoot for. So what do I do?

setting attainable goals

The Basic Layout

Well first, I need to narrow down which areas of my life need the most attention. The main categories that I have seen in many goal planners include Family, Finances, Work and Personal. I’ve changed this for my own use. I still use the categories Family, Work and Personal. But I’ve replaced Finances with Faith. First, because if I don’t want my relationship with God to suffer, I need to be more intentional with how I live my faith. Second, because I feel the finances can fit into all the other categories.

In each of these categories, I pick three main things I want to work on. For example, in Personal, I have the goal of completing two reading challenges, the Back to the Classics challenge and the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge. In Faith, one of my goals is to be more intentional with my prayer life. For Family, I want to be more consistent with our weekly nature walks and nightly read-alouds. And in Work, I would like to complete a bilingual Nature Journaling program to be used year-round.

When I’ve chosen three goals for each category, I then break those goals up into actionable items on a quarterly basis. Basically, what I need to have achieved by the end of each quarter in order to accomplish the goal at the end of the year. In some cases, if the goal is complex enough, I will even break those actions down to a monthly or even weekly agenda.

Using the Bullet Journal

And this is where my bullet journal really comes in handy. I’ve talked a little about how I got into bullet journaling in my post Staying Organized for the Busy Mom. Since using this system, I have been much better at completing my to-do lists and in keeping up with the countless activities of my children. But this is the first time I will be using it to create goals.

In the final pages of my 2018 journal I am envisioning what my next year will be. I’ve dedicated a page to each category where I can brainstorm goal ideas as well as what I actions I need to take to achieve those goals. This is also where I’ve noted the different resources I’m using. For example, the websites with my reading challenges or the prayer group I’ve joined, or any pdf documents I might use.

I like using these last pages as brain dumps because then I feel like I’ve released some of the clutter in my head onto a paper that I won’t misplace. I can use these brain dumps to organize better in my new journal. I’ll narrow down the goals that are more urgent while saving others I still want to achieve for later.

As the year progresses, I can update each month or each quarter with items accomplished or actions that still need to be taken. I can even change my goals mid-year. This is important, because even with the best of intentions, sometimes life happens. Sometimes we just need to change direction. That doesn’t mean I am not serious about achieving my goals. It just means that I am realistic enough to know that I am not in control. God directs my paths and I want to be able to follow where He leads.

setting attainable goals

Setting Attainable Goals

I have lofty goals running around in my head, and if I try to complete all of them, I may end up finishing none of them. I tend to narrow it down to four categories: Faith, Family, Personal, and Work. Many people make a category for Finances but I figure that this can fit in just about any of the other categories. I create 3-4 goals for each category. I break those down into shorter goals to be achieved quarterly or every twelve weeks

The important thing is that the goals are specific enough to be able to break down in manageable steps. The entire goal sheet goes in my bullet journal for easy reference. I can then check back as often as needed to make sure I am on track.

Sometimes, it is just a matter of creating a good habit. For example, I want to be more intentional about reading classics this year. My goal is to finish the Back to the Classics challenge in its entirety. Since there are twelve books on this list, I must read at least one book per month to achieve this goal. If a create a habit of reading nightly, it will set me on to the path to success without constant maintenance. If you can make goals achievable as a result of new habits, you will be setting yourself up for an easier win.

In order to help you set up your goals for this year, I’ve created a Goal Planning worksheet that fits perfectly in any average-sized bullet journal or even in a half-sized planner. Sign up as a subscriber to receive the password to the Subscriber Freebies page for this worksheet as well as any other resource that is of interest.

 

Back to the Classics Challenge 2019

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Though the price for you does not change, I may receive a small compensation. 

I’ve always been a reader. And I do enjoy reading the classics from time to time. But, the list of classics I’d like to read never seems to get any shorter. I get caught up in the new books, the fun books, the necessary books for school and never get around to reading from my classics list. That is why this year, I am joining a Classics reading challenge.

Karen from Books and Chocolate has been hosting this challenge for five years already. And she has just recently posted the rules for 2019. I found out about this challenge last year during the summer. But I could never seem to get around to joining or even making my own tentative list.

However, I’m being proactive this year. I’ve officially joined and have even created my list. I’m going to share it with you to help keep me honest. And maybe you’d even like to join in!

back to the classics 2019

1. 19th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1800 and 1899.

Lilith – George MacDonald (1895) 341 pages

2. 20th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1900 and 1969.

Sons and Lovers – D.H. Lawrence (1913) 423 pages

3. Classic by a Female Author.

Black Beauty – Anna Sewell (1877) 255 pages

4. Classic in Translation. Any classic originally written in a language other than my native language.

Brothers Karamazov – Feodor Dosteovski (1880) 796 pages

5. Classic Comedy. Any comedy or humorous work.

The American Claimant – Mark Twain (1892) 291 pages

6. Classic Tragedy. Any work with a typically sad ending.

Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck (1937) 187 pages

7. Very Long Classic. Any classic single work 500 pages or longer, not including introductions or end notes.

War & Peace – Leo Tolstoy (1869) 1225 pages

8. Classic Novella. Any work of narrative fiction shorter than 250 pages.

The Lifted Veil – George Eliot (1859) 75 pages; or

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark (1961) 144 pages

9. Classic from the Americas (includes the Caribbean). A classic novel set in either continent or the Caribbean or by an author originally from one of those countries.

Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys (1966) 192 pages

10. Classic from Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia). A classic novel set in one of those continents or islands, or by an author from these countries.

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe (1958) 209 pages

11. Classic from a Place You’ve Lived. Read locally! Any classic set in a city, county, state or country in which you’ve lived.

Choices for me include the United States, China, or France.

The Man Who Walked Through Walls (Le Passe-muraille) – Marcel Aymé (1943) 244 pages

12. Classic Play. Any play written or performed at least 50 years ago.

Tartuffe – Molière (1900 though written in 1664) 208 pages; or

Uncle Vanya – Anton Chekhov (1897) 76 pages

These are my current picks though it is subject to change at any time during the year. However, I want to try to stick to this list as much as possible since most of these books have been on my To-Read list for several years and I’ve never gotten around to reading them. Please note: I will be reading the books by French authors in their original French as an added challenge. I wish I could do the same for the Russian books but, alas, I do not read (or speak) Russian. Yet.

If you’d like to join me in this reading challenge for 2019, you can find the details and rules at Books and Chocolate.

I’ve created a small checklist that can printed and pasted in your journal or planner. You can access it through the Subscriber Freebies page. If you are not a subscriber, you can sign up below to receive the monthly password.

Happy Reading!

 

Daily Homeschool Schedule in a 4-Day Week

As anyone with children knows, trying to keep a clean house is next to impossible when they are all at home. Add homeschooling to the mix and you are guaranteed to fail.

homeschool schedule

Here are my basic rules.

Well, first of all, there are some seasons in life where you just have to accept a dirtier house, unless you have help like a maid. I’m talking about when the kids are all under 5 years of age. Sure, they can help with some of the chores. But there is no way you will have as clean a house as you did before kids or at least before they started crawling.

The older the children get, the cleaner the house will be as a result. This was a hard lesson for me to learn. And I still struggle some days when I’ve spent an hour cleaning up the schoolroom only to see it looking like a tornado went through it after the mornings work.

Secondly, make a schedule. Now, I love schedules for myself. But my kids? Not so much. And I don’t like to tie them to any particular activity. Especially when they are young. So my schedules tend to be loose. We try to find a balance between what is needed and what is wanted.

The younger kids are not beholden to any schedule other than when to eat and when to sleep. The rest of the day is free for them to do as they please.

This works because my house is mostly kid-friendly. So just about anywhere they want to be, it is safe for them to be there. But here is where my tolerance has to be high. I have to expect that whichever room the toddler has chosen to be in will be slightly less put together than when she arrived. (Please note: This does not mean my child has run amok. I do know where she is at all times. And any place that is unsafe for her is also impossible for her to access i.e. locked.)

In the event of a meltdown or during a rough day, I have been known to put on a video. But I try to make this an exception and not the rule.

Thirdly, allow the child as much independence as possible. This sort of ties in with the last section where I give my littles so much freedom. By trusting them with the majority of their day, they learn how to be bored but also how to work alone. They are not dependent on constant guidance throughout the day.

This helps when they get older to regulate their own school day based on the day’s lessons.

And last, be willing to change what works every year, every month or sometimes even every day. This is essential. Life is constantly changing. Your schedule should, too.

How does this work for us?

When I first started homeschooling in 2016, I had one child “doing school,” one preschooler, one toddler, and a newborn. Plus, it was my first year dealing with the French inspections.

I had lofty goals.

Which were quickly dashed by life. You know what I’m talking about. Kids don’t care about your theories or methods or plans. Especially newborns. So within weeks, I had to trash my carefully planned year for something more fluid.

Our basic outline was this: morning work in French, afternoon work in English. We worked for about 2 hours in the morning and another 2 hours in the afternoon. Though we changed subjects often, I still found it to be a bit much for her attention span. So we varied the time spent depending on how well she paid attention. Or whether I needed a nap with the baby. Or if the others needed some attention. And so on and so forth.

It needed to be hands on as much as possible. Not only was V learning how to read and write in English but she had to read and write in French as well. To be clear, she didn’t learn to read in both languages at the same time. We started in English (her first language) and when she could read a short “I Can Read” Level 1 book with ease we started French lessons.

We continued this basic schedule, French in the morning and English in the afternoon, in her second year. I also started backing off a bit with helping her for every step. That’s not to say I wasn’t available. On the contrary, she could always come to me for help or clarification. And I guided her when to start the next subject. But V was doing much of the work on her own. At 7 years old. I know, right?

However, when I added my second daughter, I knew that things had to change. I couldn’t do her first year exactly the same way as V. For one, I now had a very lively toddler who always wanted my attention. But I also had V, a 3rd year student who still needed guidance, if not actual help. In addition to the very real feelings of “why is mommy spending all her school time with L and not me anymore?” Her mind may have understood why not, but her heart, not so much.

So I changed again.

morning time schedule homeschoolOur current schedule

With the addition of another child (and with it the number of activities “after school”), I have had to change the French/ English split. I wanted to include V as much as possible while still giving her time to do independent work. Moreover, there were some subjects they could do together.

So, as of this moment, we now have Morning Time where both girls work on subjects that can be done together. In the afternoon, V does her independent work while I work with L. French and English are now combined in morning and afternoon work.

This may seem counter intuitive. After all, when they were younger we made a clear division of languages. Mommy spoke English; Daddy spoke French. I continued this division with V during her first two years of schooling. But this was no longer possible with multiple kids at multiple levels.

But actually, by having them switch from English to French, subject after subject, all day long, we were just replicating our real life. I speak English with my kids but when we are out, will switch to French to talk to someone else. Their father does the same. He will speak English with me then switch to French to speak with them. This is our reality.

A good education prepares a child to function in society. Thus switching between English and French helps my children to function better. Plus, we get lots of giggles when I am helping L with an English lesson but V comes to me for help in French and I respond in English but then go back to L’s English speaking French. It can get confusing. But it’s so much fun. And a great way to connect.

Activities

So, I know I’ve been talking a lot about the homeschooling aspect of our day. Let’s get into how we fit activities into this.

First of all, a short explanation of the French school system. In the grade school years, school is only four days a week. There are many reasons for this but one of the main ones is because of outside activities. In the US, sports teams, music clubs, art lessons and other activities are connected to the school. So if you want to play soccer, you just stay after school and play on the school’s soccer team. Or if you want to play an instrument, you join the school band. Of course, you can join clubs outside the school, but since most schools are finished for the day around 3pm, it is not a problem to join a club and practice after school.

This is not how it works in France, however. School is for school. All other activities must be practiced in an outside establishment. To make this possible, most activities are scheduled on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Regular school hours are on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. The day is a bit longer, ending around 4:30 (depending on the school). So evening activities tend to start after 5pm. But Wednesdays and Saturdays are wide open.

My girls are involved in ballet, music, and art classes. My son takes a combined music and art class. That means that we are busy four days of the week. Monday is ballet for V from 5:15-6:15. Tuesday is viola for V from 4:00-4:30 and ballet for L from 5:15-6:15. Wednesday is for music classes at the Conservatory for L from 10:30-12:00 and V from 3:30-5:00. Thursdays are art classes for V and E from 5:15-6:15 and L from 6:15-7:15.

So we “school” only on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Obviously, Wednesdays are busy in the morning and afternoon making lessons difficult.

daily homeschool chores scheduleChores

We’ve now covered lessons and activities. What about housework and chores?

I don’t expect any formal chores before six years old when they start formal “schooling.” I still expect the littles to help with clearing the table, picking up toys, putting laundry away and taking out the trash. But it is not enforced.

But at six years old, I include life skills in our lesson plan. It becomes part of the school day. They become active participants in the upkeep of the house.

So here is how our schedule plays out with approximate hours. (Again, I have a loose schedule so we may change hours based on activities or appointments or just “hard days.”)

The kids will wake anytime before 8:00.  I do not set alarms. I feel it is important for kids to feel their natural urges. We’ve lost that ability as adults forced to conform to society rules of schedules. But if kids learn in childhood how their body feels after a good night’s sleep as opposed to a short night, they will naturally know how to regulate as adults. They also need to learn how to be flexible.

Whatever time they wake up, chores begin around 8:00. They are responsible for dishes, putting laundry away, and the cleaning of one section of the house. Evening chores consist of cleaning off the table and a 15 minute tidy in their bedroom before bed.

School schedule

Between 9:30 and 10:00 we begin Morning Time. This includes our devotional, Bible reading, read-aloud (currently Pilgrim’s Progress), Artist Study, Composer Study, Handicraft, Drawing, Composer Study, Folk Music, Hymn Study, Poetry, Recitation, Copywork, Book of Centuries and in French, Handwriting, Science, Géographie, Règles de vie, and Histoire. The only morning time subjects we do everyday are the devotional, Bible ready, read-aloud, Poetry, Recitation, Copywork, Book of Centuries, and Handwriting. Everything else is spread out over the week.

Lunch is around noon. “School” begins again at 2:00 and finishes around 4:00. This is where we do History, Biography, English, Français, Geography, Literature, Math, Nature Study, Reading lessons, and music practice. Again we don’t maintain this everyday. English, Français, Math, Reading lessons, and music practice are the only daily lessons. The rest are spread out over the week.

As mentioned before, most of the activities start around 5:00 pushing dinner to at least 6:30, if not 7:30. Bedtime routine will begin after this with the actual bedtime fluctuating between 8:30 and 9:00 depending on the day.

Do I expect this to be my magic schedule?

No! Of course not. It works for this year because that is where we are at. I expect this to change yearly as I add children to the school mix and as the activity schedule changes.

And if we ever return to the United States, the schedule will probably return to a 5-day one.

But if I’ve learned anything about homeschooling, or just being a mother, go with the flow. Expect the unexpected. And, most importantly, keep God at the center of everything.

With this you can’t go wrong.

To help you plan your child’s day AND learn a little French, here is a Student Planner/ Cahier de texte in English and French for a 5-day week. Use the pages you need. (Psst. I don’t use Wednesday.)

Freebie cahier de texte

2018 Homeschool Thursday Bundle – Limited Time Freebies

Christmas is coming early to all homeschooling moms!

On the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes Homeschool Thursday. But instead of deals that save you money, instead is offered over 70 homeschool resources for FREE!

Free Homeschooling Resources

Heather Bowen at Life of a Homeschool Mom and the Homeschool Bloggers Network has gotten together to offer over $1200 worth of homeschool resources from now, November 29, 2018 until Monday, December 3, 2018.

Included in this bundle are eCourses, eBooks, curriculum, worksheet packs, planners, unit studies, copywork, Bible studies, chore systems and more! My bilingual Christmas bookmarks are included if you haven’t already signed up to get yours.

And as much as I love and use my own product, there are some gems here.

My favorites are:

  • The Letter Writing Pack from Blessed Grove Publishing valued at $6
  • Character Flashcards from The Modest Mom & Character Badges valued at $3.99
  • World Geography Coloring Pages & Subscription Bundle from Our Family Passport valued at $25
  • The Art Kit Super Bundle from The Art Kit valued at $21.90
  • Morning Work Mazes from The Crafty Classroom valued at $5
  • Biblical Art History Course from With the Huddlestons valued at $17
  • Parts of Speech Color by Number Pack from Wonder-filled Days valued at $5
  • U.S. History & Geography Study Pack Bundle from Life of a Homeschool Mom valued at $19.99
  • More Than Words for Teens devotional from Multi Taskin’ Mom valued at $9.99
  • Easy Peasy Chore System from Happy Unconventional Life valued at $17.99
  • Beyond Blessed Homeschool Bundle from They Call Me Blessed valued at $62.92
  • Homeschool and Housework, Get It All Done eCourse from Jeniffer Do Nascimento valued at $20
  • Getting Started With Charlotte Mason from How to Homeschool My Child valued at $15
  • Charlotte Mason Wall Art Quotes from Everyday Graces valued at $18.99
  • Seasonal Copywork Bundle from In All You Do valued at $31.96
  • Winter Nature Study Unit from Holistic Homeschooler valued at $5.99
  • Christmas Fun Packet from Geez, Gwen! valued at $12.99
  • and so much more!

I was really pleased to see Preparing My Heart for Christmas 30-Day Challenge and Journal for Moms from Life of a Homeschool Mom valued at $19.99. I completed this challenge last year and really found it to keep me focused on Christ during the busy season. So often, we get caught up in all the fun activities, pretty decorations, and look of wonder in our children’s eyes that we can sometimes forget the real reason for the season. This 30-day challenge helped me keep the Birth of Jesus at the forefront, where it belongs.

But I really look forward to digging into all the other wonderful resources, too.

Hurry to get your copy. It ends Monday, December 3, 2018! You can either sign up for just the resources that interest you or the entire bundle. Click HERE or the image above to receive your copy as a gift from all of us at the Homeschool Bloggers Network and especially Heather Bowen at Life of a Homeschool Mom who put it all together.

Blessings in Christ!

10 Favorite French (and Other Language) Resources

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. While purchasing from any of these links will not increase the price you pay, I do receive a small commission.

Even though we are currently living in France, we homeschool mainly in English and follow the Ambleside Online curriculum schedule. However, being in France, we are beholden to their laws and must pass a yearly inspection. This requires me to include French lessons that fall in line with the French program. My children need to be able to pass an oral or written test at each inspection. I wrote more about the laws and inspections in earlier posts.

Nevertheless, I still want my children to enjoy their education and try to follow the Charlotte Mason method as much as possible. Below are a list of my favorite resources for learning and teaching French that I have found online. Most of them are free though a few are paid. Here are my top ten in no particular order.

top language resource

1. Linguee

Linguee is a free online language dictionary which translates from English to French and French to English. What I like most about this tool is that they give real life examples of the words and their translations. This way I can check that the word I want to use has the proper meaning. Every language has words that can be used to mean two different things. With Linguee, it is easier to see that I am picking the right one.

Now this is a resource that is not just for French but for many other languages as well. Here is a list of the other languages that can be translated from or to English.

  • German
  • Spanish
  • Portuguese
  • Italian
  • Russian
  • Japanese
  • Chinese
  • Polish
  • Dutch
  • Swedish
  • Danish
  • Finnish
  • Greek
  • Czech
  • Romanian
  • Hungarian
  • Slovak
  • Bulgarian
  • Slovene
  • Lithuanian
  • Latvian
  • Estonian and
  • Maltese

Not a bad list for language learning lovers (say that three times fast).

There is even a free app for phones. I’ve used it on both my phone and my laptop with the same great results.

2. Duolingo

In order to first learn those languages you want to translate on Linguee, I’d highly recommend Duolingo. This is a free online language learning resource. It is easy to navigate, fun to use and great for beginning learners as well as those just trying to brush up on that language they took for four years in high school but haven’t used since. (German, anyone?) The lessons are short, 5-10 minutes at most. They are offered as mini games or exercises in various formats: multiple choice, listening, speaking, or matching for starters.

I’ve been using it to brush up on my French. Though I’ve been living here for over 12 years, I still make some common mistakes and I use this tool to keep training myself to be better.

At the same time, my 7 year old daughter has been using it to learn Italian. No one in our family speaks Italian so this tool is great for her to do some independent learning. All my kids will be starting their third language around 7 or 8 years old or in third grade. With Duolingo, they each choose whichever language interests them the most without it breaking the bank.

This is another resource that is great not just for French but for a host of other languages as well. Here is the list from English.

  • Spanish
  • German
  • Japanese
  • Italian
  • Korean
  • Chinese
  • Russian
  • Portuguese
  • Turkish
  • Dutch
  • Swedish
  • Irish
  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • Polish
  • Norwegian
  • Vietnamese
  • High Valyrian
  • Danish
  • Romanians
  • Swahili
  • Klingon
  • Esperanto
  • Hindi
  • Hungarian
  • Welsh
  • Ukrainian
  • Czech
  • Hawaiian
  • Indonesian
  • Navajo and
  • Arabic

If you noticed, you can learn two languages that aren’t even real. Hahaha.

A mobile app is also available and is fantastic. It is what we use the most because the listening and speaking skills are so much simpler to use.

There is also a paid version that eliminates all the ads, repairs streaks and allows lesson downloads on mobile. But to be honest, the ads aren’t really intrusive so I don’t see a great advantage in paying for that. Of course, you may want it to repair any streaks. Streaks are basically how many days in a row you have managed to do your daily lesson. Losing a streak can be pretty devastating (psychologically) when you’ve managed to work for over a 100 days straight and then life happens and you miss one day and have to start over. Ugh. And the downloaded lessons might come in handy if you have limited data usage on your phone.

3. Spotify

I’ve heard a lot of people in the United States like Pandora as a music streaming site. However, for those of us in the rest of the world, this site is not available to us. I’ve found an equivalent that works well, is free and is available nearly everywhere. This is Spotify.

I use Spotify for our music courses. I create three playlists for each year. One for our Composer Study, one for Folk Music Study, and one for Hymn Study. What is great is that I can find most of the songs I am looking for from the Ambleside schedule and from my own created schedule of French folk songs and hymns (or Christian music in French). We’ve even added Italian folk songs on our list this year for my daughter’s Italian classes.

There is a free version that has numerous ads that pop up and interrupt listening, much like a radio station. The paid version eliminates those ads. Since we use Spotify frequently and often listen to our composer study in the background while doing other lessons like copywork or art, I’ve chosen to pay for the paid version. The ads were too frequent and I couldn’t control their content. I don’t like exposing my children to the twaddle that is promoted today, if I can help it. The price is reasonable and saves us from untimely interruptions during some of the longer pieces by composers.

top language resource4. YouTube

I would be remiss in excluding YouTube. For all of the flack given to YouTube recently, though merited, it has remained an extremely useful tool for learning. We use it a bit less than some of the other resources since I try to limit screen time. But it still has a lot to offer.

Whenever I have trouble finding a song on Spotify, the first place I’ll look after that will be YouTube. There are even playlists created by other Ambleside families for the Composer, Folk Music and Hymn studies.

But what is especially great about YouTube for languages, and in particular French, are the channels for kids. My favorite channels on YouTube with French songs and nursery rhymes (comptines) are Boutchoo, also known as Baby Songs TubeMonde des Titounis and Les Patapons. All three channels have cute little animations of some of the most well-known kids’ songs and will often print the lyrics karaoke style so you can follow along.

You can also find episodes of popular kids’ cartoons in French. To search, simply put the title of the cartoon you are looking for followed by français. Often you will find what you are looking for and your kids can watch an episode they have memorized already in another language, turning screen time into learning time too.

5. Amazon Prime Video or Netflix

Video streaming is the new dvd rental. And with such great services as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, it is easy to see why. We can have access to hundreds of movies and tv shows without ever leaving the home. And the price is right. For less than $10 a month, you could virtually watch hundreds of dollars worth of movies on the old video rental plans, aka Blockbuster. And Amazon Prime is even cheaper on a yearly payment.

But what I like most about these streaming services are the subtitle and audio possibilities. We can watch original language films with subtitles or even switch the audio to English or French on nearly all videos. This is a great tool to have when learning languages. Often, when my children want to watch their favorite movie for the umpteenth time, I will have them switch it to French. This way, they are practicing their ear. Since they know the story so well, the language does not impede on their enjoyment. Rather, they are working the language center in their brains while having a little screen time. Win-win in my book.

I’m sure you could add Hulu in this group but since I’ve never used it, I cannot speak to its abilities or possibilities.

If you were to ask me my personal preference between Amazon and Netflix, I would have to choose Amazon. (Disclaimer again: I am an affiliate of Amazon. I receive a small commission if you purchase anything through my site though it does not cost you more. However, this does not change my opinion.)

Not only is it cheaper in the long-term, but I get more than just movies for my money. We have a monthly subscription for bulk items such as diapers and toilet paper through Prime already. This saves us money and frustration since we do not drive. Carrying large boxes of diapers is too difficult to transport without a car. And buying smaller batches more frequently can become expensive. But with Prime we have the perfect amount shipped to us monthly at a slight discount. Add to this free movies, TV shows and free shipping on other products, and I can’t think of better value.

As a sidenote, we did have Netflix for a few months to test it out. Though there were more choices available for us, I could not justify spending the money when we already had a streaming service available through our Amazon subscription. When Netflix announced its coming release of a new cartoon for kids titled Super Drags (about drag queen super heroes), I cancelled immediately. As Christians, I feel it is important to choose products that do not blatantly oppose Biblical values. A case can be made, of course, that all streaming services will have things that are not Christian. But, to me, Netflix was just too blatant and was beginning to target the kids more openly than the others.

6. Amazon

This may seem redundant but Amazon has been such as huge resource, I feel it deserves another mention. This time for its products.

I already said that we use Amazon Prime for its subscription service and its video streaming. However, before these were made available, I still used it quite a lot.

Now, to be clear, I mostly use the French site for my commands, Amazon.fr. Obviously, this is because we live here and shipping is cheaper if we buy local.

But regardless of which version you use, the list of products is astounding. You can buy just about anything and have it shipped for a decent price.

We like to have access to English books, not just for school but for pleasure. Sometimes, we can find the book we are looking for in English at the local library. Even more rare, we will find it at a local bookstore. But more often than not, if we wanted a book in English, we could only find it on Amazon. And usually for a very good price, considering it is not always local shipping.

My favorite product is the Kindle. With limited space and a strict budget, buying books for school can be difficult. We can’t always find what we need at the library or médiathèque as it is called here. I am a real bibliophile and love the smell of books. But I love my sanity more so my solution has been to get as many books as I can for my Kindle.

As an incentive for our kids to learn to read in both English and French, we offer them their own Kindle as soon as they have shown to be comfortable reading basic books in both languages. That they can follow along when I do read-alouds is an added bonus. I’ve found that my daughter’s reading skills improve exponentially when she does her own reading but can follow along with me as well. And we only have to buy the book once for everyone to enjoy it at the same time.

I’ve looked at the Amazon site for the US and can find just as many French books that I like available over there so if we were ever to move, I would be sure to be covered. When in doubt for a product, I will always check Amazon. Usually they have what I’m looking for at a reasonable price.

I like to support small businesses when I can, but being a family with ties in two countries, having a large company like Amazon available is a blessing.

7. Gutenberg

For those unaware, Project Gutenberg, is a website that digitizes old literature, specifically those books who have entered the public domain. They offer free access to over 57,000 books in epub or Kindle format.

Most of the books available are in English. However, there are a few books offered in three other languages: Portuguese, German, and French.

I am always looking for ways to save money and this is one option. Before buying any classic book, I will always check Gutenberg first. The quality of the digital copy is good. In fact, the Kindle version is so good that I can even change the font size and will sometimes have images. Only if they do not have it, will I consider spending money.

You can access the French books directly through this link.

8. Mama Lisa’s World

One of my favorite sites from this list is definitely Mama Lisa’s World. This website has an impressive list of songs and rhymes originating in over 200 countries and/or cultures.

When I was in Year 1 with Ambleside Online, I wanted to follow their suggestions for Folksong Study. However, I also wanted to add in French folk songs along with it. The problem was that, not being a native Frenchie, I wasn’t familiar with what would be considered the classics. Not to mention, teaching my kids the nursery rhymes and children’s songs every French child should know.

Sure, I found a couple of books at the médiathèque with lists of classic French children’s songs. But I could only keep those for a month, two at most. I wanted something I could refer to again and again without buying it, if I could help it.

And this is where Mama Lisa’s World saved the day. When I landed on her page after doing a few different searches, I was blown away. The sheer amount of songs and nursery rhymes she had listed for France was fabulous. Plus, she had the lyrics with their English translation and sometimes even an audio clip of the song.

Now, when preparing my monthly selection of Folk music in French, I immediately go to Mama Lisa‘s for inspiration and to print out the lyrics.

With the addition of my oldest daughter’s lessons in Italian, we have even begun using the Italian section to add children’s songs in that language as well.

I cannot recommend strongly enough this resource for music and cultural learning.

9. Collection Boscher

Now we are getting into the French resources in only French.

Because we must show an awareness of the national program in France (even if we don’t follow it completely), I needed to find a resource that would placate the inspectors while at the same time fit in with the Charlotte Mason method as much as possible. This is where the Collection Boscher comes in.

These are a series of workbooks for grade school that give exercises and training in reading, writing, French grammar, and math. What drew me to these modern books over any others is that they have the closest resemblance to the old way of teaching. All the newer educational programs are much like the common core.  I don’t trust the methods and want to stay as old-school as possible, since I can’t easily go all Charlotte Mason here.

The Boscher collection is the best compromise. They have fun little workbooks for preschool and kindergarten with lots of activities and stickers that my littles enjoy doing. This is their “school” when the bigs have lessons to complete and they want to join in.

After that, each class from CP to CM2 (think 1st to 5th grade) has a book for French grammar and vocabulary, dictation (and French grammar), math, and Tout le programme (the entire program including science and geography). My kids don’t mind the lessons since we only do one page a day and we skip anything that is not compatible with their abilities at the moment. There is even a section for learning English which my kids laugh at while completing because it is so easy for them.

These workbooks conform with the official program so just by having my kids complete occasional lessons, we can keep up-to-date with what is expected of them.

And then there is a series of general books for no particular age that teach French history, the geography of France, an overview of science, technology, and regles de vie. This is basically lessons to teach kids how to be respectful and follow the rules, or common courtesy, which is included in the national program. As Christians, we learn this just by following God’s commandments. But since France has removed religion from education, and Christianity specifically, they were forced to create their own secular program to address the problems not being addressed by a religious education.

By completing these workbooks, we can show respect for national requirements without deterring too much from the real education that is taking place under Mason’s method.

And the kids enjoy them, which is the main reason I like them.

top french resource10. Manuels Anciens

My last favorite resource is also entirely in French. It is a website that offers all the old schoolbooks that are no longer used or even in print. Many of them can be downloaded as pdfs or images that can be transformed into a pdf.

I love this site mostly because I found the greatest method for teaching a child to read. It is called Mico, mon petit ours. It is basically a story about a little bear called Mico but written for the child to read by himself from the beginning. Each lesson introduces a new sound which is then used to create a word that in turn advances the story.

For example, the first five lessons introduce the sounds m, i, c, o, d, n, e, l which in turn create the words, Mico, Mimi, Coco, dodo, dîne, Milène, and comme. These are used in story form to introduce Mico the bear, Mimi the cat, Coco the donkey who then go to bed (dodo) eat (dîne) with the little girl who loves them, Milène. The story grows as the child’s knowledge of sounds and words grow. A wonderfully Charlotte Masoney concept.

And this is only one resource of many that are available. The only inconveniences are that it is entirely in French. And not all the the books are in pdf format for immediate download. Many of them need to be saved as images and then require a program to turn those series of images into a pdf.

But the entire site is worth it just for the download of the first two books of Mico for learning to read in French.

Conclusion

With the internet, we have easy access to a multitude of resources that we could never have dreamed of forty years ago. And more are being added daily. Learning a new language has never been so simple or cheap. The biggest problem now is knowing how to sort out the most useful of these thousands of possibilities. This list should narrow it a bit for you to keep you from being as overwhelmed as I was when trying to give my children an education in a language that is not my own.

Best Christmas Holiday Tradition

As everyone knows, the holidays can be extremely draining on the budget. This is one of the main causes of stress during this season.

But those of us with kids also know that Christmas is a test on our children’s character development. With all the ads directed right at them, it is nearly impossible for children, especially young children, to fight their desire for more “stuff.” They get greedy for the new toys they see everywhere that they just have to add to their list. Which is already 10 pages long. They can’t stop the feeling of wanting from creeping into every outing. And they can get angry when you try to let them know, gently, that it would not be possible to get it all.

When You Can’t Take It Anymore

And this is where I found myself last year.

My husband and I have always had to live on a pretty strict budget. Ever since we decided that I would stay home with the kids, we have had to watch every penny. It is not easy for a family of 6 to live on one salary. Especially when it is a teacher’s salary. But it was doable. Except around Christmas. We had to get creative.

What we usually ended up doing was buying bunches of little, cheap gifts. This gave the illusion that they were being as spoiled as every other kid.  We are pretty isolated with most of the family living in other countries and only one set of grandparents able to visit. And with the yearly move to another town for nearly 5 years, we didn’t have a lot of friends around either. So what they got from us was it.

Let’s face it. We all want to spoil our kids. We love the smiles and squeals of excitement. But it comes at a cost. And not just financially.

When starting the new year in debt became the norm with kids that were still just as cranky, we knew there needed to be a change. Not to mention, the piles of toys that were just gathering dust because they were lost amongst the rest. Or the toys that lasted only a month because they broke so easily. Our home was getting cluttered and dirty and we were all unhappy by the end of the season. It just didn’t seem worth it anymore.

Best Christmas Holiday TraditionChrist Shows Us the Way

But what really got me rethinking this consumerist tradition, was when I got back into the Word of God. It just didn’t seem right that we spent so much time and attention on something that had absolutely nothing to do with the real reason for Christmas. We let our children’s hearts be molded by a society that was blatantly unChristian. And we even helped it along!

So I started looking at beginning a new tradition. One that pointed to Christ and not to “stuff.”

And I came across a blog post that changed everything for me. It was from a blog called Blessed Beyond a Doubt. In this post, the author, Annette Breedlove, discussed her own struggles with the issue of greed. She offered a solution that just spoke to me.

Not only would it help us stay on budget financially but it would guide our children back to the true meaning of Christmas at the same time. She called it the $5 Christmas. Each member of the family would pick the name, anonymously, of another member and pick out a $5 gift for them. Then they would attach a personal letter letting them know how they felt about them.

This idea attracted me so much, I immediately called my husband at work to discuss doing the same thing.

He agreed. But we changed it to fit our family’s needs. Since our children only really received gifts from us each year, we decided to up the limit to $15 (or euros, in our case). This would be the sole gift for everyone. But the true brilliance was the letter. All the joy of the season and love for family could truly shine when everyone was sharing their letters with each other.

We had so much fun picking out the perfect gift for our “person.” Since all our kids were under the age of 7, we decided that we would pick names anonymously but we would be able to share who we got with each other. The gift-buying was done privately so that it could stay a surprise. And all except the oldest needed our help to write their letters. But the time we spent together was more than we had spent previous years when I would have to sneak out of the house alone to try to get all the shopping done in one go.

And let me tell you, the shrieks were just as loud when they opened their one gift as when they opened their multitude. Plus we added in more laughter and hugs. And everyone felt happy when their letter was read and they got to hear how special they were to someone else in the family.

I look forward to doing it again this year.

Free Bookmark printableFree Printable

And in true giving spirit, I am giving away a set of bookmarks to celebrate this Christmas season. Each one has a Bible verse about the birth of Jesus printed on it. There are ten verses in English and the same ten in French.

Each page has five bookmarks that can printed on cardstock or regular paper and then laminated (my favorite method).

To receive your copy, please enter your email below. Your download will begin immediately upon confirmation.

God’s blessings during this Christmas season!

Top 10 Reasons to Homeschool – Holiday Edition

While cleaning up the schoolroom for the 100th time since yesterday, I kept asking myself, “Why did I decide to homeschool, anyway? Wouldn’t it be great to just drop the kids off at the school down the street?” I even have the choice of two schools within walking distance, one private and one public.

This being the holiday season, these are the reasons I came up with:

10. Every day can be a snow day – even in Arizona.

I mean, who said there needed to be snow to have a snow day? Doesn’t feeling too cold to get out of bed count?

9. Daily Christmas movies can be part of the curriculum.

And there are so many good ones that we could even watch two a day. If we add a narration afterwards, it could still be considered Charlotte Mason, right?

8. Christmas music! Every day!

Not only could this be part of Hymn Study and Folk Music Study and Composer Study and Foreign Language Study, but we could listen to it while doing our Artist Study and Copywork and Handicrafts and so forth and so on.

7. You can start and end the vacation any time.

Yep. My Christmas vacation starts in September. It ends in May. Just in time for summer vacation.

6. Cruising the neighborhood looking at all the Christmas light displays can be a field trip.

And what a great field trip, too! So what if it provokes feelings of envy. The twinkling lights are so pretty.

5. Children fighting to the sound of Christmas music doesn’t sound nearly so serious.

The toddler’s screams almost match pitch with “Ave Maria.” What could be more lovely than that?

4. You can have a Christmas party every day … for a month.

Weren’t those days the best? Not only could you eat cookies and other Christmas goodies but there was usually a movie and gift exchange. Good things are always better the more you do them. Eating junk food full of processed sugar while getting more stuff can definitely be done more than once a week, right?

3. Pinterest!

I mean, honestly. Have you seen the number of fun activities that you can do during the Christmas season? You could do a new one every day for 50 years and still not even scratch the surface!

2. Decorating the house can be counted as an Art Credit.

Why stress about coming up with lesson plans for drawing or painting. Just have the kids decorate the house with the 100s of boxes of Christmas decorations you’ve accumulated over the years. If they can do it in a tasteful manner, they’ve succeeded at something even design majors can struggle with … using every decoration ever made by your kids so that no one ever feels left out. Wins all around!

1. Did I say Christmas music?

You can never have enough of Christmas music! During morning basket, quiet time, while doing chores. The possibilities are endless!

Bonus: Keep Christ in Christmas

But seriously, the best reason to homeschool, especially during the holidays, is this:

We can keep the focus of the Christmas season where it belongs … on the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 9:6 King James Version (KJV)

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 

Reasons to Homeschool - Holiday

God bless! Let’s keep Christ in Christmas!