Setting Intentions and Atmosphere in Our Home

I sat at the dining room table Sunday afternoon, notebook open in front of me and pen in hand, waiting for some ideas to come. After weeks of growing discontentment with our current routine and the attitudes in our home, especially surrounding chores and school, I was ready for a change. 

But what kind of change? I knew I had to set the tone with more positivity and a fresh atmosphere, so I set down a few ideas for adding positive reinforcement and a little more loveliness into our day. 

One of the problems we have been struggling with is in the area of completing our morning routine without dawdling and complaining. I created a little extra incentive chart for my son to do his morning jobs in a timely manner without my constant nagging. I also decided to back up the time I expect us to “start school” each day to stop us feeling so rushed. When I talked to my son about these changes, he was very excited and ready to try to get his tasks started in the morning.

Since my own attitude is really the only one I can change, I also wrote down some very different priorities for the week in my planner. Instead of usual top 3 tasks for housekeeping and work, I wrote things like “Smile, laugh, and have some fun every day,” “Create something with your hands,” and “Love God and your family well.” I also reminded myself of the importance of getting my personal Bible study and prayer time in before the kids wake each day, so I set my alarm a little earlier for Monday morning.

Finally, I resolved to infuse some fun and beauty into our homeschool routine so that we all have something special to look forward to each day. Over the past few weeks we added “Poetry Tea Time” back into our schedule once a week, and it had become a highlight for me and the kids. In my notebook, I wrote down plans for daily “tea time” at the beginning of the school day: light candles, set out the tea things and snacks, and gather at the table with smiles and anticipation of the good time we are about to have learning together. 

Finished with my brainstorming session, I pushed back the notebook and set down my pen with a satisfied sigh. I knew that none of these changes were big on their own. And I knew that none of them was a magic formula for success. But I also knew that because I was setting my intention to make positive changes and have a joyful attitude myself, things would be better. Because I was going to set the tone and prepare an atmosphere of beauty and goodness, our day would be different. I was hopeful.

And, you know what? Today was the best day we have had in a very, very long time. I hope it is not the last… I don’t think it will be!

August 2018 Memory Work and a Free Printable

Did the month of July just fly by for anybody else, or was only that way for me? We were almost as busy in July as in June, even without traveling. It just dawned on me yesterday as we finished up our school work that I needed to get new memory work plans typed up for August! And I have great news! This month I am including a free printable for you to download and use in your home.

So here they are, just in time for those of you who need a little inspiration for the start of a new school year. We’ve been back at it for a few weeks now, and you can click here to see our memory work from July. My kids enjoyed having the extra song in there, so I decided to keep up with having 2 folksongs again this month. (Their favorite part of our recitation time last month was marching around the living room singing “Over the Hills and Far Away” at the top of their lungs!)

August Memory Work

Hymn: My Faith Looks Up to Thee

Catechism: Questions 34 and 35 of the New City Catechism (shorter version)

Motto: “We read the Bible and pray to God every day with an open heart.” (from Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson)

Scripture: Matthew 13:24-30, The Parable of the Weeds

Poetry: Little Talk by Aileen Fisher

Folksongs: The Green Grass Grew All Around and Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah

Free Printable Plans!

I’ve converted these memory work plans into free printable PDFs for you to download! The landscape format is such that you can print a copy and cut or fold the pages in half to put in a small 3 ring binder, like these. I slide them into page protectors so they don’t get as messed up by small hands. The portrait format is made for regular sized binders, or you can probably figure out a way to print them 2 pages to a sheet to make a booklet. (But don’t ask me how. I always seem to mess that up when I try it!)

If you are starting a new school year this month, I hope you have a great kick-off! I would also love to hear from you if you are using these memory work plans in your home. Let me know in the comments below!

 

Memory Work Plans for July 2018

Back in March I shared our memory work plans for our homeschool morning recitation time, and I had really intended to make that a regular monthly post. Somehow, though, the next couple of months sneaked up on me, and those posts never happened. I decided to try and pick back up now that we are about to start a new school term. I know many homeschoolers who also start back up in mid-summer, so perhaps it will help some of you out as try and wrap up your planning during a holiday week!

July Memory Work

Hymn: Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Catechism: Questions 32 and 33 of the New City Catechism (shorter version)

Motto: “We love and obey our Lord Jesus Christ with wholehearted devotion” (from Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson)

Scripture: Psalm 27:1-2, Psalm 28:7

Poetry: Over the Hills and Far Away by Eugene Field

Folksongs: My Country, ‘Tis of Thee and Over the Hills and Far Away

I decided to add an extra song into our recitation time this term. I have so many songs that I still want to introduce to my children while they are young, and I just don’t remember to do that unless it is part of our school day.

I chose most of these selections back in the winter before we began our new school year. If I had it to do over again, I might try harder to choose more patriotic themed memory work to go with the Independence Day holiday. Maybe next year I will remember to do that if I know we are going to be schooling in July. But at least I had a general outline planned to save myself the time and energy during break! I hope this little outline of our July memory work helps you as you plan for your own homeschool recitation time.

 

A Much Needed Break

This week was break week in our homeschool. Can I get a “holla” from all the homeschool mommas reading this? 😉 Let’s face it, as much as we love homeschooling our kids, it is not all sunshine and roses. Some days it’s just plain hard! The discipline to keep showing up and guiding our children through the work of learning is hard to cultivate, both in ourselves and in them. So it is good to take a break sometimes and step back to breathe, rest and re-evaluate how everything is going.

We just finished Term 1 of AmblesideOnline Year 2, so it was high time for a break after plugging along for 12 weeks without stopping. The funny thing was that this week, my kids acted like they didn’t even know what to do with themselves half the time. They are so accustomed to our normal daily routine on week days that not having that same structure left them wondering what to do. Even my 2 year old was asking for school! I take this as a good sign that our daily rhythm is working well for our family and that it is providing what they need to get their days off to a good start!

At the same time, though, I needed a break to recuperate, reevaluate and reorganize before plunging ahead into the next term. And I feel like I have accomplished that this week. Here’s how:

Recuperate:

The first thing I did after we finished school last Friday was to put all the school book in the homeschool cupboard, just as they were, and shut the doors. Then I proceeded to spend the next three days not even thinking about homeschool stuff. I didn’t plan or prep anything. I didn’t clean up anything other than to just shove it in the cupboard out of sight. I just let myself clear my head and not worry about what was done or what was coming up. It was lovely!

Reevaluate:

On Tuesday of break week, I finally sat down with my son to go through his Year 2 Term 1 exam questions. AmblesideOnline has these exams already all set up for us, so all I had to do what print off the questions! Then we sat on the couch and he told me as much as he could remember from different books, did a few oral math problems, recited some memory work, etc. It was pretty quick and painless. The important thing about these exams is that they give me a chance to look at some weak spots in my teaching. It is not so much about grading my student as it is grading myself. If he didn’t remember very much of his Spanish vocabulary or know a term we were supposed to have studied in Geography, it is not because he was not trying. (I can tell when he is just trying to get out of doing the work of narration or recall!) It shows me that we did not spend enough time in those areas to let him make the connections with the material. So I know that I need to shore up those subjects next term.

Reorganize:

Finally, on Wednesday, I sat down with all my school planning resources and got to work planning for the next term. Creating new memory work pages for April was first on the docket. Then I wrote out lesson plans for the first week of the next term. I printed out new math worksheets and the next month’s set of nature study lesson plans. Finally, when all the planning was finished, I set about the un-glamorous task of cleaning out and reorganizing the homeschool cupboard. I don’t know how these spaces get so cluttered so quickly, but it had become quite a mess! I sorted and tossed and filed and rearranged…I even sharpened all the colored pencils! Hours later, I finally had a neat and tidy home for all our school books and supplies once more, and I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders.

After that work was done, I was free to enjoy the rest of our break week catching up on other tasks around the house and online. Today we had a family fun day, since my husband is off from work for Good Friday. We let the kids use up some Toys R Us gift cards that they were saving before that store goes out of business. Then we explored the Cool Springs Galleria mall because I had not found the time to wander over there yet. We ended with lunch at a Chinese buffet, and we all came home happy, full and sleepy! I know to some people it doesn’t sound that exciting, but for us, it was just right.

That’s what break week looked like here in our neck of the woods. I’d love to hear what you do in your homeschool during breaks! Leave me a comment and tell me something you love to use your breaks for!

 

Memory Work Planning for March

Here in our homeschool we are entering week 8 of our term and school year. Normally, we would have had a break last week, but since we missed a lot of days due to moving last fall (and now we will likely need a break during our move this spring), I knew we would have to press on and do a full 12-week term before taking time off. I also started looking at the calendar and realized that I have a lot of work to do around here if we are going to get all the work done at our new house and still keep up with school at the same time. So yesterday I sat down and got our memory work for March planned out and ready to print, as well as lesson plans for the rest of the term! I am not usually this far ahead in my planning, so I am pretty proud of myself!

Since I have talked about memory work in our homeschool before, I thought I would share what we are going to be working on next month. I also updated my Memory Work Index to include the things we have recited together so far this year. Some of the selections are from AmblesideOnline‘s schedule, but others are things that I chose to reflect the season or what we are working on in other areas of school.

March Memory Work

Hymn: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Catechism: Questions 21, 24 and 25 of the New City Catechism (shorter version)

Motto: “I ought to do my duty to obey God, to submit to my parent and everyone in authority over me, to be of service to others, and to keep myself healthy with proper food and rest so my body is ready to serve.” (part of Charlotte Mason’s Student Motto)

Scripture: Isaiah 53:5-6

Poetry: The Yak by Hilaire Belloc

Folksong: Camptown Races by Stephen Foster

And that’s it! I always look forward to a new month in our homeschool since it means I get to introduce my kids to new songs, poems and scriptures. It adds a little variety to our days while still keeping in the rhythm that works well for us. And we are building a shared vocabulary of song and story that will last us the rest of our lives!

If you haven’t tried adding the practice of memorizing things like these in your home, I strongly encourage you to give it a shot! Even if you don’t homeschool, you can implement this practice at mealtimes or before bed or even on the drive to school in the morning! It is a valuable part of building a family culture, and it only takes 10-15 minutes a day. If you do use memory work in your home, I would love to hear about it in the comments below!