Successful homemakers have acquired wisdom that comes from years of on-the-job training.
Loving your husband, raising children, and managing a home is not a job for the faint-hearted.
There are things you can do to make your home a joyful, efficient, peaceful place.
Here are some secrets to help you experience joy and success in your homemaking adventure.
Secret #1: Patterns & Habits
Set up patterns and habits in your home to instill security and create a restful environment. Daily, weekly, and yearly routines allow family members to fall into peaceful patterns of living.
Annual customs such as holidays, birthdays, vacations, and seasonal activities come along each year, giving everyone in the family things to look forward to.
Weekly habits such as attending church on Sunday mornings, taking part in Bible study on Wednesdays, enjoying family night on Friday, doing laundry on Thursdays, and cleaning together on Saturday morning gives the household a rhythm to each week that is predictable.
Daily routines such as mealtimes, schooling hours, chore time, and daily devotions repeated over and over again produce a sense of order and peace in any home. Nighttime and morning routines are especially important. Our children were raised to do their “five things” when they woke up: brush teeth, get dressed, make bed, have a Quiet Time, and clean room. Each evening, Mike read a bedtime story to the children and prayed over them before tucking them in at night.
I never used preschool curriculum. We bought lots of classic picture books and asked grandparents to do the same so that we could read aloud to our preschoolers several times a day. We limited TV to a half an hour a day so it wouldn't shorten their attention span.
In addition to reading aloud, we played and talked and laughed. My little ones were with me, "helping", as I did laundry, cooked dinner, cleaned the house, made the bed, and grocery shopped. We talked and talked and talked. I answered a million questions and commended them for asking. "What a great question!"
We also went to the playground, the zoo, church, friends' homes, and parks. We baked together. We painted together. We sang songs. We made up songs and rhymes. We went on walks and wagon rides. We swam in the pool and made sand castles at the beach. We created forts in our living room with pillows and blankets. And we talked and talked and talked. I answered so many questions. There were so many teachable moments. Everyday I taught and they learned, but we didn't really think about it--it just happened.
We started formal schooling with a first grade math book (Bob Jones--it was bright and colorful from a Christian perspective) and the Sing, Spell, Read, and Write phonics kit. That was kindergarten.
With that said (I just want to be transparent), I will share with you some preschool curricula that I like.
With my oldest daughter, I couldn’t wait to get started with preschool.
We made little books about seasons, numbers, colors, and animals.
We played matching games with animals and their moms.
We put together puzzles and did all kinds of art projects.
Sometimes we cooked and Katie Beth helped me measure.
I continued to play games, cook, visit the zoo, and put together puzzles with my children but didn’t have formal preschool lessons with the rest of my kids. It’s not that I didn’t want to, but life became a blur of pregnancy, nursing, potty training, schooling older ones, and managing the home. So I focused on the important things and they sat in with all the older ones, often drawing, cutting out shapes, or putting together puzzles at our feet.
So, what is listed below are the essentials. This is not the limit of what you can do—the sky’s the limit with teaching preschoolers, but here are the things that will lay a foundation for the school years that follow.
We teach words to our little ones.
"Chair," we say pointing to a chair. They repeat it. So simple.
But, we also want to teach concepts to our children.
A concept is a general idea about a thing or a group of things.
What concepts should we teach to preschoolers?
I'm glad you asked.
Colors, shapes, and numbers are all concepts. Sometimes it can be tricky to teach the color red.
"Does Mom mean pillow?' our little lambs wonder as she points to a red pillow. I would say, "Red pillow" after my children understood pillow. "Red cup, red blanket, red heart," I would continue, making sure to add the noun itself.
What are other concepts to teach preschoolers?
Sometimes when my daughters are helping one another in the kitchen, I travel back in time. I remember being a little girl after a holiday meal in the kitchen with my aunts, Mom, and grandmother. Soon, there are tears rolling down my cheeks dripping on my smiling lips.
I remember those kitchen moments.
We all worked together putting away food, washing dishes, drying dishes, putting dishes away. All the while, there was chattering and laughter. Family funnies were told year after year. There were so many "Remember when..." and "Didn't you ...?" dialogues. There was silliness and seriousness rolled into one roar of female voices sharing their thoughts and feelings.
What made those times so special?
When I heard anyone say "Middle School," I think back to my own middle schools days. Not my finest hour. I was, well, I was squirrley. I did things, said things, and behaved in ways that were vastly different from the rest of my life, before and after those years. What a blessing to look back at those years.
As we homeschool, we don't think much in terms of grades until high school. We just read and learn as the years pass by. But, somewhere around the age of 10-13, my children entered the squirrley years.
"Where did my child go?"
"Who is this person?"
They did not become mean or turn away from the Lord. They did not become rebellious. They just became squirrley.
Why is this age so awkward?
Well, they are no longer children, but they are not yet adults.
And to top it all off, their hormones are kicking in! What does that look like?
Sorting toys are easy to make and great fun to play with. Here is a simple and easy sorting toy set to start with.
You will need to purchase four small multicolored plastic storage containers with matching lids.
You will also need to purchase a set of large buttons in several colors, making sure to have colors that match your storage containers.
Cut a slit in the lid of the container large enough to slip a button through.
When it's time to play, pull out all the containers and put its matching lid on each one.
Place the containers in a row and put the buttons in a bowl. Let your little lamb pick up a button one at a time and put it through the slot on the correct container.
Brush and Hush, the Color Kittens, are on a quest to find green. Dressed like house painters, they have buckets and buckets and buckets of colors. The pouncy kittens love to splash the colors into each other to create new colors.
You and your little lambs can meet Brush and Hush in The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown.The delightful illustrations and whimsical writing in this classic picture book will engage Mom and children.
Most children love colors, the brighter and happier the better so they will relate with Brush and Hush, as well as the kittens' enthusiasm for colors and their quest to find the color green.
The Color Kittens will most likely become a favorite of your children and want to hear it over and over again. I suggest reading it over and over again because it's a wonderful book. Not only will children be introduced to poetic language, they will learn about mixing colors. Yes, this picture book is a STEM resource.
Once you read the book, it's time to have some hands-on fun just like Brush and Hush.
First published in 1949, The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon, is a delightful tale about two kittens named Brush and Hush with green eyes. Dressed like house painters, Brush and Hush have buckets and buckets and buckets of paint--all the colors of the world!
Brush and Hush love to mix colors together by splashing colors into one another. However, the playful kittens have a problem: they cannot make green.
On their quest to find green, they mix colors together and produce all kinds of colors. Brush and Hush love each color they produce by mixing colors. An accident that knocks paint buckets over, spilling colors everywhere creates brown. Brown is exciting to them, too.
Finally, the adorable kittens get so pouncy that they knock over all the buckets, creating all the colors in the whole world.
The Color Kittens is one of my favorite picture books. I love Mrs. Brown's writing--it's playful, exciting, and fun. I love the illustrations. Everything is so bright and colorful! I love how much Brush and Hush love to play and get so excited over each color discovery.
Jenny Rose celebrated her second birthday soon after the school year started—the first year I was homeschooling two not just one.
It was very difficult for me. I found myself trying to get her out of the way during school hours because she climbed all over us, wanted to grab our books and materials, and seemed to be at her fussiest no matter what time we got things out.
I found myself neglecting areas of training and discipline that I had been very consistent on with the older girls. I was frustrated with her and frustrated with myself.
The next year went better, although I had to deal with the fruit of the training and discipline neglect. God had to deal with my attitude first. He showed me that Jenny Rose is not an “interruption” in my schooling but she is a gift and a blessing. (It’s important to remember that when children are toddlers!) The size and spacing of my family was not a mistake but God’s best for me. God also reminded me not to miss this phase of her life—Jenny Rose will never be a toddler again, doing and saying all those cute little things! After my attitude was dealt with, I had to change my expectations.
You can homeschool high school! Really! You can do it! Think about all the things you would like to teach your child in high school. Go ahead and make a list of your dreams.
My list for each child will include things that are the same and things that are unique for each child. For instance, I want all my children to read Communist Manifesto in high school so that they can understand the socialist agenda in American universities and colleges. I also want them to study worldviews so that they can recognize the different worldviews that are predominate in our culture. Most of all, I want my children to know God's Word and apply it to all of life.
Here are some examples to put on the list:
Now it's your teen's turn. What do they want to learn in high school? Some of them may have a career goal in mind. Others may have a dream of playing sports at a particular college.
When Should You Start Planning?
Eighth grade is a good time to plan the high school years with your husband and teen.
I recommend reading a few books on homeschooling the high school student and talking to other moms who have (or are!) successfully homeschooled teenagers. Other homeschooling moms can lead you by the hand and help you through the questions and decisions.
I sit down and make a five-year flexible plan for each child.
Realize that your plan will change over the years, but it is good to have a rough idea of what you want to accomplish.
What is Your Goal?
Think about what you want your teen to know and what skills you want them to have when they graduate. You have already made a list. Use that list so you don't forget anything.
What fun it has been to design my children's high school classes! It has been one of the greatest joys of homeschooling for me because I love planning, learning, and planning to learn.
My philosophy is to keep things as simple and happy as possible. I want life to be enjoyable for the children and for me. Learning is fun! Even in high school.
At this point, let's assume you have an overall high school plan and you understand high school credits. (If not, read "High School Credits" and "Homeschooling High School Create a Five Year Plan.")
Let's start with your goal. Why do you or your teen want to study this subject? No matter what your purpose is, make the most of this class. Enjoy learning and make sure the material is makes learning the subject fun. Jenny Rose had an interest in songwriting. I wanted to help her to grow as a songwriter and help her to grow in other musical and vocal areas that would impact her songwriting.
What is your purpose of this course? Is it general knowledge like Math or Biology? Is it exploring an area of interest like Ancient History, British Literature, or Oceanography? Is it cultivating a gifting like Watercolor or Songwriting? Is it preparing for a career like Anatomy and Physiology or Economics? Is it to fulfill a college admission requirement? Keep this mind so that your course includes what is needed to fulfill your goals. Julianna came to me right before her senior year and asked me to design a class that would improve her writing so that she could be successful in college. While she was a good writer, she did not enjoy it, but she was motivated with a goal to grow in certain areas of writing. We designed the course together.
Ingredients of a Course
Florida is a great state to homeschool in!
We register with the county and have enjoyed a great working relationship with everyone we have communicated with here in Seminole County.
We have graduated five homeschoolers who have attended Stetson University or UCF on Florida Bright Future scholarships. Our experience with college administrators, state government bureaucrats, and local country officials has been pleasant.
Everyone has been kind, helpful and supportive. Many people took went out of their way to help me in the sometimes-confusing maze of applying to colleges and searching for colleges.
We started in eighth grade mapping out a flexible high school plan. There were changes and adaptations each year as we took advantage of opportunities that arose and sharpened the focus for each teen.
You determine the requirements for homeschool graduation if you are registered with the county. If you homeschool under an umbrella school, the umbrella school will have its own graduation requirements. Many parents like to know what public and private schools require to help them with their planning. Colleges also have expectations and requirements for admissions.
After graduating three homeschoolers and sending them to Stetson University or UCF on Florida Bright Future scholarships, I have had the privilege of dealing with college administrators, state government bureaucrats, and local country officials.
I have not had one negative experience.
Everyone has been kind, helpful, and supportive.
Many people took time to help me through the maze of the college application process and the grand scholarship hunt.
Why do colleges love homeschoolers?
Colleges see homeschoolers as innovative thinkers. Homeschool grads arrive on campus with a lot of experience working independently on schoolwork, as well as projects. Hey, they are just awesome! Who wouldn't love a homeschool grad?
"Dreams so they say
Are for fools and they let 'em slip away ...
Like Columbus in the olden days
We must gather all our courage
Sail our ships out on the open sea
Cast away our fears
And all the years
will come and go
We may never pass this way again." (Seals and Crofts)
Recorded by Seals and Crofts, "We May Never Pass this Way Again," was our class song at Nova High School in 1980. I think it was other graduating class's song, too.
One thing I remember about the song was that at the end, they kept repeating: "These are the good old days."
When we are young, we spend so much time looking forward to what lies ahead: graduation, marriage, a new job, a promotion, buying a home.