A Fun-Filled Homeschooling Plan for Busy Parents and Active Kids

My Real-Life, Home-Learning Plan that is simple for parents and delightful to kids! Created by me, a mom who is currently Homeschooling 10 of her 15 Kids!

1. Logic Games2. Read Favorite Books
3. YouTube Tutorials
4. Nature Time
5. Online Math Games or Serious Stuff
6. Kitchen Time
7. Spelling Games
8. Complete 5 Workbook Pages or 5 Fun-Schooling Journal Pages
9. Play Outside
10 Art & Drawing
11. Just Dance
12. Chores
13. Online Games (a reward for chores and school)
14. Family Time and Board Games
15. Movie Time
16. Music Practice
17. Games for Dyslexia: DyslexiaGames.com
18. Fun Homeschooling Curriculum: FunSchooling.com
You can do these activities in any order, but Movies and Online Games should be close to last.

Dyslexia

(This series of blog posts is excerpted from Sarah’s book, Windows to Our World: Sarah’s Journal – Growing Up, Crossing Oceans, Finding Love & Giving Life to 10 Children)

Anna is the author of “Heroes & Villains of History” and “Writer’s Fun-Schooling Journal”

Isaac started reading at age three. Back then, I thought homeschooling was going to be easy. Anna, our second child, was born dancing, drawing, and dreaming, but at age nine she was still reversing letters and forgetting how to sound out three-letter words. She continued to struggle with pencil and paper, and I didn’t know why. I had started both children with the same reading program, but Anna wasn’t learning to read.

I tried several reading programs over the years, but nothing helped. Nothing interested her. Reading was exhausting and confusing. I really began to feel like there was something wrong with her, and because we were homeschooling, I blamed myself. I was afraid to talk to anyone about Anna’s problem with reading. I never suspected dyslexia. I just thought I was a bad teacher until Estera, our third, taught herself to read and write at age five. She would always play school with the workbooks that Anna couldn’t use. By then, we had dozens of them.

One fall day a couple of years earlier, Anna and I were sitting under the big tree in the backyard working on reading lesson number one for the 30th time. I was still trying to help her see the difference between b and d. We were making a new set of colorful flash cards but seeing no progress.

She looked at me with tears in her eyes. “Mom, there is NO difference! I will never read!” she said. “Can’t I just be an artist and a mommy when I grow up?” I remembered having the same dream when I was a little girl and the same struggles. I had blamed the school system for my problems with reading, but Anna was being homeschooled, how could the same thing be happening to her?

I looked up into the sky and asked God to show me how to help my child. The first thing I realized was that I didn’t have what it takes to help her and needed to seek out a professional. I had to get over my own fear and pride and ask for help. The first reading tutor we hired was mystified by Anna’s problem too, but we eventually found a specialist who understood Anna. The teacher evaluated Anna and revealed that she had dyslexia. (click here to continue reading)

“Ready to Pop!”

(This series of blog posts is excerpted from Sarah’s book, Windows to Our World: Sarah’s Journal – Growing Up, Crossing Oceans, Finding Love & Giving Life to 10 Children)

“You look about ready to pop! When are you due?” a stranger asked me one day in the checkout aisle of the supermarket near our home in Fortville.

“Oh, last Saturday,” I said, smiling.

Her eyes got big, her mouth dropped open, and she didn’t know quite what to say. I could tell she was afraid that my water would break any second and the baby would drop out, right in front of her.

“Don’t worry,” I replied. “My last three were over a week late.”

“Uhhh, how many more do you have?” she asked, her eyes still big.

“This will be number six.”

“So . . . and then are you done?” she asked.

I smiled. “On no, we are just getting started!” I joked.

She laughed, but a concerned look remained on her face.

“How many do you want?” she asked, as if I were collecting snakes. It’s funny the things complete strangers want to know right there in the grocery store.

“We’d like to have as many as we can get,” I replied, as if I were collecting treasures.

“Goodness! I have two, and they drive me crazy!” she said. “Two is enough for me!”

“The first two were a challenge for me, too,” I agreed. “With the first couple, you are getting all your practice. You are learning to be a parent, and every phase is new. But just like anything else, the more experience you have the easier it gets. I think it’s sad that so many people stop at one or two. I’ve been able to enjoy my last three so much. I have all the joy of parenting, and not as much of the stress. And now that my oldest children are big, I’ve got some wonderful helpers. I think that many people imagine that having six kids is like having six two-year-olds all at once.”

“You look too young to have so many,” she said.

“Well they keep me in shape. I don’t have time to sit around eating Twinkies and watching soaps,” I said.

“So how old are they?” she asked.

“My oldest, Isaac, is seven. Anna is six. Estera is five. Rachel is three, and Naomi is one and a half,” I told her, as if rehearsing a poem.

“I bet you are hoping for a boy this time!” she said, keeping a tally of girls versus boys.

“Isaac would love to have a little brother, but I don’t mind having a house full of little girls! So I’ll be happy no matter what I get.”

“Just wait until they are teenagers!” she said.

“I’m really looking forward to that!” I told her. And once again, her eyes got big, her mouth dropped open, and she didn’t know quite what to say.

“I had wonderful teenage years!” I continued. “I think my kids will too. Those were the most fun years of my childhood— camping with my family, learning to sew, starting a business, making Thanksgiving dinner, falling in love with my husband . . .”

“Teens are so troubled and sassy these days!” she said. “I guess there’s not much you can do about that.” (click here to continue reading)

When Children Make Mistakes

(This series of blog posts is excerpted from Sarah’s book, Windows to Our World: Sarah’s Journal – Growing Up, Crossing Oceans, Finding Love & Giving Life to 10 Children)

I’m learning to show my older children grace when they make mistakes. It is very natural to look at the older child’s mistake, forgetfulness, immaturity, and failure with a response that says to the child, “How can you be so stupid? How can you be so childish? Failure is NOT an option! I can’t believe you did this again! What’s wrong with you?” But I must ask myself—how do I want to be treated when I mess up? What did it feel like to be a child shamed in the sight of my parents?

Today, when I fail, what do I desire from the ones who love me? Mercy? Yes. Forgiveness? Yes. Restoration? Yes. Kindness? Yes. Help? Yes. Grace is what I long for when I fail. God our Father responds to his children with mercy. Shouldn’t I treat my children the way I would want to be treated? Shouldn’t I ask myself, What is the heart of God for this child who has fallen down, who has messed up, who has defied me? It’s hard to treat a child with grace when they fail. But if it is grace I want when I fail, shouldn’t I give that same grace to others when they fail me? It’s easy to judge, condemn, and ridicule. Do I want judgement, condemnation, and ridicule? No, not me—I hope for mercy.

My children are certain to make a lot of mistakes along their paths in life. They will do things that I think are stupid. They will hurt me with their words, actions, and carelessness. They will ignore my plans, hopes, dreams, and desires for them as they follow their own passions, callings, and desires. What will my response be then? I only hope and pray that I will show them mercy, forgiveness, and grace. I need to give them freedom to grow up, to become adults, to make their own choices, to learn their own lessons, and to find their own way.

I hope and pray they will know that there is hope, grace, restoration, and mercy to meet them in the dark, in the pain, and in the rebellion. I don’t want to reject them when they disappoint me. I need to hold them and teach them mercy and then guide them into the truth. I want to be like Jesus who said to the woman caught even in adultery, “I don’t condemn you; go and sin no more.” If Jesus can have this heart for such a woman, can’t I have a heart of mercy for my child who disappoints me with her actions or words? It’s hard to love with God’s merciful love, but now that I know the grace of God myself, how could I withhold this grace from my own precious children?

May the Lord help me to balance justice with grace as I raise all these beautiful little humans that He has so graciously entrusted to me. May I learn to love them with the compassionate heart of the heavenly Father, who remembers that we are just dust. May I show them mercy starting now while they are still young.

Learning At Home

(This series of blog posts is excerpted from Sarah’s book, Windows to Our World: Sarah’s Journal – Growing Up, Crossing Oceans, Finding Love & Giving Life to 10 Children)

Anna at our home on Connecticut Ave, Fortville, Indiana

When Anna turned five, she joined Isaac with homeschooling. I realized quickly she struggled with pencil and paper. She didn’t like workbooks. She just wanted to play, draw, and learn about plants and animals. She was a child who loved to learn from experience. So that year we took many trips to the Children’s Museum, Indianapolis Zoo, and the White River Gardens. We also turned our house into a tiny zoo complete with fish, frogs, and kittens.

Our garden proved to be one of the best classrooms of all. We turned the garden into a big science project, and all of the children claimed areas of the garden for their own. It kept them all busy.

Isaac happily shoveled compost, laid mulch, lugged rocks, dug holes, and welcomed his payment of a dollar an hour. He put the professionals to shame with his hardworking spirit. When he finished his own work, he helped me collect all the empty flowerpots and began filling them up with soil and compost. He spent the money he earned from his gardening work on flower seeds, planting them in the pots with hopes of a plant sale later that summer.

Anna loved to water everything: the flowers, the trees, even the cars, cats, and her little sisters. She also loved to make mud. Her section of the garden was obvious—she was growing mud pies. Anna also was our budding artist, and mud offered her a fun way to practice her skills. I had to watch her closely, though, because one day I caught her and the little sisters stripped to their undies and covered with mud from head to toe. All you could see of the girls were shiny white teeth and smiling eyes. It was Anna’s idea of course. They were “painting.” (click here to continue reading)

First Year of Homeschooling

(This series of blog posts is excerpted from Sarah’s book, Windows to Our World: Sarah’s Journal – Growing Up, Crossing Oceans, Finding Love & Giving Life to 10 Children)

As the children neared school age, Josh and I knew that we would homeschool them. After our first year, we couldn’t have been happier with our decision.

In those first few months, I watched Isaac unlock the mystery of reading. With his new-found power, he set out to happily (if not slowly) read anything that sparked his interest. I also taught him the basics of math and then watched as he put all his learning together and started a successful jewelry-making business, not unlike my own childhood venture.

Apart from the basics, Isaac also took a special interest in fossils, so we took trips to Ohio and Florida to learn more. Our greatest surprise came when he found and identified a trilobite in a friend’s rocky driveway. Isaac also was fascinated with maps and started a globe collection, often looking for them at garage sales and thrift stores. He had fun comparing the changes that history made on his globes. China became one of his favorite countries, and he got excited every time he discovered a “Made in China” sticker. He also learned some of the sad stories behind those stickers, like the deplorable working conditions and child labor in factories. The missionaries who gave their lives to reach China with the Gospel became his new heroes. He wanted to learn Chinese, and he happily ate fried rice and noodles every chance he got.

Isaac also became a little builder, dreaming up projects with leftover wood from the mini barn. Anna followed him everywhere, and wanted to be his helper. Sometimes we took special trips to Home Depot so he could learn about all the different types of nails, latches, and power tools. One day he taught his little sister how to hammer nails correctly, and no one got hurt.

The Princess of Montgomery Woods

(This series of blog posts is excerpted from Sarah’s book, Windows to Our World: Sarah’s Journal – Growing Up, Crossing Oceans, Finding Love & Giving Life to 10 Children)

There is a season, even a day, which glows brightly among my memories. It was a chilly day in early spring, and I was fourteen years old. The sunlight had found a path through the budding trees to the bare floor of my very own cabin where I sat wrapped up in a handmade patchwork quilt. My shelves were lined with canned goods and my simple pottery collection. A piece of calico fabric hung in the open doorway, and a sparrow perched quietly in the high window. I was very still and quiet so as not to frighten the little bird. The missing door didn’t bother me. The opening was my way of welcoming the birds and the squirrels into my tiny home. This was the day I would make a map of the forest. I had spent the warmer days of winter clearing trails, naming them after the turtles, chipmunks, moles, mice, baby bunnies, and raccoons I had befriended. I felt animals made more loyal friends than humans did, and they didn’t seem to mind my presence or my songs. I loved my little world in the woods: my place of peace, discovery, and wonder.

The little sparrow left its perch as I began to gather all the things I would need for the adventures of the day. I placed an unmarked can into my picnic basket with a sweet potato and a pile of books to study. I didn’t need a teacher, a classroom, or a school bus, because I had everything I needed in a sketchpad, pencils, and a can opener. I tied my apron around my waist and blew out the candle. Though the year was 1991, I was determined to live as if this was 1891. This was how I would learn history. “Just take your books with you into the woods!” my mother had called out when I left the house that morning. “And don’t neglect your math!”

“Don’t worry mom,” I replied back, “I’ll be working on my map most of the day!”

My path was damp with the dew of morning, and the daffodils glistened in the sun. I smiled with delight to see some of the tulips also were opening. I discovered a pattern in the stones and noticed the flowers made perfect rings under the trees. I wondered if long ago my forest had been a secret garden. I gathered sticks on the way to the clearing in the woods that I called my kitchen. The circle of rocks around my fire hole was untidy, evidence that the raccoons searched my woodland kitchen every day just after sunset. They never cleaned up their messes.

I opened up the can and dumped the contents into my cast iron pot. Green beans. I wrapped the sweet potato in a small piece of foil I had carried with me from the cabin. For a moment I was distracted by the distant sound of an old school bus passing through my neighborhood. The sound gave me chills, but I shook off the bad memories and returned to my old-fashioned world. I arranged a perfect little fire, watching the flames dance around my meal. I knew that I would need to complete my daily studies before I could take the time to draw the map of my secret world. So I laid my patchwork blanket on the ground in the clearing by the fire. After sharing breakfast with the squirrels, I laid on my back, watching the sky, working, and waiting for the day to grow warmer. (click here to continue reading)

Happy Homeschooling

(This series of blog posts is excerpted from Sarah’s book, Windows to Our World: Sarah’s Journal – Growing Up, Crossing Oceans, Finding Love & Giving Life to 10 Children)

My family and grandma Marian, I’m the littlest.

I really enjoyed fifth and sixth grades at my new school in Ohio. The old historic school buildings were in the center of beautiful Victorian neighborhoods. The classrooms were bright with high ceilings, wood trim and big windows. I could see the snow fall and the leaves change from my window. My little sister and I loved the walks to and from school, and often we would save our milk money for ice cream on the way home. I even had teachers who saw my artistic talent and encouraged me to add art to all my book reports and let me help decorate the classrooms.

School was no longer something I dreaded. One of my teachers started each day with a brain game or logic puzzle on the chalk board, and I was always so proud to be the first student to solve the puzzle, even though I had to wear my glasses to see the board. I had a friend or two and got into a fight or two—once a bully was making fun of my little sister and me, so I showed her my fist. She ran home crying with a bloody nose and decided to be my friend after that. For my seventh grade year, my sisters and I were moved to a new school district—one of the “better” schools by reputation. I had always gone to small town schools before, but this middle school was one of the big city schools, and it was frightening. The fact that it had no windows didn’t even compare to the behavior of rowdy boys and bullies. I was grabbed and teased. I walked into the “tattoo parlor” in the girl’s bathroom, supplied with razors and permanent marker.

While waiting in the lunch line, I was offered a “good” deal on any kind of drug I’d like to try. Four girls in my middle school were pregnant. And I’d often get lost in the maze of halls and stairways between classes. My report cards also suffered. There were no art classes or logic games on the blackboard, and I felt myself failing socially and academically. This may have been a normal educational experience for most American teens back in the early 90s, but it was a shocking change to me. That same year, my mom began homeschooling Heather for health reasons. That left me waiting at the bus stop alone each morning while Heather sat at the dining room table with a pile of workbooks, a big globe, and a pack of colored pencils. And popsicles. My mom rarely forgot to hand out the popsicles. Sometimes she even sat outside under the dogwood tree to do her schoolwork or played during school hours! Homeschooling was rare back then. I hadn’t heard of it before. I was jealous.

Mom started getting homeschooling magazines in the mail, and I looked through big piles of them with her, their covers adorned with families, most with a dozen or so children all in matching hand-sewn clothing. I didn’t know what that was all about—I didn’t want to wear homemade dresses to match my mom and sisters—but the situation was becoming harder to handle at school, and I wanted to come home and stay home. One day I came home after a very bad day at school and basically demanded to be homeschooled. I finally revealed to my parents exactly what was happening at school each day, and understandably, they were shocked. They quickly agreed that homeschooling would probably be a better option and arranged to take me out of school. So after Christmas break, I didn’t go back. (click here to continue reading)