Tag Archives: blogging. lessons plans

Great List of Freebies

My friend Cindy Downes sent me this list of freebie stuff to use in our school.

We are all having to find ways to cut back or not spend money at all so I thought this would help.  I have my own list of way to save money in your school that I will post very soon.

Until then, here is this list.

Click Recession Proof your Homeschool.


Can I Homeschool & Work Too?

Guest Blogger

Texas Home School Coalition Association REVIEW © February 2008

by: Holly Williams Urbach

When I started teaching my children at home in 1993, it was rare for me to meet a home schooling mother who worked outside the home. We home educators met at our local park and commiserated on the challenges of tackling lesson plans and getting dinner on the table each night. Our husbands worked full-time, or more, to support the school lunch program, and we wives worked hard to stretch the income as far as possible. We swapped curriculum and clothes with each other, along with recipes designed to make the most use of the available items in our pantries.

Contrast the above scenario with 2007, when quite a few of my home educating friends and acquaintances work either from home or outside the home. While there are many families living on one income, increasing numbers of households are finding it more and more difficult to do so for a variety of reasons. When I counsel new home schoolers these days, many ask me if it is possible to work and homeschool.

My family and I are part of the growing trend of home educating families in which both parents are working. When we realized that I would have to begin working, my husband and I determined to continue home educating our children. We did not want to shortchange our children as a result of the difficulties we were having financially.

I am extremely fortunate to work part-time for a company that allows me flexible hours. I know of families with home-based businesses who face the same time crunch that I have working outside my home. I believe it is likely that we will find home schooling families where both parents work more common in the coming years. Whether working outside the home or from home, combining work and school is a task that requires creativity, energy, and determination.

Even with all the perks of my situation, I find it challenging to combine work and schooling.  Following are some ideas and strategies I use to manage home, school, and extra-curricular activities while holding a job.

One of the first things to do is develop a workable schedule. Obviously, a lot depends on the age and activities of your children. My four children still at home range in age from thirteen to nineteen. Since they are teenagers who require and desire a lot of sleep, I work mornings while they are still sleeping. When I arrive home around 1 p.m., they have gotten out of bed, eaten and dressed, and they are already working on independent assignments. We then have between 1:30 and 6 p.m. to complete their studies for the day. I have students who are well-rested and ready to learn.

When I worked two afternoons a week, I struggled to accomplish schoolwork in the mornings prior to leaving for work. The children were sleepy and sluggish. I was frustrated and felt that everything was rushed and seldom accomplished to my satisfaction. Our new schedule works much better for all of us. Determining your most productive work and school hours is the first step in making school and work successful.

The next thing to consider is what curriculum to use. A teacher who is also working may not have the preparation time available that she would like to have. Many employed home schooling parents find that computer or video curricula fill the need nicely for their students. I would caution parents not to use such curricula for all subjects, because students need variety and adult feedback to help them learn effectively. Others hire tutors or send their children to outside classes for some of their instruction.

At times, I have utilized outside classes and co-ops to help meet the needs of my students in science and math, freeing me to delve more deeply into history, literature, Bible, and foreign languages. These classes make my available time with my students more productive. The point is, take a deep look into your family’s needs and develop a plan that helps you not only to survive but also to thrive in your situation. Any frustration you encounter in your schedule is a natural alarm, telling you that something still needs adjusting. Pray about it and seek God’s direction on how to resolve the situation.

With the work/school schedule planned and the curriculum squared, the next big consideration is how to deal with housework, meals, and outside commitments such as Boy Scouts, 4-H, kids work, etc. My family and I take time to discuss housework issues, and the children and I divide the responsibilities between us. The great thing about this plan is that my sons are learning to launder clothes, cook, and keep house just as well as my daughter. We all pitch in to get the work done so no one has to spend a lot of time doing housework.

Meal preparation is time consuming enough for parents at home full-time, so having less time due to working outside the home can cause a lot of stress. I try to make things ahead of time over the weekend, so getting a meal on the table during the school week is easier. I use my crock pot as much as I can. I have many cookbooks that contain recipes for cooking in quantity and freezing meals ahead of time, to best utilize the time I have available.(Once a Month Cooking by Mary Beth Lagerborg and Mimi Wilson and Jill Bond’s Dinner’s in the Freezer are two favorites.) I also solicit my children’s help in preparing meals. I reap the benefits of more time with my children and reduced time in the kitchen. Planning and executing a menu is essential to streamlining meal preparation as well as keeping expenses down by avoiding the fast-food trap.

My daughter has a part-time job, and she and my youngest son are active in 4-H. Such additional activities are worthwhile enough to our family to factor into our schedule the time they take. We have found 4-H to be a great program for our family, because each child can participate in an area of their own interest as we take monthly trips together to the meetings.  Another great thing about 4-H is that it helps our home schooling so that we work smarter rather than harder. Finding an activity that the whole family enjoys together is a great way to manage the time spent out of the home. Each family can find activities that add enough to the family that they also justify the time taken to participate in them.

Do I long for the days when I was home all day with my children? I certainly do. I have actually started a home-based business for just that reason. Once my business replaces the income from my part-time job, I will once again be at home all day with my children. I will still face that juggling act that comes with working and homeschooling, but I think that my children and I will all have gained a greater understanding of what it means to work together as a team and of how to adapt to changing situations. In the world we face today, those will be valuable and useful abilities for all of us.

Meet Holly Urbach

Not About Curriculum


We are in the midst our 12th year of homeschooling.  I don’t feel like we have been at it that long.  It has just become a part of the way we live.  I have learned a lot over the past 12 years about how to use my materials and about buying curriculum or not buying curriculum.  I have learned how to use the internet for free worksheets, unit studies, e-books and games.   I have been blessed by others who just give away books that they don’t want & it is exactly what we needed but I could never buy.   

We have 10 kids and my husband does not make a lot of money.   He had a different job when we first started schooling and did make more money, but that job ended and his new occupation has not proven to be a big money maker.  So, just about every penny he makes goes to pay our bills (which are not much at all), buy food & the occasional pair of shoes or clothes that are needed.  After all of that there usually isn’t anything left for school books.  At least for the past 2 years anyway.  I have learned how to homeschool our kids with out spending much money, if any at all.  What surprises me most is that they are still learning even without all the fancy books & programs I thought they needed.  Of course there are still areas of study we haven’t been able to do yet that I want to do, but God is making it possible in his time for us to learn what HE wants us to learn.

Through this whole journey I have learned how our school is not based on what curriculum we use anymore.  And I think that is how God wanted it to begin with, but as long as I had planty of money to spend on books and fancy programs I couldn’t get that message.  Our school is based on our relationship with the Lord and with each other. 

  Now instead of depending on a phonics program to teach my little guys to read, the older kids are practicing with them and we are reading together more. 

 No more early math curriculums, now we play games & drill each other.

For history, we read about the real people, dress up like them, cook their food and recreate important moments in their lives.  This year I really want to work on building timelines that can unfold and stretch across the room, then fold back up & fit back into my filing cabinet.  I want to try lapbooks!

Our science lessons happen when ever I clean out my refrigerator, or the boys find another critter in the yard  or the baby swallows a dime and it comes out in his diaper.  Have you seen that one?  Wow, talk about a great lesson on the chemical reactions in our digestive system. 

There are a lot of things I would love to do with my kids, but money just won’t allow it, but I am learning that maybe we just don’t need to do those things.  It would probably take away from our time with each other or maybe it just doesn’t fit in with God’s purpose for our family. 

So, I’ll go back to my lesson planning.  Planning out how to teach new things to my kids with out spending money, but realizing the huge investment it is in their lives

Blessings in My Day


Do you ever sit back and just watch your kids during school time?  I get to do that quite often these days since I am nursing our new baby, Samuel.  I will sit in the rocking chair or on the couch in the room where most of the kids are working so that I am still available to help or to answer questions.  Sometimes I find myself with my eyes closed just listening to the conversations going on.  More often than not I end up interrupting them to get them back on their lessons when they stray off.  Occasionally I will sit and listen as one older child helps a younger one with a math problem or a hard word in a reading lesson.  Usually all of that “niceness” is squashed by, “Mom, he took my pencil!”  Or “Can someone get Gracie off the table?  She just wrote all over my science book!”  It isn’t all nice and pleasant all the time.  I definitely have my moments of every day when I am wondering what I am doing with all these kids at home.  When chaos seems to be the norm rather than peace and cooperation among siblings I don’t see any blessings in homeschooling.  If I have said it once in a day I have said it a hundred times, “Do not skateboard in the kitchen, and go do your school work!”   

I began praying that the Lord would show me the fruit of homeschooling.  “Please show me that all of this is not in vain.”, I prayed one morning out of frustration.  He is so good to hear our prayers.  I was not considering putting them in public school; I was just frustrated with the progress I thought we should be making.  So this week I spent a lot of time just watching and listening to my children.  I was blessed by what I saw and heard. I had a conversation with one of my daughters when she brought to me a scripture verse that she was memorizing because it helped to comfort her.  “Who showed you that verse?” I asked her.  “I guess God did.  I was reading in Psalms this morning and found it.”  We had a great talk about friends that she was praying for.  I saw a maturity in her I had not seen before.  Another time I watched as my 13 year old son picked up our baby and played with him making him giggle.  Upstairs my 2 & 5 year olds were playing kitchen and Thomas Train all at the same time.   Two other sons got in a big fight and then worked it out when one reminded the other of a lesson we had in Bible a few weeks ago.  I peeked in on 2 sisters that I had not seen in a while.  They were in their room while one was reading to the other a new book she had gotten for Christmas.  This seems to be a nightly routine that I didn’t know about until a year ago.  They take turns reading to each other from whatever books they are reading at the time. 

I miss all these simple little things going on that are not very spectacular, but things that I miss when I am not looking for them.  All I see are the missing pencils, books, & lessons, because that is all I am looking for.  When I am instead looking for the light in my child’s’ eyes when his math lesson finally clicks I am blessed.  When my kids problem solve with out my intervention I am definitely blessed.  When my son brings me a drawing that he has been working very hard on (instead of his spelling) I need to bless him with high praise and compliments.

This homeschooling is hard work and anyone who says it’s not is LYING!  It is full of challenges that change from year to year.  But just like being a parent, I think it has even more blessings ready for the taking.  Are you taking your blessings?  They are there.  You just have to look for them. 

© Dana Bailey, 2007

Homeschooling with Toddlers

Our first day of school wasn’t the greatest day I had ever had by any means.  I was so frustrated with my kids that I could scream.  Wait a minute… I did scream!  Anyway, my problem was that I had some expectations of what I thought our first day back to school would be like & some of my children did not live up to those expectations.  Have you been there?


One of those children who didn’t cooperate was my youngest of five boys, Zachary.  He is 3 ½ years old and thinks he is 10.  Do you have one of those?  My problem with him was that I had spent so much time planning & scheduling for the older kids that I had forgotten about his activities.  I had stuff that I had bought, but forgot about it.  So we had Zachary going through everyone’s stuff and causing chaos.  When I finally realized the problem, I got out his clay and before I knew it I had 6 kids at the table playing with clay…quietly.


We have homeschooled 10 years and I have had at least one toddler or preschooler every year.  So I have collected a few ideas that I want to share with you.


What do you have at home?  I like to take inventory at home before I start shopping. Here are some things that my little guys can do with homemade items.

Ø      Cut up magazine’s, construction paper or old wrapping paper.

Ø      Glue what they cut to card stock or more paper.  Use glue sticks.

Ø      Rice or beans in a bowl.  Fill up cups of different sizes & pour back into tub.

Ø      Homemade playdough

o        Recipe2 tsp. Cream of Tartar1 c. flour½ c. salt1 tbsp. Oil1 c. waterColor the dough with Kool-AidCook together for a few minutes until it balls up.  Knead.  Store in an airtight container.

Ø      Draw or scribble on small white board. (watch that markers don’t end up on furniture or walls J)

Ø      Play in kitchen sink with water & tear free bubbles or just measuring cups. Lay towels on floor first to reduce mess.

Ø      Board books.  I like these for my really young ones that still handle books rough.

Ø      Duplo blocks ®

Ø      Dress up clothes


 Plan ahead.  I can’t expect Zachary to come up with his own activities on his own.  Well, he will but they are usually pretty destructive. J  I have found some things on the web.  Below are a few website that I have found helpful. It is also helpful to yourself if you know ahead of time what activities you have ready.  Place them in a special place.  Tubs or baskets are handy.  Make a list if that helps so that you can refer to it quickly.

 Pre-K websiteshttp://www.letteroftheweek.com

This is a site where you can find lesson plans for your babies up to 4 yrs.  It is free.  You just print out what you want, follow her suggestions for books to read & songs to sing & you have a Pre-K curriculum.


This had a lot of ideas of what to do with 2 yr olds.  Some can be pretty messy though, which is what 2 yr olds love anyway!


This is loaded with free stuff to print off.


These are Bible activities for all ages, but have activities for preschoolers also.


Be prepared by keeping safe supplies ready.


Ø      Safety scissors

Ø      Non-toxic crayons

Ø      Paper (card stock, construction and copy paper)

Ø      Glue sticks (my kids like the kind that goes on purple, but dries clear)

And anything else you can think of.


Schedule time for your younger ones before you start school.  They are still very needy and need your attention.   Try reading or playing for 30 minutes or so with your toddler or preschooler before you start lessons with your older kids.  If you fill their love tank then they are less likely to disturb you. When you do find them disturbing others pull them into you lap.  Sometimes that is all they need.  Be sensitive to their needs.  It is really easy to get so wrapped up in your older one’s lessons that we forget about the younger ones.  They get loud and disruptive & we get frustrated.  Take a minute and try to understand why they are being so disruptive.  Usually it is time for a break anyway so take one & spend it with your toddler.


 I shared about my really bad first day of school.  Well, there is a happy ending.  The rest of our week was wonderful; I made sure Zachary had something to do and that my other kids kept busy also.  Idle time makes for trouble! Also, I lessened my expectations & took another look at our schedule to see what needed fixing. I’m really looking forward to Monday!