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If you're like most of my readers, you're committed to your family and creating the best home life possible. But the truth is, if you've given up one income to homeschool your kids, you may be struggling to make ends meet. That's why I wrote this special report, The 9 Best Business Ideas for Homeschool Moms, in which I help you design the best business to complement your family's goals. There's only one way to get it—by subscribing to my weekly blog updates here:
 
 

curriculum

Schedule your books

Have you ever been so wooed by a product description that you have purchased it right on the spot? Or so convinced by friends or cyber-buddies that your children’s education will not be complete unless you use a certain curriculum? Perhaps you have felt so intimidated about teaching a certain subject that you have purchased everything available on the topic to be sure that you cover it adequately and not leave holes in your children’s education.

Whatever the reason, many well-meaning homeschooling parents over-buy when it comes to curriculum. This is certainly not an unforgivable sin – in fact, I am the first one to say that we should not skimp when it comes to providing the atmosphere and resources for our kids’ learning.

But let us discuss some ways we can control the financial outflow during this season of buying.

Here are five ways that you can avoid over-buying and successfully plan for a bountiful year of learning:

1. Make Your Plan – Take some time to map out your upcoming school year. What subjects would you like to cover? How does each of your children learn best? How much time will you have to devote to schooling each day? What subjects will your children need you by their side and which ones can they study independently? These are big questions. Take one child at a time and map out some goals. Take into consideration his/her age and preferred learning style. Take stock of his progress in each subject area. Will you need to emphasize a particular subject more now because of overlooking it in past years? Are there subjects that he is truly motivated in and can pursue more independently, thereby freeing up your time as the teacher? Make for yourself a rough plan and schedule for your family and then move onto step #2.

2. Take Inventory – Scan your bookshelves and dig through those cabinets to find your educational resources. Pull out those unused math books, grammar and spelling workbooks, literature guides, etc. Make three stacks – 1. Will Never Use, 2. Might Use Someday, and 3. Will Use This Year. Take a look at stack number 2 again and ask yourself, “When will I use this?”, “Who would I use this with?”, and “What am I waiting for?” If you truly feel like you have a good sense that you will actually use the resource sometime in the near future (a year or two) then put it away until next year. If you just cannot nail yourself down on when you would use it or what the circumstances would be for you to use it, put this book or curriculum with stack number 1.

assess curriculum

3. Clear It Out – Take your books and curricula in stack number 1 and get rid of them. The best thing you can do with used educational resources is put them up for sale. Someone out there is looking for what you already have and are not using. There are many online places that you can sell your school books – homeschoolclassifieds.com, Facebook Used Homeschool Books page, and many others. Place a reasonable price to it, then add another couple bucks to the price and sell it “postage paid”. This means that you as the seller will take care of the shipping costs (this just seems simpler to me and the buyer feels like she is getting a good deal). Media mail is the cheapest way to send books and other media products – CDs, video’s, curriculum in binders, etc.

4. Buy The Basics First – Now take stock again of what you have and what you now need. Buy your basic subjects first – math, grammar, spelling, history, science. You may even find some of what you are looking for on those used swap boards while you are listing your items to sell. If you have time, wait until these arrive before purchasing anything more at this point.

5. Fill in the Gaps – Once you receive your basic materials, read through them. Take notes of what else you are going to need to fill out the program. Does the math program that you chose require that you purchase manipulatives? Does the grammar book contain writing exercises and does it meet your requirements for a good writing program, or will you need something more? Does the history curriculum contain geography lessons? Will you need notebooks, composition books or planners for each child? Finally, decide how much time and energy you will have to devote to the extras, such as hands-on projects, foreign language study, logic, music, art and look for materials that will fit the bill.

Follow these five steps and you will bring spending under control. Educating our children is not cheap these days and does require some financial outlay, but we do not have to buy everything out there to ensure that our children receive the best education possible. Your commitment to raising your children well, training them to be contributors to the family, and spending time with them – over the books or playing in the backyard – is what will bring about educational success. There is no perfect curriculum just waiting to be discovered – it is you that will make the difference in your children’s lives.

Blessings to you on your educational journey. Now, back to Homeschool Scheduling

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burnout

Have you ever experienced bone-weary burnout?

Burnout has a way of creeping up on us. It begins with a quiet sensation of listlessness, followed by annoyance, accompanied by an occasional outburst of unexpected anger that you didn’t see coming.

burnout

Great idea, huh? Well, maybe not!

Some homeschool moms may carry on for years before experiencing burnout, while others may experience it yearly, generally in the spring. Because, goodness, by then we are just plum worn out from teaching school all year long.

If you, like me, are feeling a sense of despondency, fatigue, or angst, it is time to head off burnout at the pass. This is the time of year that we can intentionally set up our children, routine, and schedule for success as we finish the year strong. Continue reading Help, I Feel Burnout Coming!

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how to make deposits on your blog

And why the words “I can’t afford it” are a cop-out!

I hear it all the time…

I would buy that curriculum, but I can’t afford it.
That car is too expensive, dear; we can’t afford it.
I would save for retirement, but I can’t afford it.
I would tithe, but we can’t afford it.
I would homeschool, but we can’t afford it.
I would buy that toy for you, honey, but we can’t afford it.
We can’t go on that trip. It’s too expensive and we can’t afford it.

I have heard myself say those very words over the most diverse things as well. In the not too distant past, I have been known to utter that phrase when refuting purchases that span anywhere from $5 to $5000. How about you? Do any of these scenarios below sound familiar to you?

Continue reading How to Afford Almost Anything

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Have you ever fallen off the wagon? I most certainly have. I have fallen off the healthy eating wagon, the exercise wagon, the daily devotions wagon, the prayer wagon and most recently, the blog wagon. It’s just part of human nature to fall off these wagons, I guess (unless I’m the only one). Or maybe it’s just the nature of rickety wagons… hmmm…

Continue reading She’s back in the saddle!

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Do you have some KQ items on your wish list?

Generally speaking, we, at Knowledge Quest, do not offer Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other various Christmas sales. We don’t believe that you should be burdened with great curriculum prices and sales at this time of year when you would rather spend your hard-earned dollars on games, pajamas, fuzzy socks and electronics.
 
However, we had a customer bring to our attention a decidedly different opinion. She expressed that she had some Knowledge Quest items on HER Christmas wish list and was hoping to give her parents a link to a sale this holiday season. Here’s what she is hoping she might get under the tree!

 

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That was an eye-opener! Yes, many of you have items from our website on your wish list that you would love to receive at Christmas. While some might think it strange, we homeschool parents get a little thrill with new curriculum, read-aloud biographies, educational apps and history resources.

Soooo…

If you have some of our products on your wish list, but you’ve been waiting for Christmas, hoping your husband or your mom or your sister might buy them for you…  Then this is the sale you have been waiting for! Send them the link to the Knowledge Quest home page – www.knowledgequestmaps.com.

 

cyber-monday

 

Book prices start at $5!
 
We’ll also have $10, $20 and $35 specials too! 
(quantities are limited)

This is a ONE DAY sale and will ONLY last through midnight on Monday, December 2!

If you have any questions or comments, of course, just send an email to us helpdesk@knowledgequestmaps.com.

More great news to come in the next post!

Question: What gift are you most excited to give this year?

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I Might Kill My Kids!

This is the #1 reason I hear why moms don’t want to homeschool their kids. Really? I get that this is an exaggeration, but the very excuse indicates that the excuse-maker’s kids drive her crazy. Well, guess what? My kids have exasperated me on occasion too. I have even threatened them with the big yellow bus tomorrow morning, if they didn’t shape up. I can report, however, that each one of my children are still alive (smile).

What is it about our kids that makes us want to scream in frustration and throw in the homeschooling towel, or never begin in the first place? Anger and frustration can come from anywhere, but I’m going to boil it down to 3 problem areas:

1. The parent hasn’t properly trained her children to respect her authority and obey. Just as we are imperfect people, so are our children. But, our kids are teachable and trainable. We can raise them up to be respectful and obedient kids who are a pleasure to be around. Yes, it takes hard work, diligence and consistency, but it is worth it. There are lots of great books on this topic. If you struggle with children who do not obey or who disrespect you, read up on child-training, whether you homeschool or not. Parenting is the hardest job we’ll ever do, but also the most worthwhile. Teaching your child anything is just an extension of parenting.

2. The parent/teacher is being erratic or inconsistent. Kids need to know what to expect. Schedules are great tools for both teacher and student. They get everyone on the same page so they can know what to expect. Some adults really despise schedules and routines; they want to be spontaneous and free. Most kids, however, crave structure. They want to know what’s coming next. If every day is different, kids will become frustrated and more difficult to work with. Keep a consistent schedule and routine for your school days. That doesn’t mean that you can’t change things up on occasion or take an unscheduled field trip. It does mean that regular days should follow a regular order with predictable tasks and school work, if you want easy-going students.

3. The parent/teacher is stubborn and so is the child. Maybe “determined” is a better word. However, the meaning is the same. As the teacher, I might decide that something must be done and I am determined that it get done. I can have all kinds of reasons why I want the task done, such as: 1.) because I want to finish the book on time (i.e. the end of the school year); 2.) because I think the child needs extra practice in this area (i.e. math, handwriting, etc.); 3.) because I SAID SO. However, there may be more going on that might cause a clash of wills. Perhaps the child doesn’t understand a foundational principle or is sad about something or is hungry or… In any case, a clash of wills causes an eruption of emotions, usually anger and tears.

So, how can we all get along peacefully so that our school days flow smoothly and without frustration?

These are a few of the principles that we live and work by in the Johnson household:

1. We start with devotions and prayer. If one of our children has a prayer request, we can pray for it before we even begin our school day. Sometimes, a child will ask prayer for a better attitude or to get along better with a sibling. Sometimes, as the teacher, I ask my kids to pray for me… that I would be patient and kind. Prayer is a powerful force and God is an ever-present helper in times of need.

2. If someone begins to develop a bad attitude, they take that attitude to their room rather than disrupting everyone else with it. Sometimes the person with the bad attitude is me. We all need time outs sometimes, even us parents. I don’t see time-outs so much as a punishment as a time to cool down and regroup. It’s a good time to pray and catch up on Bible reading too. (Everyone in our family reads the Bible for 5+ minutes a day).

3. If a certain subject is troublesome for a child over and over again, we’ll take a step back and make some changes. Maybe we need to try a new curriculum. Or maybe a foundational skill has been glossed over and needs to be learned again. As an example, my 7yo dd was struggling in math for a month or two when she wasn’t before. It was beginning to feel like we were banging our heads against the wall. I pulled out a hundred chart and we went over the numbers up through 100 and looked at the logical nature of our numbering system that is based on 10. A lightbulb went on in her head. She kept the hundred chart tucked in her math book and referred to it as needed. Within a couple weeks, she didn’t need it anymore.

Similarly, we switched to a spelling app on the ipad for one of our kids, as the regular spelling book that we use – Spelling Power – just wasn’t working for her. Creativity and looking at a subject from a new angle goes a long way.

I’ve been homeschooling for 15 years. I am not more patient than you. I can get just as angry as anyone else. But I love homeschooling because we have systems in place that work for us. We step away from each other when we get angry; we pray and seek forgiveness; we follow a daily routine and schedule; we use the curricula that works best for each of our children. And I haven’t killed any of my kids yet!

Anything worthwhile takes effort. Homeschooling takes effort, but it is one of the most worthwhile endeavors that I have pursued in my life. My kids like it too.

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Half-way through the school year… It’s at this time of the year that we can feel like we are exhausted, running on empty, just putting one foot in front of the other because that is what we are supposed to do.

That’s okay! Just because you may not feel that spring in your step or that excitement for planning school lessons doesn’t mean that you aren’t doing one of THE most worthy pursuits you could be doing. Just because you aren’t receiving accolades from your kids, your friends or even your spouse doesn’t mean that you aren’t making a BIG difference in the lives of your kids and your family. Just because your kids may not be the smartest, the pleasantest, the most organized band of children in your neighborhood or co-op doesn’t mean that they aren’t in process, taking plodding steps just like you, to learn more, cooperate better and integrate life skills, one day at a time.

These dreary winter months are a great time to WAKE up, SHAKE up and try something NEW!

Here are 4 ways to get out of the doldrums and get excited about school once again:

1. Take a field trip! Yes, it’s cold outside and it’s easier to stay in and work on textbook assignments, but that gets tiresome after a while. Bundle up the kids and head out for the zoo or a local museum or an indoor waterpark, for goodness sake. Okay, maybe the waterpark isn’t educational, but the kids may learn a little bit about physics and acceleration on the water slides (okay, that’s a stretch). Even if they don’t, at least they’ll have fun and you have shaken up the daily routine. We are going to our local science museum on Thursday. We are excited because they have a new Mythbusters exhibit about blowing up stuff, which is extremely fascinating, don’t you think?

Continue reading Wake-up! You’re Half-Way There!

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