about me, encouragement, homeschool, organization, organizing, planning

Announcement … Homeschooling Help Is Here!

NOW AVAILABLE!!

One of the hard things many of you have been called to do in this current season is to homeschool or to school your kids at home.

Some of you may remember, but many of you do not know, that I homeschooled my own children for 14 years. During that time, I blogged, wrote, and spoke on the topics of homeschooling and organization (and the combination). My blog was called “Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom,” and I also had a regular column in the Homeschool Enrichment magazine, Heart of the Matter Online, and wrote regularly for The Old Schoolhouse magazine and some other places. All of that writing and speaking was under a different last name—LeBedz, just in case you’re looking for it.   

Then life happened. You know, hard stuff. I’ve written about some of it on the blog here. 

But with current events being what they are, I’ve been encouraged from several different fronts to refresh and republish my homeschool writing to encourage people right now. 

So, that’s going to be happening some here on the blog and over on the homeschooling page on my website (www.bethanylashell.com/homeschooling). Also, I’m working on categorizing my past homeschool blog posts here on this website, so keep checking back to see what’s here to encourage you along the way.

First up is a helpful ebook on the basics of setting up an organized schooling area in your house—even if you don’t have a whole, separate room for it. Originally written 10 years ago (what? I’m feeling old now!), it’s 14 pages jam-packed with tips and tricks for getting you, your kids, and their stuff set up and rolling. And, it’s only $3.99 for the first week. Then it’ll go up to $4.99. 

Click here to purchase Get Organized!, the first eBook in the Simple Homeschooling Series.

Forward this to your schooling-at-home and homeschooling friends! And please let me know which topics you need help with!

homeschool

Buy the Book!

It’s here!! It’s here!! Simple Organization for Homeschools is finally done and available to order! If you want a paperback in your hand, head on over to Create Space. If you’d rather have an ebook version, click your way to Amazon (actually, wait a few days for it to jump through the right hoops). Then pretty please leave good reviews, too, so others will buy it.

Here’s the extended back-cover information:

Simple Organization for Homeschools is completely geared towards homeschooling families since many books on home organization already exist. Examples, forms, resources, and practical suggestions make this a must-have reference book for all homeschoolers.

This book guides Christian homeschool parents in completely organizing their homeschools. Organization brings peace, balance, and the ability for true academic learning to a homeschool. Biblical encouragement for order in our homes is included along the way. In addition, each chapter or section is tied together with a unifying, biblical theme.

The first part of organizing a homeschool is choosing a style and curricula that not only fit your family’s lifestyle, but that also fit each child. Then you need to learn how to schedule and use your time effectively. After that, you’re ready to get to the good stuff: why, where, and how to set up a schoolroom, how to store supplies efficiently, and how to keep the paper piles under control.

This book encourages you to make organizational choices that work with your family’s style. I’ve tried many different methods and styles, but what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. Simple Organization for Homeschools will help you to organize one piece of the homeschooling puzzle at a time in a way that makes sense for you with the different tried-and-true choices I present. 

homeschool, organization, organizing, writing

Top Uses for Post-it Flags and Tabs

I can’t believe that I have never written about one of my favorite organization tools. They’re little, but they’re so cute and so versatile. What are they: mini, sticky tabs and flags! A Post-it by any other name is just as sweet (no, this is not a commercial). It usually works just as well, too. Let’s take a look at several different categories in which we can use sticky flags: bookmarks, textbooks, homeschooling, home management, Bible, other stuff.
The most obvious (to me) usage for Post-it flags is as bookmarks. Let’s get a bit more specific, though, then we’ll add to the list.
·         Bookmarks
o   Fiction
o   Non-fiction
o   Citations
o   Sections to reread
·         Textbook markers
o   Start teaching
o   Extra study
o   Instead of highlighting in borrowed books
o   Please help, Mom!
o   Assignment
o   Quick reference
§  Vocab
§  Abbreviations
§  Check lists
·         Bible markers
o   Teaching
o   Studying
o   Memorizing
o   Witnessing
·         Manuals for quick reference
·         Start/stop workbook sections
·         Corrections in homework to be done
·         Instead of tabbed dividers in 3-ring binders
·         Mark information in file folders
·         Sign here designations
·         Mark important information for others (boss) to read/note
·         On calendar/by door for stuff to take out the door
·         To do
o   In a book
o   On a steering wheel
o   On a calendar
o   Beside the door
·         Mark musical selections in a longer piece of music
·         Favorite recipes
·         Grocery lists
·         Wrap around toothpicks for herb/plant markers and cupcakes
Disclaimer: while I love these little guys like nobody’s business, I did a quick poll of some friends, who graciously added to my list.
Q4U: What are your favorite uses for Post-it flags?

change, college, homeschool

Collecting for College

This coming fall (gulp!!), my older daughter heads away to a 4-year college. You’d think I’d be used to the idea because this is what we homeschoolers work towards for 12 years, right? Well, my heart is not ready for her to go away, but I’ve already started getting her stuff ready to leave the nest.

This is a large, plastic, storage bin. I commandeered it to start collecting the myriad of odds and ends that she’ll be taking with her. Just in case she had ideas of throwing other junk in there, I labeled it. I don’t have the money to buy her all-new stuff in August, so it works better for me to buy things a little at a time. So far, the container has a lint roller and a spray bottle of the homemade cleaner we use.

Other items I plan to add to the container: dishes and utensils (for 1), bed and bath linens, extra personal care items, Command hooks, laundry detergent, a small sewing kit (I can hope, right?), a first-aid kit, and over-the-door hooks. I’m sure we’ll think of other things, too, along the way. I found a really helpful, FREE college shopping checklist at Bed, Bath & Beyond. It’s available on their website at bedbathandbeyond.com/shopforcollege.

When August comes, all of her extra stuff (besides clothes and electronics) will be ready to go.

Q4U: Have you sent a child off to college already? What am I missing?

homeschool, organization, organizing, writing

How to Prettify Plain, Cardboard Magazine Holders

I’m cheap. (Really, Mum, even though I know you don’t believe it!) So when I needed magazine holders, I went to Ikea and bought the 5-pack of cheap, flat (to assemble), white, cardboard file holders. Sorry I can’t remember how much they cost, but 5 were way cheaper than 1 of the expensive, brand-name ones at an office supply store. 
But plain, white cardboard is so boring. So, I took some contact paper, cut it a few inches wider than the  width of the holder, and voila: a prettified magazine holder! Then I printed labels for the contents onto my pretty Martha Stewart labels so I can tell at a glance what’s in each holder.
Above, you can see what several of them look like next to each other on my bookshelf. Below you can see how I wrapped the contact paper around the edges of the back so as to prevent it from peeling off.
I saved money and completed a DIY project. What could be better?

Book Reviews, homeschool, organization, organizing

Bookshelf Reorganization

 

I’ve been rearranging. Yes, again. It’s been a while since I showed you my Expedit bookshelf, so I thought it was time for an update. I believe it’s in its fourth different room since coming to live with me. It doesn’t seem to mind, though, and it’s actually fairly easy to move–after removing all of the books.

One block is homeschool teacher’s manuals and such, one block is reference materials for editing, another block is teaching homeschool writing, but 2 blocks (almost) are devoted to teaching college writing. One block has my fiction books, while another block holds my yearbooks and diplomas (yes, I should probably recycle the yearbooks, but I can’t quite bring myself to do it). One plastic bin is my filing cabinet, while the other one holds extra file folders, printer paper, and similar stuff.

The black bins? Well, let’s just say they’re holding stuff, which is what they’re designed to do 🙂 The white tray is my to-file bin. I’d like to say that I file stuff once a week so that the bin is usually empty. Sadly, I can’t say that. Hey, just keepin’ it real here, folks.

Of course, you’ll also notice that I’ve got a few pretties on my shelves as well. Organization can be pretty!

Q4U: How are your bookshelves doing?

homeschool, organizing

Science Stuff Storage

Everyone, well almost everyone, loves fun science experiments. But in order to do those fun science experiments, we need supplies. Weird supplies like 3 balloons, 2 bendy straws, and 1 small rock. After a while of buying bags of 50 balloons and ordering that 1 chemical from Home Science Tools, we’ve got science experiment stuff in the kitchen junk drawer, on the bookshelves, and in the couch cushions.

So, what do we do with it all? We containerize it! I bought 4 or 6 or the small, plastic bins pictured above in the dollar store. You can’t beat the price or the convenience. Then, I sorted the science supplies into categories such as glass/plastic, microscope materials, and chemicals. I put one category of supplies into each bin, made an appropriate label, and tada!

Even though my girls are teenagers, we occasionally have younger visitors, so I make sure to store all of these tools on a high shelf on my bookcase.

Whaddya think?

homeschool, organizing, planning

The Family Calendar

How do you coordinate a busy family’s schedule when everyone seems to be going different directions at the same time? The most efficient way I have found to deal with mine and my teenagers’ ever-changing, full-to-the-brim schedules is to have a large, dry-erase calendar in a central location–ours is in the kitchen, on the pantry door because it came with nifty mounting hardware. Each person is assigned a different color in order to 1) tell at a glance who has an outside activity at any given time, and 2) save time and writing space. Every event must be written down on the calendar, especially if it involves the mom taxi; otherwise there’s no guarantee that it will happen. I also have an “all” color to designate events (such as church or Bible studies) in which we’re all involved.

This calendar is also magnetic, which makes it easy to put event tickets right on the day they’re needed. No more scrambling around to find out what time that birthday party starts! In addition, I love that there’s a small bulletin board alongside of the calendar. I use it for coupons and other such time-sensitive materials that don’t necessarily belong on a particular day.

The magnetic feature also allows for a small, magnetic eraser (top, right corner) and a colored arrow magnet (middle of last week), which make using my fabulous family calendar so much easier.

Q4U: Do you use a large family calendar that’s easily accessible by all?

homeschool, organization, organizing, planning

It’s Calendar Time!

Have you bought your 2013 calendar yet? If not, stop reading this blog post. Go buy a wall calendar, a purse calendar, a desk calendar, a family fridge calendar, refills for your Day Timer, whatever you use. Right now! Yes, really! Then come straight back. Now are you ready?

First, make sure you have your current calendar beside the new one. Then, go through and add in all the birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, and holidays. Use a pen for all these dates. Next, find all those scraps of paper stuffed under the couch cushions and scribbled on the edges of the old calendar that have the events scheduled for this coming year. Write all these events in your new calendar. Use a pencil for these events. That way if there are last minute changes, you won’t have a scribbled out mess on your calendar. Be sure to update all your calendars (including the family one on the fridge) every time you make a change.

The next most important tip is to use your calendar FAITHFULLY! Never commit to an appointment without consulting your calendar. Train your children (and hubby!) to do the same thing. Don’t forget to write down each and every new event right away, otherwise you’re likely to forget about it.

My absolute favorite calendar organizational item is my smart phone (it goes EVERYWHERE with me and syncs with my Google computer calendar, too). I realize not everyone wants one of those (or could have one), but it’s what I use. My next favorite tool is a monthly, magnetic, dry-erase calendar. All family appointments, classes, and other events go onto that calendar. Each family member has her own color marker to designate personal events. Each child also has her own small student calendar, and I am training them to put long-term homework assignments as well as schedules into these. We also have a few wall calendars by our desks, mostly for long-term reference.

Now, go get organized for the year ahead! Then come back and leave me a message telling me about your favorite calendars.

homeschool, lessons learned, writing

Be In Style: Say Thank You

 Is it just me, or are thank you notes (the paper kind you hold in your hand) becoming obsolete? Are they following the dwindling number of friendly letters and Christmas letters and cards that used to stuff our mailboxes? Well, my mum (she’s Canadian, but I thought the southern phrase more apropos for the title) taught me to acknowledge every gift with a handwritten thank you note. If your techno-kids balk, here are some inspirations to help reinstate the good old-fashioned thank you note.

1. Don’t restrict Thanksgiving to a single day or month. On the contrary, the fact that Thanksgiving comes exactly a month before the day when kids get overloaded with new toys, books, and electronic gadgets should prime them for even more thankfulness.

2. Someone—grandparent, aunt, sibling, parent—took the time to pick out a special gift for each child in your home. The least a child can do in return is to take the time to handwrite note acknowledging appreciation for the gift and for the thought that went into its purchase.

3. Yes, grandparents know that little Jimmy just loved the Tonka truck, but writing a thank you note is kind of like saying “I love you.” You know it, but it’s still nice to hear frequently.

4. The Bible leads the way in encouraging thankful attitudes. “Offer to God thanksgiving” (Psalm 50:14a NJKV). “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name” (Psalm 100:4, NKJV). “Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20 NKJV).

5. You can count writing thank you notes as a school project! Just look at all the subjects you’ll cover: grammar (proper letter forms and written grammar), handwriting, art (if they design their own), spelling, and etiquette (it is good manners to write thank you notes).

6. Let’s face it: the kids will be looking for something to do in between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The novelty of the new toys will wear off about two days after they’re opened and writing thank you notes can help fill in the time gap before you’re ready to jump back into formal lessons in January.

7. Many children enjoy designing their own cards or drawing pictures. The recipients will enjoy seeing those pictures and cards on their refrigerators. This works especially well with children who are too young to write complete sentences; they can draw pictures of themselves playing with their new toys.

How many ways can you say thank you? Shukran Gazillan, Thoinks, Moite! Wado, Xie_Xie, Merci, Danke sehr, Mahalo, Köszönöm, Grazie, Cheers, Salamat, Spasiba, Tapadh Leat, Gracias a todos, Tesekkurler, Thanks y’all! (Other languages courtesy of e-Tailers Digest.)

(It’s a repost because I have to remind my own kids to write Christmas thank you notes every year, and I’m sure you do, too!)