All posts by Teri Maxwell

Homeschool Question from a New Homeschool Mom

Schooling at home

Here’s a question from one of our readers who has just become a homeschool mom because of the coronavirus pandemic:

I understand that children in Grade 1, 3, and 6 (twins) will have different material, but how does one effectively manage different attention spans? My youngest boy was a good sport for about 30 minutes, and then he wanted to play but not alone, with me or his siblings. They had work, and I needed to help my daughter with music theory. I tried to redirect with a book and LEGOS and was successful, but I can see this becoming an issue day to day. A mom

This is where a schedule really helps. What about figuring out activities to keep the first-grader occupied? You could have each of the older children spend 1/2 hour playing with him. That gives him a playmate for 1.5 hours of academic time. They lose a 1/2 hour of school time but gain an hour of uninterrupted work time, and so do you. 

You could schedule him for play alone time. While it might not be his favorite time of the day, doing it consistently each day should eliminate his grumbling about a playtime alone because it soon is habitual—simply what he does every day. You won’t have him pestering you to play with him at that time and you feeling guilty because you can’t. I expect that he would soon be creative and able to occupy himself for whatever amount of time you scheduled for him, perhaps 1/2 hour.

If you spent 1/2 hour with him each morning and if he had another 1/2 hour of book time, you would have filled a three hour time block for him each morning if his play alone time was 1/2 hour. 

When each piece of the schedule happens at the same time every day and becomes habitual, it is easy—just like brushing your teeth. You aren’t having to tell every one what to do or telling them “no” when they ask to do something but should do school. Simplify your new homeschooling life with a schedule.

Trusting in Jesus,

Blog reader son home from school

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall
be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9 

Checking In During This New Season

We are wondering how you veteran homeschooling moms are using any extra time you now have at home with many totally restricted to home and others in areas where most activities have been canceled. Are you using that extra time with your children, tackling projects that are hard to get to, planting your garden, getting clothes changed out for the new season, catching up on homeschooling?

I am praying that some of you might experience a quieter season of homeschooling without so many outside-the-home school related activities. The moms I often hear from are exhausted and worn out, not from homeschooling but from being away from home so much for other activities that they have alongside their homeschooling.

What are your biggest struggles with your current situation? Is grocery shopping hard for you? If so, how are you handling it? Are your husbands doing the shopping if they are home from work?

Trusting in Jesus,

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among
the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10). 

More Help for Coronavirus-Induced Homeschool Moms

Start with a Schedule

May I again encourage you on the importance of a schedule? Don’t make it complicated, but get it down on paper where everyone can see it. I guarantee you that it will eliminate many decisions and distractions and help you accomplish what you need to do each day during these circumstances.

If your children were sent home with schoolwork or your school is doing it online, the schedule will eliminate getting to the end of the day with school or other tasks not accomplished and piling up for the next day.

Ideas for Academic Work If You Don’t Have Any

If you weren’t sent home with your children’s school books and you are winging it, here are some ideas for academic work:

  • Have your child read aloud to you. That will develop your child’s reading skills immensely, no matter how good a reader he is already.
  • Have your child write an email or letter. Then go over it with him for spelling, grammar, handwriting (if handwritten), and interesting content. This covers several subjects in one and connects the child with grandparents or friends.
  • Have your child keep a journal. Again you will be covering writing skills plus grammar and spelling if you go over that with him.
  • Look for math facts worksheets online. Knowing the basic math facts equips your child for furthering his math knowledge throughout the grades. 

You might be surprised if you had your child do those 3 things each day: read aloud, write something, and complete math facts worksheets, where he would be academically when he is allowed to go back to school compared to his classmates who didn’t have direction and structure in their days.

No matter what your child was or wasn’t sent home with for school, it is likely that their academic work won’t take as long as the hours they were at school each day. If you schedule time for them to play together, play alone, play outside, do chores, play games, and do craft projects, you will help to fill that extra time without having bickering, destructive children on your hands. Remember, keep the schedule simple.

Trusting in Jesus,

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good
works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”
(Matthew 5:16). 

What to Do with the Kids Home From School

With many public school children home from school, you might be wondering how to make the most of this time or simply be interested in how to keep your children from driving you crazy. Maybe some thoughts from a homeschooling mom could be helpful.

What about putting together a basic schedule? Make it simple. Maybe maintain the schedule you use with your children in school and then just fill in the school hours. Everyone is used to that schedule and there are no changes that would need to take place to implement it.

Here are some ideas for what could go in that schedule.

Grow spiritually with your children by having morning devotions with them. You can read some Scripture and discuss it, pray, sing, and memorize Scripture. 

If your children are older, help them learn to have their own personal Bible and prayer time. What better time to get into the Word and learn to have a relationship with Jesus?

Teach your children some new chores, especially chores they can accomplish when they are back in school. You can take time to teach the skills and oversee them and they have time to practice those chores.

Read to your children and have them read to you. Media has taken over so much of our lives, but you can make these weeks very special by setting aside time to read aloud some great books to your children.

Have your children read out loud to you. This is especially helpful for those children who are at the learning-to-read stage. Often all they need to cause them to make the leap to being great readers is practice reading out loud.

You could also schedule quiet time for your children to themselves.

Schedule for a particular time each day, children who are old enough for board games to play those together or with you if you have time available. 

Have your children write letters to friends or relatives. Work with them on their grammar, punctuation, and making the letter interesting.

With nicer weather in the U.S., you can plan time for a neighborhood walk and also outside playtime. 

Work together in your children’s bedrooms, sorting and organizing the room itself and prepping clothes for the change of season.

Keep up music practice if your children are taking lessons even if they can’t go to lessons for a while.

Make sure your children have time for any school work that they are to accomplish while they are home.

I promise you that if any of these ideas look good to you, they will likely only be implemented if you put together a schedule and set time aside for them.

Here’s an idea of what that might look like:

7:00 a.m. Children up, dressed, and room pick up
7:30  Breakfast, clean up, teeth brushing
8:30  Morning chores
9:00 Family devotions
9:30 Mom reads aloud
10:00 Academics (School work, internet worksheets, letter writing, children read aloud)
11:00 Outside play
12:00 noon Lunch hour (Make, eat, and clean up)
1:00 p.m. Family walk
2:00 Quiet/nap time (Reading/academics for older children)
3:00 Board games/other play for non-napping children
4:00 Music practice/organizing projects/free play
5:00 Dinner prep (Some help, some play with each other or younger children)
6:00 Dinner

That’s just an idea. Put in what your priorities for this time might be. That schedule is a powerful tool that costs you nothing. Don’t try to make it perfect. Just put something down and do it. If you don’t like it so much, you can do it a bit differently the next day until you get it where you really like it. 

Trusting in Jesus,

“Let the people praise thee, O God; let all
the people praise thee” (Psalm 67:3). 

Steve and Teri’s Vegan Breakfasts

There has been quite a bit of interest in recipes for Steve and my way of eating. We thought we’d share three main breakfasts we enjoy.

If you are looking for some healthy alternatives to sugary breakfast cereal, you might give these a try.

Trusting in Jesus,

Blueberry Banana Pancakes

These pancakes look like the real deal!

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond, hemp or soy milk
2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup whole wheat flour or almond flour
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
1 cup blueberries
In a blender, combine oats and almond milk for 20-30 seconds. Add remaining ingredients (except blueberries) and blend for an additional 20-30 seconds. Allow batter to sit for 10 minutes. Cook pancakes on non-stick pan or skillet. Top with blueberries during cooking if desired. Note: If you are using large bananas, add an additional 2 TB. of flour to the batter, otherwise your pancakes will be too thin.

Hot Oatmeal with Berries
One Serving

1/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 TB. ground flaxseed meal
1 1/2 cups unsweetened, vanilla almond milk
After cooking oatmeal, add:
1 chopped banana and 3/4 to 1 cup berries (Thawed frozen berries work great and are less expensive than fresh.)

Here’s what we’ve found to be super easy. The day before, we prep the dry ingredients in a small crockpot (it’s a very small crockpot). Then, the morning of, we pour the almond milk into the crockpot when we get up and then start the crockpot such that we can have Bible time, exercise, and have the oatmeal ready to eat after that. The oatmeal takes about 2 hours in the small crockpot we use.

Overnight Oats with Berries
One Serving

In a pint glass mason jar put:
—1/3 cup rolled or steel-cut oats
—1/2 tsp. cinnamon
—1 TB. ground flaxseed meal
—1 TB. chia seeds
If desired add a few Stevia drops to sweeten.
Cover with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, or other nondairy milk of choice.
Shake or stir.
Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup berries.
Refrigerate overnight (will still be good a day or two later)
Before serving if desired:
—Add more almond milk.
—Add slivered almonds.

Note: If using steel cut oats, prep two to five days early because they need to set in the fridge longer and don’t add the berries until the day before serving.

“How sweet are thy words unto my taste!
yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
Psalm 119:103

After-Dinner Clean Up

Do you clean up your kitchen after dinner? If you didn’t grow up doing that, you might find it hard to do now. If you aren’t doing it, you know what? It is likely your daughters won’t either when they have their families, and so it will go generation after generation.

It’s a great feeling to go to bed with a clean kitchen and wake up without a pile of dishes cluttering the sink, demanding attention when you want to make breakfast to start your day.

Moms who are learning to schedule put kitchen clean up right after dinner in their schedule. What about you? Are you doing that? If not, what’s stopping you from starting today?

Trusting in Jesus,

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).