10 Questions to Ask When Choosing Curriculum

For our family, this time of year is usually a mixture of some spring cleaning or organization, and finishing up our regular schoolyear. (We do usually homeschool year round, but most of our work is from mid-August to mid-June). As I work towards the finish line for I am also making plans for next year- going through curriculum catalogs, making to-buy lists, writing our plans for each child for the upcoming school year.

Homeschoolers are blessed to have so many good curriculum choices out there these days. But what might work wonderfully for one family might be a total bomb for another. What one mom might love, another mom will feel overwhelmed or dragged down by. So how do we know what will be a good fit for our family? Here are some questions I ask myself when evaluating a curriculum, either online or at a homeschool convention.

1. Does it glorify the Lord? This applies more to history and science, but is so important. If I have reservations about a curriculum in this area, I probably shouldn’t choose it. I want to infuse my children with the Truth. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirableβ€”if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” Phil. 4:8

2. Does it fit the worldview I want to impart to my children? I want to teach my children to “not conform to the ways of this world” (Rom. 12:2a), so I choose curricula that supports a biblical worldview. Again, this applies more to history and science. This helps me weed out many “academically good” curriculum choices for these subjects out there.

3. Is it in line with my educational philosophy? If I am a strong advocate of textbooks, and I choose a Charlotte Mason spelling program (or vice versa) I may find myself discouraged and questioning my decision. That being said, I personally prefer a more eclectic approach, having different educational philosophies for different subjects. The important thing is that my choice reflects my philosophy for that subject.

4. Is it adaptable to my family? (For example, can it done over two years instead of one if that fits my family better?)

5. Does it match my teaching style? (Do I thrive on lots of hands-on activities, or maybe I need a curriculum where everything is laid out for me day-to-day?)

6. Does it match my child’s learning style? or

7. Can it be easily adapted to match my child’s learning style?

8. Is it realistic for my family this year? Babies, moves, illnesses, etc. may affect our homeschool in a given year. Sometimes the best curriculum is the one we can actually finish! πŸ™‚

9. Can it be used with various ages? (Unless you have children very close in age, this usually applies to subjects other than the core (3 Rs) subjects.) Mommy’s teaching time is precious, so when I can combine , I do so. It is just more efficient.

10. Is it within my budget or can I easily supplement with library books? (I have a system for using the library efficiently that I will write about in a future post)

As I ask myself these questions, it helps me choose curriculum that is going to work for my family for each year. Sometimes I may be drawn to the look of a certain curriculum, but these questions help me be more objective when making decisions.

Above all, of course, I should be seeking the Lord’s wisdom and counsel. After all, it is for His glory that I am educating and discipling these precious gifts.


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Great Giveaways!

A while back, I wrote about our Scripture Memory in a Box. I suggested using Doorpost’s For Instruction in Righteousness. Well, guess what? Raising Homemakers is giving away a Doorpost package, including For Instruction in Righteousness, as part of their one year anniversary celebration! Click here.

A Wise Woman Builds Her House is also giving away For Instruction in Righteousness! Click here to enter.

Last week, in my post Joy is a Choice, I quoted Sally Clarkson’s book “Seasons of a Mother’s Heart.”. Raising Homemakers is also giving away a Sally Clarkson book package this week! Click here to enter.

These are all wonderful, encouraging products. Check out these great giveaways!


Giving Children our Expectations

It was a mess. My kids had brought the grocery bags in for me, and I was putting them away. That’s when I noticed the raw egg dripping onto my hands, the refrigerator shelf and even my clothing. I knew just what had happened.

My five year old son had brought the bag of eggs in for me and abruptly plopped the bag down on the ground, causing 19 of the two dozen eggs I had bought to crack. (boys have a knack for doing things like this- gotta love em ;)). I was frustrated. “He should have known better”, I thought.

And that’s when it hit me. He didn’t know better, because I hadn’t TOLD him that there were eggs in one of the bags and I hadn’t TOLD him he needed to put the eggs down gently. I hadn’t given him my expectations.

But isn’t that what we do many times with our children? We get frustrated at their behavior, but we haven’t given them clear expectations of what their behavior should look like.

I believe most children WANT to please their parents. Shouldn’t we make it easier on them by giving them clear instructions and expectations BEFORE the situation arises?

For example, before church we might remind them: “remember, if an adult speaks with you after church, look them in the eye and answer them politely”. Or, before we go into the store we might review the rules with them. “Keep your hand on the cart and use quiet voices.”

Giving our children specific expectations gives them something concrete to remember and strive for. This helps our children succeed.

Then we can praise them for their efforts if they’ve met our expectation. (I believe I remember reading that the Duggars try to praise their children 10 times as much as they correct them!) Sometimes this will require follow-up. (Did they complete their morning chores thoroughly and correctly?). Sometimes they won’t meet our expectations, and of course we need to correct them.

But we can help our children succeed in developing godly character and behavior by lovingly giving them our clear, specific expectations, and then generously praising their progress and obedience.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold
In settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11

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Grilled Garlic London Broil

Grilled Garlic London Broil (Freezer Recipe)

London broil is the perfect “steak” for large or budget-conscious families. It’s fast, easy, and cheaper than regular steak.


2 lb or more London broil, about 2 in. thick
3 Cloves Garlic (Cloves) each cut into 4-5 slices
1/4 Cup Coconut or oil, melted or olive oil
1 generous sprinkle of Salt
1 generous sprinkle of Pepper

Cut 10 slices into the face of the london broil. Insert garlic slices into each slit. Flip meat over and repeat until garlic slices are used up. Coat steak liberally with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in freezer bag.

On serving day, thaw. Grill. Allow to rest for 15 min before slicing and serving. Slice meat against the grain.

note: This can also be cooked right after preparation instead of freezing.


Linked to

Organizing the Homeschooling Home, Part 2

Last week was Part 1 of Organizing the Homeschooling Home I talked about my rules for decluttering and organizing, and showed you my linen closet. This week I am writing about organizing the Master Bathroom and Closet.

Since I haven’t covered the school room yet, you may be wondering why this series is called “Organizing the Homeschooling Home” :). When our homes are organized our household runs well. And when our household is running well, it helps us focus on another calling the Lord has given us: to disciple our children through educating them at home.

The master bedroom/bathroom is an important area of the house. (Although I will admit I am often guilty of leaving baskets of folded laundry at the foot of my bed for way too long πŸ™‚ ) This is the place where we start our day. If my bathroom and closet are well organized I can get ready for the day more quickly and easily, with less stress. I’m not wasting valuable time searching for something to wear that is clean AND matches. And I can easily see what I have to wear and make a decision quickly. I can even pick out a pair of earrings to match because they are easy to find. Not only does having an organized bathroom and closet help us start our busy days properly, but it can help and bless our husbands as well.

Okay so we know why we should do it. Now HOW do we do it? Last week I posted my 4 rules of decluttering. I kept items that:

1. Fit us (or will fit a sibling in the next 2-3 years)

2. We have worn or used in the past year

3. I really like πŸ™‚

4. Could be a family heirloom.

I also followed my four rules or organization:

1. Keep stuff close to where you use it.

2. Stuff that is used the least goes in the hardest to reach places (usually the top shelf)

3. Stuff that is used the most goes in the easiest to reach places. (right in front of you)

4. Use containers to hold items that don’t neatly stack.

I followed my decluttering rules in my my bathroom and closet. In my bathroom, I got rid of any medicine, makeup, hair products etc. that hadn’t been used in the past year, and kept only products that I use regularly or seasonally. I kept only my favorite cosmetic bags to use for storage.

Here are some pictures. I want to keep my counter free and clear of any clutter, so it looks peaceful when I walk in. My bathroom has three drawers, and I kept the items we use frequently in these drawers, since that is where they are easiest to reach. (rule 3)

The top drawer is my husbands.

In the next drawer, I put my makeup bag, contacts and contact solution, my glasses, brushes, and clear ziploc of hair thingies. (These are all items I use every day)

In the bottom drawer, I put my hair dryer, extra contacts in a cosmetic bag, and nail polish/supplies (items I don’t use every day)

In the cabinets under the sinks, I also put items I use infrequently, such as hair rollers, curling iron, humidifier, heating pad, travel toiletry bag, etc. I used containers to hold loose items (rule 4)

On our shelves in our bathroom, I kept medicine used infrequently in a bin on the top shelf (other medication is kept in a cabinet in our kitchen, since that is where I usually use it), as well as a bin of pet supplies. Also on the top shelf is a small bin with a handle. This holds medication, thermometer, bandaids, antibiotic ointment, etc. for when we travel. That way, I can just pick it up and have one less thing to pack. (I also do this with my toiletry bag under the sink.)

Also on these shelves are cleaning supplies (within easy reach), towels for my husband and myself, and sprays and lotions I might use after a shower. On the bottom shelf are a basket of extra toiletry items and a basket of toilet paper. All of these items are kept close to where they are used.

On a side note, I love the look of beautiful containers on shelves, but for me, it is more practical to be able to SEE what is in the bins.

Lastly, on the back of each toilet in our home are: an extra roll or toilet paper, room spray, and a roll of cleaning wipes.

Okay, if you are still with me :), on to my closet. Here are some pictures of our Master closet.

I gave away any items I didn’t love, didn’t fit, or hadn’t worn in a year. (Some items met all three criteria πŸ˜‰ ) I removed any fall/winter items to be stored in our attic. I threw away any metal hangers (they always get tangled on the rack) and kept mostly plastic hangers. I separated clothes according to type. ) on another shelf. I used baskets to hold miscellaneous items such as belts.

On my top shelf, sticking to rule 2, I put memorabilia, our vacation bag (used once a year), formal shoes, and other items used infrequently. Loose items were grouped into bins or baskets. I put a small stool on the floor to help me reach the top shelves. (This makes it easier for me to put things away where they belong after using them)

I put camis on the shelf under my shirts(organization rule 1) I kept my four favorite purses and hung them up where I could see them when I get dressed, in case I want to change purses.

Is this too much information?? I’m a very visual person, so I wanted to include lots of pictures. I hope this is helpful.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to declutter first. The times that I get overwhelmed by organizing are usually when I have too much stuff! (Remember, I am not a natural born organizer. πŸ™‚

I would love to hear about any decluttering/organization project you have done, are doing, or want to do!

Next week, I’ll show you pictures of our school room!

Didn’t read Part 1 yet? Click here for Part 1 of Organizing the Homeschooling Home


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Linked up to We Are THAT Family

and Raising Homemakers

Easy Strawberry Jam

We picked some local strawberries last week and made some homemade jam. I don’t have a canner (and frankly, they scare me a little :)) so I used a method to can them that was super easy!

Strawberry Jam made 7, 12 oz. jars

4 lb fresh strawberries, hulled
8 Cups white sugar
1/2 Cup lemon juice

Slice strawberries (we use an egg slicer). Crush strawberries with a potato masher until you have 8 cups of mashed berry. Place 3 plates in freezer for testing doneness later.

In a stockpot, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil (should still boil when stirring) Boil, stirring often.

After about 10 minutes of boiling, place a teaspoon or so of the jam onto one of the cold plates from freezer. Return to freezer for a minute. Run your finger through the jam on the plate… if it doesn’t try to run back together it’s ready to be canned! (if you can make a line through it with your finger). Mine took about 20-25 minutes of boiling.

Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace, and seal. Turn jars upside down on a towel for 10 minutes. Turn upright, and press gently on the “button” on top. If it is sealed properly, the button will stay down. Some jars may take longer than others.

May take up to 48 to fully gel. Enjoy!


Joy is a Choice

I don’t know about you, but Mondays can be hard around here. The house is often recovering from the weekend. We miss having Daddy with us all day. We have a hard time getting back into our usual routine. Some of us are cranky and tired.

I was reminded today, though, that God desires for us to have joy, even on Mondays. πŸ˜‰

He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD! Psalm 113:9

In her book “Seasons of a Mother’s Heart”, Sally Clarkson speaks about this Monday morning phenomenon that happens in my home once a week. :). I need to choose joy.

There is a tension that God is asking me to acknowledge and accept- the tension between ideals and reality. True joy is found by living somewhere between the “ideal life” and “daily realities.” That is where Jesus meets me, where His Holy Spirit empowers, and where I learn how to live the Christian life with supernatural joy.

To me, to celebrate life is simply a choice. Every day God extends his hand to offer me the gift of another day to live. I have the choice to take that gift and turn it into 24 hours of real life in Christ, or just let it become another 24 hours lived in a broken world. If I choose to accept it-to transform those minutes and hours into life lived for and with my Savior-I have the opportunity to see God at work, enjoy his presence, wonder at his creation, appreciate the expressions of his beauty and love, and touch the minds and hearts of my children with his reality. That’s certainly what I desire, but it is a choice I have to make.

…the. Homeschooling lifestyle is your best opportunity for celebrating life as God meant it to be. If you make the choice, it can become a journey of joy!

May we as mothers choose to display the joy of the Lord, even on days when things aren’t going the way we wish it would. Even in the tough places when it’s hard and tiring to be a loving mother to our children. May we choose to be thankful and content. May be glorify the Lord through our countenance, even on Mondays! πŸ˜‰

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Update: check out this link to Raising Homemakers. Very relevant to this subject!


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