Homeschool Sanity – My Mother’s Day Gift to You

Homeschool Sanity – My Mother’s Day Gift to You

You deserve a day to be honored, mom. You deserve a day of rest, too! But what I most want to give you is the gift of homeschool sanity. That’s what I’m all about. Scroll down to enter this amazing giveaway and to get access to the rest of the Mother’s Day giveaways from iHomeschool Network.

Homeschool Sanity Mother's Day Giveaway

The Organized Homeschool Life

I have created a collection of gift items for a Mother’s Day giveaway that I think will give you just that. First, I have a print copy of The Organized Homeschool Life. Working through these organizing challenges one week at a time, fifteen minutes a day will make life saner for more than just Mother’s Day. Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to spend hours and hours this summer “getting organized”? With this book in hand, you won’t have to. Purchase your copy today and if you win, I’ll refund your money!

Ahners Grove

Ahner’s Grove Natural Skin Care Products

With these gift items, you can light a candle, take a bath, moisturize, and soothe yourself into bed on Mother’s Day and for weeks afterward. I’m so thankful to my friend Sara Ahner for providing these items from her Etsy shop. You’ll receive:

An organic beeswax candle

Lemongrass & Calendula, Oats & Honey, and Lavender Peppermint soaps

Lemongrass Bath Melts

Whipped Shea & Cocoa Body Butter

Coconut & Honey Lip Scrub – this is edible! How cool is that?

Coconut & Honey and Cocoa Mint lip balms

Lavender essential oil roll-on

You can rest easy knowing that you are putting all-natural ingredients on your skin. I am literally enjoying the scent of these products as I write. I don’t want to send them off, but I will. I know where to get more! The Fresh Brewed Gift Basket pictured above would make a great gift for your mom or for a new bride.

Plunder Jewelry

I get compliments on the Plunder jewelery I buy from friend Brandy Alderman all. the. time. I’m so thankful to her for providing the gifts for this giveaway. They are my two favorite pieces.

Tabitha necklace photo

The Tabitha necklace in silver and black that can be worn long or short. It goes with almost everything and can be dressed up or down!

The Lilly earrings are also so flexible. They go perfectly with the Tabitha necklace. You’ll love them!

Enter until April 23rd 2017 at 11:55 p.m. to win below. 

When you finish entering, enter all the other giveaways from the iHomeschool Network bloggers.

Mother's Day Gift Basket Giveaways iHomeschool Network

Contest by Rewards Fuel.

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How to Have Your Sanest Homeschool Year

How to Have Your Sanest Homeschool Year

The end of the year always seems to get particularly busy for me. That makes it a perfect time to think about how I want my homeschooling life to be different in the new year. As a psychologist-turned-homeschooler who has been at this for 17 years, here are my recommendations.

Want to listen to this article on a podcast? LISTEN HERE or SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES or ON STITCHER

How to Make This Your Sanest Homeschool Year Podcast

#1 Get more sleep

The best way to ensure that we get more sleep is to go to bed earlier. Set an alarm on your phone. Use that alarm as a signal that you and/or your children need to go to your room for some quiet reading before bed. Make sure the room is cool and dark enough. Getting enough sleep will give you the energy that you need to accomplish all of your goals for the year. Going to bed earlier means you won’t sleep in. Waking up late is likely to make you feel behind. The one exception I have for going to bed early is teens. It just seems to be helpful for teens to sleep later. But that doesn’t mean that you as mom need to sleep in. I will allow myself to get as much sleep as I need at times when I need it. But I still feel much happier and more productive the earlier I get to sleep at night. If getting enough sleep at night just isn’t possible for you right now, plan regular naps. Sleep when your little ones do. Or nap while your children have a quiet time.

#2 Establish routines

I have mentioned the mistake of giving up on our routines this time of year. Establishing new routines or going back to the old routines that work is a great way of having an excellent homeschool year. The more chaos that reigns, the more likely people in your family are to be irritable and unproductive. If you’re someone who likes variety in their day like I do, you can still use routines. Just don’t make every single part of your day a routine.

Do begin with your morning routine. A book that may inspire you is The 5 Am Miracle by Jeff Sanders. Jeff and his wife don’t have children, but his experience with making the most of the morning hours is inspiring. If you don’t already do morning family time as part of your homeschool, I highly recommend it. You can learn more about it in Pam Barnhill’s Morning Basket Guide. Children are more likely to be cooperative when they know what to expect. Whatever it is that you hope to accomplish in the coming year that didn’t happen this year, a routine is likely to be part of your accomplishing it.

#3 Discipline children

One of the most common questions I get from homeschooling moms concerns their child’s unwillingness to participate in homeschooling. Because homeschooling can be so much more fun than public school, we can get the idea that our children always have to be having a good time. That just isn’t so. You and I learned something from classes we weren’t crazy about. I’m all about making learning fun, but if you have allowed your children to continually complain, ignore your requests, or refuse to participate in schooling, now is the time to correct that.

When I first began homeschooling, discipline was the number one subject I taught. We did a unit on obedience from Konos and I think it was more helpful for me as a mom than it was for my kids. I learned the importance of obedience and how much work was going to be required to teach it. I want to address child discipline in a future podcast episode, but for now recognize that you do have the right to expect your children to complete school work and participate in your homeschooling without excessive complaint. A complaining, obstinate child does not mean that you are a failure as a mother. Sending them to school will not relieve the problem. Even if they decide to cooperate at school, you still have to deal with them once they get home.

If you need help, I like the book How to Have a New Kid by Friday by Kevin Leman. Watch episodes of Supernanny and Nanny 911 on YouTube. And I recommend that you listen to an episode I did with Reb Bradley on the subject. Require your children to participate. Give them a consequence if they don’t that isn’t excessively harsh. With consistency, you’ll have a much saner homeschool year. If you still have a problem, seek professional help.

#4 Require your children to do chores

I did an episode of this podcast on teaching children to do chores well. But if you don’t have a chore system or one that you have use faithfully, I highly recommend that you begin that this year. Again, children don’t have to approve of your chore program. They only have to follow your instructions or suffer the consequences. There are so many chore programs that will work if you do. The main problem that destroys the effectiveness of a chore program is mom’s failure to require it and supervise it. After having tried numerous complicated chore systems, my favorite approach is to work together. We clean each floor of our home for 10 minutes. All the while I am able to see whether they are working or doing a good job or not. My children also have once-a-week chores that they complete. You are not being mean to require children to participate in the upkeep of your home. It’s up to you whether you give your children an allowance or payment for more complicated chores. But I have had great success in using both approaches.

#5 Meal plan

When I am tired at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is figure out what I should make for dinner. Discovering that I don’t have the ingredients for what I want to make just adds to the stress. Heading to the store at the busiest time of day is not a good idea. I plan my meals a week at a time using Plan to Eat. I can generate a shopping list quickly and easily that way. Currently I am using the 30 day meal plan from Tastefully Simple and my family has really enjoyed those meals. It saves me even more time because the planning is already done for me. Whatever you choose to do for your meal planning, a little bit of time spent planning and shopping in advance is certain to save your sanity. For more on meal planning, pick up your free copy of The Once and For All Meal Plan.

#6 Have an overall plan

Planning, even when we end up changing the plan, is a powerful way of making positive changes in any area of your homeschooling life. I will be planning my homeschool speech class for our co-op happening this semester. Having a plan laid out will keep me from wondering what we should be doing when all the students have already arrived in my home.

Our kids need a plan to follow too. Make sure they have their own list of work to accomplish. I have two free planners for kids. Or give Trello a try.


Homeschool moms tend to spend a lot of time shopping for the perfect planner and I understand that. Planners are awesome! But just as important is what you write in that planner. If you want to teach your kids a new subject this semester, you’ll want to plan for how to do that. We can save ourselves a lot of time by adopting someone else’s plan that we think would be workable. You can use an online unit study from Techie Homeschool Mom that’s already been put together. I’ve also talked about how we can get organized this year by using someone else’s plan, which in this case happens to be mine. The Organized Homeschool Life gives you a plan for organizing a different aspect of your life every week of the year. There may be particular challenges that don’t apply to you. So you can simply choose to work on an area of your homeschool life that does apply to you. But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Search for plans for gaining control and meeting the goals that you have for the various aspects of your homeschooling life besides organizing. If you want to get in shape, you don’t have to cobble a workout together on your own. There are numerous workouts that have already been developed to help you. You can find someone else’s plan for growing spiritually, too. There are prayer and Bible reading calendars ready for you to Google them.

Which of these sanity steps will you take first? Let’s talk about it at Homeschool Sanity on Facebook.

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The Best Pinterest Boards for Homeschool Sanity

The Best Pinterest Boards for Homeschool Sanity

The best Pinterest boards for Homeschool Sanity. Get the curriculum, organizing, and parenting tips you need!

I’ve been homeschooling for 14 years, but I still need sanity savers. I usually turn to Pinterest to find them. When I need ideas for a unit study, motivation to get organized, or clever parenting tips, that’s where I go.

When I find something that I think will make homeschooling simpler, I pin it for me and for the homeschoolers who follow me. If you’d like a little more homeschool sanity, I recommend you follow these five boards and share them, too. When you click on a board link below, you’ll see the option to follow it and to send it to a friend (with an airplane icon).

organized homeschool, challenge, daily, calendar

#1 Organized Homeschool

The Organized Homeschool board is where I put the Organized Homeschool Challenge posts and related pins. Unlike other organizing challenges, this one is tailor-made for homeschoolers and isn’t just about decluttering. It’s about building relationships, planning for special events, and streamlining school. Organized Homeschool is a contributor board* which means other pinners are busy adding content they think will help you simplify your homeschooling, too.

homeschool printables, back to school

#2 What’s Hot in Homeschooling

The What’s Hot in Homeschooling board took over the weekly roundup series I was doing on Psychowith6. It’s where I pin the best homeschooling ideas I come across with a seasonal emphasis. What’s wonderful is I have a number of contributors* who add tips, reviews, and printables for your attention, too.

#3 The Homeschool Sanity Show

I’ll be honest and say I didn’t know if The Homeschool Sanity Show would fly when I started it. I didn’t often listen to podcasts before I started one myself! But now I’m so excited when I finish an interview with an expert in homeschooling that I can’t wait to share it with people. That says a lot because I’ve attended homeschool conferences for many years and I’m still learning! I pin new podcasts to The Homeschool Sanity Show board and pins on related topics. If you subscribe to the podcast (or even if you don’t), you’ll appreciate having links to related sanity-saving resources.

Keeping family strong, homeschooling Bible, baking with toddlers, have a family game night

#4 Christian Inspiration

It may seem strange that I’m including the Christian Inspiration board for homeschool sanity, but I find that if faith isn’t first in my life, my homeschooling can go downhill in a hurry. I love this board with many contributors because I always find something to read that encourages me to draw nearer to the Lord, give Him my burdens, and carry on with my homeschooling.

#5 Christian Parenting

If you’ve homeschooled a while like I have, you’ve probably been asked how you separate your roles as teacher and parent. The answer, of course, is you don’t. You’re both! I have found that when the parent part of me is sane, the teacher is, too. I use this Christian Parenting board to share inspirational posts as well as ideas for dealing with behavior problems. I’m a psychologist with six kids and I really benefit from the great ideas other parents share on Pinterest. I think you will, too.

Of course, I’d love for you to follow all of my boards. I have boards for the major subject areas, recipe categories, productivity, and more.  The best way to make sure you get all the posts and freebies, too, is to subscribe to Psychowith6.

*Are you a blogger who would like to contribute to What’s Hot in Homeschooling, Organized Homeschool, or Christian Inspiration? Be sure to follow the boards and email me your Pinterest link at psychowith6 {at} gmail [dot] com.

To see even more of the best boards for Homeschool Sanity, see Our Pintastic Pinboards.

ihomeschool network best Pinterest boards

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Review of Hoffman Academy’s Piano Lessons for Kids

Review of Hoffman Academy’s Piano Lessons for Kids

Review of Hoffman Academy piano lessons for kids
I had the pleasure of interviewing Joseph Hoffman of Hoffman Academy for the podcast today. I hope you’ll listen to this excellent interview. I called him the Mister Rogers of piano lessons.

First, let me say that I am not an affiliate for Hoffman Academy. I sought Joseph out for an interview because I am so thrilled to have found something that works for my children.

Why I Needed Hoffman Academy’s Free Video Piano Lessons

I am not a trained piano teacher. I can play, but I know very little music theory. I would have had to spend a lot more time, that I didn’t have, learning how to teach.

Lessons are expensive. I have three children ages 8, 10, and 11 whom I want to learn the piano (my oldest three took lessons from a teacher in our home several years ago). The price tag for in-home teaching would be $75 a week. Ouch.

The other curriculum we’ve tried hasn’t worked. Either the video lessons were too hard for the kids or the book lessons were too hard for me to teach. More often than not, I put piano off in lieu of other subjects.

Why I’m Crazy About Hoffman Academy’s Free Video Piano Lessons

I am learning piano. I can read music and play, but watching these lessons with my kids and playing the music provided in the supplemental materials is helping me see how everything fits together. I’m so excited about the next lesson that I no longer put it off.

The format. I had purchased a DVD curriculum in the past that required buying a cheap portable DVD player to use at the piano. It soon broke. I love that these lessons are accessible online via our large TV (we like to watch the lesson together) and also via our iPad at the piano, so we can practice individually. The downloadable material (an optional purchase) was easy for me to copy and put in binders for the kids.

The pace. These lessons are perfect for my busy homeschooling family. Sometimes we just can’t do lessons. I don’t have to call the teacher to cancel. We just pick up where we left off when things calm down. I also love the gentle, Charlotte-Mason-style teaching of Joseph Hoffman. He is so positive and teaches very complex concepts in such a clear and simple way, kids feel confident they can play. That has been very important for my eight-year-old. Here is a video of my daughter playing Lesson 41 (we’ve been using the lessons for a little more than a semester).

The price. I recently purchased the family option for Unit III for $29. For a little more than the price of one traditional lesson, I received the following supplements for 20 free video lessons:

  • Music Theory Worksheets & Activity Pages (21 PDF pages)
  • Song Sheets with Practice Instructions (7 PDF pages)
  • Piano Listening CD MP3s
  • Practice CD MP3s
  • Parent’s Guide

I am so pleased with the lessons (that my children actually practice), that I plan to continue as long as Joseph Hoffman continues to produce them! He is offering a copy of the supplementary materials for Unit 1 (the first 20 lessons) to one fortunate reader. I hope you’ll enter the giveaway below,  will purchase directly,  or will listen to the podcast which should answer many of your questions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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