Competition – Healthy or Harmful?

runMost of us are probably wondering the same thing… where does the idea of competition come from? and is it healthy for our children?

Competition is definitely not a contemporary idea. In fact, the downplay of competition in schools across America is rising. Many educators believe that competition is harmful and damaging to the young psyche. Let’s take a look at history…

As long as can be remembered competition has been a part of our society and our world. True competition in the historical sense is partnering with our competitors and pursuing excellence all while realizing that the experience gained in the pursuit is worth more than the outcome. This is where things get derailed. The importance of the “pursuit of excellence” is the key to competition. Not the base desire to just win. Take for example the Olympic Creed, “The most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.”

Taking it back even further into history, the Word of God instructs us to “run the race”, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” II Tim. 4:7, and Heb. 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” The idea here is not to win, but to run with patience… to acquire the lessons and experience and goals that the race brings with it.

Even the Latin roots of the word competition show us this – petere means to strive and the prefix com  means with. Thus denoting the idea that competition is to strive along side WITH not against! This is the pure form of competition, and thus one that is healthy and contributes to growth in our children. However, after the fall of man sin corrupted everything and thus competition became corrupted and degraded to the singular goal of winning joined by arrogance and disrespect.

The corrupted version of competition is the reason why so many people have shied away from incorporating competition at all. However, the pure form of striving together with someone toward a goal – all while pursuing excellence is meaningful and definitely motivating. Remove competition completely and students stagnate… everyone wins a blue ribbon for art – why try harder? Everyone gets a reward for the foot race – why give my best?

Keeping competition pure – is key to using it as a healthy motivator. Philippians 1:27, “that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel.”  This verse in Philippians is talking about staying true to the Lord, however the idea of striving together for a common goal is fundamental. Notice that the verse talks of one spirit and one mind – again this idea of healthy competition doesn’t accept degrading one another – nor being lifted up in pride but having the same mindset – and the same GOAL. True competition will enable us grow and learn from the journey!

I Cor. 14:12 “seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church”

Great List of Amazing Homeschool Organization Resources

plannerYes, one of my big hangups is definitely organization. I LOVE.LOVE to be organized and to have a clean house. Do I always get what I love? No. Way.

With six kiddos I’m happy if I get clean and organized on occasion – or at least one or the other… some is better than nothing!

So, with our large homeschooling load I love looking for online freebies that can help me get myself and my students organized. It’s even a better if the organizational tool is amazingly cute!! So, below you will find my list of some of my all time favorites that have been a huge help to my homeschool organization.

1) Planners are amazing – I know everyone is always talking about planners. I’ve even recently seen an online site charging $15 just for a personalized binder. Wow! I like to use the app “Stencil” to create some pretty amazing personalized graphics. I can send these to my computer and then enlarge and print – binder size. AND the cute factor is through the roof.  A graphic design program like “Canva” would also work well for that.

For those of you who work daily with your computer – you need to check out the online DAYVIEWER at

For those of you that prefer the written word – here are several really CUTE printable planners for you.

Printable Planner from Peaceful Mom

A Homeschool Organizational Link Up Party – woohoo!

One of my favorite – Tina’s 7 step Planner  CUTE!!

2) General homeschool planning

Great ideas and printables to organize your homeschool Using Evernote

Organizing the Unorganized Learner

Homeschool Scheduling can help organize your homeschool and give you sanity!

High School Transcript template

Other downloadable templates to help you ROLL!

desk3) Homeschool Room Organization

Using the drawer system changed our day! – I have a craft drawer caddy for each child and each of their course along with requirements are in each drawer. They simply move through the drawers in the course of the day. No more asking mom – “What’s next?”

My post on the “homeschool makeover”

Using Pinterest to Homeschool

Houzz homeschool rooms – have you ever visited there? Oh. my. word. Some of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever seen…

This list is by far not exhaustive, but it’s some of my go to resources to get my homeschool in shape.


Tip of the Week: Writing Homeschool Lesson Plans

homeschool resource

Don’t you just love freebies? I sure do – that’s why I’m offering a freebie for each of you this week. In addition to an article about writing lesson plans, I thought I’d throw in a lesson plan template. There’s nothing more fun than being able to do a somewhat tedious task on a beautiful piece of paper. But first, let’s talk lesson plans.

I’m sure that most of you veteran homeschoolers have a tried and true method of creating your lesson plans for the various studies that you do. I have to admit that I do as well. If we are going to go rogue and create our own unit study, I need to create a lesson plan that allows me to incorporate goals and objectives and enable our learning to be right on target. There’s no better way to do that than by using a basic lesson plan. Here’s my take on this (just fyi… I learned this method from my Graduate School professor!)

1) Think about the overall goal that you would like to accomplish with your unit study. Write this out in sentence format. This will be rather broad!

2) Decide how long this study will be. Once you determine the length – write a more precise goal for what you wish to learn each week.

3) Take each weekly goal and make a daily objective that supports that goal.

4) Now is where the lesson plan comes in. You see you really can’t plan a lesson until you clearly know what your goals are. I like to follow what I call the GOMMA method. I use this acrostic to help me focus on the big goal, the daily goal, the method of teaching this lesson, the materials that I will need to gather in order to teach the lesson, and the assessment that I will use to determine if the students understood the lesson.

Lesson plan


5) Keep in mind that the assessment does not need to be a test. This can be an informal or formal assessment and can consist of a project, a worksheet, a discussion time, or even a test or quiz. Whatever you believe is appropriate on a daily basis to determine that student learning took place.

So, without further adieu – here is your FREE downloadable and printable lesson plan template.

GOMMA graphic lesson plan


Back to School – Five Tips for Making it Real!


Yep, so here we go… back to school… In some ways, it is thoroughly refreshing, yet in others it’s like a huge heavy wave washing over me! (Ugh, washing – reminds me I have about 4 loads backed up as I write…) So, in reality that wave might be the huge landfill of clothing that needs washed due to my ever vigilant presence in our homeschooling room. Anyone else out there feeling the laundry pain? Ok… enough commiserating… on to the good stuff…

This year has really been great so far. Though at times I do feel more like a referee than a mother… I think that the few improvements that we made to our schedule and curriculum are really paying of. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Improving every year? Making it better and better? Sure – so that by the time your last one graduates… you are THE MASTER!!!! Then what? I guess we could homeschool our grandchildren? (I am definitely in a mood today…)

Ok…so my five tips for making it real… drum roll please?

1) Keep changing, working, reworking, organizing and reorganizing to find the right mix for your family. When you do, it will flow and you will know that you have “nailed it!” (I’m feeling a good bit of flow this year, almost ready claim that… )

2) Keep exploring new curriculum. There is ALWAYS new homeschool curriculum each year, and what is so amazing is that it actually seems to be getting better. I never would have thought that some of the curriculum we love would have been so awesome, unless I TRIED it! :)

3) Mix it up – sure… giving kids a variety of things to do each day really makes for happy kids! When I make my kids sit at their desks for long stretches of time… well let’s just say it isn’t pretty. Give them workbooks, videos, literature books, and online curriculum for a wide variety of experience throughout the day!

4) Get your own habits established. I know, some people balk at this one… but I have found that if I can get a good habit established of studying and learning each day during specific times… it is so much easier to keep that going! Less whining, less ugly… you name it!

5) Give the natives a snack! Ok… that sounds really trivial… but seriously this year we went to a new organizational method and are using the 10 drawer caddies… one drawer for each subject and they proceed in a linear fashion each day… completing their tasks without my reminding them (amazing by the way!) and one drawer – right in the middle is left for a snack… oh my word! You would think that world had turned upside down and somehow my children switched from grumpy trolls to sweet little fairies…. amazing what a snack can do!

So, keep it real… and don’t forget that life changing snack. :)

What are your kids missing?

Peer pressure…Stress…Bullying…Potty mouths…Hourly schedule…Drugs…

Homeschoolers are missing a few things… but they are things that we certainly are broken hearted over! In fact, homeschool children have the opportunity to take their time during the day. Instead of being rushed from one class to the next, the homeschooler has the opportunity to study, and even day dream. Yes, I said it… day dream!

In fact, children are really missing out when they aren’t given time to  play and dream. Does your child have the opportunity to dream about what they want to be when they grow up? Every child should. It’s part of what makes us who we are… give them time to dream… and then allow them room to make that dream possible.

Appreciate your children. When a child feels appreciated they feel free to become their best.

Our children are missing one of the most detrimental of childhood experiences… peer pressure. By homeschooling our children we are allowing them to be who they want to be without fear of whether the majority will accept or reject them. Most homeschoolers miss that junior high/high school level of needing their peers to validate who they are. They simply go from their day dreaming to having a purpose to accomplish that dream. They don’t need their peers to acknowledge or approve it.

To be honest, I am very glad that my homeschooled children are missing some things. I am especially glad that they have the time and opportunity to dream… and hopefully I can have a part in helping them fulfill their dream. I am always telling them that they can be whatever God leads them to be, whatever they believe He has created them to do… they can do!

4 Reading Rules to Boost Literacy

#1 Consistency

There are several different approaches to reading instruction. Yet, the most widely accepted and proven method to teach reading is through phonetic instruction. Even within phonics instruction some teachers begin with letter sounds, and add vowel blends moving to the right… others learn by word families such as “hit”, “bit”, “sit”, “wit”, and “kit.” The connection between these words are based on rhyming. Most new words we learn are decoded from words we know already and that rhyme. Once you’ve begun phonics instruction, it needs to be practiced daily. After they’ve gained a foundation, then introduce early readers to your children. Daily work with consistent rigor will yield success!

(If you are worried about just how to introduce phonics check out “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”, or “You can Teach Someone to Read” or use the website “Explode the Code.” My favorite early reader books are the Bob books, inexpensive, simple and easy to read. Don’t go for the expensive reading programs, you have everything you need in your local library and your computer.)

#2 SSR – Sustained silent reading

This is a well-known teacher strategy. The more a child reads silently and on their own the better they can read. Setting aside a specific amount of time each day for reading will grow a successful reader. You just might find that after you begin this, it will become a habit that your child will keep for life.

#3 Read for Understanding

Teaching you children to read for a purpose should be a primary objective. This should begin as early reading skills emerge. When a child reads his first sentence, understanding should occur. This should grow in to a process of analyzing and critical reading. There are several great books to help parents direct their children. “Critical conditioning” by K. Stout is great for exercises reinforcing these skills.

#4 Develop Expression and Love for Literature by Reading Aloud

A great way to hook you children on classic literature is to read aloud to them. Find a great story that they otherwise would not choose to read, and read it aloud to them. Another read aloud benefit is to have them read aloud to you. This develops expression and opens them up to dramatic reading opportunities.

Don’t let your children settle for poorly written literary works. Always encourage them to vary the genres that they enjoy, and challenge them to explore the classics.

A good reader is a good learner!

Homeschool Peer Tutoring

I know some of you are probably wondering what I mean. Peer tutoring can be a very beneficial way of keeping your children on task or even getting them caught up. Most of the time, homeschool peer tutoring is free. You know… older siblings helping the younger ones.

Using peer tutoring is a great way to keep things flowing and children on task when their are several young students homeschooling at once.

A great way to integrate this into your homeschool is to establish a contract of sorts with the older child that you want to be the tutor. Arrange some form of compensation for them. Whether it’s a credit for a certain chore around the house, or a free day every now and then,it will make a big difference for the older student to feel as if they are benefitting in some way. Then discuss it with the younger child as well, and lay down the ground rules. Then finally, schedule it into your weekly/daily plan.

Teaching Elementary Science part 1

Sure, there are lots of great ready made science curriculums that you can purchase. They make homeschooling easier, and they provide a knowledge base for parents who aren’t skilled in science. Yet, is that really a good thorough study of science? B.K. Hixson syas, “Good science education is always discovered and never force fed.” Learning science can either be a fact driven dry as dust (remember little) experience, or an experience that you did and remembered alot of. Mr. Hixson tells us there are several things children need to learn in a science study:

  • creating
  • classifying
  • experimenting
  • follow directions
  • graphing
  • hypothesizing
  • inferring
  • measuring
  • observing
  • sequencing

Yet, what is the point of a science study anyway? The world is a fascinating place, and with each exploration of it we are learning and studying the ONE who created it. The true point of science gives glory to God.

The study of science should be one of exploration and discovery not of memorization and rehearsing dry facts. Exploring the science around us will undoubtedly leave a greater impression.


Carnival of Homeschooling

Have you ever noticed how thankfulness is waning in our culture? From t-shirts to sit-coms the prevailing attitude is “me first.”  I hope during this Giving Thanks holiday… that we can each find gratefulness and thanksgiving in our hearts. I for one am very thankful for all the great submissions I received this week. Take time to read through them, there is a lot of great stuff here… and it might even inspire a bit of thankfulness for that great endeavor we each have in common… homeschooling!

Let’s start off this carnival with a bang while Read Aloud Dad shares with us The Explosive Power of Reading Aloud.

Are you thankful for your family? I am so thankful for mine… with six children of my own, I appreciated this next submission.

Barb @ barbarafrankonline asks why people have such issues with large families in Fertility: The Greatest Crime?

A great way to really get your children to see others and other people’s needs is to get them involved in their community; here is a great submission along those lines.

Laura @ Lauragraceweldon encourages us to involve our children in the community with Bringing Kids Back to the Commons.

Be thankful for every minute… of every day…

Time Value is presented by Sage Parnassus… something we should be thankful for and cherish more dearly than we do.

Pamela helps us be thankful that there is More Than One Way to go through life at Blah, Blah, Blog.

Dave @ Home School Dad reminds us to listen to encouraging words in Puppy Uppers.

Great education starts with great ideas… here are a few to help put some oomph in your homeschooling.

Learn how to use The Illuminated Manuscript to teach children cursive writing with help from Allia at Homeschool HappyMess.

Home Spun Juggling points out in Spelling is Correct that only homeschoolers spell it “homeschooling.”

How about a “twist” on an oldie but goodie science experiment… Mary tells us about it in Science Fair – Tornado alley at Winecup Christian Academy.

Here’s something to be thankful for… What to do with a kid who loves math? This is posted by Alicia at Daily Creativity.

Carol lets us have a peek at how to Study Physics with Skyrail from Everything Home with Carol.

Kathi shares her story about how learning can take place in very “out of the box” ways. Check out Food Allergies, Robots, and Sick Kids over at Homeschool Online.

In Tangents and more Annette tells us how thankful she is for the freedom to “go on a tangent” while homeschooling at A Net in Time.

Margot reminds us that we can learn all the time in DOCTOR KABOOM from Learning beyond the Book.

Ann gives us a peek at the Black Capped Chickadee over at Harvest Moon by Hand.

You can get a glimpse of how to implement the Charlotte Mason method in How We Implemented the Charlotte Mason Method over at Olive Plants around My Table.

Annie Kate shares her story of “early to bed early to rise” effectiveness with Get Going Early in the Morning at Tea Time with Annie Kate.

Amy @ Our Homeschooling Resources Introduces the Concept of Rhyme in homeschooling.

Mama Squirrel presents a cool math hands on experiment In which the chambered nautilus flunks the test (a math lesson for Crayons) posted at Dewey’s Tree house.

Chris helps us see that we are educating our children from the day they are born in When to Start Homeschooling over at Home school vs. Public School.

Leah helps us see another great way to have Bible Review Time at The Faugh Family of Four.

Ever wonder what it’s like to feed bovines? Check out Lisa’s post Work LOVE over at Golden Grasses.

Kelly tells us about her Box of Goodies:Loving and Learning from Our Nature Exchange over at The Homeschool Co-op.

Have you noticed Our Kids Are Using More Digital Devices for Longer than Ever? Check out this informational post from K5 Learning.

Angela shows us how thankful we can be for kids learning through experience in Play Dough- Team Gray at her blog Team Gray.

Want a glimpse into a homeschooling family’s daily life? Check out North Laurel Home and School in their post Week Before Thanksgiving -Week #16.

Linda gives us an incredible story that will definitely cause us to be thankful that we homeschool on why You Should say Yes if Your Child Asks to be Homeschooled on her blog Parent at the Helm.

I just want to say, I am so thankful for all of the great articles that came in. I enjoyed reading through each one, and I hope that you did too!

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!