If Heavenly Father Brings You To It, He Will Help You Through It!

by Tiffany Salter, LDSHE Volunteer, Texas

Life throws you curve-balls and sometimes you find yourself in a place you never expected to be! The chaos of the past few weeks have forced many of us into having to be responsible for our child(ren)’s education in a way that we have never had to be before.  We are stepping off into the unknown, and that can be terrifying. The good news is that we can take comfort in the knowledge that this is absolutely a part of Heavenly Father’s plan and that he will guide each of us on this unexpected journey!  He will help each of us find the resources we need to be successful, and to not only survive, but to thrive in this tumultuous time.

Another volley of good news comes in that there are a significant number of other LDS families who have successfully homeschooled their children for years who are ready, willing and able to share their collective wisdom with you.  Relax, take a deep breath, and know that YOU CAN DO THIS!

The first thing you need to realize is that your learning day does not, and probably should not, consist of replicating public or even private school at home! There is no reason your kid(s) have to sit at a desk or table and complete worksheet after worksheet all day long. Most educational research tells you that this is not the best way for anyone to learn anyway. 

You can also relax and know that it is very likely that your “school day” won’t take as long as a typical school day.  When you factor in the time it takes to manage a large group of children, get them to and from the cafeteria or recess for example, you may be surprised at how much more efficient you can be and the bonus is your children can learn at their own pace. 

Your schools might be sending homework that has to be completed, but there are lots of ways to break things up and tons of ways to teach things in more interesting ways! I have compiled a list of resources that you can use to liven things up!

Hands-on projects – It is always more interesting to be able to do projects than worksheets.  Studying ancient history? How about building a pyramid out of sugar cubes or mummifying an apple? Studying fractions? How about making a pizza or baking cookies and figuring out how to halve or double the recipe?  Molecules? Build a model out of playdough or clay and toothpicks. Physics? Race cars, changing mass and weight. Animals? Build a bird feeder .  Writing? Start a blog.   Anything becomes more interesting if you let your kids make their own “how-to” videos.  The internet provides a veritable treasure trove of suggestions for hands-on projects.  

Games –  If you can make a game out of it, you will make life so much easier for yourself and will make the activity way more interesting for your kids.  Learning multiplication? Turn your flashcards into a game of war. The one playing the card with the highest number wins the hand. (i.e. if I have 4×5 and my kid has 9×7, my kid wins). The same works for division. You can play a matching game with sight words or vocabulary cards. Turn spelling words into crossword puzzles or word searches. Write spelling words with plastic letters or cover a sheet pan with shaving cream and let your kids “write” their words with their fingers in the shaving cream.  Writing assignments? Have your kids make up their own games and write the instructions for the family to follow as you actually play their game. History? Have your kids create their own version of “Two Truths and a Lie” for your family to play. Addition? Subtraction? Factor Families? Turn practice into a game of hopscotch where they have to jump to the number of the answer to a problem. 

Living Books – There are excellent books that can tie in with almost any subject your children are studying.  It might be more interesting to learn about the Civil War through books that share relatable stories such as Across Five Aprils for younger kids or Gone With the Wind for older kids for example. (Bonus, read the book and then watch the movie!) On a side note, it might be fun for older kids to sleuth for historical inaccuracies in books and movies.  Many classic books are available as e-books on Overdrive through your public library.  LibriVox (librivox.org) is a great source for free classic audio books. The Project Gutenberg (Gutenberg.org) contains over 60,000 free online books, and even Kindle offers many good books for low or no cost.   Some public libraries are also offering a service where you can order the books online and they will bring them out to your car, so check the website of your local libraries.

Videos – There are a number of excellent services like Discovery Education and BrainPop that collect video content, test questions and activities for all kinds of topics that you can purchase access to, but there is also a wealth of free content on YouTube. Just be sure you screen the video first, you never quite know what will show up on YouTube! Brainpop.com is offering free access for a limited time as is ABCMouse.com and The Great Courses. A quick Google search will likely turn up a lot of additional resources that are free for a limited time. 


Field Trips – As a full-time homeschooler, I can tell you that field trips are one of the best parts of homeschooling!  These days, a virtual field trip might be a better option for you and your family (cheaper too). Here are a few of the many available:

San Diego Zoo- kids.sandiegozoo.org
Yellowstone National Park- nps.gov
Mars- accessmars.com
Farm Tours- farmfood360.ca
U.S. Space and Rocket Center-  Search Saturn 5 Rocket on YouTube
Polar Bears and the Tundra- Discovery Education (note this is free for a limited time) soarwithwings.com
Boeing- Discovery Education (again, free for now) boeingfutureu.com
Louvre- louvre.fr
Great Wall of China- thechinaguide.com
Monteray Bay Aquarium- live cams- monereybayaquarium.org
Houston Zoo- live animal cams- houstonzoo.org
Panda Cam- live animal cams- zooatlanta.org
British Museum (London)- britishmuseum.withgoogle.com 

Guggenheim Museum (New York), National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.), Musee d’Orsay (Paris), National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (Gwacheon-si South Korea), Pergamon (Bergama Turkey), Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam Netherlands), Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam), J Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles),  Uffizi Gallery (Firenze Italy), Museu de Arte de Sau Paulo Assis Chateaubriand (Sau Paulo Brazil), National Museum of Anthropology (Mexico City, Mexico)- all through artsandculture.google.com 

Get out in nature!  Outside is not cancelled. Spend time every day being curious about the new things popping up as the spring weather warms the world. Could you make a time-lapse video of tree buds opening or crocuses blooming over the course of several days? Could you make drawings of their progress? Get your bodies moving outdoors with trampoline games, bike rides, and walks. Teach your kids the games you played at recess when you were little and get a big four-square tournament or game of freeze tag happening. The luxury of having a lot of free time at home is that we can all spend time outside in the world Heavenly Father has created. We’ll see that even after growth was on hold for winter, life goes on and comes back anew–a parable for our times.

Finally, seize this time to either introduce your kids to family history and indexing or ramp up the time you spend on it! We have been made promises that if our children will join Zion’s Battalion and work to gather Israel on both sides of the veil, that they will receive incredible blessings.  I know when I take time to focus on spiritual things, everything else seems to be a bit easier to do afterwards.

Finding Your Tribe

It seems strange to be talking about loneliness during the month of love (aka Valentine’s Day), but let’s face it, homeschooling is often a lonely road.  It is hard to “buck the system” and not just float along with the crowd, and it is really important to find your tribe. This is especially true if … Read more

New Year’s Resolutions by Tiffany Salter

The new year is like a blank piece of paper, rife with possibilities but overwhelming in its blankness.  If you are like the majority of us, you happily set resolutions only to find mere weeks later that your enthusiasm has waned, and you have fallen back into your old habits. For good or bad, habits … Read more

Getting a Handle on Time

by : Dana Wood

Mindy looks at the clock and realizes she has just enough time to clean up the kitchen before she needs to run out the door. She walks into the kitchen and starts to run the water in the sink. As the sink is filling she notices that the counters have school books on them. She gathers them up and heads to the dining room bookshelf to put them away. While she is in the dining room she sees that her youngest has dropped his shoes and coat on the floor. She knows if they stay there she will never find them again, so she puts the books on the table to put away in a minute and picks up the coat and shoes and heads for the closet. 
Then she remembers she left the water running in the sink, so she drops the coat and shoes and heads for the kitchen, catching the water just as it starts to run over the counter. She bails out the sink and puts the dishes in to soak. She turns to start to clear the counters again and finds more things that need to go in other rooms. She grabs them and heads back out of the kitchen.
On her way she gets interrupted again by one of her children and she follows them upstairs to help them with something, totally forgetting about the dishes in the sink. She then realizes she needs to leave and heads out the door only five minutes late. When she arrives back home, the dishes are still in the sink. I thought I washed the dishes, she says to herself.
Has this ever happened to you? It has to me! It can be very frustrating to run all day doing and cleaning and have nothing to show for it at bedtime. I tried all kinds of time management books and programs but nothing worked for me. Then I discovered that Visual/Spatial, or right brain people can really struggle with time management. Once I understood the reasons I had problems I was able to find solutions. I discovered that V/S people think differently about time and space and their minds function differently than typical left brain or A/S (Auditory/Sequential Learners) people do and that is why most time management systems don’t work. Today I want to focus on time and V/S time management.
V/S’s need two different modes of time for different situations. They need chunks of time and small pieces of time. The chunks of time allows them to really focus on big tasks and have the time to think it through and put their whole energy into it. Most time management systems recommend taking small blocks of time and working over a long period of time to complete the task. This doesn’t work for most V/S’s for several reasons, but the main reason is using small blocks of time doesn’t allow for deep thinking or allowing creativity to flow. V/S’s are very creative and to be creative means they spend time thinking through a project from start to finish. V/S’s see things in pictures, not words. That means a project has to be thought about enough to see the end from the beginning. Then they can start on the project. Also, they need to totally focus, without distractions. When a project is worked in small chunks, they no sooner start then it’s time to finish. This makes it difficult to create!
The second mode is the small piece of time. This small amount of time allows them to accomplish repetitive tasks without losing focus. V/S’s tend to be perfectionists. Usually frustrated perfectionists. They don’t want to do something unless they can do it perfectly. In other words, they clean the living room, but rather than just cleaning, they notice that the dvds are unorganized, so they stop half way through cleaning to organize all the dvds alphabetically. Nice to do, but only after the living room is clean!
Thus, to a V/S, doing it perfectly requires three times the amount of time they have so they get half way through a project and then run out of time and never finish. This is how their closets fill with unfinished projects and their entire house is never clean at the same time.
The solution? Breaking jobs down into doable pieces in small blocks of time. Doing something that only takes 15 minutes or so helps keep V/S’s focused enough to finish a project, especially if it is one they would rather not do. We can do anything for 15 minutes, right?
This is why Flylady.net is so successful. She has broken down the chores of keeping a house into small pieces that can be done in small blocks of time. And she advocates for the use of timers! Perfect of V/S’s!
Since V/S’s have a tough time telling the passage of time, they don’t notice that it is time to leave in order to be on time for the doctor’s appointment, or piano lessons, or that it is time to start dinner. Timers and clocks really help. I love timers. I have timers on my phone, on my watch, and small little timers and I use all of them! I also have clocks in just about every room in my house.
I have timers on my phone that are set for piano lessons, doctor’s appointments, meetings, etc. I use the timers on my watch to help me divide my day into parts and we do specific things in each part. So my watch goes off to tell me it’s time for devotional (or my kids would never start school!), time for the youngest ones nap, (or he would never get one), and it goes off to tell me it’s time to start dinner (or we would never eat before 9pm!).
I use my little timers to help me use small amounts of time either for chores that I would spend hours on that don’t need hours or those small amounts of time before I need to leave the house or have some other commitment I need to do. It helps me to keep focused because I know when it goes off I can move on to something else! Timers are great tools!
I hope this has helped you to see how time management can work for you. It has been a life saver for me. Next time we will talk about to do lists, planners and calendars, and time maps. Aren’t you excited?