Woo-hoo! A Simple Weekly Planner!

I have posted before about the planners that we have made, used, and tweaked (see here and here).  I still felt that they weren’t exactly what I needed since I still had to figure out how much time each person spent on their core subject hours (required by the Missouri Home School Laws) each day, and I was still responsible to make sure that each week’s schedule was written in.  After pondering a few weeks last summer, I decided to keep the elements that had worked for us from the other two and just see if I could get it down to one page per week.

I always sit down each planning period and make a list of the books each child will be using for her school year. I print that out for the portfolios and for my personal use through out the year. I also sit down and plan the amount of time needed in each subject and We tend to be start-at-the-front-of-the-book-and-work-our-way through-the-book people as it is easier for me to know where we are at any given time. Once I recognized that, my planner issue was mostly resolved.

The lists are as comprehensive as I could make them, listing all school subjects and includes such things as Life Skills (aka Chores), a place to record the amount of time spent doing their Personal Progress (a program teenage girls do at Church to help them develop spiritually) as well as including the time spent learning new skills and having social time at church on Wednesday evenings. This eliminated the need for more than one schedule a week per person.

So my last years page ended up like this:

Improved Weekly Schedule 1

  1. I made my header with our school name on the top line, so it says “Heritage Haven Academy’. 
  2. In the second line, I personalized each one with the student’s name (“JitterBug’s Assignment List”), tabbed over a space and put in “Term # ______” and “Week # ______ so I can use it for all three 12 week terms.
  3. Then I made a table with 5 columns in Microsoft Word.
  4. Each column is labeled Day 1, Day 2, etc.
  5. I color-coded for ease of finding the daily list, using light colors. This made it much easier for my APD children to find daily lists, but it is SO much easier for me too!
  6. Family subjects (aka Morning Basket or Morning Time) are listed first, divided among the 5 days for the spreading of the feast. This usually takes 1 1/2 hours a day.
  7. Individual subjects are listed next. I tried to list them in the order that I wanted/needed in order to switch subjects up as well as give me time to work individually with someone.  
  8. Language Arts has at least five components to it that I need to track for our Core Hours, so I marked them with an asterisk. History and science can also have different components, so for ease of computing my hours, I marked those with a different sign. 
  9. I put a number at the end of every single subject every single day. That is the actual number of minutes I expect to spend per subject – and we use a timer to keep us moving along. Occasionally I have to change the time for something and it is simple to pencil in the change.
  10. As we finish each subject, a single line is drawn diagonally through that subject. Doing that shows that it is completed, while allowing me to still read what they were assigned. 
  11. At the bottom I put in a line for the dates of that week. “Dates _________________”
  12. I made a space for notes with 6 lines to record things like illnesses, field trips, etc.
  13. I also made a space titled “Core Time Totals” and created lines that allowed me to total up the minutes spent each week in Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Reading, and Electives.”
  14. I can change these as needed during the year and update and switch around each year without having to create a whole new system. We are starting our second year with them and I am still pleased with them!

JuneBug and BittyBug are not as old as JitterBug and HorseyBug, so their schedules look a bit different. Their lessons are not as long, but the law requires that they spend as much time as the older kids in learning. To that I end, I have scheduled them learning activity blocks of time. That is when they are allowed to choose educational activities to do at the table or in the school room with me present while I am spending one-on-one time with the older girls. This has worked very well since I have tried to include learning activities that they can do together or separately. At the bottom of their page, I listed a large variety of things that they can choose from and track that on my sheet as much as possible.

Here is a sample of last years form:

Weekly Schedule 2

The Comforter

President Henry B. Eyring recently spoke on The Comforter (another name for the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit) and he said some really profound things that I am still thinking on, so I thought I would share them with you!

“…you have felt He knows you and loves you. You have felt His love for those seated around you. They are your sisters, spirit daughters of our Heavenly Father. He cares for them as He cares for you. He understands all their sorrows. He wants to succor them.

My message to you tonight is that you can and must be an important part of His giving comfort to those who need comfort. You can play your part best if you know more of how He answers those prayers for help.

Many are praying to Heavenly Father for relief, for help in carrying their burdens of grief, loneliness, and fear. Heavenly Father hears those prayers and understands their needs. He and His Beloved Son, the resurrected Jesus Christ, have promised help. …

The burdens His faithful servants must carry in life are made lighter by His Atonement. The burden of sin can be taken away, but the trials of mortal life for good people can still be heavy burdens.

You have seen such tests in the lives of good people you love. You have felt a desire to help them. There is a reason for your feeling of compassion for them.

You are a covenant member of the Church of Jesus Christ. A great change began in your heart when you came into the Church. You made a covenant, and you received a promise that began changing your very nature. …

That is why you have a feeling to want to help a person struggling to move forward under a load of grief and difficulty. You promised that you would help the Lord make their burdens light and be comforted. You were given the power to help lighten those loads when you received the gift of the Holy Ghost. …

I have seen that miracle time and time again. We lighten the loads of others best by helping the Lord strengthen them. That is why the Lord included in our charge to comfort others the command to be His witnesses at all times and in all places. …

His love never fails, and we never will cease to feel in our hearts the urge “to mourn with those that mourn … and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” Nor will the peace He promises ever leave us as we serve others for Him.”

 To see the entire message, click here.

Did this message help you see or feel differently about service and comforting those that mourn? Leave a comment!

Express the Joy of Being a Mother!

“Each of us has a part to play in the plan, and each of us is equally valued in the eyes of the Lord. We should remember that a loving Heavenly Father is aware of our righteous desires and will honor His promises that nothing will be withheld from those who faithfully keep their covenants. Heavenly Father has a mission and plan for each of us, but He also has His own timetable. One of the hardest challenges in this life is to have faith in the Lord’s timing. It’s a good idea to have an alternative plan in mind, which helps us to be covenant-keeping, charitable, and righteous women who build the kingdom of God no matter which way our lives go. We need to teach our daughters to aim for the ideal but plan for contingencies. … 

We eagerly teach our children to aim high in this life. We want to make sure that our daughters know that they have the potential to achieve and be whatever they can imagine. We hope they will love learning, be educated, talented, and maybe even become the next Marie Curie or Eliza R. Snow.

Do we also teach our sons and daughters there is no greater honor, no more elevated title, and no more important role in this life than that of mother or father? I would hope that as we encourage our children to reach for the very best in this life that we also teach them to honor and exalt the roles that mothers and fathers play in Heavenly Father’s plan.

We need to take a term which is sometimes spoken of with derision and elevate it. It is the term homemaker. All of us—women, men, youth, and children, single or married—can work at being homemakers. We should “make our homes” places of order, refuge, holiness, and safety. Our homes should be places where the Spirit of the Lord is felt in rich abundance and where the scriptures and the gospel are studied, taught, and lived. What a difference it would make in the world if all people would see themselves as makers of righteous homes.”

~ Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President

To see the whole message, click here.

A friend and I recently had a discussion about this topic – that somehow in the midst of the “have-to’s” of motherhood, we forget to show the “want-to” part of being mothers and that it is our greatest joy. So this was a good reminder for me to express the happiness that being a parent actually brings to my life – and to evaluate where we are in making our home a righteous refuge.

How do you show your love of parenthood or make your home a refuge from the world? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!

The Family Is of God

“Our Father has a family. It’s me! It’s you, all others too: we are His children. He sent each one of us to earth, through birth, to live and learn here in families. God gave us families to help us become what He wants us to be. This is how He shares His love, for the family is of God.”

~ words from The Family Is of God

From the Family Proclamation, we learn, “In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father.” In that realm, we learned about our eternal female identity. We knew that we were each “a beloved … daughter of heavenly parents.”

Our mortal journey to earth did not change those truths. We each belong to and are needed in the family of God. Earthly families all look different. And while we do the best we can to create strong traditional families, membership in the family of God is not contingent upon any kind of status—marital status, parental status, financial status, social status, or even the kind of status we post on social media.

We belong. “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him.”3

Our opportunity as covenant-keeping daughters of God is not just to learn from our own challenges; it is to unite in empathy and compassion as we support other members of the family of God in their struggles, as we have covenanted to do.

When we do so, we also come to understand and trust that the Savior knows the difficulties of the way and can guide us through whatever sorrows and disappointments may come. He is true charity, and His love “endureth forever”—in part through us as we follow Him.

As daughters of God and disciples of Jesus Christ, we then “act according to those sympathies which God has planted” in our hearts. Our sphere of influence isn’t limited to our own family members.

As we use our time in mortality to study and apply the Savior’s teachings, we become more like Him. We come to understand that He is the way—the only way—we can overcome mortal challenges, be healed, and return back to our heavenly home.”

~ Sister Carole M. Stephens, 1st Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency

To view or read the entire message, click here.

Filling Our Homes With Light and Truth

“Satan knows that in order for us and our families to withstand the pressures of the world, we must be filled with light and gospel truth. So he does everything in his power to dilute, distort, and destroy the truth of the gospel and to keep us separated from that truth.

Many of us have been baptized and have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, whose role it is to reveal and teach the truth of all things. With the responsibility to seek truth, to live the truth as we know, and to share and defend the truth.

One place where we seek best to be filled with light and truth is in our own homes. Families are the Lord’s workshop on earth to help us learn and live the gospel. We come into our families with a sacred duty to help strengthen each other spiritually.

Strong eternal families and Spirit-filled homes do not just happen. They take great effort, they take time, and they take every member of the family doing his or her part. Every home is different, but every home where just one individual seeks for truth can make a difference.”

~ Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, 2nd Counselor in the Primary General Presidency

To view or read the whole message, click here.

Good Music, Brighter Children – A Book Review

“When music in all its forms (singing, playing a musical instrument, listening to classical music, and so on) is part of the home environment, it creates a positive atmosphere, one which is conducive to learning and aids in the acquisition of early language. When music is taught comprehensively and sequentially in the schools, it increases math, science, reading, history, and SAT scores. It also reaches at-risk students by increasing their confidence and those with learning disabilities by making the learning process easier. Additionally, studying a musical instrument helps develop imagination, invention, creative thinking, communication, and teamwork skills – precisely those attributes needed for a twenty-first century global work force.”  

~ Sharlene Habermeyer, “Good Music, Brighter Children”, pg. 9.

good music, brighter children

And so starts a new book for me.  I initially got Good Music, Brighter Children because I had read a blurb somewhere about how the author had used music to help her child who has learning differences and was struggling with public school format. I got so much more than I hoped for, which was great.

The first section of Good Music, Brighter Children starts with the argument for critical need for all of The Arts in schools: music, art, drama, etc. It full of information about how classical music affects a person’s brain. Classical music actually uses all parts of the brain: left, right, front, and back and really enhances learning – of all types – in amazing ways. The results of numerous studies are quoted and referenced that prove that people involved in the arts in one way or another are more successful in their academic, emotional, social, and behavioral lives. It is astounding that there are so many hundreds of studies showing this need, and yet our leaders – local, state, and federal – do not see these when making and setting laws and policies. How heartbreaking it is to hear that libraries, musical, art, and drama programs are being dropped in favor of spending money on sports and math/science programs that are struggling when the opposite should be done. Dr. Jean Houston of the Foundation for Mind Research believes that “the brains of children not exposed to music arts education are actually being damaged because these non-verbal modalities help them with skills such as reading, writing, and math.” (Good Music, Brighter Children, pg. 22)

“Music students are developing those areas of the brain that expand human creativity. They broaden their thoughts of originality, independence, curiosity, and flexibility, as they interpret, analyze, and break apart the music in new and interesting ways.”  

~ Good Music, Brighter Children, pg. 115

In the second section, the author lays out ways to involve music in your children’s lives before birth and on. She recommends specific music, etc. The section that talks about the importance of learning to play an instrument even teaches you how to select an instrument and teacher, plus giving you the ways to involve your children further in music. She covers the numerous benefits from learning to play and sing music. Of particular interest to me are the charts found on pages 140-143 of the Eight Types of Intelligence with their definitions and how that intelligence relates to music and the arts. Teaching my kids effectively is made easier when I understand how they relate to the world and how they learn best. 

“We cannot appreciate the arts unless we become involved with them on some level, and one cannot become involved with music without becoming immersed in all of the arts. Music, drama, the visual arts, and dance all have the power to uplift, inspire, and edify the human spirit.”  

~ Good Music, Brighter Children, pg. 123

The third section explains how studying the arts actually increases our abilities to understand and comprehend math and science. Many executive directors of large companies understand this, which is why they donate so generously to The Arts through such places as PBS’s Mobile Masterpiece Theater and Texaco’s Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts and The National Endowment for the Arts which allocates grants to local libraries and organizations that provide local programs for children to experience the arts. This results in library programs, free musical experiences, art camps, and other ways throughout communities. 

“The arts give beauty and meaning to our lives, and they are the means by which the character and achievement of a civilization are measured. Monuments fall, civilizations perish, but artistic creations survive. One cannot study a nation without studying the music, art, and literature of that nation. It is through the arts that we understand and appreciate both the individual and the culture.”

~ Good Music, Brighter Children, pg. 121

The fourth section of Good Music, Brighter Children covers how music preserves our cultural heritage. She urges us – begs us – to become advocates of the Arts in our homes, schools, and communities. To help us actually accomplish this desire, she gives practical suggestions on ways to do it. Many are easy and free, involving simply our determination to JUST DO IT.

And last and best section of all – the resources!! Starting on page 259 and ending on page 304, there are suggestion after suggestion (in the form of lists, publishers, and places to contact/purchase) such as:

  • Classical Music for Kids to Enjoy (by composer)
  • Favorite Classical Lullabies to Play for Your Unborn and Newborn 
  • Musical Stories about Composers
  • Excellent Classical Titles for Children
  • Classical Music in Movies, Cartoons, and Commercials
  • Music to Study By (by composer)
  • Reinforcing Your Child’s School Experience
  • Additional Material for Home and Classroom
  • Fiction about Music, Books about Composers
  • Books about Ballet
  • Books About the Orchestra and General Music
  • Books about Opera, Musicals, and Choral Music
  • Folk Tune Stories
  • Classic Music Videos
  • Internet Resources for Music Information, National Organizations, Curricula, and More
  • Arts Resources for Parents and Educators
  • Music Catalog

This book has been helpful for me in deciding what direction to take for our Charlotte Mason Music Studies. We have been listening to and enjoying classical music as part of our CM learning atmosphere for almost 4 years. My girls have learned a lot and it is a joy to have them recognize and appreciate certain composers. One of my daughters told me a couple of years ago that she needs/wants the music on during school because she could feel it helping her brain. :) Now I better understand why.

Now I am off to Amazon to track down a couple of interesting looking resources… ;) 

Click here to obtain a copy of Good Music, Brighter Children. My copy was the original 1999 version, but the cover and link I chose to share is the updated 2014 version, which has updated and expanded resource lists.

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own and I receive nothing in return for my opinion. 

A Tower of Strength

“Prayer is a great tower of strength, a pillar of unending righteousness, a mighty force that moves mountains and saves souls. Through it the sick are healed, the dead are raised, and the Holy Spirit is poured out without measure upon the faithful.”

~ Elder Bruce R. McConkie, “Patterns of Prayer,” Ensign, May 1982, 32.