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Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling

This Is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers
Category: Misc.
Tags: thanksgiving charlie brown charlie brown movies charlie brown videos

Visit Children's Hope and Voice for parts 1 and 2 of This is America Charlie Brown Thanksgiving story, lesson plans, recipes, crafts, and additional resources.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, folks.

Back to School: So Much To Do, So Little Time
Category: Misc.
Tags: back to school time management tips success in college student success time management skills

(Leah, a recent homeschool grad, is now a very busy college student. You can read more of her musings over at her blog: Defy Definition).

So I took a summertime blogging hiatus. I just, ya know, wanted to become one with nature and spend more time outdoors and away from screens. And I personally felt like this blog was something I needed to reflect on for a while and...

JK. It was totally not intentional. My goal was to write at least one blog post a month for a year. AT LEAST! And here I am in September, three months since the last time I wrote anything for my blog. It's not entirely my fault though! A million amazing things have happened this summer (choir tour with Crossflame, vacationing at Tybee Island, visiting my best friend Beca in Virginia among them) and I didn't seem to have any time to do anything else.
Alright, that's another lie. I had pleeeenty of time for Facebook and YouTube and all day marathons of Gossip Girl and Lost. And then when a blog idea popped into my mind I was too tired or on to something else or going to see a movie or working. Time just flew by this past summer and I did NOT have a very good handle on it. 
But now, as school has been in session for about 3 weeks now, and the rest of the normal public schoolers started this week after Labor Day, everyone has one thing on their minds: time management. Calendars, schedule books, alarms, spreadsheets, whatever it takes for you to get done what you need to get done when it needs to get done. And it's just September. This crazy scheduling will continue until May or June, depending on your school.  So here's five tips on how to efficiently manage your time this school year, without going completely insane.
1. Get a house calendar in a central location. 
This is especially important if you don't have your license yet. Have all of your activities and the activities of everyone in the house up on the calendar with times and locations. Doctor's appointments, work schedules, sports practice, choir rehearsals, birthday parties, important school events, etc. This way, at any given time, you can glance at the a calendar and know who's doing what/where/and when. If you can drive yourself places, it's still a good idea just to know where the rest of your family's going to be. If you don't have a car, it's a necessity to have the family calendar so you can plan your stuff around other people's availability.
2. Create a homework schedule.
Write down homework due dates, exam dates, and project dates. Try to plan out on a day to day basis when you're going to work on each one of these things. For example, my CIS homework is due tomorrow, so I'm going to finish that today rather than work on Western Civ. which is due on Sunday. I'll work on that, as well as my literature reaction papers, tomorrow and Saturday. MAKE SURE if you have a project due, you're making time to work on it a little bit every day. One of the worst things to do is to see a due date that's a month off and say, "I've got plenty of time!" And then have to write a 15 page research paper and a 30 slide PowerPoint presentation in one day. For exams, study the way that works best for you. But make sure you study! If studying for you is cramming the night before, then go for it! But you have to do something. Not going over the material at all before a big test is a huge mistake.

3. Go to sleep and get up at regular times every night and morning. 

This is the hardest one for me. Teenagers actually require MORE sleep than old people: 8 to 9 hours per night! So with me having to get up at 6:30 on school days, that would mean I SHOULD go to bed around 10 o' clock every night! Now you and me both know that's not going to happen (getting a TV in my room was probably the worst thing that ever happened to my sleep patterns.) BUT, I've been forcing myself to have the TV off by 12 on school nights, even if that means I can only watch one episode of Supernatural...
My nightly argument with myself: 
"But Dean is so cute!"
"You'll regret it in the morning!"
"How could I ever regret watching THAT FACE?!" 
Also, do NOT hit snooze on your alarm and fall asleep again! I put my alarm all the way across the room so I'm forced to get up and turn it off, and then by that time I've seen the light and I'm starting to morph back into my awake, conscious self.
4. Prioritize. 
My mom's always saying that school is more important than my job. And it is, it is... It's just that, if it came down to it I would hate having to give up making money. But on the other hand, it's a fast food job. I'm taking college courses. If I fail all of those, I might never make it any farther than a cashier, which is NOT where I want to  spend the rest of my working life. Same things go for friends. I know socializing and parties and movies and hanging out is fun, but if you're not getting school work done, that has to go too! It makes it so much easier if you just prioritize to begin with, then you'll probably never have the problem of having to give up your job or your friend time.
5. Make time for relaxation. 
Stress isn't gonna help you get anything done. So if that means taking a break from the books to go get a cup of coffee and a doughnut, do it. If that means reading a book you want to read instead of re-reading the same pages of The Iguana Tree and comprehending none of it, do it. If that means watching Charlieissocoollike and his adorable antics on YouTube for a while, do it! Take a hot shower, sing, play the piano, do yoga, whatever you like to do and whatever calms you down, do it.
And maybe when you're meditating in the lotus position, you'll realize there are enough hours in the day after all. 

5 Ways to Beat the Mind-numbing Powers of Summertime
Category: Misc.
Tags: summer learning summer activities summer homeschool ideas summer brain drain summer learning loss

Ahhh... summer. Heat waves, massive insects and sunburn, high humidity and frizzy hair. I don't know about you, but all I feel like doing is laying out (whether it be on a beach getting a tan or on the couch feeling the air conditioning), watching stupid TV shows and chick flicks, reading completely meaningless books about romance and "real-life struggles", and eating lots and lots of ice cream.

Although that is what summer is for (kind-of), we risk losing a large chunk of brain power and knowledge that may not be able to be recovered by the start of the school year. One of the worst things ever is coming back to school refreshed from the relaxation of the past few months, not realizing your brain is now a blank slate and you have to now work overtime to recover all the information you already learned last year.

To prevent this from happening to you, here are five ways to beat the awful mind numbing powers of summertime.

1. If you can, keep some of your old textbooks, papers, and binders laying around.

I don't know how many times I've been o-so-bored on a one thousand degree day in July, and then happened upon one of last year's math worksheets. Instead of crumpling it up and tossing it, I would sit down and work through the math problems until my brain hurt and THEN I would toss it. There's just something about knowing that you don't HAVE to do something that kind of makes you want to do it. Sometimes I just want to challenge myself. Sometimes I'm just SO DARN BORED that I'm driven to try and figure out some math stuff. I'm pretty sure everyone feels that way at one point or another. Or maybe I'm just weird...

2. Read historical fiction.

I absolutely hate history textbooks.Which is why when the school year ends, I often try to put all of those endless text-filled pages and their uninterestingly written contents out of my mind immediately. (Not the brightest thing to do, I'll admit.) But I discovered that there is another way to learn historical facts, dates, time periods, etc. Historical fiction books. <3 There are so many of them written about pretty much every time period and they are a perfect and fun way to refresh your memory over the summer. The best part is, as long as you like to read a good story, it doesn't even feel like learning. At all! I've learned more about British/American history from reading The Bloody Jack Series then I ever have from reading any dumb old textbook.

3. Watch documentaries. 

Science, like math, is another one of those subjects I don't exactly excel at. Once I take the final comprehensive exam, all the cool stuff I've learned just kinda...slips away. I mean, I think science is interesting! But it's so hard to remember all those terms and facts and names. I've realized though, that science documentaries aren't always so bad. In fact, when they have to do with things like DNA and outer space and things that live in the ocean, they can be ALMOST as interesting as watching my favorite episode of Drake and Josh for the billionth time. Plus, there's really nothing I have to do. I can just kick back with some popcorn and a blanket and watch...meanwhile all those things I learned are being reinforced in my memory. Documentaries work for history too! (The ones about the FBI and gangsters happen to be my favorite.)

4. Write, write, write!

The ability to write an essay is one of the most important skills necessary for getting into college. So since practice makes perfect, there is no way anyone should just stop writing for the entire summer! Write all the time about anything, but practice writing it in 5 paragraph essay format. This way you can practice making a thesis, developing your point in the body, and coming to a clear conclusion. The topic isn't really important! You can write about TV shows, celebrities, your crush, whatever! Practicing that format is what really matters.

5. Look forward to the coming school year.

Think about what classes you're taking and how they're going to relate to your future. Think about what you didn't do so well at last year and how you can change that this time around. Think about study and review methods that might be helpful in acing those SATs! As long as you're (somewhat) academically minded no matter what time of year it is, you shouldn't have to start all the way back at zero when you go back into the classroom.


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