Planning 2019-2020 School Year

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I know we are a ways off from the start of theĀ  new school year but this is the time of year that I begin to plan. I gather my curriculum catalogs together along with my trusty notebook so that I can plan out what materials I need for next year and where our journey will take us. I love this process because it allows me to recharge, gain motivation and let’s face it I get to buy books so of course it is my favorite time of year.

Before I begin the process of planning I like to sit down with each of my kids and go over where they are and how they are feeling about their progress. I think it is important to have these conversations with my kids because it’s the best way to keep them on track and involved in their education. During these conversations I like to find out if there is anything in particular they are interested in learning or adding to their curriculum. For instance, my oldest this year has told me that he is really interested in aviation and would like to learn all about flying. When I am planning next year’s curriculum I will be looking for aviation themed books and resources for him to explore this interest. During these conversations I like to take notes that I can refer back to during the planning phase.

Once I have had a conversation with each of my kids I then like to review what we have done over the past year. This is a great time to get rid of what doesn’t work and find replacements. Starting this far in advance with my planning allows me to research and read reviews so that I can make an educated decision on what to try next. Of course things that are working well will be continued into the next year. This past year we have had great success with CTC Math so we will continue this program next year. Again I record these notes in my notebook so that I can reference back to them.

Over the next few weeks I will peruse through my catalogs (my favorite is the Rainbow Resource Catalog) and conduct online research. I usually do this after the kids have gone to bed so I can relax with a cup of coffee while I read uninterrupted. When I find books that interest me or materials I want to try I will write down the information in my notebook. By the time I am done my notebook will be pretty filled in but it will become a valuable tool when I finally write out my scope and sequence for next year.

When the research part is done this is when the real fun begins I like to take myself out for a parent teacher conference. I go to a cafe where I can sit down with my books and my laptop so I can work for a few hours uninterrupted and I can keep the coffee coming along with a delicious lunch. I will use my notebook to fill in what we will be learning next year in Bible, English, Math, Science and History and a list of materials for each subject. I will also determine what extra curricular subjects or activities will be covered. Each of my kids will have an outline created and I will create my short term goals for the year and re-address our long term goals to ensure we are on track. I will then create a homeschool budget and create a game plan to stay within that budget.

Once I have everything figured out on paper and typed up I print up a materials list. Since I plan in advance this allows me several months to purchase materials and gives me the opporutnity to get the best price. I love ordering books through sites like abebooks because I often find gently used books for a few dollars a piece. I keep this materials list on me whenever I am out because I have found resources at used bookstores, thrift shops and even garage sales.

Over the years I have found that this approach to homeschool planning works best for me but what works for me may not work for others. However you plan your homeschool curriculum make sure you make it fun, use it as a way to invigorate your homeschool and find out what your children think about their education and what they might be interested in learning.

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Best Catalogs for curriculum:

https://rainbowresource.com/catalog

https://www.bookshark.com/request-a-catalog/

https://www.sonlight.com/about/catalog/

https://timberdoodle.com/pages/free-catalog

https://www.nature-watch.com/online_catalog.php

https://www.christianbook.com/apps/catalog-request

https://www.libraryanded.com/request_catalog.html

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Introducing Blackberry Ridge

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We are about to do one of the craziest things we have ever done in our entire lives. We are in the process of packing up our life in the Midwest and moving to our property in southern Tennessee. This past weekend we spent a few days visiting our property and mapping out our ideas for our mountain side homestead. This was my first time visiting Tennessee and I have to say that it is one of the most beautiful places I have visited. I was enthralled by the rolling landscape, the southern hospitality and the serene quiet of our little woodland property.

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We found this property just around Christmas time and fell in love with the pictures of the property. After a great deal of research and phone calls to ensure this wasn’t a scam we put down our deposit without actually setting foot on the property. Thursday night we loaded our little car up and made our first treck down to the property. When we arrived in Tennessee it was just after 7pm and after checking into our hotel we couldn’t help ourselves we had to see our property even though darkness had fallen. The drive out to our property was exciting but we were also feeling a bit uncertain. Once we arrived we got out and took in all that we could see with flashlights and the uncertainty grew. We went back to the hotel with heavy hearts not sure if we had made the right decision. Having lived in Southeast Michigan and Northwest Ohio we weren’t prepared for how hilly Tennessee really was and we were expecting our property to be a tad more level.

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After a long night of sleep we drove back out to the property to see what we had with the light of day. The second time viewing the property washed away all of our uncertainty. We fell in love with the property all over again and spent the day walking our property line and exploring our little wood. One of the things that I love about the property the most is the running stream there is nothing more soothing than the sounds of water bubbling over rock and stone. During our exploration we discovered a hidden pond full of aquatic life and a bubbling spring. This property is definitely wild and it is going to take a lot of work to clear areas for our house, gardens and chicken coop but I know in my heart that it will be worth it in the long run. A lot of people would walk away from this property because of the hard work needed to make this a livable spot but we are up for the challenge. In fact I have never been more excited to do anything in my entire life.

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While enjoying our future home we noticed some physical changes with ourselves and our children. Every one of us battles congestion and allergies and for us it is just the way of life but within hours of being in Tennessee our congestion cleared. My husbands dry eyes improved and our youngest kids who have “allergy shiners” lost their black eyes. In fact my daughter who is rather pale had a healthy pink glow that we had never seen before. The fresh mountain air is so clean and pure and obviously much healthier than the air we breathe in Toledo that I think perhaps our overall health will improve with this move.

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I am so grateful to have found this property and already I am accumulating ideas for our future home. We applied for an address and began kicking around ideas for naming our property. When we were exploring our property we kept getting tangled up in these rose bush like vines growing up around the trees. We weren’t sure what these were but after some online research we discovered that we have wild blackberries growing everywhere. This inspired the name for our property which will now be known as “Blackberry Ridge”. I can’t wait to go back down in a few months to harvest some of those blackberries and make a delicious jam.

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So as you can see this is pretty crazy moving our family hundreds of miles to a wooded property in Southern Tennessee. While it may be crazy we feel that God is moving us down this path and that this move will be the best thing for our family and especially our kids. We want them to have a safe environment to run, skip and play. We want them to learn valuable skills that will build character and make them appreciate the things in life that really matter. So while it may be crazy this will be an adventure that our family will remember for a lifetime. Our hearts are filled with hope and joy as we plan out the details that will help us down the path to “Blackberry Ridge”.

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