1. No More Crayons.
I hate crayons, especially broken crayons. I have a crayon breaking bandit who loves to snap those babies in half and peel the paper off. Crayons are my nemesis and their wrappers that inevitably find themselves all over the floor. We’re switching to colored pencils. Still need to sharpen, but less mess overall and you can still control shading. Which leads me to #2…
2. Quality Art Supplies.
We’re upgrading to nicer art supplies little by little. Sorry Crayola and store brands. First up, colored pencils and watercolor paints. I’m tired of pencil lead that breaks as soon as it’s sharpened. Colored pencils and watercolors…excuse me, watercolor cakes.
3. Shopping Back to School supplies on Amazon.
I have four kids. Shopping with all of them is no longer fun, even when everyone is on their best behavior and no one has to go to the bathroom when we have a cart full on the opposite side of the store. Amazon is where it’s at. At the end of the year, I made a list of all the supplies I thought we would need based on what we used and priced it on Amazon. This week I managed to get to Target with just the baby (priceless!) and did a bird’s eye view of school supplies prices.
For the quantities I was looking for (and I don’t want to have to go buy construction paper or gluesticks every other month…or printer ink), Amazon was much cheaper. The only thing that was a better price were composition notebooks. Fifty cents is hard to beat. I don’t have the time or energy to pick up supplies at five different stores (with all the kids in tow..sounds like a blast!), so I’m ordering them online and having them mailed to me.
That’s going to be one big box. I can already imagine the rocket ships, houses, and forts that are going to be built.
4. Electric Pencil Sharpener.
My cheap side reels a bit at the prices of electric pencil sharpeners and I’m tempted to say we’ll just keep the small manual ones, but I also know my kids hate sharpening pencils. Only Olivia still finds it appealing and I’d rather not get carpal tunnel in my hands from sharpening 50 colored pencils. I’m taking the plunge and hoping the reviews are right. We’ll see.
5. Homeschool Inspiration.
It’s so easy for me to lose the big picture focus in home educating and get bogged down in scope and sequences, how the day or week turned out horribly, all the things I want to do that we aren’t doing, and on and on. My goal is to listen to at least one inspiring and encouraging talk (or podcast) on homeschooling and/or motherhood a week to help me stay focused.
I’m starting with the conference audio from the Wild + Free conferences. I’ve listened to them before and have a few favorite homeschool mom speakers (Toni Weber and Sarah MacKenzie are a few). You can find them in the Wild + Free content bundles (sample one here).
6. Scheduling Teacher Work Days.
Multiple times last year I’d need more time to prep materials or I’d reach my end mentally and emotionally and needed a good attitude adjustment or perspective change, but because we took 3 weeks off of school when Victoria was born and I didn’t want to do be doing school through June we kept plugging away to meet our 180 days.
This year I’m loosely scheduling in teacher work days and not the kind where the TV babysits and I’m in the other room (though that happens too). I’m getting a babysitter and taking at least 5 hours out of the house to refuel, focus, plan, prep, and educate myself. Traditional teachers need that and so do homeschool moms!
7. Read Aloud.
I wanted to get in a regular read aloud habit, and for a month or two we were pretty consistent, but I was slow to start and it fell away because I often thought it was taking too much time from the rest of our school day. But the times we did have morning read aloud, the kids were more engaged, eager to participate, kinder to each other…it kind of did this magical thing and put us all at ease.
8. Self Care.
I know it’s a buzzword these days, but for good reason. A lot of women, and moms especially, don’t take care of themselves in some basic and necessary ways. In the last eight years, I’ve had three babies, three miscarriages, three major moves, one minor move, depression, a few years where my husband worked 2nd shift full time and went to grad school on top of the regular day in/day out challenges and responsibilities I’ve developed a lot of bad habits and coping techniques to just make it through the days.
I’m focusing on my eating habits, getting back into my yoga and kettle bell routine, going to bed before midnight, and making that optometrist appointment I’ve needed since April. And coming to terms that results from the effort of these things (like working out after the kids go to bed instead of just watching Gilmore Girls) will take time. Ugh. I mean, Yay for self-growth!
9. Buying Montessori Albums.
I did it. I bought the North American Montessori Center’s Lower Elementary curriculum. It was a big chunk of change, but I feel good about the decision. I spent a lot of time last year reading up on the lower elementary scope and sequence, finding lessons, trying to piece together the gaps in my self-education, and stressing (so much stress! Just ask my husband.).
I spent three years teaching in a primary classroom and am comfortable with the primary lessons and did the training for infant/toddler with NAMC, but there were spots in the lower elementary scope and sequence I just wasn’t sure about and couldn’t find consistent and cohesive reliable resources. After researching homeschooling costs for non-Montessori families spend, talking with a friend, and also my husband, the cost over the years I’ll use it with each child (nine years in all) is reasonable. Hopefully, I’ll be able to go back and do the training as well.
10. Stress Less.
I’m remembering the big picture—building a love for life long learning and exploration. We don’t have to learn it all now. It’s okay to leave something and come back to it later. Prize the relationship first. Big picture, whole person. That ideal homeschool I have in my head, the look of free-flowing and easy going comes with routine, patience, and practice.
Hour by hour, day by day, we’ll build it together.
What’s on your list to change this year?
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