My Spring Reading List!

After the heavier reading of Lent, I thought I'd like to continue some inspirational spiritual reading through the Easter season as well. 

Here's my book list!

Private and Pithy lessons from Scripture - Mother Angelica
Little Book of Life Lessons - Mother Angelica
Three to Get Married - Fulton Sheen
The Little Oratory
Diary Sister Faustina
Getting Past Perfect - Kate Wicker
The Words We Pray - Amy Welborn
Perfectly Yourself - Matthew Kelly 
Crossing the Threshold of Hope - Pope John Paul II

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Getting ready for next school year in our homeschool!

I think that most people are surprised that one of the most important things I do to get read for homeschooling is CLEAN MY HOUSE!! In fact, I am taking an entire week to do just that. Unlike families that have their mess makers out of the house for six to eight hours a day, mine are here ALL the time, so it only makes sense to try and organize and be ready before we start our daily lessons But also, it helps them get into the rhythm of organization and taking care of the home. It is part of their training. So this week, top floor to basement, we are catching up and cleaning up on some neglected houskeeping projects around here! And once I get caught up I intend to stay caught up with the FlyLady!

Another project I want to keep my eye on as we go into the business of fall is preparing for the Christmas Holidays and I'm going to do that by following the Grand Plan. I have found that the years that I am thoroughly prepared for Christmas are the best, most stress-free and enjoyable holidays.

The next most important step in preparing for homeschool is getting our new portfolios ready. Here in Ohio we have the choice of having a portfolio review by a certified teacher or doing a standardized test. I opt for the portfolio review becaue it gives me a chance to go over with a subjective party new ideas for my homeschool and ways that I can improve. She also lets me know how my children are progressing. I don't like teaching to a test, but in the future if we do decided to do standardized testing, I think I would still keep a portfolio just to have a good record of what my students accomplished.

Our portfolio reviewer, Dr. Karen Holinga in Grove City, Ohio, really stressed the importance of having a good paper trail so that any authority could come in and see evidence of what we are covering in educating our children. I have found that if I keep a portfolio all year, it is much easier than trying to put it all together at the last minute.

I like to use big 3-ring binders. Those can be expensive unless you look for a sale at Staples, Office Max or Walmart. One year I bought a lot of 5 binders from eBay with great savings. This past weekend I picked up all the binders I needed at a yard sale for $1.00 each! So it pays to look around in even the most uncoventional places for binders and supplies.

I keep a 3-hole punch in our class room and in the dining room so that I can punch papers and put them in the binders as needed. I also have clear plastic pockets to put reports and art projects into the portfolio that I do not want to poke a hole in.

It's pretty easy to keep track of math papers, English, book reports, and all of the academic things and put them in the portfolio as your student completes them. I even tell my students that if they do a good job, I'll put it into their portfolio! They think that's a big deal and they work a little harder to have them included.

I also put in other bits an pieces of paper, like programs from concerts we attend, soccer schedules, anything like that.

For book lists, I actually use Library Thing! I was able to print out a copy of the books from Library thing for each kids' portfolio and it looked very professional.

I think it's a good idea to keep a digital camera around and get pictures of the kids doing things outside of the academic. I snap pictures of them cooking, or reading with grandma, dance recitals, flowers we looked at, field trips. Basically just about anything that I think would spice up our portfolio.

The biggest spice I added this year was our homeschool blog! Dr. Holinga really enjoyed it, but now that she knows about it, she can follow our homeschool progress throughout the year and that gives me more of an incentive to keep it up. I also downloaded the Homeschool Tracker and will probably upgrade so I can print our our lists and forms for a more professional looking portfolio.

So that's the nuts and bolts - or the "hardware" part of what makes homeschool work at our house. The planning and gathering, the "software part" I'll get to in a future post.

Oklahoma HomeschoolA great link with lists of possible items to keep in the portfolio was compiled by Cindy Downes. I have found it very helpful.

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