Homeschool Planning

Music Lesson by Lord Frederic Leighton
Music Lesson by Lord Frederic Leighton

Homeschool Planning.

That time has come again – Homeschool planning for next year.  Normally I take several weeks to do thing…. but this year do to circumstances that have been sideways I am starting late.  So yea, I  am recycling from last year.  But that is sort of the joy of having done this  homeschool thing for a while now.  I can build off the years before.   This year again, the general plan is to  assess where we are, plan our goals for next year, think about the methods we are using and if they are still working for each child, decide what subjects and activities are important for next year, plan the budget and select books and resources, setup next year’s calendar, lay out the scope and sequence and then start creating lesson plans.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should start out by saying I am a pirate. I have no problem boarding a random homeschooling methodology on the high seas and pillaging whatever I like from it and leaving the rest behind. I am also pretty ruthless when it comes to raiding book lists, curricula and pretty much anything I find without feeling obligated to take it all or “buy in” to anyone’s vision. Our homeschooling ship is a jolly mix of what appeals to me from a variety of programs and methods.

If I had to be pegged on our preferred route I would say it looks something like Montessori until the end of first grade, a lot like Charlotte Mason until fourth grade and more or less Classical after fifth. My basic goals are to transition my children to independence as early and smoothly as possible, to give them the basic tools of education and to instill a love of their faith. The theory is a gentle continuing acquisition of skills that entails as little stress for me and them as possible. We want our children to able to learn and think independently while still having a deep sense of honor, faith, family and community.  I don’t claim to be expert in teaching or planning and I don’t think my particular methods are the best for anyone but myself and family. We all end up working through a good bit of trial and error before we find what works and then often enough the seasons change and what worked before no longer does. Flexibility is critical. Since I know people are often wanting to peek inside what is working for other families I am documenting our process here over the next several weeks. Please feel free to check in again – or like me on Facebook or follow the nascent Twitter feed (both on the sidebar).   I hope what I post will be useful to you.

A Living Liturgy · Lent

Following Jesus in the the Desert – Lent 2016 – Week One

christ in the wilderness.png
Christ in the Wilderness – Briton Riviere

A friend once asked me why I “do Lent”  when it isn’t in the Bible.   Sailing right by the fact that there  are many things that Christians do that really aren’t in the Bible, a bunch of things we don’t do that are in the Bible and Catholics don’t really hold to the idea that the Bible spells out all we need to do.  (Note that Christ specifically commissions Peter to build his Church, but there is no where in the Bible where he mentions collecting the letters of his followers and using this scripture in addition to the Old Testament scriptures that He himself had)  But the question about Lent still left me scratching my head.   This friend celebrated Christmas and Easter as “Bible based”  but missed that Jesus is often described as drawing away for a time for prayer and specifically in Mathew 4:1-11  his journey into the desert for 40 days is described.   I am pretty sure if you are following the Magi and giving gifts on Christmas and marking that Biblical you will have a hard time chiding me as non-biblical for making small sacrifices in immitation of Jesus’ great fast.

As Catholics much of what we do is the living action of liturgy to keep us ever immersed in liturgy.  Most of us aren’t going to drop everything and follow Christ into the desert like the Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers or take on the rigorous Asceticism of some of out Saints, but we can follow them in small ways within our own gardens.

So Lent brings us to our own desert.  This year for me I am starting out rather badly as I have spent the last day and a half in bed and my car is in the shop.   As a family we have given up TV and the children were remarkably on board with that.   We are doing our 40 bags.

40 bags of stuff. · 40 trash bag challenge

40 Bags in 40 Days – FAQ


40 bags in 40 days is a very simple concept.  There is no right or wrong way to do it.  How ever it works for you is the way it works, but there are always some questions that are asked.

History and  Scope:

How did this get started?  You can read the original post from 2008 here.

Is there an “Original” or “Official”  group/site/page? —  The short answer is no.  This is the ‘original’ as in I did this for myself and came up with the idea.  Father Kyle Schnipple first suggested it as a Lenten Penance.  Dozens if not hundreds of groups and blogs have picked it up since then.

How many people do this?  I have no clue.  If you Google “40 bags in 40 days” you get something like 40,000 results.

How the Challenge Works:

The original concept is easy.  Pick a size of bag, fill it up with stuff and get rid of it.
What size bag should I pick? That depends.  If you have a big house and/or a big family and lots of stuff then go big.  On the other hand if you are fastidious about clutter, always shop wisely, have a small house and small family then a small bag might be a challenge.    If you have never done the challenge before start with the standard tall kitchen bag.  If you struggle to fill it then one of two things is happening – you are using too big a bag  or you should prayerfully consider letting more things go.

Is it ok to do 6 bags on each Saturday?  There is something to be said for the steady discipline of letting a bit go each day.  It usually doesn’t take more than about 30 minutes to fill a bag.  But do what works for you.

Can I gather bags ahead of Lent and count them?    Sure.  The goal is to let a little go each day, but if you know you are going to be missing a few days and really want to do all 40 bags… go ahead.   There really isn’t a right or wrong way.

Do bags of trash/junk/paper count?  Yes.  You have this stuff in your house and it is stealing your space, your time and your sanity.   Of course it counts to let it go.

How do you manage the bags?  I take them straight to the car then drop them off as I do other errands.  I don’t leave that bags in the house as they might start to become unbagged.

How do I let go of ____?:

By far the most common questions are questions on how to let go of certain things.   For some of these I either have or will be putting up articles this Lent, but here is the brief answers

How do I let go of sentimental things?  The love is in your heart not the item.  Take a picture or it.  Write about it.  Give it to someone you know will love it.  Having some sentimental things is fine, good even.  But not everything item can be imbued with sentimentality. 

Should I let go of baby stuff, maternity clothes or things I hope to fit in again? Yes, with wisdom.  If you have not used something in 5 years it should go.  If you get pregnant, loose weight or have a baby trust God to provide for you needs in the moment.  In the meantime be the means by which God can bless others who needs those things now.

How do I let go of stuff people I love got for me? It is hard.  But again the love is in our hearts not the thing.  Keeping something you don’t like because if feel obligated because it belonged to someone who loved you is something that most of us fall into.  The love doesn’t go away just because the object does.

I have had this so long how can I let it go?  Because you don’t love it and use it.  Most things don’t improve with age.

Craft supplies, homeschooling, books and hobby stuff?  These can be hard because we have every intention of doing something wonderful with the stuff.  But having stuff without a solid plan can be problematic.  (and yes I am looking at those bins of fabric scrapes)  Keep a limited amount of stuff that doesn’t have a plan.  Even if you have a plan for something don’t keep it more than 5 years.

Kid’s things: Involve your children in letting things go.  Don’t undermine their natural generosity.  They really will be happier with less.

Sacramentals and religious items.  There are special rules for items that have been blessed.





Homemaking · Simplicity · Tautology

Clothing Checklist

Desire Francois Laugee ~ the Laundress


The last time I wrote about my clothing check list system was back in 2008. I think at this point we can call it the “Time-Proven, Well-Worn, Updated and Revised Clothing Checklist” but looking at it that seems sort of ungainly so let’s just stick with “The Clothing Checklist”

The original list was created in response to the fact that I had managed to accumulate way too many clothes for every single person in my household. We went well beyond the Proverbs 31:21 “She is not concerned for her household when it snows — all her charges are doubly clothed.” and were over-clothed by – a bunch. Drawers and closets yawned with too many options and too much stuff. The children’s rooms could be carpeted in clothing (and most times appeared to be), the laundry was never under control.

Once I put together the list I was able to cut back our clothing to a manageable amount. As long as we pull the list out a few times and cull. Friends hand you stuff, grandparents send gifts the inflow doesn’t stop. Clothing also dies: it is torn, stained, outgrown. So once you have cut down to the list, and gotten rid of the dead items there are gaps especially with boys and jeans and knees with holes. The list helps with all of that by setting limits and creating an automatic checklist.

Limits are especially helpful when working with your children. Yes, they may love all 10 pairs of pajamas that they own, but really the list says two – so pick.

The Blank List

List with Sample Values

The Original Post.

The original post explains about using the list and how to determine the amount of any item you might need.