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Yes, we are starting our twenty-third year of home education and no, I don’t know it all nor am I an organizational expert! I’ve gotten more relaxed as the years have flown by, partly because I’ve realized that my children learn in spite of me and, partly, because life keeps getting fuller!

When we lived in the South where the summers kept us near the air conditioning, we schooled year ’round with frequent breaks.

We still take frequent breaks but don’t school year ’round! Somehow, my children are very literate, love to learn and, eventually, find their niche in the world. I stand in awe of God for His goodness to our family. He will be just as faithful to keep His promises for you.

Our family motto for homeschooling is “Keep the Home in Homeschooling.”
We want our children to grow up and have happy memories of their home; good meals and conversation around the dinner table, special birthday and holiday celebrations and lots of home-centered joy.

We don’t particularly care if they grow up and rave to us about their memories of their school curriculum!

I love it when my grown children call me to urge me to read a book they have discovered! Our eldest son will go so far as to mail me the books just to make sure I read them. I rejoice that we have raised life-long learners who enthusiastically keep reading and learning and seeking both knowledge and wisdom. All glory goes to God.

So, besides pulling out our curriculum (we use Sonlight for a core curriculum) and realizing for the umpteenth time that I waited a bit late to order additional books(it’s my tradition; ordering late!), a great deal of my fall prep work is organizational in nature.

Since meals and laundry continue to be my biggest challenges in my home, I try to plan ahead. I love to riffle through the freezer and make sure I have the fixin’s for a bunch of meals! Nothing makes me feel more like a failure than to have a good day of studying with the kids only to look at the clock and realize it is almost dinner time and I have no earthly idea what we have to eat. I hate to spend the time to grocery shop because I want our day to end with some family time.

The same goes for waking up in the morning and having to make a healthy breakfast from scratch and then, starting the day with a messy kitchen. Our entire schedule seems to be thrown off for the day.

So, here are some ideas for you in the area of meal prep.

One of our absolute favorite ways to cook meat is to buy a cheap roast, put it in the crock pot frozen, pour a half cup of white wine over it, turn it on low and let it cook for 12 hours. It will be falling-apart tender by dinner time! Yes, this means if you want to eat at six p.m. you’d better remember to get that thing into the pot by 6 a.m! Add a quick salad and you’ve got a great meal.

Another trick I love is using the rice cooker for oatmeal in the morning. I presoak the oatmeal(to get the enzymes going), pour the oats and water into the rice cooker in the morning(and perhaps some cinnamon and a dash of salt), turn it on and walk away! It doesn’t burn and it’s a healthy breakfast!

I also make a lot of breakfast parfaits for the freezer. Actually, on the days we eat oatmeal, we get hungry mid-morning and a parfait is the perfect treat!

Homeschool Prep 101:

1. I declutter; ruthlessly. Thrift store drop-off bins are my friends!

2. I make ten to fifteen casseroles for the freezer. Because my husband is not really a casserole lover, I spread these out over two to three months. They’re nice to have on busy days. I make five lasagnas, five chicken enchiladas and five macaroni and cheese casseroles.

4. For breakfast I make muffins to freeze, morning tortilla wraps (scrambled eggs, salsa and grated cheddar cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla and frozen in a ziploc bag) and parfaits…as many as possible. I alternate these with oatmeal, fried eggs,yogurt and, yes, the inevitable cold cereal.

5. I stock up on healthy snacks (see my 31 days of healthy snacks). If I lose control of the day at least I’ll know that my children snacked on nutritious foods.

6.I pray. God has a plan for your family and mine and His plan is good. Our days will be filled with the ordinary which leads to our sanctification as we give it all to Him.

7. Finally, I strive very hard to keep a sense of humor. It really is funny when I have laboriously explained to my three year old how God created the ant only to see her solemnly stomp on it at the end of my dissertation. A home where the family can chuckle together over ridiculous things is a home where memories are made…even if you forget to get that frozen roast in the crock pot on time!