Challenge 2 week 3

Monday was the First Official Day for Foundations and Essentials, so we had a full campus with everyone in attendance.  It was great fun and I enjoyed seeing snippets of my 7yo throughout the day!

Devotion: we read through Philippians 1:1-11, with a focus on Phil 1:9-11.  I liked how love, knowledge, and discernment were tied together in verse 9.

Math: our math lesson was easy, although there were two that stumped us.  We’ll ask ‘the Dad’ later.  We worked on isolating variables.  It reminded me a lot of Logic…

Latin: we’ve found a groove here.  We start by walking the parking lot, working on vocab.  Next, we race (or copy) making a chart of something (yesterday, we did qui, quae, quod).  And then we work on translating.  My student is ahead of me, so she explains stuff:)  There is no better way to learn something or to understand something than to teach it!

Biology: we looked at bacteria under the microscope – streptococcus and e. coli.  Then, we looked at yogurt with live, active cultures (yum!) We reviewed the Lab Journal, and practiced with some entries and drawings.  We discussed the different shapes of bacteria.

Logic: we reviewed our past Traditional Logic lesson and then worked ahead by reading aloud, discussing, and answering questions.  We played with words, and added new “analogous” terms to our list throughout the day as we thought of them. (Literature discussion, later, is an awesome time to add in analogous terms).  We ended with a rousing rendition of Strunk & White.  So far, I’ve adopted the “omit needless words” and “if you don’t know how to pronounce something, say it loud!” mantras:)

LUNCH!  I checked on the 7yo, who was really more interested in playing with friends at lunch.

Literature: I love the literature and the discussions we have.  (Happy sigh).  My student liked Knight’s Tale far better than Beowulf, and this really sparked the conversation on heroes and comparing the characters of Knight’s Tale with Beowulf.  We also did a play-by-play on what happened in Knight’s Tale and analyzed it.  We ended the class with beginning a read-aloud of Sir Gawain.  We spent this class period outside at the church/youth campfire and swing area.

Debate:  We learned about/discussed the moral, ethical, and artistic ramifications of the Renaissance, and added to the timeline in class.



Week 2 – Challenge 2

My daughter and I met for our 2nd week of Challenge 2.  Here is a recap:

  • Devotional centered on Phil 4:8-9, and we did a topic wheel using our 6 subjects and how they might tie into this verse:

    Finally, brethren, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

    This was an important verse for this week.  We both were getting a little overwhelmed by the workload and the inability to “do it all”. I was convicted that, perhaps – somehow! – we need to be focused more on truth, goodness, and beauty, and getting to know our Creator through our studies, rather than the momentary thrill (or frustration) of striving after checklists.  It’s a hard balance!

  • We tailored our math time to focus on percents and calculating sales tax, wholesale, retail, etc.
  • In Latin, we raced on the whiteboard to write all the forms of SUM in indicative.  Then, we walked about our church parking lot memorizing and quizzing vocab.  We finished with an oral Latin translation from Henle 2.
  • In Biology, I introduced the LAB journal; rules and why the rules exist.  We played with our new microscope and practiced focusing on threads, hair, and cheek cells.  We did not succeed finding 400x with the cheek cells, but we made another attempt after CC and found it hooray!
  • In Logic, we learned about Porphyry and the Porphyrean tree.  We read aloud the intro to Strunk & White.
  • LUNCH – we enjoyed visiting with other tutors and students, and finding out about their day.
  • Literature is our favorite subject:)  My daughter was really expecting Beowulf to be revealed as a phony at the end, or expected some big reveal about his flawed character.  Nope. And so, Beowulf is not her favorite classic; although she thought Wiglaf was the real hero in the story.  We enjoyed talking about heroes and what makes a hero.
  • Last came Western Cultural History for Debate.  We explored art in the Middle Ages, pulling in some examples.  My daughter had an interesting view of this picture:
    It looks like the Baby Jesus is holding a red crayon:)  Seeing it online after the fact, I realize it’s probably a scroll – but my printout that we hung on the wall sure did look like a Crayola crayon!

We’re taking next week off, although we may keep plugging ahead.  We don’t have any breaks planned later in the year before Christmas, so we may need to steal a break later on.

1st Day of High School

Today, my 15 year old and I began Challenge 2 with Classical Conversations.  Last year, she commuted a long distance each week in order to participate in the Challenge 1 program.  She had an amazing tutor, great classmates, and it was a wonderful experience.  The downside was the travel time and the great distance we needed to travel to meet for group projects and events.  We opted to try starting our own Challenge 2 program this year, and decided to run with it – students or no students.

We had a fantastic day!
Yeah, another student or two would be a huge blessing.  But we’ll be finding ways to bring the group learning into our tiny little group of 2 (tutor and student; mom and daughter).  I’ll share a few highlights of our day:

  • We began with a devotional by reading Joshua 1:1-18.  After wandering the desert for 40 years, now the people were going to enter the promised land!  It was a new beginning for the Israelites.  They were continually reminded in the first chapter of Joshua to “be strong and of good courage”.  They were also admonished to keep God’s commandments and to obey Him.  This seemed a good verse to start our year, and tie into our Challenge 2 theme of “Choices”.
  • In Math, we used the CC Trivium tables to warm up with numbers by manipulating a single number to be a whole number, integer, fraction, decimal, percent, and scientific notation.  We also began this seminar with a quote: “A mathematical theory is not to be considered complete until you have made it so clear that you can explain it to the first man whom you meet on the street.” – David Hilbert.  We collaboratively worked some math problems and word problems together from Algebra 2.
  • Latin involved exploration of Napolean, Caesar, and Jesus.  We learned more about Napolean and Julius Caesar, and compared them to each other, and to Jesus.  We reviewed 3rd declension endings, and worked some examples.  We took a walk outside and quizzed each other on forms of SUM.
  • We kicked off our Science – Biology discussion over this article:
    I liked how my daughter called personality a “spunk”, and that God has given each of us our own spunk 😉  We previewed what’s ahead, and talked about scientific classification.
  • Logic was a fun discussion of truth, validity, and soundness. We ended the last 10 minutes with a rousing reading of Strunk & White.  Note: when your child is your student, you BOTH need a copy of the book. Listening to correct punctuation is difficult – you really need to see it.  I’ll have that fixed for next week!
  • Lunch. I need to pack food that can be made and eaten faster.  Half an hour lunches go quick!
  • Literature: Beowulf.  We had a great time reading Beowulf together and picking out “kennings” (literary technique).  Our favorite phrase from Beowulf was “unlocked his word-hoard”.  We’re so going to use that! It was great hashing out the plot and mapping the family tree.
  • We ended our day with a glimpse of future speech assignments, and a discussion of How Shall We Then Live by Francis Shaffer. Note: I need to organize a group field trip to an art museum.  I’m looking forward to that!
  • We carried over the *mint* tradition from Challenge 1.  Life Saver Wint-o-green flavored mints were a big hit in my classroom of 2.
  • Having a timeline on the wall that we filled in as names and dates popped up was helpful.  I think I’d want to do that for any Challenge level.  It’ll be neat to see it by the end of the year!  Hint: the timeline is not perfection – we made it on cardstock and wrote with sharpie.  Mistakes were made, and we scribbled and re-wrote.  But the process is a beautiful thing.

How to learn Logic – an update

I’m pleased to announce that I finished Introductory Logic (Nance) earlier this summer.  A few of us moms made a schedule, and I doggedly stuck to it until the book’s completion.  Sailing along at the pace of one lesson per day, 5 lessons per week was do-able, and I only occasionally hit the slight snag.  After that, I confidently strode into Intermediate Logic.  This one has been a bit trickier.  In my previous post, I detailed making charts to aid in my memorization and comprehension.  Intermediate was not the same animal.  Whereas Intro was words and predictable word patterns to reach a valid conclusion, Intermediate was symbols and bore a striking resemblance to math laws.  Intermediate is just plain mathy.  For some of us, mathy = undecipherable alien gibberish.

I sailed through, hit the occasional snag, and then sailed through again; until lesson 14. (Queue suspense music).  And then lesson 15.  Lesson 16.  And now Lesson 17.  I’ve learned a few lessons that make these hiccups easier, and I will share them with you:

  1. Step away from the book.  (Don’t throw the book.  Don’t curse the book.  Walk away.  Walk away.)
  2. Come back to the book at a calmer, happier time:)  Go back a lesson or three.  Re-work them until you feel pretty brave and confident.
  3. Start that tricky lesson at your fresh time of day.  This seems like a no-brainer, but seriously – trying to work a hard lesson while kids were mom, Mom, MOM’ing me to tears was counter-productive.
  4. Have a cup of coffee, and set up a time of – ah, no kids – relaxation, while working the lesson.

Yeah, you’re probably thinking “why would I want to use my relaxation and coffee time to tackle Logic?”  Because the feeling you get finally conquering that massive, ugly string of alphabet letters and alien symbols is amazing!  (Queue Rocky music).  And, you can help your struggling kids with it later in the year.  Ultimately, though, if you can prove “A. Therefore, if B then A”, then you can accomplish anything.  (Bonus points if you can make that into an argument and prove it.  Just kidding!)

The Highly Sensitive Person

Beth Ellen Nash’s session at the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention was called Thriving as a Highly Sensitive Person. She was speaking to those of us that have sensitive nervous systems, find it difficult to filter out stimuli, and are easily overwhelmed by our emotions and environment.  She was not speaking about sensory disorder.  Her website is

According to Elaine Aron, 15-20% of the population is highly sensitive.  It is an in-born trait and is completely normal.  It can be apart of the makeup of both introverted and extroverted people.  Extroverts and thrill seekers have an especially difficult time being highly sensitive, because they need social time with groups, or they need that physical stimuli; however, they are also overwhelmed by it – finding the right balance is hard.

Depth of Processing – One trait of highly sensitive people is having a deeper processing:

  • They prefer to process their experiences more deeply
  • They think about things more than others
  • Often come up with unusual, creative ideas
  • Unusually conscientious – deeply aware of failure
  • Prefers to decide slowly, mulling things over
  • Decisions are often right
  • thinks about long-term goals
  • Reflects about why something did or didn’t work

Highly Sensitive People are Overstimulated Easily:

  • noticing, feeling, thinking…about everything!
  • more easily overwhelmed
  • more easily stressed by noise, chaotic situations, deadlines
  • seeks quiet spots
  • prefers to work alone, or at home
  • benefits from a quieter working environment & more flexible deadline
  • hesitates to make plans, or turns down invitations
  • needs more downtime

Highly Sensitive People are Emotionally Reactive:

  • Reacts strongly to feedback – positive and negative
  • over-compensates, over-corrects
  • cries more readily than others
  • considerable empathy for others
  • worries more about how someone is reacting to a negative event
  • gives more positive feedback
  • pays attention to group morale
  • reacts quicker to feel anger, curiousity, sadness, anxiety or joy sooner (?)

Highly Sensitive People are Sensitive to Subtle Stimuli:

  • they notice things that others miss
  • arranges work and play spaces with special care
  • makes adjustments to that their environment is “just right”
  • Comments on others’ dress, or small changes in the environment or weather

Tips for the Highly Sensitive Person:

  • Set bedtime/morning routines
  • Identify triggers
  • Plan ahead!
  • Work around triggers
  • Investigate current stressors and solutions
  • Remember that these traits are gifts!
  • Take mini retreats
  • Engage in gentle exercise
  • Speak up.
  • If seeing a therapist, select someone that knows about HSPs.

A good morning routine can set the stage for the day.  The HSP should wake up 15-20 mins earlier than usual to begin the morning routine. Start with gentle stretching, yoga, or light calisthenics.  Spend at least 15 minutes centering self through meditation, progressive relaxation, or listening to meditation.  Eat a nourishing breakfast slowly.  Leave plenty of time to drive.

A good evening routine can positively influence quality of sleep.  An evening routine should start with calming activities: reading, uplifting books, writing, meditating, taking a bath, or having light discussions.  Avoid watching overstimulating or violent TV shows in the evening.  For 30 mins prior to going to sleep, turn off the day and go inward by meditating, listening to a relaxation audio, or whatever helps transition to restful sleep.


Teacher’s Toolbox: Transcripts

The full title of Janice Campbell’s session at the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention was  – Teacher’s Toolbox: Planning, Record-keeping, and Transcripts as a Blueprint for Homeschool Success.

Janice Campbell has a book called Transcripts Made Easy. She also has a website:

She heartily recommended doing the transcripts as you go. Include making a Class Profile, which is a short description of class descriptions, readings, assignments, grading criteria. Include booklogs and activity logs (extracurricular, field trips…) She gave us timeframes for updating records –

When to Update Records

  1. While planning high school
  2. At the beginning of each semester (15 mins each time)
  3. During the semester (5 mins periodically) – use a pocketfolder to put papers in
  4. At the end of each semester (30-60 mins tops)
  5. During the application process for college or other post-high school option

What to Keep

  • Notes or records in a pocket folder
  • written work with rubrics
  • test scores
  • work samples that show a progression: one from beginning, middle, and end.  One per subject per month.

What Must a Transcript Show

  • Highschool requirements met
  • Ready for admission to next stage of life: college, military, trade school, etc.

Recommended/Required Courses- see your state’s requirements

English – 4 yrs or units
Math – 3/4 yrs or units
Science – 2/3 yrs or units
History/Social Science – 3/4 yrs or units
Foreign Language – 2 years or units
Arts – 1/2 years or units
College Prep Electives – 1 or more
*120 hours of study = 1 grade point.  There is the credit hour, also called the Carnegie Unit, and the grade point (quality point)

First Impressions Count

  • Challenging courses
  • Consistent GPA range – over time
  • Descriptive course names
  • Comparable in form – 3 sections: identity, course records, basic info
  • Content reflects student’s individual interests and aptitudes

3 Transcript Sections

  • Identity: full name, school name, address, birthdate, dates of admission and graduation
  • Course Record: list of courses taken
  • Basic Information: grading scale, key to abbreviations, definition of hours in units

The “I Don’t Know” Child – Ask yourself: what was his skills? strengths? What was important to him? Equip this child for at least 4 years of college and a trade. She recommended the book Courage and Calling by Gordon T. Smith.

The “Too Many Interests” Child – ask yourself: does his interests go in cycles? what do they do that makes time stop?  She recommended the book S.H.A.P.E. by Eric Rees

Campbell explained how to name our courses on the transcript.  Look at the names of courses for secondary schools, college course names.  Also, your state page will have course names and descriptions.  The secondary school classification system can be found here-

She recommended keeping everything in a pocket folder and then cleaning it out throughout the semester.  Look for good beginning, middle, and end samples.

Use to calculate a Grade Point Average.

For college essays, see Essays that Worked book, with samples of good student essays for college admissions.

You can create your transcripts by semester or by subject.  Some colleges require one format or the other.  Some colleges want to know when each course was finished.  Parents – you can make your school a magnet school, such as STEM, art, etc.  You can name your school with your focus included, such as Smith School for (enter focus).

Job experience can count as an elective.  Foreign language: Latin is a plus for almost every field; but try to encourage some modern language.

Credibility Clinchers-make your transcript believable

  • Standardized tests: aptitude SAT or ACT, Knowledge for placement: AP or SAT Subject Tests
  • Co-op grades
  • Distance learning
  • College courses

Janice Campbell used Microsoft Word to keep her records in.  She recommended that applications be printed on cream or gray paper, sign and date in black or dark blue ink, send in a sealed envelope, which is separate from other documentation.  After graduation, submit a second, complete transcript with all grades and the exact graduation date.

Tips for Late Starters

Why Writing Isn’t a Subject

Andrew Kern’s writing session was called Why Writing is Not a Subject and Why Every Subject Needs Writing to Be Properly Taught.  As with anything that combines Convention with Andrew Kern, you never know what you’re going to get!  You might learn about writing, or you might not; however, whatever he decides to speak about, it’ll make you think!  Likewise, it’s hard to take notes and then decipher them into practical-speak, afterwards.  His words both feed and challenge the soul, but who can then make sense of it later?

Have you ever had an idea or a dream, and you think, “I’ll remember that and tell others later”? But then, sometimes moments, sometimes hours go by, and it fades away.  That is how I feel trying to type these notes.

So, I’ll stick with some practicalities that can apply anywhere, while leaving out all the thought provoking bits that evade me.

Kern challenged us – “Why so many subjects?”  Subjects are a tyrannical impulse in America.  Writing gets put into the category of “subjects”.  It is separated out.  I think the core idea here is that we do not need to be studying “subjects” and that writing is not a “subject” to be taught separately, but rather, it is something that can be woven in and through any course of study.

Kern explored the difference between Arts and Sciences.  The opposite of an Art is a Science.  Whereas Science seeks to know, and encompasses an area or domain of knowledge, Art is a way of making something and creating something beautiful.  We are all artists, always.  We are created in the image of a God who creates.

Kern began his session with the Bible verse, “I am the vine, and you are the branches.”  Later, he developed that thought into an analogy of learning, using a tree.  The trunk of the tree is the 7 Liberal Arts.  The branches are Science (which break into smaller branches, and smaller branches…).  The pith of the tree, the core of the trunk, is writing (rhetoric).  Earlier, he discussed broken branches, which are dead, and no longer a part of the tree.  Likewise, “subjects” (branches) die when separated from the trunk.


The quality of your learning is determined by the quality of your questions.  It is important to teach our children the right writings.  Writing can give the right questions, and the questions are simple and obvious.  The 5 Common Topics of Invention are specific questions that can apply to any subject, and help with writing:

  1. Comparison – how is (blank) like (blank)?  how is (blank) different than (blank)?  What are it’s qualities? quantities?
  2. Definition – here we can identify and name.  what is (blank)? who is (blank)? what kind of thing is (blank)? what are its parts? describe (blank).
  3. Circumstance/Context – what was going on at the time of (blank)? start small, get bigger.  when Caesar was assassinated, what was going on at his home? within the senate? what was going on in Rome? What was going on on planet earth? What was happening on Mars?  There is nothing that cannot be explored or compared.
  4. Relationship – what was the cause and effect?  why did (blank) do that? why is (blank) what it is? what was the effect of this?
  5. Authority (Testimony) – what do the experts say?  what do eye witnesses say?

These questions apply to everything.  Want a good lawyer? Develop a good writer.  (Sidenote: since I have learned the 5 Common Topics, I’ve been excited to use these questions in Bible study.  It’s amazing what kind of insight one can glean when reading a small paragraph of the Bible and exploring these 5 key questions. I truly believe if you are looking for a Bible study to do with your children – *this is IT!* Open your Bible, pick a book, and start asking questions.)

My amazing blogging friend and Convention cohort also wrote up notes on this session.  Go read it here at Cornerstone Home Learning.

The Minds of Girls

At the Cincinnati Convention, I saw Michael Gurian’s The Minds of Girls.  He is a neuroscientist and you can find more info at his website here:

The 60 minute session was full, full, full – tons of facts about the brain and specifically how the minds of girls works.  I’ll just share a few of the practical things that I learned from this session.

Brain Differences
A comparison of the girl brain and the boy brain side by side show the most stark differences at the age of 10 years old.  The differences are so sharp, it’s a wonder that girls and boys relate to each other at all!  At this point, there are more differences in the brains of the sexes, than there are similarities.  The brains gradually change to grow more and more alike.  By age 20, there are more similarities than differences.

How Girls Think
A girl’s mind sees everything, and this all encompassing vision can paralyze them.  They see what’s right and they see what’s wrong.  This leads to frustration and the common phrase “I can’t do this!”  Another thing that girls do is self-deprecate.  “I’m stupid.” “I can’t do this.”  This is hard wired in girls, and what has allowed girls to bond through the ages.  Basically, by insulting herself, she’s essentially saying “I’m not threatening”.  This is also how girls receive help.  They cry out, and someone comes to help them.  Gurian encouraged us, though, to not give in to the helplessness.  Girls need to learn independence, and she needs to learn how to tackle things that are hard.  He recommended these steps:

  1. Step away.  Say “I’ll come back in 10 mins”
  2. Make sure she understands the first part of the sequence (whatever she is learning).
  3. Break it down into segments.  Ask, “Do you know how to do this?”
  4. Allow her to explain.

The “leaving for 10 mins” is important.  When a girl hits that point of frustration, her brain shuts down in order to process her emotions.  Zero learning happens after she’s reached that level of stress.  That’s why it’s important that parents do not use harsh tones, or trigger that stress.  And once that stress level is reached, allow your daughter 5-10 mins to process and come back.  Don’t give too long!  But after 5-10 mins, come back and try again, using the tips above.

Teaching Girls Well

  • ADD is underdiagnosed in girls.  Girls can hide it well and still do basic tasking.  The ADD girl is flighty and can’t do one thing in depth.
  • Ears are more sensitive in girls.  Girls are quieter.  Tone of voice is important.  A sharp tone will shut down cognitive function and cortisol levels increase.  Provide a quieter environment with fewer distractions.
  • Give full directions and answer questions before they begin to work.
  • Girls need warmer rooms, generally, in order to work well (boys typically need cooler rooms to be comfortable).
  • Girls tend to like collaborative work, but competition is also very good for them.
  • Girls are typically motivated by grades and a desire to please.
  • Small talk and relaxation before tests/quizzes

Competition & Risk Taking

We all know boys are highly competitive and take risks, seemingly without thinking!  But girls think everything through, and don’t usually take risks.  Some girls avoid risks because they have the perfectionistic genome.  It’s important that parents give girls permission to make mistakes.  Girls need to get comfortable with failure.  Dads and their influences of risk taking are very good for girls.  In fact, Gurian encouraged us that having two parents with different styles of parenting is GOOD.  If one parent is having a difficult time reaching a girl in a certain subject, switch parental teachers.  If Math is a problem subject for Mom & Daughter, have Dad take over on that subject.  If you, the parent, aren’t having success – don’t be too hard on yourself – girls need diverse influence.  Don’t be afraid to have another person (Dad, or outsource that subject to another teacher) teach that subject.

Problem solving

Girls experience, express, and expel.  Allow your daughter time to express their feelings.  As she is expressing, listen for the repetition.  When she starts to repeat the same thought, stop her and paraphrase what she said.  Allow 1-2 mins for her explain, and then when repetition sets in say, “Ok, I’m done.  I got that you felt that way.”  Listen for the gem or kernel in the complaint, but not the whole thing.  Don’t try to boost self-esteem by saying “you’re right to feel that way, let’s make you feel better” – instead, say “I hear you, now how can we solve that?”  It’s OK that they feel discomfort.  Focus on problem solving.

Technology and Diet

Both technology and diet affect brain development.  With technology, limit more when young.  A 15yo can handle more technology than a 2yo – however, limits are important.  Do not allow technology useage (TV, computer, smart phone, tablet, etc.) 1 hour before bed.  Read a book, or do something that doesn’t involve a screen.  So much of brain development happens during sleep, but technology invades that process.

Sugar also affects the brain.  Sugar causes creation of insulin, which the brain must process, and then no learning happens during that process. So limit sweets during lessons!  Girls tend to be more sedentary, so exercise is a problem for girls.  Obesity affects self-esteem, and Gurian strongly recommended tackling weight issues now in youth.  Allowing obesity to continue through childhood into adulthood triggers 3 obesity genes, and this is much harder to overcome later on.

STEM & Girls

It is a good idea to give spatial assignments to girls.  Recognize that girls will want to use their verbal skills to work it through.  The talking strategy helps them.  Give one assignment allowing them to talk it through, and then give them another assignment that is silent, and must be worked tactily.  These STEM skills can be developed in girls and it is good to give them these types of assignments.


How to Study Logic

Intro Logic Books
My 7yo wrote the title on my notebook: Mama’s Logic Book. Simple, yet classy.

My Challenge B student will be studying Introductory Logic and Intermediate Logic next year.  This is always the subject that makes up-and-coming Challenge B moms tremble.  It seems so intimidating!  So, a group of us moms decided to get together weekly.  On our own, we each struggle to find time to work through 5 lessons.  Then, we get together and have discussions.  Oh, the discussions!  Deep, wonderful discussions in which we ponder simple statements, or analyze our children’s whining (gotta love practical application!).  If you are studying logic (or anything hard), I recommend finding a team of fellow moms to walk the journey with you.  It’s not a requirement; but it makes the learning more enjoyable and fun!

So, in the course of doing weekly lessons, I’ve hit upon a method that makes Logic easier – for me:

Enter – the Logic Notebook…
I keep one of those 17c spiral notebooks that I stock up on during the Start of School Sales every August.  I fill up that notebook with all of my notes and exercises.  In order to streamline my learning, and make it stick with ME, this is how I do my lessons –

      1. REVIEW:  I review previous content quickly by copying charts.  Anything that the Introductory Logic book puts into chart or picture form, I copy.  Next time, I’ll challenge myself to do some of it from memory. Eventually, I’ll know it all from memory, and that’s really exciting, because then I can make some good mental connections! (See my charts below)My Logic Notebook
      2. READ & NOTETAKE: I go to the end of the Unit in the Student Logic book, and I jot down the Review questions.  These questions relate to definitions, and comparing two different terms (how are they the same? how are they different?)  The answers come directly from the student material, so I jot down the answers as I read them. I find these questions zero in on what’s the most important from the book. It’s my way of simplifying all of that info. (See Review questions pictured below)…20160520_130359.jpg
      3. ANSWER THE EXERCISE QUESTIONS: The end of each Lesson has Exercise questions that relate to the text, and give you practice with what you learned.  If I get stuck at this point, I pull out the DVDs and watch those. Which reminds me of the BIG QUESTION:

I (trepidatiously) followed every Challenge B support group thread that asked this question. I found that a majority said YES! Get the videos!  Many said, skip the Introduction videos, but get the Intermediate videos.  And a rare few said, don’t get the videos – most of it’s self-explanatory, and the videos only cover what’s in the book.  A few also said that youtubing and googling troublesome topics is enough.

I have found that I have been able to do many lessons without the videos, BUT when I need the videos, boy do I need the videos!  It was expensive, but so far, I’ve been happy to have them.  The videos follow everything in the book; however, sometimes Mr. Nance explains the concept with extra examples, or I found hearing his emphasis made more sense of the black and white words on the page.  In some cases, I was a bit stumped by the exercise questions.  Mr. Nance spends time at the end of each lesson to also explain the exercise questions, and gives some example answers to help you understand what you are doing.  This explanation of the exercises is what has been invaluable.

So…you’ve decided you want the videos, but your on a tight budget.  $50-$75 for each video set isn’t quite in that budget.  What do you do?

  • Form a group of moms that chip in and buy the videos together as a group.  Organize Logic Day (or Night) and watch videos with fellow moms.
  • Buy the videos and resell them when you’re done.  Ebay, Amazon, Half, and some of the online homeschool used curriculum boards are good places to resell.  Or, sell locally.  Join local facebook groups for selling used curriculum.  Participate in a local curriculum sale.  If your state homeschool conference has a used curriculum sale as part of the conference, get in on that.
  • If you’re a CC family and your student is going in to Challenge B, you could ask the tutor to create Logic Days, where the parents sit and watch videos.  If this is the case, HELP YOUR TUTOR out!  Offer to host, schedule, and lead these viewings.  The tutors have so much to do to prepare for our students, so this is a great way that you can bless your tutor and your fellow parents.

Balancing the Busy

I began Friday morning at the Homeschool Convention by attending “Balancing the Busy – Chrystal Evans Hurst

This was a good seminar for those looking for little organization gems to help them balance their busy.  I tend to avoid these types of seminars, however, because they serve to remind me how disorganized I am!  When Hurst admitted to overcoming her perfectionistic tendencies, I knew this not my type of seminar.  But, Hurst was fun, witty, and relatable.  She’s a good speaker for others who struggle with perfectionism – she’ll remind her audience to relax and enjoy their families, while balancing the busy.

“Balance is overrated,” she began.  The definition of balance is the even distribution of weight to remain upright and steady.  Another definition is equal or correct proportions.  Balance changes.  What makes up balance for you today, in this season of life, will be very different from balance in the next stage of life.  It requires being flexible.  Finding balance today does not mean that you will keep balance.

3 C’s of Balance

Be clear – what are your priorities?

Create boundaries and guidelines

Take care of them and you

Hurst had some really good analogies.  One was a funnel.  With a funnel, there is more at the top and middle.  The closer to the container, the less there is.  She encourages us to be clear about what our containers are.  If the items in our funnel will get in the way of our husbands and children, then those things should not fit in our funnels.

She also encouraged us to remember ourselves!  Spent a few minutes here and there doing things that will replenish us.  Talk to a friend, or read a book for 15 minutes – it doesn’t need to take long, but something for us.

Keep a calendar on your phone.  Hurst color coordinates her calendar, so that it is easy to see at a glance by category.  Plan fringe time for time that you need to be by yourself.  Family needs to honor that time that you carve out for yourself.  Older kids can keep a wall calendar.  Schedule time with your kids, too!  If your child requests time with you (play with me, Mom!) – add it to your calendar.

Hurst’s next analogy was rocks and sand in a jar.  We’ve all heard the question, if you have rocks and sand to fit in the jar, the rocks need to go in first.  The sand will fill in the small spaces between the rocks.  What are your rocks?

She reminds us that You Are the Manager.  You get to plan and manage your flow.  Be flexible with your schedule, and be ready to change as children grow.  Naptimes change as babies grow into toddlers and drop naps. 

Hurst had several recommendations.  She likes Amy Knapp’s Big Grid Family Organizer.  She’s found value in the book Managers of Their Homes, and uses block scheduling (  She uses a ticket system or stars that children can earn to use for rewards (such as screen time) – this helps children to manage themselves.  She recommended  Be clear with yourself and your children: what would you like them to do?  Write it down. 

Lastly, Hurst encouraged us to create memories for our families, based on what you love and what you do well. But don’t try to create memories by comparing yourself with other moms and using those moms’ gifts.