Author: Kortney

Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #9 Batch It

Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #9 Batch It

It’s not often that I feel like I’m really nailing it in my homeschool. We have lots of very good days, but my eye tends to see lack instead of fulness. So I was pleasantly surprised to hear what Andrew Pudewa says are the two most important pieces in developing readers + writers–reading aloud and memorization. Yep–nailed it! We have a rich read aloud culture here and our learning is soaked in good words.

Morning Time is our favorite way to batch in our homeschool! We begin our day with prayer, sing a hymn and read scripture, then we read a poem.

This is what many would call memory work, but I think of this time more expansively. It’s not quiz material, but rather a liturgy for learning. This is what sets the tone and puts our feet on the path. The goodness comes not in rattling off something for the grandparents, but in actually hearing the scripture day by day. It’s reading the same poem over a month that hides it in our hearts. These good words become a part of us!

How do I chose what we will use? That’s very much connected to the seasons…and to what I want or need to hear just then. I am one of the participants too and these good words do their work on me too. (I have it in mind to share the Morning Time printables that I create each month, but space for that project hasn’t magically materialized.)

This year we are singing hymns from the Trinity Hymnal (with accompaniment from Small Church Music), reading lots of psalms and scripture from the late summer lectionary, and memorizing some Shakespeare, some Frost, some Dickinson, and some Ursula K. LeGuin. I bet I could count on one hand the number of kids learning Ursula’s poems in school, and three of them live at my house.

Yes, this list is very idiosyncratic. This is not the 10 Most Important Things to Memorize. These selections arise organically out of our own family genius! I’d love to hear what you are putting in your heart.

If you are new to The Lazy Genius, here’s the Starter Kit! 20 episodes that will get you energized and moving in the right direction!

And you can find all the posts in this series right here.

On the Feast of St Anne

On the Feast of St Anne

…three days late.

Birth of Mary by the unnamed Master of the Pfullendorf Altar

Kinda perfect for the patron of laboring women. I thought of Anne as we were downtown today. I got super grumpy about eating lunch at the Ecotrust Building. But why? As we were driving home we passed Lovejoy Bakery, and then I remembered.

When I was pregnant with Joseph, I went to acupuncture at the same building. Acupuncture for blood pressure that was too high and a transverse baby. A few times I waited for the rest of the family to pick me up at the bakery. Joseph was born hale and whole after 37 hours of labor. Turns out the kid had tied a true knot in his cord.

So let’s remember St Anne and all those waterbirth mamas!

Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #8: Let People In

Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #8: Let People In

I’ll admit it. This one’s hard for me. Are you surprised? I mean, I am a homeschooler–DIY for the win for always! I’m not the best at asking for help or even admitting (to myself!) that I need help.

There are the easy places to triangle in help in our homeschools. To get a tutor or even a really good book list. To find a co-op that serves your family. But it can be hard to ask for the help that we need.

One very near to hand person might just be your husband. What would it look like if you let him in? What if he took over bedtime read-alouds or dishes? What if you went on a walk after dinner together? What if you asked his opinion on curriculum choices? Not because he’s up on the latest trends but just to share what’s on your mind.

I have a hunch that creating small pockets of connection will serve us well when more challenging things pop up.

If you are new to The Lazy Genius, here’s the Starter Kit! 20 episodes that will get you energized and moving in the right direction!

And you can find all the posts in this series right here.

Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #7: Put Everything in Its Place

Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #7: Put Everything in Its Place

I’ve mentioned before that it feels like all the other pieces of life–the house, the food, the pets–have an outsized effect on homeschooling. When the house is clean and the meals are planned, then our homeschool day seems to flow just a little bit easier. It’s not all roses and chocolates of course. But the path is cleared for us. Conversely, if there are library books that need to be returned and the fridge is empty…and dirty…then it’s hard to muster the focus and will to get the homeschooling done.

So this principle is a short cut to that clear path. Put everything in its place. Sounds super straight forward, right? The catch is that everything needs to have a place before it can be put away. Treasures from nature walks, last season’s clothes, the bag of homeschooling supplies you’re passing to a friend, the library books! Where exactly do all of these things go?

It turns out that actually figuring that piece out–where the things go–is the lion’s share of the work. Or at least it was invisible enough to me that I had a hard time understanding why it was so hard to put things away.

The other piece that makes putting things away so difficult is that all the other people in the house are ever so good at taking things out and not so good at putting them away. If the house does get picked up, the work is going to be undone. The younger your kids, the quicker it will happen.

And that is as it should be.

We clean the house to set the stage. Home is where all the action takes place. We clean and organize and declutter and really think about how our space works, so that our family can do their work! And that work is going to mean things get taken out–piles made, glitter spilled, cards strewn, blocks dumped. And so, we set the stage again.

No one has been a bigger help to me than Mystie Winckler in really understanding and growing in my work as a homemaker. I’ve been a member at Simply Convivial Continuing Education for years and just keep learning! One of my favorite emails comes every Monday from Mystie with a burst of encouragement to get my week started right. You can sign up (for free!) right here.

If you are new to The Lazy Genius, here’s the Starter Kit! 20 episodes that will get you energized and moving in the right direction!

And you can find all the posts in this series right here.

Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #6: Set House Rules

Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #6: Set House Rules

This principle right in the middle is all about identifying points of tension and taking small steps to relieve the pressure before things go south. At our place a 4 Day School Week has become a house rule, and it’s made all the difference.

As much as it lies within us, we keep our school schedule for four days every week. Becky at Clean Mama says to “build in a day that accounts for life’s surprises, because you know they’re going to happen.” Our catch all day shifts to hold what we most need–a day of laundry or bulk cooking, a day at the library and park, a day to catch up at work. That means that I am never all that far behind. There is always a catch up day full of grace waiting for me.

The important thing to remember is that it’s not a day off. Thinking that I was getting a day off made me grumpy when my day was still full of work. But like Ma Ingalls said, a change is as good as a rest.

How do you build space for rest and renewal?

If you are new to The Lazy Genius, here’s the Starter Kit! 20 episodes that will get you energized and moving in the right direction!

And you can find all the posts in this series right here.

Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #5: Build the Right Routines

Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #5: Build the Right Routines

Kendra Adachi says that “routines are onramps to somewhere else, not destinations themselves.” This is counter to so much that we hear about building routines. There’s always a bit of magical thinking involved when people talk about routines: if you build it, they will come. But not a lot of thought about what exactly it is that’s coming!

Mysterious pink flowers that were everywhere in Lodi, California

To Lazy Genius our homeschool, we are going to make one simple switch–curriculum for routine. If you think about it, curriculum is the queen of routines. When you say we’re doing math, most likely that involves working through a printed resource on a daily basis. The biggest routine most homeschoolers have is their curriculum. It’s the onramp to the destination called education or schooling. It’s what gets us where we want to be. But it’s so easy for that onramp to become the worse kind of backseat driver, shouting barely intelligible directions about the turn we just missed.

Newsflash! When a chosen curriculum stops serving our ends, then it’s time to make adjustments. Most often I think this happens in pacing and scope. Curriculum is written for some abstract 4th grader. A 4th grader who is ready to move at a certain pace over a certain number of days. But 4th graders don’t exist in the abstract. The person that actually matters is the 9 year old who lives in your house.

The true magic of homeschooling happens when we begin to wisely adjust the routine curriculum to our own living, breathing 9 year old. Then, we can begin to view our curriculum as the onramp instead of the destination.

If you are new to The Lazy Genius, here’s the Starter Kit! 20 episodes that will get you energized and moving in the right direction!

And you can find all the posts in this series right here.

Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #4: Live in the Season

Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #4: Live in the Season

If you have ever experienced the disconnect of purchasing a highly regarded curriculum and it just not working, then this might be the principle for you. You hear about a great new resource and it seems like it would solve so many problems. You make the investment and begin, but it’s just not a great fit. I am 95% sure that it’s not you, and it’s not the curriculum. It’s your season.

When we try to live outside our season we come up against roadblocks and difficulties. It can look like too many activities…or too much at home time. It can look like too much structure…or not enough rhythm to our days. Any time we are putting someone else’s ideals on our lived experience, we’re living out of season.

Seasons can be actual, physical seasons. Where we live, Winter is cold + dark. If I’m pushing through like it’s still Fall, there is going to be a big disconnect between my expectations and our reality. There can also be seasons of life, like a season of sickness or unemployment. The season of babies + nursing + interrupted sleep comes with so many challenges. All little kids, all teens, a mixture of both–you get the picture.

Seasons can also be blessedly short! This spring was a perfect storm of pandemic + busy work + end of the homeschool year blahs. I knew I didn’t want to throw in the towel in May, but I was going to need some serious support. For these six weeks that meant, a few takeout meals, lots of rest and downtime, and time outside. I had to consciously give myself the resources I needed so that I could get through the season.

JRR Tolkien said, “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations if you live near one.” Our days as homeschoolers are filled with dragons! Living in your season acknowledges the real limits of our time + attention. Living in step with our season gives us the little bit of grace we need to do this work for the long haul.

If you are new to The Lazy Genius, here’s the Starter Kit! 20 episodes that will get you energized and moving in the right direction!

And you can find all the posts in this series right here.

Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #3: The Magic Question
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Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #3: The Magic Question

This might be the question that rules all others! What can I do now to make homeschooling easier? There are, of course, a million ways to answer this question–that’s the beauty of Kendra’s work. She’s offering principles. Not hacks, but ways of thinking that can guide your own decisions.

One (tiny!) shift that has made all the difference for us is the Homeschool Shelf. We have one shelf where the homeschooling books for the year live. It’s actually an end table with a shelf on the bottom that my parents got as a wedding present over 50 years ago! Just this one place. Textbooks, free reads from the historical era, picture books that we own–this is the place I stash things as I come across them or they arrive from the bookstore.

I also have a morning time basket and shelves for our notebooks and workbooks. When it’s time for school, everything we need is in one spot. And when school is over, there’s one place where everything returns.

This isn’t rocket science, and it certainly won’t solve all your problems. But this one trick saves my bacon regularly! And that’s the heart of the magic question. What can I do now to make things easier later? It’s very hard to homeschool if you have to track down what you need before you ever get started. Having a dedicated shelf means things have a home, and we can begin our work with ease.

These first 3 principles work so well in tandem. I’d put them in reverse order: Magic Question, Start Small, and Decide Once. If you just used these 3 to guide your homeschool planning this year, you would be so far ahead of the game!

Which principle resonates most with you?

If you are new to The Lazy Genius, here’s the Starter Kit! 20 episodes that will get you energized and moving in the right direction!

And you can find all the posts in this series right here.

Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #2: Start Small
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Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #2: Start Small

{If you happen to be reading this on June 26th…the Kindle edition of Lazy Genius Way is on sale today for $1.99. Very much worth it!}

Is there anything more daunting than dinner? Every single day. It takes an unbelievable amount of energy and thought to plan, shop, prepare, and clean up meals. One clue to the difficulty is in that list. Meal planning is a project with many steps instead of a single task that we can quickly mark off.

When it comes to meal planning, there are all kinds of classes and products and systems aimed specifically at homeschool moms. And I’ve taken some of these classes and learned so much! But really, meal planning is an approachable place where you can start small and see real benefits.

Start doubling one dinner each week. Just once. Eat one and freeze one.

Blessedly, this is not a fill-your-freezer all day cooking event! This is just one extra. For the long co-op day. For the end of the week. For an easy weekend meal. Or just for a Tuesday when you’re already tired. Here are a few casserole meals that we eat that are very easy to double.

One already prepped meal isn’t going to change everything. There are still the other 6 dinners that need making. But starting small creates a tiny bit of margin, a little breathing room. And that’s not a small thing.

“Small is beautiful” could be the motto of our homeschool, so this principle feels very intuitive to me. Here are a few more places you might consider taking small steps.

Sometimes, it can feel like the small things don’t really count. If it’s not big and flashy, if it’s not a part of a curriculum or a program, it’s not really school. Small feels pedestrian.

But really, small is where we can take action. Small is repeatable. Small is sustainable.

If you are new to The Lazy Genius, here’s the Starter Kit! 20 episodes that will get you energized and moving in the right direction!

And you can find all the posts in this series right here.

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Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #1: Decide Once

As the school year winds down, my mind has started to cast forward to next year. Booklists, supply lists and schedules oh my! This will be our first year homeschooling high school. So Summertime prep feels different, a little more urgent.

I’m a big fan of Kendra Adachi’s new book called The Lazy Genius Way. I borrowed both the Kindle version and the hardcopy from our library. After tearful returns, I decided I probably needed to own my own copy! The straightforward book offers 13 principles to help you decide what matters and focus your energy, attention, and creativity there.

I thought I’d spend the summer sharing each principle and how we’re using it in our homeschool–just one way the principle might apply. The idea isn’t necessarily to copy what we’re doing, but to see how the principles might work in your own homeschool, the place where YOU are the expert!

Let’s get started with Lazy Genius Principle #1–Decide Once.

This principle helps us sidestep decision fatigue by clearly choosing what we’ll do in a given situation–just one time. So for example, at our house school starts at 9 am. Yes, we have the flexibility to start late. Yes, there are exceptions. But I never have to decide if it’s time to start school. I’ve decided once that 9 usually works! And I don’t have to convince kids to leave Lego or puzzles or drawing. They know when it’s time to set those aside.

But the place where deciding once has helped the most is with procedure lists. Out of all the things that could count for “doing history” I decided once that we will listen to the Story of the World audiobook, do map work, and read occasional picture books. We do other things too. But this is the reliable pattern that I can plan and prepare for.

Has decision fatigue derailed your homeschool? Is there a place where you might decide once and reap the benefits of clarity and peace?

If you are new to The Lazy Genius, here’s the Starter Kit! 20 episodes that will get you energized and moving in the right direction!

And you can find all the posts in this series right here.

The Magic of Index Cards

The Magic of Index Cards

In a recent episode of her podcast, writing coach Ann Kroeker talked about the moment she got serious about writing. A visiting professor showed her class a box of 3×5 cards. On each card he had written the name of a poem and then all the journals where he had submitted the poem. After seeing his system for tracking submissions, Ann went to the bookstore and bought her own filing box and stack of cards. She was a writer! And this was how professional writers worked. This action marked the beginning of Ann’s professional career.

Although I use a simple spreadsheet instead of index cards, the process sounded very familiar. I think I started keeping track after an excellent class with Rachel Mindell. Keeping the spreadsheet updated is a small way to stay in touch with a larger, ongoing faithfulness to the work.

I will be using index cards in the coming weeks to participate in ICAD, Index Card a Day. The idea is to use a small, cheap, accessible medium and create something every day for the months of June and July. We’ve been participating for years and LOVE the community of creators that share their work. It’s a great way to welcome in Summer and share a tiny bit of creative work with kids.

Intrigued? You can learn more from (clockwise from upper left): Tammy @ Daisy Yellow, Amy @ Creativity Matters Podcast, Tammy @ Daisy Yellow, Teresa @ Right Brain Planner, and Amy @ Creativity Matters Podcast….every link is to new, inspiring words + art by these talented women! I hope the beginning of Summer is creative + nourishing.

Haiku Oracle Poems

Haiku Oracle Poems

An extra Poetry Friday….and during Poetry Month! What riches.

This has been a big month! I had the opportunity to serve as a judge for a kids poetry contest. I learned about nonets from master poet, Irene Latham. And I wrote every day with the 30 Day Haiku Project at Wild Words. Though I have a strong writing habit, I usually miss days. May is all about mining drafts, revision of these new poems, and maybe even submitting my chapbook manuscript. Eeek.

But I’m getting ahead of myself! Let’s end this month with a bunch of poems from the handmade haiku oracle deck.

If you’d like a poem, just leave a comment, and I will pull one for you!

Remember, these are single lines from Basho translated by Robert Hass. I pull three or four cards at random and construct poem. Here’s the one in the photo:

A hillside without a name
the sound of wind

a worm digs silently

Just let me know you’d like a poem, and I’ll make one just for you! Make sure to visit all the lovely Poetry Friday poets over at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme.

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