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    Seven Quick Takes on Thanksgiving Break, What “401” Means, A Blogoversary Prize Package, and MORE!

    November 20, 2015 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    My mother-in-law is coming for a Thanksgiving week visit! We love having her here this time of year. Needless to say, I’ll likely be sparse next week. I don’t know how much writing time I’ll have, if any. You all have better things to do that week than read my stuff anyhow. 😉

    The good news is that Christy Hissong wrote a fantabulous follow-up to her somewhat famous Secrets from Charlotte Mason on Scheduling from Peace post, and that will be up Monday.

    Another implication of this is that Newbie Tuesday will be coming out the second Tuesday in December. The topic will be memory work in a Charlotte Mason education and you can click here to subscribe if you haven’t already.

    :: 2 ::

    There seems to be a bit of confusion over my calling the Expanding Wisdom course, The 5 Elements of Classical Education, a “401 course,” so let me briefly explain. Please note that this does not mean that you ought to be afraid you can’t cut it in this course.

    Here is my experience, which is a broad generalization, but I sort of specialize in those.

    When we first start homeschooling and looking into educational philosophies and theories and methods and systems and practices and and and, we are at the 101 level. This is the level at which we tend to want only the practical stuff, and we can only handle a blog post, and sometimes not even many of those. We’re easily overwhelmed, and that is pretty much the nature of being a very new beginner. I’ve been there, and I’m sure most of you have, too.

    But then we start growing. The little seeds planted by blog and article reading begin to sprout. We’re ready to start reading some longer-length stuff. We buy For the Children’s Sake or Teaching from Rest, and we gulp it up. We’re growing, and now we’re at the 201 level. We read book-length material without crying or wanting to run away!

    At the 301 level, we’re venturing into some more sophisticated waters. For example, we’re regularly braving the CiRCE Podcast Network, even though we don’t understand half of what they’re talking about. We might attend a retreat for the weekend, or a local homeschool convention. We’re making bigger time investments, and we’re thinking even more deeply.

    And then we come to the 401 level. It’s not that the 401 level isn’t for the beginner, it’s just that the beginner level has these varying levels of commitment and readiness. And it isn’t about knowing prerequisite material so much as I think it’s about being ready to commit to something like a course, to being ready to think about a broad, thorough philosophy, and how that philosophy relates historically {in other words, relates to what people thought throughout history}. And so on. At the 401 level, you are ready to commit to a learning process that will take longer or require more than a book or a retreat — to something that seeks to change you as it changes and challenges your thoughts.

    Does this make sense?

    :: 3 ::

     This week’s links collection:

    :: 4 ::

    One Year Ago:


    I posted my DecemberTerm plans at this time last year. I will be working on those next weekend, after my mother-in-law heads back to Tennessee. DecemberTerm makes me happy.

    :: 5 ::

    Prize number FOUR of my 10th Blogoversary Giveaway Extravaganza {not it’s real name} is near and dear to my heart. It’s from Mystie, my beloved Pretend Life Coach. This package is full of awesomeness, people! It’s not one, but TWO courses!

    Simplified Organization will organize you from the inside out by organizing your attitude as well as your stuff and your life, whereas Work the Plan is all about execution.

    Remember: this giveaway will be happening in early January 2016, so stay tuned regarding the rest of the amazing prizes on my list!

    :: 6 ::

    Wanna help a sister out? Take my quick survey!

    Create your own user feedback survey

    :: 7 ::

    You answer my question:

    Ha! You didn’t think you could put this all on me forever, did you? You guys bombed last week’s question so badly that I’m giving you a chance to redeem yourselves. I have to collect as many answers as possible because this is a matter of sanity and Mama Gone Crazy.

    So here’s the deal — and if you follow me on Facebook, you already know this —  I’ve been having some discipline issues during Circle Time lately. My solution is courtesy of Kathy Livingston — if they don’t participate or distract others, they can work instead. {I’m also using this for sibling squabbles — my younger two have been bickering a lot.} I can’t have them do their regular chores during Circle Time because it’d be to their advantage — they’d get ahead and ultimately end up with extra playtime. I need a list to work from because I can’t think on my feet in this area, and while I have a list going, I need to add more. I’m looking for jobs that are often left undone, can be done by children ages 7-11 without much training, and take 20 minutes or less to complete. Examples: cleaning the windows inside my Suburban, cleaning doors that collect dust, etc. Got any ideas for me? Leave them in the comments!

    If you do a good job, I will try to remember to compile the list and share it with you.

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  • Reply Constancy & A Happy New Year! - Expanding Wisdom January 4, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    […] Seven Quick Takes on Thanksgiving Break, What “401” Means, A Blogoversary Prize Package,… […]

  • Reply Claire November 21, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    And there was I, thinking 401 meant page not found!

    I thought they should have made The Milkmaid dairy free, too.

    • Reply Claire November 21, 2015 at 12:50 pm

      No, I was wrong, that’s 404… (which is what I get, btw, if I click the “subscribe without commenting” button because I forgot to click the “Notify” checkbox)

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 22, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      A dairy free Milkmaid. Ha! It’d just be her standing there…doing nothing. I like it. 😉

  • Reply Amber Vanderpol November 21, 2015 at 11:06 am

    It never occurred to me to have them do chores during the time when they are supposed to be paying attention… the thought of having two areas of activity I’d have to be supervising makes me feel tired just thinking about it. 🙂

    We have our morning time in the main area of our house, and if someone is causing problems, he has to sit on either the front entry mat or the mat by the sliding glass door (each visible from where we sit) and if they continue to cause problems, then they have to sit outside by themselves (again in an area where I can see them so I know they aren’t wandering off to the sandbox!). I’ve also been known to assign chores for them to do during their playtime, or have them do the work they were supposed to be doing during their playtime.

    And have you seen the book “Hold Onto Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers”? The article you linked to about parenting problems and age segregation reminded me of it. I don’t think homeschooling parents are entirely immune – I think highly age segregated church activities can be a big problem in this area.

    Thanks for the reminder about DecemberTerm plans – I’m looking forward to seeing what you’re doing this year! I haven’t even really thought much about it, but I suppose I should start. 🙂 The Messiah is definitely at the top of the list (even if I don’t have the spiffy book *sniff sniff*)

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 22, 2015 at 2:44 pm

      I hadn’t really considered the age segregated activities at church. This is where belonging to a small congregation comes in hand — we don’t have very many activities. 🙂

      And The Messiah!! Last year was our first year, and it is definitely a tradition. It was wonderful!

      • Reply Amber November 22, 2015 at 7:02 pm

        We don’t have many activities at our little church either, and I generally like that. But I do see some of the things that happen in the bigger church in the next town over… not to mention the local mega-church.

        Last year was our first year with the Messiah too, and it was great. We did it in the evening so my husband could be involved (he could use a little culture too! *grin*) and while it was sometimes tough with the little ones, it was a great experience for the whole family. We’re planning on doing it again that way this year too. But this year we’ve managed to get the little ones on a schedule where they are going to bed earlier… so we’ll do it after they are put to bed!

  • Reply Jennifer November 20, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    I’m enjoying the other ideas!
    Straighten bookshelves.
    Bathroom sinks and mirrors can always use a wipe no matter how recently they were cleaned.
    Put away stray items.
    Shake out doormats and small bathrugs and vacuum under them, then replace.
    Straighten all couch cushions.
    Vacuum the cereal drawer. Or other kitchen drawers.

    On a related note I have found that giving my kids small, concrete jobs such as “shake area rugs” rather than large, “clean the bathroom” jobs with many steps is less overwhelming and more concrete as far as how well it’s done.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 22, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      Jennifer, I really like your idea about listing out small concrete jobs. You make a really good point!

  • Reply huntmaestro November 20, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Clean the screens (windows or monitors). Take the keys off the keyboard for individual cleaning (and put them back correctly). If you have Legos, you can have them sort by color and/or size. Alphabetize movies or music collections. Clean whiteboards. Shred old office documents. Shell walnuts. In our house when you remove the bottom drawer of the oven, there is a whole wealth of horrors underneath that need cleaning.

  • Reply Melissa November 20, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Scrub the stove/oven/microwave
    Scrub a tub/shower
    Wipe down ceiling fans
    Chop vegetables or peel potatoes for upcoming meal
    Sort toys (LEGOS, K’nex, Polly Pockets, etc.)
    Clean under their bed
    Crush cans for recycling
    Listen to book on audio
    Older child reads to younger child
    Sort a junk drawer
    Sort their clothing, pulling out things that are too small or they’re not going to wear

    I’m thinking of things that need to be done in my home 🙁 Looks like I need to put the kiddos to work ;-p

    BTW, great explanation on the 401 thing!! You listed all the phases I’ve been through over the past 8 years of homeschooling. I just never really thought about it.


  • Reply Mystie November 20, 2015 at 9:27 am

    Oh, and if you purchased one or both of the courses within 90 days of the giveaway, I’ll refund your purchase if you win! 🙂 But PayPal doesn’t let me issue refunds beyond 90 days.

    Assigning work is a great consequence! I remember Kendra once saying she had a child washing the mailbox. 🙂 Washing walls, baseboards, and doors has been on my list, as well as scrubbing the tile floor by hand. Put away game pieces that have fallen to the floor of the game closet, sort the toys into the right bin. Rake leaves, sweep the walkway, pull weeds.

    If the consequence is needed because they were mean to a sibling, they can also do the daily chore for that sibling as well as their own. 🙂

    • Reply Virginia Lee November 20, 2015 at 9:48 am

      Yes, we do this here. The do your sibling’s chore if you can’t seem to put your sibling before yourself. Mom will help you physically learn to do this in the hope that it will also soften your heart. =)

      Wash window sills and the inside of windows, baseboards and walls, disinfect doorknobs and light switches and banisters, sweep walkways and porch, fold laundry (this is on chore lists, but there is ALWAYS more laundry to fold), remove items from pantry and wipe down shelves and put items back, clean outsides of washer and dryer, wipe fronts of all cabinets and drawers in kitchen, re shelve/alphabetize books from book crate, vacuum under couch cushions, clean out and wipe down silverware drawer…

      Basically, I have no problem even assigning a break week chore in situations like this. Because there are always more chores or errands that could be done during break week instead. This also takes away from the only time (during break week) that they are able to earn money for chores, so that’s another motivator.

      The other suggestion I have is to have them start on independent work during that time. Then when it comes time to do their independent work, it is already done and you can give them a chore that takes longer or is more in depth. Like deep cleaning the chicken coop. Nothing like scraping poop off of ramps and floors to give some perspective! For us this only took 2 times before they realized the original required option was far better. In your case maybe dog poop or rabbit cages?

  • Reply Aren November 20, 2015 at 8:58 am

    For your kids – how about tidying up the shoe closet or sorting the dirty laundry?

    PS – loved the gluten-free art link! Too funny!

  • Reply Lara November 20, 2015 at 7:31 am

    I am having this same discipline issue, and I love the solution, so I am eagerly awaiting the list of chores! I only have one to contribute: they could scrub around the faucet with a toothbrush.

  • Reply Rebecca November 20, 2015 at 5:06 am

    Dust baseboards, wipe down bathroom counters or scrub out the toilet bowl (even ones that are already ‘clean’), sweep the patio, organize a drawer (desk, sock, whatever). Or… Give them chores from someone else’s list so that someone gets more play time, rather than the offender.

    The only one of those I have regularly had my kids do is the baseboards, so I feel like I should warn you that some children really like that particular job and it may not be the deterrent you are looking for.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 20, 2015 at 7:03 am

      Ha! Baseboards can be fun? Who knew? 🙂

      • Reply Rebecca November 20, 2015 at 7:35 am

        I am really grateful that my kids like that job. It is so much easier for them to reach down and do it than it is for me. Are there any chores that you do just because you know your child doesn’t like them, not because it is too hard for a child? Maybe have your kids who don’t want to cooperate with circle time tackle a chore like that… It may make circle time more attractive and it takes something off of your list.

    • Reply Claire November 21, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      I don’t think it’s a problem for them to enjoy the job. The lesson here is, you will work during school time and you may not distract your siblings during Circle Time. If they happen to enjoy the task they’re given while learning those lessons, that’s not a problem. Then they’re learning a third excellent lesson, that housework can be fun! Besides, it’s not as if baseboards need to be done every day. If they muck up tomorrow, the job they’re given then might not be so fun. If they’re given a daily job and they decide they love it more than Circle Time, they might consider negotiating to have it for their normal daily chores. Am I making sense? Consequences don’t have to be horrible to teach the desired lesson. If your goal is to make them feel bad, that’s punishment. (Which you can choose to do if that’s your parenting style, but use the right word, dammit! :P)

      • Reply Brandy Vencel November 22, 2015 at 2:47 pm

        You are making perfect sense, Claire. 🙂

  • Reply Angela November 20, 2015 at 4:57 am

    You could have them clean the baseboards. That’s all I can think of at the moment!

  • Reply Lena November 20, 2015 at 2:29 am

    My kids sometimes scrub the sink out for me, or clean under the dish drainer. They can pack up bags for swim class. They can pre wash fruit or ball cantaloupe. They can sort laundry that made it to the laundry room. They can organize cans in the pantry. But most of my extra jobs are related to picking up after the baby, so less help to you.

    • Reply Sunflower November 20, 2015 at 7:54 am

      The silverware drawer and the utensil drawer. Doorknobs, remotes, phones. Assign them to be the white glove tester so they’ll learn to notice dust and grime. Pantry arranger and expiration date checker.

      • Reply Brandy Vencel November 22, 2015 at 2:49 pm

        I like your idea about teaching them to also do the inspection — I really need to do that!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 22, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      Maybe I should get a baby? 😉

      • Reply Marla November 23, 2015 at 12:27 am

        hmmm… I’m glad you got me thinking! I could use this list as well! …washing walls where fingers have marked it, doorknobs and jams, floorboard trim, shovel ashes out of the fireplace and take to compost, wash windows (although mine kinda think that’s fun) wipe down kitchen cabinet doors, wee flower beds, sweep cobwebs around eaves, organize games and bookshelves (by topics or whatever works for you), wash out and dry garbage cans, sort clothing and toys, wipe silverware drawer (why are there so many crumbs in there?)

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