I’ve been homeschooling for many years, and I have to tell you that there has never been a year like this year!

Usually I’m telling people how to attend conferences. Wear good shoes! Make a list of the vendors you want to visit. Make sure you review all your notes after the conference.

Or for online conferences: Get organized. Don’t just download all the printables and lose everything forever on your computer’s hard drive. (I wrote a post about organizing your digital content a couple years ago.)

But this year is just weird. There are no in-person conferences. And it’s hard to stay organized online when you see flash sales but don’t have much advanced warning… so things start stacking up in your Facebook “saved” folder or on some Pinterest board. You will just try to get back to all these amazing ideas later, when you have more time.

Foundations Press is a vendor for the #Top Picks Homeschool Curriculum Fair on Facebook this year. It’s amazing, with tens of thousands of dollars in giveaways and freebies, and it’s continuing through July 9, 2020. That is a LONG curriculum fair! The organizer, Heather Bowen from a Mom for All Seasons, has done an amazing job compiling everything and making sure it runs smoothly. She never dreamed it would be this big! No one did!

The trick is staying organized and finding time in your schedule to visit the vendors and watch their live presentations. When you are approved to join the fair (and did I mention it’s free?), you’ll see a short video announcement from Heather. She’ll explain that you should download the official curriculum fair guidebook from the group files. I agree. I think you should print it, and then pop it into a 3-ring binder.

Use a highlighter to decide which vendors you want to actually watch *live* and which ones you don’t mind waiting until later to view. Then you should set up times on your calendar. I recommend setting alarms on your phone so you won’t forget! (Remember to account for timezone differences.)

Finally, set up 30 minutes a day to scroll through posts and comment. Make new friends! Share your expertise! Tell what works for you and why! You can even ask your own questions.

In other words, it’s difficult to attend a curriculum fair if you don’t actually make the time for it in your schedule.

And if this is going to stay like this all summer, then this might need to be a weekly time in your schedule for awhile. It would be better to be intentional about your online time, than to let circumstances dictate how you use your time. These conferences really could help you — or you could start cultivating a habit of twiddling away your time as you scroll through never-ending Facebook marketing. (I wrote a blog post about these dangers here. It’s the third post in a four-part series about how Satan is attacking our minds!)

In addition, you need to remember why you are homeschooling and what your priorities are. Otherwise, every shiny new toy will pull you away from your mission!

I already have the habit of pouring myself a cup of coffee on the first morning of every week, and after reading my Bible and praying, I then sit down with my planner and intentionally choose how I will spend my time in the coming week.

  • I review my life goals and the mission God has given our family. I want to remember why we do what we do — and Who it’s all for! (Here is a simple goal sheet you can use to get started. Look at it every week!)
  • Then I “brain dump” all my ideas for the week into my planner. Without thoughts of what is possible, I write down everything I hope will happen. I go through each of my life’s priorities, to make sure I haven’t missed anything. I also look back at last week’s “brain dump.”
  • Then I circle 3-5 ideas that really must be at the top of my list. I schedule them, and then I make promises to myself to make sure I don’t let other things (like Facebook!) interrupt those important things.
  • Finally, I ask myself, “What is the ONE thing I can do that if done would make everything else easier or unnecessary?” (I got this idea from the book, One Thing.)

After these times to reflect, I make our homeschooling plans for the coming week by following a similar sequence:

  • What are my big goals and priorities for homeschooling? Why am I doing it? (I have lots of these ideas listed in my book, Biblical Home Education.)
  • What are all the things I thought of last week that I need to remember this week? (I write my ideas on little sticky notes inside my homeschooling binder all week, so this step is basically remembering to consult my sticky note.) This list includes things like: Son needs to get his eyes checked, Daughter needs to learn why miscellaneous has a double L in it, Daughter needs to get a library book on the Spanish Flu, Son needs to ask Dad to pump up the air in his bike tire, etc.
  • I go through each subject (and yes, I make a yearly checklist of these) to see if I need to print anything. I do that now, and then I punch holes in each and insert all of them into my binder, or I put them in a folder to give to my children on Monday morning.
  • Is there any other preparation I need to do before Monday morning? Today is the day!

Why do I mention this? Because I think I need to add a time during my week for online “Teacher Training,” including attending curriculum fairs and reading my saved links from the week before. I vote that I do this while eating a piece of cheesecake on Sunday evenings. LOL!

Who is with me? Please share your best ideas for managing the Online Beast. which is both overwhelming and necessary.

Anne Elliott

P.S. Did you know our website has hours of Teacher Training available for free? Just when you thought you had figured out how to consume all this information……..

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