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It’s January, and the cold has begun to set in – both outdoors and indoors. Some of us struggle with the realities of having our kids underfoot much of the day, and we are already looking towards summer, when the kids will be outside, and we will have a much-needed break from the day to day humdrum of schooling. At my house, we call this time of year “hard-school-home-school” because we deep dive into schooling and try to take as few days off as is humanly possible until April. Sixty days of intense schooling, packing as much as we can into these frigid days.
 
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This was going to be the year! We were right on target to finish as I had originally mapped out back in July. (Trust me when I say that this never happens! I usually need to tweak a couple times throughout the year.) Then the cold and flu season hit our house. It hit so hard that our 5th grade daughter is out of commission with mono. Out went the schedule and in came some heavy adapting.
 
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It finally happened this week. We flipped our 2017 calendars to the very last page- December. Our family receives several free calendars in the mail, so there’s already a 2018 calendar hanging right behind the 2017 calendar. I can't help but think of how that picture of one calendar ready to go right behind another affects our homeschooling planning as well. We’re wrapping up our lesson plans, assignments, activities, and more while we are thinking ahead to the excitement of a fresh new year. Just as one calendar date and year follows right after another, the activities of our lives and homeschools continue moving right along.
 
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What is your biggest priority today?As homeschooling moms, our priorities come in the form of long lists and prayers sometimes. I need to get this done, my kids have to be here at a certain time. I need to get to the store to get a turkey soon... and more. We love those first days of school and the fun autumn weeks. Lots of learning, fun projects, and beautiful weather. Holidays are coming soon and it seems like time speeds up so fast until that day after Christmas when we have a big mess to clean up and we try to hold on to all the memories we've made in the past month or so. The new year is right around the corner and we need to get things into shape- including ourselves, our homes, revamping our schedules, and such. Sound familiar?
 
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I began homeschooling my kids with a curriculum where I taught it all. Our first year was great. The second year, the reality set in that effectively teaching my children required more hours than I had to give. I didn't want to give up teaching them entirely, and my husband and I knew there was a way to let someone else teach while I “aided” but I had several concerns. Among them were "How will I be able to gauge their learning if I’m not teaching them?” or “How do I know they are even paying attention to the videos? Are they really reading when the teacher asks them to ‘pause the program’?” and “I’ll miss that one-on-one time that we shared!” We did some research and we found the solution that we thought would fit our needs. We settled on BJU Press Distance Learning. BJU Press Distance Learning classes provide video lessons taught by expert teachers created for homeschooling families. They provide all of the resources I need to be sure my children are learning at their speed and ability. I can use the video lessons or teach the lessons myself- interchangeably when needed. Because I hadn’t used the product yet, I had some concerns- specifically, would I still be able to meet my kids’ needs and enjoy some of the homeschooling myself?
 
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The other morning I saw the question what's the difference between a scale and a balance, and can I use my Weight-Watcher's Scale. I pondered responding to the writer. There was a time, now decades ago, when I would have asked the exact same question. One of the things I have learned from using BJU Press materials for the past two and half decades is that it is truly user-friendly“ so, yes, if you have a digital kitchen scale and it can measure in grams, by all means, use it! But make sure you understand the difference between a scale and a balance, so that you can explain weight vs mass to your learner.
 
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"Mom! We have an experiment today in science!” my daughter, Moriah, calls out….

I’ve been homeschooling for 25+ years, and God blessed me with 8 children, which translates into a lot of labs and experiments each week. Inwardly my gut reaction is to groan. “Supplies, supplies, supplies!” I begin to think. “More supplies to have to hunt up, another mess to clear and clean! I just wiped the kitchen counters down from breakfast, and now this!”
 
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In our 8th year of homeschooling, I should have started the new school year down by now right? That transition back to the school year after lazy summer days should be smooth. My back to school picture should show how perfectly excited we are all to be back in the swing of things.
 
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Do you remember the scene in Field of Dreams where Kevin Costner is walking through a corn field and hears a voice telling him “build it and he will come?” It’s one of the most memorable lines in the movie, although it is often adapted to build it and they will come. For me, that line, regardless of how it is worded, captures our homeschooling journey and family support.
 
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When we began homeschooling over 8 years ago, my home seemed to fit our needs for teaching math, English, history, and even science. When our oldest was in 8th grade, the reality of teaching upper-level sciences at home hit. While we had been schooling for years, I was afraid that my house was not really set up for chemistry and biology labs. Elementary science at the counter didn't seem as daunting as our soon-to-be foray into dissection and chemical compounds. And, to be honest, I wasn't entirely sure I was capable of recreating all the science labs. (Don't mention this to my high school science teacher, but my lab partner completed most of the actual lab processes while I did the lab write up and report). I knew that now I would approach science very differently with my children.
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