Curriculum Review : The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K

Inside: A full review of Pre-K curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful

A Full Curriculum Review of The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K

As you may already know, I began homeschooling our daughter, Arwyn, when she was 2 years old. It started out simply enough with some letter basics (singing ABC’s and recognizing a good bit), colors, shapes, etc. But it quickly became apparent that she was ready for more.

So when my daughter was about 2 1/2, I started using The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K with her. It was a curriculum I had researched (mainly through YouTube videos) and that came highly recommended.

Arwyn finished that curriculum back in July 2019 (just 6 months after starting), so I want to share our experience with you!

Arwyn doing a lesson in The Good & the Beautiful Pre-K

My Full Curriculum Review

Before we get started, know that at the time when I’m writing this, I am not affiliated with The Good and the Beautiful in any way. No one is paying me to do this review. But in the spirit of transparency, I will say that I would love to work with them some day, ONLY because of the positive experience I’ve had with their company and their products.

Below I’ll include my full review of the Pre-K curriculum from The Good & the Beautiful. Hopefully it will help to answer any of the questions you may have. If I’ve forgotten something or you have any other questions, drop a comment at the bottom, and I’ll answer to the best of my ability!

What is the Good & the Beautiful?

The Good & the Beautiful is a company created by Jenny Phillips, a fellow homeschooling mother. And like the title of the company implies, their curriculum emphasizes what’s good and beautiful in life. Children who use this curriculum learn to study art from a young age and also listen to music (recorded by Jenny Phillips herself) to remember and solidify concepts. There’s also a strong emphasis on good literature.

The curriculum does have the Christian worldview, which we personally love and were looking for.

The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K Sample Page

What does the Pre-K curriculum cover?

The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K is 53 lessons (112 pages) long and focuses mainly on the alphabet but also covers other pre-k related topics.

Concepts covered include:

  • letter recognition (including if the letter is uppercase or lowercase)
  • letter sounds
  • basic handwriting & fine motor skills
  • number recognition
  • counting
  • colors
  • shapes
  • rhyming
  • sorting
  • order of events

As I mentioned, the primary focus is the letters. There’s also handwriting practice in each lesson to start learning how the letters are formed. All other things covered are very much secondary.

The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K Course Book

The Good and the Beautiful is a more literature-heavy curriculum, so it makes sense that even at a young age, language would be the primary focus.

What age group is it for?

According to The Good and the Beautiful, the Pre-K course is for kids between the ages of 3 and 5.

With that being said, Arwyn had nearly completed the course before she turned 3. So if you have a child who is in love with learning and ready to soak it up, they could definitely start this curriculum before 3 and excel.

How will I know if my child is ready?

There is a placement assessment available on the website. To see what level of curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful fits your child best (or if they’re not quite ready to start yet), go here.

Fun learning Activities for a 2-Year-Old
Back when Arwyn was 2 years old, and we were working through the Pre-K course

How’s the ordering process?

Ordering from the website for The Good and the Beautiful is very simple. You can follow these steps:

  1. Go to thegoodandthebeautiful.com
  2. Hover your mouse over the tab that says “Pre-K – 8 Curriculum”
  3. Under the green “Language Arts” menu, click “View Levels”
  4. From the drop-down menu, select Pre-K
  5. Add it to your cart & check out!

Shipping was fairly quick, and I was able to track our order while (impatiently!) awaiting its arrival.

What’s included when you purchase the curriculum?

The course set comes with:

  • the Pre-K course book
  • 4 letter flip books
  • an activity packet with:
    • a number slider
    • a letter cube
    • Mouse House
    • Feed the Elephant
    • Hide and Seek Pets
    • Swat the Fly
    • Letter Memory

We can think of each of these three things (the course book, the flip books, and the activity packet) as a different layer in the learning process. Read more about each one below.

The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K Course Set

The course book

The course book is the framework for this curriculum. It’s the “bones” and structure. It’s where the concepts for the Pre-K course are introduced and lightly practiced.

It’s also super parent-friendly and easy to use. All of your instructions for what to do with your child in each lesson are found in the pages of the course book. AND it prompts you to use the flip books and materials found in the activity packet (though we did all of them more often than what the curriculum suggested).

The flip books

Each flip book covers 6-7 letters.

Uppercase letters are on the left, lowercase letters are in the middle, and a picture with the beginning sound of each letter is on the right.

The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K Flip Books

You and your child then flip through the book until you have a match all the way across. Very simple, and great practice!

This is the “repetition” layer of learning for our children. Seeing something over and over and over until it’s second nature and not something they have to think too hard about.

I will say that things like this may get “boring” to some children depending on their interest level, so try to find ways to keep it exciting. Even if it’s just being silly and playful as you do the activity together.

The activity Packet

Arwyn adored these activities and still occasionally asks for them even though she’s done with the Pre-K curriculum. They’re very simple games, but we always had fun with them!

The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K Activity Packet

It’s said that children learn best through play. So these activities are that hands-on ingredient that our kids need. (And of course, you don’t have to ONLY do the games included in the curriculum! We found other ways to play and learn too.)

Does the curriculum require any additional materials?

There are a few other things that you’ll use throughout your child’s time in the Pre-K course. At the beginning of the curriculum, there are 2 lists: one for things to always have on hand and the other for extra items needed during certain lessons.

You can gather all the materials at the same time before beginning the Pre-K curriculum with your child OR you could get them as you need them. For example, before each week begins, you could make a checklist of the items you need for that week. It’s probably easiest to gather them before starting the course, though, to make sure nothing is forgotten.

Thankfully, you may be able to find most of it around your house. We did!

How do you use it?

The real beauty of homeschooling is that the curriculum isn’t a holy grail. It’s a tool that you can use to best fit the needs of your child. So there’s not really a right or wrong way to use it.

We usually covered each lesson in a day, though there were some that required 2 days to complete. And we worked out of the course book 2-4 days a week, just depending on what other things I had planned and her personal interest.

The curriculum prompts you when to use the extras such as a flip book or a game from the activity packet. However, we often played the games more often than suggested. And you can totally do that (or modify the curriculum in any other way) if that’s what your child needs!

To watch us using this curriculum, check out this video over on our channel:

Is it effective?

Here’s the million-dollar question.

It was incredibly effective for Arwyn. She went into it with a fairly good grasp of letter recognition but not many sounds. This curriculum really helped her to solidify those sounds in her mind.

Between the lessons, the flip books, and the games, she was able to learn her sounds and get them down confidently (a skill she is now using to read short words in the K Primer curriculum).

She also had fun with it, which made it that much easier for her to absorb.

Arwyn's first day of homeschool 2019 | Pre-K
Arwyn was able to start this year using The Good and the Beautiful’s K Primer curriculum with confidence because of all the practice she had through the Pre-K course

Is it enough on its own?

Clearly, I love this curriculum. But is it thorough enough to stand on its own? I’m truly not sure.

Does it need supplementation from other curriculum? No, I don’t think so.

But should you supplement with other learning toys, games, tools, and creative activities (arts & crafts)? I did. Mainly because I wanted to present these foundational concepts to her as richly as possible, meaning I layered the way I taught it to her. I didn’t want to use just one source but come at it from different angles to really make sure the information got through in a meaningful way.

Plus, as I mentioned before, the curriculum is more focused on language foundations than anything else. While it has your child practice other skills, extra practice with counting, shapes, colors, etc. is likely needed for full understanding. But those things don’t require a curriculum.

Will I personally use it again?

Absolutely! Our youngest son isn’t 2 years old yet, but when he’s ready, I plan to use The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K curriculum with him as well.

Any other questions I could answer about our experience with The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K? Drop a comment below!

Until next time,

Audriana

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3 Tips for the New Stay-at-Home Mom

Inside: Three simple tips for transitioning to the stay-at-home mom life

Quitting your job to stay home with the kids? Here are 3 Tips for Your Transition to Stay-at-Home Motherhood

Some see stay-at-home mom life as simple and light on stress. As if our days are full of couch time and play. But while baby snuggles and playing games are part of the job description, there’s a lot more to being a stay-at-home mom than what most people realize.

3 Tips for When You’ve Decided to Stay at Home

If you’ve made your way to this article, I’ll assume that you’re either considering being a stay-at-home or that you’ve already decided to take the plunge. Either way, I want to say welcome! This life is so beautiful, but also demanding.

Here are a few of my tips for the transition to becoming a new stay-at-home mom.

And for more about life as a stay-at-home mom, check out this playlist over on our YouTube channel:

1. Realize you may face opposition

There are likely people in your life who just don’t understand or don’t approve of your decision to stay at home. It usually comes out of a loving place, but it’s marred by fear.

They worry how your family will financially survive.
They’re saddened that you’re “wasting” your potential.
They wonder how you’ll do it without losing your mind.
They think it would be better for the kids to be in daycare and socialize with others.

The list could go on.

But if you know that it’s coming, it’s easier to handle. So before you even announce your new plan, expect to hear concerns from family and friends.

At the end of the day, the choice concerning what's best for your family is between you, your husband, and God. No one else.

And while it can be hard, try to give them the benefit of the doubt and know that they’re saying these things because they love you. Try to not go to that mental dark place that says:

They’re against me.
They don’t believe in me.
They don’t understand me.
They don’t respect my decisions.

Instead, stay confident in your decision and loving in your approach to dealing with the naysayers.

We’re often encouraged to burn bridges and assume that anyone who doesn’t support our decisions is toxic. While that may be popular, we should be cautious before cutting off anyone just because they don’t see the value in our decision.

Instead, we can use this opportunity to build bridges. To show patience and kindness. To educate when we can and rely on the example of our lives when words aren’t enough. Simply put: prove them wrong without being vindictive.

2. Go easy on yourself

There’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to the stay-at-home mom life. Just like any job, it takes time to get accustomed to the daily flow. And unlike other jobs, you likely don’t have someone training you and showing you the best way to get it all done.

Mom carrying laundry
Between the kids, the laundry, the housework, and all the other roles, stay-at-home motherhood can be a balancing act that takes some time to perfect.

It can be so overwhelming to step into this role. You likely chose to do so because of your children. But being at home also means more housework. And meals. And learning to budget better due to loss of one income stream.

There’s a lot.

So be gentle with yourself. Even we perfectionists have to understand that we won’t be able to be 100% amazing 100% of the time. It’s just not possible. Especially in the beginning.

Now, does that mean that we just throw up our hands in defeat and think, “oh well, I’m just not the type of mom that’s good at this”? No! We keep pushing and little by little get our daily rhythm down to a science.

You can do this!

3. Resist the urge to dive into a “side hustle”

Speaking of your loss of one income, it may be tempting to pick up a side hustle. You’re used to doing some sort of job and may even feel guilty that your family has to be a little more financially conscientious now.

But resist the urge to take the bait with certain side hustles.

Motherhood is a valuable enough profession. You don't need another for validation of your worth.

let go of the pressure

First of all, as long as you and your husband agree, you don’t HAVE to have a job. Don’t feel any less valuable now than what you did while you were working. Don’t feel like you’re not pulling your weight. You’ll see in time just how valuable this decision is. So resist the mindset that says you’re “just” a stay-at-home mom. Being “just” a stay-at-home mom is a worthwhile and weighty thing.

be aware of predatory companies

Second, there are many “jobs” that are designed to prey on your current position. Ads for work-from-home jobs for moms are pretty popular. But they don’t tell you that they pay next to nothing for lots of work. They may also require expensive training that you have to pay for just to “maybe” find a position, which may not be a set-up that works for you financially right now.

the whole Network Marketing Thing

Then there’s network marketing. Been there, done that.

I don't really recommend network marketing -- 3 Tips for New Stay-at-Home Moms
Back when I was a product ambassador

I won’t tell you not to do it, but I would say be very cautious.

I do know of one woman in my area who is very successful in the main network marketing company I was a part of. BUT she was the first one to really be talking about that company in our area. Most ambassadors in our town are signed up under her, and she was able to get customers before people knew lots of other ambassadors selling it.

Even though every MLM claims to not be a pyramid scheme, they’re all modified versions of pyramid schemes, meaning those who get in on the ground floor (at least in a specific area) are the ones who are most likely to succeed.

With that said, I also won’t demonize any of the people who are involved with network marketing companies. They’re just trying to help provide for their families.

But it doesn’t work out for most people. And not just because they didn’t “hustle” hard enough.

Use wisdom, don’t hastily jump into anything, and you’ll be fine!

What questions do you have about life as a stay-at-home mom? I’d love to hear from you and answer what I can! Drop a comment below or email me at smithparty6@gmail.com!

Until next time,

Audriana

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This Year, We're Taking the Challenge: 1000 Hours Outside

Inside: All about the 1000 Hours Outside challenge and how you and your kids can participate

Heard of the 1000 Hours Outside challenge? Learn why our family has decided to spend 1000 hours outside this year.

Before we get started, you can find out more about the challenge and the mission of 1000 Hours Outside here.


Ever notice that kids are completely different after having time outdoors? Especially when they’re allowed to go outside consistently? There are scientific reasons for that.

Our kids need time outside, but these days, the time they spend in nature is dwindling. According to an article by childmind.org, the average American child only gets about 7 minutes of unstructured outdoor play per day. And much more time in front of screens.

I get it! My kids have screens too. But we now know that too much screen time is damaging to the mind of a child, especially with a hand-held device.

This is a rising problem that’s being confronted by the 1000 Hours Outside challenge.

What is the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge?

I recently heard of it when a friend shared that she and her kids would be taking the challenge this year. It piqued my interest, so I looked into it.

Started by a married couple with 5 kids of their own, 1000 Hours Outside is all about getting families outside in nature. Ginny and Josh (the founding couple) noticed that outdoor spaces such as hiking trails were usually devoid of children and asked themselves why.

Through research, they found that it’s recommended for children to spend 4-6 HOURS outside daily. But the amount of outdoor time kids are actually getting is staggeringly less.

They set out to change that for their own family and committed to more outdoor time together — something they’ve never regretted. Now, they encourage other families to take the plunge and get outside.

Arwyn playing in a stream - 1000 Hours Outside

Why Take the Challenge?

While 1,000 hours outside may seem like a lot, the average American child spends 1,200 hours a year or more in front of screens (and that number is on the rise).

Sadly, I can say our family isn’t immune to the epidemic. Our kids have tablets they can play on when they’re done with chores, we often watch movies as a family in the evenings, and my son is starting to really enjoy video games like Minecraft and the LEGO series. Add it all up, and that’s a lot of hours each year in front of a screen. Again, damaging stuff.

How Behavior is Affected

Aside from the science, I notice a major shift in my kids when they’ve had too much screen time. They become impatient, whiny, and irritable. They’re more likely to be disrespectful, and they often complain about being “bored” when not entertained by a screen.

These are just some of the reasons why kids NEED outdoor time. Their behavior when they’ve had the chance to explore and enjoy nature is in stark contrast to their screen-influenced behavior.

More time in the great outdoors has been linked to:

  • healthier kids with greater immunity
  • greater cognitive development
  • greater social/emotional development
  • improved sensory skills
  • increased attention spans
  • better moods
Lexi Climbing Rocks -- 1000 Hours Outside Challenge

For more on that, check out this article from Sanford Health. You can also read this article from Harvard Health on 6 reasons why children need to play outside.

How can you participate?

It’s simple. There’s no sign-up process or anything daunting.

Step 1: Download and print the tracker from the 1000 Hours Outside website to help keep track of your family’s hours.
Step 2: Get outside as much as possible!

If you do the math, 1000 hours spread out over 365 days is a little over 2 1/2 hours a day. Of course, this is assuming the kids can go out daily.

For our family, I’ve scheduled several points in our day when we can go outside. There will likely be days when we’re not able to make it outside, like when the weather is too bad or the kids are sick. So our plan is to make up for those days in spring and summer when we can spend longer periods of time outside.

1000 Hours Outside Tracker Sheet

Get the tracker from 1000 Hours Outside here!

What if you can’t personally commit to 1000 Hours Outside?

You may be a super busy momma with a lot on your plate but still want your kids to be able to spend 1000 hours outside. Even we stay-at-home moms may have some trouble being outside every time that our kids are. I plan to spend as much time outside with them as I can, but here are some solutions for days when it just doesn’t work out.

Split it with Your Spouse

Could you and your husband divide and conquer? Maybe sometimes you can all be outside as a family, but other days only one of you can take the kids out. Either way, the kids are still getting their 1000 hours.

Entrust Another Adult

Do grandma and grandpa like to pick up the kids for outings? What about an aunt or uncle? Is there someone else who you trust who would like to take the kids to the playground or hiking trails a few times a month?

Dad and the Boys Outside - 1000 Hours Outside
My dad enjoying time outside with our boys

Supervise from Inside

Do you have a window in your home that overlooks your yard? I know for some people this isn’t an option. But if it is and you feel comfortable doing so, let the kids play outside while you get things done and keep an eye on them from inside.

What if you’re reading this after January 1st?

That’s okay! As the old adage goes, better late than never. It’s still possible to reach 1000 hours even after the year has already started OR you can set a goal that at least stretches you to get your kids outside as much as possible.


Don’t forget to go check out the 1000 Hours Outside website! They’ve got a lot of great information to encourage you through the process and remind you of why it’s important. They also have ideas for fun nature-related activities.

Have you ever taken the 1000 Hours Outside challenge? Will you be doing it this year? Drop a comment below! I’d love to hear from others who will be participating.

Until next time,

Audriana

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Top 10 Summer Products from Grove Collaborative

Inside: Wondering what to buy from Grove Collaborative this summer? Here are my favorite things to get in our Grove subscription during the hot months!

Top 10 Summer Products from Grove Collaborative

We’re a little late in the season, but if you’re looking to squeeze the last drops from summer by filling your home with uplifting scents and spending hours outside while skipping those pesky bug bites, you’ve come to the right place.

What should I buy from Grove Collaborative?

If you don’t already know, Grove Collaborative is the bomb dot com. Natural products, good prices, delivered to your door every month (and free shipping for VIP’s). They have things that keep your home clean, things that make you clean, things that make your kids clean–ALL the cleaning things. And a lot more (it seems like they’re constantly adding to their product selection).

To sign up for Grove, you can use my link and get a FREE 5-piece gift set! Right now, that includes:

  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s Multi-Surface Spray
  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap
  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s Dish Soap
  • Free Grove Bubble Up Dish Brush
  • Free Grove Bubble Up Dish Dispenser
  • Free Grove Walnut Scrubber Sponges
  • Free Shipping with VIP Trial for 60 Days

(I use everything on that list and love them all!)

Mrs. Meyers 5-piece Gift Set

But if you’re a Grove newbie (or a seasoned veteran looking for new hings to try) you may be curious about what you should throw in your cart for your next order.

My Grove Collaborative Summer Favorites (for the Home)

I can’t speak for everyone, but these are things I personally use (most of which I have in my home right now) and love! We’ll start with my home-related favorites.

Mrs. Meyer’s Lavender Laundry Detergent

Mrs. Meyer's Lavender Laundry Detergent

Let’s be real–I just love Mrs. Meyers. Period. I haven’t bought anything from this company that doesn’t smell great. And the laundry detergent is no exception.

We have to be careful in this house about scented laundry detergent (my husband and one of our kiddos get rashes from most scented detergents) but Mrs. Meyer’s gets the green light.

And we’re all mildly obsessed with lavender, so that’s what we get!

Honeysuckle Room Refresher Spray

Mrs. Meyer's Honeysuckle Room Refresher Spray

This scent is AH.MAY.ZING! Seriously.

We also love the dish soap and hand wash in this scent. But the room refresher spray made the list because I love to make our living room and bedrooms smell like honeysuckle.

Plus with it being summer, the kids play outside A LOT. And let’s face it, when we all file back inside, the smell we bring with us isn’t always so great. A little spritz of honeysuckle freshens the house back up.

Aunt Fannie’s All-Purpose Pest Remedy

Aunt Fannie's All-Purpose Pest Remedy

Because spiders and centipedes. Nuff said.

Seventh Generation Dish Soap – Lavender & Mint

Even though I love me some Mrs. Meyer’s, Seventh Generation also smells so darn good! So I alternate between brands and keep my senses happy.

But what I also love is that it isn’t just one of those plant-based products that smells good but doesn’t get the job done. It actually cuts through grease and gets our dishes nice and sparkly without crazy scrubbing.

Grove Soy Candle – Grapefruit & Lemon Peel

Soy candles for the win! Health wise, we know they’re better. But they don’t always smell as strong as traditional wax candles. Honestly, even the ones from Grove are more lightly scented than regular candles BUT I’ve gotten used to it. And now other candles kind of give me a headache.

And the citrus scent is uplifting for the mood and makes my brain think “clean and fresh.”

Counter Culture – Geranium

Counter Culture Probiotic Cleaning Tonic

This stuff is just super cool.

I used to be an ambassador for a health and wellness company that really emphasized gut health. While I’m no longer doing the network marketing thing, I still am all about the microbiome. So when I saw this, I couldn’t NOT try it.

Most of the products we use focus on killing everything, but this product is a good way to replenish and promote beneficial microbes.

The geranium scent is super light, so I don’t necessarily use it for the way it makes our kitchen smell. But more for the added benefit of having those helpful little microorganisms hanging out on the counter.

Personal Care Summer Favorites from Grove

So in addition to home-related goods, Grove also has a ton of awesome personal care products. These are my favorites for the summer time.

Aunt Fannie’s Kids Mosquito Repellent Spray

Aunt Fannie's Mosquito Spray for Kids

Oh the bugs. Especially mosquitoes.

I don’t know what it is about us, but mosquitoes love to take as many nibbles of our little family as they possibly can while we’re outdoors. And all of us welt up pretty badly. Back in the day, I toughed it out. Put some clear nail polish on it to keep from digging at it, and I was good.

But I hate seeing those angry red bumps all over my babes’ legs. So when I saw that Grove had Aunt Fannie’s, I was all over it.

It smells really nice! I will say that it’s a little oily, so after we spray it on the kids, we rub it in a tad to disperse it evenly. But most importantly, it works.

Smarty Pits Sensitive Aluminum-Free Deodorant

SmartyPits Aluminum Free Deodorant for Sensitive Skin - Lavender Rose

YES.

Obviously during summer, we need a good, reliable deodorant.

I’ve been using this one for almost a year now while also trying a couple other brands, and this one is my favorite by far. It ticks all the boxes:

  • aluminum-free
  • smells good
  • makes sure I smell good
  • doesn’t irritate my sensitive pits

So it’s a keeper.

Rooted Beauty Facial Towlettes

Rooted Beauty Sensitive Facial Towelettes

These were originally a free gift in one of my orders, but I fell in love with them, so I’ve ordered them twice now. Granted, I’m not one to usually use facial wipes at night, so I don’t have much to compare them to.

But the smell awesome, make my face nice and smooth, and hydrate it too. Plus they take my makeup off super easily. I don’t wear a ton anyway (just concealer under my eyes, powder, eyeliner, mascara and the very occasional eye shadow), but it’s nice to be able to just wipe gently to get it off instead of scrubbing with soap and water.

And during summer, they com in handy to freshen up my face after coming inside on a hot day.

Grove Mint & Argan Oil Lip Balm

Grove Collaborative Mint & Argan Lip Balm

This was my very first free gift included in an order, and I still love it. And my kids must love it too because they steal it all the time.

It smells good (kind of a big deal for me since I’ve mentioned the scent on pretty much everything so far) and makes my lips silky smooth and protected from dry air in the winter too.

If you don’t already have a Grove Collaborative account, don’t forget to go sign up with my link! You’ll get a free 5-piece Mrs. Meyer’s gift set.

Until next time,

Audriana

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How to Handle Sibling Fighting | Teaching Kids to Work Through Their Disagreements

Inside: Dealing with a lot of sibling fighting in your home? Disagreements are bound to happen. Here’s how to handle them and teach your children to work through them.

How to Handle Sibling Fighting: teaching kids how to disagree

Tears streaming.
Everyone’s screaming.
Two of my children are in front of me, trying to yell their side of the story loudest, hoping they’ll be the one I deem as “right.”
One is clenching their fists and turning red.
The other is jumping up and down in frustration.

And I’m standing there, becoming frustrated myself and wondering how we got to this point and how I can make it STOP.

On any given day, this is the scenario I picture as I hear those tell-tale signs. The huffs. Their pitch and volume increasing as they begin to disagree. A stomp here. An “I’m not playing with you anymore” there. The scene I described above is where I know it’s headed.

So as soon as I hear it, my anxiety starts to rise. I want to stop it in it’s tracks. I want them to get along. To not have all these sibling spats.

But unfortunately, that’s just not realistic.

The truth is, siblings are going to argue…

What we can change is how they do it. How they process their emotions, express them, and how well they listen to others and consider their point-of-view.

My kids at the pond, spending quality time.

The Old Way of Dealing with Sibling Fighting

My usual way of handling their arguments was what I thought was the right way.

Get them to stop yelling.
Have each tell their side of the story.
Put on my judge hat and decide what each of them did wrong.
Talk to them about it.
Make them apologize and hug it out.
Time-outs given when/if necessary.
If I’d refereed my limit of fights for the day, I’d tap out and have them figure it all out themselves. After all, they have to figure it out at some point, right?

But was it working? Was I teaching them anything about empathy or understanding the other person? Was I teaching them how to work through their emotions without throwing verbal darts at other people? Was I preventing future meltdowns? Or just getting by? (And even doing some damage by trying to get them to stuff their feelings?)

So I went searching.

For the most part, I found other people doing things similar to what I was already doing. I also found tips about things like getting a giant tee shirt for them to share, making them hold hands, sit nose to nose or wash opposite sides of the same glass. All of that (while tempting) sounded more like punishing them with each other’s presence. That was the opposite of what I wanted.

So what was a method that would actually work and help them learn valuable communication skills in the process?

"How can we expect our kids to learn patience and empathy if we don't teach them?" Teach kids patience and empathy - How to handle sibling fighting

The New Way

As I shared with you in another post, God has been really changing my perspective on parenting. While I could understand the thought process behind all the usual methods of dealing with sibling rivalry, my heart was telling me there was more. There had to be a better way. Settling for “well they just don’t like each other. Let them sort it out” wasn’t going to cut it.

I understand I can’t always be the referee. Who even wants to do that? I know allowing them to solve their own conflicts fosters independence and maturity. But my kids need tools to figure it out first, or it will be the blind leading the blind. Nothing will truly get resolved, and no lessons on empathy and respect for relationships with others will actually be learned.

I looked at a ton of resources. And finally I was able to boil it down to the absolute best ways to help my kids transform their relationship.

First things first, home environment matters! But I also found a really practical way to deal with the conflict while it’s happening. Ready?

Before a Fight Erupts

Preventing outbursts sometimes comes down to having the right foundations already in place for solid relationships and good self-esteem. Here are some things to have in place as a constant:

For positive parent/child relationships

  • Emphasize strengths in all your children, praise them individually, honor their individuality & celebrate their differences.
  • Allow unconditional love to rule in your home.
  • Fill each child’s cup with love and attention often, and regularly spend one-on-one time with them.
  • Try not to yell. Monkey see, monkey do, right? If we handle conflicts by yelling, chances are they will too. For more on that, read this post.

For positive sibling relationships

  • Have a zero tolerance policy for yelling, hitting, saying mean things, etc.
  • Give them problems to solve together, and play games that require them to work as a team
  • Acknowledge & praise them when they’re helping one another
  • Avoid interrupting happy play
  • Make sure each gets their personal space
  • Raise their oxytocin levels with laughing, singing, dancing, rough-housing, etc.
  • Teach them to pray for one another

A good idea shared on another blog: teach them that its their choice how they react to other people. For more on that, you can read this article by Mama in the Now.

A Word on Being a Prayerful Mom

What are you seeing in your home? Either when your children fight or just in general. Anger, frustration, misunderstanding, impatience, selfishness? Pray against those things!

In their place, ask God to strengthen everyone’s desire for His peace, joy, kindness, and unity (or the fruits of His Spirit in general). Ask Him to help each person with understanding. And daily choose unconditional love and respect for others in your home.

It starts with us. We’re the homemakers, not just outwardly but spiritually as well. Water the garden of your heart by drinking from the well of the Word daily. It will give you sound wisdom and better equip you to have the right perspective and the words to say in the moment. Time with God makes us better models for our kids and gives us the patience to walk through the hard stuff with mercy and grace.

Time in the word and prayer help in all facets of life, including when we need guidance for parenting our children through their disagreements.

When Conflict Strikes

When conflict does arise, be prepared to be patient. Especially in the beginning. We’re in the early stages of implementing this strategy in our home, and it isn’t something that just happens over night.

When I was researching, I nearly leaped out of my seat after coming to a blog post on the “Peace Process.” I’ll include the link below. I LOVE the author and her perspective. It’s full of truth and wisdom. Definitely worth the read!

So what exactly does this process entail?

The Peace Process

1) Calm down

First things first–take a deep breath. I know the rush of irritation that comes from hearing the whining voices and stomping feet. But our level of calmness affects theirs. Conflict is normal, and how we model frustration-management matters because it’s going to shape how they see conflict and manage it in the future.

Once you’re calm and ready to jump in, address the kids.

"Mom sets the mood. Aim to be a thermostat instead of a thermometer." How to handle sibling fights

Simply put, we all need our space sometimes in the heat of debate. Especially if feelings have been hurt. If everyone is yelling over top of each other and the tears are rolling, give them a minute. See if they calm down when they notice you’re calm.

If not, use a firm voice to cut through the noise, and ask if they need a break on their own before working anything out.

2) Understand each other

This step is for both us and our kids.

While they’re calming down, ask yourself how you can let the kids know you understand the way they’re feeling. Also think about how you may be able to help them understand one another.

When they’re ready, ask them to think about how the other person may be feeling. It’s important not to take sides here. Stay neutral, remembering the problem is whatever they’re arguing about, NOT them.

Once each of them has given an explanation of the other’s feelings, have them give one another feedback. Were they spot on? Or were they interpreting the other child’s feelings incorrectly?

3) Solve the conflict

Ask them:

  • In this situation, what could you have done differently to keep from fighting?
  • Did your actions hurt someone else? How?
  • How do you want to make things right?

At first, they’ll most likely need help processing through this step, especially if they’re used to the blame game. This method emphasizes taking responsibility for your own actions instead of looking at what others did wrong.

"It takes a big heart to shape little minds."

It is so so so important during this phase to remember: no condemnation.

The way we word these questions and the tone of our voice as we deliver them really makes a difference. If you’re trying to heap shame on them for not communicating effectively, it’s not going to solve the problem. In reality, it will make them more likely to lie or become defensive.

It’s super easy for us to jump in and start pointing fingers. But if this is going to work, we need to help them realize where they went wrong and what they could have done better. And they won’t do that if they have their defenses up.

Side note: make sure children know the difference between an argument and bullying. It’s important for them to know if someone is bullying them, there’s nothing they personally did wrong.

4) Celebrate

Woohoo! They did it, and you’re one step closer to intervening a lot less. High fives and encouraging words all around! Even baby steps of progress are worth praise. It’s hard to work through issues even for us adults sometimes!

After helping the kids work through their arguments, make sure to celebrate (for them and you)!

For more on the Peace Process and other truly awesome tidbits, visit To Love, Honor, and Vacuum’s article here.

Doesn’t sound like it’s for you? Of course there are other methods out there. This is just the one we chose for our home. Another great idea from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls: along with using more behavioral methods to address the conflict, address the heart with engaging Bible lessons at home. You can check out her verse lesson on Proverbs 12:18 here.

There ya have it! It’s all about creating positive relationships, being prayerful, and implementing a plan that teaches kids to examine their own hearts and what they could do better.

Sure, it’s a lot of work to get there. But for us, it’s worth it to transform our family and get our kids character development off to a healthy start.

What other ways have you found that work for handling sibling fighting? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Audriana

New here? Learn more about our family here, and check out our YouTube channel!

7 Steps to Plan Your Homeschool Week (with a Free Printable!)

Inside: A simple way to plan your homeschool week

7 Steps to Plan Your Homeschool Week

Are you new to homeschooling and wondering how to plan each homeschool week?

Here you’ll find the way that’s working well for me (with a free printable if your brain works the same way mine does)!

How to Plan a Week of Homeschool

FIRST, you’ll need to have your yearly plan set. If you need some help with that, check out this post:

How to Plan Your Homeschool Year in as Little as One Weekend

Once you’ve got that settled, follow these 7 steps to plan your homeschool week:

Step 1: DownLoad the Printable

For my homeschool planning sheets, I use this printable.

Homeschool Planning Sheets

It organizes our week by subjects, which we’ll talk about more in a minute! The big space allows me to write about our lessons in detail, making it easier for me to know exactly what we’re doing each day.

You can hole-punch your sheets and put them into a small binder to use as a homeschool planner. Then at the end of the year, include copies of your lesson plans into your kids’ portfolios (if that’s something you have to do in your state).

Since the lesson plans are organized by subject, it makes it easy to put them right in with the worksheets, tests, or other assignments and keep everything neat and organized.

If you want to use these, sheets, download your copy by subscribing to my email list (I send out just 2 monthly emails) here:

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ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER? Head over to the free resource library to download the lesson planning sheets!

Step 2: Check Your Year at a Glance

So once you’ve got your planner situation figured out, it’s time to consult the yearly plan you’ve laid out.

I have mine set up in Google Sheets, where I can easily access it from any device. While I’m making our weekly plan, I pull up our Year at a Glance on my phone and have it sitting next to me where I can refer to it easily.

Step 3: break It Down by Subject

Then I take it one subject at a time. For every week, I fill out 5 sheets: language arts, math, rotating (science, social studies & interest study), special (art, nature, music & library), and Bible.

Those just happen to be the subjects I need for the different slots in our day, but you can customize your plan to fit what you need.

Homeschool Weekly Lesson Plan -- Special

Some of those are done family style, while others are done one-on-one. For the family-style subjects, I simply use the whole block for each day. But since I’m teaching 3 children, for the one-on-one subjects, I split each block into 3 separate sections.

Step 4: Fill in the Basics

Consulting the year-at-a-glance, I then write down which lesson we’ll be doing in each subject each day. I’ve already done the hard part of this during the yearly planning. Now I’m just taking the data from my sheet and writing it into our weekly plan.

Filled out lesson plan -- plan homeschool week

Step 5: Consult Your Curriculum

But thorough planning (that truly makes the week smoother) requires a little more than that. So at this point, I open up their books and do a quick look at each lesson we’ll be covering. Then I write down the name of the lesson and a few words describing it.

This also gives me a chance to prepare for step 7.

Step 6: Fill in Their Checklists

I then take a moment to fill out my kids’ checklists for the week. For more on that, check out this post:

Simplify your week with a daily homeschool checklist!

Step 7: Take Care of the Extras

When you’re done with everything else, make any other preparations each lesson may need.

Cutting out game cards or an art template.
Gathering extra supplies you don’t have at home.
Making a library run to pick up a suggested book.
Printing a handwriting page or worksheet.
Downloading a song that your kids will need to learn.

You know, all the extras. Make everything as simple as you possibly can for the future Monday-morning-you. She’ll thank you later!

What’s your biggest challenge with homeschool planning? Where’s the most chaos? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Audriana

New here? Check out our family’s About page and visit our YouTube channel!

How to Simplify Your Week with a Homeschool Daily Checklist

Inside: Homeschool daily checklist 101 – what is it, how to use it, and a free printable!

Simplify Your Day with a Homeschool Daily Checklist

Needing a way to help your child stay on task? Become more independent and responsible for their work? Or just wanting to teach them about staying accountable and getting the job done?

Using a homeschool daily checklist helps us organize our week and is preparing my kids to be more responsible as they get older.

What is a homeschool daily checklist?

To put it simply, it’s a list that allows you and your child to see what’s left to accomplish for the homeschool day (and the week). A homeschool daily checklist lists all of your student’s subjects and what they’ll be doing in those subjects for the day. When the lesson or assignment is completed, they simply check it off.

Our homeschool daily checklists

Why Use One?

My kids are still young (our oldest is 6), but using a checklist every week helps give them a visual representation of the work that we need to get through on a daily and weekly basis. Which means they ask me “are we almost done?” less!

As they get older, it’ll also make them more responsible for their own work. Right now, they have some independent assignments, but for the most part, I’m guiding them or completely doing lessons with them. But when they’re older, a homeschool daily checklist will be a great way to keep them on track and show them what they still need to work on without all of the hand-holding.

It’s also great practice to help your child learn to read charts!

How to Use a Homeschool Daily Checklist

Filling out the homeschool assignment checklist

So to do this, you’ll first need to:

  1. have your plan for the year done and
  2. have a weekly lesson plan

(Or at least that’s how I organize mine!) For more on planning your homeschool year, check out this post:

How to Plan a Full Year of Homeschool in as Little as One Weekend

And keep an eye out for a post where I share our free lesson planning printable!

Writing Your Weekly Plan

So first, I make our weekly lesson plan based on our yearly plan. Then I take my weekly lesson plan for each subject and write it (in a more simplified form) on each of my kids’ weekly checklists.

For example, I’ll look at my plans for Bible. Let’s say we’re in the book of Exodus that week. My lesson plan would include details for the chapters and ideas we were covering each day. Then on the checklist, I’d just write the theme or chapters of the day. So when we’re talking about Mount Sinai and God giving the ten commandments, I could either write “10 commandments” in the box OR “chapters 19-20.”

Where to Put It

Next, put the daily checklist in a place where your student can easily access it and check it off daily. We have folders where I put their daily independent work, and the front of those folders have a clear pocket — the perfect spot for our checklists!

Our homeschool daily checklist in the front pocket of a folder

How Your Child Uses Their Checklist

Every day, your child will then check off their tasks as they’re completed. Like I said, since my children are still young, I guide them through their day. But the checklist is preparing them for going it alone.

So if your child is older, they can look at each task on their list, complete them one-by-one, and check them off as they go.

Right now, as we get each activity done, I’ll give my kids a gentle reminder.

“Okay we’re all finished with your math lesson. What do you get to do now?”
“Check off my list!”

SIDE NOTE: Consider building in some time at the end of the week to have “catch-up time” for any assignments that had to be pushed back or needed some extra work. If there’s ever a time when everything is done, the kids get extra time playing or doing something else they enjoy.

Our Checklist

We do nine different subjects/activities that I wanted to have space for: Bible, language arts, handwriting, reading, math, social studies, science, interest study, and specials (music, art, nature, and library).

In our box for language arts, I also included a breakdown of the different things we do during that time (phonics, sight words, spelling, and our lesson from The Good & the Beautiful). It just helps keep us on track and remember what words they’re supposed to be working on every week.

Our Checklist

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The first page of the printable includes the subjects we use, and the second page is blank for you to customize it to your family’s needs.

How to Customize it

No one wants to have to write every subject every time they make a checklist for the week. Instead, I suggest writing your child’s name and your subjects once. Then make color copies of that sheet for however many weeks you’ll be homeschooling this year.

Whatever saves a little time!

Have you ever used a homeschool daily checklist like this? If not, what system did you use to keep lessons and assignments organized in your homeschool? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Audriana

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