Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Embracing the Differences

Do you ever look around you, maybe at your sisters or your friends, and wonder if everyone’s marriage and family life are like yours? I do. I already know, since my older sister is my closest friend, that her marriage is nothing like mine. You might be thinking, “of course no woman’s marriage is like another’s!”, but I would respectfully disagree. I think that there are definite patterns in all relationships, and I think that these patterns have everything to do with temperament.

However, I am getting ahead of myself. My main point is this: I live in a very passionate (to use my husband’s word) or intense (to use mine) house. My husband and I are both extremely intense people. We are both Type-A personalities who tackle everything we do head-on and 100%. Now, try to imagine what that looks like in a conflict situation! I met my husband when I was 18 years old, and I thank the good Lord every day that He led me to him at a tender age because, had a few more years gone by, I don’t know if we could have grown together enough to compensate for our…intensity!

Naturally, then, my marriage won’t in any way resemble that of someone who is herself intense but married to a more laid-back individual. The dynamic is completely different. Still more different would be the marriage of two laid-back people. What a quiet household that would be! The real adjustments come, though, when children enter the picture. As you may know if you read Heart of the Matter regularly, writing about gifted children is my calling. Well, one hallmark of gifted children tends to be – guess what? Their intensity. Oh, boy!

The older my children get, and my oldest two are only just eight and six, the more interesting the dynamic in our house becomes. Without getting too technical (if you’re like me, you turn to Heart of the Matter first thing in the morning!), Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski isolated five different types of intensities typically exhibited by gifted kids: psychomotor, sensual, emotional, intellectual, and imaginational. Although your child certainly may have more than one of these intensity types, it is likely that one of them is more predominant than the others. For characteristics of all the intensity types, please reference this article. If you’ve never before thought of your child as gifted, reading some of these characteristics may cause you to look at him in a new light!

As you read through the characteristics, though, you might very well have another thought: with the exception of the intellectual intensity, surely the one typically associated with a gifted child, the other descriptions bring to mind a child who might not always be quite so easy to parent! While my six year-old son, referred to in previous posts as “N” is absolutely highly intellectual, he also possesses every psychomotor characteristic in spades! When you combine that with his emotional intensity, you have a child who would surely be diagnosed with something were he in public school. In my darkest moments, I silently wonder if he has ADHD, but then I watch him read or play Legos for hours, or watch him master a math concept three grade levels ahead in a matter of minutes. Hence, when well-meaning friends watching him have an emotional breakdown ask, “has he been diagnosed with anything?”, my ready response is, “yes: B-O-Y.”

Perhaps this discussion of the characteristics of gifted children seems like a digression from my original starting point, but it is really all part of my twofold mission in writing for HOTM: to help others identify, learn about, and nurture their gifted children, and to help homeschooling moms avoid the terrible trap of comparing themselves in anyway with anyone. I hope that this piece helps you further to see why it is so pointless to make these comparisons. Not only can you not compare your priorities with anyone else’s (yours are not theirs), but you can’t compare your families, because each family has its own particular combination of temperaments. My family’s boiling pot of two intense parents, two intense older children, one intense younger twin, and one (thank the good Lord!) placid and sweet younger twin makes for a very unique combination that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Of course there are other families with all intense personalities, and those families understand the, ahem, passionate house in which I live. The quiet and calm families at which I gaze longingly probably think my whole household should be teleported to an insane asylum!

So, what’s the upshot? The same as always! Trust in God! He gave you the spouse who is right for you, just as he gifted you with the children who are right for you! If you ever find yourself wondering why it seems that yours is the noisest, or most intense, house on the block, or, conversely, why your family seems to coast along in serenity while your best friend calls you in tears weekly because there has been yet another blowup over *something* in her household, consider the temperaments of the people who make up your family. Maybe it’s an angle you’ve never before considered!

Keeping Kids Busy During the Summer - HOTM Post

If you missed my June post on Heart of the Matter, I'm re-posting it here. I just read it again, and there really are some good ideas in here (if I say so myself!).

Summer is here! What does that mean in your home and/or homeschool? For my children, it means that very little will change. Oh, the afterschool activities that begin to consume us by May are slowly beginning to taper off, and the Houston heat is descending on us like an unwanted sauna treatment, but apart from a short break, our studies will continue apace. In fact, I consider summer one of the best times for homeschooling! At least where we live, it is really too hot to play outside for the majority of the day, and the cessation of afterschool activities means that more time is freed for creative play. I have noticed that when we take more than a week off from school at any given time, every single one of my children begins to miss school. The math books come out, the spelling tiles emerge, and the reenactments of the Trojan War become even fiercer. When I announce that our break is over, I don’t know who is more excited – the kids or me! I definitely understand, though, that there are some huge benefits to taking the summer off – avoiding mom burnout might be one of the biggest! When you are living with gifted kids, though, sometimes too much free time is not something to be embraced!

Okay, confession time: I wasn’t actually entirely sure what I wanted to say in this post. I knew that I wanted to talk about the challenges of keeping gifted kids (read: gifted boys) busy, particularly keeping their minds and hands focused on positive and constructive activities, rather than the less desirable alternative.

Boys in general simply exude energy. When you combine the nature of boy with the nature of a gifted child, you may find yourself sitting on a keg of gunpowder! During the year, we have school, followed by rest time, followed by afterschool activities. (This site is wonderful if you are trying to assess whether you might have a gifted child based solely on academic considerations; my concern is more with the behavioral challenges associated with parenting and schooling gifted children. For more on the behavioral characteristics of gifted children, please see this article, which I’ve referenced before.)

When “N”, my nearly seven year-old son is home, he is happy enough for the time to spend with his Legos, his puzzles, his books, and his dog. There is relatively little time for madness and mayhem, although he certainly manages his fair share in a short period of time. Enter summer, though, and everything changes! We still have school, to be sure, but as I have indicated before, “N” requires short lessons replete with content, or I will lose his attention entirely. Hence, school does not occupy even half the day. With no afterschool activities, finding no-cost ways to engage his mind has been high on my list of priorities! So, whether you plan to school this summer or not, following is my list of “N” boredom busters (they’ll work for my other three kids, too! “N” is my challenge: think of him as Mikey in the Life cereal commercial!).

Puzzles – of all kinds: jigsaw, crossword, logic, Sudoku, Rubik’s Cube. Anything that engages the brain and holds the attention for a span of time. There are many puzzles online at Puzzler Paradise, but don’t discount the magic of a good old fashioned puzzle book and a pencil!

Battle Simulations – my sons love army men. They can’t have too many army men. I have come across battles in which twentieth century soldiers are firing upon dinosaurs, zoo animals, and insects (we have entirely too many plastic animals at my house!). “N” makes catapults from Legos and rubber bands, and all kinds of objects go flying. This summer, I am going to surprise him with Junior General. If you have not seen this site, and if you have a boy who loves to play soldiers, you are in for a real treat!

Crafts – knitting, Origami, crochet, latch hook, etc. Don’t discount these activities just because you have a boy. I’ll admit that I was dubious at first when “N” asked me to teach him how to knit, but I have been amazed at what a calming activity it has been for him. In fact, those are his very words, “It is very calming, Mommy.” I’m sold. This is the child who literally can’t sit still. When he knits, though, he gets in the same zen mode that I do when I knit. He also learns patience and the joy of creating something that will last.

Organizing - it sounds crazy, but if your gifted son is anything like mine (and many gifted kids share this characteristic), he’s a champion organizer. He likes order. Put that skill to use! Give him an organizing task! Let him clean out his drawers, the pantry, the art supply cabinet, or anything that needs an organizing touch! If you happen to be blest with an organizing gene yourself, and don’t require this service, then head for your nearest food or clothing pantry. Teach your child the joy of volunteering while simultaneously offering up his meticulous talents to those in need!

Free time - this one is kind of dicey. Free time can go either way in my house. It can be the source of amazing creativity and inspiration, or it can lead to a whiny, “I’m bored!” Now, that phrase is a dangerous one for my kids to utter. It may result in a not very fun housecleaning task. However, study after study has shown that free play time is key to the development of intelligent and creative children, so certainly allowing for plenty of it is essential!

Whether you plan to school or not this summer, keeping kids occupied during their free summer hours can prove to be a challenge. With a little forethought, though, you can meet this challenge, and prepare for the best summer ever!

Review of Expedition China DNG Unit Study

It is getting so that anticipating Amanda Bennett’s Download N Go™ unit studies is becoming one of the highlights of my homeschooling month! While I know that somewhere online I can find out what is coming next from the DNG team, I love the surprise of finding the unit that I next get to review waiting in my inbox. It’s like a double treat: I get the surprise of finding out the subject to be studied, followed by the actual study itself. You see, if you are unfamiliar with Amanda Bennett’s shorter, bite-sized (as I have come to think of them) unit studies, it really doesn’t matter what you are currently studying in your homeschool. You always have time either to take a short break to work on the current Download N Go™ topic or, as is more usually the case, to work the current Download N Go™ topic in to your present course of study. Amanda’s and The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine’s current offering is no exception.

There are so many ways to make Expedition China relevant to any homeschooling topics of study. Geography is an easy and obvious one, but what about world cultures, ecology, history, biology, and languages? One of my favorite features of Download N Go™ unit studies is their adaptability. Yes, they are specifically designed to lead you through a complete unit in one week’s time; however, you are completely free to use any part of the unit, at any time, in any way that you see fit! More than any other of this series that I have yet seen, Expedition China particularly lends itself to this type of flexibility. Now that it is abundantly clear that I am entranced both by this form of unit study (I think I need either to put Amanda Bennett on my Christmas Card list or friend her on Facebook!) and by the choice of China as a subject for Download N Go™, let’s look at exactly what makes this unit study so compelling.

First, as with all of the studies in this series, the book list alone justifies the price. With so many books for children available on the topic of China, winnowing the list can be a daunting project at best. Recently, I returned from a trip to the library with no less than 13 books – on Marco Polo alone! That list doesn’t even include the older narrative stories that I had already downloaded and marked on my Kindle! Really now…I don’t have a semester just to study Marco Polo. I need someone like Amanda Bennett working for me! Another wonderful part of this unit study is the animal and geographical features of the day. My children couldn’t wait to find out what the animal would be each day. Even better, these animals are tied in to the optional, but included, lapbook component of the unit study! Finally, and in keeping with the winnowing benefit I so love, Expedition China contains several videos featuring aspects of China that my family will only ever see over the computer. Once again, there are thousands of such videos online. Amanda Bennett has done all of my legwork (fingerwork?) for me, and has found examples of the best videos which correlate to the relevant portions of her unit study. All my children and I have to do is sit back and enjoy. Well, the kiddies have to pay attention so that they can answer the questions which follow the videos! Given that this is a Download N Go™ unit study, the clickable links to the videos are right there in the download itself. One quick click, and you’ve downloaded your unit study, and all relevant materials (well, you may have to make a trip to the library, but what homeschooling family doesn’t welcome any excuse for that outing?). You could spend triple what you would spend on this unit study, or more, quite easily, and still not get the concise, quality study of China that you will get when you purchase the Expedition China Download N Go™ unit study. As you wind down your school year, do yourself a favor and take a vacation to the Orient!

You can purchase this unit study here

Review of The Old Schoolhouse's 2010 Planner

Having owned both the 2008 and 2009 TOS planners, it was with great anticipation that I eagerly accepted a copy of this year’s incarnation of the planner in return for my review. The best part of the 2010 planner is that all of its familiar features have returned this year! Once again, it checks in at a whopping 600+ pages – intimidating if you plan to print the whole thing all at once, but why would you? TOS makes it so easy to find and print only the forms you need at the time you need them. Rather, it’s a joy to see all of those pages, because one surely knows that each one contains a valuable, homeschool-enriching treat!

If you’re familiar with this planner, then you already know that TOS has provided a form for virtually every need you can conceive of…and yet somehow, they have managed to come up with more than 25 new forms for the 2010 planner! Trust me when I say, if you can think of something you want to record, this planner has a form for it – and I mean that literally! There is a form for writing down the TV shows you want to remember to record! If, by some small chance, though, you have need of some form that has not been included, you can always jot down your thoughts on the beautiful journaling paper that is included. Once again, as with previous planners, there are numerous short articles on different subjects included in the planner as well. The articles cover a variety of subjects, all of which should be of interest to the vast majority of homeschooling families. Regardless of your homeschooling style or the size of your family, these articles should speak to you as you plan and execute your 2010-2011 homeschooling year.

Along with the articles, I was thrilled to see the return of my favorite feature of the TOS planner – the recipes! If your idea of dinner involves three courses and a wine pairing decision, not only is my homeschooling-mom hat off to you, but these recipes probably won’t make you rejoice the way they did me. If, however, you love finding that next great five-ingredient, 20-minute meal, then you will thrill to this group of recipes. An investment in this planner, then, not only guarantees you the most comprehensive planner you will ever own, but it also buys you inspirational reads each month from moms just like you, a mini-cookbook full of recipes you will actually cook that your family will love, lists and lists of research resources such as famous artists and famous composers, and enough blank forms for you to create anything else that you might need. Even if you were only to use one-third of the offerings in this planner, your money would have been well spent.

Oh, and for those of you who love your smart phones, and who can’t imagine needing any other date book or planner? Don’t think of this as a planner. Think of it as an E-book custom designed just for homeschooling moms, with monthly resources targeted at making your home life easier, and making your homeschooling life more meaningful. This planner truly is a tool for everyone. It gets better and better every year!

Review of March Molly's Digest

Having received Molly’s Money-Saving Digest for March in exchange for my review, I find myself in an uncomfortable position. I must recant something I said in a previous review. I’ve been fortunate enough to review one of Molly’s Digests before, and in that review, I said that if you have never tried one of Molly’s Digests before, that that Digest was the one to try. I was wrong. As wonderful as that Digest was, the March issue of Molly’s Money-Saving Digest is better. Molly packs more money and time-saving and life-enhancing suggestions into the March Digest than one would believe possible. In its trademark format, with all of the usual category headings included, Molly manages to pack in so many recipes that I’m still not quite convinced that the Digest couldn’t double as a cookbook. The best part is that every single recipe is one that my four children and my husband will enjoy. In fact, I’ve already incorporated two of her recipes into my dinner menus this week!

For those of you unfamiliar with Molly, I have found that one of her finest skills is the ability to pass on information without condescension. Imagine my delight, then, when I discovered that Molly included in this digest step-by-step grilling instructions. As with many families, my husband is the grill master in ours. I don’t question his methods; I merely prepare the food that he carefully cooks on the grill. How lovely, though, to be led incrementally through the entire process of grilling, from lighting the coals (for a charcoal grill), to soaking the wood chips (with a convenient explanation as to why one definitely does not want to skip this step!), to cleaning the grill after use. I feel confident now that I could take over the grill and not make a single error; what a great feeling!

While I love to cook, and look first to the wonderful recipes Molly provides, one of the things I appreciate most about Molly’s March Digest is her frugal decorating/recycling section. In this digest Molly provides nine uses for a common household item which probably usually ends up in your recycling bin. It won’t anymore! You’ll be asking your neighbors to save theirs for you once you read what Molly (and you!) can do with this ubiquitous article!

Finally, although I often describe myself as having a black thumb, Molly’s upbeat style and gentle encouragement have given me the courage to take on one of the many backyard projects presented in this month’s Digest. If I can manage a container herb garden without injuring Rosemary or running out of Thyme, then maybe I’ll have the courage to take on one of the more ambitious projects that Molly makes seem so doable! Whether you love to cook, or prefer to garden; whether you love to repurpose old objects, or just can’t pass up a wonderful directory of Internet links, Molly’s Money-Saving March Digest has something in it for you! Molly just keeps getting better and better!

Review of E-Book: I Want to be a...Doctor

Within the past several months, The Old Schoolhouse has introduced many new entries into its “WannaBe” E-Book series. Until being presented with the opportunity to review “When I Grow Up, I Want to be a…Doctor”, I had never read one of these books. Now I want to read all of them! While I concede that the editors have found a catchy name in “WannaBe E-Book”, I regret the fact that the name does not truly convey all that these books have to offer a homeschooling (or even an afterschooling) mom.

So much more than just an E-Book, “When I Grow Up, I Want to be a…Doctor” is in fact more of a unit study on the career of medicine. It begins with a biographical sketch of a family that practices medicine, which I rather naively assumed would comprise the majority of the E-Book. I actually would have loved to have read more about the Drs. Atwi, but the editors of this E-Book had so much more in store for me! After reading about the day-to-day doings of the Atwis, the E-Book continues with the all-important salary information for the medical profession, as well as with a reading comprehension style quiz.

Then the real fun begins! The next ten pages of this E-Book consist of optometry-specific information. How do our eyes work? What is a lens? What is color blindness? Activities including vocabulary, a diagram of the eye, and a test to diagnose color blindness are included in this section of the E-Book. While all of the text is written at a level that is easily understood by children, there is much in this book that can benefit parents as well. After all, for many of us, it has probably been several years since we have studied these subjects ourselves!

One of the preeminent features of this E-Book is its versatility. In addition to providing solid information for students who might seriously be considering a career in the field of medicine, the E-Book also contains plenty of material for younger siblings, who might merely be along for the ride on this particular lesson. A hidden pictures activity (a favorite with my preschoolers) and coloring pages are included for the youngest scholars, while a crossword puzzle and a word search are included for slightly older students. Copywork and handwriting practice are incorporated for all age levels. Finally, end-of-unit activities and games round out the student portion of the E-Book. For mom, the E-Book closes with several pages of resources that can be used for further study, including books, videos, and websites.

This E-Book has much to recommend it. I must confess that my favorite part of the book is the story of Dr. Atwi and his family. I think it is this kind of personal narrative that is likely to draw students in, and to make them truly consider what it means to have a career in the field of medicine. Any student who reads this E-Book has, most likely, already expressed an interest in a medical career. Reading about a faith-filled man, who is committed both to God and to his patients, is likely to deepen that interest. The activities that follow can then be used to hone a student’s focus on the “what next” aspect of his possible career path in the kind of fun and hands-on manner to which most homeschoolers are so well accustomed.

As a first time reader of a book in this growing series, I was very pleasantly surprised by how comprehensive and interesting, while still compulsively readable, “When I Grow Up, I Want to be a…Doctor” was. Many elements combine to make this book well worth the nominal monetary investment. My only suggestion would be to create a separate E-Book entirely entitled, “When I Grow Up, I Want to be an… Optometrist”, and separate out the optometry material from this E-Book. In this way, students who are specifically interested in eyes can be directed toward that profession, while students with a general interest in medicine, an extensive field in its own right, can focus exclusively on the broad-spectrum discipline of medicine, exclusive of optometry. Overall, however, this E-Book is a welcome addition to the WannaBe E-Book series from The Old Schoolhouse.

Review of Embracing the E-Book Revolution

I have a confession to make: like the contributors to the E-Book “Embracing the E-book Revolution”, I, too, am an E-Book junkie. While I would never permanently trade the delicious experience of a “real” book, I recognize the immense value of E-Books – both the financial and educational value. Due to the fact that I consider myself something of an E-Book connoisseur, I was skeptical as to whether I would learn anything from this new 42 page offering from The Old Schoolhouse’s storefront. What a pleasant surprise I had in store for me as I delved into the E-pages!
Once again, as is often the case with offerings from The Old Schoolhouse, about half of the nine chapters are written by names that should be quite familiar to many homeschoolers. All of the chapters end with brief biographies, demonstrating that each author is eminently qualified to comment on the subject of E-Books in particular, and homeschooling in general, which I find to be quite a nice touch. In two separate cases, I found myself navigating to the Internet in order to find out more about these particular, less familiar (at least to me) authors.
One of the best features of this E-Book is that there truly is something for everyone. Whether you, like me, are already a fan and a user of E-Books, or whether, like many of the homeschooling moms I know, you are just slightly intimidated or put-off by the whole idea of electronic media, you will find something helpful in this E-Book. The chapter entitled “E-Books: How am I supposed to Read Them?” is a great primer for someone very new to the genre. If you have never downloaded an E-Book, you might want to start here. Kim Kargbo walks you step-by-step through the process of reading, printing, binding, and storing E-Books.

For someone more familiar with this type of media, though, chapters five and six on the topic of storing E-Books will be particularly delightful. Isabelle Lussier and Michelle Amos have so many great ideas for organizing and storing E-Books. After all, E-Books are useless if, once downloaded, you can’t find them on your computer! Whether you prefer a more micro or macro approach to your organizational technique, both of these chapters include some impressive ideas guaranteed to help you find your E-Books more efficiently.
While all of the information contained in this E-Book is well worth reading, it is the other features of the E-Book that make it truly exceptional. The glossary at the end of the book is a huge a bonus for those people unfamiliar with E-Books, as it defines key terms used throughout the book. Best of all, these terms are hyperlinked in the text. Perhaps you’re reading along, mesmerized by the possibilities of these things called E-Books, when you come to p. 31, and find that your E-Books can be stored on a flash drive. The only problem is, you have never heard of a flash drive. No problem. Merely clicking on the words will take you immediately to a definition of the term at the end of the E-Book. Problem solved, with almost no interruption in your reading.

In addition to the glossary, though, all of the companies mentioned in the E-Book, including many homeschool favorites such as Homeschool in the Woods and The Mystery of History, are hyperlinked as well. Effectively, if you click on the company’s name, you are directed to that company’s website on the Internet. Thus, the E-Book “Embracing the E-Book Revolution” demonstrates one of the very best features of E-Books in general: the ability to navigate the Internet directly from a book! Thus, the activities of reading and research are truly integrated in a unique and amazingly advantageous way! Everything from lesson planning to writing your own E-Book (another topic quite ably covered in this E-Book) is now so much easier than ever!
Finally, since you will now certainly want to delve even further into the universe of E-Books, “Embracing the E-Book Revolution” provides several sites for you to explore. I can personally vouch for the treasure trove of material to be found at all of them. The one thing that this E-Book does not mention is that you can actually be a part of making even more E-Books available to the general public! Both The Baldwin Project and Project Gutenberg, two of the sites mentioned in “Embracing the E-Book Revolution”, rely on volunteer proofreaders to bring even more E-Books to their sites. Anyone can be a volunteer proofreader for these sites (I volunteer for both!). It is one more way to bring more E-Books to more people – an idea that I feel certain the authors responsible for “Embracing the E-Book Revolution” would endorse!

The 2009 TOS Planner - Review

I am coming out of hibernation for a worthy cause: to review the 2009 Schoolhouse Planner from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. This year's planner is even bigger than last year's version, while still retaining all of the features that made last year's such a valuable and eye-popping resource. Checking in at 374 pages, it is almost a misnomer to refer to this all-inclusive resource as a planner. It is, in fact, a collection of educational resources, combined with planning forms which can easily replace your current day planner. It is further a cookbook, a reference guide, and a compendium of all of the homeschool forms that you are likely to need, whether you homeschool pre-schoolers or high-schoolers, and whether your style is unit study or unschooling. Best of all, the planner is delivered as a writable .pdf download, meaning that you can begin exploring it and filling in dates on the calendar immediately.

With almost 400 pages, and not a single one wasted, it is literally impossible to discuss each and every feature of this amazing resource, so in an effort to convey the reasons for my excitement, I will instead elaborate upon my favorite features.

First, the Schoolhouse Planner replaces all of your existing planners, both personal and homeschooling. It perfectly merges both of your roles as homeschooling mom (or dad!) and head (or co-head) of household. The search for the perfect system of recordkeeping is over! At first, the sheer number of forms may seem overwhelming, but it need not be! Simply peruse the planner, and make note of the pages that you want to print (if you're the kind of person that needs to see it all in pen and paper, like I am). Print only the forms that you need, and rest assured that the others are there for you if you change your mind. Personal financial inventory? Check. Grocery lists and menu planners? Check. Garden planning? It's there, too. The homeschooling section includes all of the forms that you would expect, from full planners (including twelve year plans!), to library reminders, to an extracurricular activities log. There is even a section for handwriting practice for the little ones! Once you print and organize the forms according to your specific needs, you truly can fit your life into one binder!

Second, for each month of the year, The Schoolhouse Planner focuses on a single topic and covers that topic in depth. Articles by many familiar authors lead off the month, followed both by actual resources included in the planner, and by lists of additional resources available through The Old Schoolhouse Store (as a nice touch, these items are hyperlinked, making purchase temptingly easy!). The month concludes with recipes that are both appealing and practical.

Finally, the section entitled "Miscellaneous Educational Information" is a goldmine of possibilities. Everything from lists of famous composers and artists and their associated works, to lists of inventions, to states and countries and their captials, to various conversion tables is included in this section. While it is true that all of this information is available elsewhere, it is wonderful to have it consolidated in one place: in my planner! I see mini-lessons galore as we wait in doctors' offices, during "adult swim" at the pool, and on those days when school is just not happening the way I want it to. There is more than a year's worth of educational joy just waiting to be explored in these pages!

I generally dislike reviews that don't suggest ways in which the resources could be improved, but I would be disingenuous if I tried merely to "come up"with some suggestions. My only hesitation is that some users might be chagrined by the sheer size/length of The Schoolhouse Planner. 374 pages is a lot of material. To any such user, I would simply urge patience. Spend some time looking through it, and getting to know the forms. Make use of the excellent table of contents, which is linked to the document itself (meaning that if you click on a form in the table of contents, you will be taken there in the document - a HUGE timesaver!). There *is* something in this planner for everyone!