New Semester - Time To Get Organized
January 18, 2017
Mercy Every Minute   

I used to be an avid record keeper. When my first three kids were young, I kept track of what each one did every day, every month, and every year. Everything was recorded on the computer and in binders. Five additional children later, I am absolutely horrible at keeping records, because there are so many of us doing life that I don’t have time to get it all recorded. 

Over the years I have tried all sorts of wonderful resources from computer software to handy calendars, to three-ring binders full of blank forms—it’s all out there and available. 

However, being overwhelmed for most of our schooling, I have resorted to throwing everything in marked plastic tubs for each student. I was so relieved to hear from Lee Binz from that my method of madness was actually acceptable! She would call me a “tubby” record keeper (See her excellent article in the Fall 2010 issue of TOS, titled Record Keeping: The Cure for “Homeschool Dementia.”). 

For my high schoolers, I obviously have to keep better records, so I have used the TOS High School Schoolhouse Planner and print out pages to put in their own binders. These have all been very helpful for me and my high schoolers in keeping records of all high school work. If you are a member, these planners are free! 

Now that we have talked academic record keeping, there is a kind of record keeping that we don’t want to do. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love does not keep a record of wrongs. 

It seems to me like I am a much better record keeper of wrongs than I am of academics. There have been seasons where my focus has been solely on what’s wrong with my husband, or my children, or friends, or in-laws. And, after all that focus on them, it has almost seemed impossible to forgive such a big list of wrongs and wrongdoers. Here is an article that I hope will help you:  I Can’t Forgive Them – It’s Impossible!

Keep the right records for the right reasons, and you will find peace in your heart and homeschool. 

Tracking along with you,


Raising Real Men    
Hal & Melanie Young,   

Some people have a gift for record keeping--this may be part of the gift of “administration” that Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 12:28! But whether or not we have a special talent for it, record keeping is a necessary part of our homeschooling stewardship.

We’ve been homeschooling for more than twenty years now, and we’ve graduated four sons from high school and taken them through the college application process. Here are some things we learned about records to keep--and some that we wished we’d kept better!

Know your state’s requirements. Our state expects us to keep attendance (no, really!), so we have to record “school days.” Other states require samples of student work for review. Be sure you know what your own state expects so you can stay in compliance with the law.

High school records are the most important. We’ve had four sons earn academic scholarships--one went to Oxford--and nobody ever asked, “Did you finish every problem in fourth grade math?” The only real records you need to keep long term from elementary and middle school are those having to do with learning disabilities and any early high school work they do.

From ninth grade onward, though, everything counts.  Don’t reach senior year and say, “Oops. We better figure out what to put on your applications, Son!”--because you will have forgotten more than you can imagine! College officials and scholarship committees will ask, “What textbooks did you study? What books have you read? How did you do in outside competitions? Tell us about projects you’ve done.”

How you keep records is less important than just making sure you keep them at all. Don’t obsess over finding the perfect tracking system. Start now, if you haven’t already, using whatever tools you have on hand.

It’s easiest to build your records as you go. Trust us; you will forget things that you thought you’d always remember! Hal keeps a daily journal of family activities, and when we review it at the end of the year, it’s amazing how much has disappeared in the mists of memory. Start a file to make notes of projects and presentations, books read, and competitions and prizes right away!

Keep your records in a safe place. We’d had friends who lost their homes to fire, storm, or flood, and had to scramble to reconstruct critical records. A jostled cup of tea could damage your computer or blot out your handwritten notes. We use Google Drive, Dropbox, or other programs to keep the most important records--like transcripts and student resumes--“in the cloud,” where disaster won’t reach them.

School records are not education; instead, they’re the footprints left behind in the process of learning. Make sure those footprints are clear enough that others can follow them--for high school, at least!

Yours in the Battle,
Hal and Melanie

Every pilot does an inspection of his aircraft before he takes off. You should do the same with your teenager before he or she leaves the nest! Our five-week webinar, “PRE-FLIGHT,” will help you and your student ask the right questions to be sure you’re both ready for liftoff. Come to for more information!

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Building Faith Families 
Steve Demme,  

By nature, I am not a planner. I rarely set goals. I think of plans and goals as New Year’s resolutions and feel like I am setting myself up for failure. But, there is one exception, and that is reading my Bible daily, and reading it from Genesis to Revelation each year. This activity has proven to be the best habit I have ever maintained.

In 1976, I was a young undisciplined seminary student with a hunger for God. I began attending a humble church near my school and found many of the members of the congregation read through the Bible each year. There was even a yellow paper schedule in a rack in the narthex. It began with Genesis 1-3 on January 1 and concluded with Revelation 19-22 on December 31. Simple and yet sublime.

After a few months I decided to jump in, and beginning on September 20, read the book of Joel, one of the minor prophets at the end of the Old Testament. I stuck with this strategy of reading straight through the Bible for several years, and then developed one which combined an Old Testament reading along with a chapter from the New Testament or a Psalm.

I was at a conference recently and heard some sobering statistics. Believers in Jesus who engage with (read or listen to) Scripture “less” than four times a week have virtually the same moral standards and behaviors as non-believers.

“A key discovery from the CBE (Center for Biblical Engagement) research is that the life of someone who engages Scripture four or more times a week looks radically different from the life of someone who does not. In fact, the lives of Christians who do not engage the Bible most days of the week are statistically the same as the lives of non-believers.” - Learn more at:

Committed disciples of Jesus who do engage with the inspired Word of God are being transformed into the image of Christ. 

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17 ESV*).

I read the Bible because it points me to Jesus.
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39 ESV*).
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14 ESV*).

Every word of Scripture is inspired, full of life, eternal, and true food.
”All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16 NASB**).
“The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63 ESV*).
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35 ESV*).
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4 ESV*).

If you are planning on influencing your children to live forever, I recommend engaging with the Word of God at least four times per week.

May you each have a Blessed and Fulfilling New Year,

Steve Demme

P.S. Are you interested in Steve's Bible Reading plans? If so, you can check them out here!

Steve is the author of Math-U-See  and the founder of  Building Faith Families . In addition to his weekly podcasts, he produces a monthly newsletter and other resources to strengthen and encourage parents. Learn more about these at .

*The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV® Text Edition: 2016

**"Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible® (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."


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Contest Corner 
For the month of January

Audio Memory Publications has been creating educational music for about twenty years. I've heard of them over the years, but I didn't squeeze them into my homeschool budget. As I've been listening to their History Songs CD, I think that was a mistake. I definitely would have used this CD with our history unit studies.

The History Songs CD covers American History in eleven songs. Each of the songs covers a specific period of time, or a person. The songs are on the long side, and not necessarily the best for full memorization. Though I wouldn't try to get my children to memorize these, they are wonderful for introducing a new period of history, and reviewing some important dates. 

These songs are included on the History Songs CD: 

1400-1565 (Exploration of New World)

1607-1692 (Early American Settlers)

1700-1773 (Benjamin Franklin)

1774-1799 (Revolutionary War and Forming a New Government)

1800-1849 (Louisiana Purchase and Westward Expansion)

1851-1876 (Slavery and the Civil War)

1876-1898 (Statue of Liberty, New Inventions)

1903-1927 (Industrial Age, World War I, Prohibition)

1929-1945 (Great Depression, Dust Bowl, World War II)

1950-1969 (Space Race, JFK, and Civil Rights)

1971-1991 (26th Amendment, Computers, Persian Gulf War) 

Obviously not every event in our country's history can be covered in 42 minutes, but the History Songs album does hit many of our country's important events, discoveries, and people. The music itself falls into a classic children's music style. Many of the songs have a catchy rhythm and melody, without being loud or rowdy. A few of the songs just seem to plod along with a steady beat and repetitive melody, continuing until they've fit everything in. (. . .) 

(Read the rest of the review.) 

YOU can WIN an Audio Memory bundle for your homeschool!  

TO ENTER: Email Kathleen with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, “Audio Memory” for a chance to win* it for your family! 

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