Multitasking Lowers GPA

multitasking

Moms may be known as the ultimate multitaskers, but the research agrees that multitasking is not an efficient way to get things done. In a nutshell, multitasking is doing two or more tasks at the same time, and in the world of constant connectivity and social media, our kids are multitasking more than ever, and that’s a good thing.

Throughout this month, we are talking about helping kids develop healthy habits, and this week our radio show and column are focused on developing healthy habits for the mind. So for today’s blog, we want to talk about helping our kids get into the habit of focusing by avoiding multitasking.

Did you know that FOCUS is an acronym? It stands for

Follow

One

Course

Until Successful

The argument we often hear is that multitasking makes us more efficient. But the truth is, there are limitations to how many tasks we can perform and how well they can be executed when being performed at the same time.  Instead, let’s teach our kids to focus and fully complete one task before doing anything else.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Irregular Bedtimes May be Harming Your Kids

irregular bedtimes

Did you know that irregular bedtimes can cause jet lag like symptoms? A survey of 10,000 children showed irregular bedtimes are connected to hyperactivity, acting out and emotional withdrawal.

In an interview with Michelle Trudeau on National Public Radio, researcher Yvonne Kelly from University College in London said, “Children with late bedtimes and non-regular bedtimes were more likely to have behavioral difficulties…[including] hyperactivity and conduct problems. So hitting people and acting out, and not getting on with peers, and being emotionally withdrawn.”

Kelly has been studying numerous details surrounding bedtime in thousands of homes in the U.K.

After taking into account a wide range of factors including family size, income level, the amount of television watched, dietary habits and more, the research has found that bedtime patterns have the greatest impact on children’s behavior.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 5 to 29), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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What is serving you well?

Earlier this year, I asked myself a question that was a real game changer for me. I asked, “What is serving me well in my life?” But to answer that question, I found myself first asking the opposite question. “What isn’t serving me well?” For some reason, that one was easier for me to tackle.

The first thing that came to mind when I asked the second question was TV before bed. I had a made a weird observation. Whenever I crashed on the couch at the end of the day and watched TV right before I went to sleep, I had a much more difficult time getting up the next day. I almost felt a little hung over in the morning. But if I skipped TV and spent the late evening doing other things — stretching, journaling, reading — I had more energy the next day.

It turns out there’s science behind this. Blue light, which comes from a variety of sources but includes the light from TV, phones, computers and tablets, interrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythm and affects sleep. Since this discovery, we’ve made a new rule in our house. All computers, phones and other electronic devices get collected about 90 minutes before bed.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Start Your Day the Night Before

With all we do, time seems to fly by. It’s hard to believe it, but the holidays are almost here (where did the year go?), and that means trying to fit a massive holiday to do list into our already packed schedules.

But we’ve got a little tip that can make a big difference. Let’s call it “Start Your Day the Night Before.”

If you already do this, stick with us. We might have an idea or two to supercharge your nighttime routine. But if you’re not already doing this, we’re totally excited to share it with you because it is hands down, the very best tip for getting more done. And isn’t that what we’re always after? 

Give yourself (and your kids) a gift everyday — the gift of a clean slate! It stinks to have to wake up and still deal with yesterday. You know what we mean — you wake up to a sink full of yesterday’s dishes. Sitting on your dresser are the folded clothes from yesterday’s laundry. The dining room table is mounded with a heap of varied things from many yesterdays past.

No more of that. From now on, start your day the night before.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 5 to 29), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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How Will You Fill the White Space?

Start with a blank schedule with spaces for each hour from morning until bedtime. Have your student block off time spent in classes and in extra curricular activities and in other regular commitments. Block out time for chores and homework.

What’s left?

Without actually doing the exercise, you might be tempted to think that there’s nothing left, but in most cases, you’d be wrong.

It’s those white spaces — the left over blocks — that I want to talk about today.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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You CAN Add More Time to Your Day

Everything we do requires a choice. We make choices when we wake up, eat food, get dressed, answer the phone — it’s all a choice. Although our choices are not always contemplated or obvious, they are choices nonetheless. And if we don’t choose our tasks and time deliberately, we can unknowingly allow important things to slip through the cracks.

We often hear people say they wish they had more hours in a day. Well, the experts say that for every one minute you spend planning, you will gain ten in execution. WOW! Over time, those minutes add up. You can do the math. So now the question is – Are we going to take the time to plan, and if so, how do we plan?

Start With the End Result in Mind

Time management is about starting with the end result in mind, and then working backward to achieve our goals. That’s really what this is about — setting goals and then figuring out our priorities. If we don’t do this, life just seems to happen to us, and years slip past us without any real significant achievements to speak of.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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Aim Kids For Success With Project Management Skills

The corporate and the academic worlds are moving toward a more project-based environment. So as our kids grow up, they’re going to need strong project management skills, and we can begin teaching them some of the basics by showing them how to look at their to do list to find mini projects: papers for school, putting together a vendor booth for their small business, planning a birthday party.

What Has to Be Done?

  • Teach kids to ask, “What exactly needs to be done?”
  • They should be clear and concise because being vague clouds vision.
  • Then they should define any related goals and be specific.

My fifteen year old has a successful henna tattoo business, and she gets a good amount of business from booths at various fairs and events around town. For these booths, she has to have a table with good signage. She needs pictures of her work, brochures, business cards and pricing information. Her goal is obviously to do tattoos at the event and make money, but it’s also to network for future business. That means she has to provide information on weddings, pregnancy belly tattoos and home parties (which tend to bring in good money). Her goal is to leave an event with at least three bookings — one to replace that day’s event and two to grow her business.

When our kids are defining their goals and tasks, they need to think about what they want the end result to look like.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Get a Leg Up on Life This Summer

Over the past few days, we’ve been talking about investing rather than spending your kids’ summer. We covered using the summer to boost academics and to pursue passion. Today, we’re wrapping up this short series with a look at ways to invest your child’s summer by building life skills.

Clearly all of this is going to take some planning. If you wait for summer to come and then just sort of let each day happen to you, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll accomplish much. So, take a Saturday, and make some plans. Be deliberate. Parent On Purpose!

The summer is a great time to teach your kids important life skills, such as how to change a tire and the car’s oil, how to do research on the Internet (it dawned on me one year, when I was working on project with my 8-year-old, that kids aren’t born knowing how to Google), how to make travel arrangements, how to sew, can vegetables, do laundry…you get the idea.

But what if you don’t know how to do these things? Honestly, I don’t even know how to turn on a sewing machine. It’s pathetic, I know, especially for a homeschool mom. But the truth is, I didn’t grow up in a very domestic family. We were plenty cultured. Having grown up right outside of Manhattan, I spent my childhood at museums and art galleries, seeing Broadway shows and ballets and symphonies. My grandmother took me to Lincoln Center to see La Boheme, and we spent many weekends at art festivals.

Living in the Hudson Valley of New York also meant that I got to do some cool outdoorsy things. I went skiing in the winters, hiked mountains, went parasailing and camping, but there was also a lot that we didn’t do.

I never really learned how to garden or sew or bake. My mom was a master knitter and crocheter, but she never taught me, and I suppose I never asked. Those were just things she did. Actually, I do knit now, but it was my daughter who taught me!

I don’t want my kids to grow up without these important life skills, so I’m learning along side them. YouTube makes just about any skill accessible!

The summer is a great time for kids to start a business. They can baby sit, mow lawns, walk dogs, or make and sell things. Two years ago, my daughter funded a trip by earning $300 knitting and selling the cutest owls you’ve ever seen. Now she does henna tattoos to make money.

Want to give them solid business skills, check out MicroBusiness for Teens.

Teach your kids about investing this summer. Show them how to look up stocks. Then have a little family contest. Have everyone pick a stock and see who’s does best.

Start a garden. Find out what grows well in the summer in your hardiness zone, and then have your kids layout and plant a garden. They’ll love eating the food they’ve grown.

Teach them how to cook. Take them to a kitchen store and show them a bunch of different cooking tools. Build a foundation of basics like how to make a roux and the five mother sauces: béchamel, velouté, espagnole, hollandaise and tomato sauces. Teach them how to wash and cut fruits and veggies, how to blanch, parboil, saute, carmelize, braise and poach.

Make a plan for kids to learn important technology skills like how to type, use PowerPoint and Excel, build a website, do some basic graphic design and use social media for networking and marketing.

 

Let’s all make a pact that we won’t just let our summer days happen to us — we’ll take hold of them, one by one, making everyday count toward a brighter future for our kids.

Leave us comment and let us know what you plan to do to invest your kids’ summer this year.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Boosting Academics in the Summer

Researchers estimate that the average students loses about a full month of learning during summer break. The numbers are significantly higher for lower income families. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

Summer reading contests are a great way to keep young minds engaged. They give kids tangible goals and rewards for their hard work. Check out Barnes & Noble,Scholastic, Pizza Hut, and your local library. Keep tracking sheets all together in a folder, and show your kids how to track their reading for each contest.

For middle and high schoolers, check out the College Board’s 101 Great Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers. For this age group, I also highly recommend the book Do Hard Things, by teen twins Alex and Brett Harris.

Do a summer unit study. What topics are really fascinating to your kid? Take a trip to the library, and check out a stack of books on the subject. Find hands-on activities they can do related to the topic (just Google “activities for [your topic]” “[your topic] unit study”), and contact an expert in the field to arrange an interview. When it’s all done, have your child put together a PowerPoint or create a small book about what they’ve learned, and share it with the family.

To encourage writing, have your kids pick out a journal that appeals to their sense of style (or they can make one with a composition book, fabric or decorative paper, and some craft supplies). Ask them to do Sensory Writing in their journal for 10 minutes everyday. For this exercise, your child would find a new place each day (outside, a particular room in the house, maybe an interesting place on vacation) and pay attention to all of their senses. Then for 10 minutes, they would write everything their senses experience — what they see, hear, smell, taste, and feel.

With the wide use of email, texting, and Facebook, the art of good, old-fashioned letter writing is all but lost. It’s sad because who doesn’t LOVE to get a letter? Encourage your kids to write to someone once a week. They might even find some fun replies in their own mailbox.

Middle and high schoolers can start a blog about their favorite topic, comment on blogs that interest them, or write an article for a local newspaper or magazine. They could even spend the summer interviewing family members and writing a family memoir.

Get ahead in math this summer. Maybe your kids could master their times tables. Head over to Barnes & Noble and find some good math workbooks. Middle and high schoolers can check out Mr. D Math. He offer online courses that could help kids either catch up or jump ahead.

Visit us tomorrow. We’re going to talk about investing the summer months in our kids interests and talents.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Should I or Shouldn’t I Homeschool?

Last week we posted Jody’s testimony of how she began homeschooling her son, Chase in Mom, Will You Homeschool Me?

By our small-blog standards, this thing has gone viral. Today alone, we’ve already had more than 14,000 visits to the blog! Do you know what this tells me? A lot of people are looking for education alternatives for their kids, and a lot of people are taking a serious look at homeschooling.

Jody’s post did a great job of illustrating how difficult this decision can be. Deciding whether or not to homeschool is no small choice to make. You’ve got to count the cost, and if you decide to do it, you’ve got to be committed, because I can guarantee that your resolve will be challenged along the way.

If you’ve never homeschooled, it can be hard to think through the pros and cons, so we wanted to post something from a veteran perspective to help families who are considering this option.

Between Jody and I, we’ve homeschooled 8 kids (not including my toddler, but we homeschool him too) for a combined 23 years (13 for her and 10 for me). We’ve experienced working with a special needs child, high schoolers, pre-readers, academically gifted and academically challenged kids and audio, visual, kinesthetic learners.

We’ve also had an umbrella school for homeschool families for four years and counseled many families on most aspects of homeschooling.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we’ve been there and seen a lot, so here are some basic pros and cons that we’ve seen over the years.

Homeschooling Pros

  • Customized Education — You can customize your child’s education. This is my absolute favorite! I LOVE that my ninth grader can start her own business and spend a good portion of her day learning about the formation of business entities and marketing strategies. I love that she can take the time she needs to perfect her craft so that she can offer an excellent service to her clients. I love that my 4th grader can spend a big part of his day growing plants and learning about botany because that’s what he loves. I love that two of my kids can use their peak performance hours to write movie scripts, film the movie, learn how to use professional editing and special effects software and master a final copy. And even with the standard academic subjects, they can all move as slowly or as quickly as they need to actually learn it.

  • Learning at Their Own Pace — Which leads me to my next pro — the goal of education can be learning, not passing a test or getting a grade, but actually gaining knowledge and understanding and being able to apply it. Sometimes that happens much faster than the standard American classroom allows it to happen. Other times, it takes a lot longer than a school lesson would take. It all depends on the kid and the subject the kid is learning.
  • Maximized Time — This is similar to the first two, but homeschooling avoids wasted time spent on transporting to and from school, transitioning from one class or one activity to another, waiting on long lines for food, water and the bathroom and constant distractions of friends, other kids’ questions, noises, sights, etc. Our children’s childhood is precious, and homeschooling allows you to maximize it.

  • Character Training Opportunities — So many people say that they couldn’t homeschool their kids because their kids would drive them crazy and they don’t think their kids would even listen to them. Homeschooling gives parents the time they need to teach communication and interpersonal skills and obedience. I’m not saying that it’s never frustrating or difficult, but when they’re with you all day, you can take the time you need to shape their character.

  • Community Involvement — Homeschooled kids can interact with the community throughout the day. Unlike their peers who are gathered into age specific groups for most of the day, homeschoolers tend to spend their days with kids who are both much younger and much older than themselves, adults, the elderly and people in different job sectors and socio-economic classes. For example, on Mondays our kids take a drama class with a large group of middle and high schoolers. On Tuesdays they spend the morning downtown with their youth pastor from church talking to to the homeless and offering them food and water. Then they spend the afternoon at a local tea house doing schoolwork, where they’ve been able to network and find new venues for their small businesses. After that they go the opera house, where they work with musicians and performers from around the world. On Wednesdays they take a few classes and then study at home or at a park. On Thursdays they take a class, sing at a local prayer house, babysit little kids and head back to the opera house. What I’m getting at here is that homeschooled kids have the flexibility to really connect with the community. Because of their availability, our kids have had the chance to be on the radio, attend community luncheons, sit in on city planning meetings, volunteer at a local parade, work with the Humane Society and nursing homes, and so much more.

  • Self-Esteem and Confidence — There’s a difference between self-esteem and confidence. Self-esteem is how much you value yourself. Confidence is a belief in your abilities. We’ve got a post on how to build self-esteem and one on building confidence, but homeschooling can help with both. For one, they’re free from the negative social aspects of schooling (bullies, unhealthy comparisons, unrealistic expectations, etc.). As kids are given the freedom to spend a good portion of the day discovering who they are and finding purpose, their self-esteem will rise, and as they take the time to practice and become successful in a variety of things, their confidence will increase.
  • Life Skills — They can participate in the running of the household. Jody did two great posts on Raising the Head of a Household and Raising a Proverbs 31 Woman. I encourage you to check them out. You’ll be inspired! But homeschooling affords you the time to really train and equip your kids for adulthood, and along the way, you get lots of help. Speaking of which, check out the post on how to Turn Your Kids Into Clean Machines!
  • Experiential Learning — There’s greater opportunity for experiential learning. This is another BIG benefit for our family. We LOVE a good field trip, and we take A LOT of them! A few times a month we go somewhere — a theater, a dairy farm, an art studio, a pizza place, an aquarium, a science center, a newspaper printing press, a castle made entirely of recycled materials, a hydroponic farm, a TV station, a supermarket, a metal fabrication shop…you get the idea. We like field trips. We also love internships, apprenticeships, job shadowing opportunities and mentorships. And we seek out those opportunities like a dog on a scent!
  • Scheduling Freedom — We school year round, but that doesn’t mean we’re all work and no play. Oh no, no! We LOVE a day at Busch Gardens, and we love that we can go on Tuesday when everyone else is at school. No lines, no crowds – it’s beautiful. We happen to live in a vacation destination spot, so whenever family and friends are in town visiting our beautiful beaches and warm weather, we can take time off and go sight-seeing or boating or to an amusement park with them. Just as my husband has the flexibility to schedule his vacation time when he wants, we can schedule our time off when we want. We can also have occasional PJ days, and on a rainy day, when everyone feels sluggish and drab, we can make food together and cuddle on the couch to watch a documentary. Netflix and Amazon Prime are a homeschoolers best friends!
  • Well Rested and Hydrated Kids — Homeschooled kids can develop a sleep schedule that works well for their bodies and their family lifestyle. We’ve got a friend whose husband is a chef. They’re all night owls so they can involve dad in their life, but they can also get the sleep they need in the morning. And how about hydration? I know it sounds weird, but this was actually one of the minor reasons I decided to homeschool. My daughter’s kindergarten class didn’t allow them to keep water at their desks. Instead they took them to the water fountain twice a day. I knew that a few sips at the water fountain and her water bottle at lunch weren’t giving her the 20+ ounces she needed a day. At home I could schedule two big water breaks and make sure she was always hydrated – a super important part of being able to learn!

Homeschooling Cons

  • Financial Restraints — Homeschooling can be expensive. It doesn’t have to be (let’s face it, a library card is free), but if you want to use pre-packed curriculum, take special classes and benefit from a bunch of cool field trips, it takes money.  The good news is, you set the budget and let that determine what you can and can’t do. There’s always the library and the Internet.
  • Not Being Able to Work — It’s hard to work outside the home. Working and homeschooling at the same time can be done, but it’s no small task, and it’s probably not a good idea for a new homeschooling parent. It takes top notch organization and time management systems, a student who is willing and able to work well independently, and an effective process for monitoring your kid’s progress.

  • Sports, Music and Art Limitations — Sports, music and arts opportunities may be limited. We happen to live in a state and a county where there are no limitations on the public extra curricular activities that we can do. As county registered homeschoolers, our kids can participate in any public school sport or music or art program. They can even take classes at local public schools. But it’s not like that everywhere, and for some kids that can be a big drawback. You can seek out extra curricular activities (our kids do opera, Civil Air Patrol, scouts, art and music) or you could team up with other homeschool families and offer homeschool sports. Here in Sarasota, we’ve got homeschool tennis, volleyball and archery (I’m probably missing some others).

  • Therapy Limitations — Limited access to special needs therapy. Again, here in Florida, our kids can get all the speech, physical and occupational therapy they need through the public school system, but that may not be the case in other parts of the U.S., which can be a huge problem for some kids.
  • Limited Social Opportunities — It never fails. Whenever someone asks about homeschooling, we can expect this question: “But what about socialization?” We’re going to do a whole post on the myth of socialization, but let me just say that I’ve homeschooled in three different states, and I’ve never had trouble offering my kids great social opportunities. But I do realize that for some people, there is not a large local homeschool community. We’re blessed to have a few homeschool graduations and proms and yearbooks to choose from. Because of the extensive network in our area of homeschool families, our kids don’t have to miss out on anything public school kids do, but we know that’s not the case for every family. The truth is, as a homeschooler, you will have seek out social opportunities for your kids.
  • Your Own Challenges and Limitations — Here’s a tough one to face: as a homeschool parent, your own struggles and bad habits and challenges and limitations will be on display for your kids. If you’re disorganized or have a short fuse or are addicted to the television or the phone or the Internet; if you are prone to white lies and excuses or battle depression or overeat, your kids are not only going to know, but they’re probably to going to pick up the same issues. Remember, more is caught than taught. Your kids will do what you do, not what you say. But there’s a great silver lining in this dark cloud — homeschooling can also be the catalyst for you to begin making the changes you’ve always wanted to make in your own life. Being a role model for someone else can be a powerful motivator! So pick one thing; do some research; make a plan to fix it, and then work the plan. When you’ve got that one licked, move on to the next.

We hope we’ve helped you in this process. While you’re here, leave us a comment below and tell us what pros and cons we’ve missed!

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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