Sunday, August 31, 2014

My story of how our family started homeschooling 2 1/2 years ago - a response to a mom's question

A blog reader asked my story of how we started homeschooling. Here is my response to her. If you are a public school family, please don't take offense from our family's experience or the blessings we have received from making this choice. How to best educate your children is a very personal one and should be made with much thought, prayer, and personal revelation. 

My story is basically this. 

Almost three years ago I asked for an audio book for my November birthday. It was The Duggars: Twenty and Counting, Raising One of America's Largest Families, How They Do It. As I listened to the book (which is a life changing book), I kept thinking, "Wow, this is an amazing family. I wish my kids were best friends like these kids are. But it wouldn't work because we don't homeschool." "I wish I could protect my children from the world as well as the Duggars do, but that wouldn't work because we don't homeschool."  Pretty soon God had worked on me long enough and He gave a persistent prompting that God wanted me to start homeschooling.  

I really didn't want to. 

I had sooooo many reasons, one of which was that I was scared my family would be seen as weird. I'm embarrassed to admit that, but it was probably the biggest fear I had.  I also didn't want to leave our schools. We had been super involved in our schools - volunteering, Community Council, choirs, band, jazz band, orchestra, theater, and all my kids got great grades. My oldest had just graduated from our local high school within the past year. I loved many of the teachers and all three principles at our elementary, junior high, and high school, which are all on the same road, very close to our home.  What if I never saw many of my friends again that I know from school functions?  What if my kids never see their friends again? It was so painful to my heart to drive by these schools that I didn't know if I would ever finish grieving it. 

After feeling the prompting for a while, I told my husband about it. He got an answer quickly, feeling really good about it. Then we presented the idea and asked each of our children to pray and get their own answer from Heavenly Father, because I was having enough resistance in myself, and I didn't feel strong enough yet to handle resistance from them. Eventually they all got an answer that it was the right thing. 

That has made THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE, that we all got answers from God and knew this was God's will for our family. 

I immersed myself in prayer, scriptures, fasting, and journaling, asking the Lord to pour down spiritual strength to help me do this seemingly impossible task He had asked me to do. I felt a serious kinship with Nephi and Lehi, being told to do things that looked utterly impossible, but God made them possible - leaving their comfort zone and virtually everyone they knew, going to a place they had never gone before and didn't know what to expect, getting brass plates from a man who refused to give or sell them and even threatened their lives, building a ship to get their family across the ocean when Nephi had never built one before. I dug into their story with myself in the pages. I was being told to do something utterly impossible to me, I didn't know what it would look like or where we would end up, I had never done this before! Here are the two passages that became my mantra: 
"I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." (1 Nephi 3:7) 
"And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. Nevertheless I went forth..." (1 Nephi 4:6)

I also wrote a list of stories like Nephi's and Lehi's where God had helped people do the impossible. I knew that remembering their miracles would boost my faith and courage, knowing God would help me do this seemingly impossible task, and guide me to everything I needed to succeed with it.

My four children still at home were in the middle of grades 10, 7, 4 and 4 (twins). Taking the paperwork to the schools almost gave me a panic attack and I had to ask my husband to do it for me.  But we finally did it in the middle of January at the new semester. 

I was given lots of advice to let my children de-tox for a while and gain their love of learning again that public school often snuffs out.  

Since I had no clue what I was doing yet, this seemed like the logical choice. So we went to our neighborhood library a ton, read a ton, alone and together, and did things that were fun and learning at the same time, like field trips and projects. During this time our family also took our daughter's girls camp challenge to memorize The Living Christ, which was a cool experience. I felt super stressed during this de-tox time, because I knew the public school kids were learning things my kids weren't learning right then. 

I threw myself into training mode. 

I read books and articles about homeschooling, I joined homeschool Yahoo (and later Facebook) groups and asked a gazillion questions to the homeschool friends I already knew. I started attending park days and other events to meet other homeschoolers and get ideas, and taking any training I could. I attended an average of one training a month for my first year -- a TJED (Thomas Jefferson Education) conference, Latter-day Learning conference, Moms' Retreat, an online writing training, joined a monthly Family Builder group, and others. My kids were older and I didn't feel like I had time to waste, other than whatever time they needed to de-tox and love learning again.  

Our two teens were able to join a LEMI (Leadership Education Mentoring Institute) group, one taking a class called Key of Liberty, the other taking Pyramid Project. I asked if I could sit in the back of the Key of Liberty class, so I could get my feet wet and learn from the two moms teaching the class, both their material, and to start seeing how this homeschool and group thing works.  I fell in love with the Key of Liberty class, and I wish every young person (and old person) in the country took that class, which teaches the principles of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the history and character and events of our founding fathers. Another part of my training came from learning bits and pieces about Common Core, and every time I did, I became more and more grateful God had prompted us to pull out before Common Core was fully implemented. 

By the next school year, seven months later... 

I had felt prompted to become a new teacher (we call them mentors) in a local homeschool group called Vanguard.  My younger three participated in this group, and slowly but surely, we started to feel more at home.  I loved learning with my children with the Latter-day Learning curriculum, the Spirit-filled devotionals, and studying like crazy to learn along with our Vanguard group and being the teacher one Wednesday every month. Our group also did temple trips, outdoor activities, game nights, choir, theater, and a yearly camp out. I was very busy, but I loved all this fun learning!  And I've always loved teaching, so that felt great. And the families in our group helped us feel welcomed and nurtured in our new lifestyle as homeschoolers. Our oldest son started an online program at a rigorous online high school called Williamsburg Academy.  We also started being involved in cool activities like acting at Constitution Day, attending a mother-son or mother-daughter retreat, and serving during a school day at Mothers Without Borders charity boutique. 

It has now been over 2 1/2 years since we pulled our children out of public school. 

Recently I pondered about all the amazing people and principle-based education, the activities and events we've been blessed by that we never would have known had we stayed in our old world of public school.  Some of my dearest friends I know only through homeschooling. Some of the most special things I've learned have been through homeschooling. Some of the events and activities and retreats and trainings that have been so meaningful to me have happened in our lives only because we started homeschooling.  Our family is closer than ever before. We are dear friends. My children don't groan when it's time for family devotional like is the typical reaction for public school kids (we were reminded of this today in a sacrament meeting talk). Instead, they have deep testimonies, connect their spiritual knowledge to their secular learning all the time, and like learning about God and His gospel. My children have had awesome experiences with personal revelation, which Julie Beck said is the most important skill anyone can learn in this life, and I totally agree. So I've prioritized that in our homeschool experience. 

My third year at the Moms' Retreat. I love this retreat! 

My children have grown immensely in their love of learning and their capacity to study hard.  

I love that our learning is focused on finding and living principles in all that we learn. Our learning is meaningful and never a waste of time. Our children's friends are quality teens with great families. Before, when my children were in public school, they felt like the only kids who didn't have cable TV, cell phones, and violent video games. They would come home feeling sad that their friends were talking about the latest violent movies or games, or saying bad words, or had negative attitudes in general. OF COURSE there are wonderful families in public school who have very high standards! But it felt like it was the exception, not the rule. Now the nice thing is, with our homeschool friends, it's the rule -- most of our friends have high standards like us, which is awesome! We have never been a big television-watching family, but since starting homeschooling, our family has been less and less interested in TV or entertainment in general.  Have my kids learned exactly all the same things as their friends at the public school? Nope.  Have their friends learned all the same things my kids have learned? NOPE. 

And which would I choose?  Ours. Hands down. 

It seems that my children moved from a culture focused on friends and entertainment into a culture focused on family and learning, and preparing to become and do what God sent them here to do. 

In my opinion, for teens, especially social teens, being involved in outside activities or groups is a huge help. 

Here is what my 15-year-old's education looks like this year. It will be more driving around than I am used to, but we pray hard about these choices, and she is excited about everything on her list. Each of these classes (other than seminary) meets once a week, and then she studies at home the rest of the time. 
  • Seminary (I am starting a calling of teaching seminary to a group of 26 homeschool youth)
  • Vanguard - includes leadership, government and economics, literature, gateway to the great books, writing. It also includes a little about history, science, music, and art. This also includes monthly LDS temple trips, outdoor activities, cultural literacy bees. 
  • Vanguard theater and choir 
  • Seeing God's hand in History 
  • Biology 
  • Speech and Debate 
  • Math  (she has to do this on her own and not with a group)
Our 12-year-old boys are starting a different homeschool group that meets one and a half days each week. It includes history and current events, science, writing/grammar/spelling. They will do math on their own at home. They're also involved in Vanguard theater and choir, and take their own music lessons. 

This makes us sound crazy busy!  The thing that makes this work is that I'm not their teacher any more, so it frees up more of my time to prepare seminary lessons.  

This story may not be what you are looking for, because my children are in an older stage than yours, and because we started out deeply involved in our public schools rather than starting out homeschooling, which in some ways would be much easier than our road. 

God bless you in your decision!  Be prayerful about it. I'm sure you are.  

If you feel right about homeschooling, or if you don't get an answer for a while, this would be my advice. Take advantage of the time you have before your kids are school age to do some research and preparing. 

  • Start reading some about homeschooling. 
  • Start meeting people who homeschool and ask them questions.  
  • Attend a homeschool conference or training here and there.  
  • Notice the light in the homeschool teens' eyes that looks different than what you usually see at the public schools. 
  • Join some Facebook or Yahoo groups for homeschoolers. I could recommend some if you want. 
  • Start learning a bit about Common Core.  Learn some of God's principles of education and the history of it. Learn about the agenda of some of the top education leaders in our country who are educating the educators, which filters down to our children in public schools. 

Don't stress about pushing young children to be too academic too early. They learn TONS through playing, working alongside Mom, doing projects, and from your reading to them. One book that has been a core of my homeschool philosophy is called A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille. I don't use his principles in as black-and-white fashion as he states them, but there is a lot of truth there, and I really like most of what he says. 

God bless you!  Keep in touch. 

Click here for tips for a newbie homeschooler. 

Five cool things we learned in my first week of teaching seminary

1. Coming unto Christ is the purpose. 

The Savior should be the center of our lives and our class. He has so much power to heal, nourish, strengthen, and teach us. Come unto Him. I invite you to watch the music video we watched. It's this year's LDS Youth theme song, Come Unto Christ. If you're like me, get a Kleenex first.  

2. God wants us to be active, not passive learners of the gospel.

Here are eight quotes of Heavenly Father inviting us to PARTICIPATE in class! You can use this as an easy FHE lesson with older kids or teens. Or to teach your church class how to be active participants. When students participate, they invite the SPIRIT, who is the ultimate teacher. If we don't learn and teach by the Spirit, it's not going to work. 

When people teach others, in their own words, principles and doctrines they find, it helps root these truths deeply into their hearts, and inspires us to apply them. 

3. The point of scriptures is to find and apply PRINCIPLES. 

Here are some great quotes about finding principles in the scriptures. 

Just reading the scriptures doesn't give us the spiritual power and nourishment we need. We need to FEAST, meaning looking deeper and finding principles that we can apply in our lives.  

We played part of this fun and inspiring talk (with permission from the publisher) to teach the youth how to READ IT, FIND IT, USE IT!  In other words, how to look for and apply principles! 

4. It's important to bond as a class or a family. 

The Family Proclamation says that wholesome recreational activities are important in building relationships. We have played several get-to-know-you games to help everyone become friends, and to be united as a class.

 This is a question ball. My daughter helped by writing down a bunch of quick-answer questions.  Whoever catches the ball gets to answer the question by their right thumb. We'll play this game soon.  

5. God is a God of miracles. 

I know this because I, Becky Edwards, got up at 5:30 AM this week. Those who know me well know that THIS IS A MIRACLE.  

I've seen other miracles in my life as I prepared to start teaching seminary. 

  • Heavenly Father magnified my capacity to help me do more than I could on my own to prepare for teaching seminary. In the past couple months I've been able to read the whole Doctrine and Covenants as an overview, study the new Seminary & Institute teaching manual (can I just say whoa, awesome book), do an online training for seminary teachers, and attended several live trainings. I've been blessed with many resources for fantastic seminary ideas, like the handful of wonderful seminary teachers who are my friends, Pinterest, Facebook seminary teaching site, and other sites like The Redhead Hostess. I'm so grateful for all of these trainings and resources, because it's been a couple years since I taught institute, and I needed the updates and the awesome fire back. I'm feeling the fire! 

  • Another miracle has been that it felt important to me to put my home and systems and papers in order before I started teaching seminary. For you mothers who have felt the "nesting instinct," that's what I'm talkin' 'bout.  In answer to many prayers, Heavenly Father helped me do more than I could on my own here as well. I was able to buy a new-ish lateral file, de-junk and update my filing system, create a weekly family chore system, update our home routines, my planner (yes, I'm one of the 62 left on the planet who still uses a paper planner). I got a shorter haircut for a 5:30 AM fast hair do. And we worked as a family to tidy up kitchen cupboards and drawers as well as bedrooms and the garage and basement. Ahhh... Now I can think straight again. 
  • One way this is such a miracle is because I'm already a busy homeschool mom, wife of an LDS bishop, and we had a very full summer already filled with good things like serving at the new Ogden LDS temple, hosting out-of-town relatives, having some sacred missionary experiences, doing girls' camp and youth conference and a family trek, among other things. I feel blessed that my three kids who will be homeschooling next year (oldest two will be gone from home) have fantastic groups with wonderful teachers, so I'll be more of a supportive role instead of their main teacher, which will leave time for me to teach seminary. Heavenly Father has helped us work things out so I can serve His beloved seminary students. I KNOW that I have had heavenly help getting ready this summer!

Early church leaders and pioneers experienced many miracles too! 

Their struggles and experiences are recorded for us to learn from and apply principles. Their lives can teach us that God will help, strengthen, answer prayers, and work miracles in our lives just as He has in theirs. I am so excited to learn this year at the feet of these amazing heroes. 

The point of studying scriptures is to find and apply principles

The veins of gold are like principles. The rock is like the scripture story. The rock is important to the gold miner because the rock holds the valuable part -- the gold. The scripture story is important to us because it holds the most important part -- the principle. 

1. “One cannot honestly study the scriptures without learning gospel principles because the scriptures have been written to preserve principles.” (President Marion G. Romney, CES Mtg, 8/17/79)

2. Principles are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances. A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and compelling circumstances.”(President Richard G. Scott, “Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge,” Ensign, 11/93)

3. “As you seek spiritual knowledge, search for principles . Carefully separate them from the detail used to explain them. ... It is worth great effort to organize the truth we gather to simple statements of principle.” (President Richard G. Scott, same as above)

4. “If [you] are acquainted with the revelations, there is no question – personal or social or political or occupational – that need go unanswered. Therein is contained the fulness of the everlasting gospel. Therein we find principles of truth that will resolve every confusion and every problem and every delimma that will face the human family or any individual in it.” (President Boyd K. Packer, “Teach the Scriptures,” CES mtg, 10/14/77)

5. “One of the most important things you can do ... is to immerse yourselves in the scriptures. Search them diligently. Feast upon the words of Christ. Learn the doctrine. Master the principles that are found therein.” (President Ezra Taft Benson, “The Power of the Word,” Ensign, 5/86)

6. “If we’re not reading the scriptures daily, our testimonies are growing thinner...” (President Harold B. Lee, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee [2000], 66)

7. “It is certain that one who studies the scriptures every day accomplishes far more than one who devotes considerable time one day and then lets days go by before continuing.” (Elder Howard W. Hunter, “Reading the Scriptures,” Ensign, 11/76) 

8. “The Lord has embedded in [the Book of Mormon] his message to you.” (President Eyring, "The Book of Mormon will change your life," Ensign, 2/2004)

9. When Joseph Smith said his famous quote that "...Man would get nearer to God by abiding by [the Book of Mormon's] precepts, than by any other book,” he didn't say that would happen from reading it. He essentially said we would get nearer to God by applying the principles in the book. Just reading doesn't have the power to bring us nearer to God and change us to be more like Him. 

Go here for more about why principles are important when you learn anything. 

Here are a few more awesome quotes about the power of scriptures. 

God wants us to be ACTIVE, not PASSIVE learners, of His Gospel

Keys to being an active learner of the Gospel

We used this handout on our first day of seminary. I'll invite you do to the same thing I invited my students to do. This would make a great FHE lesson, or use it in Sunday School or youth class to help your students up-level their learning. 

Read these quotes. Mark in one color what actions you’re being invited to take to obtain spiritual learning.   Mark in a second color the promised blessings of doing these things. 

1. “The very process of formulating a question, raising a hand, asking a question and listening attentively is an expression of faith. This principle of seeking learning by faith invites individualized teaching by the Holy Ghost”  (Elder David A. Bednar, Address to Australian Saints, April 2008).

2. “Assure that there is abundant participation because that use of agency by a student authorizes the Holy Ghost to instruct. It also helps the student retain your message.  As students verbalize truths, they are confirmed in their souls and strengthen their personal testimonies” (Elder Richard G. Scott, “To Understand and Live Truth,” Feb. 4, 2005).
3. “We are to help students learn to explain, share, and testify of the doctrines and principles of the restored gospel. We are to give them opportunities to do so with each other in class.  We are to encourage them to do so outside of class with family and others” (The Teaching Emphasis in the Church Educational System, November 14, 2007). 

4. “When you encourage students to raise their hand to respond to a question, they signify to the Holy Spirit their willingness to learn.  That use of moral agency will allow the Spirit to motivate and give them more powerful guidance during your time together. Participation allows individuals to experience being led by the Spirit. They learn to recognize and feel what spiritual guidance is. It is through the repeated process of feeling impressions, recording them, and obeying them that one learns to depend on the direction of the Spirit more than on communication through the five senses” (Richard G. Scott, “Helping Others to Be Spiritually Led,” 8/11/1998).

5. “Do you know how to get the most benefit from this time together?  Write down the impressions you feel…Spiritual moments in life often come when it seems difficult to record them.  Yet that special effort to crystallize in a permanent record sacred impressions of the Holy Ghost is powerfully rewarded.  Begin now even if you have to borrow paper and pencil to do it.” (Richard G. Scott, BYU-I Devot., Feb. 24, 2004) 

6. 1 Nephi 19:23 – ...I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.

7.  D&C 88:122 – Appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege.

8. “The person at the pulpit’s most important purpose is to teach by the Spirit.  Those in attendance must hear by the Spirit.  The best way to hear by the Spirit that I have found is simply to have in your heart a prayer for the person who is speaking.  If you will pray for the person who is speaking you will hear things you would not otherwise hear.  The Spirit will say things that He might not otherwise say.” (Elder Dunn, quoted by Kelly Haws in Priesthood training mtg) 

Please sign below. 

I Accept God’s Invitation to be an Active Learner this Year in Seminary. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

13 Fun Get-to-know-you Activities

I survived my first day of teaching early morning seminary today!  I already love these students, and I know I'll love them more and more and more...

Here are 13 fun ways students can get to know each other. I'll likely use a handful of these over first couple weeks of seminary. 

(Note: I didn't create any of these...I'm just good at gathering others' great ideas!) 

1. Question ball 

On a ball, write a bunch of questions like: What college do you want to attend? Favorite sport? Favorite movie? Pet peeve. Toss the ball. When the student catches it, they answer the question by their right thumb. 

2. Foodie names 

Each person says their name and a food that begins with the same letter as their name. The next person repeats the first person's name and food, adding their own. Each additional person repeats all previous names and foods, and adds their own. 

3. Name and favorite ice cream...scripture...any other favorite

This game works the same as Foodie names. 

3. Toss the name ball 

Students sit in a circle. Say your own name and another person's name, and then toss the ball to that person. That person says their own name and a different person's name and then tosses the ball. If the ball is dropped, the group gets to start from the beginning. 

4. Two truths and a lie 

Each person tells three things about themselves: two truths and one lie. Others try to guess which one is the lie. This game goes more quickly when the kids write it down first. This is the game we played today for the first day of class. I set my watch timer to give each person 30 seconds to quickly say their three things and then let people guess. If people didn't guess by then, the lie was revealed and we moved on. I had 28 students there, so I needed tricks to keep the game moving or it could have taken way too much class time.  

5. Which object describes you?

Bring five or so objects to class. They could be items like a spatula, a tool, a mirror, a toy ball, a journal, a band-aid...anything. Set the items in front of the class. Ask each member to choose one item that best describes themselves and why. They can get pretty creative with this one. 

6. Signature page

Create a list of descriptions that's about the same number of students in your class. For example: I have my Young Women medallion, I had pizza in the past week, I can say all 13 Articles of Faith, I have my Eagle Scout, I've never had a cavity. Give a sheet to each student and have them get as many signatures as possible, but only one signature from each person. Also they can't just say "Sign my page." They have to ask questions like, "Have you had a cavity?"  When the time is up, you read the list and have everyone raise their hand who could have signed that line. 

7. Snowball fight 

Each person writes one thing they are excited about, one thing they're nervous about, and one thing they want to learn. They crumple the papers and have a snowball fight! When time's up, they each grab a ball and take turns reading it aloud, trying to guess who wrote  it. 

8. Ready, set group! 

Students form groups quickly with criteria given by the teacher. For example: Make a group of three people with the same color hair. Then give new criteria for them to mix up again. 

9. Silent line

Students organize themselves into a line silently according to criteria from the teacher. For example: height, birth month, how many siblings they have. 

10. Fruit basket 

The group sits in a circle with one person in the middle. The middle person sets a criteria, and everyone who meets it moves to another seat in the circle. The middle person tries to find a seat before the last person does, so the next person gets to choose a new criteria. 

11. A poem about me 

Each student writes a poem with five lines: 

  • Three things they like 
  • Three things they dislike 
  • Three words that describe them 
  • A place they'd like to visit 
  • One thing their mom likes about them 

12. All about you page 

This is best given after a few days of class, when students feel safe to open up. List things like their name, cell phone or email they'd like to be given reminders with, and other questions like: 

  • Tell me about your family
  • What do you do for fun? 
  • Favorite and least favorite food 
  • Pet peeves
  • Most embarrassing moment in 10 words or less
  • Personal hero 
  • Your best quality 
  • Weirdest characteristic 
  • Little-known ambition or desire 
  • Your favorite book, movie, song 
  • What do you like about seminary?
  • What would you like to do when you grow up? 
  • Write me a letter. What else would you like me to know about you? 

13. Integrate a get-to-know-you activity into the lesson 

You could create a page with as many short-answer questions as students in the class. They might be questions like: How old was Joseph Smith when he had his first vision? How many siblings did Joseph Smith have?  Then under each short question, add the question: Write something we probably don't know about you.  Assign each person a question number. After they write their own two answers, students go around the room to fill in the rest of their questions. Then briefly go through the list with the whole class. 

If you have another get-to-know-you activity that you like, feel free to share it in a comment below! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tomorrow is my first day of teaching early morning seminary!

Do I feel ready? 

I'm not sure if I'll ever feel ready...

Will I teach anyway? 


Will I love it? 

I'm 100% sure I will. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014


1) Click here to check out our family's morning and evening chores

As a professional organizer, you can imagine I've experimented with a lot of routines. This one has been the best. We've used it for years. 

2) Click here for our magical "earn back box"

You'll love the power of this one simple tool to help your home stay neat and tidy. 

3) Click here for our "liberation from laundry" system 

This is the simple, efficient system I've taught to thousands of mothers. It's so awesome it can turn a closet into a sweet laundry room! Never be overwhelmed by mountains of dirty or to-be-folded laundry again...except maybe when you come home from vacation. Sorry, can't help you there. But vacations are worth it, right? 

4) Click here for our family chore hour...newly restarted last month 

Last month, to lighten our daily morning chores (see number one chart above), we removed garbage and weekly job. Then we added those things to a one-hour family chore hour that we do all together. Add loud dancing music, maybe a treat after, and believe it or not, it's kinda fun!  And I L.O.V.E. how the house looks and feels afterward! 

5) Click here for our money chore list

This is my go-to list when kids want to earn money, earn their belonging from the earn-back box, or if they disobeyed and need a consequence. 

BONUS:  We started a new family tradition of adding a 15-minute family work project some days after our regular morning routine. Click here to check it out.

This is for those periodic projects like cleaning out drawers or the garage, or deep cleaning light fixtures and lamps. 

Click here to see blessings of families working together

It's harder at first than doing the work yourself, but the benefits are just too important to miss! 

I'd love to hear what housework systems work for you! Feel free to leave a comment below. 

Our morning and night chore routines

This is the chore routine we have used for years and it has worked great!  

Notice we put the two chore routines to songs. That way family members can sing the song to themselves to see which chore to do next. If I see kids dawdling I say, "Which chore are you on?"  Their ticket to freedom is to come to me and check off the chore list. Because my husband was in the Army, when the kids were little we did the check-off Army style. "Morning prayer." "CHECK." "Breakfast too." "CHECK." Too cute.  

To get started on a chore routine, or when routines change, it can help to use an incentive program like points and a prize each week. I love Miracle Music and highly recommend it. 

In the past few weeks we made a change to remove two daily chores from our morning routine, and do a weekly family chore hour instead. Click here to read about that. 

Click here for the Edwards family's five-part housework from a professional organizer. 

List of ideas for kids' money chores

Here's my go-to list when a child wants to earn some money. 

Or if someone disobeyed a rule and needs a consequence, or if a child wants to earn their belonging from the earn-back box. Other ideas for money jobs are here.

Family chore hour...prepare to be amazed by what your family can accomplish in one hour a week!

I've been praying for ways to streamline my life to make room for a new busy church calling. Next week I start teaching early morning LDS seminary. During my scripture study recently, the idea popped into my mind to re-start ...


Family chore night is something our family did every week when we had three little ones. We had two teams - the laundry team and the cleaning team, with Mom and Dad each in charge of a team. It was actually pretty fun! We bonded, got a lot of stuff done in about an hour, sang and danced to happy music, and taught our children life skills that too many kids are leaving home without. I REFUSE to let my kids leave home without these skills. 

Here is our new plan.

Now that we have teens, we can have three teams! Mom in charge of one, Dad in charge of one, and our 15-year-old daughter wanted to be her own team. We've experimented and tweaked for about four weeks now and the goal is to get as much done in one hour as you can...and then if we're lucky, to sit around as a family and eat something yummy like ice cream!  

Update: Several weeks after posting this article, I tried a new method of dividing up the chores for family chore night. These craft sticks are still divided into three categories, but we decided to let people choose a chore from any pile. When they're done they put the stick in the appropriate cup and choose another chore. That way everyone works until all the jobs are done. 

We have family home evening lessons on Sundays already, so it works great for us to do this on Monday nights. I've heard of families doing chores together on Saturday morning or Friday after school, and the reward is a fun family activity or free time to play with friends. 

Click here for the Edwards family's five-part housework from a professional organizer. 

Summer tradition...15-minute family work project

Some days this summer we started a new tradition. 

We tacked onto our morning chore routine a 15-minute family work project

I L.O.V.E.D. it!  

It is amazing how much progress you can make when several people focus on one work project. Sometimes we got going and decided to work longer one day and skip the next few days. 

I got virtually every kitchen drawer and cupboard de-junked, wiped down, and tidied. We cleaned out the garage, deep cleaned light fixtures and ceiling fans! These are all tasks that aren't part of our normal housework system. I think I'll make this a new summer tradition. 

I have a fun little toy. It's called a label maker. I had fun with it in this drawer! 

Click here to see organizing ideas for each room of the house! 

Click here for the Edwards family's five-part housework from a professional organizer.