Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

"Say it again, Sam!"
Repeat yourself often and don’t assume that everyone knows what is going on at all times. Say it again and in many different ways. It is better to repeat information to people than to leave someone feeling out of the loop.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday's Answer: Scheduling Savvy

"I know you can't please all the people all the time, but how do you deal with multiple differences in schedules when you're trying to plan an event that will benefit everyone--like a park day or moms' night out?"

Scheduling an event at the right time can be tricky. Our family has such a difficult time planning anything ahead of time because of my husband's uncertain schedule. He is always on call and jobs are inconsistent in how long they take to complete. Other families in our area deal with the crazy hours of shift work or working nights. This can make it almost impossible to get everyone together at the same time.

Despite the variety of families' schedules in your group, you can find the best time to plan your event by working within these 10 easy guidelines that I always keep in mind when scheduling:

  1. Stay informed ~ Know the big events of your community that everyone might be attending. Keep in mind church service times, practices and games of team sports that involve your families, and other homeschool group activities. Schedule around these as best you can.
  2. Consider your target attendees ~ Who are you trying to reach or serve with this event? If it is moms, schedule best when dads can watch the kids. If it is kids, schedule during the day. If it is dads, schedule a weekend event.
  3. Make it a family event ~ When it is particularly hectic, schedule one event for the whole family. Then you are not taking away family time, but giving time for families to make good memories together. If one cannot attend, the rest of the family can still have fun.
  4. Take a poll ~ This is especially good for an ongoing event like park day or co-op classes. Let the families vote on which day of the week is best for them and their schedule. Keep the poll to only three choices so you can see a clear winner.
  5. The coordinator's vote is heaviest ~ It takes lots of time and effort to plan and execute an event. The leader in charge needs to weigh in on the choice of day or time to make sure they can be there and be ready. They should get first choice.
  6. Consider homeschool schedules ~ Your group is to build up the homeschool families in your group, not take away precious learning or working time. Watch the calendar and don't plan too many things during "school hours." Try to work events into the afternoons or classes into one school day, only taking away from the family school hours once in a while.
  7. Be consistent ~ Keep recurring events always on the same day and time. This gives your families time to look forward to these activities and plan ahead. They can even work their own schedules around these events.
  8. Overcome schedule objections ~ Anticipate problems with a scheduled time and find a solution before it even comes up. If your members include shift workers or single parents, find a way to provide child care on a moms' night out, for example.
  9. Multi-task ~ Help lower the driving times for families by planning events for different members at the same time and in close proximity to each other. Specific groups, such as a moms' night out and a teen activity, can meet separately and yet still be able to ride together when you plan this way.
  10. Do your best, then rest ~ Thoughtfully plan the best time and day for your event considering these guidelines. Then let it work out for each family the best that they can do. Be happy with the turn out and don't worry over it. You will never be able to work it out 100%, but you can know you did your best to serve your group.

Even the best schedules can be overturned or upset by unforeseen events. We have rescheduled our group activities because of hurricanes or other weather, shift workers getting called in for seven-day-a-week turn-arounds (as they call them here), or a conflicting event that was missed in planning. Personally, I've canceled plans when my husband got called out of town with only 30 minutes notice. These kind of upheavals are not fun, but they do happen in real life. I've learned that a good, flexible attitude that rests during all the changes makes it easier on everyone.

Hoping this came at the right time,
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

Press Club!
Starting a kid-run newspaper is a fun way to highlight the work of your young authors and teach basic journalism concepts. Mail it out to parents and grandparents, and offer a color version for a small fee. What a great addition for the kids' portfolios or scrapbooks! It's a big deal to see your name published in print!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday's Answer: Are You Bossy?

I suppose my biggest question is: "How to make sure you don't sound too bossy?"
We love volunteer leaders--especially humble ones like this lady who desire to lead and do a good job, and yet not be overbearing or bossy to the ones she is serving. This important balance begins with the heart and then results with the tone and words of the tongue.

"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45

Looking at this time-tested truth gives us a mirror by which to see our own heart. It also encourages within us the desire for a pure heart filled with good treasure from which will flow out the right words and tone for proper leadership. Here are 3 good treasures to safeguard in our hearts to avoid sounding bossy:

  1. Grace ~ Graciousness is such a lovely word and lovely characteristic that we would love to embody it and exemplify it to our society. Graciousness always thinks the best of others, sees their best, overlooks their faults (because we all have them), and makes others feel comfortable and accepted without lowering one's own standards.

  2. Gentleness ~ This fruit of the Spirit produces a kind and gentle heart that will always deal with every person and situation with the right tone of voice. Your members will see your gentle, caring spirit and know that your firm decisions are made with thoughtfulness, considering their perspective and keeping the group's best interests in mind.

  3. Humility ~ Keeping yourself humble before God and man will give you the ability to lead without being bossy. If you never see yourself as better than those you serve, you can stand with the confidence of not overlording. This is a treasure of the heart that comes from spending time with God, realizing your own sinfulness because of the purity of His presence, repenting, and asking for a pure heart.

Our time here on earth will not be perfect and neither will our tone or motives always be right. But we can continue to store up wonderfully good treasure in our hearts so that our good works will be seen before men and glorify God. Through it all, we can rest and not worry.

Our tone of voice can be worked on, but it is ultimately only our heart that will keep us leading our group's families with grace and kindness. We all have different styles, different personalities, and different voices, but people will sense your humble, gentle and gracious heart from the treasures you are storing within.

Rejoicing in His perfecting power,
Denise & Kristen


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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Savin' O the Green Special

We love crockpots! They save leaders so much time and stress at suppertime after a long day serving your group members, teaching a co-op class, or attending a field trip.

That’s one reason we are excited about this Savin’ O the Green offer that our friends over at MoneySavingMom.com and LivingonaDime.com have cooked up for you. Many of you are familiar with Crystal, Tawra and Jill’s money-saving, get-out-of-debt, frugal living and homemaking tips.

Well, they have just contacted us to let us know that with the rise in the price of groceries, they have decided to team up to offer you their two grocery savings e-courses-- along with a huge pile of bonus items. Even better, they are offering this Savin’ O the Green 17 e-book package to our readers for $17, a substantial discount off the regular $75 price for these e-books. This special price is good just for this week, ending Monday the 23rd.

The e-books that are included in this offer include:

Supermarket Savings 101 eCourse with audio downloads
Grocery Shopping On A Budget eCourse
470 Crockpot Recipes
Money Saving Meats
Saving On Cleaning Supplies
Eating Healthy On A Budget
Is Eating Out Eating You Up?
224 Meals In A Hurry
Grocery Savings
Menus That Make Cents
Plan Ahead Leftovers
Quick Dinners
Menu Planning Made Easy
Simply Centsible Breakfasts
Simply Centsible Suppers
Kids Recipes
Menus On A Dime

For more information on this exciting offer, visit http://hgleader.livingonad.hop.clickbank.net/

Hope to save you a pot o’ gold!!
Kristen & Denise

Tuesday's Tip

Think Green!

Celebrate spring with a Track and Field Day. Anything to speed up the warmer weather! A foot race across the new, green grass or a spin-off with green hula hoops or a tug-o-war with a green tie marking the middle of the rope can really bring spring. You can even serve chilled limeade and Andes Mint chocolate chip cookies for refreshment.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday's Answer: Balancing Act! Part 2

How do I balance the demands of leadership with my family and own homeschool?

We've answered this question once, but let's approach it from another angle as well.

We want you to remember three important things about striking a balance:

1. You don't have to be perfect to be a successful leader. Be your lovely self! Expect to make some mistakes. If someone has a problem with that, that's their problem, not yours.

2. You don't have to be perfect for your group to be great. There will be gaps in your leadership. Let others fill in. If no one fills in, it may not be something the Lord wanted done right now.

3. Part of finding the balance with all the pressing things you must do is for you to release yourself from trying to be everything to and for everybody. You can't be. Only Christ can be all things to all people.

Isn't this freeing? We want you to feel liberated to be the homeschool group leader YOU were created to be. And only that!

Appreciating all our wonderful variety of talents,
Kristen & Denise


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

Keep it all together!

A stylish bag or expandable file can be a pleasurable reminder to keep all of your group's pertinent information organized in one travel-friendly place. Always ready for you, it will ensure you have what you need at your fingertips during every event or meeting. Remember to tuck a group phone list inside. Knowing where everything is will also help keep your sanity all together!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday's Answer: Balancing Act! Part 1

How do I balance the demands of leadership with my family and own homeschool?
Ever feel like the circus performer with all the plates spinning in the air at once on very thin poles? Homeschool group leaders often find themselves suddenly spinning several plates in the air at once, trying to find the delicate balance between their group responsibilities, their homeschooling responsibilities and their family responsibilities. Not to mention being perky and loving at all times to all people, especially family members!

It often feels impossible. But striking a balance between these important and necessary responsibilities is critical to avoiding burnout as a leader.

Try these three things to help you find the balance:

* SET A DATE-- Where do you need some protected time? Find some time each week that nothing can infringe upon. For our family, it was Family Night on Tuesday nights. To preserve precious family time, we set aside one night a week to just "BE" with one another. We might play games, watch a movie, go out to eat or do absolutely nothing. The point was that it was OUR family's choice how that night went, and we didn't let anything else get scheduled on that night. It was sacred time.

* SET A TIME--Is school time hit or miss at your house? Do your kids know what's expected each day? To help my elementary-aged children keep on task with their lessons, I had to set aside a specific time for their lessons--and then I had to be accessible to them to answer their questions and hold them accountable. I might be close by doing laundry or I might actually sit at the kitchen table and grade past lessons, but my children functioned so much better when I was available consistently to them during schooltime.

* SET A ROUTINE--It has been proven over and over that people are more productive when they work within the boundaries of a routine. For me as a leader, that meant that our family schooled in the mornings; I worked on group things in the afternoon and family things came after 5 pm. This helped me so much to avoid neglecting these very important areas of my life. I discovered that I got more done within each area and what didn't get done could wait till the next day--the world did not stop turning!

I resisted structure in my life for so many years. It is exciting to live by the seat of your pants, but not always effective. At least, not on a day in-day out basis. Rushing from one crisis to the next can leave a leader feeling like she's spinning out of control. When I finally gave myself permission to set a date, set a time and set a routine, I became more effective all the way around.

Blessings as you find your balance,


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

Chunk the mega-phone!

If you are begging to be heard at your meetings, consider investing in a microphone/speaker fanny pack set. Check out a sample of one here.