Tag Archives: summer

Easing into School

Remembering back to my elementary, middle, and high school years, the first days of school were always an exciting time when I met my teachers and found out who shared my classes. Then the teachers went through the school handbook and discussed all the rules. Though we may have had a homework assignment or two, it was a good way of “easing” into the new school year.

Well, my kids already know their teacher and classmates, and the rules of the house are still the same. Because of this, I tend to want to jump back into school “full steam ahead.” I have to remind myself that we haven’t been on a regular schedule for a while, and it might take a few days to get into a regular routine again.

But there are things we can do to make the change easier for us all to adjust to:

  • We’ll spend time talking about the subjects they’ll be learning, and how and when I can help them individually. We’ve had the problem in the past of one student interrupting me while I was trying to help another. This time, they’ll know just what to expect.
  • I’m not assigning them work in every subject…yet. We’ll tackle a few of the basics first, especially reading and writing. I’ll introduce the other subjects as the week goes on and they’ve had time to readjust.
  • Although the kids are going to wake up at the same time and eat breakfast together, they’re going to go through the day at their own pace.  Some of my students will get right to it and get things done, while others will work in a much more leisurely manner. I’ve found it only frustrates all of us when I try to keep everyone on task together.
  • We’ll play some educational games together.
  • We’ll plan an outing with friends towards the end of the week, giving them something special to look forward to.

Even if you homeschool, or rather, especially if you homeschool, those first days can still be an exciting fresh start!

 

Photo by earl53

 

Last Week of Summer Break

This week is our last week of summer break. On the 15th, when the schools in our area begin their first day, we’ll start off on our first “official” day too. While I had great intentions on finishing up my lesson plans early in the season, we are now just a week away, and I still have to make those plans. I have almost all of the books we’re going to use — just not the plans to go with them.

But, I reassured myself, that’s okay — I still have this week to pull everything together.But, like many plans, mine is in need of some revisions, as it’s  turning out to be a week busy with activities.

Monday: A few necessary errands in the morning.  In the afternoon, my daughter Cassie will join a homeschool middle school volleyball team for practice, her first team sport since she was  eight years old. After I drop her off, I’ll then take my oldest son John to his first piano lesson — as the teacher! He’ll be working with two young students who haven’t played much before. Maybe I can do some planning in the evening.

Tuesday: Planning in the morning; violin lessons for the girls around noon; community service for John in the afternoon.

Wednesday: Monthly visit to the nursing home in the morning; piano lessons for John and Luke in the afternoon; Lesson planning?

Thursday: Meeting with friends in the morning – afternoon at a state park to swim and picnic; Lesson planning…?

Friday: Last opportunity to use our tickets from the library reading program for a local water park. The park is about an hour away, so we want to make a day of it. Hmmm….lesson planning…

I have to admit, I am not a homeschooling mom who has it all together. As I look at this schedule, I’m really glad to have at least some time on Monday and Tuesday to put our first few weeks of school in writing.

But while homeschooling works well for those who are organized, structured, and totally prepared, it also works well for those of us who aren’t.  Even if I don’t have the whole year planned, I can still mix my teaching style with my children’s learning styles and create an educational atmosphere where they continue to grow. And isn’t that one of the reasons we homeschool in the first place?

 

Photo by mensatic

Are You a Rule Follower – Part 2

I walked the long way back from the car, now hot and sweaty, and the ink on my arm had run so much you couldn’t see what it said. I looked at the employee checking people through and said, “Please let me back in.” The security guard laughed, but he stopped when the beeper went off.

“Do you have anything metal on you?” he asked. “Maybe your keys?”

I handed him my keys, then went through the scanner again. And it went off again. I could feel my already-sweaty palms begin to sweat even more.

“It’s probably just not working right,” said the employee. He was going to let me through.

“Anything else?” the guard asked. I gave him my watch and went through again. It beeped again.

“It’s just not working right,” the employee said again. I liked him.

But the guard said, “Anything else?” I gave him the two rings I was wearing. And it beeped again.

The guard looked at me funny. “Do you have anything else on you that’s metal?” My hand moved towards my pocket, and I pulled out…two packages of tuna.

Now, two packages of tuna aren’t much of  a threat to anyone, unless you’re throwing them in frustration.  But I wasn’t throwing them. I was SO embarrassed, all I could do was turn around, drop them in the nearest garbage can, and move quickly through the detector — again. No beep.

“No outside food allowed,” reminded the guard in a pleasant voice. I gave him a little smile, then scooted away as quickly as I could. I knew my face had to be bright red. It sure felt like all the blood had rushed to it.

As I made my way back to the rest of the group, all I could think of was my sister’s words, “I’m a rule-follower.” My, she could really rub it in if she wanted to! And though I’m usually a rule-follower, to save some money I tried to break the rule…and I was caught.

I debated for a while if I should share the story with anyone, particularly my children. But I did, as it was a good lesson for them too.

There are a lot of rules that are easy to “bend”. Driving a little faster than the speed limit, smuggling snacks into a movie theater, and copying songs from someone else’s CD are all “small” infractions that shouldn’t seem to matter. But they do. They are a reflection of character and integrity, two things we want to hang on to.

It was also a good lesson in kindness, as my sister never did gloat. 🙂

 

Photo by sideshowmom

Are You A Rule-Follower? – Part 1

Last month, we met with my sister and her family for a fun day at a nearby theme park. We had gone to the same park last year and had such a good time,  and this time my kids were excited about sharing the experience with their cousins. I felt confident about navigating through the park and handling the high food prices — that is, until we went through the main gate.

As with many theme parks, the drinks, snacks, and meal deals weren’t deals at all, but we knew that ahead of time. Last year, we took some snacks along with us to save some money, and no one working at the gates commented on them at all (we did buy our drinks there). Because the park had such a family-friendly policy of allowing snacks into the park, I assured my sister we could do it this year as well.

So, before we headed off to the park, we each packed a bag with snacks and a few extra waters. We were ready for a great day.

That is, until we lined up to go through the turnstile. This summer, as the workers  looked through the bags,  if you had any extra drinks or snacks, they told you to throw them away or take them back to your car, at least a thirty minute walk there and back.

“Really?” I said, incredulous. “Take them back?”

“Yes,” the worker repeated. “You can take your water through this time, but the snacks have to go back.”

My sister went through in a different line. The worker there told her she could keep her snacks just this once, but she had to throw her drinks away. We watched as others had to throw away some of their stuff, too.

Shocked and angry about the randomness of it all, we put a few of our snacks in my sister’s bag, and I headed out with the rest. I wanted to put all of my snacks in her bag, but she insisted that she was a rule-follower, and said that we shouldn’t do it. So we’d eat her snacks, drink my water, and make it through the day without having to spend too much on extra food.

Back in the parking lot, I unlocked the car and put the backpack in the van. I stood there a moment, thinking about all of the snacks in there. Included in the stack of snacks were two tuna packs in foil, the kind you would take if you were camping. I had bought them for my husband, as he’s a big guy and granola bars just don’t fill him up. I thought of him, thought of my sister, then put the packs in the pocket of my shorts. No one would even notice.

On the long walk back into the park, I had a lot of time to think about that tuna. Was it the right thing to do? Was it right to break this rule that just didn’t seem fair? What did it say about my character and integrity?  Could we afford $10.00+ hamburgers for everyone? Did my husband really need that tuna?

I decided he did. After all, it was a bad rule. It was not family-friendly, and I had a family to look after.

On the way out of the park, I had my arm stamped, so to return, I had to go through a special entrance. When I approached the gate, I saw one of the workers and a security guard. I held out my arm to show him the stamp. Then I had to pass through the metal detector.

A metal detector…

Fun Things for Summer

Well, this summer will be another one spent finishing up the school year. “But it’s summer!” the kids say. It is, and for that reason, we’re going to try to keep the formal schooling to just a couple hours a day. But we’ll still have time for some summer fun! 😉

Summer movies – Our local theater offers summer kids’ movies twice a week for a dollar per person. While we’ve already seen them all on video, we might still go to one or two for the fun of the theater experience.

Roller Skating – The roller skating rink offers year round “homeschool skate days.” Twice a month, homeschooling students meet to skate together for two hours. We missed the skate days during the school year, so this summer we’ll catch up!

Swimming – In pools, lakes, and rivers, my kids love to swim. Our state park fees are very minimal; for just a couple of dollars admission, we can spend a hot day splashing in the icy cool water.

Reading – Our library offers a reading program for children of all ages. After reading a certain number of books, they receive special prizes, such as ice cream coupons. Yum!

Field Trips – A friend of mine who organizes a field trip group keeps the activities scheduled all summer long. I know blueberry picking is already on the agenda.

Friend Days – Summer is the perfect time to plan for friends! We’re already planning  some themed “get-togethers” this summer (the girls especially love themes).

Scout Activities – With so much to do during the school year, my oldest son doesn’t have a lot of time to work on extra merit badges. Summer affords the perfect opportunity for him to get them done.

House Projects – There the list goes on and on. Besides just cleaning up and cleaning out, we need to give several rooms a fresh coat of paint.

Whew!  Looking at the list, I know we’ll be spending good quality time together — which, as my oldest prepares for 10th grade, is becoming more and more important, as he’ll be leaving for college in just a couple of years.  What will you be doing this summer?

Ending the School Year?

Mid-May seems to be the time of year when a lot of homeschoolers are finishing up the school year and looking ahead to next fall. Our co-op classes finished last week, and because we had company visiting as well, we took the week off of schoolwork. And that’s how our year has gone; when things come up or company comes to visit, we take time off. And it’s during those times we all think, “Homeschooling’s great!”

But then, we have yet to finish up our school year in May. Or June. We usually keep schooling through July, taking time off here and there to travel or spend time with family and friends. And though the kids are moaning a little, I’m still thinking, “Homeschooling’s great!”

Sure, we’re still working on math, reading, and grammar through the summer, but as we do, they’re keeping their minds sharp and prepared to learn. They also have things to work on in the afternoons when it’s too hot to stay outside; instead of playing video games or watching t.v., we’re doing science and history projects. And simple summertime activities, such as planting tomatoes or catching fireflies, take on a whole new meaning when paired with unit studies in botany and entomology.

So even though our school year isn’t ending quite yet, we’ll still enjoy the lazy days of summer. We’ll get up a little later, sip on lemonade during lessons, and play on the slip and slide during break time. We’ll work on house projects and go swimming during free time.  We’ll spend more time hanging out with friends and visiting with family. And when September comes, we’ll be ready to get back to a regular schedule and co-op classes. And I know we’ll all be thinking, “Homeschooling’s great!” 🙂

 

 

Photo by PenyWise

Celebrating the Fourth

This summer is passing so quickly — it’s hard to believe it’s almost the 4th of July. Not only is Independence Day a great time to celebrate, but it’s a great teaching time, too. If you’re family is anything like mine, though, a lesson during a summer holiday isn’t always fully appreciated by younger students. Here are some ideas for slipping some learning opportunities into your 4th of July fun:

Bake some holiday treats together — The magazine racks in grocery stores are full of periodicals and recipe books featuring red, white, and blue desserts for the holidays. You can also find plenty of recipes online at sites such as AllRecipes.com and CookEatShare.com. Look through the recipes with your child and pick out one or two favorites.

Plan a picnic — If you’re going to celebrate with a feast outdoors, have your child help plan it. Sit down together to figure out a menu, then look through the sales fliers to figure out the approximate cost of the food. When you go to the grocery store, have your child help you find all of the items you need.

Work on crafts — You can find great 4th of July craft ideas in family magazines and online. Try looking through sites such as FamilyFun.com, EnchantedLearning.com, and MarthaStewart.com.

Attend a concert — Many cities offer outdoor concerts for the 4th; is there one in your area? Use the concert as an opportunity to introduce your child to the different musical instruments and what they sound like.

Learn patriotic songs — Whether or not you’re attending a concert, you can still use the 4th as a time to teach your children songs about America. Some songs to sing together include You’re a Grand Old Flag, America the Beautiful, God Bless America, This Land is Your Land, and The Star Spangles Banner.

However you celebrate the 4th with your children, enjoy the time together. Just like the summer, these schooling years will pass by so quickly!

Kelly Park – Rock Springs

pics_2_017While visiting in Florida, we took a day to visit Kelly Park in Apopka, FL. If you are ever in the area during the spring or summer, this park is a must-see.

The main feature of the park is Rock Springs, a clear, cold freshwater spring that comes up from a break in a rock outcropping. The spring becomes a stream that visitors can lazily float down on inner tubes, and it eventually empties into a pool where they can swim before continuing on a little further. Lifeguards are stationed along the stream and around the pool. The park has a well-build boardwalk to follow as you enter or exit the stream, and there’s also a sandy beach where small children can play.

Although the floats aren’t provided, you can rent a tube from $3 – $5 per day from nearby businesses, or you can bring your own. We did some of both — took a few floats we had on hand and rented a couple more, but the kids also enjoyed swimming down the stream with no inner tube at all.

Our other favorite activity to do at the park is search for shark teeth. When we reach the end of the first part of the stream, everyone hops out of their floats, reaches down to the bottom, and pulls up handfuls of shells and rocks. We carefully search through them, looking for very small shark teeth or some other treasure. This past trip, we found a different kind of tooth, which we believe to have once belonged to an alligator.

You’ll also find playgrounds, pavilions, and picnic tables at the park, along with a couple of bath houses and a concession booth. Entrance to the park was just $1 per person or $5 for a carload of eight. All in all, it was a great way to spend the day. It was also the impetus of a new homeschooling investigation: Just where do all those shark teeth come from?

Fun With a Garden Hose

hoseWe’re still in central Florida, and the temperatures have been high!  Last week they were in the mid-90s, but with the humidity, the weatherman said it felt more like 105 degrees. I’d say he was right. 

But this past Saturday, there was a lot going on in the house, so we moved all the young cousins outdoors — yes, even in the afternoon!  The children played on a tire swing tied to a large shade tree in the yard, but the fun didn’t last long. It was just too hot. That is, until we brought out the hose. 

We started by connecting it to a wide, rotating sprinkler that sprayed water overhead. I had suspected my five-year-old would enjoy it, but I was surprised when my two-year-old nephew joined in. Perhaps it was because his cousins were laughing as they were splattered, but he smiled too, even as he was sprayed squarely in the face. 

After about thirty minutes, one of the children picked up a cup and started filling it with water from the sprinkler. I went in to get some more, and soon everyone was filling up their cups and dumping the water on each other. We then pulled out the little wading pool, and soon they were trying to fill it up with the water in their cups. We unhooked the sprinkler and used the water directly from the hose, making the chore go a little faster.

 About thirty more minutes had past when some of the older ones realized it was going to take a lot of cupfuls to get the job done. We then unhooked the sprinkler and put the hose directly in the pool. A little dishsoap, and the pool was soon full of bubbles. They put the bubbles on their heads, their faces, each other. They put bubbles in bowls and stirred them up. They threw bubbles all around the yard. 

Who knew they’d have so much fun? About three hours since we first brought them out, the children were ready for supper, which was served on card tables outside as well. Then they all resumed playing until it was time to get ready for bed. It was a  well-spent afternoon – few quarrels and a good time together. I’m going to give it a try at home too — right after I buy a new hose.

What Can I Do?

 file6151244762637About half-way through the summer, when the initial thrill of summertime wears off, my children will come to me and say, “There’s nothing to do!” Now, deep down they know that’s a mistake, because they can always work on schoolwork – practicing their math facts, writing essays, etc. But because I love summer too, I give them a few fun options to choose from:

 1. Read a book by themselves, or read to their little brother.

 2. Make a wordless book. Draw the whole story – no words allowed.

3. Play with play dough. For less than $1 a can (off-brands are even cheaper), it’s an inexpensive way to entertain little ones.

4. Paint their faces (older children can paint their own if they have a mirror). Craft acrylics work well for face paint. Have the children put on old clothes (the paint doesn’t come out of clothing) and give them a couple of colors to choose from. Be sure not to paint around their eyes or mouth.

5.  Play in the sprinkler or hose.

6. Use the hose to make mud pies. Decorate the mud pies with twigs and flowers.

7. Play with bubbles outside. I like to use the large container of bubbles from Wal-Mart and flyswatters. Pour some of the bubbles into a bowl. Give each child a flyswatter to stick into the bubbles. As they wave the flyswatter around, hundreds of tiny bubbles will appear.

8. Make a robot. Use empty boxes, paper towel tubes, and toilet paper tubes. Pull out all of your craft supplies – markers, glue, popsicle sticks, sequins, paper, pom-poms, and see what the kids come up with.

If none of these ideas interest them, they could also:

9. Clean the bathroom.

10. Fold laundry.

11. Sweep outside.

12. Do the dishes.

With these options in the mix, they suddenly find something to do, and the summer fun continues.