School’s Out for SUMMER!

Summer is upon us in the western hemisphere. Thank goodness!

Homeschooling is full of blessings, but it also adds a special kind of intensity to life. You personally have taken on the education of your children — putting them in your presence pretty much 24 hours a day. Families with kids in school face many other stresses, but the care of their children is given up to someone else for six or more hours every day. That gives them a little bit of breathing room. When you are with your kids nearly nonstop, there are constant reminders that you are their primary example in nearly everything. That’s a lot of responsibility.

Besides an emphasis on growth in character, values, work ethic, and relationship with Christ, your days have been full of math, reading, writing, history, spelling, science, penmanship, grammar, languages, and more. For most of us summer is a welcome deviation from the routine. You may do like our family does, and have a revised summer schedule —just Bible and math, in our case; or you may scale back moderately on academics; or you may chuck anything curriculum related entirely. No matter your approach, the change is a break from a full schedule of daily plodding, and it’s a welcome respite.

Our summer has already started with work skills as we begin our home addition, and we’ve made travel plans to incorporate some much-needed fun. There are also plans for outdoor church and summer campouts with our church family. My son wants to do a little bit of math all summer, too, “so my brain doesn’t forget,” as he says. The aura is different, though. It’s not driven so much as elective.

I hope that no matter how you treat your summer break, that you leave plenty of time to refresh both mind and body. Possibly more importantly, parents: Prioritize some time to refresh with God, too — maybe a new Bible study plan, extra prayer time, even something simple like cultivating the spirit of constantly listening to Him. Your academic schedule will be faced with more enthusiasm next school year by both you and the kids if you’ve enjoyed a season of rejuvenation.

The SDA Homeschool Families blog is also going to take some time off to rest and refresh. We’ve had a dedicated crew of busy writers this year. They’ve spent a lot of time sharing information, resources, and personal experiences that they hope have benefited and blessed you. Many of us will be back in the fall, and hopefully we’ll gain some new writers too. If you have an interest in writing once a month, or even less periodically, for this blog, please contact us by sending a Facebook message to LaDonna Lateadah, Susanna Joy, or me.

See you back here in September. Happy Summer!

Outdoor Activities for Preschoolers

In my previous blog post, I shared the benefits of the outdoor classroom. Now summer is here! Today I want to give you some ideas of things to do this summer. Go outside with your preschoolers. The ideas listed below are free or can be done with a limited budget.

Places to go:

  • Go to the beach, collect shells, sort them; don’t forget to bring along a bucket and shovel.
  • Go for a walk in your neighborhood and look for fire hydrants, or white cars, or certain flowers, or certain shapes.
  • Ride your bike.
  • Go to the playground with some friends.
  • Go to the forest and let the children lead; they will find all kind of interesting things.
  • Feed the ducks at the pond.
  • Go for a picnic in the park.

Get creative:

  • Paint rocks or a branch.
  • Make a bird feeder.
  • Make stick-men out of sticks you collected at a walk.
  • Make a bracelet out of sticky tape and stick flowers, leaves, etc., to it.
  • Paint outside using nature paint brushes.
  • Make home-made ice cream.

Explore outside:

  • Catch (lady) bugs; read a book about bugs.
  • Climb a tree.
  • Find shapes in the clouds.
  • Dig for worms.
  • Go strawberry or flower picking.
  • Build a fort.
  • Make mud pies.
  • Plant flowers (that attract butterflies), or plant veggies, or start with seeds.
  • Explore the weather, make a weather-vane, or a rain collector.

Games:

  • Play tag or any variant, like What Time Is It, Mr. Fox?
  • Play Hide and Seek, Simon Says, or I Spy.
  • Play with bubbles.
  • Roll or kick a ball.
  • Use sidewalk chalk to…
    • draw a hopscotch grid.
    • draw different colored shapes.
    • draw letters and numbers.
    • draw an obstacle course.

Play with water:

  • Run in the sprinkler.
  • Play in a blow-up pool.
  • Give each child a bottle with water (without lids) and kick them over with a ball.
  • Paint with water.
  • Draw with chalk, and wash it away with the hose.
  • Make a toy car / bike wash.

There are so many things to do. I hope you enjoy the outdoors this summer. Be blessed with all the benefits the outdoors brings to your family!

Cool bug facts for homeschool kids

6 Cool Bug Facts Kids Should Know

Not long ago, I wrote a post entitled “Teaching Kids Entomology While Hiking.” Because we share our world with millions of insects all around us, it’s important for our kids to learn about the benefits of bugs. Although insects are often considered a nuisance, they serve a very important role in our ecosystem.

Adam Zagajewski once wrote, “In summer the empire of insects spreads.” As summer approaches it’s a great time for homeschooling families to watch the wonder of bugs and learn about why God made them.

6 cool bug facts kids should know

This summer teach kids about insects by sharing these six characteristics with them:

  1. Insects have three sections that help distinctly identify them from other creatures. The segments are head, thorax, and abdomen.
  2. Insects have compound eyes. Compound eyes are also called Arthropod eyes, which help insects see in multiple directions.
  3. They also have two antennae, which are movable organs that carry out different sensory functions for different insects.
  4. Insects have three pairs of legs.
  5. Just like reptiles, insects are exothermic, which means they are cold-blooded. Have you ever noticed that insects seem to disappear in the winter? Some insects migrate south like birds to stay warm. Other insects may die or temporarily freeze. When an insect lies dormant through the winter, it is considered a special type of hibernation during called “diapause.”
  6. One other interesting feature that insects possess is that they can molt. Molting is the shedding of their outer skin as it grows.

Feel free to download this original word search I created:

Entomology Word Search, click on the image to view the word bank.

Insects are critically important in our environment because they help break down other organisms and make room for new ones. We can thank insects for our produce because many are master pollinators. We can also thank insects for cleaning up our waste and other decaying matter.

6 COOL iNSECT FACTS KIDS SHOULD KNOW

Purdue University asserts that…

Insects are underappreciated for their role in the food web. They are the sole food source for many amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Insects themselves are harvested and eaten by people in some cultures. They are a rich source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, and are prized as delicacies in many third-world countries (1).

If you’ve discovered that your child is completely enamored with bugs and nature, here are a few resources that you may want to incorporate in your lessons:

Be sure to let me know if you found this post helpful in the comment section below.

All of my articles on this blog can be found here.

Reader question: Name one characteristic about bugs that you find interesting and share why?

Reference:

(1) “Who Let The Bugs Out? | Purdue | Entomology | Insect | Collect | Supplies | Specimen | Mounting | Identifying | Displaying | Preserve | Labels”. Extension.entm.purdue.edu. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 May 2017.

 

The Joy of Homeschooling


I’m sharing with you today “The Joy of Homeschooling.” These are based on my own experiences over the years homeschooling my daughter.

I was partly “homeschooled” by my mom. She believed that I should learn Chinese. However, in my country during that time, we had to choose either going to an English school or Chinese school full-time. The term “homeschool” never appeared where I grew up. One day we had a new neighbor, a family from Taiwan. The mom was a former school teacher from Taiwan. We got to know our new neighbor, and she introduced my mom to a correspondence school in Taiwan. My mom enrolled me in the program. So, instead of going to a full-time Chinese school to study all the different subjects, my mom homeschooled me (all my with going to school) until she found an evening Chinese school where she sent me later. It wasn’t easy, as she worked during the day. However, with her love and enthusiasm, I tried my very best to finish my school work during the day, and then after dinner and weekends to study in another “school.”

When my daughter was born, a friend asked me this question, “Will you be sending your daughter to the academy?” My answer was, “I haven’t had any plans, but at present my plan is to homeschool my daughter.” As she was growing up, I kept getting similar questions from families and relatives. Some would tell me that since I only had one child, it would be good to send her to the academy so she would be able to socialize. The words went in one ear and out the other! Before my daughter was born, my husband and I had already planned that we would homeschool as long as we could.

Homeschooling is not an easy task whether there’s only one child or more than one. It takes time to prepare and plan, budget, and meet deadlines. The journey can be long or short. Lots of time is put in, and sometimes there may be tears and frustration. There’s one thing that I especially like: the bonding between my child and me. There are other things that I am thankful for. Here are some tips I’ve gained through personal experience that I would like to share. 

Planning/Time – It takes time to plan. Set aside some time before the end of the school year to start planning for the new school year. You may want to do unit studies, plan field trips or holidays. It is good to have in mind what curriculum you want to use or if you want a change. It also depends on the grade of your child. Will there be any other activities like swim, soccer, music or classes? Friends can be of great help. I am thankful to have wonderful friends who share ideas and experiences with certain books/curriculum. Thanks in part to the SDA Homeschool Families blog and Facebook group, I have learned a lot along the way. Talk with your EF if you are with a chartered homeschool. Attend a homeschool convention or fair to get some ideas and see what’s out there. There are lots of offers out there. It is okay to say “no” so you don’t get overwhelmed with too many things. However, it is good to have an open mind. Plan out how you want your schedule to be like. Each child works differently. Don’t compare or compete with another child. In some families, there may be a special needs child who might need extra time. If you are working, you might want to use the time in the evening or afternoon to teach, or maybe the weekends. During the day, your child can work on the things that he/she can do. At the end, it is up to you to make the decision best suit you. Finances can be a burden for some. It is also good to set up financial planning in the family. Books can be expensive. Some lessons like music or tutoring can come to quite a bit. Work out what is needed or can wait. Set priorities. And, don’t forget to PRAY and ask the Lord to guide you.

Support – It is not easy to do it alone. Join a support group (many thanks to the homeschool site on Facebook) so you will not be alone. Don’t be afraid to ask. There are many times I have not been sure of some curriculum or have had some questions in my mind. I have asked my friends, and you will find there are many who are willing to share with you their journey of homeschooling. Don’t let doubt conquer you.

Curriculum – Choose what suits you best. Unit studies, publishers, classical/literature based, etc. I like looking through different publishers to see what is out there. I enjoy reading comments by others (but keep an open mind). Some may enjoy certain publishers that others do not. Don’t let this pressure or stress you. Take time to look through. If you have friends who have the curriculum, you might want to ask if you can look through so you have an idea on what to expect. Book fairs or conventions are a good place to go. Check out the websites of different programs and curriculums.

Socialization – When I was homeschooling my daughter, I had friends or relatives coming to me saying that my child needed socialization. I think my child has lots of socialization — play groups, field trips, Sabbath School, church, VBS, Pathfinders/Adventures, gatherings, moms’ network… If some of this is not available, you might want to plan a play group, tea party, book club, or outing. Sometimes, time may be a problem, but if you can plan ahead of time and let your friends know, it can be worked out. It doesn’t have to be in your home (so you won’t have to spend time cleaning and preparing). You can have it at the park if weather permits. There are some areas where there are co-ops. That’s another way to start off. Participate in some volunteer work if your child is old enough, or take them along when you go for volunteer work.

Field Trips – You can plan your own or join other homeschool groups. I always look out for what is out there to offer. Many places like museums, theme parks, or companies have what is called “homeschool day” or educational field trips. They set aside a day of the week for homeschoolers. Some may be free. There are some where you might need to get a small group or pay a small fee. I love looking for free homeschool days. Plan ahead so that you can add that as a family outing. Implement it as a field trip so when the child comes home, he/she can write a report on their trip and what they have learned. Places like the missions, zoos, or science museum can be part of their studies in science or social studies. The beach is a good place if there are tide pools, or the aquarium where they learn about marine life. Check out county fairs too. Some county fairs have projects where your child can participate, like arts or crafts.

Chores – In between studies, add some chores like housekeeping, laundry, and cooking. If the child is old enough to help, have them help out. Add that to home economics. Have the child learn to prepare the meal for the family (even if it does not taste good, praise him/her for the work done and give positive input so there can be improvement) or teach them to bake. Have them help you when you are cooking or baking. The younger one can help with washing the fruits or vegetables, setting the dinner table, or sorting laundry. Take them grocery shopping and add math into it, like calculating how much items are. Use math for baking too.

Hobbies – In between studies, get into some hobbies. It can be cooking, baking, gardening, sewing, crafts, etc. Gardening is fun. When they see the flowers blooming, or the tomatoes and vegetables are ready for harvest, there is joy. Some places do have homeschool fairs where the kids get to exhibit their crafts or sell them. If there’s plentiful of harvest, you can share it with other families, or have the children earn their own pocket money by selling to friends/families.

Finally, being a homeschool parent is not easy. It can be difficult and stressful. Some of us may teaching our children at home, in Sabbath School, and/or in Pathfinders/Adventurers. But, trust in the Lord and pray. Toward the end of each school year, I look back and am thankful. I may not be perfect or complete everything I wanted or planned to do for the year. However, I find a great REWARD and JOY as each school year comes to the end. Here are some of things I see, hear, or experience:

  1. Bonding with my child
  2. Watching her/him grow and learn
  3. Learning together with her/him
  4. Lots of laughter
  5. Some failures (like when the cake did not turn out as we wanted, the seed that we put in the ground never sprouted, field trips has to be cancelled due to a cold/flu or rain or something pops up the last minute, school work did not meet the deadline, etc.)
  6. Family time together
  7. No rushing early in the morning for the school bus
  8. Hearing the child say, “I get to do my school work in my pajamas,” or “Yay, no schoolwork today. We are going to the museum!”
  9. I get some “off” days during weekdays

Easy Ideas to Boost Learning All Summer Long

Did you know that on average students lose two months of reading skills during the summer break? If this cycle were to continue, the gap of learning by the ninth grade could be significant. As homeschoolers we have even more flexibility to keep the summer learning going with our children at home. It doesn’t have to be a chore or “like school” to bridge the gap between school years.

Continued summer learning can be simple and fun!

Here are some easy to implement activities that I’ve found to keep the learning fun and simple all summer long:

1. Plant a garden. Everything from planning the plots, seeds, and schedule, to making delicious recipes from your bounty can be a great summer learning experience. (If you don’t have space for a garden, you could go picking — like at a strawberry patch — and make a meal out of it.)

2. Plan a trip. This could be camping, a road trip, or even an adventure in your own town. To make it interactive your kids could plan out the budget, go shopping for any food in advance, and even map out the course you will take.

3. Make nature observation and journaling a part of your weekly routine. The concept of specific nature observation activities is that any skill you want to get good at, you have to practice the different parts that make it up to be proficient at it. One way to be a proficient nature observer is to have a “sit spot” that is your very own. You can have your child pick a sit spot, explore it with a magnifying glass and binoculars, map it, and incorporate their findings into their nature journal. You could also use nature to create (boats for the lake out of natural materials, forts, etc) during your daily nature observation time.

4. Find some summer bridge books. Maybe you love the idea of having a small amount of structured learning at the beginning of the day, and then using the rest of the day to play, play, play? There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. We like these Summer Bridge Activity Books that often include summer game activities, stickers, flashcards, and more. They are a fun way to keep the learning going, while enforcing any skill sets that you want your child to keep during the summer months.

6. Geocaching. Finding and creating a cache is a great way to get outside while utilizing some great mathematic and problem solving skills at the same time. We enjoy using the IOS App “Cachly” for finding local caches.

7. The Jr. Ranger Badge Program. This program is available in most state parks as well as national parks. Kids around ages 5-13 can participate by answering questions and discovering what rangers may do at that particular site. There are also some “at home” programs available along with more info at https://www.nps.gov/kids/jrrangers.cfm.

8. Read, Read, Read. Bring books everywhere you go: the backyard, the beach, the park, everywhere. Summer is also a neat time to prolong family worships and do extra reading and Bible study time, as you may not be able to spend as much time during the school year. Bonus: what a great time to experience God’s love through His creation firsthand!

9. Quality family time and rest. Enjoy the season of rest and fellowship! Many times just sharing experiences together as a family can boost learning and connection. Summer is a great time to kick back and spend quality time with those you love.

Whatever you choose to do to boost summer learning, remember that it can be fun and easy to keep up the learning during those summer months.