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!

Charlotte Mason Preschool

Charlotte Mason was a huge supporter for starting formal academics later. She spoke about the benefits of short lessons, rich living books, and lots of time spent outside. I love how her method of teaching supports early childhood development. It is my goal that my early learner is in love with learning! Currently I am working with my three-year-old, and want to share what a Charlotte Mason preschool looks like in our home.

After we have morning time with my middle schoolers, I send them off to their individual studies and work with my three-year-old. We read a short Bible lesson and then do her calendar board. Some days she will play with felts or do other hands-on activities during morning time. After her Bible and calendar time, we move to her “core” work.

I found a wonderful Charlotte Mason based preschool curriculum called The Peaceful Preschool. It is a literature and project based curriculum that is letter themed. I love the rich book suggestions and gentle hands-on projects for each letter of the alphabet. These activities include read alouds, phonics, counting skills, fine and large motor skills, practical life skills, and art skills. There are 26 weeks or 52 weeks of lessons depending on how much time you want to spend on each letter.  All of the lessons are pre-planned and include a weekly grid, book, activity, and field trip suggestions. It makes it really simple and restful for me as a teacher and offers flexibility for my child’s interests.

I chose to spend two weeks per letter so that we could move slowly through her learning. I love that I can add in my own manipulatives, activities, and books as we go along, depending on her interests.

Along with her letter themed activities, we are also learning about nature study. The Charlotte Mason method of education has a strong focus on time spent outside and in nature study. We love to go on walks; play in the dirt; and spot birds, flowers, and plants, and then learn about them. These nature activities can also be tied into the letter themes to round out their learning.

One thing to remember about early learning is that it doesn’t have to be fast-paced with lots of formal learning. Children learn through play, enriching books, simple activities, and lots of nature time. Keep it simple, let them grow within their developmental abilities, and provide a loving environment.

Sensory Slime Fun!

Slime, slime, beautiful slime! It is one of our favorite sensory items to play with! We love how easy it is to make an how open ended it is. Plus it lasts a long time if you store it in a Ziplock bag! One of our favorite things to do is to use clear glue and add food coloring and glitter!! You can also add sequines, stars, little plastic toys…the options are endless!

Our favorite recipe uses clear glue, liquid startch and food coloring.

Slime Recipe:

1/2 Cup of Elmer’s Washable Non Toxic Clear Glue or White Glue

1/2 Cup of Liquid Starch

1/2 Cup of Water

Measuring Cup

2 bowls and a spoon

food coloring, confetti, glitter {optional}

Instructions:

1. In one bowl mix 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup of glue {really mix to combine completely}. Pour glue into water. Stir the glue and water together well!

2. Add color, glitter, or confetti! Mix the glitter and color into the glue and water mixture.

3Pour in 1/2 cup of liquid starch and mix. The slime will begin to form. When it begins to turn into a glob, use your hands to mix and stretch it until it’s no longer sticky. Then it’s time to play!

One of our favorite ways to use Slime is to add in little animal toys, bugs, and play dough tools.  It really is so easy to whip up and the possibilities are endless. Need some more ideas? Check all of the gread slime ideas here: Best Slime Activities

 

Build Your Basics with Block Scheduling

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Do you ever feel like, as soon as you really start to delve into a subject with your children, it is too often time to put it away and move onto the next class? Do you find yourself wishing for larger amounts of time to spend really studying your current topic? Does your day seem crammed full of too many fragmented classes that never really seem to be properly attended to? If your answer is “yes” to any of the above, then a solution for your home school may be to consider block scheduling.

With block scheduling, it is exactly what the name states — blocks of time in which you schedule your homeschool classes. Your first step is to choose the period of time that you want to divide your homeschool into. You can have a block of time — called a term — that might be as long as half your school year, commonly called a semester. On the other hand, you might choose a term that is as short as a couple of weeks.

With traditional scheduling, you have your list of classes you are going to teach, and you teach all the classes each week. Perhaps you are teaching both science and world history: You might teach science class two days a week, and world history two days a week. If this type of a schedule works for you, great! But if you feel your child is forgetting what they learned earlier in the week because there has been a day in between of teaching a different subject, then you might want to consider block scheduling.

For example, with the two classes already mentioned above, you might decide to teach science class for four days a week the first semester, and no world history at all; then, when second semester comes around you do the opposite, teach world history four days a week — but you have already finished your science curriculum for the year.

If you have many topics of study you want to teach, block scheduling may help. For instance, I would like to teach my daughter cooking, baking, and sewing. I could try to fit in a day of each, every single week, but I would most likely burn out with trying to keep them all going. So, these subjects are a great possibility for block scheduling.

In our home school this year, I have our school year divided into six terms of eight weeks each. During our first semester, we did term one with cooking being one of our subjects. When term two came around, we stopped specific instruction in cooking — although of course my daughter continued making foods she had learned how to make — and changed our focus to baking. With term three, our concentration changed to sewing. Our plan now for the second semester coming up is to simply repeat a term of each one of these; so, we will have eight weeks of cooking, followed by eight weeks of baking, and finally eight more weeks of sewing.

Other possibilities for block scheduling could be to spend a term on writing and another term focusing on literature, or a term of spelling and another term of grammar. Using block scheduling this way can lesson the number of subjects you are concentrating on each week, and therefore each day.

“But, what about math?” I can almost hear someone ask! Well, I’m glad you asked that question! There are definitely some subjects that really are best done on a daily basis. Reading instruction when you are teaching your child how to read is one of those subjects. So can be handwriting practice, mathematics, and foreign language study.

Now, if you have a really, really good memory, you just might remember that back at the beginning of this school year, I wrote a blog post about loop scheduling. So, if I convinced you then on the merits of loop scheduling, but now I am singing the praises of block scheduling, which one do I use? The answer to that is BOTH! As I already mentioned above, I am using block scheduling for our cooking, baking, and sewing classes. I also use block scheduling for our physics, social studies, robotics, and art. However, I find I like loop scheduling best for our Bible, since I have a variety of materials I am using in our Bible time, and I want to make sure I can get some study or reading done using all of the materials. I am also using loop scheduling for our language arts materials for the same reasons; we are doing language arts every day, but the specifics of what we are doing changes as we work our way down our loop.

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And, what about our “must do daily” types of things? For our family, that is mainly our math and our music. So, those are the two subjects that I do not put either in a loop schedule or in a block schedule. We simply do them every single day.

I hope this has helped give you some ideas of how you can use different schedules to meet the needs of your family, and help de-stress your home school daily life! Remember — your schedule is to work for YOU, not you for your schedule!

Early Learning Calendar Board!

Since my oldest graduated and my next two are in middle school, I am re-entering the early learning phase with my three-year-old! Over the last 17 years of homeschooling, I have learned so much about what works for our family and for each child. It’s been a lot of trials, errors, and triumphs, but I am looking forward to starting again. This time, though, it will be more relaxed.

I am a firm believer in waiting until a child is developmentally ready for formal education. I believe young children should have lots of free play time and time to discover their interests. Our three-year-old is one who loves music and singing. She sings all over the house and remembers words to songs very well. So, what better way to introduce her to topics than through song? She asks me every day what day of the week it is, so I knew she was ready to start learning the days of the weeks, months of the year, and calendar. Pinterest is one of my favorite spots to find great ideas, and it was here that I stumbled across this adorable calendar trifold board. The credit for this idea goes to Amber from her blog From ABC’s to ACT’s!

I love laminating fun little activities, and putting them on a trifold board was a perfect condensed way to work with her, so this was right up my alley! All of the printables were free. I laminated them, cut them out, and affixed velcro to the back. I then positioned them on the board and put the opposite velcro where I wanted them to stick. The headings, days of the week, and months of the year are secured with clear packing tape. I also made pockets out of two sheet protectors. Then I bordered the whole thing with fun duct tape. All in all the project cost about $10! She really loves it and sings the songs all over the house.

Her schedule this year consists of morning time with me and her older siblings, where she plays while we do memory verses and some poetry. Then I do her calendar board with her. After that she has free play, story time, and outside time, and sometimes does a sensory craft with mama. That’s it!

Early learning doesn’t need to be stressful. Keep it simple and open ended. Let them play and explore.

Resources:

Calendar Board Printables – Free

Trifold board and velcro were purchased from Walmart.