Outdoor Activities You Can Fall For

My boys are outdoor country boys through-and-through! They wake up and beg to go outside before breakfast is warm and table is set. We coax them into waiting until their bellies are full (and mom and dad are dressed), and in the summer we have to debate about the usefulness of clothes on a young boy as well. When fall swings around, there is no damper on the boys’ excitement for the outdoors, but we do have to change the experience slightly.

Less Sun, Still Fun?

The sunny, warm summers meant the boys could run free morning, noon, and night. They’d come in the house with crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, roly-polies, caterpillars, lady bugs, frogs, lizards, and handfuls of other cringe-worthy organisms. They knew just where to look to find the best critters.

When fall comes around the leaves die, the tiny bugs and reptiles seem to hide, the wind is cold, and the boys grow…bored. Where we used to coax them into staying inside during the hottest parts of the day, now we have to convince them there is something worth finding outside after the first run of the morning. We don’t get much snow in even the deepest months of winter, but in October? Nothing but gusty, brown cold. Mom and Dad have to put on their thinking caps when the seasons change.

Routine, Routine, Routine

The R-word is one I hate, and I’m not fond of that word either. The only thing routine about our family is the places we go through the week at the same time every week: church, taekwando, Celebrate Recovery, my mom’s, repeat. During the winter, if we don’t slip outdoor play into our daily routine, it just won’t happen.

This year I’ll be talking a lot about practical life schooling, which is my focus in my homeschooling with my boys. They’re using an online curriculum for their main academics, which means Mom’s role is practical life application. Part of the challenge will be to include outdoor activities during cold months!

Practical Outdoor Play Made Easy 

First, make sure you know what your kid likes to do outside, how they like to learn, and how they burn their tiny-human energy. If it’s looking for critters (spatial, logical), then maybe they’d also like to look for other forms of wildlife — or proof of wildlife (nests, scratches, tracks, droppings). If your kid likes to dig in the dirt (kinesthetic), maybe he or she would also like to stack firewood, rake leaves — and jump into them — and paint a fence.

Here is my list for this October/November:

  1. Yard Work: Clearing trash, brush, weeds, leaves away so that next year our yard can flourish (and we can enjoy the snow more thoroughly this winter).
  2. Nature Hikes: To find nuts, nests, bones, turtle shells, etc., that point to life in the woods. Also bird-watching is fun this time of year because some leave, and others arrive.
  3. Building and Maintaining a Bird Feeder: Build a bird house or feeder for those winter birds that stick around. Let the kids photograph the birds and make a book that they can add to as seasons change.
  4. Stacking Firewood: Mainly because the kids unstacked our firewood this summer, playing, they can stack it this fall. Discuss fire, responsibility, safety, and gain a little exercise.
  5. Fun Play Ideas: Dodgeball, catch, freeze tag, Olympic competitions, leaf/finger painting, and an internet’s worth of other outdoor activities to choose from.
  6. Star Gazing: I don’t know one kid that doesn’t like a bonfire on a fall night. This is a great time to star gaze with your students. If you have a telescope of your own: BONUS. If you don’t, your local library may have some to check out.
  7. Local Nature Excursions: Our regional Nature Center has fantastic programs, and many specific to homeschoolers. They also have backpacks full of themes activities for two-week check-out. If you live near to a nature center, conservation area, or zoo, there are many similar programs for homeschoolers. Also, many regions have fairs, fall festivals, and orchards with regular programing.
  8. Camping: My family loves to camp, and unfortunately we didn’t have the opportunity this summer. So we’re planning one fall campout before the weather turns too cold for our littles. If you are a camping family, plan ahead, and choose a camping area that has some educational programming during you stay.
  9. Have Fun: Your outdoor play may not be part of your specific schooling, but it is part of staying healthy! Set an example by spending time outdoors, and do something you love to do outdoors. Your enthusiasm will show.
  10. Include Others: Activities can be more fun when you include people you enjoy to hang out with. Spend time outside, then come in for some hot cocoa and popcorn by the fire.

Time Management — When Emergencies Arise

Time flies! Another year has drawn to a close and we are now in 2017. In another few months, some of us will be finishing our school year.

How many of you remember making New Year resolutions at the beginning of the year and resolving to keep them? Well, we may sigh or groan looking back at it — or maybe smiles of victory?

New Year resolutions are good in the sense that they help us in setting our goals about what we’re doing in our lives, our plans, our awareness of where we are going, and what we are intending to do about all of it. All of these require time, a good management of time. I don’t profess to know much, but I will share with you my own experiences.

The year 2016 has been a challenging year for me. I thank God that no matter what happened, I felt the presence of God and I was able to find time to spend with Him each day. During the beginning of the year and before the start of the school year, I prayed to God to help me to plan wisely. As my daughter moved to the next grade, there were more things to do, and besides music lessons she also joined the swim team and started taking Spanish class once a week.

As I was working on my plan and setting priorities, I was reminded in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cared for you.” Some of us have many responsibilities, or children in different grades, or kids who require special attention. Before we know it, the day has come to an end and there are still lots of things to accomplish. We are tired out and stressed. We wish there were more hours in a day. In Psalm 55:22 it says, “Cast all your burdens on the Lord, and He will sustain you, he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” And, in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Clinging onto God’s promises, I try to take each day at a time.

Working on a plan is not easy. There is a lot to think about, and other tasks to tackle besides teaching and cooking. When working on my plan for last year, I reminded myself that I had to prepare for some adjustments or emergencies. Everything was working well and going pretty smoothly. Just as we started the new school year in September, I found myself in a situation where I had to reschedule my plan. One of the family members had to undergo major surgery. This meant that I would need extra time driving back and forth to the hospital. We were thankful that we were able to stay in the hospital room, so I had my daughter bring her homework there. Some things had to be delayed until a later time. It did work out, though.

For almost a whole month, I was not able to follow the plan that I originally had, but we made sure those things that needed to be completed in time were  accomplished. Each night before I went to bed, I planned out my schedule for the next day. During that time I had to take each day at a time. At times, I had to call up a friend to help me out with driving my daughter. Sometimes in situations like this, we may have to accept help from friends, like meals, babysitting, or driving our kids to classes.

God is good. We were thankful when our routine was back to normal. I was able to go according to my plans again. I no longer had to rush for time. But then — it was cut short. I received a call, and I had to leave the country for a family emergency. I had less than 12 hours before I was heading out to the airport. I quickly sat down and planned my new schedule for the week I would be away in Asia. Things would have to change, as part of the time my daughter would be staying with a friend. I prayed for God’s guidance as I planned.

The journey would be long, and it was a last-minute flight. I calculated a total of 42 hours for my flight and transit. With a 16-hour time difference, I would surely have jetlag going and coming back. So, while waiting to board, I started to figure out the timing. I tried my best to start adjusting myself to the time in Malaysia, where I would be the next couple of days. I knew that when I came back home after a week, I might not have time to overcome jetlag. So, while trying to stay awake on the flight, I took out my notebook and started planning the things I needed to do in Malaysia. With the limited time I would be there, I had to work out a schedule for each task. I prayed to God to guide me, and continued to cling to His promises.

Before I knew it, it was time to head back home to California. I was glad that I was able to accomplished most of the things I need to do. Once home, I reshuffled my schedule back to what I had planned at the start of the year. I was thankful that I had prepared myself to be ready should emergency arises.

It can easier said than done. One may have everything planned out nicely, and then the next moment, everything just doesn’t work out. Don’t get discouraged. We all make mistakes or are subject to circumstances, but remember that God will never leave us nor forsake us.

When planning, it is good to be prepared. Time schedules may change for some days or emergencies may arise. It is always good to plan your time in such a way that if you need to make any changes, you can without getting frustrated or stressed out. Once you have it planned out, you will have sort of a basic guideline. You may not follow it 100 percent, but at least you have something to guide you.

Don’t get stressed out if your master plans do not work out. Ask God for guidance. Set some time each day for rest and quiet time with God…then go through your plan for the next day before you head to bed.

More Hours in My Day

“If only I have an extra one or two hours a day, I can get more things done.” Does this sound familiar? Homeschooling is a big challenge, but yet rewarding. As parents we juggled between school work, housework, cooking, and field trips, and chauffer our children to music, sports, or other activities. By the end of the day, we are drained out. The Bible reminds us in Matthew 11:18,            “Come unto me all who are heavy laden…” We are busy seven days a week, and so constantly on the go that sometimes we forget to spend some time with our Heavenly Father. We need to make proper use of our time to the best ability (Ephesians 5:16). Over the years of homeschooling my daughter, I have learned many things, some through failures, and some from friends’ advice. Here are few things I’d like to share that have worked for us.

Set Goals

  1. Plan out what you want to achieve or complete for the school year. For example, if your child is pre-teen, you may want to start teaching him/her some basic cooking or sewing (home economics), or if your child is in high school and you want him/her to learn driving, you will have to set extra time for driving school.
  2. Is there a project you want to accomplish, more time with your love ones, strengthening your faith, or pursuing your education or financial planning?
  3. Does your child have something that he/she would like to accomplish this year — music, Pathfinders, Master Guide, swim team, etc.?

Getting Yourself Organized

  1. Before the school year starts, or during holidays, set aside time to organize the books/bookshelves, pantry, or school room.
  2. Getting rid of clutter sometimes helps. If your child/children are old enough, they can help with some chores.
  3. Prepare tomorrow’s to-do list the night before, like schoolwork to do, clothes to wear, dishes to cook, or things to bring for the field trip. Some things can be prepared over the weekend.
  4. If you are having a play date the next day, have the place ready.
  5. Check to see when doctor/dentist appointments are scheduled, or the time of classes to attend.
  6. Try to set a routine — first thing in the morning a quiet time with God, family devotions/worship, etc.

Prioritize

  1. Focus on what is important. If the schoolwork needs to be complete, get it done first.
  2. Shopping: Sometimes you may have to skip the shopping that morning and go later in the day, or pick it up on the way home from classes/activities.
  3. Extra-curricular activities: Do you sign up your children for various activities? You have to make sure that it is balanced so that neither the children nor yourself are overwhelmed.
  4. There’s a times you have to learn to say “no.” Even if you love to help, there may be times when you have to leave some responsibilities to others. We are reminded in Ecc 3:1, “To everything there is a season…” We need time for some relaxation so we are not stressed out.

We can easily get ourselves occupied with many things without realizing it. Therefore, it is important that we plan our schedules well, and that we do not lose sight of God.

 

Time Management

TimeValerieYeoh

“If only I had an extra one or two hours a day, I could get more things done.” Does this sound familiar?  Home schooling is a big challenge, but yet rewarding. As parents, we juggle between school work, housework, cooking, field trips, and chauffeuring our children to music, sports, or other activities. By the end of the day, we are drained.

The Bible reminds us in Matthew 11:18, “Come unto me all who are heavy laden….” We are so busy seven days a week, and constantly on the go, that sometimes we forget to spend time with our Heavenly Father. We need to make proper use of our time to the best ability (Ephesians 5:16). Over the years of homeschooling my daughter, I have learned many things, some through failures, and some from friends’ advice. Here are few things I like to share. It may help you as it has helped me.

Set Goals

  1. Plan out what you want to achieve to complete the school year. For example, if your child is preteen, you may want to start teaching him/her some basic cooking or sewing (home economics); or, if your child is in high school and you want him/her to learn driving, you will have to set extra time for driving school.
  2. Is there a project you want to accomplish? Time with your love ones, your faith, your education or finances?
  3. Does your child have something that he/she would like to accomplish this year? Music, Pathfinders, Master Guide, swim team, etc.

Get Yourself Organized

  1. Before the school year starts or during holidays, set aside some time to organize the books/bookshelves, pantry, or room.
  2. Getting rid of clutter sometimes help. If the child/children are old enough, they can help with some chores.
  3. Prepare the list of things to do the night before like schoolwork to do, clothes to wear, dishes to cook, or things to bring for the field trip. Some things can be prepare over the weekend.
  4. If you are having a play date the next day, have the place ready.
  5. Check through when the doctor/dentist appointments are due, or time of classes to attend.
  6. Try to set a routine: first thing in the morning, a quiet time with God, family devotions/worship.

Prioritize

  1. Focus on what is important. If the schoolwork needs to be complete, get it done first.
  2. Shopping: Sometimes we may have to skip the shopping that morning and go later in the day or pick it up on the way home from classes/activities.
  3. Extra-curricular activities: We may tend to sign our children up for various activities. We have to make sure that we balance it up so that neither the children nor we are overwhelmed.
  4. There’s a times we have to learn to say “no.” We love to help, but there may be time when we have to leave some responsibilities to others. We are reminded in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season…” We need time for some relaxation so we are not stressed out.

We can easily get ourselves occupied with many things without realizing it. It is important that we plan our schedule well, and that we do not lose sight of God.