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!

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

Summer Reading Program and a BookList!


We really enjoyed this school year and I feel like I’m just starting to get the hang of this homeschooling lifestyle. We love taking a “one-room schoolhouse” approach and have enjoyed learning together with a range of ages this year, from two years old to almost eight.

We are getting ready to move this summer, and so I have been struggling to keep up with my best efforts on homeschooling regularly. We do more of a relaxed year-round schedule, but I am a person of regularity and I definitely am struggling in this area at present. I was brainstorming what to do as a focusing theme for the summer to keep us going, and all my children have really been enjoying our read-aloud times, so I decided to make that our “school program” as we move into summer. I want my oldest to read 20 minutes/five times a week with me, and that way we will have focused one-on-one time as well as be learning and keeping our reading skills up! I plan to continue to read to my youngest in her room before naps. I also plan to move to reading with my middle son after that. My middle child often jumps in on both read-alouds with brother and nap time stories with sister, but I am looking for opportunities to read to him one-on-one as well. (The challenges of being a middle child!)

We sat down and made a list of things my oldest wanted to read about or specific books we have yet to read around the house. I’d like to work this list for my middle child as well. We also have taken a habit of evening family reading time, which motivates us to be home and ready for bed on time more regularly during the longer summer days. And, for those days we are in the car in the evening house hunting or heading home from a fun outing with family or friends, we have our audio books so we don’t miss out on that special time to read as a family.

I would love to hear what others are reading with their young readers that deepens your time together and their thirst for knowledge as they grow in their understanding of Christ.

Here’s some of our favorites so far, as well as wishful reads for this coming summer.

AUDIOS:

Pilgrims Progress (great for longer road trips)

Christian Heroes Then and Now series

READ-ALOUDS:

True Education Reader (we bought the third-grade set)

Singer in the Sand (mission family story)

Stories Worth Rereading (highly recommended by a friend)

Cabin Boy

Brave Men to the Battle

Waldenses

Old-Fashioned Camp Meeting

Wilderness: an Interactive Atlas of Animals (Costco find!)

other books on animals…

Hope you are encouraged to pick up a book with your child this summer to keep their interest in learning a positive one. We are always eager when August rolls around to get out our math manipulatives and start back into our other subjects. Praying your time spent with your children in your summer adventures is blessed, and I hope to hear what other families are doing to keep the love of learning alive while they take their summer break…

Blessings, Allison

Homeschooling from Arizona

Please introduce yourself and your family to us and also tell us what country and/or state you are from.

My name is Juliette, and my husband is Victor. We have five kids. Twins age 11, John and Joshua. Jeffrey age 10, Sarah age 4, and Christina age 18 months. We live in Arizona, in the valley. We love to swim, get outdoors, and to read.

How long have you been homeschooling?

We’ve been homeschooling since the boys started learning more formally, whenever that was! Haha! Probably about seven or eight years, more or less. Unless you want to count just learning from life, then it would 11 1/2 years. 😊

Why did you decide to homeschool?

I grew up homeschooled and I didn’t want to expose my children to the philosophies and peer pressures of public schools, and I knew it was the best thing for my kids. My mom taught my brother and sister and me. I had friends who went to church school and public school, and I saw the difference between our lives and theirs, and the attitudes they brought home with them. Even now, I see the difference between my kids’ attitudes and the attitudes of the kids they play with both at church and around the neighborhood.

What style of homeschooling does your family follow?

We don’t really follow any particular curriculum, so it’s very relaxed.

Do you have a philosophy about homeschooling?

It must prepare them not only for life here on earth but also for heaven!

What kinds of tools, resources, or curriculums do you use to homeschool, and why?

We have a few workbooks that I picked up at Walmart and Costco for math and basic writing/English/spelling, and then we read some books for different subjects, and life experiences are the rest. Most of my books have come from the library, and more recently I have been getting some really great ones from my business as an Usborne consultant.

Are you the primary “teacher,” or does your spouse or other family members participate with homeschooling?

I primarily teach since Victor is gone trucking all week, though he helps some with life lessons when he is home on Sabbath.

What does a typical homeschooling day look like in your home?

We start out with chores (getting dressed making the bed, personal devotions) and worship; then after breakfast we try to have time for workbooks, and then do some music practice, reading, Bible study, and hands-on learning. Then, if it’s hot, we go swimming, or like right now, colder, we go for a walk. Then we fix lunch and while that is cooking, the kids like to watch science programs on Netflix or YouTube. After lunch about 3 p.m. comes cleanup, chores, and laundry. By that time the neighbor kids are home from school, so they go play for awhile. Then, if we didn’t go earlier we sometimes go swimming. After that, we just do some quick pickup in the living room, before having reading time (me reading to them) and worship. 

I should add that the typical day is what we strive for, what I want to see happen. We don’t always hit the mark. Always working toward that, though, and on good days we do make it through.

What do you love the most about homeschooling, and what do you dislike the most?

I love that we can study books or just learn from hands on, and they don’t have to be forced to sit still for hours. We can change things up if it’s not going so well. Also, it’s cheap!