Homeschoolers: Do This Before Going on Vacation

Do you want the local scoop on the best places to go before heading out on vacation? Join the homeschool Facebook page of the destination to which you are travelling and pick their brains. Probably better than any travel website, homeschoolers know the most fun, interesting and educational places to take kids. These may be places that aren’t on the top of a tourist list of activities to do but insiders know these hidden gems. Homeschoolers appreciate the value of hands-on learning and field trips.

Probably better than any travel website or book, homeschoolers know the most fun, interesting and educational places to take kids.

Meeting a lobsterman and learning what he does may not be on your tourist website.

For example, we are planning  our annual vacation to New England. Within minutes of posting a request for field trip ideas on the Massachusetts Homeschooler Connection Facebook page, their helpful responses came flooding in. I told my husband that now we need several months in New England to do all these awesome things! Thanks MA homeschooler! XOXOXO

One of the things I love most about the homeschool community is how generous we are sharing our knowledge, ideas, and excitement! We are a true community of passionate life-long learners!

Spending time in a beautiful, historic library built in 1888 is an example of a gem a local homeschooler could tell you about.

For ideas on adding more structure to your schedule to allow more time for experiential learning, you may be interested in:

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning Part One

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning Part Two

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What Will You Change in Your Homeschool This Year?

Winston Churchill said, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

You greatly seize upon your homeschool freedoms when you adapt and change. You are not locked into a schedule, curriculum or rules like those in conventional schools.  You don’t have to go through a teacher, principal or bureaucracy to change what is best for your children. You have complete FREEDOM to customize your children’s education as needs and opportunities change. Additionally, change keeps learning and life fresh and exciting. 

You have complete FREEDOM to customize your children’s education as needs and opportunities change.

ferris wheel best day cheer
We took part in a weekly class at Disneyland this year that brought much joy to our family dynamic while also simultaneously being immersed in the creative and innovative genius of The Walt Disney Company.

Here are a few questions to consider:

Do you want to spend more time enjoying your kids?

Are you feeling burnt out?

Did  part of your curriculum often result in tears or frustration?

Do you feel you are are spending a lot of time nagging or being negative?

Would you like more homeschool family friends?

Are you looking to offer a greater variety of learning opportunities outside the home to your kiddos?

Would you like to improve your family dynamic?

Change keeps learning and life fresh and exciting. 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I urge you to evaluate what you should change this year. Now is the time for a fresh start! Talk to your spouse and kids. Ask them what they loved about last year and want to continue and what they did not like. Be in community with other homeschool families and learn from them. Seek out opportunities you never considered before. Pick the brains of parents who have great kids.

Seek out opportunities you never considered before. Pick the brains of parents who have great kids.

Take it from someone who was feeling burnt out about this time last year. I’m glad I made some pretty radical changes. They were a gamble for us but paid off big time on so many levels.   We had our most joyful, inspiring and memorable year yet, and I am now more passionate about homeschooling than ever. A big reason I created The Contemporary Homeschooler is for YOU. I want to share my experiences and insights with you as well as learn from all of you and be in community together learning from one another.

While homeschooling is not always easy, when we learn to adapt we can enjoy much success and happiness.

So I ask you, what will you change this year?

If you would like to learn how we changed our schedule this past year, then check out these posts:

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning Part One

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning Part Two

 

You can sign up to follow The Contemporary Homeschooler via email by clicking on the Follow button. Also, join our community on Facebook.

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Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning: Part Two

Are you looking to have more fun with your kids and less time nagging them to do their work? Would you like to spend more time on field trips, engaging classes,  and exploration?If your answer is  yes, this post may be helpful for you.

You can have plenty of time for experiential learning with discipline and a good structure in place. We were out 3 full days/week last school year and plan to do the same again this year. Here is a sample of what our schedule looks like:

 Days We are Out

On the three days we are out, the kids have a lighter academic schedule and need to focus on their core work including math, writing composition and reading. As I am buzzing around trying to get us all packed up for the day, I don’t put anything on the schedule that requires my involvement. Required science/history reading takes place for 25 minutes in the car en route to our destination. They need to finish all math before we leave for the day, or I know they will be too tired when we return. Some things like instrument practice work out just fine to do when we get back.

Full Academic Workload Days

On the two days we are home, we do full workloads as you can see looking at Monday and Thursday. They schedule their day how they want. My only requirement is that math comes first. On top of that, anything that requires my involvement, like editing an essay, must also occur in the morning. I want to be done with my part before lunch. Due to homeschool efficiency, we still are usually completely done with everything before the conventionally-schooled kids get out of school around 2:30 PM.

Dry Erase Sleeves and Spreadsheets

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http://amzn.to/2arSpqq

We love these dry erase sleeves that we purchased on Amazon about a year ago. The kids simply use a dry erase marker to check off what they have completed for the day. The $8 we spent on the sleeves were a good investment, and they enjoy using them. Additionally, the kids learned how to use Google Sheets (similar to Excel) by creating their checklists.

Science and History

You don’t see it on the schedule because we do it primarily through living books during read aloud and quiet time, co-op and experiential learning.

Stay tuned for Part Three of this series.

Find Part One of this series by clicking on the link below:

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning: Part 1

Here were our curriculum choices last school year:

An Example of an Eclectic, Academic Homeschool Curriculum

For ideas on how to design your own writing curriculum:

Designing Your Own Writing Curriculum

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Note: If you decide to make a purchase through my blog link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it.  This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. So, thank you!

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning: Part One

We all want to be out doing this!

 

Instead of this! Math pic for blog 003

So, we need to knock those academics out of the way ASAP so we can have some fun.

Last year, we dramatically changed our schedule by being away from home 3 full days each week so we could be involved in a weekly program at Disneyland, another day sailing and another day at our co-op. This did not include other activities like extra-curriculars, field trips, park days, etc. I wondered how we would ever complete our academics so came up with a plan as a family.

This is a series on how to schedule academics so we have plenty of time to engage with the world. This is what we have done as a family and has worked for us. What type of schedule has worked for you?

  • SET EXPECTATIONS

Before signing up for all the activities, we had a family meeting. The kids had to give their commitment that they would need to be dressed and starting their math at 7:30 AM on days we were to be gone.  They would also do their required history/science reading for 25 minutes in the car en route to our activities. Additionally, they would need to do some math over the weekend. Prior to this, they never had school work on the weekend.

  • CREATE A CHECKLIST

I told my kids what needed to be completed and they used Google Sheets to create their daily check-off list. This had the added benefit of giving them practice with spreadsheets. We will talk about what that schedule looks like in detail in the 2nd post in this series.

  • YEAR-ROUND SCHOOL

We have always done year-round school. However, because we were out 3 days/week last year and plan to do the same in the fall, we are doing a little bit heavier workload over the summer than we did in prior summers. Sure, we take some days off completely and even a week here and there.  A writing composition teacher has come to my house on Fridays giving them assignments to work on each day. That has helped us to stay on track with writing as it is easy for me to skip on that over the summer.

Additionally, it is hot during the summer and crowded with all the conventionally-schooled kids out and about. I’d much rather be knocking out some school work in our air-conditioned house on some of those days and enjoy our beautiful and interesting places with fewer people and better weather.

How do you schedule your academics?

Find Part Two of this series by clicking on the link below:

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning: Part Two

Here were our curriculum choices last school year:

An Example of an Eclectic, Academic Homeschool Curriculum

For ideas on how to design your own writing curriculum:

Designing Your Own Writing Curriculum

You can sign up to follow The Contemporary Homeschooler via email by clicking on the Follow button. Also, join our community on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/TheContemporaryHomeschooler/

Benefits of Incorporating More Wilderness Into Your Homeschool

This can easily be incorporated into your homeschooling! You have the freedom to make it happen!

“The wilderness rescued me. I have been shaped by my experiences in the great outdoors. Feeling comfortable in the wild gave me the confidence to be who I am, not who others want me to be. There is a natural simplicity to nature; it is far more tactile and tangible than the classroom. It’s a leveller; it strengthened my character and set me back on track.”

arrived at creek

“And evidence shows connecting with nature really works. Free play in the outdoors is good for social and emotional development, improves self-awareness, and makes children more co-operative. A study by the American Medical Association in 2005 concluded that: “Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the out-of-doors.” There is also scientific evidence that the wilderness can reduce hyperactivity and has a soothing effect on children, especially those suffering from attention deficit disorder.”

https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/dec/17/we-need-fewer-exams-and-more-wilderness-in-education?CMP=share_btn_fb

Homeschooling is an Excellent Choice for Making Neuron Connections

While reading aloud today, I came across the  passage below in our  book. After uttering the words, I told the kids that is exactly how we are homeschooling. Experiential-based learning with lots of reading is such a huge part of their education, and I know it is for so many of you. Such a blessing to homeschool where there are abundant opportunities to experience so many different things!

“Though you haven’t gained many neurons since you were born, the connections between the neurons you have continue to form all your life. The more you read and learn and experience, the more connections you’ll have, and the smarter you’ll be!”–Apologia Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology by Jeanne Fulbright and Brook Ryan

Fostering Innovation

“We need new and unusual experiences to think differently. For not only artists but innovators of all stripes, new experiences provide the crucial tissue of real-world material that can be spun into original work. Openness to experience–the drive for cognitive exploration of one’s inner and outer worlds–is the single strongest and most consistent personality trait that predicts creative achievement.”–From Wired to Create by Kaufman and Gregiore

Note: As homeschoolers,  we are in an excellent position to expose our kids to new and unusual experiences. We have the flexibility, time and a smorgasbord of experiences from which to choose.

Life is Beautiful!

Are you making the most of your freedom in homeschooling? I will not squander these precious years with my kids by chaining ourselves to curriculum and staying indoors much of the day. Life is beautiful! We focus on our core work and get it done quickly so we can be out making memories together and learning more about the world. It is so much more joyful to be outside together exploring than dragging the day along with curriculum inside the house.

red coat

“Go for it now. The future is promised to no one.”–Wayne Dyer