Let’s face it. Home schooling is hard work. Every home school is unique because every family has its own ways of implementing school. In our home school, I like to incorporate fun learning opportunities that break up the core subjects. One of my favorite times of the day is our reading aloud time where I share books. It is only for half an hour, but it is a time that we all look forward to. Growing up, my school always had a 15-minute silent reading time when everyone in the school stopped to read, including the janitor. I loved it then. I love it now. Spicing up the academic year with a field trip or a special study unit also makes the year more fun and memorable. These breaks during the day or during the week or month help us to be refreshed, yet we’re still learning.
Our reading topics have changed over the years. Sometimes we have a theme like the year we learned about the Middle Ages. Other times we have read through the Little House series. I’ve actually read through the Middle Ages books and the Little House series, Pilgrim’s Progress, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Ben Hur, and others a few times so that all of my children have gotten the chance to hear some amazing books. This year, we’ve read Pride and Prejudice and some of the Anne of Green Gable books.
Each academic year, I like to incorporate what I call extras also. In the past I have included a microscope unit and an inventions unit. Now that the boys are all grown up, I get to do girl stuff. So far this year, we have made ponchos with help from a friend, taken a seven-week self-defense class, and attended the Nutcracker ballet.
We made the ponchos in August over a few weeks. My friend, Sheryl, volunteered her assistance because after explaining my concerns and desires, she knew I was feeling a little insecure about tackling this subject alone. Each of us made a poncho. Sheryl made a purple poncho; I made a dark teal one; Emily made a mint one; and Kaitlyn made a navy one. I took sewing in junior high and high school home economics classes and made a variety of clothes, but that was a long time ago. When the boys were younger, I made costumes; but since then, I haven’t done much sewing other than making curtains and completing mending. I didn’t want to mess this up so I was very thankful for Sheryl’s expertise. She went shopping with us, helped us pick out our notions, and shared in our excitement as we selected our material. We scrutinized the pattern, and she checked our pinning. With each step, she patiently helped us. She even helped some rip out mistakes. She always encouraged. I know had I done this alone, I would have gotten frustrated. I know some find sewing relaxing; but although I want it to be relaxing, it never is in reality for me. After a few weeks, we finished our ponchos which are warm and comfortable. These lessons were successful since both girls have expressed an interest in sewing again.
Since I recently shared about our self-defense class, you know how that extra class turned out. The girls were quite enthusiastic and want to continue.
On December 9, we attended a Nutcracker ballet, our first ballet. Some girls from our church were in it so it was especially exciting. It was fun to watch the amazing dancing, to admire the costumes and set designs, and to follow the story. The scene when the Nutcracker battles the rats was humorous when the rats carried the rat king away on a stretcher.
Before Thanksgiving, we made homemade soap. Next, I think I’ll get material for the girls to make tie blankets. I like that when we are done with these projects, we have created something we can use or enjoy long term.
I also like to help my kids explore their interests. With each of my sons, I set up times when they could learn more from experts. My oldest loved meteorology so I set up a time for him to shadow a meteorologist at an area television station. My middle son loved woodworking so I hooked him up with a retired shop teacher who gave him tips and encouragement about carving and wood burning. I also took him for a day to see an Amish furniture maker. My third son loved sports so we helped him participate in some youth triathlons. Soon it will be my daughters’ turns. I’ve considered approaching the local veterinarian clinic to see if my oldest can shadow there. My youngest child loves cooking and painting. We’ll see what opportunities arise.
The best part of home schooling is learning together, exploring interests, and just doing fun activities and projects together. I hope they will have fond memories of school and forget the frustrating times with math or another difficult subject. If hard times come to mind, I hope they recall the perseverance and not the frustrations. Soon they will all be grown up, and all we will have are memories. I pray that they will be fond ones.
What special activities have you shared with your children recently?