Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summertime Homeschooling

"I learn every time I breathe."  -- Jordan Sparks, singer

Learning opportunities abound in summer, even while most of us have set aside our formal education efforts. Already this month Beezy has attended a week of Vacation Bible School, visited the Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve in Fremont, Indiana, and gone strawberry picking, all while her grandmother was visiting from New Mexico. She was also baptized in the Catholic Church! And we are helping to water the Rosary Garden three days a week.

You can count many summer activities toward the mandatory educational hours required by your state. At VBS, children receive religious education (literature and history in the form of God's word), learn new songs and their lyrics in sign language (music and language arts), and create crafts (art). Strawberry picking is a physical activity (gym) as well as a nature/science study. The buffalo trip was also a historical and natural science experience. And right in our own home, we have new kittens that we are watching grow and nurse from their mother!

Bike rides, swimming, hiking in the woods, playing in sand, jumping on the trampoline, and gardening are all learning experiences that can be categorized for homeschooling requirements. Obviously, you don't want to announce to your children, "This counts as science!" when they play at the beach, but you can keep a record of such activities for your own use. While the structure of our days is more relaxed and we have more free time, we still need to keep a sense of consistency and routine for our children. Organized activities can help, as long as your children aren't overloaded.

Beezy will participate in many more fun activities through our local Parks and Recreation department and library in the weeks to come. This week, there is tie dye t-shirt and ice cream making, and arts and crafts. A week of Junior Gardeners will follow. Next month will be a week of craft making for various holidays. The library's summer reading program, part of a year long "Little House" theme, will feature an exploration of Pioneer life. In August Beezy will most likely attend another VBS, and soccer will begin! There are many more such activities available for children all summer and into fall. These programs are all affordable, and some are even free.

Don't forget to keep your children reading all summer (and read to them as well)! It is of the utmost importance that reading be a pleasurable activity for the duration of a person's life. Encourage reading of the classics, with their rich language and literary substance. Children who enjoy and excel at reading high quality literature usually have a corresponding proficiency in writing, spelling, and grammar.

Vacations, travel, outdoor play, and increased time with family and friends are all part of the special joys of summer, so relax while feeling confident that all of life is learning, and learning never ends!

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