Working in Time for the Activities

My kids are very hands-on kids. My boys especially but they all love activities and learn better when they can do activities associated with the lessons.

These activities could be:                      making pictures

building out of popsicle sticks

adding to an interactive notebook

or making a diorama

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There are many options for learning activities but they all have something in common

They all take time and they all cost something

While these are not necessarily reasons to not do the activities, they make it difficult sometimes and we become discouraged. I feel that while cost can be a factor in our avoidance of activities related to learning, it is not a significant one. Anyone who has kids has basic craft items lying around and anyone who recycles (or even doesn’t) has materials that can be used. My youngest is especially known for raiding our recycling bin to find materials for something he wants to create from his lesson that day. The cost can cause us to avoid crafts on occasion but that is not the biggest issue.

Time is the biggest factor, I feel. We all have limited time. Those of us schooling more than one kid especially feels this time limit. Throw in the idea of doing activities and crafts related to the lesson and we are quickly in a panic.

I’m not doing right by my kid if I don’t do them

We are supposed to be headed to the music/sports/ co-op right now

I have no time for my other kids’ lesson if I take time now to do the activity

These thoughts and many more races through our minds when we come across an activity in our kids’ lessons and often we feel frantic and guilt. Don’t. Take a breath and calm your mind for a minute. If you cannot do every activity ever suggested for a lesson that is ok. Your kids do not need to do every single one of them.

Let me make a few suggestions to help calm your stress.

First, limit activities to a certain number for the whole family. When you are schooling multiple kids, the number of activities can add up fast. There are history projects, science exploration experiments, language arts projects, and even math notebooking that all can be suggested. Multiply it by 3 or 5 kids and you are quickly overwhelmed. Try picking activities that relate to things your child struggles with. I personally had a hard time with history but any time I was able to connect a craft or activity to the lesson, I got it. If your child has a harder time with math, set aside time to do the notebooking and hands-on activities. Do not worry so much about the other activities, just the ones that your child would benefit the most from. That alone will limit the number of activities you need to do with your kids each week.

Another suggestion is to do activities on a single day during the week. Not all homeschoolers do a four day a week lesson format but this is not only for them. If you do a four day a week format, this will be easier, you just put the activities on that last day to help review what you learned that week and have fun together. If you have a five-day schedule like us, either make it so Friday isn’t that much of a work heavy day and do it then or do the activities on Saturday. When I first tried to do this on Saturday I was sure my kids would groan and complain about “school on the weekend” but they all enjoyed everything we did, so much so that they wanted to keep doing more. At that point, I kicked them outside to play but that is the perfect time to stop. Have the fun with the lessons doing the activities and then let them go play and explore what they learned in play.

Finally, keep it simple. Yes, the activity suggestion says for you to paint with watercolor and try to copy a famous artist’s work ….. but watercolors are a challenge to work with for kids who are not used to it. I change it and have them use tempora paints. The activity might tell you to go to hobby lobby and purchase model trees to use in the diorama, but making them out of construction paper you already have on hand is easier. Your kids would even love to go outside to find some small twigs to use as the trunk of the tree and then glue balled up green construction paper to the top. Or the activity might tell you to bake some sweet treat that was mentioned in the book with your kid but either your skills are not up to par or you do not have the ingredients. Make something simple with your kid. You can even make shapes from a pancake mix that might relate to the story. (Don’t try to go crazy with that. You will be quickly overwhelmed again. I personally cannot make an actors portrait out of pancakes). The point is, you do not have to do the activity exactly how they say for it to be meaningful to your kiddo.

These are only three suggestions out of many that I have found over the years but these are the most helpful to me. I hope you find them helpful and that you are able to incorporate activities with your kids while still enjoying the learning experiences. I have as much fun with my kids doing activities as they do and we all laugh and giggle and yes, sometimes even make messes. I don’t mind a bit of a mess.

We are learning and making memories together.

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Greetings! My name is Joy and I am currently a stay at home mom who is homeschooling her three kids in South Carolina. I love learning and I love sharing the love of learning with others so getting to home school my kids and watch the “ah-ha” moments when they understand something is unbelievably rewarding. I have been homeschooling since my twins were preschool age so we are going on 8 years now. I am also a military spouse so we have the added joy of being a military family with some of the complications that come with it.  As a family, we stay busy with our scouting groups, American Heritage Girls and TrailLife, and we do many camping and hiking trips with them. When I have downtime, I am typically reading books I have sitting around the house, on YouTube/websites getting more information on different home school programs or working on plans for homeschool. I look forward to being able to share our experiences with everyone and help encourage all homeschooling families.

Schooling together and Separately for Sanity

We do group time in my home but we do it how and when it is best for us.

I love how homeschooling allows this flexibility

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I personally love the idea of a morning basket. Of starting the day off altogether, singing, cuddling, and spending time Continue reading “Schooling together and Separately for Sanity”

Thankful

This time of year can be such a joy. There are all the lights, the savory smells, families gathering to celebrate. Everyone is talking about what they are thankful for, how they are blessed and what blessings they have to come.

For some, this time of the year is hard. The sunsets earlier, they don’t feel like eating much, and the family never seems to have time. Seeing blessings and things to be thankful for can be a challenge.

Whichever you fall under, Thanksgiving is a time of reflection. I feel it is a great time to look back on the year and see how far you have come. Whether you have overcome many things, accomplished difficult things or honestly if you just made it through the year by gritting your teeth and pushing through, you have something to be thankful for. When you can look back at the past year and see your accomplishments, no matter how small they seem to you, it is easier to look ahead to the new year and try to set goals.

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This past year we have had many Continue reading “Thankful”

Keeping Creative Kids Focused

Some children have trouble staying focused because of age,

Some children have trouble staying focused because of energy,

but the ones I want to talk about are the creative ones.

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The mind of a creative child is a very unique mind. They are forever coming up with things to build, stories to tell, and places to run off to. They can be

Continue reading “Keeping Creative Kids Focused”

Super Scary Shakespeare in your Home

When I was in middle school, I was placed in a supplemental class called AVID. The goal of the class was to help teach quick-witted kids how to find key ideas in books and lectures, take notes, learn to present information and provide a rich learning environment for kids whose minds seemed to always want more. I hated keeping my binder in the one organized format they wanted us to use, it didn’t work for how my mind worked. I hated oral presentations, I am shy and turned red in front of everyone ever time.

I LOVED the play studies and poetry.

The average person cringes when they hear the name, Shakespeare. The old English, the complex storylines, the numerous characters, and long scripts. Often times it has been the same two plays that people have dealt with over and over again until they were sick of them. Often times, these plays were not fully read or shown to students but were just snippets of them. Shakespeare is not an easy writer to work into lessons with kiddos but it is one that is more tolerable if they get the full picture. Shakespeare’s plays are difficult sometimes to expose our children to.

It is doable though.

The first Shakespeare play I went to with my class was Midsummer Night’s Dream. I remember sitting in the audience totally transfixed on the story which we had been reading in class together. I was so excited about the play afterward I couldn’t stop talking about it. This is what I wanted to give my children.

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The past few months I have been doing just that. First, I picked up a copy of Midsummer Night’s Dream from our library. The copy they Continue reading “Super Scary Shakespeare in your Home”

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation: Your Health

Let’s talk about a topic that is difficult for most of us. Our health. Whether we are male or female, older or younger, as parents, we can struggle with our health. Now, let’s get one thing clear right away. Being healthy is not a specific weight on a scale, not a specific size of pants, and certainly not a specific body build. Being healthy is being physically able to do fun, sometimes strenuous activities without feeling like you will die.

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Four years ago, and my boys had just joined TrailLife and we were on our first big hike together as a family. It was a four-mile hike, up to a lake, along it and back down again. We were stopping at the lake for a break and lunch and everyone was excited. I was not the biggest I had ever been but I was Continue reading “Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation: Your Health”

Are you Performing for Others?

When I first started homeschooling, I knew, without a doubt, I was homeschooling my kids for their benefit. I was going to focus on their individual needs. I was going to make sure that they explored what they each were interested in to their heart’s content. I would give them one on one instruction as well as group instruction to meet their developmental needs. It would be a challenge but it would be worth it for the benefit of my kids.

It took some time for the naysayers and the self-doubts to kick in, but eventually, we all fall victim to their mental games, even if for just a short time. It may be well-meaning family members or friends. It may be old co-workers that you run into. It may even be retired teachers you run into at the store with your kids during school hours. Whoever starts the doubt, intentional or not, unleashes a monster in your mind.

I know, I have been there.

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First, it was the doubts from my family Continue reading “Are you Performing for Others?”

Looking up When you Want to Look Down

Have you every noticed where you look when you are feeling down or discouraged?

We look at our feet

We look at our hands

We look at the ground

We look down when we feel down. 

Likewise, when we are happy or feeling well where do we look?

We look at the sky

We look at birds

We look at others in their eyes

We look up when we are happy.

So when we have a rough day, we look down on ourselves, talk down Continue reading “Looking up When you Want to Look Down”

Stop Reading So Much

Being a homeschooler, we say some pretty odd things sometimes that other parents typically don’t.

Math is not done on the dog.

(well, honestly, sometimes it is)

No we are not using the cat in a science experiment.

(unless it is on feline behavior)

Why are you doing your handwriting upside down?

(apparently it’s better that way)

How did you even get your Continue reading “Stop Reading So Much”