Hello, Summer!

Ok, so it may be a little early to be welcoming summer, but it IS just around the corner. Most of us are winding down our schooling for the year and looking forward to a nice long break. There are others who prefer to keep their kids’ minds active throughout the summer months. Summer school doesn’t have to be a downer. It can be filled with fun field trips and other activities that you don’t get to do during the regular school year. Some people love to incorporate a bit of road schooling into their summer learning. However you choose to spend your summer, be sure to make plenty of family memories together!

Not MY kid!

It’s all too easy to think that your kid would never go to a site that shows inappropriate pictures. However, I know from personal experience how easy it is to accidentally stumble onto things that your eyes can never “un-see”. If an adult can unintentionally find this stuff, then kids are even more susceptible. That’s why we as parents need to take steps to insure this does not happen.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you protect your kids’ internet access:

  • Keep all computers/internet accessible electronics in common areas of the home. No internet in bedrooms, bathrooms or other hidden areas of the home.
  • Make sure your kids know not to share personal info with anyone online.
  • Don’t forget to monitor your child’s online history.
  • No internet after a specific time at night.
  • Set up parental controls on each internet accessible device. Don’t forget about those tablets, smart phones, e-reading devices, and DS devices!

I HATE Math!!

Have you ever seen this scrawled across one of your child’s math worksheets?? I know I have! If you have, then chances are your child has math anxiety. This is quite common. There are steps you can take to help make things easier for your child. The more anxious they are about doing math, the less they will be able to learn the concepts you are attempting to teach.

  • Make sure they get a good foundation in the basic math facts.
  • Give them plenty of math practice but make it fun.
  • Try to be patient with them. If they sense your frustration, they will become upset with their own lack of understanding which only perpetuates a vicious circle.
  • Keep in mind that some kids just don’t have a ‘head for math’. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t learn the basics. It just means that they probably aren’t going to ever love math or excel in it like those for whom it comes naturally.

Interest Led Learning

Allowing my kids to focus on their interests has enabled them to pursue some interesting topics which I would have never thought to teach them. For instance, my youngest son is fascinated with magic and card tricks in particular. He has spent hours on Youtube learning how to do these stunts. Often he amazes his dad and me with his sleight of hand.

Out of this, he has developed a desire to become a Gospel magician. I love the fact that he has found a profession that he will love and hopefully will provide for his future family and him.

My daughter has spent much of her free time teaching herself how to write fantasy. She hopes to make a career of this much like Christopher Paolini has.

My oldest son prefers to spend his time in the kitchen. He would love to become a baker. His inspiration has come from shows like “Cake Boss”.

No matter what your child’s favorite interest, there is probably some way to turn it into a future career. So let them at it!

Getting Back into the Groove

I always find it to be a struggle to get myself and my kids back into the homeschool groove after the holidays. We tend to get a bit lazy during our break and let’s face it…it’s just human nature to want to take the easy path. Here are some tips that I’ve learned to help:

  • Give your kids a head’s up a few days before you plan to start back to school.
  • Be patient with yourself and your kids.
  • Have a lesson plan ready.
  • Add in some fun learning games.

Christmas Break

Ahhhh, Christmas Break!! Time for a much needed retreat from school and lesson plans. If your homeschool is anything like ours, you need the break as much as your kids do. There are still tons of fun activities that you and your kids will not want to miss out on during this season.

One great activity for fourth graders is making their own Christmas gifts to give to family and friends. This would be a wonderful time for your daughter to learn how to crochet and make a scarf for dad, or for your son to learn some woodworking and make a spice rack for mom. If these projects seem to advanced you can check the internet for an overwhelming number of Christmas crafts to do with your kids.

Teaching About Thanksgiving

You’ve certainly taught your kids about Thanksgiving. But have they learned about the first Thanksgiving? It of course wasn’t called this at the time. There is so much to learn about this vast subject. There is the whole history of the Pilgrims and where they came from and why they came to America. There’s the Native Americans and what their culture looked like and how they helped the new settlers. Or you can shift your focus to which President made Thanksgiving a national holiday and what was going on in the world at that time.

These subjects can be advanced for gifted children or more simple for special needs learning. You can include spelling lists and word games to make the learning more fun. You may think that you’ve already exhausted the information for teaching your kids about Thanksgiving, but with some thought and planning there is always more to be learned.

Our Brave New Electronic World

I was thinking the other day about how many things we don’t use anymore in our techno saturated world! For instance, when was the last time you actually used a map to get somewhere? Most of us rely on GPS these days. Map reading seems to be going the way of cursive handwriting. It doesn’t seem to be something we bother to teach our kids anymore.

Personally I still love a good map! I feel they are still important to help kids learn geography. It’s fun to pull out the US Atlas and figure out how long it will take to get from where you live to Grandma’s in the next 3 states over. In fact, that sounds like a great homeschool lesson!

Planning for the New School Year

Have you decided what to use for your curriculum this year? It can be a tough decision or an easy one depending on how well what you’ve been using is working. The problem I usually run into once I’ve decided what to use is that I plan to do too much. It’s too easy to overestimate how much my kids and I can to in one week, or one day. Don’t forget to leave time for your kids to be kids! Some of the best learning happens when it is totally unplanned.

Summer Boredom Busters

I’m bored!! How many time during the summer do you hear that from your kids?? Try sending them off to play educational games. This will also help prevent brain drain over the summer.

Check out some of these great sites for learning games:

Your kids will have fun while learning and mom will get a break form hearing how bored they are!