October 20, 2014

FITTING IN EXTRA CURRICULAR

 
Yesterday we talked about fitting in reading aloud together.  There's a whole lot of extra curricular things too that come with teaching your kids besides just math and science, and usually those are the really great things that we don't want to leave out.  Music lessons, karate, foreign language, theater, speech class, and sports are just naming a few.  Since we've already established this month that we need to evaluate everything and not let in things that are going to create a stressful home, we need to be really careful what we allow our children to sign up for when it come to extra curricular activities.  Some people do the rule of one activity per child and that could work if you don't have a lot of kids.  Since of course we want to let our children do some extra curricular things, I've brainstormed a few ways to try to fit these in without disrupting your entire day/week.
 

Ways to fit in the extra curricular

Combine activities
If you have several kids and don't want to be running around all day everyday, try combining activities.  Maybe there's an activities like cross country that all your kids could do together.  You can go once and everyone wins.
 
Find teachers that will come to you
For things like language tutors or piano teachers, there are teachers that will come to you.  This is SO much easier than you driving to lessons and then waiting for everyone to get done.  You could be doing school with the other ones while someone is getting a music lesson if the teacher would come to your home.  It might cost a little extra, but think of it as what your gas would have been had you drove.  You also may be able to find college students that will come to your home to teach.  Call your local college music department to inquire.
 
Use your phone
You can download amazing apps to teach your kids the extra curricular that you might not be able to.  We use DuoLingo for studying foreign language.  We also use Hoffman Piano lessons on YouTube for piano right now.  The lessons are FREE and the kids love them!  I'm sure you could find a whole bunch of apps to help you each extra curricular!
 
Carpool
This is so great if you have friends close by with kids in the same activities.  Saves everyone time. 
 
Ask Dad
Every week my boys go to Boy Scout meetings.  It's great though because my husband takes them.  He gets to be involved in something they love, they are in the activity together so it saves on extra driving, and I can stay home and get the other two in bed on time. 
 
Don't sign up every time there's interest
I think its great to let your kid try new things, but here's the thing: have them try it at home.  If your kid thinks they want to be a soccer player, play with them in the yard for a while.  Are they just wanting to sign up because all their friends are? That's not a good enough reason to me to give up every Saturday morning for 2 or 3 months.  Play with them and see if they tire of it.  If not, then sign them up for a season and see how it goes.  But don't sign up for a whole season of something if they just mention they're interested.  Be sure its something they're going to like first.
 
Take a season off
You might be in a season of life where it just doesn't allow you to do any extra curricular activities.  Embrace it.  It's ok.  It's ok to say, "we're not doing any extra curricular activities this spring."  You know what your family needs...listen to yourself.
 
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October 19, 2014

FITTING IN READ ALOUDS

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One of our favorite parts of our homeschool day is reading together.  I'm trying to figure out if the kids are really that excited about reading together or if they're just trying to get out of math, but either way they're pretty excited to sit down and read after breakfast.  For us, it works really well to read a chapter or two right after breakfast and start our school day that way.  It seems like if we don't read together in the morning, it's hard to fit it in later. 

Reading together, especially books you've never read is a great way to learn with your kids.  We have read some amazing books together, most recently The BFG by Roald Dahl. We also read Peter Pan this year and next we're reading King Arthur.  Some books are loved more than others, but we've learned from each one and enjoyed each one.  I try to pick up good books on sale or at used book stores to build up our library and give us lots to choose from when we're done with another book.

Another way to try to fit in read alouds is to read to your kids at lunch time while they're eating.  You can send them outside for "recess" when they're done and eat your own lunch in peace.

You could also read altogether in the evening before bed if your schedule allows.  Usually at our house we read right after breakfast and then start our school day.  The evening seems to be our personal reading time.  Noah is usually reading his own book and I will read a shorter picture book to Jack and Sophia.  Recently I've been reading The Royal Diary Series: Jahanara to Sophia and sometimes Jack at night. 

However you can make time to read together it's always worth it. 




You may want to read where my kids wrote reviews on the books we read last winter.  It was so fun. :)


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October 18, 2014

SIMPLE HISTORY CLASS


My favorite subject to teach my kids is probably history.  I didn't realize how much I loved history until I started teaching my kids. We love to read a lot of great books and do fun activities.  We make great projects to solidify what we've learned and we sometimes even make food to go with what we're learning. 

The hardest part about all this fun, is finding time to do it.  All these activities take time and its hard to fit in what you want to do with them.  Here's a few tips on how to keep your history class really exciting without stressing over the when or how part.
  • Monday through Thursday, pack in the majority of your school.  Do most of the reading and teaching for history...the part of history with less of a supply list.  Then make Fridays Project Day.  Just plan one history activity per week that might take more time and effort and do that on Friday.  They can use what they've learned through the week to help them to know why they are doing a particular project.

  • Make your own little co-op with another family.  Get together once a month or every other Friday and do fun activities to go with what you're studying.  With two of you to gather supplies and ideas, it might seem less stressful, especially if you're not a crafty person.

  • Use audiobooks.  Find great literature that goes with the time period you're studying and get the audiobook.  It's the same as listening to you read, but it might give your voice a break!

  • Buy an activity kit.  There's several on the market that are great.  They come with what you need to create some great hands-on history projects and the gathering is all done for you.
      • We used THIS hieroglyphics kit when we studied Ancient Egypt a couple years ago.  My kids loved this.
      • I found an Art in History kit that looks like a lot of fun.  If you're studying Ancient Egypt, it might be worth a look.
      • I am planning on purchasing this Viking Treasure Chest for our unit on Vikings next month.  These treasure chests are really fun.
      • My boys would love to build this trebuchette kit! I might surprise them with it on a day I need to get something done and I need them to have their hands occupied :)
      • We used this FloraCraft Styrofoam kit to create our Coliseum.  It was a really fun project and these blocks can be used for lots of different projects.

  • Have a hands-on week at the end of  a unit or time period that you're studying.  Plan an activity per day and have a fun week of solidifying everything you've learned together.

  • If you have too many books and too little time, put them in a basket and while you're busy with other things, have your kids sit down for an hour a day and read them.  Or have your oldest read to the younger ones.  You can be working on dinner and they'll still be doing history together!
 I love adding in all the extras for history, but sometimes it just gets to crazy to fit it in--or else I just don't know when we'll get it all done.  I admit, since I love history so much I usually plan way more than we can get to.  You might have the same problem, but hopefully these tips will help you keep it simple and do more of what you want to in your history class.
 
 
 
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October 17, 2014

LEARNING WITH YOUR CHILDREN

 
 
I cannot even begin to share how much I've learned since we began homeschooling.  This was not something I anticipated.  I was ready to be the teacher, not necessarily the student.  That came as an added bonus.  The things we've discovered together about history, science, art, and literature, and even grammar is immeasurable.  The thing is though, that to be able to learn together, I need to be willing and able enough to SLOW DOWN to do it.  When I'm overly busy and stressed, our school directly suffers, our learning directly suffers. 
 
The photo above is a prime example.  These are our version of Egyptian canopic jars. In ancient Egypt, during the mummification process, they could place four main body parts into each jar and bury them in the tomb with the mummy.  Each animal on the jar has significance with the body part which were the stomach, intestines, lungs, and liver.  The heart was deemed the soul and was left in the body and the brain was thought to be useless so it was disposed of during the process.  I mean, this is interesting stuff, right!?
 
Today I want us to slow down and learn with our kids.  We always learn and grow from our kids, but today, let's learn something with them.  Discover something together.

 
 

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October 16, 2014

THE ART OF SLOWING DOWN


All month we've been talking about simplifying.  I hope you have been doing just that.  A simpler life is ok.  We don't need crazy.  We're not going to miss anything, we're going to notice a whole lot more.  But here's the problem, we're like "hectic junkies" that don't feel comfortable without every square on our calendars filled in.  We start to feel like it's ok to start fill them back in after we've only just evaluated everything and said no to a whole slew of things.  The challenge for us is to figure out how to be ok with not having every moment booked up--how to just be.  To me, this is where I need to just slow everything down. 
 

The Art of Slowing Down

How is it that we can take our crazy, busy calendars, cut half the stuff off of it, and just be in those blank spot where we were previously running ourselves ragged?  I kind of picture it like taffy.  Yes, taffy.  Everything we need to do, that we can't say no to, is like this beautiful stretchy taffy.  We feel the need to be busy all. the. time.  But we already have all these things filling our time anyway, like making dinner, doing school, cleaning our house, our children--our taffy.  Slowing down can be an art form--it can.  Take all those things that we do every single day, our taffy, and stretch it out over all those blank spots that are making us feel like we should be doing more.  Stretch those things out and enjoy them.  Yes, enjoy making dinner.  Yes, enjoy cleaning your floors--they're going to look so good!  Yes, enjoy your kids--they're messy but they're pretty cool. 
 
Kids hate to be rushed.  They are the epitome of "slowing down."  My mom remembers this vividly when we were young: I was always in everything, and as my mom was getting my younger brother and sister ready to drag them out to yet another one of my softball games, my sister looked at my mom and said, "Do you know what word I hate, Mom?"  My mom had no idea.  "Hurry," she said from underneath her puffy bangs.  Yes, kids hate to hurry. 
 
We can remedy that for them.
 
Our culture tells us to be busy.  We are busy enough.  Culture tells us to go fast, not to miss anything.  Time goes fast enough. 
 
Take your sweet taffy, enjoy it, make it last your whole day--slow down.
 

Ways You Can Slow Down--Today

1. GO OUTSIDE: everything slows down outdoors.  Leave your phone inside to not tempt you to fill in the quiet with Pinterest and Facebook.  Follow your kids and look for treasures.  Cool mushrooms, changing leaves, squirrels packing away food for the winter.  Just enjoy being outside.  See the little things you would have missed if you'd have been taxiing in your car.
 
2. CUT DOWN ON YOUR ERRAND-RUNNING: Order your necessities like toilet paper online.  Save all your errands for one day of the week.  Find a dry cleaner that delivers or a pharmacy that delivers. 
 
3. ENJOY COOKING: Even if you don't really like cooking, you can do this.  Find some new recipes or pull out some old ones.  Start early, not at 5:45.  Turn on some mood music like Norah Jones radio.  Pull all your ingredients out and set them on the counter.  Enjoy creating with food.  Set a pretty table and enjoy eating your beautiful meal with those you love most.
 
4. PLAY: I'm not very good at this.  But maybe it might just help you slow down.  Just sit for twenty minutes and drive Hot Wheels over the carpet.  Help arrange the Barbie's wardrobe and primp the dollhouse.  Just sit with them--they will love that.
 
5. HAVE ABSOLUTE QUIET FOR AT LEAST 15 MINUTES AFTER YOU WAKE UP: We've talked here about having a daily planning session already.  Add to that by just sitting for at least 15 minutes with your coffee not doing anything.  Not getting breakfast ready, not thinking about your to do list, nothing.  Just sit and let quiet start your day.
 
6. DO ONE THING AT A TIME: How many times have we realized we were brushing our teeth while making our bed while getting our sock on? Ya, that.  Focus on one thing at a time.  It's hard for us multi-taskers.  But Just try it.

7. EVALUATE EVERYTHING

8. SAY NO
 
 
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This post is part of a 31-day series on simplifying our homes and schools. 
To read from the beginning of this series, click here:
 
http://www.aliciahutchinson.com/p/home-school-simplified.html


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