Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Summertime Planning...
Making the Most of Your Time with Your Children

Summer is quickly approaching, within DAYS even. This is when the homeschooling mamas breathe a sigh of relief as textbooks are put away and we can wholeheartedly focus on some different aspects of learning. Our family doesn't sign our children up for the typical "camp-after-camp, just-get-through-it summer", rather we enjoy sitting down with our children, asking them what they want to learn over the summer. What projects do they want to embark on? What character are we going to work on? What are your goals as far as habit go? I'm getting giddy just blogging about it! {smile}

It's true. I LOVE this time of year. No, not the heat, but the freedom to conquer tasks that we otherwise might not have the time for during the school year. Don't get me wrong. We've had our "unschooling days" where we engulf ourselves with books and just going with whatever they're interested in, but we do try to adhere to a Charlotte Mason approach to learning and keep to a schedule/lessons.

As the "school" year (my 4-year-old insists we call it "learning" because they don't go to "school") wraps up, we've took a 1/2 gallon Mason jar and filled it with colorful index cards, listed with activities for the summer. I have one child who has been done with lessons since last month and she's been enjoying a little more freedom with some quilting, baking, rabbit raising, and free reading. One preschooler has been reading for awhile now and although we'll touch on some reading through the summer, she's been done for weeks now also. One lad is still working through a phonics book, last math pages, and is reading to us daily (and will throughout the summer). He has some wood carving projects in mind, thus we're using that as incentive for when his lessons are completed. Still just a few more objectives to get him caught up.

Hard to believe I'll be officially home educating FOUR Bates kids next year. Yep. Isaac has a little book he'll work through and will be doing basic number and letter recognition with me, counting (although we do that daily anyway with plates, forks, beads, carrot sticks, and everyday life things), etc. He'll do some cutting for hand-eye coordination and mainly habit training. He's definitely excited about his third birthday coming up soon. Little fella wants a helicopter. He's growing way.too.fast.
Here are a few, fun links for summertime activities that you could make a list of and check off, or put into a jar to pick out of. A list is nice because let's face it, the whole out of sight, out of mind thing is true. Although we have a jar, I'll be writing their lists on a poster board of personal habits and goals this summer to work on. I think I'll laminate it so that as we check things off with a Vis-à-vis marker, we can use it over and over for summers to come.

Lord-willing, we'll also be MOVING this summer to our property. Electricity is done. Well permits are pulled, so just waiting on the actual digging of the well to happen. It's so amazing how I didn't anticipate it would take this long, but apparently the codes departments are very THOROUGH in their inspections, paperwork, etc. THAT is what has kept us from moving sooner. 1/3 of the house is apparently done as well, so we're excited about that!

So here are a few ideas from our family to yours!

1.) Start with Charlotte Mason's Handicraft and Art page...meaningful projects without the mess of pom-pom balls and colored Popsicle sticks in which you'll throw away. Making handicrafts that are beautiful to keep and use as years come and go are such a treasure.

2.) 121 + Skills for the Modern Homesteader is always a great list to go through and check off things with your kids. Even if you're an apartment or city homesteader, go for it!

3.) You could make a poster board with lots of ideas, keeping it up all summer, checking off the exciting things you did. This list is also helpful to steal, ahem, use. {grin}

4.) If you'd like the challenge of exploring the great outdoors this summer with your children, may I suggest Hours in the Out-of-Doors by Karen Smith and Sonya Shafer (because Sonya Shafer is amazing!!).  This book's contents include:

Chapter 1: Benefits of Nature Study
Chapter 2: When to Do Nature Study
Chapter 3: What Nature Study Looks Like
Chapter 4: Keeping a Nature Notebook (my own insert...We CHERISH looking back on these!)
Chapter 5: Supplementing Nature Study
Chapter 6: Guiding Your Child in Nature Study
Hit your dollar store and collect a few butterfly nets, buckets, bug cages, etc. You just never know what you'll find out there. {grin}

5.) Habits...One important thing that seems to happen (usually right after a baby has been born) is that our good habits tend to slack and get replaced with lazy ones in which we need a re-training time to get back on track. You know, you have your kids well trained to wake up, get dressed, start morning chore charts, etc. and then when baby comes, everybody is in survival mode. And hence, retraining time begins. Summer can have this effect as well. An evening set aside to re-read Charlotte Mason's advice on Habit Training could bring much benefit to one's family. I just LOVE this link!

6.) Most of all, I hope you'll pass the temptation to keep your kids "busy" with entertainment-like activities/gadgets to instill in them a love of Scripture and a love for the Lord. Take this precious time to lay out a blanket outside in the morning (maybe with a lovely, hot breakfast) and just read Scripture and pray. We've done a few mornings of "home church" in our day (sickness, exhaustion, etc.) and those times are so precious, just sitting  under a morning sky, on a blanket in our grass reading Scripture, praying and singing praise songs to our Creator. Get to their HEARTS. Do some searching of your own regarding Biblical History, Theology, Apologetics, Hermeneutics, etc. so that you may better answer their questions.

7.) I used to be very skeptical of Pinterest. Still am at times, even though I just recently in the past few months jumped on the "band wagon" if you will.  I must have looked like a complete idiot trying to sign up for it! Took me hours to figure it out. This NON tech-savy gal struggles with things like that.
I have to pray every time I'm logged into it that the Lord would guard my heart. I think, especially as women, we love to decorate our houses with beautiful things, myself included, but when it can really take over your heart to where it can consume us if we're not careful.

God wasn't kidding when he told us in Exodus 20:17:

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

It happens. (Another example of a commandment from Scripture as an absolute standard which is good for us to practice...not coveting..., yet it's not against man's law to covet.)

We have to guard our hearts and be thankful for what the Lord has given to us and give to those who have less.

Never-the-less, Pinterest, (with hearts guarded) CAN be a great tool to find ideas, and great homesteading/farming information at that! Especially for city farmers like yours truly. Long ago, you went to a wiser farmer friend for advice on getting rid of Red-Tailed Hawks in the area (who are eating your chickens left and right), but now, we just jump on the computer. I'm looking forward to having like-minded neighbors, possibly able to help in such areas. Computers will never be able to replace human contact, relationships, emotion, and hands-on experience of getting rid of Red-Tailed Hawks. Thank goodness for that!
10.) Don't forget to purchase a National Audubon Field Guide book if you intend to identify nature. I keep one in my purse, just in case {wink}. I can't tell you how many times we've used it to reference things.

I hope this list has given you some ideas for this upcoming summer.

Blessings as you embrace time with your own precious ones, nurturing their hearts, spending TIME with them, and taking on new and exciting tasks at hand to be remembered for years!

(All photos courtesy of Google.)

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