Suddenly Schooling at Home

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At this point on Saturday March 14, 2020 many, if not most, of you find yourselves with your children home from school for at least 2 weeks.  For some, this may be part of a scheduled spring break, but for others this is just time (necessary and somewhat unexpected time) away from their classrooms.  As a former teacher and current homeschool mom I have just a few ideas for how to keep your children academically engaged until they get back to school.

General Routine

Give the kids a day or two to enjoy the break and adjust to the changes happening in our country, while letting them know this is a short break and they will have some expectations as of Tuesday or day of your choice. This also gives you time to gather your thoughts, ideas, and activities.

-Follow a certain wake-up time range daily

-Kids may enjoy the perk of doing academics in their jammies so maybe let them for an hour or so, but have a “must be dressed by time” because too much time in jammies for too many days in a row may lead to the blahs for your child.

-Don’t follow a typical bell schedule, but do follow a routine.  I’ve tried the school classroom schedule at home approach and it was not fun for any of us.

-Specify a certain time for recreational phone/pad/computer use.

Learning Activities at Home

First, if your child’s teacher has sent any assignments or has a website check that first and complete any assigned work.  One student sitting at the kitchen table or family room completes work much faster than 30 students sitting in the same classroom, not to mention the time you have when they would have been at after school activities, so you will have plenty of time left in your day to provide some structure.  You can use the ideas below to give your child assignments, have them read the list and pick assignments, or cut each one out, fold it, place it in a jar and each day have your child pick a new activity.  You know your child best and you know how they will most positively respond to your approach to introducing the activities.

  • Science:  Let your child pick a topic they have studied this year in school and dive deeper into it by using books and internet research.  Prepare a poster, paper, or powerpoint presentation about the topic.
  • Science:  Have them do an internet search for “kitchen science” and have some fun experimenting at home. (Be sure you have baking soda!)
  • History: Let your child pick a favorite historical person and research more about their life.  They can write a research paper, a play , or monologue.  Help them find clothing around the house and dress up as the character to share their research with family and/or make a video to send to friends.
  • History: Pick a time period and location to research about.  Have them make a MineCraft community based on the research.  Or, if you have plenty of Legos, have them build the community with those.  If they stay interested, try both!
  • Writing:  Have children write a daily journal.  They can write about their choice of topic, or you will find daily journal topics by searching their specific grade range and journal topic ideas, pick a PDF to print out and glue in a notebook.
  • Writing: Grow a story.  Find a story starter or make up your own and have each child and family member add a sentence to the story.  (It may get silly and that’s fine and fun!)  Or, if it’s an only child they can add a sentence to their story each day.
  • Math:  Do you have a driveway or sidewalk? Grab some sidewalk chalk when you make your next run to the grocery store for necessities.  Use previous work sheets from school or their math textbook if it is home and write out some review problems to complete outside.
  • Math:  Hide a couple of measuring cups or measuring spoons and have your kids bake cookies.  They’ll need to use fraction and equivalent skills to measure out correct amount of ingredients.
  • Seasonal:  On Tuesday March 17th learn more about St. Patrick and Ireland.  Make a travel brochure.  Bake some soda bread.  Plan a green lunch.  Listen to traditional Irish music by The Chieftains or The Clancy Brothers  (maybe mix in The Cranberries or U2).  YouTube Irish Dancing and maybe try a few steps at home.
  • Life Skills:  In addition to baking fun, have students plan and prepare a well-balanced lunch for the family.  The next week they can be challenged by planning and preparing a well-balanced dinner.  (Depending on age, maybe they just prepare a side dish toward the dinner.  If you have more than one child have each child select and prepare a side dish.)
  • Read a few books.

Take advantage of modern technology to keep some sort of community learning experience.  Children can FaceTime with friends as they are doing some activities, though that may get distracting.  As mentioned above, children can prepare final presentations and exchange videos with friends and family.   (A caution to parents to monitor the video exchanges.)

Most of the ideas can be used for any grade level, but please comment with a question if you need suggestions for adapting anything to fit your needs.

Overall…. stay home, stay well, and have fun learning together!

 

 

 

 

 

Learn Something New

Well, we’re almost half way through January.  Did you make a new year resolution?  How’s it going?  Have you kept your new year resolution?  I have no intentions to cause feelings of guilt or shame as I didn’t even make a resolution! I tried to do the word thing.  You know, come up with one word to live by for the year.  I didn’t get far with that because I couldn’t think of a word.  A few days into January, however, I did come up with a phrase. Inspired by my mother, who is 80 years old and has just started taking swimming lessons in the past year, I’ve decided on a phrase for 2019 which is “Learn Something New”.

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Each month I will learn something new which I have not done before.  I actually decided this would be a monthly endeavor as my daughter was teaching me how to knit.  While my girls were using their Hobby Lobby gift cards, I picked out this pretty, soft, ballet pink yarn to make myself a scarf.  As you will see in the photos, I’m trying something new, not trying to PERFECT something new.  I’ve been enjoying knitting this month and even bought another color of yarn as I anticipate some snow days and extra time for knitting.yarn

I’m making myself a list of the months and ideas of what I will try each month. I’m blogging about it because I think it’s a wonderful idea to share, and maybe I’m searching for some suggestions and accountability. (Also, I haven’t blogged in a very long time and this is very fitting with the title of my blog.)

January- knitting

February-  lettering or calligraphy

March- learn a beginner Reel or Jig

April- geocaching

May-

June-

July- paddle boarding

August-

September-

October-quilt sampler

November-

December- Make Ukranian Origami Stars

Feel free to make suggestions of new things for me to learn in 2019, or join me in this modified resolution to learn something new!

Thank You Military Families

We live in a transient area near Quantico, VA.  Many military families, especially from the Marine Corps,  are stationed here for a few years.  Part of being a permanent resident of the area is the knowledge that some of your friends will be moving away.  This year it is hitting a little extra hard as at least three friends of mine and my daughters’ are moving this summer and they will be greatly missed.

My father served in the Marines, but it was when he was young and long before I was born.  I grew up in the same small town, in the same house, until I moved out on my own.  My husband served in the Navy, but it was before we met.  My brother joined the Marines when I was about 12 years old.   He deployed many times when he was single; and over the years he took my sister-in-law and my nephews with him until his retirement. Currently,  I miss my nephew as he goes off to Paris Island, Camp Lejeune, Okinawa and now 29 Palms.  I honestly don’t have what it takes to be a military spouse.  I struggle when we rearrange the furniture; I can’t imagine moving every three years or less!

As our homeschool community was ending the school year a few weeks ago I started thinking about this,  but from a very selfish perspective.  I was focused on how we make friends and they move away, almost to the point that I hesitate to make an effort to become friends with military families.

Then yesterday while I was driving my girls to the dentist I was on a road near where a friend had lived who just moved to Jacksonville/Camp Lejeune, NC a month ago.  My mind drifted, as it often does when I am driving.  I thought about the fellowship we shared. We prayed for each other.  We shared good times and bad.  We shared meals and day trips.  Our daughters shared a dear friendship with much in common, yet some differences which enriched each others lives.  I wondered how they are doing and started thinking about how fortunate their new neighbors and friends are to have them.  That’s when I shifted my thought process.  Instead of being negative, I decided to be filled with gratitude.  What a blessing some of the mothers and children have been to my family.  They move in to a community knowing they are not there to stay, yet they make a positive impact for the short time they are here.  They support their husbands and fathers who serve our country bravely.  They endure their spouse’s  deployments or miss their fathers while still giving their time and energy to support others.  They pack up and relocate, as they are commanded, to serve our country.

I have learned to forget my selfish thoughts and count the blessings God has placed in our lives, if only for a short time.  Thank you servicemen for serving our country so bravely.  Thank you military families for coming into our community and lives and making them better before you move on to do the same at the next duty station.  Thank you.

A Morning Walk

When we decided to start our day with a morning walk I didn’t realize how much learning would actually take place.  I agreed to it out of a need for my own exercise and an opportunity for the girls to cross-train (exercise other than dancing) by walking, running or riding their bikes.  Not to mention, it was a beautiful sunny morning!   No, I didn’t consider the discussion about seasons, observations of birds and even math skills that would come in to play as we walked the neighborhood.

My oldest rode her bike ahead and kept circling back.  My youngest started by trying to run to keep up with her sister, but asthma wheeziness started creeping in due to a combination of spring pollen and over exertion, I guess.  Instead she just walked with me….and learned.

As all kindergarteners do, we learned more about the seasons.  We noticed that fall isn’t the only season to have pretty varying colors of leaves on trees.  She noticed the varying shades of green on the spring leaves, as well as some pinks and yellows.

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     Oh, the birds!  They were out in full force this beautiful spring morning causing us to enjoy some impromptu nature studies.  First we heard them.  We just listened to their singing.   We heard one that was probably the baby and then what we assumed was it’s mother answering back.  My daughter shared her thoughts that the baby was asking for breakfast and the mother was telling it she’d be right back with a worm.  Then we noticed the different sounds of bird songs coming from different trees.  A little farther on our walk we noticed a bright red cardinal, along with two female cardinals.  As it’s always surprising for young children to learn, I told her that the prettiest cardinal is the male and the others are female.  As we watched them flit and fly from branch to branch playing with each other she decided that maybe the two females were actually bickering and fighting over the handsome male cardinal.  (It seems thoughts of romance starts young these days.  And, no, we don’t spend our afternoon watching soap operas.)

We learned about math as we counted how long it would take her sister to get from the end of the cul-de-sac to the other end on her bike.  It took 6o seconds, which we reviewed equals one minute.  We continued discussing it would probably take an hour if she did it 60 times, because an hour equals 60 minutes.  How many could she do in 15 minutes?  About 15, of course.  She didn’t realize we were having a mini math lesson.

I didn’t realize either, as we were walking and talking, all the things we were learning while putting off school work for a walk in the neighborhood.  It was as we returned home and entered the driveway that it hit me what a productive morning walk we had had.  She asked to stay out a little longer to play with bubbles and I obliged.  Who knows what else she might discover and learn on her own while she stays outside just a little longer!

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