Winter is the perfect time for a bird unit study! Birds can provide you and your kids with a wild distraction from current events, a connection to the natural world, and a chance to be grounded in an off-screen reality. If you’re in a winter climate, the leafless trees, snow, and dormant vegetation provide a crisp backdrop for spotting birds. In moderate climates, your locale may be the recipient of migratory birds, providing an ideal opportunity to spot species that aren’t around during other times of the year. Continue reading »
Research has shown that the simple the act of getting children outside is the most effective way to foster environmental consciousness. As prominent environmental educator David Sobel eloquently stated, “one transcendent experience in nature is worth a thousand nature facts.” It turns out that children who have an immersive experience in nature develop a deep love of the environment that they carry with them their entire lives. Continue reading »
Recently on TheHomeSchoolMom’s Facebook page someone asked for recommendations for her soon to be 4 year old. It took me back to when I had a 4 year old and a 1 year old and had recently decided to homeschool. I. Was. So. Excited. What curriculum should I use? How should we schedule our days? (I bought Managers of Their Homes and carefully scheduled every moment of our days and then proceeded to never once use the schedule.) I made lesson plans and felt organized and believed that my kids were going to get the best education ever. And honestly, we had great fun with some of the activities. So after all these years (my kids are now 19 and 16), what curriculum would I suggest for a 4 year old? Continue reading »
The compelling reasons kids need nature were explained factually and forcefully by Richard Louv in Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. Louv reaches new ground out in his next book, The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age. He uses anecdotes as well as groundbreaking research to demonstrate why we need to balance our use of technology with the restorative powers of nature. Continue reading »
Winter is a wonderful time to take Alphabet Walks with your children. In my part of the U.S., this means bundling up for the cold weather, but hunting for the ABCs in nature may be just the thing to get you and the kids moving on darker winter days.
The main object of an Alphabet Walk is to find letters that have been unintentionally formed in the outdoors. Perhaps crossing tree branches form an X against the blue sky, or a cat curved on your deck forms a perfect C. A front door wreath on your neighbor’s house is an O. The brickwork above the windows in an old Main Street building creates a V. Continue reading »
Homeschool moms get used to questions from non-homeschoolers. Some questions arrive with the seasons, including in the fall, of course: “Have you started school yet?” and in the spring: “Have you finished school yet?” Some homeschooling families make no distinction between starting and stopping learning, so the question is odd to them. As I’ve written before about the homeschool year, other families do follow the school year with explicit study of academics, while their friends in the same homeschool group might make their own calendar. Continue reading »
Many experienced homeschoolers have long valued the ability to delay formal academics to create a more holistic early childhood education for their young children, with the understanding that this creates a rich foundation for later academic and life success. Today, parents new to homeschooling are embarking on homeschooling at a time when public schools are emphasizing early formal academics and implementing standardized testing of very young children, despite lack of evidence that these practices enhance educational outcomes for the children.
As David Elkind (author of The Hurried Child and The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally) writes in “Much Too Early” for the website EducationNext, “Why, when we know what is good for young children, do we persist in miseducating them, in putting them at risk for no purpose?” Continue reading »
How YOU can get involved in real science!
There is a new craze hitting the streets, and hopefully this one is here to stay. It’s called citizen science. With the advancement of technology, it has become easier and easier for “regular” people to do real science. There are people everywhere interested in contributing to science, especially if it’s made easy for them. With citizen science, it is. Not only do citizens collect and report data, but they are becoming valuable helpers in analyzing the vast amount of data that is now available due to increased technology. The best part is that these are not just classroom activities, using hypothetical scenarios to mimic how science is done. While those activities are inherently valuable, think of the additional value of being an active contributor. Citizen science is a perfect way for homeschoolers to get a real world perspective on science. Continue reading »
I know that for many people, it is the advent of Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks that officially signals the beginning of fall, but I tend to be a traditionalist. Yep – cool weather and sweatshirts, homemade beef stew and apple spice muffins…the harbingers of my favorite season of the year. And although farm visits, Continue reading »
Spending time in nature can lead to some of the most enjoyable and profound learning experiences. Nature-based learning touches on and connects every academic discipline imaginable while enlivening the senses and invigorating the body. It encourages curiosity and inquiry, exploration and experimentation, while the mind catalogs, analyzes, and compares. Homeschoolers are in a unique position to take full advantage of the learning opportunities that present themselves right outside the door. Families who discover Oak Meadow homeschooling curriculum find curriculum materials that actively support and encourage a close connection with nature. Continue reading »
Sometimes we have had a designated nature table, something which is suggested by both the Waldorf-inspired approach and the Montessori-inspired approach to homeschooling, and something many Charlotte Mason homeschoolers implement as well.
Other times, we have just gathered seasonal treasures together as a kitchen table centerpiece. A walk in the brisk air, the scavenger hunt for natural objects that are lovely to see and touch and smell and shake, the artful arranging and rearranging of the bounty — these refresh the senses and clear the cobwebs out of minds. Continue reading »
When the weather is gorgeous, indulge in the opportunity to get out of the house, and before you know it, your homeschooling mojo will return. Here are some quick cures for Spring Fever… Continue reading »
As the weather warms with Spring, mothers everywhere begin singing praises that their children can finally go outside again! After months of being cloistered inside with books and projects, the warmth and sunshine of May brings yet another enjoyable aspect of homeschooling – doing school outdoors! While there’s no doubt that the kitchen table has its merits in the homeschool, taking studies out into the open can bring a world of creative options and invigorated spirits. Continue reading »