We’re halfway through February. Can we do this? February is the second semester version of October. Here's how to get perspective on the February blahs, when new pencils aren’t sharp and our own minds don’t feel so sharp either. Continue reading »
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 »
In many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, winter is downright chilling, and both the season and the change from Daylight Saving Time mean the sun sets early. An activity that works well for homeschoolers this time of year is amateur astronomy—and you don't even have to stay up late to see the night sky! Continue reading »
Snowflakes are fascinating to children and adults. They are unique, beautiful, and tiny marvels of nature.
Introduce your children to the fun of cutting paper snowflakes. Instructables has step-by-step text instructions with photos and diagrams to show you how to make six-pointed snowflakes. Six-pointed flakes are the most authentic, since they generally occur in nature with six points.
This YouTube video by The Bookhouse is a great paper snowflake-cutting demonstration that is easy to follow: 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 »
It was BIG NEWS at our house...the fact that a storm was coming, and we were going to get up to 6 inches of snow! And as I was bundling the girls up for some outside excitement, it hit me that there are some interesting similarities between snow days and homeschooling. Maybe I was just trying to justify eschewing academics for some romping around in white fluff, but hey. You never know when inspiration is going to strike. So, in honor of the winter months, here are 20 ways homeschooling is like a snow day. Continue reading »
A great project for the New Year is making a calendar with your little ones. I'm talking about making a calendar the old fashioned way, using fresh heavy art paper and your favorite combination of markers, colored pencils, oil pastels, or other media. I first got this idea from the Oak Meadow first grade curriculum, a Waldorf-inspired curriculum which I loosely followed from time to time and adapted for other ages as my family grew. Continue reading »
It hadn't even turned December when we were already starting to hide the Christmas boxes from the girls. The niggling question pricks every year at the same time: What do we do about Christmas giving? As irony works, I sifted through the most recent wave of gifts arrived via mail right after coming home from set-up efforts for the weekend Christmas Fair to raise money for impoverished orphans in India. Sometimes it's those ironies of life that wake us up and allow us to see in a new way. 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 »
It's March, and by this point in the winter most homeschoolers have the winter blahs. You know, that "sick of being inside" "tired of the daily homeschool grind" sentiment that leads you and the kids to wish you could be doing anything other than school. Often by this point in the season, the art supplies have been well used, the indoor games have been played, and everyone is in need of a little excitement. Sometimes a dose of creativity and fun can help bridge the gap until Spring breathes a breath of fresh air into homeschooling life. Never fear, there are plenty of great ways to make the waning days of winter worthwhile and educational. Continue reading »
It’s just a few days before Christmas, and almost all of the gifts are purchased. The goodies have been made, the halls have been decked, and we wait in expectation for “the big day”. Yet in spite of all of the conscientious preparations, it seems that the same question arises every year: Did we do enough? Continue reading »
When you think back to Christmases as a child, most likely the things of which you have the fondest memories are those special traditions your family experienced together. Having special routines that you do year after year helps children develop an excited expectation for the holiday to come, and builds family unity and bonding. "Home for Christmas" can be a lot more than just physical location – Christmas traditions can be the glue that makes people feel like they're home... Continue reading »
As soon as Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas excitement begins! The whole month of December is an amazing opportunity to establish family traditions – rituals that ground children in their roots and help them to create meaning and a sense of belonging. Family traditions help to mark shared experiences, encourage intimacy and connection, and help children to identify in a positive way with their families. Consider, for example, the tradition of the family meal... Continue reading »
In a homeschooler's home is where you want to be in December! This month provides so many opportunities for creative, fun learning as families help children prepare for Christmas. But even for home educators, who generally seek to incorporate education into every aspect of life, it's easy to let December come and go in a blur of decorations, parties, gift buying and seasonal events. Don't let it happen to you! Continue reading »
During the month of December, there's no better place to be than in the house of a home educator! This month provides so many opportunities for creative, fun learning as families help children prepare for Christmas. Arts and crafts, special recipes, decorating, singing... it's worth taking a bit of a break from the academic rigor maintained through most of the year in order to enjoy some special Christmas-related activities as a family. To get the most out of the holiday, why not try a special study to prepare for Christmas? Christmas lapbooks, Advent devotionals, unit studies - the possibilities are endless! Check out some of these wonderful options for homeschooling in December... Continue reading »
I was struck by the marketing comprehension exhibited in my children's play. I hoped it would inoculate them against Madison Avenue, relieving them of the false pressure to buy, collect, and throw away massive quantities of "stuff" in order to feel good about themselves and their lives. Continue reading »
"What do you want for Christmas?" It's probably the line most often quoted this time of year, following "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays". Santa asks it, parents ponder it, and even passersby on the street use it as a greeting line for children. But is it the question homeschoolers really want to ask? Just like home educators seek to teach their children academic subjects, many also seek to inculcate something even more important - character. And this time of year is the perfect time to focus on the character quality of giving to others. Continue reading »
If there's ever a time to put aside the books and break out the project supplies with the kids, it's Christmas! With all of the emphasis on baking, making crafts, decorating, learning the history of Christ's birth, and establishing family traditions, Christmas for homeschoolers is like sitting down to a buffet of children's enrichment. Even if you homeschool with academics throughout the month of December, be sure to save some time in the day for some special family projects that will bring the family together and make the season meaningful for your children!
The holiday season has always been my very favorite time of the year. I prefer the slower pace of life in winter, with wonderful smells from the kitchen, the sounds of children and dogs playing in the snow. I like the crisp clear days, the beauty of a freshly-fallen snow, the star-bright nights. But mostly I enjoy this time of the year because that's when families gather together in thankfulness and celebration. Continue reading »