Spring has sprung, testing is over, but school is still in session. To many this can be a depressing time. Everyone wants to be outside, wants school to be over and it feels over with the ‘end of the year testing’ done. And yet we must trudge on, get our days in, finish our ‘to do’ lists, all the while everything inside screams to be finished. The conflict is within parent and child alike. No one wants to be doing what they feel they ‘have’ to do, so tempers are short, feelings get hurt and school becomes a chore, something only to be completed but not to be enjoyed. What can we do?
I think we must make changes, cater to the urges within us. Spring is the time for sewing seed, tending gardens, etc – I imagine God gave us the desires we have to be outside at this time of year. Just look at all the beauty He created around us. Every part of our being cries to be outside and why not? Why are we homeschooling? – to be like the schools? – to be stuck in the monotony of busy work? With all of us feeling stuck, maybe there is something to those feelings, some deep truth that needs delved into?
For goodness sakes, if everything in you and your child is screaming for change, then change! We have that liberty when we homeschool – that’s one of the reasons we do it! I want my children to have a desire to learn and understand their world, God’s creation, so why not get out in it and observe and enjoy what He has made.
Go on a nature hike or a nature hunt. See how many different bugs, birds, leaves, weeds, flowers you can find. Make graphs and charts on your driveway compiling the information you see.
Do jump-rope skip-counting and memorize your math facts. Play catch while counting by 2’s, 3’s, etc. or while doing multiplication tables. Observe the geometry around you, street intersections, parallel lines, perpendicular angles.
Practice spelling or take a spelling test on the driveway with chalk. For younger kids, write the days of the week, the months of the year or the alphabet and have them jump from one to the next practicing, memorizing.
Do art outdoors; take some time to draw from nature, learn about texture – take your pencil or crayon and color on different surfaces then try to recreate that image, see what you can create with sidewalk chalk on your driveway.
Work on listening skill activities. Have them follow a set of directions and add another one and see how many they can remember, for example: run to the tallest tree, spin around, hop to the mailbox, skip to the grass and do a cartwheel. It’s amazing how they enjoy this stuff and it’s great for their listening and remembering skills.
Study history and have them be explorers, writing a journal, complete with illustrations, of the things and peoples they meet, in your back yard!! Have them follow compass directions and plot a map complete with how many centimeters/inches = how many meters/feet.
Have them read under the shade of a tree.
There are sooooo many things we can do outside and still learn. Sure they may not be your everyday ‘curriculum’ but what do you want your children to learn? It may take a bit more creativity and work on your part (and on theirs but they may not even realize it – it’s amazing what children will do when they are having fun at learning). I think you will find it definitely worth the time and effort you take. Instead of feeling trapped you can be free and free up your children to love and enjoy learning.
By Tami Munden