Breaking out of Boredom: 4 ways to shake up the learning

1. Board Game Day
Gather up your board games and play them one by one for a day. Are you missing any pieces? Can you make them yourself? Was the game fun? With as many educational games we homeschoolers collect, the day will be full of learning and fun! If the kids didn't like any of the games (complete games only!) then pass them on or consign them. No use letting them take up valuable shelf or closet space!
2. Chefs for a Day
We all know that a kitchen is the heart of the home. It can be the heart of home learning too! Start the day with each child coming up with something they would like to bake or cook for the day. You may have to help them with this so you don't end up with three or four desserts and no meal after cooking all day! Have them look up recipes and ingredients. Make a list of what you need and head to the grocery. Looking for labels, fresh produce, and bargains will be more fun when they know that they are doing this for their own dishes. I have found that it is better to have one main chef with a sous chef on standby if needed. If the smallest of my crew gets bored, I let her play with Play Doh (her favorite) at the table  while I focus on the chef. Lots of learning goes on in a day like this. If you have the time to plan a bit more, check out some cooking themed books for the kids to look through during the down times.
3. Go for a Walk
I know, it's cold. I know, it's rainy, snowy, windy, gray.... it's February for goodness sake! Go outside anyway! Unless it is storming, dress for it and head out! Take a camera. Look for signs of spring. It doesn't have to be all day and it doesn't have to be a power walk, just stroll. Keep pace with your slowest child and enjoy the moment.
4. Be the Student
Tell the child that they will teach you for a day. For my oldest, this means I usually get a lesson in Ancient Egypt or Japanese culture. I enjoy trying to stump her throughout the day with my questions for the teacher. My middle child enjoys setting up school and playing and my youngest enjoys being a student with mom. With some creative questioning, we usually learn a lot.  This game helps my children be more empathetic to how much effort goes into a day of learning.


Starting Points

Starting on the path to homeschooling can be horribly confusing. When you first begin thinking about it you don't know where to begin looking for just the very basic information. Most often you'll find that although many out there will tell you what they think the best path is, ultimately the choice is yours. And this is a very good thing! No one knows your children like you.  I got a call from a friend about a friend who wants to maybe start thinking about homeschooling her soon to be kindergarten twins. That's pretty vague but the advice I offer is usually the same no matter who is asking.

1. I tell them to define why they want to homeschool. 
There is a multitude of reasons why any one family begins homeschooling but there is usually one main reason. For us it was a better tailored education. For some it may be religious reasons, and yet others may only want to keep their family closer. Once you've decided why homeschooling appeals to you, you can move on.

2. I next recommend Cathy Duffy's book 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. 
 This book lists lots of material and does a good job at explaining their methods. This usually helps the person decide what style of teaching they want to start with. I let them know we use TWTM classical approach in case they want to discuss that in more detail later.
3. I tell them that they should take it slowly. 
The best advice I ever received was that you will not harm you kids in one year. If you don't teach one thing that first year, they will still progress because they are growing children and that is just what they do!

4. After that, consider the details.  
Other things I mention, if their head isn't spinning by this point, is to consider a curriculum fair, know their legal rights, and start learning the lingo. Study the vendors and speakers of a curriculum fair before setting foot in one. The first time homeschooler can become completely overwhelmed at one of those. I tell them to get a copy of their state's homeschooling law and READ it. It may appear incomprehensible, but every homeschooler should know their rights. And lastly I give them a few code words that will help them separate the creation based curriculum from the rest. No matter which side of the debate you are on, you should know what to look for.


Recipe for Disaster

3 kids eager to make valentines
1 pile of paper
3 bottles of glue
1 bottle of red paint
3 paint brushes
1 white cat

Allow the first ingredients to work with the paper, glue, red paint, and brushes until valentines are partially done. Add cat. Mix well.

For a variation, try adding glitter. 


Spring Fever

There was a lovely warm snap a few days ago. We all got outside and cleaned up the yard a bit, played a bit, and planned a garden a bit. The kids are old enough to be a real help with this project. My yard is not huge and some trees that I love have eliminated any hope of tilling the soil; their roots are just everywhere! I hope to build a raised bed. The only sunny spot I have will be just large enough to try a few things. I wanted to make sure I got my seeds from a farm that takes care to preserve heirloom species. I chose several interesting varieties from New Hope Seed Company. I then found a great website on organic gardening that showed how to make seed pots from newspaper. I lined some old cereal boxes with foil to water proof them and now have 40 pepper plants in my kitchen window.  I may not have room for them all in my little backyard garden, but I'll have fun finding homes for any extras.