8 Things My Kids Like about Homeschooling

I asked my kids what they like about homeschooling, gave them my camera, and discovered what my kids appreciate about a lifestyle of learning.

8 Things My Kids Like about Homeschooling

My kids enjoy homeschooling. How they feel about their educational experience and what we can do differently comes up as a topic of conversation on a regular basis. But sometimes I have a hard time getting them to tell me exactly what it is that they appreciate about the lifestyle of learning we’ve developed. I’m sure the answers will change soon, but when I gave my camera to my kids this weekend and asked them to take pictures of what they like about homeschooling (without repeating what we’ve already shared about our curriculum and school room), I learned a lot.

BookGirl

what my kids like about homeschooling

My twelve-year-old, BookGirl, chose these four pictures to represent what she likes about homeschooling.

  1. BookGirl loves that homeschooling gives her plenty of time to pursue her passions. One of her passions is dance. She will be starting her tenth year this fall, and she began taking classes this summer to earn her dance teacher certification by the time she graduates from high school.
  2. Another activity BookGirl enjoys is knitting. Because we homeschool, her evenings aren’t tied up with homework every night, so she has lots of time to knit and explore other creative pursuits.
  3. BookGirl loves being able to do her lessons with her cat Midnight nearby. That would never happen in the traditional classroom!
  4. BookGirl is a voracious reader, so her Kindle represents the time she has to explore many topics through reading.

Princess

what my kids like about homeschooling

My ten-year-0ld Princess took three pictures to show what she enjoys about homeschooling. (The fourth picture was a mutual response from both BookGirl and Princess, taken by BookGirl.)

5. Princess enjoys the opportunity to pursue her love of art and other creative projects when she’s finished with her lessons.

6. She plans to be a hair stylist when she grows up, and she spends some of her free time fixing her dolls’ hair into different styles in preparation for when she can begin cosmetology training.

7. Princess enjoys having her cat Oreo Cookie nearby while she’s doing her lessons. She caught Oreo enjoying a treat on her second birthday here.

8. Princess mentioned TV first, but BookGirl actually snapped this picture. Both of the girls enjoy watching documentaries from Netflix and YouTube to supplement what they learn during their lessons as well as to explore topics they’re interested in.

 

What do your kids enjoy about homeschooling?

 

Related articles:

Want to see homeschooling through the eyes of other homeschooled students? Visit iHomeschool Network’s NOT Back-to-School Blog Hop!

iHomeschool Network Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop Calendar 2015

Posted in "Not" Back to School, Homeschool | 2 Comments

Having “The Talk” with Your Preteens (Passport2Purity)

Struggling to have "the talk" with your preteens? Passport2Purity was a tremendous help to my family! *REVIEW*

*I received a Passport2Purity Getaway Kit from FlyBy Promotions in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Having “The Talk” with Your Preteens (Passport2Purity)

My daughters are ten and twelve years old now, and we’ve had discussions about changes to their bodies and other intimate issues for a few years. I was pleased that the doors of communication were open, but I’ve often wondered if I had forgotten to talk to them about something important. After all, no one ever gave me an outline of topics to cover. My mom made it all seem so effortless when I was a preteen, while I’ve fumbled through, trying not to feel embarrassed.

Somewhere along the way, I heard about Passport2Purity (P2P) and was interested, so when I had the opportunity to get a Passport2Purity Getaway Kit, I took it! While it’s recommended that this kit be used on a weekend getaway with your preteen, our finances didn’t allow that this summer. Instead, I tried to make our sessions special by going to Sonic Happy Hour and allowing each of my daughters to choose the drink of her choice. Then we went home, grabbed a snack, and settled in.

I wondered if I would have to drag my daughters through to completion of the program, but to my surprise, they began begging me to do the next session before we finished the one we were on! We finished all five sessions plus the optional session in two weeks.

The sessions covered the meaning of purity, the purpose of dating, changes to their bodies, the hows and whys of intimacy between a husband and wife, and peer pressure. The optional session touched on related topics that kids face as they go through their teen years.

The session CDs are entertaining and engaging. Each session also has a project that drives the main point of the session home. (I’m not a “project” mom, and I did all the projects with items I already had around the house. They were the perfect way to wrap up a session.) The getaway kit includes a Travel Journal for your preteen to take notes in (with devotionals for follow-up after completing the program) and a Tour Guide for parents which has the project instructions, a copy of the Travel Journal (with answers already filled in), discussion questions, and prayers for your preteens as well as other helpful resources.

Before we had even finished the entire program, my daughters told me they didn’t think going through P2P once was enough. They want to repeat the program once a year through their teen years so they don’t forget what they learned, the commitments they have made to themselves, God, and their parents, and why they made those decisions.

Somewhere along the way, I was afraid that legalism would enter the picture and that my daughters would feel condemned if they made different choices than those recommended by Barbara and Dennis Rainey. But while the Raineys made a compelling case for purity throughout the program, they never tried to force students into making any decisions they weren’t comfortable with. Instead, they actually encouraged students and parents to continue to discuss the information presented until the student was able to make informed and voluntary decisions about that information.

Over and over again, the Raineys stress that if students don’t have a plan ahead of time, someone else will decide for them. They encourage preteens to decide what their boundaries are now so they have a better chance of maintaining them later. They also present lots of grace in the recorded testimonies of older teens and young adults who made good decisions and ones they later regretted. They present all of them without condemnation, criticism, or judgment.

Now I feel like I have been thorough in helping my daughters understand what they’ll be up against in their teen years, and the doors are wide open for discussions about sensitive issues that can be difficult for parents and preteens to bring up.

We’re looking forward to doing Passport2Purity’s Getaway Kit again next year!

For more information, please connect with Family Life:

Website – Receive 25% off the getaway kit by using the promo code PASSPORT.  Discount code good through 8/31/15

Facebook

Twitter: @FamilyLifeToday @DennisRainey @BarbaraRainey

Trailer

Posted in Family, Parenting, Review | 2 Comments

No Homeschool Room? No Problem!

Don't feel bad for not having a dedicated homeschool room! Join me as I share how our homeschool has grown past our school room.

*This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend products we use, enjoy, and think may be helpful to your family too.

No Homeschool Room? No Problem!

Whether you’re a veteran homeschool family or just starting out, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have a dedicated homeschool room. We have had a homeschool room from the start, but the more we embrace a lifestyle of learning, the less time we spend doing lessons in our homeschool room. It has become a place to store our curriculum, books, and resources, to organize and plan, and to reflect on our homeschool journey, but it’s no longer where we spend most of our days.

(You can see pictures of our homeschool room from 2012-13 and 2013-14 using these links. It hasn’t changed much, so I’m not posting new pictures this year.)

BookGirl now prefers to work on her lessons in her room, with her cat sleeping nearby. Princess likes to work on the floor in her room or the den. I have had kids sitting on the edge of the tub asking me questions about confusing parts of lessons while I dry my hair. The girls have piled onto my bed on Friday mornings for writing workshops. We often meet at the kitchen table for learning, especially when we’re working on subjects the girls do together (mostly science and social studies). When we’re experiencing spring fever on a gorgeous day, we sometimes move our studies outside.

But our learning experiences go far beyond our home. We take field trips whenever possible, both to supplement what we’re learning at home and to find new subjects that interest us to study when we return home again. The girls have done their lessons in the car or in waiting rooms when we had to travel to specialist appointments. We listen to audiobooks when we run errands. We participate in group activities and classes in our community.

As the girls get older and the world becomes their classroom, the homeschool room just isn’t as important to us as it was early in our homeschool journey. I’m thankful we have it (especially all the bookshelves!), but it is no longer the hub of our homeschool. Our learning takes place all over the house, our community, our state, and, as the girls get older, beyond.

Only have a closet or corner to store your homeschool supplies? That’s okay. A dedicated homeschool room is not the solution to your homeschool woes. In fact, it might keep you from finding a lifestyle of learning for your family—one that goes far beyond a homeschool room!

Related articles:

Want to see what other families are doing with their homeschool rooms? Visit iHomeschool Network’s NOT Back-to-School Blog Hop!

iHomeschool Network Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop Calendar 2015

 

Posted in "Not" Back to School, Homeschool, Special Needs | 6 Comments

Our Faith-Filled Summer (OAC Summer Challenge Update)

Our progress on the Odyssey Adventure Club Summer Challenge!

As an Odyssey Adventure Club blogger, my family enjoys a complimentary membership to the Odyssey Adventure Club. (We have listened to and loved Odyssey for years, so this was a great opportunity for us.) 

Our Faith-Filled Summer (OAC Summer Challenge Update)

I signed up for the Odyssey Adventure Club Summer Challenge last month when I shared it with you. While I haven’t gotten many emails from them about the details of the challenge, I know the focus was on memorizing five verses, getting active in five activities together as a family, and sharing God’s love and your faith in five different ways. I’m going to update you on how we’re doing and want to hear about your progress in the comments.

Five memory verses:

My husband has traveled for work a lot this summer, which has really messed up our routine of spending time in the Word together after supper. We have memorized one verse together—the theme verse for Vacation Bible School (VBS). We are reading through the book of Daniel together and discussing that, but we really need to pick a few more verses and work on those together as a family.

Five “active” activities:

My husband and the girls tried to train to run a mile together. Because of some health issues I’m having this summer, I couldn’t participate. I walked instead. That didn’t work out very well because Princess has little short legs while my husband and BookGirl are pretty evenly matched. Then the heat and humidity hit, and that activity fell by the wayside. We are working on doing stretching exercises together, and it has been a good experience. We have also been swimming together, which is great exercise and a lot of fun!

Sharing God’s love and our faith in five different ways:

We have really been working on this one! We all served in our church VBS program in one way or another, and we have also been loving on some people who have come across our path who do not have the same advantages we do. We have done an act of kindness for an elderly woman and her caregiver every week this summer too. It has been a lot of fun and has shown us (once again) what a blessing it is to serve others!

Now that I look at our lists, I see that we need to step it up on the memory verses, but we’re on track to get five active activities and faith-sharing activities done by the end of the summer. I’m looking forward to finishing strong! (If you want to participate, it’s not too late to join!)

If you’re participating in the OAC Summer Challenge, how are you doing? If not, what activities is your family doing together this summer?

 

Posted in Family | Leave a comment

Aslan’s Academy Homeschool Curriculum 2015-16

*This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. I only share products we use and enjoy and that I feel may benefit you and your family too.

Aslan's Academy Homeschool Curriculum 2015-16

Aslan’s Academy Homeschool Curriculum 2015-16

I’m busily planning our 2015-16 school year, which we plan to start on August 3. I’m a little behind this year. I’m actually still ordering curriculum! (I’m also selling some used curriculum, if you’re still shopping too.)

Our plans are coming together (and our curriculum is on its way), and I’m getting excited about the new school year. I have a seventh grader and a fifth grader this year, and I’ll list curriculum by grade level.

7th Grade

Seventh Grade Curriculum Choices

Language Arts

Math

Reading

Social Studies

Science

 5th grade

Fifth Grade Curriculum Choices

Language Arts

Math

Reading

Social Studies

Science

*These subjects will be done together, with activities modified as appropriate for age and ability level.

For Mom - Homeschool Planning and Organization

For Mom: Homeschool Planning and Organization

To keep track of everything, I’ll still use The Well Planned Day Homeschool Planner. It’s my favorite!

A Lifestyle of Learning

A Lifestyle of Learning

We’ll also be involved in activities with our local homeschool support group, the girls’ dance lessons, field trips, activities with our church (BookGirl is in the youth group now!), and volunteering and service projects in the community. The books we purchase are only a part of the girls’ education!

 

What’s the one resource your homeschool couldn’t do without? Have questions about our curriculum? Leave a comment!

 

Related articles:

To see what other families’ homeschool curriculum choices are this year, or to add your own, visit the iHomeschool Network Not Back-to-School Link-up!

iHomeschool Network Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop Calendar 2015

Posted in "Not" Back to School, Homeschool, Special Needs | 2 Comments

Aslan’s Academy Used Homeschool Curriculum Sale!

A used homeschool curriculum sale from the shelves of my homeschool room! Part of the iHomeschool Network Used Homeschool Curriculum Sale Blog Hop.

Aslan’s Academy Used Homeschool Curriculum Sale

I have some books and curriculum I need to buy for our upcoming school year, and I have some books and curriculum I need to clear from my shelves, so I’m participating in iHomeschool Network’s Used Homeschool Curriculum Sale Blog Hop!

  • Shipping to U.S. addresses only, please.
  • All items shown in the picture are included in the purchase price.
  • To purchase an item, please email me at jenniferajanes AT gmail DOT com.
  • I will sell to the first person who requests the item or group of items (with prompt payment).
  • I will try to update the status of each item as it is spoken for and then paid.
  • All sales must be prepaid through PayPal to email address jenniferajanes AT gmail DOT com.
  • Shipping via Media Mail is included in the purchase price.
  • Priority shipping is available at an additional cost.

History Revealed Ancient Civilizations

History Revealed Ancient Civilizations and the Bible – like new – $50 SOLD

History Revealed Romans, Reformers, Revolutionaries

History Revealed Romans, Reformers, Revolutionaries – gently used – $35

Clifford Phonics Fun Reading Program

Clifford’s Phonics Fun Reading Program – set of 28 books – $15 SOLD

Reading for All Learners sets 1-3

Reading for All Learners sets 1, 2, and 3 (complete sets) – black and white version, gently used – $15 per set

Literature Art Projects Grades K-3

Literature Art Projects Grades K-3 – $5

How to Write a Simple Report Grades 1-3

How to Write a Report Grades 1-3 – $5

Responding to Literature Grades 3-6

Responding to Literature Grades 3-6 – $5

Spectrum Language Arts Grade 3

Spectrum Language Arts Grade 3 – Missing one page, several pages have writing on them in pencil – $5

Sassafras Zoology

Sassafras Zoology: Teacher Guide and Student Book – like new – $25 SOLD

BJU Math 3

BJU Math 3 – used, missing some manipulatives, missing several pages toward end of book – $20 SOLD

Art with a Purpose Artpac 3

Art With a Purpose, ArtPac 3 – missing first project, like new – $5

Comprehensive Handwriting Practice Modern Cursive

Comprehensive Handwriting Practice: Modern Cursive – like new, missing first few pages – $5

Horizons Spelling and Vocabulary Level 3

Horizons Spelling and Vocabulary 3 – missing lessons 1-5 in student workbook (can be viewed in teacher’s guide) – $15

Pentime Cursive

Pentime Cursive – like new – $5 SOLD

The Complete Zoo Adventure

The Complete Zoo Adventure – gently used – $7

Big Book of Earth & Sky

Big Book of Earth & Sky – NEW – $10

MacMillan Leveled Reader Library

Macmillan McGraw-Hill Leveled Reader Library – set of 33 – $25  SOLD

Children's Dictionary

McGraw-Hill Children’s Dictionary, Hardcover – copyright 2003 – $8

Analysis of Effective Communication

Analysis for Effective Communication, Revised Edition – Like New – $13

Exploring Creation with Zoology Lapbook

Exploring Creation with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day – NEW – $18

Heritage Studies 6

Heritage Studies 6 – Like New – $25

The Well-Trained Mind

The Well-Trained Mind, Third Edition, Hardcover – Like New – $15 SOLD

CLE Reading Grade 5

Christian Light Education, Reading 5, Sunrise Edition – Reader gently used, LightUnits like new – $10

Plants Grown Up

Plants Grown Up: Projects for Sons on the Road to Manhood (Obviously, this one belongs to a friend of mine) – Used – $20

A Reason for Handwriting Teacher Guidebook

A Reason for Handwriting Teacher Guidebook – Like New – $17

Structure for Communicating Effectively

Structure for Communicating Effectively, Revised Edition – Like New – $10

Related articles:

See other used homeschool curriculum sales at iHomeschool Network’s landing page, and link-up your own!

iHomeschool Network Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop Calendar 2015

Posted in Homeschool | Leave a comment

5 Things I Learned While Homeschooling My Kids

I have taught my children a lot in the eight years we've been homeschooling, but I have learned a lot myself - both from our lessons and from my kids.

5 Things I Learned While Homeschooling My Kids

My children have learned a lot in the eight years we’ve been homeschooling, but I have learned some pretty important things myself, both from what we’ve studied and from my children. I am thankful that they are learning these lessons early and that I’m not too old to learn with my children.

Here are a few of the things I have learned while homeschooling my kids:

  • It doesn’t have to be perfect to be good enough. I spend a lot of time pursuing perfection in things that don’t matter. My children have taught me that I can release that need and move forward to enjoy life. This is especially true when it comes to art projects and the results of knitting or crochet projects. I want to scrap the whole thing and start over if I make a small mistake. The girls are showing me that imperfections are okay. I can just relax and enjoy the process and the finished product, perfect or not.
  • I don’t have to finish a book just because I started it. I can’t count the number of hours (days?) I’ve wasted trying to finish a book I really didn’t enjoy just because I had started it. (And I’m talking about reading for leisure here, not required reading for a school assignment. 😉 ) It’s freeing to be able to set a book aside or delete it from my e-reader if I’ve given it a fair chance and still don’t like it. I prefer to spend my precious “me time” reading something I really enjoy!
  • You don’t have to do something you’re passionate about every day to be committed to it. In the past, I have fallen into the trap of thinking that in order to pursue interests I’m passionate about, I really need to invest in each of them every day. Unfortunately, there really aren’t enough hours in the day to read, write, crochet, knit, and whatever else I want to do. Work, homeschooling, dishes, laundry, errands, meal preparation, and other tasks fill my days to overflowing already. I used to try to squeeze a few minutes of each activity into every day, believing that I really needed to if I was going to accomplish something and be committed to certain projects. My children have shown me that this isn’t necessary. As I watch my older daughter devour a book series to the exclusion of doing almost anything else for a couple of weeks, then turn to a knitting project she wants to complete the next week, then work on a Minecraft world she’s building the next, I realize that I can pursue my interests consecutively instead of simultaneously too. This makes my free time a lot more fun!
  • It’s important to balance work and play. My children have no problem with this one. They will lean towards play if I let them, but since lessons are non-negotiable, they quickly buckle down to do the work and get finished. Then they complete their chores so they can move on to whatever art creation, book, knitting project, or Minecraft world has their attention. I find myself wasting a lot of time procrastinating instead of doing my work, which means I lose all my play time. I need to follow my children’s example and get my work done so I have more time for my interests as well as spending time with my family.
  • Find work out of your passions. We give our children room to try different things they’re interested in. In the process, they’re learning what their strengths and weaknesses are, and they’re beginning to develop potential plans for work that focus on their strengths and their passions. My husband really loves sales, and that makes him a better sales rep. I love writing, so finding work that involves writing is a great fit for me. It’s easy to forget that work isn’t all about making money, but as I see my children follow their dad and me in thinking about work that capitalizes on things they’re passionate about and good at, I realize that if you can get work that relates to one of your special interests, you are blessed!

Bonus: Dreaming is good and necessary. My children dream big dreams about a lot of different things. They know that all of their dreams won’t come true, but they know if they keep dreaming and working that some of them will. Until I heard my kids’ dreams, hopes, and plans, I didn’t realize that I had quit dreaming. I’ve started again, and sometimes we dream together. I realize that not all of my dreams will come true either, but I know that some will if I set goals and work toward them.

As we continue our homeschool journey, I’m excited about what we’ll continue to learn together!

What have you learned from your children?

Want to see what other homeschool moms have learned in their homeschools? Check out the “What Mommy Learned in Homeschool This Year” blog hop with the bloggers of iHomeschool Network!

What Mommy Learned in Homeschool This Year - iHomeschool Network

Posted in Homeschool, Special Needs | Leave a comment

5 Essentials for the Special Needs Homeschooling Mom

What are the essentials for self-care for a special needs homeschooling mom? Read my list and add your own!

5 Essentials for the Special Needs Homeschooling Mom

Our homeschool is full of books, games, and resources that we use daily during lessons and to supplement the girls’ learning. But more important than any of that in having a successful homeschool are the people in our family! I am often told (and I know it’s true) that I’m much better at taking care of my husband and children than I am at taking care of myself. When I let self-care slide, our family and homeschool don’t operate as smoothly. Over the years, I have discovered that some things in my life are non-negotiable if I’m going to be the mother and wife my family needs. In my house, the essentials for the special needs homeschooling mom include:

  • Sleep. For a long time, I shorted myself on sleep, staying up late to complete everything I felt *must* be done for the next day to go well. This was not a good plan. I have paid for those decisions over and over with health issues and attitude problems. In my case, a tired mom is not a happy mom. I am learning that eight hours a  night is just about right for my body to function optimally. I have to leave tasks undone sometimes to get to bed early enough for that to happen, but it’s worth it. (My family is good enough to help me “catch up” the next day.)
  • Caffeine. I would love to tell you that eight hours is enough, but there are days that I need a little caffeine boost anyway—and there are nights that the eight hours just doesn’t happen. The caffeine mostly comes in the form of iced or hot tea or a diet soft drink. (I know. Those things are terrible for you. I’m trying to quit!)
  • Good books. I really need the chance to unwind every day with a good book. Sometimes these are Christian living or books about homeschooling, but often it’s a biography, memoir, or Christian fiction.
  • Quiet time (Bible reading and prayer). This should actually be the first thing on this list. It’s critical for me to spend time in Bible reading and prayer as soon as I get up in the morning, preferably before my kids wake up. If I don’t do this first thing in the day, it gets pushed later and later in the day until I’m doing it right before bed or not at all. My day doesn’t go as well when I don’t set the right mindset from the start and take time to realize that I’m not in this alone.
  • Creative outlets. It took me a while to realize that this is important for me. The opportunity to be creative ministers to something deep in me and helps me to continue to develop and grow as a person, apart from my duties as a parent or spouse. Creativity takes different forms for me in different seasons. Sometimes it’s writing. Other times it’s working on crochet projects or knitting. Occasionally I’ll get out a coloring book and crayon and relax with them for a while. For me, creative activities don’t have to be a daily thing, but I need to do them at least a couple of times a week to help me relieve stress and focus on something different and challenging.

Bonus: Exercise. I handle stress and life’s daily challenges better when my body is strong (and I’ve experienced the stress relief that comes with a good exercise session). It is hard to get into a routine when I haven’t exercised in a while, but once I make myself start, I find that I crave the opportunity to move every day! Even a few minutes a day, or just several times a week, can make a big difference.

What’s on your list of essentials?

To find out what other homeschools can’t do without, visit iHomeschool Network’s link-up “Things My Homeschool Couldn’t Do Without.”

Things Homeschool Couldn't Do Without - iHomeschool Network

 

 

Posted in Homeschool, Special Needs | 6 Comments

To the Overwhelmed Homeschool Mom

To the Overwhelmed Homeschool Mom - jenniferajanes.com

*Note: I received free access to the bloom course as a member of the launch team. All statements about the course reflect my own experiences and opinions. This post contains affiliate links.

To the Overwhelmed Homeschool Mom

I’m overwhelmed too. Job changes, cash flow issues, health concerns, work schedules, volunteering at church for VBS and other summer projects, a child whose need for therapy sessions and weekly infusions doesn’t stop for summer break, another child who has promoted to the youth group and has all kinds of new activities to attend (and be picked up from later than we’re used to), laundry, dishes, birthday parties to plan and attend. . . .

Is it any wonder I’m overwhelmed? We’re on summer break right now. What would I do if I was adding our homeschool schedule in with all that? I can’t even imagine.

Your circumstances are different, but you’re overwhelmed too. We’ve got to work through this so we can take care of ourselves and better serve our families. So what do we do?

Here are some suggestions that are working for me:

  • Pray. I’m praying. A lot. I have come across some verses that apply to various situations I’m struggling with, and I’m keeping those close to read and meditate on throughout the day, and I pray them often too.
  • Read. I am spending time reading my Bible, but I’m also making time for reading something just for fun. My daughter and I have found a couple of Christian fiction books that we are both interested in that we are reading through together this summer.
  • Rest. I’m learning to listen to my body and to rest when I need to. No, I don’t get to take a nap whenever I want. (I wish, but my schedule and kids won’t allow it. 😉 ) I am, however, going to bed shortly after I tuck my kids in so that I can get some extra hours of sleep that I have deprived myself of for far too long.
  • Cut back. I’m taking a good look at what I expect of myself in a day, and I realize that I have a lot of unrealistic expectations. I’m slowly learning what I can actually accomplish in a day, and I’m moving the rest to another day—and completely eliminating those things that aren’t quite as important as I thought.
  • Get help. I have asked for help from my family and friends (help accomplishing tasks as well as prayer support or a listening ear), and I have also found help from Christian living books and the bloom online coursebloom has helped me to understand the rhythms of my household better, where my negative emotions come in, and how to change what’s not working. I can’t wait to see the difference it makes in our homeschool next year too! (In case you’re wondering, I highly recommend it, and registration ends Saturday, June 20, 2015, at midnight! This won’t come around again until 2016, so if you’re interested, check it out now.)

How do you cope with being overwhelmed?

Posted in Homeschool, Special Needs | Leave a comment

14 Ideas for Free or Inexpensive Summer Fun

14 Ideas for Free or Inexpensive Summer Fun - Want to make memories with your kids this summer? Here are 14 ideas for summer fun that won't break the bank! - jenniferajanes.com

My kids have looked forward to summer for months: a much lighter homeschool lesson schedule, warm days to play outside, more chances to hang out with friends as they get out of school, and all the fun activities! Many places have lots of free and inexpensive activities available in the summer for kids and families. They’re a great way to spend time together, let the kids stay in touch with friends (and make new ones), and keep them in enough of a routine that they don’t say they’re bored—while still allowing for plenty of unscheduled time for free and creative play. I have some ideas to get you started.

14 Ideas for Free or Inexpensive Summer Fun

  1. Summer reading program at the local library. Many libraries have reading clubs during the summer. Kids read a required number of hours, books, or pages, and they get rewarded with prizes or a party at the end of the summer. It’s win-win. Kids get added motivation to read, and there’s fun involved too.
  2. Splash pad or city pool. Our city used to have a community pool with a very small admission fee. That’s gone now, but local Rotary Clubs built a splash pad in that location a few years ago that is free to the public and open during the summer. It’s a lot easier on our water bill than running a sprinkler in the yard for hours on end!
  3. Movies in the Park. Our city shows a movie in the park every week for four or five weeks during the late spring and early summer. Other cities provide concerts, poetry readings, plays, and other community gatherings at little to no cost in their parks. Keep an eye out for newspaper announcements and flyers in local businesses announcing these events.
  4. Kids Bowl Free. Many areas have bowling alleys that participate in the Kids Bowl Free program, which allows kids (age 15 and under) two free games a day all summer long. All you have to do is pay for shoe rental each time, or buy a shoe pass for the summer. For a reasonable price, there’s a Family Pass available for parents, grandparents, older siblings, and babysitters to bowl two games a day too. Shoe rental is separate there too.
  5. Classes/workshops. Often, summer classes and workshops are offered through the public library (my girls are taking knitting again this summer), home improvement stores, craft stores, community colleges, and other organizations that use summer as an opportunity to invest in the community’s kids.
  6. Summer challenges. Last summer, BookGirl participated in the summer challenge offered by Clubhouse magazine, and she had a blast. We learned about this year’s Odyssey Adventure Club Summer Challenge last week when our magazine arrived, and we’re doing this year’s challenge as a family and are excited to start. (It’s open to everyone, not just subscribers.) Other children’s publications may offer a summer challenge as well. Check your child’s magazines!
  7. Neighborhood exploration. My husband and daughters are taking advantage of the nice weather to walk and/or ride bikes together. It gives them a chance to get some exercise, explore the neighborhood, and talk. We have also done some geocaching in our neighborhood as a family. This low-key time together can encourage kids to open up and give families the opportunity to share what’s on their hearts.
  8. Board games. Instead of turning on the TV or computer, some nights we enjoy turning off all our electronics and playing board games together. They provide learning opportunities as well as the chance for families to laugh with and talk to one another. My girls’ new favorite is checkers!
  9. Good old-fashioned fun. Sometimes simple is best, so bring out the bubbles, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, hopscotch rock, and ball and jacks. There’s a lot of fun to be had in your own yard or driveway!
  10. Go to the park. Many areas have one or more public parks. We enjoy meeting friends at the park for picnic lunches and play time until the kids are so tired and dirty that they’re begging to leave. It’s great fun as well as great exercise.
  11. Day programs. If your area is anything like mine, there are lots of opportunities for kids to go to Vacation Bible School, and many churches or youth organizations also have day camps for a small fee.
  12. Memberships. I used to think memberships to zoos or children’s museums were too expensive until I did the math. Often a year’s membership is approximately equal to the cost of two visits. So if you’re planning to visit anyway, save up the money for a second visit before you go, and buy a membership. Then you get unlimited visits for a year as well as perks for members only (these include things like free parking, discounts on special exhibits, and reciprocal agreements between that zoo or museum and others all over the country). It’s worth the investment!
  13. State and national parks. Is there a state or national park near you? They often have free and inexpensive programs, including festival days, exhibits, reenactments, and other fun (and educational) events going on. (They will often have passes for sale too, and they’re really affordable. These will get you into the special events for a year for basically nothing!)
  14. Summer movie programs. Our local Cinemark theater participates in Summer Movie Clubhouse, showing ten movies each summer that are rated G or PG and are appealing to kids. Admission is just $1 per person, or  you can buy a pass good for all ten movies for just $5 per person. We’ve been doing this for years, and my kids love it. (We rarely go to the movies any other time!) Check with your local movie theater to see if it has a similar program.

What’s your family’s favorite summer activity?

Posted in Homeschool, Parenting | 6 Comments