Today’s guest post is by the beautiful and talented Heather Bee (Sprittibee). Even if you don’t homeschool, or ever plan to, you can soak up her wit and wisdom from her years of homeschool experiences and apply them to your own household over the summer to enhance your kids’ summer activities and learning opportunities!
I have been homeschooling for nine years now, and sometimes it feels like eternity. I forget that there are new moms with little tots and lots of questions about how to get started on their own homeschool journey out there… and other moms who might not want to homeschool, but are interested in keeping the learning going during the summer months between school sessions. If you are looking for ways to infuse educational fun in to your summer — or to find out more about homeschooling, here are some tips on finding local opportunities to enrich your child’s learning career:
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF ONLINE
The internet is a parent’s friend. All you have to do to open up a world of education is turn on your computer these days. There are Email Lists of likeminded moms and dads out there, Facebook groups, and websites that offer amazing information (like this one!). You can get an unlimited amount of ideas with just a few clicks. If you don’t know where to start, try these spots first:
1. Keyword searches online — go to your browser and type in something like this “educational Austin fun”. I just pulled up a website on the first page of links that is titled “Over 50 things to do in Austin“. Many field trips are not only fun, but they are learning experiences for the kids. Granted, field trips will be more crowded in the summer when school is out, but if you aren’t able to homeschool and take advantage of ‘off season’, summer is the next best thing. Lots of kids enjoy getting OUT of the house when being home a lot in the summer gives them ‘cabin fever’, too — I know it’s like that around MY house in Texas (because we stay in a LOT when it’s 100 degrees outside).
2. Find a Yahoo Group — type in the name of your local area in the Yahoo Groups main page and add words like “homeschool”, “play group” or “parenting” to the search. When searching for Austin area homeschool groups (which would be FULL of other moms like you – trying to educate their children), I found a long list of great email lists to join. How about these for titles: Austin Area Homeschoolers, Austin Homeschool Activities, Austin Homeschool Nature Explorers… and that was just page 1! Many of these groups will have a moderator that will have to approve your membership request, and once you join, you only have to introduce yourself to be admitted and join in the conversation. I have found quite a few good friends on homeschool Yahoo email groups over the years in my home educating career.
3. Blogs Rock! — to find a network of great homeschool blogs to follow for ideas on projects, crafts, and learning activities, try checking out the Alltop Homeschool Page. There are a large list of homeschooling blogs to pick from there of every flavor and method. If you find one you enjoy — be sure to scroll down through their sidebars and see what blogs THEY read… so you can hop from one great home-educator’s blog to another. Another great place to find GOOD homeschooling content online is The Homeschool Post – which offers a homeschool blog awards contest each fall and lists the winners and nominees so you can browse them all year.
COMMUNITY CENTERS, CLUBS AND SPORTS
Do you have a community center in your town? You can find some really fun classes by connecting on the local level. Libraries, gyms, and recreation centers are great places to meet other parents with kids, attend classes, join groups or clubs, and have fun outdoors — or in, if you are looking for something with air conditioning! Many of these places will host Boy and Girl Scouts, 4H, Keepers and Contenders Groups, Adventure Scouts, reading hours, nature groups, and offer different types of team or individual sports opportunities. Some of these things will be free – others might cost you a bit.
GET OUT AND GO
There are plenty of places outside of the home – indoors and out – for you to learn together with your kids. All that is required is a sense of adventure and some planning. Be sure to pack snacks, sunscreen, water bottles, and take along your camera… and see if any of these places might make your destination list:
1. The great outdoors — National parks and local parks are full of educational and fun things to do and see. Many of them also list activity calendars online for you to check out before you load up the car. If you can handle your climate in the summer, it would be a perfect time to hike and stay fit… and study nature together.
[There are some great tips on nature study and nature journaling at my blog’s nature page!]
2. Museums — The summer is a great time to get out your “I wish we had gone here” list and start checking it off. You can learn about art, nature, science, history, and more — and add a picnic lunch in for kicks. The great thing about these places is that your visit doesn’t even ‘feel’ like ‘school’, so the kids are learning without even trying… and if it is over 100 degrees outdoors, being inside might be a good way to keep the summer heat from zapping your energy.
3. Road Trips — I’m a nomad at heart, and I can’t resist a good road trip. There is so much to do and see out there if you have the time and gas money. When I was a little girl, my mom and I used to talk about all the places we wanted to go and see together, but time kept slipping by and we never got to experience those things when I was a child. I have tried really hard to make sure that my kids got to travel with me since then. We have driven through over 15 states so far. Pack your bags and go stay with a friend in another state for a week. Have them make a list of a few places in their home town that would be fun and educational for your kids to visit. Get your family in on the fun of a traveling ‘field trip’ adventure and discover America this summer!
[Make a map of all the states you have visited here!]
Make some memories together this summer instead of letting the video game console melt their brains. Every parent is a home-schooler to some extent. Whether you are learning on the go – in the car – or on a field trip… reading on the couch, or enjoying the great outdoors together… you are TEACHING your kids. Before you know it they will be grown and gone. Take the time that you have this summer to make some educational memories together.
Heather aka Sprittibee is a: Christian wife, homeschool mom, photo nut (budding professional photographer), native Texan, and blog enthusiast. She’s your regular jack-of-all-trades. Her blog: Sprittibee.com has been trapping Google-searchers for the past six years. Come enjoy the buzz and leave her a comment (comments are her favorite)!
When she’s not homeschooling, taking pictures, eating Tex-Mex (or cooking it), rubbing her face on the cat’s belly, or planning her next road trip; you can find Sprittibee writing at these sites: Sprittibee (her blog) and The Homeschool Post (community site that hosts the annual Homeschool Blog Awards in the fall each year).