Category Archives: Real Life

Real Life… Learning in the Outdoors

brooke catching minnows

Catching minnows in a lake.

Children of all ages enjoy exploring the outdoors. When the weather is nice I like to take our learning outside. From watching clouds slowly moving across the sky to catching tadpoles or minnows. The world is always changing all around us.

Scavenger Hunt

Consider sending your children on an outdoor scavenger hunt. Give them notebooks and pencils so they can write about and/or draw what they find rather than collecting each item. (You don’t want them to collect any creatures, plus this saves your flowers and more delicate plants from being picked.)

A scavenger hunt is easily adapted to a variety of ages, just remember to keep the list of what they are looking for short for younger children and a bit longer, more time consuming for older children. For some great outdoor scavenger hunt ideas try this website: Nature Scavenger Hunt

Book Work Outdoors

Sometimes it’s nice to take the school books with you outside just to change the scenery. We’ve done lessons on our front porch (which usually involves a cat or two walking across the books or jumping into our laps). Sometimes we’ll take our books to the park and do some work at a picnic table for a while, play for a while, then do more work and repeat. Find a shady spot around town somewhere where you live. Perhaps a gazebo, picnic table or a blanket in the shade will work for your family.

schoolwork while waiting

Waiting for a local business to open. (I goofed so we were 30 minutes early.)

Another thing to consider is any downtime between doctor appointments, meeting friends, or waiting for a group class to start your children can do a little book work. All it takes is a bit of planning before hand to remember to bring the books and supplies with you. I like to choose easier subjects that my children can work on with minimal input from me. For my third grader this is usually grammar and spelling. For my first grader this only leaves spelling because most of her other work requires me reading the instructions to her.

Don’t attempt to get lower elementary children to do their work in the car. It’s difficult for them to hold the book in their lap and write at the same time. If it’s a single worksheet on a clipboard or lap desk then they can probably get it done, but if it’s a workbook or text book you’ll find they perform much better at a bench or sidewalk.

Just find a spot where your child isn’t in the full sun or near the street. Also consider the weather. If it’s too hot or too cold they may not be able to concentrate. Instead of book work I’d consider playing a game like I-Spy or having them practice reciting some things they’ve learned in the past. (Grammar jingles, 50 states song, multiplication rhymes, etc.)

Exploring Nature

butterfly and chrysalis

One Monarch drying it’s wings, another still inside the chrysalis.

In good weather go on nature hikes, visit the park, explore trails in the woods (make sure you aren’t trespassing), visit a U-pick farm. You just never know what you’ll find. Often children see things that we adults would never notice. I think partly it’s because they are lower to the ground, but also it’s because we adults are so busy focusing on where we are going next that we tend to forget about enjoying the present.

Take the time to stop and smell the flowers. Watch the butterflies, admire a roly-poly, explore mushrooms and fungi on fallen trees. There are so many things to investigate and explore outdoors.

Let children ask all the questions they want about what they find. Don’t worry about not knowing the answers, simply explain that you’ll look up the answers when you get home. You better write down or send yourself and e-mail of their questions though, because if you are anything like me you will have forgotten what they asked by the time you get home.  🙂

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Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Real Life


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Real Life… Learning Around Town

schoolwork waiting room

What does the term “homeschooling” mean to you? Do you picture a family sitting around the dining table with workbooks? Perhaps sitting on the couch reading and discussing a lesson together? These are both valid thoughts, however not every day has to be that way.

Some feel that “home education” would be a better term for what we do every day. BUT, even the term home education has the word “home” in it.

For our family, homeschooling is NOT about staying home and doing book-work all day. We have frequent dentist appointments, visits to the library, we take grandma to the hospital for outpatient procedures, and other time-consuming events which pull us away from home during the typical school hours.

dentist office work

On top of everything above I try to plan a fun day once a month. We take our books with us to either the park, Chick-fil-a, or Pete’s Party Castle (indoor play-place with obstacle course, slide, and arcade games).

My rule for these fun places is they must complete 20 minutes of work to get 20 minutes of playtime, then repeat. Feel free to adjust these times as fits best for your children. I certainly do!

Side note: for restaurants such as Chick-fil-a, make sure to go between their peak hours so you aren’t taking up a table from their other customers. I try to be courteous and aware of my surroundings. When the lunch crowd starts pouring in it’s time to leave.

Whether your family is visiting someone at the hospital, going to a doctor or dentist appointment, or perhaps visiting your spouse for lunch; education can happen anywhere.

book cafeschoolwork hospitalcounting bugles


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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Real Life


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Real Life… Teaching Around the Mess

real life mess3Have you ever been told, “Oh you homeschool?  You must be really neat and organized.” Or perhaps you heard the popular, “I could never homeschool, I’m to scatter-brained.”

Anyone who truly knows me will understand the word “organized” doesn’t really fit me. Yes, I like to have a plan, but living with children means life is rarely organized.

Since so many blogs focus on the seemingly perfect lives of homeschoolers, I’m creating a Real Life series. This series of posts will focus on the un-organized and somewhat messy aspects of our homeschooling life.

Something to keep in mind while reading the Real Life… series. Our children are allowed to do their school work wherever they are most comfortable as long as they are actually working. Often they will choose to sit on the couch or sprawl out on the floor to do their work.

real life mess4  real life mess2

The above pictures are of the kitchen bar. It seems to constantly be a cluttered mess of finished artwork, Sunday school papers, and just-for-fun drawings. Though we do the majority of our lessons in the living room, the kitchen bar is where most of the paperwork and art projects end up.

I try to clear off the lower counter once a week, but life is busy and this is low on my priorities. Since we’re on a 6 weeks on, 3 days off cycle for our lessons, the children’s work area is cleaned and straightened roughly every 6 weeks.

real life mess5

This last picture is a glimpse of how our living room floor looks most week days. I’d like to be able to tell you it’s back to normal on the weekends, but this post is about being open and honest.

I usually stack up the books at the end of each day just so no one steps on them. More often than not the stack of books aren’t put away at all unless we’re expecting company.

I’m sure I’m not the only homeschooling mom who teaches around the mess. In addition to the clutter of homeschool books and papers, there are mounds of clean clothes waiting to be folded, a floor waiting to be vacuumed, and the list goes on.

I am unorganized, but the children are learning despite my imperfections.

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Posted by on October 17, 2013 in Real Life


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