See From Your Child's Perspective to Flip Frustrations

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See From Your Child's Perspective to Flip Frustrations

One of my goals as a homeschool mom was to raise adults who were not narcissists. I wanted my children to see life from another person’s perspective, to be able to walk a mile in another’s shoes. That’s a big reason why we loved reading with Sonlight. Reading fiction helps people develop both empathy and emotional intelligence. I imagine you are pretty good at both those skills.

So here’s an idea of how to use your empathy and emotional intelligence to bless your family and create a gentler homeschool with fewer frustrations. It’s a simple exercise that can help you gain perspective when you feel your blood pressure rising at home or when you’re baffled by a child’s behavior.

Here it is in a nutshell: When frustrations arise, take a minute or two to think through your child’s experience from their perspective.

See the World Through Your Children's Eyes

Imagine what it feels like to your child to hear what you just said to them. It might have been exactly what you should have said, but it may still be quite disappointing for them to hear.

Or imagine what it feels like for your child to wake up where they do, come into the family space as they do, eat breakfast, interact, get dressed, and so on. Walk through the events of their day from their point of view, and see what you notice.

You might realize something obvious you had overlooked.

  • “Oh no, I bet she’s really hungry!”
  • “I’ve asked him to sit still for the entire day so far!”

Or maybe you’ll notice something more subtle. Perhaps one of your children is getting too much stimulation and needs permission to retreat to a quiet space during the day when they need it. Maybe your daughter is feeling an extra need for affection after her sister has been mean to her.

Check Your Tone Through Your Children's Ears

And sometimes you might realize that your own attitude toward your children is not helping anything. I’ve had to realize this about myself before, and I know it can be hard but necessary. How does your child feel when you’re stressed and you’re talking in that certain tone? Sometimes I’d realize a child was melting down in part because of the atmosphere I helped create by rushing around and being preoccupied. That’s difficult to admit, but it can help you see how to move forward.

Now of course, you are not responsible for keeping your children happy at all times. As they grow, they gain more and more responsibility for their own actions and attitudes.

But thinking through the day from their perspective can help you grow in compassion and respect for your children. Yes, you still must set boundaries for them. But perhaps this quick exercise can give you a jolt of compassion as you enforce a boundary. Perhaps you can deliver the same discipline with a genuine hug and a kiss instead of an exasperated tone.

As you consider life from their perspective, pay special attention to your children:

  • what fills your children with joy
  • what makes them tense up
  • what brings out the best or worst in them

Then once you notice these things, let them inform how you guide your child.

We don’t have to remove all barriers and hardships for our children. Instead, we should support them as they learn to deal with barriers and hardships. We can be open to their experience and help them process their feelings.

So when you need an extra dose of perspective and compassion for your out-of-control children, take a deep breath and consider things from their point of view. It’s just another tool in your tool belt as you raise and educate your precious and unique children. I pray for God’s wisdom and strength for you in this awesome journey.

See From Your Child's Perspective to Flip Frustrations • Christian parenting in a homeschool family • When frustrations arise, take a minute to think through your child’s experience from their perspective. This new point of view inspires compassion.
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Top Photos from Sonlight's 2018 Catalog Cover Contest

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Top Photos from Sonlight's 2018 Catalog Cover Contest

One of the things that we love about our catalog is that we get to feature real photos—and stories—of our customers. Thank you to all of the families who shared #sonlightstories for the 2018 catalog cover contest! And congratulations to the winners!

1st place: C Family of Carlsbad, CA

We are thrilled to announce that the C family of Carlsbad, CA garnered top honors—which means you'll see them again on the cover of the 2018 Sonlight catalog.

Beth reads Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (Sonlight Level D) to Caleb (11) and Isaac (8), while little sister Eliana (3) listens in. The C family has been homeschooling for 11 years, and have used Sonlight from the beginning. • 1st Place Sonlight 2018 catalog cover contest
In the winning photo, Beth reads Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (from Sonlight Level D) to Caleb (11) and Isaac (8), while little sister Eliana (3) listens in. The C family has been homeschooling for 11 years, and have used Sonlight from the beginning.

"History comes alive and is more interesting for us when we read novels about life during those time periods,” writes Beth C of Carlsbad, CA. “Our family loves using Sonlight because it means more time spent together. Our favorite place to do school is on the couch, snuggled up with our bird and the toddler (who gets to start Sonlight this fall!). Eliana and baby Sun Conure always want to do school with us. As a family, we have homeschooled for 11 years, and we are so glad we've used Sonlight from the beginning. We have a wonderful collection of books that we love, and so many memories of time spent together learning."

2nd Place: M Family of Siguatepeque, Honduras

Two sisters with wagons and their brother, photo by the M Family of Siguatepeque, Honduras • 2nd Place Sonlight 2018 catalog cover contest

Here, Linda M's children Grace (11), Aline (9), and Aslan (7) take a break on a walk in their neighborhood.  Linda said,

“I was just recently offered a teaching job at a recognized local school, and along with it came full scholarships for all three kids. It sounded incredible! To actually get paid for my greatest passion! But then, after five years of homeschooling the Sonlight way, we weighed our options and decided that no money in the world could make up for the freedom we currently enjoy! Yes, it is hard work, and not every day is a walk in the park, but we enjoy each other all day. We learn, laugh, and marvel together. We choose when, how and where we want to do school, whether snuggling with pets or lying on the ground. We just can't do school any other way! (And by the way, I was very flattered that a principal of a recognized school believed in what I am doing and the results we're getting!)”

3rd Place: S Family of South Asia

Sonlighter and Asian Village Grandma, photo from the S Family of South Asia • 3rd Place Sonlight 2018 catalog cover contest

Here, Tanya’s oldest daughter Naomi (10, Sonlight Level E) sits with an Asian village grandma who just recently heard the Good News for the first time. The S’s were guests at a village holiday celebration held at the home of a friend’s relative. Tanya teaches three children, two of them with Level E, one with Sonlight Pre-Kindergarten. And all of them have been able to learn about farm living and Asian culture and customs. And, “Oh,” writes Tanya. “This is the grandma’s normal daily clothing, not just special occasion garb!”

“Growing up, it’s hard to discover where we fit in, where we belong, who we are,” writes Tanya S, who, together with her husband, is studying language at a university in southeast Asia. Tanya is in the middle of her sixth year homeschooling, all of them with Sonlight. “Through Sonlight’s carefully chosen books, my kids are discovering that ordinary people through history were created uniquely to fill special places in God’s story whether in their hometown or across the world. As they read, I can see their courage rise, passions ignite and hearts open to joining the great adventure of living on mission with God. Day by day, story by story, Sonlight helps me build my children’s character, guide their affections toward truth and beauty, and ready these small souls to understand God’s creation, take on life’s challenges and step into their position of world-changers.”

#SONLIGHTSTORIES All Year Round

Whether you submitted photos, voted or simply followed the fun, thanks again for making this year's contest a success. Stay tuned for the April 2018 release of our new catalog, where you'll see these three winning pictures plus many more from families who love to learn together with Sonlight.

Sharing how Sonlight is reflected in your everyday homeschool isn't limited to our annual cover contest. We would love to see and hear your #sonlightstories all year long! Use the #sonlightstories hashtag on social media as you share your thoughts and photos every day!

 You can also log into your account on sonlight.com anytime to upload images and testimonials for use in our catalog, on our homepage, and on our blog!

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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Homeschool Math Curriculum

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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Homeschool Math Curriculum

When you were in school, math was either a thing of beauty or a thing of torment. Whichever it was for you, as a homeschooling parent, you get to help your children move towards an understanding of math—whether they end up doing nothing more than tracking their spending as an adult, or get a doctorate in applied mathematics.

Let's look at three big questions common to parents choosing a homeschool math curriculum:

  • How do you choose a math program for your children?
  • How do you know when it’s time to change programs?
  • How do you teach something you don’t know very well yourself?

1. How Do You Choose a Math Program for Your Children?

Here’s the deal: young people have succeeded with all of the popular math programs on the market. Whether you use one of the programs Sonlight sells

or whether you go outside of Sonlight

  • Right Start
  • The Art of Problem Solving
  • Beast Academy

. . . any of these is a good choice that serves thousands of families well.

So the issue is not, “Is this is a good program?” Because they all are. The issue is, “Is this a good program for me and my children?” So do a little evaluation of your preferences.

Video and Computer Instruction

If you like video lessons where you, the parent, don’t have to do all the teaching, Math-U-See might be a great choice for you, as Mr. Demme’s instruction is both charming and thorough. Alternately, Teaching Textbooks offers clear and thorough instruction on a CD-Rom, and Saxon offers DIVE CDs from 5/4 and up. But if you know that you prefer your children to avoid screens, these programs are going to frustrate you. So choose something else.

Experimentation

Think about your early elementary children. Do they just want the instructions so they can get onto the next thing as quickly as possible? Or do they like to play, to experiment, to try new things? Neither of these is bad; each is just a personality preference. If your children like to follow the rules, Miquon is not going to be a good program for them. Miquon is ideal for children who are out of the box thinkers. It grows number literacy in incredible ways and allows for great success . . . but only if your children enjoy it to begin with.

Math Confidence

How confident are you in math? Some of the best math students in the world come from Singapore, and Singapore Math is both easy to use and thorough. But it is taught based on combining numbers to make 10 (since adding 10+5 is easier than 7+8). If you aren’t already confident in math, this is probably not a good option for you. If that’s where you are, try something more traditional like Horizons, Teaching Textbooks, or Saxon.

Math Through High School

If you suspect you’ll be homeschooling through high school, and would prefer to use one program all the way through, you’re looking at either Math-U-See or Saxon. Teaching Textbooks is close—it begins in 3rd and goes through 12th; other programs teach through early elementary (Miquon) or middle school (Singapore—though you can find the NEM program elsewhere if you choose to carry on past 8th grade). Again, it is not a bad option to pick a new program, but if you know already that that sounds stressful, then choose between Math-U-See and Saxon.

Math Manipulatives

What do you think about manipulatives? Manipulatives are the rods or blocks or other tools that your children physically move around in order to solve problems. This is the dominant mode of thinking for children until around age seven, though it can be helpful on occasion in the older grades (think of how much easier fractions are to understand when you can visualize a pie). Ruth Beechick in The Three R’s recommends parents use a program with manipulatives, in the younger grades especially. Math-U-See and Miquon rely on manipulatives. With Horizons they are optional. Singapore doesn’t use manipulatives at all, though you can add them.

Color and Layout

Do your children enjoy bright, colorful worksheets? Horizons has color worksheets. Singapore has cheerful color illustrations in their teaching books, and black and white worksheets. Most other programs are entirely black and white, which is excellent for children who may be overstimulated with lots of color.

Teacher Scripts

Would you feel more comfortable doing something scripted, where your words are written out for you? Horizons and Saxon are both good options for you. Or, if you are confident enough to teach with lesson plans, Miquon and Singapore can work for you.

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Homeschool Math Curriculum

Research the Programs

After thinking about who your children are, then it’s time to start researching the programs that you are still considering. Read about them. Look at samples of the specific products you are thinking about (available on the product pages under Samples). And then go with your intuition.

If two programs sound equally good, often it’s helpful to talk it all through. And if one doesn't seem to be better than the other, then choose one and try it.

Of course, if you like social proof, go with Math-U-See.  This program is more popular than all the others combined.

And keep in mind, especially if your children are young, that the math program you choose needs to be something you are happy to teach. If you like the program, you’ll be comfortable working with your children to help them succeed. But if you don’t particularly like it, you’re going to find it much easier to skip a day. As you probably know, over time, that contributes to a feeling of failure.

Make a Choice

Choose the program that looks best to you, and if you need to sometimes find a YouTube video to explain a concept, or sometimes allow your children to skip ten lessons because you know they know the content, you can do that.

When you have clarity enough, have your children take a placement test. Math-U-See, Horizons, and Saxon all offer these. Ideally, you’ll offer these to your children before ordering so you know what level to buy. Also, taking the tests can help you get a feel for a program so you know whether the style seems to suit you.

When it’s time to buy, will you be confident in your math purchase? Perhaps not entirely. But you’re going for clarity enough, not complete confidence. Pray for wisdom, and then act. You can do it.

2. How Do You Know When to Change Math Curriculum?

A good rule of thumb is, “If what you’re using isn’t broken, don’t change.” It’s kind of like buying a camera or a new phone—don’t bother to upgrade unless you can state clearly what an improved camera or phone will do for you.

I know it can be intimidating when you talk to a friend who gushes about her program, and you think, “Well, our program worked really well for us this last year, but do I have the same emotional attachment to math that she does? No. Maybe I should switch.”

If your gut says you should switch, go for it. But otherwise, it might just be like when a friend raves about a movie and you watch it and think, “Hmm. We have different taste.” So with math. If it’s a matter of emotional attachment, maybe don’t use that as your deciding criteria.

That said, don't be afraid to change math programs if you pick one and it doesn't work out. Use what you know from teaching your student to help you pick a new program that will better meet the needs you have.

You can start the research process again if you know what specific problem you’re trying to solve:

  • This program teaches fractions in a way I find horribly convoluted.
  • I think my child is getting distracted by color illustrations.
  • There is not enough practice.
  • There is too little repetition of older facts.

It’s not a big deal to change. If you need to, just do it. No guilt. You’re doing the best you can for your children. You did that with the first program you chose. You’re doing it now.

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Homeschool Math Curriculum

3. How Do You Teach Math When You Don't Understand It?

The short answer is: you don’t need to know it all. You just need to know a little more than your student. If you need to go back to the beginning and start anew, do what it takes.

Having said that, if math is, and always has been, a struggle for you, and you haven’t been diagnosed with dyscalculia, you might look into that. A quick Internet perusal suggests that dyscalculia may be as common as dyslexia, but not as widely known. If your brain is not organized to manage numbers, it just isn’t. You should have no shame over that.

If you suspect you struggle with dyscalculia, or if you are generally stressed about teaching math, you have options.

  • You can pick a program that offers instruction as part of the program, like Math-U-See or Teaching Textbooks.
  • You can ask a spouse or grandparent for help.
  • You can hire an outside tutoring service or a co-op.

Another Math Consideration

Not everyone believes that math in elementary school is helpful. Louis P. Bénézet conducted a fascinating experiment, published in 1935. As a superintendent of a school district, he took some of the elementary schools and instructed the teachers that the children should be taught to read, reason, and recite—with no concentrated math instruction!—until 7th grade. (Meaning, if a teacher needed to approximate a distance as she told a story, she would. But she did not have a time set aside for measuring. And the students didn’t go through math workbooks.)

These students, without studying math until seventh grade, ended up far better able to calculate and think mathematically than their more traditionally educated peers.

If you want to know more, you can find numerous articles online, or read his actual report here (PDF).

Next Steps for Choosing a Homeschool Math Curriculum

Assuming you still want to teach your children math this year, research your options and make a decision. We wish you all the best as you choose—or change—your homeschool math program.

If you want someone to talk through the math decision with you, contact a Sonlight Advisor. These homeschooling moms can summarize the pros and cons of various math programs, and help you clarify a choice for you.

This post was written with assistance from Sonlight Advisor Debbie Miller.

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Homeschool Math Curriculum
The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Homeschool Math Curriculum
The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Homeschool Math Curriculum
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3 Brilliant Ways to Foster a Love for Reading in the First Five Years

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3 Brilliant Ways to Foster a Love for Reading in the First Five Years • preschool literacy • preK reading readiness

My husband and I always wanted a big family. We also decided early on that we wanted to homeschool. When we had five kids in five years and things got a little bleary, we were intentional about at least one thing: We were going to raise readers no matter how busy our household got.

Even though we had a house full of toddlers, we committed to laying the groundwork for their high school and even college years. Here is how I foster a love of reading in the first five years of a child's life.

1. Value Books

Books—even board books—have always been treated as valuable objects at our house. Before they were officially in school, we showed our children how to handle a book:

  • how to gently turn pages
  • how to protect bindings
  • how to use a bookmark

Today my teen will scour the house for a bookmark for his beloved books instead of harming the bindings by placing them open and face down. In contrast, he will not look for a match to his socks. Mismatched socks, yes. Broken bindings and dog-eared pages, no.

Not that we don’t own a few pen-scarred copies, but we have saved ourselves a lot of money by teaching our little ones how to treat books. Our family priority of valuing books has paid off in worry-free trips to the library and bookstore. With ten kids at home, it is surprising that we have replaced only two library books in thirteen years.

2. Create Pleasant Routines Around Reading

Our earliest reading routine was when I fed the baby. The older siblings knew that when I sat down to feed the baby, they could come over with a picture book from the book basket for me to read aloud. This family tradition created a joyful bond with books as well as with their new baby brother or sister. Every new baby was a promise of new books for the basket. With ten children, the basket filled up very fast!

Nap time and bedtime were for reading great chapter books. Because we had spent regular time reading picture books early in life, moving to chapter books was not a difficult transition.

3. Choose Your Favorite Stories

Share the books you love the most. Read not for the sake of teaching reading but because you want to share cherished stories with your kids.

For example, we love The Jungle Book and other works of Rudyard Kipling. What child can pass up an animated reading of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi or The White Seal? We read through the entire Little House series several times during those preschool years. The kids even looked forward to bedtime, knowing they were going to get to find out the end of a story.

If you need help building your home library for preschoolers, see Sonlight’s Preschool and Pre-K packages for a curated collection of great Read-Alouds that will put your child on the road to a lifelong love of reading.

3 Brilliant Ways to Foster a Love for Reading in the First Five Years • preschool literacy • preK reading readiness
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I Want to Homeschool, But I'm Afraid of Making Mistakes

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I Want to Homeschool, But I'm Afraid of Making Mistakes • homeschool fears

I recently heard the fears of a mom deciding whether to pull her kids out of school. Public kindergarten was squelching her daughter’s love of learning, and she wanted something different for their family.

But a significant worry from this mom’s own childhood was keeping her from embracing homeschooling. Her worry was that some homeschooled students from her hometown had seemed socially awkward and unprepared for the world. She was scared that if she homeschooled, her children might eventually be in the same place.

The fear of making mistakes—whether socially or academically—can keep a family from homeschooling.

Of course, this mom could have read up about homeschool socialization and discovered how homeschooling often provide a better socialization experience than the schools. She could have looked at the data about homeschoolers being prepared for college and careers.

Homeschooling is a Journey

But what really helped this mom was to hear that homeschooling is a journey. She needed to hear that she can and will notice problems and make adjustments as she goes.

She doesn’t have to keep the same schedule and homeschool environment that she implements on her first day. If her fears about her children’s social development start to come true, she and her husband will notice, pray about it, and figure out what they could do to help. They might decide to join a new activity, quit an existing activity, address potential sources of anxiety, or whatever they feel might be a helpful step.

In other words, when you start to homeschool, you are not just hopping on a train that has one set path. Instead, you embark on long journey that your whole family will walk together.

Homeschooling Allows You to Correct Course as Needed

Like all homeschool parents, you will naturally make hundreds of small adjustments along the way, just as travelers on a long journey do. If you find you are making mistakes, you will change course.

  1. If your daughter lights up when she studies science, you will naturally feed her excitement by giving her more opportunities to explore science.
  2. If your son struggles to read, then you will address that challenge at his own pace (even while you move ahead in other subjects, if you want).
  3. If discipline or character issues demand more of your attention for a season, you’ll do that.

You will change up the order of your daily subjects, adapt to changing family dynamics, speed up in one subject and slow down in another, add topics that interest your children, and seek out extra help when they need it. If the small adjustments don’t work, you will do what it takes to serve your children.

Seek God Among the Twists and Turns (and Mistakes)

I say all this to encourage you to be at peace right now as you do the best you can with the information you have now. Rest in the knowledge that God will be with you as you handle whatever happens in the future.

Go ahead and make long-term goals for your children and your homeschool. Keep your eye on those goals and adjust your course as needed to get there. But also hold the whole process with an open hand and know that sometimes you may need to adjust your goals. You will learn with your children along the way and discover their unique needs as you go.

So enjoy the adventure of homeschooling. Build memories and seek God among the twists and turns He has for your children along the way.

And along your journey, know that Sonlight is flexible enough to adapt with you as you and your family change and grow. You can always contact an advisor for help making Sonlight work for you.

I Want to Homeschool, But I'm Afraid of Making Mistakes • homeschool fears

Want more encouragement?

Sign up for Sonlight's bi-weekly e-newsletter

You'll be encouraged by the words of founder Sarita Holzmann, inspired by real-life stories from other homeschoolers, pick up practical tips for the journey and more.


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Reading Aloud Without Squashing the Life out of Your Lively Child

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How to Read Aloud without Squashing the Life Out of Your Lively Child • homeschool reading tips

He bounces out of bed like a pogo stick, dashes outside to jump on the trampoline, eats breakfast while hanging upside down from the bar stool asking a minimum of 523 questions, and then—just when you think he’s worn out—he races back to his room to get his dinosaur so he can show you just how loud he can roar. And it’s only 6:30 a.m.

Did I just describe your kid?  If so, you’ve probably thought, “I’d love to use a literature-based curriculum, but my child would never be able to sit and listen during the read alouds.”

After all, you’ve already sat down with him several times and tried picture books.  How will he ever be able to listen to chapter books? You might be surprised. You can read aloud without squashing the life out of your lively child.

A few tweaks to your read aloud time will set your lively child on the right path for developing a love for read aloud time.

1. Keep Their Hands Busy

This is one of my top tips because my kids love to draw and create. Read aloud time is their favorite time to practice their craft. Handiwork keeps hands busy while minds can stay focused. Sewing, crafting, crochet, and building with blocks are all great options.

2. Engage Them in Discussion

Kids will listen much more intently if they know that we genuinely value their opinion on a topic. Look for opportunities to pause your reading and discuss themes and ideas raised in the book. Your Sonlight Instructor’s Guides provide an excellent jumping board of discussion starters for each read aloud.

3. Create an Atmosphere

In the winter, gather in the living room. Pile up on the couch with blankets and light a few candles.  Maybe offer your children a special read aloud tea or hot chocolate. In the summertime, grab a quilt and some lemonade and take your read aloud outside. Cultivate an atmosphere that connects reading aloud to warm, family memories.

4. Break it Up

Few people can sit still for two hours, listening to a parade of books. So spread it out. Take care of your longest Read-Aloud in the morning when attention spans are longest and then sprinkle in the rest through the day. Snack times, lunch time, and bedtime provide a captive audience when kids are more prone to listen.

5. Increase Reading Time Gradually

Your first read aloud session won’t be perfect, so don’t set yourself up for failure by expecting it to be. Plan for a short session the first time and increase it gradually as the weeks go by. By the end of the year, you’ll be surprised by how long they can listen to great books.

You probably just glanced out the window to find that your sweet, active child is hanging from a tree limb outside, right? Don’t sweat it mama. Good books fuel imagination and play for lively children every day.  Sometimes it just takes a little training and some outside-of-the-box thinking to coax your energetic boys and girls into the land of literature.

Ready to explore an educational option that will work for your lively kids? Go to SmoothCourse and get started today.

How to Read Aloud without Squashing the Life Out of Your Lively Child • homeschool reading tips
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17 Fabulously Fun Summer Activities for Homeschool Families

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17 Fabulously Fun Summer Activities for Homeschool Families

Welcome to summer! Whether you homeschool year-round or take a break in the summer, these next months can be rich times of getting outdoors, building family memories, and letting your children explore what interests them.

If you’d like some inspiration for intentional ways to make memories and expand your children’s horizons, try a few of these fabulously fun summer activities.

1. Let Your Kids Get Bored

First and foremost let’s remember that it is OK for kids to be bored this summer. It can even be good for them. Check out this article and scroll down for a motivating video about letting your kids pass through the stages of boredom that lead to creative breakthrough and reflective self-knowledge. (You could also check your library for Peter Spier’s funny and inspiring picture book called Bored, Nothing to Do.)

Now for the actual activity ideas …

2. Go to the Farmer’s Market

Head to your local market to explore the produce and talk to the farmers. Pick something new and prepare it with your children. Or give each child a few dollars to browse and buy whatever they want to share with the family.

3. Live Up the Picnic Season

Pack up some peanut butter and jelly, grab a blanket, and head to your backyard or a park. Add something unexpected to your bag, such as a Frisbee or sketchpads and pencils.

4. Head to a Summer Festival

Many towns have a special festival at least once a summer. Look up your options and put something on the calendar now so you remember to go if you want to.

5. Read, and Read Some More

Whatever you do, please read this summer! Read out loud to your children, keep the house stocked with good books for them to read on their own, and let them see you enjoying your own books. Of course, our Summer Reader packages are a great place to start.

6. Experiment with Science

Whether you missed some of the scheduled science experiments this past school year, or you want to find new ones to tackle, you might take advantage of your relaxed schedule to attempt a few experiments. Summer is the perfect time to take the mess outside so you avoid the worries of spills and disasters in your kitchen.

7. Get Out the Art

If you didn’t have time for much art this year, or if your children really love it, you might want to bless them with the opportunity to create. Provide some supplies, a vision, and be willing to let the kids make a bit of a mess. Check out ARTistic Pursuits or our other art materials for inspiration.

8. Find a Family-friendly Outdoor Concert or Play

From Shakespeare to a string quartet to your favorite bluegrass group, pack up dinner and make a night out of it.

9. Help Your Kids Build at Fort

Choose a locale in your yard, down by the creek, or anywhere that feels special and exciting. As you know, kids even love a simple blanket fort inside. (Stock it with books and a flashlight if you want!)

10. Get Ideas from Your Kids

Ask your children what they want to learn how to do this summer. Even if they answer with something outrageous, you still might let them give it a try and see where it takes them.

11. Tackle Home Improvement

Let your children help in the planning, budgeting, shopping and the actual work. It will probably take longer than if you did it yourself, but it will certainly be a learning opportunity for everyone. Your kids will feel so proud of the finished product.

12. Tour a Local Farm

Many farms are happy to have visitors–especially eager, “love to learn” visitors. Look online to see what your local farms have to offer by way of tours and visiting hours. Some even let you come and volunteer for a while! If you visit a farm now and in September, you’ll be amazed at the difference from the beginning to end of a growing season.

13. Go Camping

It’s the ultimate family-bonding, nature-appreciating, funny-story-generating adventure. We camped often when the kids were young. I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything!

14. Look for Wildflowers

Do you have particularly good wildflowers anywhere around? Take a camera or some sketchbooks and go explore.

15. Make Homemade Ice Cream

What child wouldn’t be excited for the chance to make and eat real ice cream? Even without an ice-cream maker, you can definitely make it at home.

16. Suggest a Lemonade Stand

Inspire the entrepreneurial spirit in your children. If you want to add some real-life math and money lessons, have your children calculate the cost of all the ingredients they use for lemonade and cookies. Then have them pay you back from their earnings and calculate their true profit.

17. Marvel at the Stars

Look online to see if any meteor showers will be visible soon. Or just pick a clear night to go lay out under the stars somewhere away from city lights. You can be sure your kids will remember that special night for years to come.

Again, please don’t feel pressure to do more than you want to here. If you just need to relax, organize your house, and send the kids outside, that can be great too. But I also know from experience that if you do want to do some special activities this summer, it can really help to make some simple plans or write your ideas down now.

I pray you enjoy the next few weeks of summer with your family!

17 Fabulously Fun Summer Activities for Homeschool Families

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